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Monument of unity D

ubai is so fiercely competitive that it often apof Burj Khalifa as a great moment of reckoning. pears to be in competition with itself. Whether It is also an occasion for the followers of the two it is the public sector or the private sector, entities giant developers to do a reality check of the situare vying with one another to outdo the rest of the ation of the two companies. field. The Dubai milieu has government departments When Emaar was set up in the late nineties, fighting it out for recognition for performance excelone of its primary goals was stated as the relence, while the bureaucrats in charge of them wage definition of Dubai’s financial landscape. There their own proxy wars – they are rather encouraged is no doubt in anyone’s mind that this objective to do so. By K Raveendran has been achieved in the most brilliant fashion. Emaar and Nakheel, for instance, have had a Even while recognising that a number of players, classic contest going between them. As the primary including Nakheel, have been responsible for engines that drive the pursuit of Dubai’s legendary vision, this feat, Emaar’s part in this success is by no means small. these two companies have been engaged in a show of As a commercially-run company that owns the world’s one-upmanship, which of course has produced illustrious tallest tower, Emaar can justifiably feel proud. For, Burj results for the growth of Dubai. Fired by the ambition and Khalifa not only symbolises the indomitable Dubai spirit, aggression of the men at their helms, the two giants have it also towers in the Arabian sky as a monument of national stopped at nothing when it came to innovation and experiunity and Arab pride. ment. Each move by one was matched by a counter-move by While equal or more credit is due to Nakheel for this the other. success, a discordant note seems to have crept into its tune. From the development of iconic structures to daring By hindsight, one might say the company erred on the side acquisitions of overseas assets and interests, both comof caution while stating its objective. panies have pursued a highly-diversified growth agenda. “Nakheel is more than a company - it is a belief. A belief If Nakheel had the Palm Islands, a stunning example of that defies ordinary thinking... when conventional wisdom real estate creativity, Emaar has the world’s tallest tower says ‘no’ we say ‘yes’ and make it happen,” the chairman of recorded against its name as its crowning glory. the company had stated. If Emaar has the Armani brand powering its hotel and For the large part of the action, the company has hospitality portfolio, Nakheel has half-a-dozen names to sounded true to its words. It is perhaps an irony of the situaflaunt in its comparable businesses. Similarly, Emaar’s tion the world is passing through today, that conventional foray into retailing is matched by a formidable collection wisdom is reasserting its grip. But that surely need not be by the other side. The same applies to fashion, sports and the climax. adventure, education or even investments, not to speak of housing finance companies. If Emaar had Amlak offering home finance using the Islamic finance window, Nakheel Even while recognising that a number had Tamweel doing the same thing. It is a different matter of players, including Nakheel, have that a disconcerting uncertainty is now staring at these two been responsible for re-shaping Dubai’s companies. financial landscape, Emaar’s part in this Dubai has had some ups and downs, but the die-hard success is by no means small fans of the city’s growth vision consider the official launch

January 2010

DH 5

Published from Dubai Media City


Hale and hearty FOOD

Popular Indian food WEDDING

Finding a bride FRANCHISE

Someone else’s reputation






Radhika Natu



Anandi Ramachandran



Linda Benbow

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Manju Ramanan

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Staff Writer


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2 l UAE Digest, December 2009

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6 Hale and hearty The government’s main focus is to promote tertiary health care or specialty hospitals which address serious illnesses that require prolonged treatment or detailed curative practices.

48 20 Youth For students of Indian schools and colleges in the UAE, it is difficult to take up off-beat courses, conditioned as they are by the conventional notions of a ‘good education’.

Indoor and outdoor action at Dubai’s motor show It was a brilliant move on someone’s part to suggest that Dubai’s 10th International Motor Show should take place at the same time as a family activity show. The combination of family activities of the outdoor land and water varieties, and what used to be the adult fun of looking for a car to buy, intermingled with all ages happily trying out the many things on offer.

32 Finding the right bride People often perceive intelligent and highly qualified men as a hard catch and difficult to find for marriage but this statement has been overturned as we speak to two successful and intellectual men, who are in search of the right bride, expressing their views on how hard it is finding a suitable companion in this day and age.



India calling

Legally using someone else’s reputation

Words like tandoori, dal, samosa and curry are now part of a common world language.

Why franchising is so popular, what it is and why the ‘legal stuff’ is important.

UAE Digest, December 2009 l 3


The world’s tallest tower


he world’s tallest tower, developed by Emaar Properties, was unveiled by his highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice-President & Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai to a crowd of thousands, and the world, in a crescendo of fireworks, lasers and fountain displays. The official height of the tower, unveiled as ‘Burj Khalifa’, was announced as 828 metres (2,716.5 ft). A closely guarded secret, the official height was flashed onto a giant screen before fireworks cascaded from the tower’s spire to the base and lasers blazed out from all levels, leaving the crowd awestruck.

Fuel self-serve study

Inter-faith understanding

A modernised self-serve concept for motorists buying fuel can bring about time and cost efficiencies and also reduce the waiting time at the service stations, Eppco/Enoc said, based on pilot studies conducted in the UAE. The group said it is considering the implementation of the self-serve concept as an option across its network of 170 service stations in Dubai and the Northern Emirates, looking at providing motorists the choice to fill up petrol on their own and pay at normal retail prices, or use the full-serve option by attendants at an additional fee. The self-serve option is widely followed in many developed countries, and is encouraged to save time, and reduce the hassle of waiting for customers. The UAE community is cosmopolitan and international and the self-service conceptcommon in many of the home countries of UAE expatriatesis generally understood. Services at the revamped stations will be managed from a remote facility, saving time and introducing new ‘interactive’ features for customers at the fuel pump. The new systems will be fully operational within the first half of 2010.

Tony Blair, former Prime Minister of United Kingdom posed for a photograph with Sunny Varkey, Founder and Chairman of GEMS Education, during a visit to Winchester School, where he attended an Islamic Studies class and interacted with students on issues connected to inter-faith understanding and the place of religious values in modern society. Students of the Islamic education class, were keen to learn Blair’s Perspective on issues connected to inter-faith understanding and the place of religious values in modern society. he also visited World Academy and met students who were keen to talk to him about issues relating to religious tolerance and understanding.

4 l UAE Digest, December 2009

Ornamental fish breeding

Enoc Tasjeel opens in Khorfakkan

Al Jaraf Fisheries LLC; a leading commercial seafood producer, has commenced farming operations of ornamental fish. In addition to breeding and supply of different ornamental aquatic species, the company is offering customised tanks and aquariums for pet collectors as well as commercial establishments, including hotels, restaurants and offices in the UAE. Al Jaraf Fisheries is a part of Pal Group a leading business concern of Abu Dhabi. Prior to the introduction of its ornamental line, the company has been mainly involved in aquaculture and seafood trading. It began the commercial production of shrimp within its lined pond facility in Barmid Island and finfish breeding in Al Ajban by 2006.

Enoc Tasjeel, an Enoc and Road Transport Authority (RTA) joint venture, has officially opened its new testing and registration centre in Khorfakkan. His Highness Sheikh Saeed bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Deputy Chairman of the Amiri Court in Khorfakkan, graced the inauguration ceremony by his presence. The new centre is managed by Emirates National Oil Company (Enoc) in collaboration with Sharjah Police. It covers an area of 250 square metres and includes a wide range of facilities that allow customers to complete the vehicle testing and registration process swiftly.

Cooling bus shelters LG Electronics (LG) has been awarded the contract to cool Abu Dhabi bus shelters. In total, 80 units will be supplied during the first phase of the project, with at least one air conditioning (AC) unit being installed per station, keeping people fresh whilst they await public transportation. The contract follows on the back of LG’s successful implementation of AC units across Dubai bus stations, where almost 1,000 units were provided. Commenting on the win, Mr H.S.

Paik, President of LG Electronics Gulf FZA stated, “Temperatures in the UAE summer are scorching and it is important for the Dubai Road and Transport Authority and Department of Transport Abu Dhabi, to ensure that they provide the best facilities possible for their customers. Our main focus therefore was not only to provide the right cooling, but also to have a continuous operation 24 hours, seven days a week.”

Photographic prints of India from the late 19th century The Empty Quarter Fine Art Photography Gallery presents ‘Sacred Sites of India’- an exhibition of rare vintage and contemporary photographic prints of India until February 5. This fascinating journey explores a varied group of images from the late 19th century with an overview of Calcutta by Bourne and Shepard. Henri Cartier-Bresson arrived in India in 1947 at the time India gained its independence. Having made inside connections through Jawaharlal Nehru, he was able to capture the essence of India’s soul. He photographed Hindus in refugee camps after the Partition and during six extended visits over a 20-year period made astonishing images of the death and cremation of Gandhi. Tariq Al Farsi, Head of Branches at Dubai Bank, presented a Dh1 million cheque to Fujairah resident Saeed Rashed Saeed Al Shehhi (right) who is a winner in Dubai Bank's cash prize draw. "Winning the Kunooz prize draw has been a gift from God," said Al Shehhi, who lost more than Dh150,000 on the stock market in the last 12 months. "After losing a huge portion of my savings, I was extremely wary of investing or taking any risks at all. That is why I decided to put all my savings in the Dubai Bank Kunooz programme, and the decision has been life changing,” said Al Shehhi. “I have recovered far, far more than I lost – and the future for me and my family is once again secure. I am so grateful to the bank for turning around my fortunes!”

UAE Digest, December 2009 l 5


Tertiary medicare Medical care in the UAE is now focussed on specialities By Manju Ramanan


rimary healthcare centres spearheaded by the Government of UAE have managed to address the issue of primary health in various corners of the emirates; so has secondary healthcare that includes small referral hospitals and clinics. Now the government’s main focus is to promote tertiary health care or specialty hospitals that addresses serious illnesses that require prolonged treatment or detailed curative practices. The move can be seen spread across government as well as private health operators in the country. Dr Dia Al hassan, CEO International Modern hospital Dubai , UAE Consultant, Joint Commission International, states that the private healthcare sector in the UAE has flourished quickly in the last decade and currently, is partnering with the public sector. “Many good standard hospitals that are equipped with the newest

6 l UAE Digest, December 2009

technologies have been built. Dubai’s private health sector has attracted highly qualified physicians from around the world, which is very promising,” she states. The national authorities’ Quality Control Programme that overseas the practice of the public and private health sector has played a role in this improvement. “Although the programme is still in its initial stage, it plays a major role, not only in quality assurance, but also in promoting continuous quality improvement through the obligatory requirements of international accreditation and the clinical governance programme,” states hassan. Coupled with it is the introduction of the national insurance system that will play an important role in promoting the quality of healthcare

Coupled with the national authorities’ Quality Control Programme is the introduction of the national insurance system that will play an important role in promoting the quality of healthcare offered in the private sector

offered in the private sector. “The system is expected to put the private and government hospitals in a positive competition to be able to attract more patients and this will give the patient a wider choice,” she adds. But since tertiary care is very expensive, it is important that it goes hand in hand with a national insurance system, otherwise the government will bear a big load. “Currently in Dubai, access to such services is very limited in the public sector for patients referred from the private sector. Governments in such cases need to expand more in their tertiary services to accommodate patients that are referred from the private sector that cannot afford self-payment, or they should subsidise these services,” she adds. Affordability is one area that private health operators have concentrated on. An area where the role of clinics has proved effective “There is a big role for the healthcare sector to fill the need for quality healthcare at an affordable price, that we are committed to deliver through our network of healthcare delivery points across the GCC and India,” says Dr Azad Moopen, Founder Chairman, D M healthcare, who recently won the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award, India’s topmost honour for overseas Indians who have excelled in their field for outstanding work and enhanced India’s prestige in the country of residence. his group, DM healthcare, treats over two million patients a year across a cross-section of society in Gulf countries and India and owns a chain of 70 clinics and pharmacies across GCC countries, some hospitals and clinics apart from the Medcare UAE Digest, January 2010 l 7


hospital, Dubai and the Al Rafa hospital for Maternity and Surgery, Dubai. “By the year 2015, we plan to have 300 healthcare facilities across Middle East and India with over 10,000 healthcare professionals, including 1,500 doctors, thereby becoming the leading healthcare provider delivering quality and comprehensive healthcare in the region,” he adds. Affordabilty and a personalised approach are aspects that Gulf Medical hospital and Research Centre, Ajman, relies on. The GMC hospital & Research Centre is Ajman’s first private hospital promoted by Thumbay Group that addresses a host of tertiary care services. It has an approximately 250-bed capacity with more than 40 OPD clinics, and now it has a new branch in Fujairah that will be upgraded to a 60-bed hospital with multispeciality services. Medical tourism has been one area where private hospitals have partnered with government agencies to promote tertiary healthcare. “The UAE has great weather for eight months a year and we can take advantage of it. The tie-up between the hospitals and the hospitality industry will be a step forward in this direction. This would mean more government involvement in the health sector, such as departments of tourism,” says the director of a private hospital from the northern emirates. A befitting example is the RAK hospital that is a partnership between RAK government and ETA Star healthcare. Opened in 2007, the hospital is a 65-bed multi-specialty private hospital, 8 l UAE Digest, January 2010

managed by Sonnenhof Swiss health (SSh), designed as a premium healthcare complex by the US-based Ellerbe Becket of Mayo Clinic repute and is the only healthcare organisation in the world that has received accreditations from both the Joint Commission International (JCI) and the Swiss Leading hospitals (SLh), which is based on the standards of European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM). RAK hospital has the first Catheterisation Laboratory (Cath Lab) of the northern emirates and has a RAK Centre for Interventional Cardiology, the first-of-its-kind initiative in this area. The hospital caters to the local, expatriate and tourist population of the Northern Emirates and has proved to be an easy destination for several people who would have to travel all the way to Dubai or Ajman for tertiary healthcare. As Dr Jean Marc Gauer, CEO RAK hospital, states: “Patients come to the hospital out of curiosity the first time. For follow-up visits, treatment as inpatients or even for surgical procedures, however, they will only come if there is confidence in the medical standards, the quality of medical staff, system, policies and procedures. Our numbers prove that ‘Swiss quality’ is being appreciated,” he adds. In Abu Dhabi, the move to upgrade government hospitals began a few years ago. The Abu health Authority, that works independent of the FhA, has roped in expertise from John hopkins, Cleveland Clinic, Mayo Clinic, etc to upgrade its existing hospitals. So Tawam hospital, Sheikh Khalifa Medical City and Mafraq hospital in Abu Dhabi shall soon have superior tertiary medicare facilities. In fact, the Mafraq hospital is managed by Bumrungrad International Limited from Bangkok, a hospital that is widely regarded as the world’s most international hospital, and treats over 400,000 foreign patients each year from 190 countries, providing a full range of tertiary medical services. This includes over 90,000 patients from the Middle East with 40,000 from the UAE. The Sheikh Khalifa hospital is managed by the Cleveland

Clinic and has been in the news recently when its multi-disciplinary team performed the first awake brain open surgery in the Gulf region. The Tawam Hospital is affiliated with the Johns Hopkins Medicine International. As Zaid Al Siksek, CEO, Health Authority, Abu Dhabi, states, “Hopkins is a very strong school for public health and has a lot of resources and information and we can tap into the knowledge transfer that may be used in Abu Dhabi to address public health issues.” The school has previous experience in preparing health leaders for massive reform. Since the early 1990s, the school has educated a generation of health leaders in Taiwan, which launched its own universal health insurance initiative in 1995. An important aspect of tertiary health addressed by the government is a need-based one. For instance, the creation of hospitals in rural areas that have limited access to tertiary care or hospitals in cities that address issues like accidents. HE Qadhi Saeed Al Murooshid, Director-General of the Dubai Health Authority, has implemented future healthcare projects worth Dh 3. 67 billion for people residing in different areas of Dubai. For instance, the upcoming Hatta Hospital with a capacity of 93 beds will serve the rural population of Hatta and will accommodate in its premises, over 400 doctors, administrators, nurses and technical staff. It will be equipped with an emergency section, an x-ray section, a dental section, an out-patient clinic, a pharmacy, an ICU section, and a new-born and paediatric care section. The upcoming Specialised Geriatric Rehabilitation Centre located in Al Safa II area will be sprawled over 7,000 square metres and be equipped with suites, a physiotherapy section, a fitness area, a prayers room and an entertainment room. To cater to the emergency needs of the newer Dubai areas, the DHA is also building a state-of-the-art accident and emergency hospital in Jebel Ali. The Al Maktoum Hospital for Accidents and Emergencies shall be of 945,000 square feet, with 300 beds when completed in February 2012. The six-floor hospital will be equipped with a surgery section, accident and emergency section, radiology suite, training and development section, an ICU (Intensive Care Unit) for men and women and a separate ICU for children, operating rooms, a critical care section, a day care section, a pharmacy, a medical laboratory, a helipad, respiratory units, and

a prayer room. The other specialised healthcare project which won the best project in the Future Healthcare Projects category at the World Architecture Festival in Barcelona this year is the Al Jalila Children’s Specialty Hospital. The 200-bed hospital, located in the Al Wasl hospital premises, is 7, 21,181 square feet, of which 5,38,195 square feet has been allocated for external terraces and gardens. The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2011. The dedicated paediatric hospital is the only ongoing project of its kind in the region and will cater to children from birth up to 14 years of age and in some cases up to 16 years of age. The four-floor hospital will be equipped with neonatal ICU, a dialysis unit, a heart centre, CICU, PICU, a cath lab, operating rooms, an oncology centre, a nephrology unit, four medical surgery units, royal suites, accommodation facilities for parents, and other such facilities. For the northern emirates like Ras Al Khaimah, the Federal Government is building the 248-bed Sheikh Khalifa Hospital in RAK that will now have specialities like oncology, cardiology, neurology, cardiac and neuro-surgery. Designed for the highest tertiary care standards and expected to be the most advanced medical facility in the emirate, it is scheduled to open in 2011, built with an investment of Dh600 million. The six- storeyed 65,000 square metre hospital will have speciality sections for oncology, cardiology, a trauma centre, and an emergency department.

UAE Digest, January 2010 l 9


Swine flu vaccine


now made in RAK

he dreaded H1N1 virus that has become a global phenomenon shall now have an antidote made right here in the UAE, at Julphar Pharmaceuticals, Ras Al Khaimah, one of the first and the largest pharmaceutical companies in this region. The company has struck an exclusive agreement with the Hualan Biological Bacterin Company - a Chinese biopharmaceutical producer - to mass produce single doses of Hualan’s H1N1 vaccine formula for regional distribution. The agreement was made on September 23, 2009, and will be made official once production methods are fully approved by the UAE Ministry of Health - a process currently under way – but the volume of Julphar stock jumped by nearly 150 per cent in one day following the announcement, from Dh288,220 to 715,574. Closing price rose an impressive eight per cent in the same day, from 1.83 to 1.98. The Julphur-Hualan agreement names Julphur as the exclusive producer of

10 l UAE Digest, January 2010

Hualan’s H1N1 vaccine for the Middle East and North Africa region. The Chinese firm will provide raw materials and the technical knowledge required for producing the vaccine and the UAE firm will manage the manufacturing in its local factories. Julphar company officials have set a production start-up target for January, though, again, production is contingent on meeting various Health Ministry protocols before then. Julphar was established in 1980 under the guidance of RAK’s ruler, HH Sheikh Saqar bin Mohammed Al Qasimi and is publicly listed on the Abu Dhabi Securities Market; and the government of RAK is the largest minority shareholder. The firm now has nine production plants in the UAE and a commercial presence in over 45 countries, specialising in the production of a broad spectrum of generic medicines. Dr Ayman Sahli, the General Manager of Julphar, states that the company will produce enough vaccine “for the entire requirement of the

UAE” but, “may not be able to meet the needs of the whole region though some quantities will be exported”. Pending the Health Ministry’s approval - which is widely expected by industry observers – Julphar’s vaccine production will represent a significant step in the evolution of the local and national health sector. Traditionally, the Gulf Cooperation Council has been reliant on imports for its pharmaceutical needs. Julphar, which specialises in generic products over a broad pharmaceutical range, along with other regional producers, has cut consumer costs and widened the spectrum of available pharmaceuticals in the region. Besides the coming vaccine, Abu Dhabi’s Neopharma is producing the generic version of Tamiflu - the antiviral drug used to treat H1N1. On October 26, US President Barack Obama declared H1N1 a national emergency, mainly in order to ease bureaucratic restrictions involved

in administering vaccines. The move nevertheless refocused attention on the virus and also helped to send the stock of pharmaceutical companies producing the vaccine soaring – Hualan’s shares, for example, jumped to the 10 per cent daily trading cap on the Shanghai composite index. As panic over the pandemic increases in the coming flu season, countries around the world are stepping up efforts to contain the virus, and the UAE looks particularly well placed to deal with any outbreaks.

