A Red Bull Air Village was set up opposite the Bahar sector at JBR. The 300 square metre village featured a 4 x 4 x 6 metre plane, a mock up of the Abu Dhabi Air Race track, a photo gallery displaying 30 images from previous races worldwide, along with gaming stations where visitors engaged in simulated flights.
UAE Digest, May 2010 l 1
Published from Dubai Media City
The Duke Ellington Big Bank ADOPTION
The chosen one –UAE tales JEWELLERY
Gold swopping time TECHNO
Cyber liability ART
Interview with MF Hussain
Arabian Travel Market
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2 l UAE Digest, May 2010
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ConTenTs 4 The Duke Ellington Big Bank will be appearing in public at The Palladium, Dubai following invitation-only performances in Abu Dhabi.
8 Tweeting about holidays abroad Is the UAE’s travel industry ready to adopt the latest online armoury – Twitter - to sell its tourist sites?
21 Surf’s up Taking a legal look at one area of cyber liability – employees and the Internet
24 Art for heart’s sake A legendary painter talks about his new projects, passion for cinema, role of controversy and awards
10 The chosen one Meet the woman who facilitates adoption in the GCC
42 Gold swopping time have your old jewellery turned into new – by swopping it. Time to visit the gold souk.
UAE Digest, May 2010 l 3
As(h)ing for trouble
he middle of last month saw a volcano erupting a number of times from under a glacier in Iceland. The combination of water, gases and hot inner earth materials caused thick volcanic ash to spew at least three kilometres upwards into the sky before if fell back down in the form of thick clouds. Then the wind blew, causing the clouds to travel towards Europe which resulted in flight cessations for six days which, in turn, had a severe impact on those stranded in various countries. Emirates were the first to cancel all flights to the UK on 15 April as a result of UK announcing a ban on travel within its airspace. Passengers already in transit in Dubai were provided with hotel accommodation. Other airlines followed immediately and thousands of travellers worldwide were affected as flights from the Far East and other continents were stopped as the inter-
4 l UAE Digest, May 2010
mediate receiving/transit countries could not provide accommodation for all. Even so, those in the UAE, more than 30,000, were accommodated in hotels, with most guests enjoying the extra unexpected stay, even though it was edged with worries about plans already made with colleagues and familes at their destinations. Following test flights by European carriers on the 20th, airports in Europe resumed operations. Stations ready to receive passengers
Opening of 10 Metro stations RTA opens seven metro stations in April and three others on May 15, while 28 buses to be deployed to link the stations with surrounding areas RTA said they would do it, and they have been working hard to keep to their word. Stations at Emirates, Airport Terminal 1, Al Karama, Emirates Towers, Dubai Internet City, Marina and Ibn Battuta are now open while those at GGICO, World Trade Centre and Al Qouz will be opened on the 15th . The remainder of stations on the Red Line will be opened during
the coming months until all are functional before the year’s end. RTA has carried out site surveys for the neighbourhoods of the stations opening shortly and accordingly opened up new bus routes to feed the metro stations. Twenty eight buses are being deployed to link the metro stations with the surrounding areas and the service is set to run at 13-20 minute intervals.
sattriya dance and a plethora of popular Assamese songs.
Youth Without Smoking campaign Last month, Dubai Municipality launched a campaign called, ‘Youth Without Smoking. Activities of the two-month campaign,
Indian Consul General at Rongali Bihu celebrations in Dubai Under the aegis of Assam Society UAE, the Assamese community celebrated Rongali Bihu with traditional gaiety in a cultural
Youth without smoking campaign at Al Ahli Club
which will culminate with the World No Tobacco Day on 31st May, include three sporting events and involvement of 10 schools. During the campaign, a team from Mr. Sanjay Verma, Consul-General of India in Dubai Municipality Clinic, with the participaextravaganza in Dubai. Rongali Bihu tion of Dubai Health Authority and Dubai celebrates the onset of the Assamese New Medical College, will conduct medical Year and is the biggest socio-cultural spring examinations free of charge for young peofestival of the people of Assam in India’s ple and make them aware of the seriousness north-east. of the hazards of smoking, which threatens Consul-General of India in Dubai, Mr. their health and their future. Sanjay Verma graced the occasion as the The team will be present at many of the chief guest. sports tournaments conducted during the During the festivities, Consul General period as well as go to many