Cenigent to fight prevalence of chronic diseases in UAE With chronic medical illnesses such as heart disease and hypertension being among the top causes of death in the UAE, health experts are now concerned that residents’ cosmopolitan lifestyle is taking its toll on their health and will need to undergo a dramatic paradigm shift in order to prevent further rise in the number of lives taken by chronic diseases. In light of this, US-based Cenigent Health Enhancement Medical Institute has unveiled the world’s first medical programme that is founded on a new

systems and genetic-based medical approach. The programme presents UAE residents, who have a high average life expectancy of 77 years, the opportunity to avoid age–related chronic disease and enjoy their later years in life via a groundbreaking method that recognises the dynamics of the human body’s complex systems and their

relationships to health and disease. The company’s systems approach differs tremendously from the current modern ‘reductionist’ medical approach, which focuses on treating the endsymptoms of disease, rather than the core causes, and according to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), “treats disease in isolation, without taking into account the integrative systems in the human body.” Recent studies show that one in four Emiratis has diabetes in contrast with the world average of five per cent. The World Health Organisation has also predicted that diabetes deaths will increase by more than 50 per cent in the next 10 years if no preventive measures are taken. Meanwhile, osteoporosis, a bone-weakening disorder, affects 70 per cent of women over 60 in the GCC. But even with the higher prevalence of these diseases, fewer residents are interested in tackling these life-threatening conditions, with 42 per cent of women putting staying slim as their top health concern. Such widespread occurrence of chronic illnesses and ignorance of vital health issues has caused authorities to urge people to seize every available opportunity to live a healthier lifestyle. As the first and only medical facility using a systems approach in a clinical setting, California-headquartered Cenigent delineates itself from modern medicine’s philosophy that aging and agerelated chronic diseases inevitably occur and should be accepted. Their view is that age-related health decline occurs due to functional deterioration of the eight systems and can be prevented by restoring the optimal functioning to all of them. To achieve this, the company follows a systems approach, performing predictive testing and assessments followed by restorative measures. Cenigent’s systems approach recognises the body as a complex system and has classified eight core sub-systems and their relationships to health and disease. When there is a dysfunction in any of these core systems, it can

lead to age-related chronic disease. C – Cellular System E – Endocrine System N – Nervous System I – Immune System G – Genetic System E – Epigenetic System N – Nutrigenomics T – Thought System These subsystems and their relationships are the common links for many age-related chronic diseases including cardiovascular, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, diabetes, obesity, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and others. The company accommodates Islamic religious laws, such as offering Halal meals and the necessary prayer items, and makes sure that treatments are Halal as well. Due to their innovation, these programmes have garnered extensive support from the medical community in the United States.

Recovery of damaged heart possible through stem cells therapy Stem cells from patient’s own fat tissue are obtained in 60 minutes Bioheart has announced a medical breakthrough for cardiovascular therapy by using stem cells of fat tissues of patient’s own body. Regeneration of a damaged heart is possible through stem cells derived from a patient’s own fat tissues, according to Dr Karl Groth, Chairman and CEO, Bioheart Inc., a US-based company that

UAE Digest, January 2010 l 11

is an investment of a Middle Eastern medical fund from Ascent Technologies. He said that the procedure has three critical advantages. Firstly, the technique limits damage to heart muscle after an acute injury, such as a heart attack. Secondly, the cells serve as a catalyst for new vessel formation. Thirdly, the system used for obtaining stem cells is an easier and faster procedure with minimal intervention. Bioheart has developed a fullyautomated, point-of-care system that recovers potentially regenerative stem cells from a patient’s own adipose tissue in 60 minutes. “The CE Mark-approved, TGI 1200 System is able to obtain adipose derived stem cells (ASCs) from fat tissue located in the patient’s own abdomen, eliminating the need for the painful and expensive bone marrow extractions that have been used in competitors’ stem-cell treatment for cardiovascular therapy,” said Dr Goth. “This milestone means that the intervention by the medical team is greatly reduced, and this in turn means a faster, safer procedure which can be over within an hour.” The companyt, in collaboration with Hospital de Clinicas Caracas in Caracas, Venezuela, has commenced four different studies utilising the ASCs. These are during a coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) procedure, percutaneous delivery of cells in chronic heart ischemia, delivery of cells after an acute myocardial infarction (heart attack), and delivery of cells in critical limb ischemia. “The Hospital de Clinicas is extremely excited to be a part of this cutting-edge technology and welcomes the studies,’’ said Dr. Nusen Beer, MD, a cardiologist who has been successfully using this method in the treatment of cardiac patients. Dr. Groth went on to say that this breakthrough will bring new possibilities of damage repair and cell regeneration in diseases related to cardiac dysfunction: “One immediate positive impact is the possibility of increasing blood supply to the damaged area and preventing scarring,” he concluded. 12 l UAE Digest, January 2010

The medical condition myocardial ischemia Is a disorder that is usually caused by a critical coronary artery obstruction, which is also known as atherosclerotic coronary artery disease (CAD). CAD is the leading cause of death worldwide, and it is the second most common cause of emergency department visits in the United States. Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) is a type of surgery called revascularisation, used to improve blood flow to the heart in people with severe coronary artery disease (CAD). CABG is the most common type of open-heart surgery in the United States, with more than 500,000 surgeries performed each year.

Healthy family His Excellency Dr Hanif Hassan Ali leads partnership with private sector to promote UAE’s Corporate Social Responsibility agenda His Excellency Dr. Hanif Hassan Ali, UAE Minister of Health, recently reiterated the role of government and private sector organisations in driving initiatives that raise the country’s social, economic, cultural, and healthcare standards. He also stressed on the need for active partnership between the private and government sectors

for further advancing the country’s corporate social responsibility agenda. The remarks came at the launch of the Healthy Family Initiative (HFI) under the patronage of the UAE Ministry of Health and in collaboration with Johnson & Johnson Corporate Citizenship Trust – Middle East branch. This initiative will establish the region’s first comprehensive programme featuring a series of health education campaigns on issues such as diabetes, obesity, smoking cessation, safe pregnancy and child safety. The initiative also aims to provide families, healthcare professionals and other caregivers with the necessary information and training that will allow them to sustain healthy lifestyles through adopting preventive behaviours and better managing chronic diseases such as diabetes. The initiative will be carried out for an initial period of three years and specific measures will be put in place for assessing its impact and results. It will also be managed by a steering committee that will include a representative from the Johnson & Johnson Corporate Citizenship Trust – Middle East branch as well as representatives from the Ministry of Health and other relevant partners. Diabetes will be one of the primary focus areas of the educational campaign that will also emphasise on the education, prevention and control of long-term associated health complications.

Earlier this year, the Juvenile Diabetes Education Centre (JDEC), the Emirates Diabetes Society and the UAE Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences University launched the JDEC Multidisciplinary Diabetes Education Course, which aims to establish the first professionally certified and recognised diabetes educators in the UAE. Over 80 healthcare professionals who are involved in the management of diabetic patients, from both the public and private healthcare institutions across the UAE, are currently participating in this course which is due to end in March 2010. This course has been established within the framework of a not-forprofit partnership between Johnson & Johnson Corporate Citizenship Trust - Middle East branch, the Emirates Diabetes Society and Sanofi-aventis’ social responsibility programme. Carried out in collaboration with the Diabetes Care Continuum (DCC) Ministry of Health and Dubai Health Authority, it will now be delivered as part of the overarching Healthy Family Initiative.

Technique to reverse disabling effects of age-related sight loss New treatment tested for age-related macular degeneration discussed Age-related macular degeneration (AMD), leaves many older people unable to carry out normal daily activities like reading or driving, and eventually leads to loss of sight in one or both eyes. Professor John Marshall, Frost Professor of Ophthalmology and Chairman of the Academic Department of Ophthalmology, at St Thomas’ Hospital, UK, discussed a potential cure for AMD at Sight 2009, an ophthalmology event which was held at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC). During his lecture ‘An update on agerelated Macular Degeneration’, Professor Marshall spoke about ground-breaking laser treatment that has the potential to eradicate the most common cause of blindness that affects the over 60s.

“We are all going to suffer from problems with our eyesight as we age, but for those who possess a defective gene, their eyesight will inevitably suffer at an earlier stage and can eventually lead to blindness,” he stated. “Clinical trials have indicated that the new-to-market 2RT laser can greatly reduce the otherwise intractable problem of how to help the eye’s waste disposal system do its job after it has been weakened by age.” According to Professor Marshall, some people are more at risk because of a number of factors in addition to their age. These include genetics such as a family history of AMD, behavioural factors such as smoking and also environmental factors such as exposure to ultraviolet light. “A retina has to cope with a lifetime of radiation bombardment – light being a form of radiation,” adds Professor Marshall. “There are some genes that can interfere with the process of the retina trying to process light which can eventually lead to photoreceptor cell death.” Professor John Marshall has developed a way of ‘cleaning’ eyes which, due to the ageing process, have accumulated tiny particles of debris which start to cloud their sight. The technique works by rejuvenating a thin membrane behind the retina, called Bruch’s membrane. There is currently no treatment for the most common form of AMD - known as ‘dry’ AMD which the new laser technique could prevent. The more aggressive ‘wet’ form of AMD, where new blood vessels cause bleeding and scarring behind the retina, can be stabilised with drugs.

circles, and some of them resort to wrong treatments based on cosmetic products and friends’ referrals, thus affecting the scientific treatment of acne. This was revealed at a recent medical symposium held in Dubai, in which leading experts threw light on new development in the treatment of acne. Dr. Didier Coustou, an internationally renowned dermatologist with a wealth of European experience, said: “Acne cannot be taken lightly, as quality of life can be affected because of this disease. In the Middle East, people are prone to acne because of their oily skin and humid weather. Cosmetic products should not be used for this complaint without medical advice.” “UAE is quite advanced in dermatology treatments. I have visited many countries and am really impressed with the level of expertise of the UAE local dermatologists. Dermatology sector in the UAE is on par with France. Local doctors are quite good in what they are doing, but the important thing is to consult a dermatologist for acne treatment, and avoid using plain cosmetic products.” Dr. Coustou added. The symposium was organised jointly by Pierre Fabre Dermatologie, France’s second biggest independent dermatological laboratory and their local partner Alphamed group. At the symposium, Isotretinoin, which is the active ingredient of the drug used for treatment, was highlighted as a basic and safe treatment for severe acne. This

Nearly 80 per cent of adolescents in UAE suffer from acne Medical Symposium urges insurance companies to cover acne treatment Nearly 80 per cent adolescents in the UAE suffer from acne, which is now considered a disease in medical

Dr. Didier Coustou

UAE Digest, January 2010 l 13

form of therapy has revolutionised the market. It decreases the size and output of sebaceous glands and makes the cells that are sloughed off into the sebaceous glands less sticky, and thus decreases their ability to form white heads and black heads. Dr. Alissar Khoury, UAE dermatology and allergy specialist, urged people to stop using friends’ referrals to treat acne: “The range of people in the 15-22 age group who have acne is 80 per cent in the UAE. Five per cent of them resort to wrong treatments based on cosmetics products and friends’ referrals. Food doesn’t affect acne but stress does. Thirty per cent of acne patients have studyrelated stress. Twelve per cent of them have fear of communicating with people.” “We urge insurance companies to cover acne because it is a disease, and five per cent of the patients cannot afford the treatment because it involves blood tests and other tests. The average spend per treatment is Dh5,000 and duration of treatment is around four years. The incidence of acne is split equally between locals and expatriates from adolescent ages.” Dr. Khoury added. Dr. Khoury disclosed that five per cent of patients take wrong treatments at some point due to lack of education or ignorance of the severe side-effects, and stressed the need to educate the public, especially parents, on the importance of early treatment. Dr. Sameer Al Ali, a dermatocosmotologist from Dr. Ahmed Fikry Medical Center, revealed that 70 per cent of acne patients were girls and 30 per cent boys.

There’s more to strong and healthy bones besides calcium and Vitamin D Protein, phosphorous, magnesium, zinc, vitamin C and overall healthy dietary habits proved crucial to bone health in studies discussed at annual LOPS and Nestlé Beirut conference The Lebanese Osteoporosis Prevention Society (LOPS)-in collaboration with nutrition, health and wellness leader 14 l UAE Digest, January 2010

Nestlé as part of their regional ‘Nestlé Strong & Healthy Bones’ awareness initiative,-highlighted new research showcasing the role of a healthy diet - not only calcium and vitamin D - in building and maintaining strong and healthy bones; which is crucial to preventing osteoporosis later in life. The studies were presented in this year’s ‘Musculoskeletal diseases and fragility fractures’ regional congress, held in November in Beirut and attended by bone health professionals and experts from different parts of the Arab world. Raising concerns over studies showing Vitamin D deficiencies to be rampant across the world and in the Middle East, Dr. Ghassan Maalouf, former LOPS President and head of the Bone and Joint Decade Lebanon chapter, stressed that “in addition to fracture and fall prevention, optimisation of Vitamin D levels and ensuring a balanced diet can prevent osteoporosis from occurring altogether.” “In Lebanon for example, several studies have shown a surprisingly high incidence of Vitamin D deficiency,” Maalouf added. “Knowing that all it takes to get your Vitamin D requirements is to expose the hands

and face to the sun 15-20 minutes three times a week, and moderate regular physical activity - 30 minutes most days of the week - is essential for strengthening and maintaining bone health throughout life,” he explained. The body needs Vitamin D to absorb and deposit calcium, the main mineral needed to avoid osteoporosis ailments. Mainly found in milk and dairy foods, calcium is the most prevalent mineral in the body where 99 per cent of it resides in bones. The remaining one per cent is found throughout the body where it functions to support such activities as muscle contraction and heartbeat. Should the body lack calcium to perform those additional functions, it would use the bone calcium reserve to compensate, eventually weakening the bones. In further stressing the benefits of dietary habits over supplements, Maamari referred to new studies, specifically to a quote from Dr. Reina ArmamentoVillareal of the Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO who said at a recent US conference “we found that people who take a calcium rich diet (…) have better bone density than those who take supplements alone.” To help deposit calcium in bones, the nutrients mentioned other than Vitamin D have been found to have the following functions: Protein helps increase bone density; Vitamin C enhances calcium absorption and Vitamin D’s effect on bone; Phosphorous combines with calcium to strengthen bone structure; Magnesium improves bone strength and firmness; and zinc supports bone structure.

About AMD Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a disease associated with aging that gradually destroys sharp, central vision. Central vision is needed for seeing objects clearly and for common daily tasks such as reading and driving. AMD affects the macula, the part of the eye that allows you to see fine detail. AMD causes no pain. In some cases, AMD advances so slowly that people notice little change in their vision. In others, the disease progresses faster and may lead to a loss of vision in both eyes. AMD is a leading cause of vision loss in Americans 60 years of age and older. AMD occurs in two forms: wet and dry.


Swine flu

the virus and the panic By Vanit Sethi


very two years or so, a new virus erupts in the world that can blow up to the proportion of an epidemic or a pandemic. In the last 10 years, we have had viruses like SARS, mad cow disease, avian flu, and now swine flu. This is apart from the usual outbreaks like malaria, dengue, jaundice and chikungunia that happen frequently in tropical countries. Earlier, a virus that erupted say in some African country could be contained locally and allowed not to spread by isolating the patients, but in today’s globalised world with frequent flyers and travellers, this is often not possible. So, the viruses tend to spread fast through travellers across continents and assume the proportions of an epidemic within a short time. Thus, containing the spread of the virus becomes a major challenge for governments across the world. Major international airports have to become extra vigilant to contain the spread of the viruses. But often, the detection of a virus happens long after it has already spread. So tracking down the virus to its source and then containing its spread before a vaccine can be developed is a big headache, but something that must be done on a war footing with all the resources and manpower available. Swine flu was one such virus that took the world by surprise in the first half of 2009. Before people could realise what was happening, some lives were already lost. By the time the virus was discovered, more lives were lost. Panic through the media and grapevines creates a critical situation indeed for governments. More often than not, a virus needs to ride out its effectiveness before it can be tackled, but panic only worsens the situation. One needs to look at the situation squarely and then tackle the crisis as best as possible without creating a fear psychosis. So, let’s look at what swine flu is all about, where did it originate, how did it spread and how was it tackled?

Swine influenza (also called pig influenza, swine flu, hog flu and pig flu) is an infection by any one of several types of swine influenza virus. Swine influenza virus (SIV) or S-OIV (swine-origin influenza virus) is any strain of the influenza family of viruses that is endemic in pigs. As of 2009, the known SIV strains include influenza C and the subtypes of influenza A known as H1N1 (the most common one in 2009), H1N2, H3N1, H3N2, and H2N3. Swine influenza virus is common throughout pig populations worldwide, but transmission of the virus from pigs to humans is not common and does not always lead to human influenza, often resulting only in the production of antibodies in the blood. If transmission does cause human flu, it is called zoonotic swine flu. People with regular exposure to pigs are at increased risk of swine flu infection. The meat of an infected animal poses no risk of infection when properly cooked. During the mid-20th century, identification of influenza subtypes became possible, allowing accurate diagnosis of transmission to humans. Since then, only 50 such transmissions have been confirmed. These strains of swine flu rarely pass from human to human. Symptoms of zoonotic swine flu in humans are similar to those of influenza and of influenza-like illness in general, namely chills, fever, sore throat, muscle pains, severe headache, coughing, weakness and general discomfort. In the UAE, the first reported case of a swine-flu death was in Abu Dhabi on August 20 last year of a 63-year-old Indian. By September 8, the toll had gone up to six, including two UAE nationals -- an eightmonth-old baby and a 75-year-old man. Of course, this was nothing compared to some other countries (see box) where the figure was in hundreds. The country had moved quickly to control the virus by introducing

compulsory testing in schools, distributing Tamiflu in medical centres, creating special centres for testing the flu, and initiating fastcheck for the virus at special airport counters, particularly in Dubai and the capital. Furthermore, a nation-wide campaign to combat the threat of H1N1 was launched on November 7 in Abu Dhabi in the presence of General H.H. Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. Gen.Shaikh Mohammed was the first to receive the swine flu vaccine. The first batch of the flu vaccine had arrived in the UAE on November 3 – a shipment of 40,000 doses of GlaxoSmithKline’s Pandermrix or D-Pan intramuscular vaccine. Prior to this, during Eid-Al-Adha, proper precautions were taken to reduce the number of pilgrims for Haj. Most of the Haj pilgrims returned safe and free from the virus. Meanwhile, a new single-shot vaccine against the virus would be mass produced in the UAE from early this year. The vaccine has been developed by the Hualan Biological Bacterin Company of China and will be mass produced in the UAE by the Gulf Pharmaceutical Industries (Julphar) headquartered in Ras Al Khaimah.


Worldwide (total) 12,121 European Union and EFTA 1,671 Other European countries and Central Asia 367 Mediterranean and Middle East 1,174 Africa 112 North America 3,215 Central America and Caribbean 222 South America 3,148 Northeast Asia and South Asia 1,614 Southeast Asia 381 Australia and Pacific 217 Source: European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control – December 22, 2009

UAE Digest, January 2010 l 15


Weighed down by trouble Obesity is fast catching up as the latest disorder among the UAE population By Ambily Vijaykumar


ately there have been advertisements on the radio and television exhorting people to take their weight issues seriously. The need for such a large-scale awareness campaign can easily be linked to the fact that UAE’s population, especially its younger lot is increasingly queuing up in the ‘overweight’ category. One of the important messages that these campaigns are sending out is that obesity is not funny. An obese person is generally an object of ridicule and that attitude towards such people is also seen as an impediment in the curing process. UAE Digest spoke to Dr. Leena Kapoor, Head of the Department of

16 l UAE Digest, January 2010

Internal Medicine at Zulekha Hospital in Dubai to find out more about obesity and related diseases and what needs to be done to stem the rot. Alarmingly, it is people in their 30s, teenagers and adolescents who are increasingly falling prey to this lifestyle disease. The primary reason behind it being unhealthy living and eating habits. “We all know that obesity can be a potentially serious disorder. There are lots of diseases that arise because of obesity; for example diabetes, hypertension, cholesterol disorders, heart problems, strokes and other complications arising from these metabolic syndromes,” says Dr Kapoor.

“Side-effects of weight loss drugs far outweigh the benefits that accrue from Dr. Leena Kapoor

While conceding that the awareness factor is largely due to the high use of internet among people, what is lacking though is the correct approach to losing weight and getting back a healthy lifestyle. “It is imperative to have proper guidelines to be able to lose weight the right way. For that, patients need to come to a doctor, see a dietician and take proper guidance,” Dr Kapoor elaborates. Healthy diet is an aspect that most people give little importance to, despite knowing its benefits. That can be attributed to the stressful lives that most people in the UAE lead. With working mothers, children tend to rely largely on junk food for their meals rather than home-cooked food. This puts them on an unhealthy habit that stays with them for the rest of their lives. A dietician can guide as to what is to be eaten, in what measure, and in what combination. Some people might argue that they exercise control in their eating and have only three meals a day, but that is not necessarily the right way to eat. “A dietician will be able to guide you

to eating small meals at regular intervals and to increase the quality of the meals that one takes,” explains Dr Kapoor. Giving a thumbs down to the use of drugs in losing weight, she says that the side-effects of using these medicines far outweigh the benefits that accrue from them. Doctors recommend a lifestyle modification to drug use for losing weight. “I am not in favour of medicines like fat burners. There are a lot of Chinese medicines that can cause renal and kidney problems. What I would recommend is that the person who suffers from obesity should rather join a gym under a trainer and lose weight the healthy way. If a person does not have the time or resources to join a gym, even a daily brisk walking session in the parks that are available in the country should do well. The weather at the moment is absolutely conducive for taking up some form of exercise,” Dr Kapoor elaborates. A large number of patients who come to Dr Kapoor fall into the overweight category. Generally these kinds of patients suffer from depression due to their weight problems. The challenge for the doctor lies in sending out a positive message from the outset and making the patient feel that their problem can be cured.

them” Step one is to set realistic targets for weight loss. A person who weighs 130kg cannot be expected to lose 40 kilos in two months. This kind of target will only further push the person into a bout of binge eating and instead of curing the illness, will add to the complications. “If some kind of drugs help initially to lose weight, then under medical supervision, it can be done. But then once the person begins to show signs of weight loss, doctors should switch to natural weight loss methods,” says Dr Kapoor. Obesity is however not always the result of a lifestyle disorder. It could also be a hereditary problem in which case the medical problem including a thyroid imbalance needs to be treated before the person can be treated for weight loss. Doctors also say that there is not much to choose from when it comes to categorising who is more at risk from this disorder. The number of females suffering from obesity is “slightly more” when compared to the male figures. Educating mothers is being recommended as a strong tool to speeding up the process of combating the disorder. Pitching “investing in health” as the most important investment for the future, doctors say that due importance needs to be given to this aspect in the campaigns that should be run to increase awareness about obesity. UAE Digest, January 2010 l 17


Go skin-deep to slow aging By Vanit Sethi


eauty is only skin deep’ is an age-old aphorism. However, in today’s world, outward appearances do count for a lot, especially as the health and beauty industry has made it possible – with the aid of technology – to make people look younger and more attractive. The first thing that comes to notice when you observe a person is obviously his or her face. The face, like the eyes, reveals a lot. It tells you your age, education, race, nationality and even your attitudes. It should be obvious, therefore that good care should be taken of the skin that makes up your face. In daily life, a number of elements pay havoc with our skins – sun’s UV rays, smoke pollution, hot and cold weather, the aging process, skin’s internal texture, some genetic and racial causes. Is it possible to preserve your skin by battling the effects of environmental and physiological factors? Medical technology, in collusion with the beauty industry, makes it possible to slow down or minimise the adverse effects. The International Aesthetic Medical Centre (IAMC) in Jumeirah, Dubai, has introduced a free skin analysis (skinscription) programme using state-ofthe-art technology. Through it, you can find out how you will look five years from now, or how you looked five years ago. An expert skin therapist analyses your skin free of cost as part of its promotion to encourage healthy skin and skin care practices. The skin analyser, imported from USA, accurately evaluates the current state of skin health, assessing skin damage and other anomalies, and conjures an image of how a person will look after five years if corrective measures are not followed. Skin analysis at IAMC involves a careful assessment of the skin condition, and takes into account any determining factors 18 l UAE Digest, January 2010

that may damage skin health, such as underlying medical conditions, skin type, history of sun exposure and the products used in daily skin care routine. Commenting on the importance of skin analysis, Ms Ildiko Marth, skin therapist at the centre, said: “We all know that taking care of our skin is important, but most of us do not know our own skins completely. Most of the times, we unintentionally damage our own skin through skin care regimens that are not suited to our skin structure. Skin analysis is the first step towards completely knowing one’s skin and its requirements. It also helps to determine the compatibility of a particular skin type with the skin care regimen being followed. Skin analysis enables people to take control of their skin care in the right way, and by detecting any possible issues early, can reduce the extent of treatments that might be needed, and the costs involved.” At IAMC, skin analysis is carried out using a UV camera to take a snapshot of the underlying condition of the skin, allowing the analyst to see what the naked eye cannot. Pigmentation, surface

spots, UV spots, brown spots, red areas, wrinkles, skin texture, pores and other skin anomalies are easily detected. Additionally, the analysis system provides advanced features for sun damage assessment and analysis including UV fluorescence imaging to reveal porphyrins (bacterial excretions that clog the pores and lead to acne). This helps the skin specialist to plan a customised treatment plan. Commenting on the skin analyser system, Dr Dawood Sulaiman, Cosmetic Surgeon says: “Our skin analyser system is highly sensitive and precision driven, incorporating the latest skin analysis technology and multiple features. The analyser can detect the minutest of variations in the skin condition across various skin types. The client can track and evaluate the treatment progress over time by comparing the percentile differentials and the printable images.”. IAMC’s customer-base is now growing with people from different nationalities experiencing the benefits of skinscription and skin treatment through the latest technology. So, go in for skin rejuvenation to look younger and healthier!

The business of beauty The IAMC recommends Nimue skincare products from South Africa and Raviderm from Germany, as they are thoroughly and scientifically tested under laboratory conditions. The Nimue range is for hyperpigmented, problematic, near-normal and sun-damaged skin, offering varying types of treatment. Other treatments at IAMC include Blepharoplasty (removal of excess skin, fat and muscles around the eyes), Botox (removal of wrinkles through a non-surgical cosmetic procedure using Botulinum protein), Breast Surgery (augmentation, lifting, and reduction of female breasts and correction of male breasts through liposuction), Endermologie (anti-cellulite treatment), Face-lift, Neck-lift and Brow-lift, Fraxel Laser Treatment (solving the problem of acne scars, melasma, open pores and aging skin), Laser Hair Removal, Hair Transplantation, Intense Pulse Light Treatment (for hair removal and skin rejuvenation), Lip Augmentation and Dermal Fillers, Liposuction and Lipo-dissolve, Microdermabrasion (exfoliation technique) and Rhinoplasty (surgical procedure to reshape the nose


What’s your purpose? By Kevin Abdulrahman


et me begin by asking you a few questions. What’s your purpose in life? What do you want to achieve? How do you want to contribute to the people you love and to your society? Many live their lives in constant frustration. Even when life is OK they are frustrated in their own hearts because they know that life has more to offer. They know that they have a lot of potential that is not being utilised. They have become good at postponing doing things in life. Which brings me to another question and I am not testing your intelligence here. I simply want you to get a full understanding of where I’m coming from. How many days are there in a week? I will go over them so that we are absolutely certain. “Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday”. Would you agree that there are only seven days in any given week? Even when some weeks seem longer than others, there are only seven full days. I want you to therefore think about why many (some of whom you might know very well) use terms such as ‘one day’ and ‘someday’ when they know such days don’t exist? I am sure you know of people who tend to say, ‘one day I will develop my mind’, ‘someday I will get up and go to the gym’, ‘one day I will

start to work on my dreams’, ‘someday I will spend more time with my family’. If you sit there waiting, I assure you that you will be severely disappointed waiting for one day and someday. These days will never come to your rescue. Most people associate taking action as being uncomfortable, one with a price to pay. By that I mean, they think of all the sacrifice they have to make if they were to, say, lose weight. Not eating junk food, being disciplined with portions, cardio exercises, going to the gym, etc are some of the actions that need to be taken. So many people already know this but choose inaction, not realising the price they pay is much higher. They pay the price by having low selfconfidence, being unhappy and miserable, to say the least, on a day to day basis. Inaction has a price. And if you are going to pay the price anyway,

then why not pay the price to live your dreams and live your purpose? There are two types of people in this world. Those who have the potential to live their dreams, yet never do. And those, who make a decision and take action to do whatever it takes to live their dreams. Life doesn’t reward those with potential. It rewards those who have the guts to pursue their dreams and take action. Your life has a purpose. Find what it is, then take action to get to it. The late king of pop said it best, “This is it”. He said is repeatedly. This is it. This is it. This IS IT. He was planning to do his last tour of the UK and, sadly, his time was up. Michael Jackson never got the chance to do what would have been his last tour. The life that you are living is your show. Every day is your last show. R.I.P to the legend that was Michael Jackson, but I hope that he serves as an example for you to ask, ‘Am I living my purpose? Am I truly performing my masterpiece? Or am I waiting for someday and one day?’ Because you will never know on which day of the week, the light will go out. Kevin Abdulrahman, www.KevInspire. com , is the international author of a series of books, an inspirational keynote speaker and a mind nutrition expert. He helps winning organisations, universities, sports teams and individuals create breakthrough results. UAE Digest, January 2010 l 19


Picture for illustrative purposes only

Treading the road often taken

For students of Indian schools and colleges in the UAE, it is difficult to take up off-beat courses, conditioned as they are by the conventional notions of a ‘good education’ By Vanit Sethi


rashanth, Siddharth and Ranjan are sitting on three stools in the shape of human backsides on a commode at the cinemas in a prominent upmarket mall. They are waiting to buy tickets for the superhit Bollywood flick 3 idiots, based on best-selling author Chetan Bhagat’s 2004 novel Five Point Someone about student life in IIT, India’s premier technology institution. The stools are part of a promotion campaign by the film team (the three characters appear in the film thus in one scene). Suddenly, the ticket counter opens and there is a flood of people scrambling to be the

20 l UAE Digest, January 2010

first ones to get in. Within minutes, the counter closes with a ‘House Full’ sign. Many return disappointed, but the lucky ones have smiles on their faces while entering the hall. Meanwhile, hundred others rush out, smiling and chatting animatedly in a melting pot of Indian languages – from Hindi to Malayalam to Bengali to Marathi – all discussing the hilarious scenes and finer aspects of the film. Two young girls giggle when I ask them about the film, and they blurt out, “Aamir Khan is too good. He is the real King Khan, not Shah Rukh.” Why? “He does one film a year and it’s

a superhit because he gives it his all,” replies Pooja, the younger of the two. What is it about this film that is creating such waves that it is well on its way to becoming Bollywood’s biggest grosser ever? It’s a commentary on the Indian education system that emphasises too much on rote learning,

In India, it is a rat race and no amount of reforms will change the fact

killing creativity in the A western education process. Films do become Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad – good talking points on definitely gives you an ranked as India’s best management institute contemporary issues, but edge worldwide do they really have the her sons to England, but the costs are too power to change the system? “Not really,” prohibitive at the undergraduate level. says JS, an English professor visiting his children in the UAE, “but they do both studied in Dubai as children, but generate enough buzz to provoke some Indian competition while Meena moved to Bangalore to thinking on those lines. In any case, even However, not everyone agrees that study Law, Jahnavi went to Canada to if a few people have altered their way of the Indian education system is too pursue a degree in Mass Communication. thinking, it leads to some change at least.” competitive, leaving no scope for other Both, incidentally, were holidaying in pursuits. Karthikeyan, an ex-student Dubai a few months ago when I met of DPS Sharjah, is now in Chennai Boys vs Girls them and both are doing equally well pursuing engineering. He knew he However, checking out on students of in India and Canada respectively. was not cut out for IIT. “I’m happy in Indian schools in the UAE leads to some “I think there is enough talent and Chennai,” he says, while on a visit to predictable results. Most students, after creativity within India,” remarks Faisal, meet his parents in the UAE. “I know their Grade 10, prefer to opt for sciences a journalist. “While most parents would it’s not a top rank institution like the (boys for Maths and girls for Biology). still want their children to pursue IIT, but it’s good enough, and gives me Only those who cannot get into sciences scope to pursue some other interests opt for commerce. Ironically, very few like dramatics.” While he’s slogging Indian schools in the UAE have courses Indian Institute of it out in Chennai, saying India is a in Humanities. “If students want to opt Technology, Kharagpur – ranked as India’s best completely different experience from for Humanities right after Grade X, technology institute the UAE, his brother is undergoing they have to go to India,” says Shabnam, a commercial pilot’s course in who has now shifted to Pune in India Melbourne, Australia. “Every country for the sake of her daughter who was is different,” he says. “But I would say interested in pursuing Liberal Arts. the Indian education system has its But even if they are pursuing sciences advantages. We know how to compete here in the UAE, children have it internationally because of the academic relatively easy compared to those in pressure at home, and that’s why Indian India. “Back home in India, students are students are so successful overseas.” undertaking coaching classes from Grade Aakash does not completely agree, 8 onwards to get into IIT. Incidentally, however. Having done electronic there are centres which coach you to get engineering from the US after being an into other centres which coach you for an engineering or medicine, there are ‘average’ student in India, he got good job IIT admission,” says the ambitious father any number of parents who are broadoffers in Delhi before he decided to join of a Grade IX student who is thinking minded enough to let their children his parents in Dubai. Now, after having of moving back to India to make his pursue a profession of their liking. But worked for about five years in Dubai, children become a part of the mainstream. for Indians in UAE, it is kind of more he is back in Delhi in a flourishing What about the students? What do stifling because the choices for Indian telecom company. “A western education they feel about this mad rat race for the students here are limited. Indian parents definitely gives you an edge worldwide. top slots. Sameer says he has to slog it out here are more conservative than in India, I got very good job offers in Dubai, to succeed in India. “There is no other Muscat and Delhi only way,” he rues. He is very interested in because of my western music and wants to play the guitar, but degree. But of course, for the moment he is simply geared to There is enough talent and creativity my initial grounding in clearing his Class XII exams. “In India, within India, but most parents would India, plus a degree from unfortunately, it is a rat race and no still want their children to pursue BITS Pilani did help.” amount of reforms will change the fact. But ultimately, it does Because, whether we like it or not, we are engineering or medicine depend on individuals. just too many,” says Sonika, the mother of Meena and Jahnavi two high school boys. She wants to send UAE Digest, January 2010 l 21

Students are so sheltered here from competition. They have it very easy despite the pressure being much less.” The lack of pressure here with the easy admissions into science streams means Indian students here are just not aware of the intense competition and scramble for prestigious seats in India. “Students are so sheltered here from competition. They have it very easy, “ remarks Vinod, a sales manager and a father of two sons. “That’s why I get worried wondering what my sons will do when we go back to India. They are not the very brilliant type.” Vinod is thinking of moving back to India due to ailing parents back home and the drying up of better job prospects in the Gulf after the economic downturn.

Quota system Some parents are highly bothered about the system of quotas and reservations in India. “Getting even into an NRI quota is tough, but is an option while living here, whereas in India, average students – meaning ones with less marks - end up in second-rate colleges,” says Rosemary, whose son has decided to pursue CA in India. “Ironically, even less than 90 per cent sometimes can be average. That’s the tragedy.” The whole problem has to do with so many bright students chasing so few good colleges in India. Writer Chetan Bhagat highlighted the issue in one of his newspaper columns, saying that the good colleges in his parents’ times are the same as the ones today, while the number of students has multiplied. According to him, India needs one million good college seats every year. It is this lack of good colleges that creates the intense competition among Indian students for the limited seats available. In the movie 3 idiots, one of the students’ father is upset that his son has got 91 per cent instead of 94 that he got earlier. 22 l UAE Digest, January 2010

“I think the movie’s a superhit because it’s so true to life. Very few Hindi films have been made on the Indian education system, though they are plenty on the fun and frolic, love and romance on college campuses,” says Aruna, a businesswoman. “The movie struck a chord among audiences because no one has dealt with this problem before. I’ve read the book Five Point Someone about two years ago. I felt then that a movie should be made on this.” Some ex-students of IIT, however, were of the opinion that though the IITs cannot be compared to MIT, the institutes had a name outside India, especially in the US. “Many IITians are heading top positions in Silicon Valley companies, and some have done brilliant R&D,” says Manmohan, an alumnus of IIT Kanpur. “I think that’s the point. They all go abroad and succeed. The Indian education minister’s plan to lure them back to India for top faculty positions hasn’t really worked,” says

Sanjay, a travel agent, whose brother, however, has returned to India from the US, to join a top multinational firm. And so the debate on the Indian education system goes on. Even as innumerable crowds throng the theatres showing 3 idiots in the UAE. Meanwhile, some bookstores in malls have started displaying Five Point Someone prominently, and they are reporting a spurt in the sales of the book too. A group of youngsters outside a theatre are sporting T-shirts proclaiming ‘Don’t be stupid. Be an IDIOT. I Do It On-my-own Terms. Ultimately, ‘aal izz well’, as goes a popular song in the film. (The names of some respondents in the story have been changed to protect their privacy.)

Very few Hindi films have been made on the Indian education system

Five Point Someone versus 3 idiots Apparently, ‘all’s well that ends well’ in the row between author Chetan Bhagat and the makers of 3 idiots ust a week after the release of Rajkumar Hirani’s 3 idiots - which was well on its way to becoming the biggest Bollywood grosser ever (nearly Dh100 million in only three days) – all hell broke loose. It all started off rather innocuously with a reporter seeking comments from Chetan Bhagat, the author of the highly popular book Five Point Someone (2004), on which the movie is based. When Bhagat responded that it felt ‘strange’ to have his credit pushed at the end of the movie, little did he anticipate the controversy that would erupt shortly thereafter. While the makers of 3 idiots shouted from the rooftops that the film was an ‘original’ and only ‘inspired’ by Bhagat’s book, the author decided to make his stand clear on his blog. Writing on the New Year’s Eve of 2009, the author let it be known that he was clearly hurt by what he considered clever attempts to deny him due credit for the storyline of the film. In a Author Chetan Bhagat rather lengthy explanation, he demanded how


someone could snatch his baby and claim it as their own. The very next day, the 3i team went into an overdrive with press conferences galore to rubbish the author’s claims. One press meet outside the Indian capital city turned particularly ugly with the producer telling one journalist to ‘shut up’ since he hadn’t read the book. Then, when TV crews started zeroing Film-maker Rajkumar Hirani in on Bhagat, it seemed he had the last laugh after all. Still smarting under the accusations hurled at him by the ‘Bollywood gang’, he pleaded with viewers not to arrive at any judgment till they’ve read his book, and only then decide how much of FPS is there in 3i. His blog was jammed with almost 2,000 mails, most of them backing him in this battle over the airwaves. Finally, on January 2, Chetan wanted a solution to the problem. He pleaded for adequate credit to be given to him, if not in the film prints, then at least in the official records and DVD/video prints. And then, on January 5, he said ‘let bygones by bygones’. But, in the battle for percentages, how much of the book is actually there in the film Here is my analysis: The film is surely an adaptation of the book, as Chetan Bhagat says. An adaptation is just that – it’s not a book transplanted on the screen. There are many incidents which are very similar or almost identical to the book, especially in the first half. But it is the second half which goes off at a tangent, to make it more ‘Bollywoodian’. In my opinion, at least 50 per cent of the film is similar to the book. And even if many incidents are not exactly the same, you can recognise portions of the book in the film. So, at best, it is an adaptation. And an adaptation does need a credit. If the film makers pushed the author credit down at the end, while giving story credit to themselves, it surely smacks of dishonesty. Moreover, since so few Bollywood films are made from novels, copyright issues are still a grey area in India. This controversy, however, should mean writers and film-makers sign their contracts more carefully. Focussing on the positives, however, both the book and the film certainly score more than a five point something out of ten. First, the book. Five Point Someone appeared in 2004 and became an instant hit both in India and abroad. Bhagat’s book touched a chord among young urban Indians, all of whom had gone through the rigours of the education system. They identified with the three main characters of the book who make it to India’s best technology institution – the Indian Institute of Technology – but subsequently find it difficult

to keep pace with the excess workload, assignments, lectures, projects etc. Considered below average by both their peers and the professors with five-point grades, they venture into making the most of their student lives in the campus (with Vodka, joints Pink Floyd, and the ‘insti’ roof) only to realise that IIT is not the place for it. The film 3 idiots - which is ‘inspired’ by Five Point Someone retains the core elements of the book while adding a Bollywood flavour to it, particularly in the second half. For those who had read the book, it was easy to identify which portions of the book found their way into the film. The gist of the story, or the ‘soul’ as Bhagat calls it, remains the same. It is a critique or a satire on the Indian education system, which stresses on learning by rote, killing creativity in the process. Ironically, this happens even in India’s best institution, to get admitted to which students burn endless hours of the midnight oil. Of course, the names of the characters and the institution is suitably changed in the film, perhaps to avoid any unnecessary controversies. Aamir Khan excels in his role as the unconventional Rancho, while Madhavan and Sharman Joshi too play their roles of ‘average’ students to perfection. Kareena Kapoor is a refreshing change as a professor’s ‘nerdy’ daughter who happens to be a doctor, while Omi Vaidya turns out to be the surprise package as the master rote learner Chatur Ramalingam. But the person who clearly stood out in his role was Boman Irani as the eccentric and meticulous Professor Viru Sahastrabuddhe (‘Virus’ for short). The film is replete with hilarious situations – just like the book – and even in its darkest moments, does not lose that touch of gentle humour. The music is peppy and youthful, especially the main track Aal izz well and Zooby Dooby, while Behti hawa sa tha woh and Give me some sunshine are the softer, more touching tracks. The cinematography -- particularly of the Indian hill stations of Shimla, Manali and Ladakh -- is breathtaking. No wonder the movie has turned out to be such a superhit! Which made the row on TV rather unfortunate. For book-lovers and cine-goers, however, the row was meaningless. They enjoyed both thoroughly, just as I surely did.

UAE Digest, January 2010 l 23


How to buy a DSLR camera


irst things first. DSLR stands for ‘digital single lens reflex’ which are high performance cameras traditionally used by professional photographers but which are increasingly used by photography enthusiasts, thanks to enhanced user-friendly technology. But why choose this type of camera? For those semi-professionals and enthusiasts who have a flair for serious photography and are willing to take the time to master the extra technologies provided, opting for a DSLR makes sense. It allows you to have a greater command over how the final image looks. Generally, when a high resolution image is clicked on a normal digital camera, it would take a certain time to process the image and shoot. This time lag factor could hinder the semi-professional from taking some great action shots. With a DSLR, you can click multiple frames per second (continuous shooting). However, with so many choices available on the market today, deciding which one to choose can be mindboggling. With that in mind Canon, an innovator of imaging products and solutions, has put together a guide to what to look for when buying a DSLR. 1. What will you use it for? It is well worth asking yourself what type of photography you want, as it will help you think through the type of features and accessories you’ll need. 2. Price - DSLR cameras are more affordable nowadays with brands offering great starter cameras for high technology pieces. A factor to take into account is the cost involved for

24 l UAE Digest, January 2010

additional equipment such as: Lenses: can be tailored to your photographic requirements, i.e. if you are interested in landscape photography you will need a wide angle lens; if you are more interested in taking wildlife or sports shots, then you may require a telephoto lens. • Memory Cards: Most serious photographers upgrade their memory cards to at least a two-gigabyte card which allows you to take more high resolution images before needing to delete and free up space. • Filters: Filters can be used to manipulate the light that enters the camera. Filters are very useful for creating effects such as softlighting or warmer colours. 3. Resolution – “How many megapixels does it have?” is a question that is often one of the first to be asked about a new camera. Megapixels come into play as you consider how you’ll use your images. If you’re looking to print enlargements then more can be good - if you’re just going to print in small sizes or use them for e-mailing friends then it’s not so crucial. 4. Added Value Features: It is always worth remembering what you hope to get out of your photography before investing in additional technology features. • Burst Mode: Is the ability to shoot a burst of images by just holding down the shutter release - great for sports and action photography. • Maximum Shutter Speed: Most DSLRs will have a decent range of speeds available, but some will have impressive top speeds which will be very useful if you’re into sports or

action photography. ISO Ratings – A camera’s ISO function sets the light sensitivity of the camera’s image sensor. A lower setting is used when capturing bright scenes (beach, snow slope), since it reduces the light sensitivity of the image sensor. A higher setting is used when shooting under dimmer conditions (cloudy days, indoors, etc.) since it increases the light sensitivity of the image sensor. LCD Size :This feature can be important when you wish to review your pictures. The larger the LCD, the easier it will be to view your pictures and to choose if you wish to keep them Dust Protection: Another feature that has started appearing in the latest round of DSLR cameras is image sensor dust protection. The EOS Integrated Cleaning System is Canon´s technology for minimising the sensor dust characteristic of digital SLR cameras, which also includes software processingsomething that will prove invaluable for Gulf photographers. Flash : With ongoing flash development, photographers are able to improve both range and overall photographic results. Live View : With Live View mode, the screen can be used to compose shots, or to easily auto focus in the style of a digital compact camera. Video Option: The new Canon EOS 500 D is integrated with full HD movie capability with a high-end 15.1 Megapixel.

• • •

Dodgy web domains Africa’s Cameroon (.cm) has overthrown Hong Kong (.hk) as the web’s riskiest domain, according to McAfee’s third annual Mapping the Mal Web report, released last month. At the opposite end, Japan (.jp) is the safest country domain, landing in the top five safest domains for the second year in a row. The most heavily trafficked web domain in the world, commercial (.com), jumped from the ninth to second most dangerous domain, while government (.gov) is the safest non-country domain. “This report underscores how quickly cybercriminals change tactics to lure in the most victims and avoid being caught. Last year, Hong Kong was the riskiest domain, and this year, it is dramatically safer,” said Mike Gallagher, chief technology officer for McAfee Labs. “Cybercriminals target regions where registering sites is cheap and convenient, and pose the least risk of being caught.” Cameroon, a small African country

that borders Nigeria, jumped to the number one spot this year with 36.7 per cent of the .cm domain, posing a security risk, but did not even make the list last year. Because the domain .cm is a common typo for .com, many cybercriminals set up fake typosquatting sites that lead to malicious downloads, spyware, adware and other potentially unwanted programmes. Following aggressive measures from

Country Web Domains Overall Risk (ranked in most risky 2009 order)

Overall Risk 2008

Cameroon (.cm)


PR of China (.cn)


Samoa (.ws) Philippines (.ph) Former Soviet Union (.su)

.hk’s domain managers to clamp down on scam-related registrations last year, Hong Kong fell 33 spots from the most risky domain in 2008 to the 34th most risky domain in 2009. Now, only 1.1 per cent of .hk sites pose a risk, whereas last year nearly one in five .hk Web sites were risky. Among country domains, the People’s Republic of China (.cn) and Samoa (.ws) remained in the top five most dangerous places in the last two years.

Country Web Domains Overall Risk (ranked in least risky 2009 order)

Overall Risk 2008


Japan (.jp)




Ireland (.ie)





Croatia (.hr)





Luxembourg (.lu)





Vanuatu (.vu)



Additional findings from the report include: Of the 27 million Web sites and 104 top-level domains McAfee rated for this report, 5.8 per cent pose a security risk – that is more than 1.5 million risky Web sites Sites registered to the Asia-Pacific Web domains are significantly riskier than the overall Web with 13 per cent of sites posing a threat. This region includes the second riskiest domain with the People’s Republic of China (.cn), and also, ironically, the safest Web domain with Japan (.jp), Ireland (.ie) is Europe’s safest Web domain with only .1 per cent risky sites. Using the award-winning McAfee® SiteAdvisor® technology and data from McAfee® TrustedSource™ technology, the

company analysed more than 27 million country and generic Web domains and calculated a weighted risk ratio. McAfee SiteAdvisor tests Web sites for browser exploits, phishing, excessive pop-ups and malicious downloads and gives sites that fail a rating. McAfee TrustedSource technology is a comprehensive internet reputation system that analyses web traffic patterns, site behaviour, hosted content, and more, to provide insight into site security risk. “It is not always easy for computer users to identify what’s safe and what’s not,” said Gallagher. “Reports like this and tools like McAfee SiteAdvisor, which is incorporated into all of McAfee’s consumer security suites, can be the compass people need to navigate the Web.” UAE Digest, January 2010 l 25


The first international Bahraini model With a charming personality and creativity in his blood, Ahmed Ahmed is the first international Arab model to make Bahrain proud. Here he talks to Rabis.M about winning the title of Mr Bahrain, his company and his future goals


hen a young Bahraini guy called Ahmed Ahmed stepped into the world of modelling in Bahrain, little did he know that it would lead him to an international level. It has been a strenuous ride for him but its been worth it as he has now launched his own label ‘Greenosh’, a fashion and accessories brand, in Bahrain. For Ahmed, the sky is undoubtedly the limit. Born in August 1982 in Riffa city, Bahrain, as Ahmed A.Nabi Ahmed, he is more famously known in the world of glamour as ‘Ahmed Ahmed’. He graduated from college in Bahrain in 2002. His modelling journey goes back to a very young age; Ahmed recalls this 26 l UAE Digest, January 2010

as an early old memory: “ I have always been interested in TV commercials and magazine adverts, I have also had a love for photography, so that’s what made me go for it at the end of 2006.” He believes modelling doesn’t require any professional courses and that it can be intuitive, unless it’s modeling on a catwalk because then one requires some training courses to teach the right way to walk on the stage. In 2007, things started to warm up for Ahmed, it was then a top notch Bahraini photographer discovered him and this is when Ahmed’s first portfolio was created. Fashion was a major factor when deciding on a modelling career, he has good taste for fashion and lifestyle as

well a passion for being in front of the camera. As he explains: “Being in front of the camera allows me to express myself and I do enjoy being a model.” Modelling to him is the direct and indirect way to deliver and promote any kind of product and service, it is through this medium, one is able to teach people how to wear the right clothes and how to dress up in a stylish and modern manner. It also enables them to gain confidence and belief in themselves. “Modelling in the Gulf is very weak especially in Bahrain, it’s more active in Dubai, but in Bahrain people are still unable to comprehend the modelling lifestyle, especially the agencies. I don’t see any professional modelling agencies in Bahrain; I have dealt with a couple of them here and they don’t work in a professional manner, it’s very different in Dubai and in European countries. I believe there is a stigma associated with modelling, as it was not considered as a very respectful profession a few years ago. Even though Bahrain has been welcoming to lifestyle and fashion, people here look at it in a very different way. Take the example of the guys and girls who do their best just to appear in an advertisement, which means no-one will look down at you. Besides, fashion is a part of our life, we should know what to wear, when to wear it and the right way to wear it.” The Gulf has seen a rise of new models recently especially the guys who are making most of this opportunity. Ahmed explains that the boom has taken place because guys are taking good care

of themselves and they stay updated with what’s new in the fashion world. Also, some of them simply want to appear for preening purposes, or because they are really into it. “Nowadays it is rather easy to get featured in an advertisement for any company, especially in Bahrain. Agencies don’t even care about the looks, all they want is the lowest cost models as this would be an experience for them. Most of the girls come from conservative families and mostly wear Abaya and Hejab, so it is hard for them to appear as models, that is why you see more guys than girls.” “I consider the best part of being a model is the experience you gain, meeting new people and showing people the good side of themselves through modelling and promoting brands, products and services. The hardest part is when you work with unprofessional people, who make your work very hard and who don’t pay you your worth.” Who are your modelling inspirations? These would include Naomi Campbell and Tyler Bachtel. What are your favourite shots? My favourite photo shoots took place with Bahrain’s Best Young & Talented Photographer, Yasir Waheed, and that was for my 2009 Portfolio. What are your thoughts on becoming Mr Bahrain 2007? I am very proud of being the face of Bahrain and being Bahrain’s first international model. It was kind of hard in the beginning for Bahraini people to understand because it was something new to the country’s social life; some people didn’t agree with it and some did, but these days people are more understanding then before and they are more open to fashion and lifestyle. Name some of your ventures I had a couple of good modelling ventures with the biggest one being for Bahrain Telecommunications Company “Batelco”, for their (Broadband Campaign). I did another one for Al Areen Holdings Co.

for a big in-house big project - it was shot at Banyan Tree Hotel, Resorts and Spa, the most beautiful hotel & spa in Bahrain, I think. When did you decide to become a fashion designer? Since I was 10 years old I noticed that I love doing artistic things such as designing clothes, drawing and making models of buildings. I grew up loving to create new ideas. Even my family always ask my opinion before they buy new clothes. In 2000, I graduated from high school and decided to study Marketing & Advertising and then specialised in graphic design, because these three tasks complement each other and I knew that I would need them for my future. Besides, I couldn’t study fashion design as this course is not available in Bahrain, but I had a couple of training courses with other fashion designers, which lead me in 2008 to be selected among thousands of hopefuls in competing for entry to the regionally renowned Lebanese TV show ‘Mission Fashion08’ as a Fashion Designer on both LBC and Nagham TV channels. And that’s a short story of me on how I ended up multi-tasking. I would love to be one of the internationally leading Middle Eastern fashion designers to show the world that Arabs are creative people as well. I would love to act in Arab movies or Arab TV shows - that will be good to experience; I would like to have my name known as a worldwide model and actor, but being a fashion designer matters the most to me. I would like to mention here that in 2007, I had one offer in to act in a British Indian movie, but I couldn not accept it due to my busy schedule at that time. But yeah, if I received offers to act, why not, I am sure I can go for it. What are your hobbies? Acting, swimming, travelling, using the Internet, Facebooking

and working out at the gym. I have a great supportive and caring family. They are standing beside me, alongside my closest friends; and since I have become more famous I can see now that the support comes from everywhere through my fans around the world, which gives me the hope to go further with my future career. The only additional support I wish to get is from the local and GCC commercial communities to be able to represent Bahrain and the Arab world. What is Greenosh? Greenosh is a new brand label I launched very recently, aimed at the youth. This brand will be focusing on printing special designs on t-shirts, pants, bags, shoes etc. beside other print designs on pets clothes, office items and much more. I would like to thank all my fans for their support and encouragement, and I have this small advice to give to those who have got dreams and talents: just be yourself and do your best to make your dreams become true, never wait for chance to come to you because it never will if you don’t take the first steps. Also never be afraid or shy of your talent. UAE Digest, January 2010 l 27


Art capital Art has never been painted this big, as it will be, and soon, at the Cultural District of the Saadiyat Islands Abu Dhabi. By Manju Ramanan


lavish splurge of four upcoming museums with their distinct architecture, design and splendour will draw the world to Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Islands that houses its Cultural District. The Saadiyat is located at a distance of 500 metres off the coast of Abu Dhabi and is a multi-faceted destination - a business hub for international commerce; a waterfront home for residents; a cultural magnet for arts aficionados; the home of dazzling architectural icons; a pristine beachfront tourism destination, and a focal point for compelling sporting experiences, such as the Gulf ’s only tidal and ocean golf courses. It will also be the only place in the world to house architecture designed by five individual Pritzker prize winners. The Cultural District represents the world’s largest single concentration of premier cultural institutions - Zayed National Museum, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, Louvre Abu Dhabi, Maritime museum, and Performing arts Centre, each built by architectural luminaries: Foster & Partners for the Zayed National Museum, Frank Gehry for the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, Jean Nouvel for the Louvre Abu Dhabi, Zaha Hadid for the Performing Arts Centre and Tadao Ando for the Maritime Museum. An exhibition on Saadiyat Island’s Cultural District is currently running 28 l UAE Digest, January 2010

Louvre Abu Dhabi

at the Emirates Palace Hotel on the Abu Dhabi Corniche. The museum is open free-of-charge to the public from 10am until 10pm daily.

Louvre Abu Dhabi Discovery, Exchange and Education are the three golden words that go into the Jean Nouvel design of the Louvre Abu Dhabi, the very first universal museum outside the western world. This cultural institution born in Enlightenment Europe will present paintings, drawings, sculptures, manuscripts, archaeological findings, decorative arts etc. created and collected from all over the world. It is dedicated to people living in or visiting the UAE and will showcase a dialogue between art from different civilisations and cultures around the world. Its majestic, seemingly ‘floating’ 180 metre diameter dome echoes the great domes of Islamic design, and is inspired from the mushrabiya. Jean Nouvel describes it as an “island on the island”: a micro-city of small buildings, ponds and landscaping. The lacy dome will cover two-thirds of the museum city, which will let a “diffuse, magical light come through”. A light that will illuminate the gallery interior, while the water below will be crucial in reflecting the building’s structure and creating an intense architectural and museum experience for visitors.

Guggenheim Abu Dhabi An institution devoted to the acquisition and display of modern and contemporary art, the Guggenheim is recognised for the excellence of its architecture, collections, exhibitions, and educational initiatives. The Guggenheim Abu Dhabi will promote the understanding and appreciation of art, architecture, and other manifestations of visual culture from a broadly international perspective, while sustaining the heritage of its local environment. Frank Gehry´s design echoes Gulf architecture, incorporating dramatic conical forms that play with a modern twist on the region’s ancient wind-towers. These structures blend form and function, serving to both ventilate and cool the museum’s covered courtyards. With approximately 13,000 square metres of permanent and temporary exhibition space, it is the largest museum in the Cultural District. Guggenheim model

Performing Arts Centre

The Performing Arts Centre A hub of cutting-edge theatre, music and dance from around the world, the Performing Arts Centre is designed by celebrated Iraqi/British architect Zaha Hadid and houses a music hall, concert hall, opera house, drama theatre, an experimental performance space, as well as an Academy of Performing Arts. Zaha Hadid´s inspiration was drawn from the organisational forms within organic structures with references to natural shapes – leaves, stems, buds, fruits and branches. The enclosed spaces are engineered to maximise natural energies, from large windows capturing daylight to the orientation of spaces to enhance acoustics. Like fruits on a vine, the theatres face westward to the water, and lobbies afford glorious sea views to keep each visitor in constant visual contact with the surrounding environment. In 2008, Zaha Hadid was ranked 69th on the Forbes list of ‘The World´s 100 Most Powerful Women’, confirming her position as cultural icon.

Zayed National Museum Dedicated to the life and times of the Father of the UAE, HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the 345,000 square feet Zayed National Museum will provide a fitting testament to this towering national figure, his vision and legacy. Twelve of the world’s top architectural firms participated in a competition to create the most appropriate and awe-inspiring design for this modern Arabian icon. The Pritzker Prize winning Foster & Partners were

Zayed´s legacy and central aspects of his life work. The galleries will be individually devoted to UAE Heritage, Environment, Transformation of the Emirates, Unity Through Leadership and Education, as well as to the late ruler’s legendary devotion to the universal ideals of Humanitarianism and Tolerance. Foster & Partners’ architecture is driven by the pursuit of quality - a belief that people’s surroundings directly influence the quality of their lives.

Maritime Museum HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan

declared winners with their iconic design that will feature five galleries, each themed around a pillar of Sheikh An old photo of Sheikh Zayed

Designed by Japanese architect Tadao Ando and inspired by Abu Dhabi’s nature, landscape, and maritime traditions, the museum’s elegant architecture begins with a unique space carved out of a simple volume that is shaped by the force and fluidity of Abu Dhabi’s wind. Within the ship-like interior, ramps and floating decks guide visitors fluidly through the exhibition, echoing the theme of the museum and creating dynamic gallery experience. Dhows float over the voids of the interior space and help create an intense visual experience by relating objects to one another and to the museum architecture UAE Digest, January 2010 l 29

Maritime museum

as a whole. Below ground, there is a second space – a reception hall with an enormous aquarium. A traditional dhow floats over the aquarium and is seen from different perspectives.

Cult of culture Rita Aoun-Abdo, Director, Cultural Department TDIC Abu Dhabi, has been part of several government organisations that focus on culture, the arts and education in Lebanon, France and the UAE, including ministries, embassies and theatres, before her role at TDIC. She speaks to UAE Digest

premier cultural institutions will set the standard for the kind of initiatives that will help fulfil Abu Dhabi’s longterm cultural and educational vision moving forward. The Louvre Abu Dhabi – designed by Jean Nouvel - will be the first universal museum in the Middle East; while the Frank Gehry designed Guggenheim Abu Dhabi will be the largest Guggenheim facility. Most importantly, the museums serve as a multi-generational investment in education. New generations will be trained in all major aspects of museum work as part of the development agreements of the Louvre Abu Dhabi and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, so that Abu Dhabi may gradually take over the management and operation of these institutions. When will its three museums and the Performing Arts Centre be open for viewing? Zayed National Museum, the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi and Louvre Abu Dhabi museums are all scheduled to open by 2013, and the Performing Arts Center, designed by Zaha Haddid, is set to open in 2017.

Rita Aoun-Abdo

on the Saadiyat Island’s Cultural District and what’s going on now. What is the aim behind creating the Cultural District? The goal of Abu Dhabi’s leaders in creating the entire Saadiyat Island Cultural District is to build a platform for deeper and more meaningful cultural and artistic exchange among people from the UAE, the region and all parts of the globe. The presence of these 30 l UAE Digest, January 2010

Why did Abu Dhabi choose the Louvre and Guggenheim among a host of other names across the world? The alliance with these partner museums will bring diverse expertise to the region and support for our cultural initiatives, and will play a vital role in further enhancing the arts and culture scene. In addition, the advanced programmes developed through these collaborations aim to provide knowledge and training to Abu Dhabi, UAE, and people within the region — especially the younger generation. Having two world recognised

institutions set up regional locations that are relevant both locally and globally will help foster exchange between cultures and people of various backgrounds. Each museum on Saadiyat Island’s Cultural District will be unique in its concept and relevant to the region, incorporating art from the Middle East, presented alongside art from all corners of the world. To provide an example, the Louvre Abu Dhabi will display works from the Louvre’s collection, as well as works loaned from other major French museums, and most importantly works from the collection of the Louvre Abu Dhabi itself to create a real dialogue between the artworks but also between civilisations and cultures. The Guggenheim Abu Dhabi will also highlight the influences of Islamic and Arabian art within a global context. What are the structural innovations of the museums and how do they reflect a synthesis of the Middle Eastern and Western cultures? Designs have been carefully selected based on their ability to create a dialogue between civilisations and cultures, bringing renowned architects from around the globe to incorporate Middle Eastern taste and history. The Louvre Abu Dhabi dome-like structure is reminiscent of rays passing through date palm fronds in an oasis. As Jean Nouvel stated, “I wanted this building to mirror a protected territory that belongs to the Arab world and this geography. I enjoy adapting architecture’s ever-recurring themes, twisting them, reinterpreting them with a different approach.” In this case, Jean-Nouvel’s design relies on the light and shadow effects associated with Arab geometry. The iconic elements of the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi are inspired from the Barjeel, or gulf wind tower, and will be the world’s largest Guggenheim facility at 42,000 square metres. The design is intended to incorporate as many sustainable concepts as possible, including natural cooling/ventilation of covered courtyards by adapting the concept of traditional wind towers found

throughout this part of the world. The Zayed National Museum, designed by world-renowned Foster & Partners, will feature the story of Sheikh Zayed and explore the history and culture of the UAE. While the design itself has not been made public yet, we do know the museum will feature five galleries on the themes of Environment, Heritage, Unity, Education and Humanitarianism. On what basis were architects chosen to design the museums decided? Was it to do with design, fame or experience? Each of these four flagship museums on Saadiyat Island Cultural District are designed by winners of the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize. Unprecedented in scale and scope, they are set to be architectural icons of global importance and will be the world’s largest single concentration of premier cultural institutions. Despite the reputation of these architects, all were selected based on submitted designs, which have already received international attention for their ability to combine both originality and functionality. Norman Foster’s design for the Zayed National Museum, for example, was selected based on a competition in which 13 international and regional architects participated. Jean Nouvel’s concept for the Louvre is also regarded as an engineering feat, and chosen for this reason. What difference will the museums bring to Abu Dhabi tourism? Do you see it as a move to reinvent Abu Dhabi as a new cultural hub of art? TDIC has set a vision in line with Abu Dhabi’s 2030 plan as we believe in the emirate’s considerable tourism potential. This vision is largely reliant on bringing recognised cultural institutions to the capital, fostering interaction with international hubs and attracting visitors and residents through the common bond of creativity. The tourism sector continues to form a key component of Abu Dhabi’s economic 2030 plan, which has been developed to

move the economy from its dependence on hydrocarbons. It focuses on creating a dynamic diverse economy, which will see over time an empowered private sector, a sustainable knowledge-based economy, a transparent regulatory environment, the development of industrial sectors, and first class residential and tourist infrastructure. Already a commercial hub, Abu Dhabi’s investing in cultural initiatives will ensure a rich and sustainable future for the emirate, as well as creating a location of global importance on the map. What kind of crowd are you planning to attract in Abu Dhabi through the Cultural District? The Cultural District is intended to appeal to local, regional and international audiences alike, and to be a common gathering place for Emiratis and world travellers. We expect visitors from all continents and from around the world as the cultural district is an open gateway for all to enjoy and benefit from. However, this is not only about tourism, it is also an artistic and educational beacon to the world and we hope that the 160,000 residents expected to live on Saadiyat Island by 2020 will also benefit from the opportunities the world-class institutions have to offer. How do the museums plan to interact and engage with the common visitor or tourist? We are already engaging in an active programme of arts and audience development leading up to the opening of the Cultural District in 2013. Currently, more than fifty masterful paintings from the collection of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, representing the work of over 40 of the most important artists of the 20th century is running through 4 February 2010 in the exhibition The Guggenheim: The Making of a Museum at Gallery One in Emirates Palace. The Abu Dhabi Art gallery at Manarat Al Saadiyat, a state-of-the-art visitor’s centre, has recently opened in

the Cultural District with Disorientation II: The Rise and Fall of Arab Cities, an exhibition that explores the notion of unity and fragmentation in the Arab world, on till February 20, 2009. It is the first gallery space to open at Manarat Al Saadiyat and will later include three other galleries-Louvre Abu Dhabi, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, “The Saadiyat Story,”- all opening in phases with the completion date scheduled in April 2010. On February 4th, there will be a lecture and film screening on abstract film, video art and new media at Gallery One. There will also be art workshops on colour, shape and form for adults and children running throughout February. Similarly, at the Abu Dhabi Art Gallery in Manarat Al Saadiyat, the curator of Disorientation II exhibition, Jack Persakian, will be giving a tour on February 7, in addition to a number of film screenings hosted by the New York Film Academy – Abu Dhabi on February 3 & 17. Do you see art and the common man on the same platform of interaction? Rather than the art itself, it is the dialogue and thought it promotes that makes it accessible to everyone. For this reason, we have a diverse public programme designed to engage people of every age and background. This includes educational and design workshops, curating forums, guided tours and panels with artists and film screenings. Programmes are designed to encourage experimentation and creativity and to develop critical thinking skills. We also hope to create an educational environment around these institutions to develop the interaction and conversation with the artwork. For example, there is currently a reading room at the Guggenheim: Making of a Museum exhibition developed to educate visitors on the various masterpieces. We plan for every museum in the Saadiyat Island Cultural District to have an educational component established to promote educational initiatives with schools and faculty, as well as workshops to help make our art accessible to all. UAE Digest, January 2010 l 31


Finding the right bride People often perceive intelligent and highly qualified men as a hard catch and difficult to find for marriage, but this statement has been overturned as Rabis.M speaks to two successful and intellectual men, who are in search of the right bride, expressing their views on how hard it is finding a suitable companion in this day and age


arriage is a wonderful concept, provided one is married to someone they can relate to and share their view of life. It is undoubtedly true that marriage is a ‘must’ for every individual, regardless of their cultural or religious background. It not only brings harmony to one’s life but also brings along a lot of responsibilities that need to be shared by both partners. Considering the Eastern society, the logistics of getting married work in a rather different manner as compared to the Western concept. Marriage is certainly about two individuals signing a contract for a lifetime of harmony, misery and endless trials, but it also brings two families together. For many of us, finding the right husband or wife may not be a difficult task; the majority may choose to go through the ‘traditional arranged marriage’ route whereas others would want to choose a person, get to know them and then involve their respective families. The concept of marriage varies from person to person and it depends on the way they are brought up and how they perceive its significance. In my personal view, marriage is about finding your other half, who needn’t be perfect, but just be right for you. Yes there are religious, cultural and social pressures surrounding us 32 l UAE Digest, January 2010

but we need to ask ourselves if we have found the right person yet. Another pressure piled on in my Arab society that can be pretty irritating is the age factor. For instance, if your friends and cousins are married and you happen to be one of the very few unmarried individuals left in the family, all eyes in the family question you. If you are way too fussy looking for Mr Perfect or Miss Perfect, you are just wasting your time, because there is nothing called ‘perfect’. Marriage to me is a sacred concept, it does not bring the eternal promises of harmony as life is not a bed of roses. Some of us are in love with the idea of ‘being married’ but are not prepared to take on board the responsibilities. Many question the significance of marriage, some portray it as the last resort of escape from their dull single life, others follow the traditional norms and plunge into the traditional marriage route, meanwhile, the third kind are people who incorporate the Western and Eastern concepts.

UAE with high expectations of settling down to a new phase in his life, but so far, things seem bleak. He defines his type of girl as social, intelligent, patient and modest and searches for someone who can share his religious views, is caring, sophisticated, well-educated and has the looks. O.E. believes it has become very hard now to find a life partner now as people are becoming very superficial and disconnected from religious and traditional values. He emphasises: “Families, particularly good ones, are becoming isolated from the generally poisoned social atmosphere. When men or women get older, their social circles become smaller, especially when they graduate and/or travel for work or further studies. Women are increasingly competing with men in all fields of today’s economy. As they try to prove themselves, they usually increase their expectations on the candidate life partner and refuse marriage offers that they consider as a stumbling block to their advancement in career.”

O.E is a PhD graduate from UAE When I interviewed O.E from Dubai, I could see how deeply he felt about marriage and its significance, but he was facing problems in finding the right girl. Having recently completed his PhD from Leicester, UK, O.E. moved back to

Dr Waleed Essa: surgeon from Canada Dr. Waleed, an Egyptian surgeon from Canada who graduated from Egypt, is looking for someone who is prepared to put her life partner and her future family as top priority. He wants someone caring and committed, who is calm. He

understand-if they are experienced in life - the extent of matching between both partners. The cons are in the form of failure of developing emotions afterwards, this can be a problem.

Women are materialistic when it comes to marriage

Dr Waleed

believes life has become far too complex now, influencing the concept of marriage as communities become bigger and people know each other less on a social level. “Imagine, shopping for a simple thing in the 1960s and shopping for the same thing in shopping malls now; it is very confusing and time consuming. Now, let us imagine if this is marriage; it pretty much answers the question.”

Arranged marriages O.E: Arranged marriages have their advantages and disadvantages. Advantages are gained from the careful matching process which would usually take into consideration cultural, religious and even tribal factors. These matching factors lessen the danger of severe conflicts, lower the expectation of both partners and encourage compromises as they guarantee a certain level of common standards. Additionally, parents’ consent provides an umbrella to protect the newly married couple from crises, particularly those related to financial problems and lack of maturity. A disadvantage could be the continuous pressure from parents. The lack of independence in tackling issues such as where to live or how to raise their children is also an inherent problem of arranged marriages. Moreover, breaking an unsuccessful marriage through divorce could become more painful in terms of its social side-effects. Dr Waleed: It has a lot of pros and cons; pros in the form that the people arranging it know both sides well and

O.E: Women usually pay attention to successful and highly paid men who can offer them a financially secured life, sometimes regardless of their moral and ethical issues. Actually, meanings of love and mercy as mentioned in the Holy Quran are becoming less important factors in their decision making process. Dr Waleed: This could be applicable probably when it comes to their demands; again compare between our needs today and a woman’s needs in the 1960s or early 1970s. The definition of security changed over the last 40 years and became more complex. Before, everyone used to feel secure with the possession of little things. But I am against applying this definition on all girls. There are still some who are not very materialistic.

they are more experienced and know people more than us. The most important thing is to make the final decision for ourselves, but their blessings are essential. Choosing a life partner is now very well accepted in the Middle East too, but due to our society’s nature, I believe that keeping the elderly in the whole picture is very important.

New methods in the search O.E: I tried to encourage my parents to accept my view of a candidate life partner and I asked them to incorporate more ‘modern standards’ with the help of my sisters. I tried some online matrimonial sites and I found them time-consuming and useless. I have heard some successful stories but they are exceptions as far as I am concerned. Dr Waleed: I guess it is still limited to the circles around each one, either familial, or work. Other channels did not improve the way of choosing the partner in Western societies, I guess it cannot work in our Eastern society.

Choosing a life partner O.E: I favour choosing a life partner complying with traditional factors. I am gradually surrendering voluntarily to this option (traditional method). I tried my best to find a suitable candidate on my own, according to my standards, yet I noticed on several occasions, the discomfort of my parents towards those candidates. Despite the fact that my parents did not express their feelings, I decided not make further serious steps. I am still insisting that the woman of my dreams must be like a daughter to my parents and they have the right to cast a veto if this is not going to happen. I still believe that I have the right to choose my life partner according to my own standards, yet I have to put into consideration background, social values and religious compatibility. Dr Waleed: I guess having the opinion of elders is very important, UAE Digest, January 2010 l 33


Foodie’s delight T By Linda Benbow

he Kenyan Minister for Tourism, the Honourable Najib Balala, recently announced the official opening of the Kenya Tourist Board’s Middle East representative office to be located in Dubai, with the goal of further boosting the number of visitors from the region to Kenya. Yes, I know that is a bit of a boring start to a food article, but you have to think beyond the obvious to enjoy life that little bit more. Food is food until you discover gourmet tastes. Here comes the lead up to an interesting bit: The ‘Kenya Week’ culminated with ‘Jamhuri Day’ celebrations to commemorate Kenya’s National Day of Independence, with special celebrations at Dubai’s Global Village followed by further celebrations in Abu Dhabi. Yes! There was a party. And all were invited (actually, some were invited, others willingly paid the all-you-caneat-and-drink price at Le Meridien’s Village Terrace). The morning’s rain helpfully stopped at midday ensuring a pleasant outside temperature for

34 l UAE Digest, January 2010

the many Kenyans who turned up to eat, laugh, dance and be merry. Hotel guests and visitors to the loaded buffet tables smiled and chatted to each other while wondering what type of steak to try first, i.e. gnu, goat, impala, ostrich and zebra were on the charcoals while anchovies fried in batter delighted many. And no, they aren’t salty like the tinned sort that the pizza people sprinkle on cheese – the real thing is just a pleasant white fish. Flavoured mash and wheat meal were an interesting choice for many vegetarians, as were the raw corn, onions, cabbage and beans which chefs sautéed with a variety of Kenyan flavourings to produce stir-fry of an African kind. The beat of bongo drums announced the arrival of Masai dancers who gyrated, jumped and jested on stage. They jumped up, getting higher and higher each time; well it would have been a disappointment if they hadn’t as this is a thing that they are famous for. The catchy, infectious smiles and singing that accompanied the dancing was a delight which soon had the crowd stamping their feet and

clapping hands. The evening ended with a crocodile line of diners dancing with the beat in and out of the tables. Meanwhile, at Warehouse, Le Meridien another delight awaits jaded palates, courtesy of Chef Savio Noronha who has devised a new fusion menu for the upper-level Japanese part of the multi restaurant building. Low level tables disguise the fact that they are situated within a sunken box, but the very ‘differentness’ of the seating instantly changes your mood and gets you wondering what other surprises are in store. Refreshingly simple tastes include soy and cilantro cured salmon with Asian pear, crème fraiche and mango salad with cherry tomatoes and Chinese long beans served as the ideal appetizers. After that you can choose from a hearty selection of mains. Vegetarians can opt for the curry gnocchi, which is served in a spicy Makhni sauce, toasted cashew nut and coconut ecume. Seafood lovers can savour the panroasted organic salmon wrapped in Hira Yuba paper, or opt for an entrée from the

Szechuan crusted tuna loin with soy mustard sauce and tuna strips marinated in soy ginger dressing with chili garlic crumbs

popular ‘Surf and Turf ’ section, which features Savio’s favourite grilled Atlantic scallops with pan-seared duck liver and vanilla cauliflower purée. Guests who prefer poultry can go for the chicken breast with poached asparagus, Korean barbeque sauce and tempura of shitake stuffed with duck liver mousseline. The dessert selection features a taste for every palate, with the exotic Yuzu tart, Chili pear and apple crumble, and Chocolate Exquisite, which is made of Earl Grey and lemon chocolate, cacao nib tuile, chocolate pain de genes. Situated over two floors, Warehouse is a sleek, urban space offers up to 600 people a myriad of choices for the ultimate evening out, including a European-style bistro serving soups, sandwiches and mussels, beer bar and garden, as well as a stylish wine bar both situated on the venue’s ground floor. On Warehouse’s upper level, a chic vodka bar and fusion restaurant offers diners new cuisine and unique cocktails in a captivating setting. Live music, a lounge and a DJ are designed to keep Dubai’s party people busy long into the night and for private events, a glassed-in VIP area allows guests an intimate, yet highly visible, environment complete with its own sound system. It was our wedding anniversary last

month and we both decided to go back to Ruth’s Chris Steak House at Monarch Hotel as we A selection of fusion tastes including Vietnamese style potato wonton soup, lobster spring roll, crab with big croutons, and duck and chocolate lollipop among others had happy memories of other meals there where understated parsley and garlic served with grilled elegant décor, privacy and classy asparagus and broiled beef tomato. table service stood out as much as the perfectly cooked steaks. To our surprise we were both tempted to try out the restaurant’s new bistro Learn how to cook lunch menu where all items are under traditional Arabic Dh100, including the restaurant’s famous cuisine sizzling filet. Although they serve lighter fare, soups and sandwiches along with Discover the art of preparing traditional main courses from noon to 2.30pm, we Arabic cuisine with cooking classes at decided to finish off our evening dinner the Emirates Academy of Hospitality with a filling New York cheesecake from Management, part of the Jumeirah the main menu. Mix and match style. group. The three hour programme is Ruth’s Chris Steak House, the conducted by Executive Chef Michael famed New Orleans steakhouse Kitts, with guests preparing a variety company serving the best USDA prime of traditional dishes each week. steaks serves delicious lunchtime Participants can opt to attend individual options including Prime Mini Beef sessions or all four weeks to complete Sliders – three mini prime sliders the menu series. on toasted tiger buns with a hint Timing: 3pm to 6pm, every Sunday, For of garlic butter; Louisiana seafood more information telephone: 04 3155101 gumbo and chicken chimichurri – chicken breast marinated in coriander, UAE Digest, January 2010 l 35


Taste of India Words like tandoori, dal, samosa and curry are now part of a common world vocabulary By Manju Ramanan


reaking bread together is probably the oldest form of symbolising solidarity and trust between cultures. Sharing food unifies people in a common brotherhood where they grow more accepting and tolerant of each other. In the UAE, where various cuisines represent their uniqueness and countries of origin, one of the most relished delicacies is Indian food. That though is not surprising as Indians form the largest expatriate group in the UAE. Maybe that’s why it is not uncommon to see non- Indians in large numbers queuing up the Indian food counters at food courts or ordering a thali at a roadside deli or

Incidentally, the luscious butter chicken is celebrating its 91st year of being invented in undivided India, in Peshawar (now part of Pakistan) way back in the 1920s. Also known as Murgh Makhani, butter chicken has carved a niche in Indian cuisine across the world. It has, in the process, promoted the rest of the country’s delicacies. “Like many Indian dishes, the butter chicken is not completely standardised and so can lend itself to several palates,” says Chef and entrepreneur Pradeep Chavan. Mukesh Tugnait, Executive Chef, Emirates Catering, agrees on the widespread popularity of Indian dishes. “About 30- 35 per cent of the meals served on Emirates airline flights is Indian food. Apart from being served in the India and Pakistan routes, Indian cuisine is also served in Middle Eastern routes, and is a part of the special meals category under Asian meals.” “And there too, butter chicken is on the menu,” he states. “We have the

Daal Makhani

wolfing down a bowl of ras malai or gulab jamun with great relish. Little wonder then that some Indian dishes have now become part of common parlance - butter chicken, samosa, curry, dosa or chicken tikka masala for instance. 36 l UAE Digest, January 2010

Butter Chicken

very popular chicken lababdar and steamed basmati rice on some routes to India and the sandwich chicken tikka cucumber on the Asian routes.” Currently, Emirates Flight Catering produces 26 million meals per year, a number that is expected to rise to 45 million in 2014. Kulwant Singh, a managing partner at Salaam Namaste, a well-known Indian restaurant, finds that Indian food is popular because it has a taste that blends with every cuisine, be it European, Middle Eastern or delicacies from the Far East. “Naan-bread and several tandoori items are very popular,” he states. “Also, within the North Indian cuisine, there is Mughlai, Shahi, typical Punjabi dhaba food, Awadhi, Kashmiri food and Delhiite food that has its own range of mixes and spices. Then, there is Gujarati and Rajasthani, as well as several cuisines native to the different states of India. But I feel that our desserts outnumber our dishes. There is so much variety that if you have a dish every day of the year, you could still have newer dishes the next year,” he adds. The popularity of Indian food can be gauged with a number of Bangladeshi and Pakistani eateries that run as Indian food joints across the world. People take advantage of the popularity of Indian food. For example, in St Petersburg in Russia, there are two restaurants, Tandoor and Tandoori next to each other, both of which serve Indian food. Curry houses can be seen aplenty on London

streets, and words like tandoor, curry and samosas have entered common speech and are now part of the world’s vocabulary. Kulwant added: “Most western restaurants across the world are familiar with Indian food and will create a quick Indian meal for the occasional guest who asks for it. This applies true for Indian vegetarian food too. We were at a restaurant in Melbourne, Australia, serving continental dishes when one of our friends asked for Indian vegetarian food and it was whipped up instantly.”

Food for Thought Food is currently one of the themes sought out by India Tourism’s Dubai office which has major plans for 2010 to attract tourists to India. “Indian food is an integral part of Indian culture and tourism, and we seek to address it to the world,” says C. Gangadhar, Assistant Director, India Tourism West Asia. The department is showcasing Indian food in all its variety to get tourists to visit India. They recently organised the Kabab and Biryani festival at the Lotus Hotel while this month sees the Lodhi festival at Chutneys restaurant, Movenpick Hotel; and then the kite flying festival (organised at the Ajman Beach Hotel) with its associated food pertaining to the festival. “We have a big itinerary set up for 2010. In the first week of January, we organised a press trip to India to showcase the Pravasi Bhartiya Diwas. This was followed by our participation at the EMITT (East Mediterranean International Tourism & Travel expo) in Istanbul. This is followed by celebrations for the Indian Republic day that falls on January 26th, followed by the Incredible India Festival in Kuwait with the Lulu chain of stores and supermarkets, an India evening at Yemen, followed by a press trip from Syria to India. India Tourism also has a stall at the ongoing Global Village where they have actually created a Kashmiri houseboat. “Showcasing India at the Global Village has been very successful. It has the right target audience we are looking for,” adds Gangadhar. February will also see a celebration of Indian food at the Salam Namaste restaurant. “The event will have 101 varieties of parathas, main courses and desserts. Indian chefs will be flown from India for the event,” he adds. In March, following Holi, the Indian festival of colours, India Tourism will celebrate the festival in all opulence with the allied food associated with it. India Tourism roadshow

M Sadana, Regional Director, India Tourism (East Asia, West Asia and Africa)

C Gangadhar, Assistant Director , India Tourism (West Asia)

Guests at the Kebab and Biryani Festival

UAE Digest, January 2010 l 37


Eating lawfully? The word ‘Halal’ has been widely misunderstood by a large section of the non Arab population. Nafees Ahmed, Project Manager, Orange Fairs and Events, speaks to UAE Digest on ‘Halal Expo 2009 - Dubai’, an event that hosted more than 200 brands from 34 countries in November What exactly is ‘Halal’? ‘Halal’ is an Arabic word, which means ‘lawful’ or ‘permitted’ under the Shariah law. At present, the global Halal industry is valued at $2.1 trillion and is being patronised by over 1.8 billion consumers worldwide. Does it only apply to food? This term applies not only to F&B products, but to all facets of Muslim life. ‘Halal Expo’ gathered leading producers of Halal food, meat, cosmetics, personal care, food ingredient products and services such as insurance, banking and logistics.

38 l UAE Digest, January 2010

What are Halal services? How do they differ from ordinary services? Halal services include logistics, insurance, banking and finance, research and development, and auditing and certification. They are different from ordinary services as they are carried out in accordance to the Shariah law. The region is witnessing an important shift in the Halal business model, as it gears up for further sustainable growth by leveraging investment opportunities in agricultural projects via joint ventures and partnerships.

Tell us about the Halal Expo 2009 Dubai Amidst this economic crisis, the region has experienced a growing demand for Halal and Shariah compliant products, which is being further driven by the growing cooperation among market players across the globe on a single quality standard for Halal products. This event aimed to fuel the growth of this potential-laden sector, with a focus on encouraging the trade of high quality, regulation-compliant products.


Fun for all

National Day celebrations marked with fun and charity By Ambily Vijaykumar


four year old boy wept as his helium balloon slipped out of his hand. His mother comforted him saying it is good to let go at times. That was very much in keeping with the spirit of the National Day celebrations hosted at the precincts of the Le Meridian Al Aqah beach resort on December 2, 2009. People let go of their worries and enjoyed a day filled with activities for kids and grownups alike. It wouldn’t have been wrong to say that adults became kids at the Fun Day organized by the beach resort. Proceeds for this event were for two charities: one for an orphanage and the other for a boat that supports the seafarers of UAE’s coastline. The venue for the event resembled one of a village fete with tents being put up on the lawns. Stalls selling eatables, clothes, photographs, massage, henna and face painting sessions, were

busy all day catering to the people who had turned up to support the cause. The day also marked the seventh anniversary of the resort and that was reason for the double celebrations. The setting for the event was idyllic with a view of the mountains in the background. A stroll down the winding gardens leads you to the open beach where children enjoyed playing in the sand while adults enjoyed boat rides. Back at the venue, the hotel staff had left no stone unturned to make sure that the proceedings were as smooth as possible. Audience interaction including a session where youngsters were taught a few dance moves went down very well with the audience. Kids with their faces painted to resemble butterflies, cats and tigers walked around flaunting their new look. There was a yoga session as well, for those who wished to calm

down after all the excitement. The hotel seemed to know how to keep the tiny tots engaged. A little farm, of sorts, with goats, rabbits and chicken kept the children’s attention alive. Lunch at the Views restaurant was a memorable affair with a wide range of breads, curries, salads and desserts to choose from. With activities continuing well past sunset, there was a lot of enthusiasm for the prizes being won; the grand prize being a return ticket for two and a stay at one of the Le Meridian hotels in London. The enthusiasm for the draw was palpable but what was unexpected was the drama that came with it. As luck would have it the person whose name was called out first from the lot was not available to collect his prize - and so the lot was drawn again. The new winner could not stop thanking her stars.

UAE Digest, January 2010 l 39


At the end of the show The greatest success of the festival has been the promotion of short and documentary films, mostly by students of cinema studies in universities and colleges, through the Muhr Awards every year By Vanit Sethi


hate to say this, but the Dubai International Film Festival of 2009 was no patch on the 2008 show and the year before that, despite the presence of stalwarts like Amitabh Bachchan and Omar Sharif. Call it the recession effect if you like, but the whole mood was a tad downbeat. It is not that the gala screenings and parties were bereft of glamour or the amFar was without its sprinkle of celebrities, but a certain sober realism pierced through the heady DIFF December nights. Stars did come and go, but they failed to leave a strong impression. Industry moneybags were scarcely to be seen, even at the daily workshops. Fewer journalists thronged the registration counters and fewer still had registered online before the festival began. The Bollywood legend Amitabh Bachchan walking the DIFF organisers were themselves – for red carpet on the opening night of the 2009 Dubai reasons best known to them -- slow on the International Film Festival uptake this time, with the festival unveiling editors could not plan a preview of films for press conference scheduled just two days their issues, with many left with just a bunch before the opening night. Thus, magazine of insipid press releases. Cinegoers too did

Cast of City of Life with the director Ali Mostafa (second from left)

40 l UAE Digest, January 2010

Egyptian movie legend Omar Sharif (left) talking to reporters at the Madinat Jumeirah

not throng the malls (in fact, Mall of the Emirates was the only one screening DIFF movies for the public this time, unlike last year when Festival City and Ibn Battuta too joined the bandwagon) barring the weekends. There were more queues for the advance booking of James Cameron’s Avatar than for the regular DIFF screenings. To top it all, the heavy rains washed away at least two red car-

Hollywood heartthrob Gerard Butler playing pranks at a DIFF press conference

Cast of the award-winning Palestinian docume at a Cultural Bridge panel

Queen Noor Al Hussein of Jordan addressing the Cultural Bridge panel

pet evenings out of the seven, and the sound system failed on the very first day during an Amitabh Bachchan press conference (the Big B was given the award for Lifetime Achievement, along with Egyptian movie legend Faten Hamama). Even the usual throng of PR professionals pursuing the media for their clients was spotted in far fewer numbers than expected. Coming to the numbers, fewer films (168 as compared to 181 in 2008) from fewer countries (55 as against 66 in 2008) were shown this year – the first downward move since the festival began in 2004. This is, however, not to detract from the prestige now associated with the festival, at least at a regional level. More films are being premiered at DIFF than at any other in the Gulf region, despite the recent spectacular successes of the Middle East International Film Festival (MEIFF) in Abu Dhabi and the Doha Tribeca Film Festival in Qatar. This year, 29 films had their world premiere at DIFF, including Nine, Avatar, Rocket Singh and City of Life. While the Arabic movie industry may gradually shift to Dubai from Cairo (though this may seem impossible

tinian documentary Budrus

now), and Bollywood has found a second home here, going by the number of Hindi films shot in the UAE, Hollywood too has been focussing on this region. The greatest success of DIFF has been the promotion of short and documentary films, mostly by students of cinema studies in universities and colleges, through the Muhr Awards every year. This time, there was a special screening of all Muhr Award winners in different categories at the MoE on a Friday after the curtains came down on the festival. 2009 was also special for DIFF as UAE National Ali Mostafa’s City of Life gathered favourable feedback from a variety of cinegoers. For those still not in the loop, City of Life is UAE’s first full-length trilingual feature film (English, Arabic and Hindi) that presented a slice of Dubai life seen through the stories of three characters – the spoilt son of a rich Emirati businessman, a frustrated Indian taxi driver, and a British playboy in the advertising industry. What makes City of Life unique is that it is a DIFF-born film (its idea was germinated at the 2008 festival). The DIFF also gives an opportunity to

Bollywood heartthrob Ranbir Kapoor interacting with reporters at the Madinat Jumeirah

cinema lovers in Dubai and the UAE to watch some of the most brilliant films from across the world – something they usually never have the chance to, given the strong hold of Hollywood, Bollywood and Egyptian cinema. The DIFF organisers have said they will commercially release some of the best films of all the past festivals in Dubai on DVDs, gladdening the hearts of film buffs. What, however, most people do not notice is the wonderful opportunity provided by DIFF to youngsters in the UAE, who can become volunteers during the festival, interact with a multinational audience, watch some great films from time to time, have fun with their peers, get a worthwhile work experience, and also grab some pocket money on the go. Students of cinema too get to cover the festival and interview celebrities. Where else do youngsters get such a fabulous chance to showcase their skills? So, at the end of the show, what remains are wonderful memories of another DIFF gone by, despite all its glitches. After all, who does not have a bad hair day or week? But does that stop us from dressing afresh for a whole new day or year?

Excited children outside the gala screening venue of Alvin & the Chipmunks

UAE Digest, January 2010 l 41


Pick of the flicks A look at some of the films, from across the globe, that created waves at the festival... and beyond CITY OF LIFE (UAE/Arabic, English, Hindi): An urban drama set in Dubai that explores the existing complexities within an emerging multicultural society’s race, ethnicity and class divide. A privileged Emirati male, a disillusioned Indian taxi driver, and a European woman’s paths are about to collide and irrevocably impact one another’s lives. City of Life blazes an impressive trail for an Emirati film. AVATAR (USA/English): Avatar takes us to a spectacular world beyond imagination, where a reluctant hero embarks on an epic adventure, ultimately fighting to save the alien world he has learned to call home. James Cameron, the Oscar-winning director of Titanic, first conceived the film 15 years ago, when the means to realise his vision did not exist. ROCKET SINGH (India/Hindi): Harpreet Singh Bedi (Ranbir Kapoor) has just graduated, but his marks are embarrassing. However, marks never stopped him from dreaming of an exciting and adventurous career. This is a sometimes thoughtless, sometimes thoughtful story of a fresh graduate trying to find a balance between the maddening demands of the ‘professional’ way, and the way of his heart, finally stumbling upon a crazy way, which turned his world upside down, and his career right side up. MANILA SKIES (Philippines/Tagalog): Story of a desperate, simple man from the countryside trying to make a living in Manila. He keeps stumbling as he moves from one ‘station of the cross’ to another. In desperation, he joins an amateur gang plotting a heist, to get even with a corrupt employer. This ultimately goes wayward and ends in devastation. Further hounded by guilt that his father is helplessly ill, he draws his last straw and plots the insane hijacking of a plane. CARTAGENA (France/French, Spanish): Muriel is beautiful, free-spirited and bed-ridden since a horrific accident. Leo is a drunken middle-aged ex-boxer. Initially out of his depth, Leo slowly wins Muriel’s trust. As Muriel teaches him to read, he forces her to confront the joys beyond her window. Based on Eric Holder’s acclaimed novel and set against the crumbling colonial splendour of Colombia, Cartagena portrays an improbable love story. BROKEN EMBRACES (Spain/Spanish): Pedro Almodovar’s new film is a typically colourful mélange of darkness, passion, love and tragedy, moving between the present day and early 1990s. Mateo Blanco is a film director, now blinded and calling himself Harry Caine; Penelope Cruz plays Lena, his former partner who was killed in the car accident that cost him his sight. Flipping back a few years, we encounter her in a relationship with sleazy stockbroker, Ernesto Martel, when she meets Blanco, casting for his next movie. The pair strike up a fateful relationship with tragic consequences. MOLOCH TROPICAL (France, Haiti/French, English, Creole): In a fortress perched on the top of a mountain, a democratically elected president is getting ready for a state celebration. But in the morning of the event, he wakes up to find the country in turmoil. Meanwhile, expected guests are withdrawing from the party one after another. Despite the situation, the President does not want to face reality and refuses to resign. Overwhelmed, he plunges into a deep mental confusion as the events follow their course. 42 l UAE Digest, January 2010

Stars and their quotes What they said about their movies and other things

“I am so tired of hearing about Dubai as some kind of Disneyland or an artificial place. I know the city inside out and my film (City of Life) attempts to clear the air.” -- Ali Mostafa

“India is definitely one of my top two or three places on the planet. I’ve toured all over India on a motorbike. I’ve never felt so loved anywhere else before.” -- Gerard Butler

“The appeal of Indian films to global audiences is because our cinema offers poetic justice in three hours. You walk away from an Indian cinema with a smile on your lips and dried tears on your cheeks.” -- Amitabh Bachchan

“At my age, you must not think about the past or future. It could be your last five minutes on earth. So, just concentrate on the present, and that’s what I’ve decided to do in films too.” -- Omar Sharif

“Youngsters, especially academic underachievers and all who aspire to be achievers, will relate to my character (in the film Rocket Singh) at some level.” -- Ranbir Kapoor

UAE Digest, January 2010 l 43


‘UAE will become a film centre for the Gulf’ City of Life Director Ali F. Mostafa talks to Vanit Sethi on the film, cinema’s role in the region and censorship issues


ow did the idea for City of Life come about? Was there any particular incident or happening, which triggered

it? It all started when I walked into a place with a friend called the Bollywood Café. It was a place that had some Indian look-alikes performing, and my friend found it interesting enough to do a documentary about them. I liked the idea a lot but I wasn’t the documentary type of director, so I tried to see how I could incorporate that with a fictitious character and turn it into a film. When developing the Indian character, I needed to add a couple of more storylines and nationalities to the mix if this was going to be my first feature I was shooting in my city. So, I added the Emirati storyline followed by the Western one. And after many drafts, I came up with the film.

How did you choose the actors? Wasn’t it tough directing a multi-national star cast? Was the choice of a multi-lingual film a natural one, given the cosmopolitan environment of the UAE? I had some connections with the Bollywood industry, and that’s what helped me procure talent for the Indian storyline. With the Western storyline, I had the help of the renowned casting director Debbie Mcwilliams. She brought forward some options and we narrowed it down with obvious acceptance from the actors. In the Emirati story, I realised we don’t have any international names, so I made sure to use first-time actors to give it that extra bit of reality, and also give myself more of a challenge as a director. I personally didn’t find it difficult directing different stars from different backgrounds because filmmaking is such an international 44 l UAE Digest, January 2010

language that everyone was on the same page and we all wanted to make it work. Dubai was, in my eyes, the perfect candidate for a multi-cultural, multi-lingual film as that’s exactly what the city stands for. With this film, you’ve truly set a benchmark for filmmakers in the country. Do you think now more students will try moving to full-length feature film style? How do feature films, compare with shorts and documentaries? This isn’t the first full-length feature film. There have been features done before, but none of them have been made for the international market. I do hope this film helps promote feature films and gives other filmmakers the chance to realise their dreams. Short films are good to nurture and advance your craft, but features and documentaries are the only ‘commercial’ form of filmmaking. So, if you want to make films as a career these are the only options you have. What can the DIFF and the government do more to help Emirati film makers? DIFF has been a great platform for us. But, there is a lot more that can be done. We need more incentives from the government to shoot here, especially for international productions, because that helps the economy as well as builds the ‘film’ infrastructure. We also need to have more open minds in the censorship board for script approvals. Even the modest ones sometimes get refused. Would you also like to venture into the past history of the UAE and the region in your films?

I am currently developing two films. One is completely set in the UAE and is quite historic and the other is a modern-day international thriller set in London. What do you see as the future of cinema in the region? I see that by the year 2012, we will have three more international films in the region to be proud of. I see that the film industry will build up and international films will find more reasons to shoot here. Do you advocate closer cooperation of UAE film-makers with others in the region. What type of benefits can such cooperation bring? I definitely see more collaborations with Arab countries. I also predict more collaboration with the Arab industry and industries like Bollywood and Hollywood. Co-productions are always beneficial. They give you the best of both worlds and the freedom to create a third with the use of your imagination. The UAE, in time, will be one of the biggest cinema centres in the Gulf region. Can you throw some light on what you learnt while shooting the film? I’ve learnt a lot from making City of Life. Two of the things that really stood out to me which I can fix in my future films is that (i) always make sure your script is completely ready before beginning production (ii) always give yourself some time to edit the film; it can’t be rushed; and (iii), always go with your instinct. Lastly, any message you would like to give to budding film-makers and aspiring actors from the region? I always stress to aspiring film-makers to try and get themselves on as many sets as they can. There aren’t a lot of films being made, but there are many television commercials being shot here. Production companies are hospitable and would never mind an intern observing or even helping out. Film-making is a very practical form and the only way to learn is to be there.


Is everything linked? By Vanit Sethi


ne of the mysteries we humans are most fascinated about is the origin and fate of the universe. How did it all begin; were we created or just evolved with time? Where is the universe heading to, and, where are we in this grand scheme of things? Is the thing called ‘time’ just a figment of our imagination, or does it have a beginning and an end? Will we all finally end up in a giant black hole - into complete oblivion from which there is no escape? Where is the Creator, and what is His masterplan, if any? Stephen Hawking tries to answer some of these questions that have perplexed us since the beginning of time. A compilation of seven concise lectures he delivered to college students, The Theory of Everything tries to be as uncomplicated as possible, but even that turns out to be a tall order, given the increasingly mathematical nature of modern science. While science, especially quantum mechanics, can try to explain some of the complexities of our universe it is the philosophical questions, particularly those that pertain to the Creator, which are the most fascinating and confounding at the same time. The first two lectures deal with ‘Ideas about the Universe’ and ‘The Expanding Universe’. Hawking goes back from Aristotle in 340 BC to the Greeks, Copernicus, Kepler and Newton in 1687. He tries to answer the question about the beginning of the universe and the beginning of time (dealt in awesome detail in his path-breaking A Brief History of Time). He also deals with the most controversial question of all – God; but does not provide any

definite answers. All he says is, “it is meaningless to suppose that the universe was created before the Big Bang as this is not an established fact either”. The second lecture on the expanding universe is brilliant. The idea of our galaxy being one among many was not discovered until 1924 when American astronomer Edwin Hubble demonstrated through a powerful telescope that there may be several galaxies with vast tracts of emptiness called ‘black holes’ between them. He also discusses the Friedmann Model of an expanding universe and the Big Bang theory in detail. But even as he says the universe has been expanding since the Big Bang, and present evidence suggests it will expand forever, “don’t bank on it”. In other words, he leaves open the possibility of the universe contracting at some point in the very distant future (ten thousand million years) and collapsing into a massive black hole - a bonanza for science fiction writers. But then, he disappoints them by saying the human race will die out long before that, along with our Sun. He ends the

lecture saying: “It is now generally accepted that that the Universe must have a beginning.” And if that beginning is the ‘Big Bang’, it fuses with the idea of creationists. In the third and fourth lectures, he deals extensively with Black Holes, and why they may not be as ‘black’ as we suppose them to be. Matter may escape from them – another interesting possibility for scientific writers. The last three chapters on the origin and fate of the universe, the direction of time, and ‘the theory of everything’ are the most interesting ones. He deals with the theme of a finite but borderless universe. Most interesting is the theme of space-time curvature. He talks about the three arrows of time. Why does time always seem to move forward? What if it moved backward (if the universe begins contracting instead of expanding) and we were back from the dead, were old first and became younger with time (some films have been made on this). The final chapter deals extensively with the so-called ‘String Theory’ which became a phenomenon in the midseventies when it was first propounded. Is everything in the universe finally connected like a chain of events? Hawking may not make his book read like science fiction, but many of the questions it poses sounds like they could be. And this comes from a brilliant mind trapped in an unwilling body, for Hawking has been afflicted with a motor neuron disease for over 20 years. Hats off to the human spirit – something even Hawking can’t explain... maybe it’s not in his realm! UAE Digest, January 2010 l 45


How do winners spend their jackpot?


ho doesn’t dream of landing a windfall someday, of winning millions of dirhams? At least that’s the fantasy. Recently, this fantasy came to life for lucky winners of Etisalat’s ‘24 millionaires’ campaign that started during Ramadan and carried on until mid-November. But what do these winners actually spend their money on when they get around to it? One such lucky winner, Richard Philip Das, the 8th winner of the promotion who experienced this sudden shift in life has set ten per cent of the prize money aside to assist friends and relatives either for health treatments or for children’s basic education. The 30-year-old Indian is also in the process of sponsoring three to four impoverished children by financing schooling of these students for life. “There are many families back in India who cannot afford basic education. The financial crisis has affected us all in one way or another, but has had a more severe impact on some. I not only want to help orphaned children, but also want to financially support some of my relatives in need, for their children’s basic education requirements.” The reality of life after a windfall isn’t as rosy as it seems. In fact, being flooded with a sudden fortune, whether earned or won, can be highly stressful. “Winning one million dirhams in the promotion has been a life-changing 46 l UAE Digest, January 2010

experience and I am thankful to God and to etisalat. But I now have a huge task ahead of me to plan and apportion the prize money for good use.” The ninth week of the Etisalat promotion opened endless spending possibilities for two more young lucky winners who struck it big by winning one million dirhams each in the weekly electronic draw. 25 year old Emirati, Abdullah Ibrahim Mohammed, currently works in the Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department, while 27-year-old Afghani, Naimatullah Abdul Rab, is on the anvil of setting up his new business headquarters in Dubai. The promotion has handed over cash prizes to 24 winners that have included UAE nationals as well as foreign residents and visitors to the UAE. They were all lucky etisalat wasel subscribers who recharged their mobile credit balance during that period. Besides, the chance to become millionaires, customers benefited from additional free credit on each wasel recharge that can be used for all calls and SMS (local and international). In addition, new Wasel customers or customers who renewed their accounts received 100 per cent cashback credited to their account. The final draw of Etisalat’s unprecedented promotion put two more lucky winners in the millionaire league. Marla Griffith, an American national and the first female winner

of the 12-week long promotion, plans on saving and investing the majority of the prize money for future use. “I am fairly new to the UAE. While I intend to wisely invest a major portion of the cash amount to secure my future, I am also looking at donating some amount to local charity institutions”, she said. To the second lucky winner, 35-year-old Shoid Mullah, a Bangladeshi national who works in a welding company in Dubai, it sounded like some expensive joke when he received a call from an official who told him that he had won a million dirhams. “I did not believe it at first’, he said. “I am very excited and so is my family back home. I want to venture into a welding business of my own, now that I can afford it.” In its successful course of awarding millions every week, Etisalat picked winners from all nationalities via an electronic draw conducted by a representative of Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce. Eight UAE nationals, five Indians, three Bangladeshis, two Pakistanis, two Sudanese, one Ugandan, one Egyptian, one Afghani and one American emerged as winners in the promotion. New Wasel customers can subscribe at a discounted rate of Dh75 and customers renewing their current Wasel accounts can do so at a reduced price of Dh50. Both will get 100 per cent cashback credited to their account.


Four Seasons Private Residences Exterior View

Wrap around beauty


here was even more good news recently for the property market and its related professionals as the results of the Europe & Africa Property Awards 2009 in association with CNBC Arabiya were revealed. Four Seasons Private Residences, Seychelles was delighted to win a Best Architecture award with four stars. Winners were presented with their awards at a high profile gala dinner at the Marriott Hotel in London’s Grosvenor Square in October, as part of the International Property Awards, the world’s most prestigious competition dedicated to finding the best real estate professionals across the globe. The outstanding villas won due to their highly individual design by award-winning architect Chong Yew Kuan. Each residence ‘wraps’ around the rocky landscape, with a series of living spaces over different levels. Spacious terraces overlook the ocean, providing extensive outdoor living areas and there are large verandas that open onto wide decks, framing infinity pools. These sheltered terraces appear to float above the ocean, providing exceptional views of the tropical jungle, pristine beaches and azure waters.

With unrivalled privacy in large freehold plots of one to two hectares, each villa blends seamlessly with lush vegetation and the natural contours of the coastline. Dean Foley, International Sales Manager, Hamptons International, sales agent for the project, said: “This development, with prices starting from $7 million, is a stunning combination of graceful architecture and natural beauty, creating the ultimate Indian Ocean escape for those who value privacy and seclusion.” Four Seasons Private Residences is located on the south west side of Mahé at Petite Anse, Seychelles and sits above a secluded bay, which shelters one of the finest beaches on the island. Perched in this Jurassic granite landscape are 28 individually designed villas, each with uninterrupted views of the Indian Ocean. The project is sensitive to the environment, in fitting with the country’s

aim to preserve its precious surroundings. Each villa has been individually designed to complement the pristine environment and blend timelessly against a background of lush foliage and wind-sculptured granite. Few trees have been removed, and for those which have been, at least two have been replanted, thus creating a green sanctuary, populated by native species. The result is a feeling of unparalleled living space offering true, barefoot chic. The interiors, created by Hirsch Bedner Associates, reflect an understated architectural design. The styling is discreet and low-key, with hand-hewn plank flooring and walls in rugged local granite. The look captures the authentic Seychellois style and uses fine fabrics and furnishings. Bose home entertainment systems, contemporary kitchens with premium appliances, clever lighting design, sunken baths, steam showers and an outside shower in the rocks combine comfort with the latest technology. Each home Four Seasons Private Residences Interior View has its own unique features; one has a secret garden of protected palms while another boasts a boulder in the swimming pool which has been incorporated to create a stunning, natural feature. UAE Digest, January 2010 l 47


Indoor and outdoor action at Dubai’s motor show By Linda Benbow


t was a brilliant move on someone’s part to suggest that Dubai’s 10th International Motor Show should take place at the same time as a family activity show, i.e. Outdoor Adventure Dubai, at the now sizeable Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre (DICEC). The combination of family activities of the outdoor land and water varieties, and what used to be the adult fun of looking for a car to buy, intermingled with all ages happily trying out the many things on offer. Within the Motor Show area, children, the next generation of car drivers, were encouraged to follow a fun-filled Green Trail Adventure Quest which took younger visitors through the car exhibits to find the green and environmentally-friendly highlights 48 l UAE Digest, January 2010

on exhibitors’ stands. A number of manufacturers brought their latest sustainable cars to compliment these features including BMW’s Active Hybrid 7 & the X6, General Motors’ Volt, Lexus’ LS600hL, the S400 from MercedesBenz and the 1/X from Toyota. There were other activities and events which included the dazzling gold leafing of a luxury Lexus, the chance to get behind the wheel of an F1 racing car, off-road driving tracks, test drives and a chance to meet Russ Wicks the fastest man on land and water. In the face of challenging global market conditions, which has witnessed the global scaling down of automotive shows around the world, this one welcomed over 200 companies with an unprecedented 13 exclusive global launches and a staggering 40 regional

from top name manufacturers. Models making their worldwide debuts at this year’s show were the Kepler Motors’ ‘Motion’ supercar, MercedesBenz G-Class Geländewagen Edition ‘79 and the Renault GCC Fluence. Adding further excitement, concept cars from BMW, General Motors, Hyundai and Toyota were shown, as well as a host of tuning and modification programmes from companies including, Brabus, FAB Design, Hamman, LRC Racing Engineering, PPI and Vorsteiner Manufacturers including Audi, BMW, Fiat, Ford, General Motors, Hyundai, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lexus, MercedesBenz, Nissan, Peugeot, Renault, Toyota and Volkswagen wowed curious motoring fans with regional premiers. Visitors saw arguably the world’s most expensive production car from Mantide,

had created a Limited Edition model with only 2,000 units produced in the whole world.

20 Years

which is valued at $2m and seen for the first time in the Middle East. Also at the show was the world’s fastest production car, the SSC Ultimate Aero which can reach a top speed of 257.41 mph. The regional market is a key growth area for international motoring manufacturers, from the premium luxury vehicles to the more compact, fuel efficient cars for the economy-conscious consumer. This latter segment is forecast to be one of the fastest growing in the GCC over the medium term, not least because of the sizeable 16 - 31 age group demographic in the region who begin their driving careers in more affordable cars. The compact car is the fastest-growing segment in the UAE, displacing SUVs. This was substantiated by the large number of Far Eastern motor manufacturers with expertise in affordable compact cars who participated at this year’s show. Highlighting this development, companies including GoNow, Kia, Hyundai, Luxgen and Nissan. A number of manufacturers will also be bringing the latest sustainable cars to compliment these features including BMW’s Active Hybrid 7 & the X6, General Motors’ Volt, Lexus’ LS600hL, the S400 from MercedesBenz and the 1/X from Toyota.

Lexus celebrated its 20th anniversary last year with a line-up of the very latest luxury models, including the stunning IS300C convertible, the RX350 and the luxury 4x4 crossover SUV.

30 Years Mercedes-Benz G-Class celebrated 30 years with the G-Class Geländewagen 79 Special Edition model which made its global debut at this show. Visitors will be able to take advantage of some spectacular discounts and access to instant financing at the show. Thanks to platinum sponsor Al Hilal Bank, a one-hour Walk In Drive Out financing service will make buying a new car a great deal easier than it has been for some time. Visitors also have a great chance to leave the Dubai International Motor Show with the car of their dreams. The Mega Car Prize Draw, in celebration of the show’s 10th anniversary, includes a selection of 6 cars to be won valued at more than Dhs1.5m.

40 Years The Nissan 370Z first launched 40 years ago to worldwide acclaim. The 2010 model takes to the Nissan stand at this year’s show and is just as likely to thrill.

50 Years Mini, the small car with the big attitude and arguably one of the most loved cars in history, joined in the celebrations with one of its own – its 50th anniversary. Two commemorative Mini 50 Camden and Mini 50 Mayfair Limited Edition models made their Middle East debut at the show.


100 Years

While the Motor Show celebrated its 10th anniversary in December 2009 a number of exhibitors also marked milestone anniversaries during the five day show:

100 years in any industry is a good reason for celebration and no more so for Audi who last year commemorated a centenary of automotive design, performance and technological excellence. The luxury German manufacturer showcased several of its latest lighthouse models, including the A5 Sportback, an innovative 5-car Coupe concept, the new A5 Cabriolet and the breathtaking Audi R8 V10.

10 Years Joining the Dubai Motor Show for a 10th anniversary celebration was the BMW X5, the allwheel drive five door vehicle that has been on an unstoppable course of success for ten years. To celebrate, BMW

The Cars The star of this year’s BMW stand was the M1 Homage. This unique model, made its debut in the Middle East, re-igniting the flame of a unique sporting heritage that exploded onto UAE Digest, January 2010 l 49


As part of its unique approach to marketing in the Middle East, MINI has tied up with Art Sawa Gallery and Syrian born artist, Khaled Abdulwahed, to produce a unique piece-of-art to celebrate MINI’s 50th birthday, using this MINI Cabrio as a blank canvas. Choosing a geometric pattern for the creation, Khaled drew on Arabic culture, art and history while also incorporating the evolution of MINI which encapsulates this milestone birthday. The creation is an inspired and colourful celebration of everything MINI from its beginnings in1959 up to the present day. From a distance the design is synonymous with Arabic art and design but on closer inspection you will see classic the Minis as well as current day editions

the Motorsports scene with the original BMW M1 more than 30 years ago. The BMW M1 designed by Giorgio Giugiaro was an utterly uncompromising super sports car which exuded passion; its forerunner, the BMW Turbo by Paul Bracq, displayed innovative technical solutions that found their expression in emotional design. This tribute model exhibits an emotional design blend of technology and design, rationality and passion integrating into the overall aesthetics of the vehicle. Visitors to the Ford stand got a chance to experience the F-150 SVT Raptor in an engaging ride with pounding terrain, radical turns and unpredictable manoeuvres to handle. Race car lovers could opt to challenge their gaming skills with the Ford Mustang slot car race, while fans of customisation and Mustang saw for themselves, live, how a Mustang is upfitted and personalized. Ultimate Motors, one of the distributors of exotic and luxury sports cars in the GCC, unveiled the world’s fastest production 50 l UAE Digest, January 2010

car - the ‘Ultimate Aero TT 2010’ by Shelby SuperCars (SSC). Following its Guinness-breaking world speed record in 2007, SSC has designed this car to break the record set by its predecessor. In addition, the leading distributor revealed that it is leveraging its partnerships with global manufacturers - Arash Motor Company and Zenvo Automotive - to bring limited-edition supercars to the regional market. “The GCC has always been an important market for fast, powerful, luxury sports cars, given the strong purchasing power of regional customers and the inherent love of Arabs for excitement, which they carry over to their choice of cars,” said Nasser Al Hai, President, Ultimate Motors. “While we witness more milestones

in the limited-production automobile segment, we are proud to announce that our extreme supercars have been road-tested and customised to ensure reliability and suitability for the region.” Volkswagen Middle East showcased its Motorsport models along with its local long-term partner Al Nabooda Automobiles, with the Race Touareg and Scirocco GT24 being at the centre stage of the stand in Hall 2. At the Volkswagen stand was the infamous Volkswagen Race Touareg. This purpose-built sport utility vehicle has taken part in the Dakar Rally for the past seven years, coming first in the 2009 race. Accompanying the vehicle was Qatari rally driver and sixth time FIA Middle East champion, Nasser Al Attiya, who will be driving the Race Touareg in the 2010 Dakar Rally. In the run up to the motor show, Nasser visited Dubai Men’s College, part of Higher Colleges of Technology to talk to the students about off-road driving tips and the importance of being responsible when driving in the desert.


Bosses who can take the punches Make your boxing ring debut at Dubai’s own White Collar Fight Night


iddle East executives – male and female, who can roll with the punches in business life are being sought to face the real thing in the boxing ring. Contestants from all walks of life are being invited to trade blows at Dubai’s own White Collar Fight Night, now in its fifth year, at the Habtoor Grand Hotel, Dubai, on Thursday 5th March 2010. The event combines a black tie dinner with a programme of entertainment and fundraising, culminating in the White Collar bouts. White Collar Boxing was created for contestants with no prior experience who can take the discipline and dedication needed in the ring back to their workplace. Each year there are women as well as male contestants. “My respect for contestants grows with every year,” said John MameaWilson, organiser of the event for the Transguard Group. “The boxing ring is a lonely place and only the truly brave enter.” “During the selection process, we ensure all contestants are equally matched and ready to compete on the night. Every competitor receives professional training and coaching and boxes under the rules of White Collar which make safety and welfare a priority. Each bout consists of three, two minute rounds under the supervision of a professional referee. There are no losers. Anyone who trains and then competes in White Collar is a winner,” Mamea-Wilson adds. Professional trainers and fitness experts take competitors through a rigorous training programme concentrating on improving fitness through exercise and diet, as well as technical training. The twelve week training programme begins in early January. White Collar Boxing

Action from White Collar Boxing 2009

originated at Gleasons gym New York in 1988. The first contest was held between Dr Richard Novak, an attorney and veterinarian, and Dr David Lawrence who held a PhD in English literature. After the contest the two gentlemen went to

dinner to celebrate the birth of a new sport. For more information about participating, sponsorship opportunities and tickets contact: Rachael Ricketts on or telephone Mark Povey on 050 625 7359. UAE Digest, January 2010 l 51


Legally using someone else’s reputation Mark Hill of therightslawyers, considers franchising in the Middle East, why it is so popular, what it is and why the ‘legal stuff’ is important


don’t know if you have noticed but franchising seems to be experiencing something of a boom in the Middle East. The concept of franchising is pretty broad and can cover fast food businesses, restaurants, hotels, soft drinks and clothing. Remember that when you walk into your local McDonalds, Pizza Hut, Starbucks, Virgin Megastore, Mango, Zara, Massimo Dutti or Giorgio Armani, the company running the operation locally is a franchisee. What is franchising? Well, according to the International Franchise Association, a franchise is a “continuing relationship in which a franchisor provides a licensed privilege to do business, plus assistance in organising, training, merchandising and management in return for a consideration from the franchisee”. The main categories are: • business format franchises where the franchisor will provide the franchisee with a licence to sell goods or provide services that are identified with the franchisor’s trade mark and including allowing the franchisee 52 l UAE Digest, January 2010

to use a detailed business format, operating system, marketing plan, accounting system, stock control and training among other things; product franchising or distribution – this is where a distributor sells products and/or provides services on behalf of the owner of the well-known brand. The distributor remains independent and often will receive more limited assistance; licence to manufacture – this is where the global brand owner will provide a licence for the franchisee to manufacture branded products to be sold in a particular territory. The key part of the arrangements here will be that the brand owner will control the specifications and quality standards to which the goods are manufactured very rigidly.

Advantages and disadvantages From the franchisor’s point of view, franchising can make sense. You can expand more rapidly covering more territories, and bringing on franchisees means that you often gain access to highly motivated local management teams who can drive that

territorial expansion. And obviously, this can be done without the need for the franchisor to invest in capital assets or working capital in every territory they want to expand in. The downsides I guess are that you are opening up your trademark and other intellectual property rights to possible abuse by disingenuous franchisees, and often franchisors (especially from the US) still tend to view the Middle East as being pretty remote. From the franchisee’s perspective, perhaps the obvious thing is that you are trading on a recognised brand. Often, you will get a start-up package which will give you assistance on site selection, launch publicity, marketing, accounting systems, and controlling stocks. The main disadvantage for the franchisee is the responsibility to pay not only an upfront fee, but also ongoing fee, usually as a percentage of the net revenues from the business. The other disadvantage is that there will usually be considerable restrictions on market development (you will only be able to operate within the territories you are granted under the licence) and there is only so much you can do in terms of developing the

brand (remember, it isn’t actually your brand - you are simply renting it). Why is the ‘legal stuff’ important? This is all about the risks and opportunities we have just talked about. From the franchisor’s point of view, he is giving the ability to someone else to use his key assets i.e. his brand and his business processes. If proper controls are not put in place, the franchisor opens himself up to not being able to stop possible abuses. And for the franchisee, the costs involved in taking on a franchise, especially when we are talking about a master franchise agreement (where the franchiser will grant the master franchisee the right to open units and sell but also to sub-franchise to other parties so that he then manages various sub-franchises in addition to running his own units), the costs can be substantial. Under a master agreement, often the franchisee will take on a contractual responsibility for a long time, often ten to twenty years in duration. As well as having to pay quite a substantial upfront fee, the franchisee will therefore be tied into a contract which he cannot get out of for a very long time with regular costs arising each and every year, in addition to the operating costs of running the franchise units themselves. So, with these kind of risks and concerns flying about, what should you do? As ever, the answer is pretty simple, write it down! There must be a contract which should reflect a balanced approach where both sides know who does what, when, for how much and what happens to the intellectual property rights. Remember to check out the local legal situation. For example, did you know that a franchise arrangement can be considered an agency agreement under UAE law? This means that there are specific legal implications in the Middle East which can make it difficult for a franshisor to remove an appointed franchisee and, under the agency law here, they might have to pay to get rid of them.

Did you know that a franchise arrangement can be considered an agency agreement under UAE law? This means that there are specific legal implications in the Middle East which can make it difficult for a franshisor to remove an appointed franchisee and, under the agency law here; they might have to pay to get rid of them Stuff to look out for in the contract Both sides should make sure that the contract gets checked out and make sure that it says what you think it should say, or make sure you re-address the deal so that it works for you. After you sign, it is simply too late. • How long does the contract last for and when can it be renewed? Remember, as franchisee, you must balance your investment against how long you can work the licence. So, if you are going to spend millions in the first year, but only have a one-year appointment, you are asking for trouble. • What is the territory being given and is it an exclusive appointment (i.e. no else gets the same thing in the same territory)? • What restrictions are there on selling the franchise on to a third party? Sometimes, the franchisee simply cannot get out of the arrangement. • Which country’s law governs the

• •

• •

arrangement and do the parties have to go to court or is there a dispute resolution mechanism which tries to prompt discussion and arbitration? How can the contract be terminated i.e. this is the get out for the franchisor, but also it is an area of great risk for the franchisee. And when the contract is terminated, what happens then e.g. do stocks get returned, are they paid for, is there any compensation for goodwill built up during the operation of the franchise? What support is being provided for by the franchisor? If it isn’t in the contract, it doesn’t exist. Remember to check the trademark and other intellectual property rights provisions carefully. This is an area where problems constantly arise in franchise arrangements. Oh yeah, and don’t forget the money! Who has to pay what, when? UAE Digest, January 2010 l 53



Gardening calendar “I want a garden immediately” is the thought that most people feel when moving to a new home, whether it is a garden, patio, balcony or in a corner of the room. So what does the newcomer to a hot country do to attain this? Linda Benbow has some suggestions


opefully there is a Garden Centre or Plant Nursery nearby so that an instant garden is possible. Depending on money constraints your new abode can be lavish or comely, shades of green or brightly colourful. Buy the plant, dig a hole and, eh voila, instant results. If your area isn’t quite up to shops full of hanging baskets and ivy flowing urns then maybe a visit to wherever the local authority gets their plants from is the next step to take. Those official plants around town had to come from somewhere. Try the Municpality greenhouses – they sell plants to the public at very reasonable prices, often merely dirhams. The other option is to make friends with neighbours and housemaids, etc. Ask for their advice on local growing conditions. Admire their plants, give tips on how to divide clumps of flowers, and ask for their leftovers. A little bit of flattery almost always works. Pots are another answer; pots of slow growing creepers, flowering cactus, bushy shrubs and even pots containing trees. During the very hot season ceramic pots triumph over other types as they provide a natural cooling system for roots. When

54 l UAE Digest, January 2010

watering plants in containers remember to dampen the soil only. Do not pour over the flowers and leaves as the hot midday sun will use the water as a magnifying glass and burn the leaves. Carry out this job early in the morning or in the evening to allow the water time to sink towards the roots where it is needed. Don’t throw away your indoor plants when they start to fade. All those expensive, imported daffodils, narcissus, hyacinths, chrysanthemums and suchlike can be planted out in the garden or in larger pots and containers to provide colour next year. Gardens in warmer countries have different growing and planting seasons to the usual ones in Northern countries. Often there are only three: Spring, Summer and Winter. Winter months are usually the dormant season when you can sit back and enjoy colourful displays. Pick off flowers when they start to wither and die as this will encourage new flowers to replace them. It is also the start of the pruning season – hard pruning that is. It is much easier to see the structural shape of a tree or bush when the leaves have fallen off, so that the branches can be cut right

back to give the tree better balance. One exception to this is the silk tree which can suffer severe dieback if cut now, so wait until new growth has started in the spring to do your pruning. Soil, particularly sandy soil, needs the addition of humus and manure to ensure strong healthy plant growth. A thin layer of well-rotted manure can be spread as a mulch around growing plants at any time of the year. Build an arch or trellis to divide a lawn from the vegetable patch or a formal garden from the children’s one. Tie quick growing Indian Jasmine onto the trellis for a thick hedge. The sweet smelling, white star shaped flowers are often used in wedding bouquets. Intertwine the jasmine with Morning Glory to obtain a startling contrast of large blue flowers and small delicate white ones. An aviary can be constructed around an existing shrub or small tree. Make sure it is sited in a shady nook of the garden and then get to work with chicken wire and two by one (2”x1”) plywood. Keep a small part of the garden aside for the children to play in. Let them dig holes and leave their toys lying around. It saves a lot of shouting and frazzled tempers.

Hibiscus and oleander Orange tree at Dubai Municipality’s greenhouse

Once you have done all these extra duties sit Jasmine back in your comfortable chair, turn the lawn sprinkler on and watch the butterflies and birds visit your green haven. Spring is the time to plant shrubs and trees as the onset of warmer weather encourages them to grow rapidly. If you have been looking after sprouting fruit seeds and pips now is the time to plant them out. There is always one part of the garden that is sunnier than the rest. Don’t try to grow plants there that just don’t want to grow. Instead, allow for the strong sunlight and turn that corner into a rockery. Look to the surrounding countryside to find thriving examples and use similar in your own rock garden. Or try imported stock from other hot countries. During the summer months a still pool will heat up very quickly. That is why a fountain is a necessity, not a luxury, when keeping fish. The evaporation of flowing water from the fountain acts as a coolant when it falls into the pond and is re-circulated. For healthy fish make sure the pond is deep, more than two feet. The deeper the better. Or how about a rock pond. Very feng shui-ish and fashionable. A small fountain of water playing over a pool

of pebbles. Try to build this type of pond in a shady spot to discourage the growth of green algae. Eucalyptus trees, or gum trees as they are called in Australia and New Zealand, rapidly grow to grand heights of more than 40ft. They give privacy, shelter from desert and coastal winds and a pleasant fragrance which is said to be beneficial to health. For colour in the sun plant bougainvillae. This Brazilian plant thrives in the sun. It can be grown as a bush, trained over pergolas and pruned into a tree shape. There are many varieties to choose from and it is interesting to note that the colour comes, not from the flowers, but from the leaves and bracts at the end of stems. Try growing vegetables amongst flowers for interesting conversation topics. An additional boost will be that often one plant helps to protect the other naturally. Chillies grow well during the summer. Plant them amongst delicate looking blossoms to keep bugs away. The smell of growing

onions and spring onions will keep soil loving creatures away from succulent roots and bulbs of expensive imported flowers. Grow a row or two of carrots near the onions and have pest free vegetables plus the added bonus of feathery leaves amongst your floral arrangements. Summer is rapid growth season for grass so think about re-seeding worn out patches on that brown and green lawn of yours. This is the survival season when only the strongest will survive the intense heat of summer. All gardens must be watered daily, preferably in the cool of early morning or late afternoon/early evening. Outdoor hanging baskets should be watered twice daily. Hardy flowers such as Zinnia, Gaillardia and Portulacas can be sown from seed directly into the ground to provide large splashes of colour. Plant fresh seed every two months to ensure a continuous show of blooms.

Flame Trees provide dramatic displays in Springtime

UAE Digest, January 2010 l 55


Fire safety in the



hose who move into a new home on a new development or estate are usually provided with a large manual of useful advice. Included in those tomes is a section on how to keep your home safe from fire hazards. Those who move into more established residences have UAE Digest to help them. In case of a fire emergency, it’s always important to remain calm, remember the following, and execute them as quickly as possible. • Keep clear of flames and remember that smoke is deadly • Stay low to avoid smoke inhalation • Warn others in the home • Notify other residents in the neighbourhood of the fire hazard • Never attempt to extinguish a fire when the flames are higher than desk height. If the fire is uncontrollable, leave and close all doors behind you. Feel doors for heat before opening • Use the nearest phone, or a mobile phone, at a safe location to call the Fire Department • Stay calm and state your name and phone number 56 l UAE Digest, January 2010

• •

Give the address of the fire: Apt No... Building No... Sheikh Zayed Road at Interchange No. Follow instructions given by the Fire Department representative

Prevention The best way to fight fires is to prevent them. Here are a few common sense rules to help reduce the likelihood of a fire. • If you do smoke, ensure that there are plenty of deep ashtrays in the house. Do not smoke in bed. • If an appliance has a worn or frayed cord, don’t use it. Have it repaired as soon as possible. • Be sure not to exceed the wattage restrictions on lamps by installing a higher wattage than recommended. • Keep electrical cords visible and out from underneath rugs and furniture. Attempt to install appliances close to their power source. Do not tack down electrical cords with staples. • Do not store gas or oil indoors. • The following fire safety information is a set of recommendations courtesy of Dubai Civil Defence’s website at:

1. How do I know that a fire extinguisher is in a working condition? The pressure indicator shows whether or not a fire extinguisher is working. If the pressure is lower than the required level, it means a fire extinguisher needs to be serviced. 2. What are the necessary precautions before using a fireextinguisher to control fires? Call the Civil Defence Department. Warn all those present at the site. There should be an exit for the user of a fire extinguisher, in order to leave the site.

Stand two or three metres away from the fire. If there are air currents, a user of a fire extinguisher should stand

in the same direction of the wind. 3. What shall I do? • Disconnect electric current. • Send someone to report the fire to Civil Defence Department on emergency line 997. • Carefully try to extinguish the fire, otherwise proceed immediately to leave the place and warn those around you to do the same. • Wait for Civil Defence people to arrive. 4. Upon discovery of a gas leakage, what should I do? • When a gas leaks and spreads out, it causes asphyxia, fire and possibly explosions. • Switchboards or any igniting methods such as matches and lighters should not be used. Disconnect the gas cylinder valve or central gas supply connection. • Open the windows for ventilation. • Leave the place, get away from danger, and report the incident to Civil Defence on its emergency line. 5. What should I do to prepare an evacuation plan for my home? Prepare a map of the house, indicating two exits in each room. • Specify a gathering place outside the house. • Ensure that doors and exits you wish to use for exiting the house can be easily opened. • Be sure that corridors leading to an exit are unobstructed. • Once outside the house premises, stay at the gathering place and do not re-enter the house until Civil Defence unit arrives and informs you that the danger is over.

suitable to the size of the house. • Keep a proper manual fire extinguisher in working condition, together with a fire blanket. These are available from companies listed under Fire Fighting Equipment Suppliers in the Yellow Pages. • Fix a central circuit breaker, which disconnects electric current as soon as an internal electric fault occurs. • Continuously monitor gas connections. Comply with safe practices in the kitchen and in using electric appliances, and keep igniting implements out of the reach of children.

7. What shall I do when smoke starts?

• • •

Try carefully to discover the cause (if apparent), otherwise, move out quickly to the nearest exit to stay away from danger. Dial 997 - Civil Defence emergency line. You should stay outside and wait for the arrival of the Civil Defence unit.

8. What shall I do if smoke spreads thickly in the place where I am staying?

• • • •

toxic steams and gases that spread upwards, while part of it stays above the floor surface, leaving a safer space at an elevation of 30-60cm in the short period of time left for exiting the place. Bend down below the smoke’s level. Kneel on your hands and knees. Leave quickly to the nearest safe area. Call Civil Defence on 997 from the nearest telephone available, wait for their arrival, and do not allow anyone to go back to the place.

9. What are the procedures which should be followed to protect the house during absence outside the country? • Shut doors and windows tightly. • Disconnect the central electric current main. • Close the gas cylinder’s valve or central gas supply connection securely. • Avoid keeping highly inflammable unnecessary materials. • Make sure that you have not forgotten any heat sources inside the house.

In case of Emergency: Dial 997 for Fire Dial 998 for Ambulance Dial 999 for Police

Fire smoke contains very hot and

6. What are the things needed to protect my home from fire hazards? • Install smoke detectors that are UAE Digest, January 2010 l 57


Red and white and all things nice! Celebration time descends on the Emirates with hotels, resorts, restaurants and health clubs and spas offering great discounts. Here’s a run through!


et your hair down at Shangri-La Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri, Abu Dhabi where, at Pearls & Caviar has a 007 Martini Night every Wednesday in January with a menu featuring oysters, caviar and lobster. Want to try something different? Rumours Café and Al Nafoora restaurant at Coral Residence Tower, Fujairah offers a wide variety of cuisines. Customise your pizza with a choice of toppings using the freshest ingredients or revel in Arabic flavours of the Al Sayniya. For those wanting to order scrumptious food, Siji Hotel Apartments, Fujairah, managed by Abu Dhabi National Hotels (ADNH) has launched a dedicated take-away menu brochure for its multi-cuisine Faseel Restaurant. For a mountain break, drive down to the Hatta Fort Hotel between Saturday to Wednesday with rates at Dh999 per double room per night and Dh1399 per night over the weekend from 2nd to 31st January 2009. Valid for UAE residents, it includes breakfast, lunch and a three-course dinner at Jeema restaurant plus soft drinks and house beverages during lunch and dinner. Enjoy the beach, three swimming pools, leisure facilities plus 14 different restaurants and bars, at Dh625 per double room per night at the Jebel Ali Hotel. Offers valid from 10 January to 12

Hatta Fort Hotel, Dubai

58 l UAE Digest, January 2010

A sumptuous spread at Coral

February 2010. Residence Tower Fujairah Revel in the beauty of the Palm Tree Court & Spa, was voted the UAE’s Leading Hideaway Resort by the World Travel Awards. The award-winning Signatures will offer its ‘cuisine with a conscience’ tasting menu throughout the summer with fresh herbs and vegetables from the resort’s own bio-garden for Dh600 per couple, including a bottle of house beverage and transfer from and to New Dubai. Offer valid until 31st January 2009. Enjoy access to the 800 metre palm-lined private beach and three temperature-controlled swimming pools at the Jebel Ali Golf Resort & Spa for an entire day! Experience the amazing Jampeche Red Mountain Mud Wrap using Tibetan red mud for 90 minutes followed by a bonus 15 minute back massage and completed with an Elemis Taster Facial. This offer is available for Dh 450 per person. The 12-hour brunch takes place every Friday at the JW Marriott Dubai from 12 noon to midnight at the Hofbräuhaus and The Market Place. International fare with live cooking stations awaits you at The Market Place while Hobräuhaus serves traditional Bavarian cuisine. Package prices per person include Simple Treat for Dh195 including soft drinks, juices

and water and more for other packages including a bubbly one. Begin 2010 on The Walk at JBR and a stay in the hotel across the road, beachside. A premium location by the sea, more space than you’ll know what to do with and complete convenience can all be yours at the Oasis Beach Tower with special rates available from 10th January to 28th February. Discover ensuite bedrooms, amazing views and easy access to The Walk at JBR and public beach. Stay in a 2 bedroom apartment starting from Dh 430* per person sharing (based on minimum 4 people). Book this offer and enjoy free transfers to the beach at Jebel Ali Golf Resort & Spa for complimentary beach and pool access. At the Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Deira Creek take part in the Australian promotion at Palm Grill with a complimentary glass of Australian wine included in the special menu. Head to Spirals – The Arsenal Tavern at Grandeur Hotel in Al Barsha, which re-opened recently. This 2100 sqft sportsthemed venue features seating for more than 100 people, 21 screens showcasing all major sporting events, excellent food and a wide range of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages with an international menu suited for all tastes. At the Blends Lounge, at The Address Dubai Marina, add Dh007 to your second drink, from their specially concocted ‘James Bond’ selections every Wednesday, 6pm to 9pm, on Thursday night, 9 pm until late, enjoy a cocktail of your choice for Dh20. Get onboard the Bateaux Dubai at Dh 295

Bateaux Dubai

Jebel Ali Hotel sea view

JW Seafood dish at Market Place, JW Marriott Dubai

and cruise down the Dubai Creek under the starlit sky in air-conditioned comfort with a four-course gourmet dinner and a welcome drink with Dh 95 charged for extra beverages. Gift cruise vouchers to your clients, colleagues or loved ones and let them enjoy this unforgettable dining experience. All offers valid till 31st January 2009. Spirals

UAE Digest, January 2010 l 59


In honour of path-breaking arts patronage


he Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture) is reaching out to recognise patrons of the arts around the world who have made financial contributions towards enriching the artistic fabric of Dubai, through the Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Patrons of the Arts awards. To be presented next year, this is the first of its kind initiative in the Arab world. By recognising the patrons behind the thriving arts scene in Dubai, the Authority aims to stimulate the cultural sector of the region, catalyse the development of various art disciplines, strengthen the arts infrastructure and contribute to developing Dubai as a centre for content creation in the arts. His Highness Sheikh Majid bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Culture said: “Throughout the history of mankind, culture has flourished only under the generous patronage of people who appreciate and value its importance to the larger community. Their contributions have been vital in sustaining artist enthusiasm, encouraging people to pursue careers in art and in driving the growth of the sector.” He added: “Dubai has now become a vibrant hub for the arts, thanks to the efforts of its patrons who have, until now, served as its unsung heroes. By honouring them, we are encouraging more like-minded individuals to step forward. This will help strengthen our creative infrastructure and also drive the participation of more artists through scholarships and funds. It will also drive our outreach to the youth through valuable educational initiatives.” Dubai Culture is honouring

60 l UAE Digest, January 2010

Work from Dr. Farjam’s Collection: Miniature, A page from Shahameh, 9th century AH, Mohammed Ehsaei, 2003

patrons in the following categories: ‘Distinguished Patrons of the Arts,’ ‘Patrons of the Arts,’ ‘Supporters of the Arts,’ and ‘Friends of the Arts’ based on their contribution. The awards will be conferred during Art Dubai 2010 being held 17-20 March. The Emirate’s dedicated Authority for culture, heritage and art, Dubai Culture is focused on building on the city’s Arabic and Islamic character and heritage while encouraging dialogue and creativity among its 200-strong cultures. The Authority emphasises on innovative, home-grown culture, heritage and art initiatives to educate and engage the public in this fast-evolving scene. The Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture) has announced several initiatives that strengthen the historic and modern cultural fabric of Dubai. These include: Muhammad the Messenger Museum: The first project of its kind in the world to focus on and highlight the life and message of Prophet Muhammad

(Peace and Blessings Be Upon Him). Gulf Film Festival: Dubai Culture recognises that a healthy film industry is necessary to take stories about Dubai’s culture, traditions, history and contemporary lifestyle to the world. Bastakiya Art Fair: An annual art and culture event takes place in the houses of Al Bastakiya, one of the historic areas of Dubai. Dubai Festival for Youth Theatre: An annual festival that celebrates and fosters the art of theatre in the UAE. Dubai Next: To encourage and sponsor initiatives that contribute actively to the development of the cultural events and activities in Dubai. Khor Dubai: A living museum that celebrates the multicultural diversity of Dubai. The Holy Lands: A collaboration with the unique and creatively rich Reiss Engelhorn Museen of Mannheim to bring an exclusive collection of never before exhibited rare photographs to the region and more specifically Dubai.

Green photographers in the UAE The winners have been announced of an environment inspired nationwide photography competition entitled ‘Go Green’, at the Gulf Photo Plus (GPP) Foto Weekend. The month long competition witnessed some striking images which captured a ‘green’ perspective from the country’s talented professional and amateur photographers. With more than 281 entries, the first prize was awarded to Fanik Beret for an outstanding photograph entitled ‘My green world’. Eblah Maleh secured the second prize for her photograph titled ‘Go green, go solar’, while Catalin Marin’s shot entitled ‘Beach trash’ secured the third

prize. Fourth place was given to Abdul Khaliq for his image entitled ‘Romancing the Greens’. The ‘Go Green’ photography competition is part of an ongoing programme to support photography in the region and is the latest in a series of Canon Middle East initiatives to raise environmental awareness through the power of image. It follows the company’s recent nationwide photography competition, held in conjunction with Khalifa University to support and recognise talent among young UAE photographers.

Learn from a worldclass collector Dr Farjam’s passion for his collection shone through as he took part in the panel discussion ‘Collecting then and now’ at Abu Dhabi Art recently. Organised by New York University, Dr Farjam joined Roger Mandle, Head of the Qatar Museums Authority, and Larry Gagosian, the gallerist who represents some of the world’s leading artists. The panel offered the public insight into Dr Farjams impressive collection and furthered his gallery’s ongoing commitment to education. “Dr. Farjam is one of a very few private collectors in the world who display their collection to the public free of charge for cultural and educational purposes. This panel is a wonderful opportunity for people to discover more about his impressive collection beyond what is currently on display in The Farjam Collection @ DIFC,” commented Emilie Faure, Collections and Exhibitions Manager, The Farjam Collection. Dr Farjam’s collection was born out of pure passion for the first works he acquired, and this love developed into an instinctive gift for collecting, strengthened by an educational purpose. His collection has incredible breadth; it spans many different regions and a vast scope of time. It also features a broad range of pieces from sketches to masterpieces including rarely seen works. UAE Digest, January 2010 l 61


Style Quotient Fashion designer jobs are expected to increase five per cent through 2016 as consumers continue to seek innovative apparel concepts, according to the French Fashion University Esmod (FFUE) in Dubai.


he Princeton Review, a US-based standardised test preparation and admissions consulting company, reports that 92 per cent of all fashion designers stay in business after two years of working professionally. It adds that around 2.8 per cent of all working designers in the US are fashion designers and that nearly one quarter of fashion designers are currently self-employed. Budding fashion designers are attracted to the allure of the international fashion empire, with its trendy red carpet premieres, eye-candy window displays and big-time trademarks. Consumers, especially those from growth markets such as the Middle East, remain attracted to fresher fashion designs, thus sustaining demand for new talents. Tamara Hostal, Director and Founder of FFUE, said: “Many of our graduate students have found their place with renowned global fashion brands including Yves Saint Laurent, Paco Rabanne, Elie Saab, Victoria’s Secret, Givenchy and Swarovsky, while others have opted to establish their own brands. The Middle East has remained an important market with some of the world’s best fashion malls and fashion minds.” There are many career paths available for fashion designers to choose from. They can opt to work for established fashion houses, join mass-market apparel manufacturers, or start their own business and imprint their distinctive style from concept to manufacturing and distribution. 62 l UAE Digest, January 2010

The illustrious list of designers who rose from humble beginnings includes luminaries such as Ralph Lauren, who was born into a middle-class family in the Bronx and bought suits with his pocket money at the age of 12. Upstarts should not expect to land glamorous positions at the outset. Even job candidates with two or four years of college education normally start at entry level. As they gain valuable experience in the field, then they acquire the necessary leverage to compete for better positions.

Go bespoke Bespoke suit-making, made famous by celebrated and prolific craftsmen on Saville Row in the UK, is virtually an unknown and little understood concept in Dubai. All that is about to change with the opening of M2M, a high end boutique in Jumeirah that employs master craftsmen who deliver made-tomeasure and bespoke suits of the highest

quality, that represents the personality and individuality of the discerning customer. The signature store will also showcase a collection of ready to wear ethnic garments designed by acclaimed fashion designers plus leather accessories such as shoes, belts, bags, wallets and fashion jewellery. Kamlesh Ramchandani, CEO, M2M who has over 20 years of experience in the fashion and bespoke tailoring business says, “Bespoke suits are at the highest rung of the ladder when it comes to suit-making and we saw a gap that existed in this segment. It takes a highly skilled craftsman to create a suit that is an embodiment of the individual and feels like a ‘second skin’ on the body of the wearer. The store stocks a wide array of world class fabrics. After taking detailed measurements, the master tailor will then handcut and craft an elegant, individual suit that takes into account size, posture, figuration and shape of the body and reflects the wearer’s personna, lifestyle and image that he wants to project. Prices of suits range from Dh1,200 to Dh6,000. The first level of the store has an off-the-rack ethnic collection for men and women for occasions like weddings, parties and other festivities. Clothes have been commissioned from leading fashion designers like Gaurav Chhabra, Krishna Mehta, Swapan & Seema, Hemant & Nandita and Jatin Varma. There is also an in-house M2M collection designed by Mrs. Priya Ramchandani.

Fashion Tips for Men By Reena Bedi – Marketing Manager, Shoe Mart 1) Show your true gentleman side with classic wing tip shoes, which are in vogue this fall. The attractive perforations along with a stitched side give a dramatic and subtle level to your styling. Put on your three piece suite with a bow tie and your look is complete. 2) Unleash the voyager within

you by teaming up a pair of sneakers or boots with colourful prints and faint elements of military designs and you are ready with a perfect urban mix of glam and style 3) You can lay your hands on bloom of comfort with a pair of flip flops, these relaxing beach slippers come in all marine shades like whites, shades of blues with hints of green & aqua. Match them up with a pair of floral shorts and a white T and you are ready to spend that lazy afternoon by the beach or brunch on a warm afternoon. 4) Rugged can look

Products Metrosexually yours! Emami International FZE, the UAE-based overseas arm of Indian beauty and healthcare conglomerate, Emami Limited, has unveiled the secret to perfect skin for the beauty-conscious and aspiring males of the region, launching Fair and Handsome (FAH), an exclusive and complete range of five premium face care solutions, including an Advanced Whitening Cream (AWC). The FAH range is a product of international formulations combined with ingredients best suited for all skin types and climates across the Gulf countries and the Middle East region. The Emami FAH range for men recommends a cleansing routine to effectively purge the skin of all impurities – surface layer of dead cells, blackheads, pimples, excess sebum, pore blockages and surface melanin. All five products in the range have been specially formulated to re-activate the skin’s radiance, while simultaneously working to lighten and tone the skin. Items consist of a regenerating face scrub, refreshing face wash, firming facemask, advanced whitening cream and after-shave balm. Its unique Pentapeptide Formula, developed and patented by Activor Corp. USA, maximises skin-lightening efficacy for visibly radiant skin.

stylish, and how! Suede moccasins, loafers and boat shoes go perfect with winter trends such as cardigans and sweat shirts. You could complete the look with corduroy pants, leather jacket, with a knitted muffler and a cap. 5) Denims can be worn with any colour or style of shoe, it is best to avoid shiny shoes. Always match your belt with your shoes unless your belt is multicoloured or stripped. Boots, lug soles, sneakers, loafers and sandals all work great with jeans and this coupled with a matching coloured shirt or T-shirt works best

Azzaro Pour Homme creates Elixir Influenced by Italian elegance and refinement, Azzaro Pour Homme has, for over thirty years, created a fragrant aura of distinguished masculinity imbued with seduction in its black and amber-gold bottles. From the original Azzaro pour Homme creation, Elixir has kept the masculine elegance of the “aromatic fougère” ((bergamot, lavender, geranium, oak moss, coumarin) mixing it with amber, bestowing mystery and sensuality. An ‘elixir of life’, it takes on a joyous and optimistic solar character from brilliant hesperidin harmonies (mandarin, lemon), mixed with the juicy, fruited notes of pear and black current.

Skin care treatments targeted for 50+ skin What does it take to look and feel as great as you do first thing in the morning or before going out to celebrate a special occasion? Clarins Super Restorative Skin Care introduces two new specific treatments to satisfy the special needs of mature skin. The Super Restorative Wake-Up Lotion that immediately refreshes and restores vitality by diminishing sleep marks and puffiness. For even smoother skin, the Super Restorative Replenishing Comfort Mask that restores the comfort, radiance and softness of youthful-looking skin in just ten minutes.

UAE Digest, January 2010 l 63


On top of the world By Con Clude


s a dazzling burst of fireworks scaled up the dizzying heights of the world’s tallest tower, every Dubaian stood a few inches taller. The spectacular show warmed the hearts of observers, assuring residents that things were looking up in 2010 – both literally and metaphorically – after a gloom-and-doom filled year. “This is it! This is Dubai!” were the exclamations of awestruck viewers. Nothing in the world is remotely close to it in height and grandeur. It went shooting through the sky like a sharp needle for the past five years, through good times and bad, surviving the worst economic recession in recent history, to become a part of the country’s landscape and mindscape. Dubai proved once again that dreams can become real, provided there is ‘will’ and a direction. That this dream was concretised in the present economic climate is nothing short of a miracle. Just two words describe it: Wow Dubai! Without doubt, last year was a depressing year. It began with the downturn affecting more countries than imagined – UAE being no exception. What began in the latter half of 2008 was felt more intensely in the first half of 2009. The property bubble burst in Dubai after years of growing bigger. Greedy landlords waited for the upswing, but it never happened, forcing a reality check on the emirate. Many projects never took off; others got mired in delays and cash crunches. The hype of 2007 led to the gripe of 2008; while 2009 was all gloom, 2010 could bring back the boom. Though it isn’t going to be easy, hope shines amidst the neversay-die spirit of Dubai. Despite dire predictions by overzealous

64 l UAE Digest, January 2010

hacks, Dubai did not turn a ‘ghost town’ with expats fleeing in planeloads. While many establishments shut shop, many others stuck around weathering the storms. People did lose their jobs in significant numbers, but the green shoots of recovery are beginning to sprout. One can say with some measure of confidence that the toughest times are behind us. After all, tough times never last, tough people do. And tough cities bounce back with renewed vigour. Just wait and see!

New battlefronts Recession was not the only worry last year. Terrorism, the monster of the 1990s, remained with us throughout the first decade of this century, in a more virulent form. After witnessing the horror of 9/11 in New York, we saw another deadly horror seven years later in Mumbai. In between, we had London, Madrid, Bali and others. Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq slipped into anarchy; the Palestinian problem refused to vanish, with a neighbouring country becoming belligerent and unreasonable. Last year’s closing saw new battlefronts opening up in Somalia and Yemen. Ironically, despite US President Barack Obama being gifted the Nobel Peace in desperate hope and hurry, battlelines became sharper. When did you last see a Nobel Peace awardee talk of war’s inevitability? A sad commentary on our increasingly confused and chaotic times! The hope of a world - flush with excitement at witnessing history with the victory of America’s first Black President in 2008 – vanished within a year. The gun seems to have won the last round, with the olive branch receding

further into the horizon. Unless a consensus is achieved on ways to defeat the scourge, we may see more killing fields. A monster cannot be a friend - you shake hands with it at your peril. When will some leaders and countries learn?

Some cold facts Basking in the glorious winter sunshine, we are a world far removed from the chill of the northern latitudes. UK, US, Canada, Russia, China and Korea are freezing. Snowfall is abundant this winter, but may not always be so. Glaciers have been melting rapidly in the Himalayas, polar regions no more have permafrost, Kilimanjaro may soon see its last snowfall, and Maldives may disappear under the sea. While Nepalese ministers met at Everest base camp and Maldivian politicians went scuba diving to highlight global warming, world leaders failed to agree on minimum cuts in carbon emissions at the Copenhagen summit. Fast growing economies like China, India, Brazil and South Africa highlighted the poverty angle and exhorted rich countries to take the brunt of bigger cuts. Eco-activist Al Gore may be a disappointed man today, after expressing hope at a business convention in Dubai last October. Yet all is not lost, as a growing realisation sweeps across the political spectrum that something needs to be done before it is too late. Yet, the danger is not to the earth, as Fox History’s brilliant TV series History of our Planet suggests. The earth has rejuvenated itself from time to time. “The danger is to us, mankind. We may not exist for very long.” Chew on that!

UAE Digest Jan 10  

UAE's first current affairs magazine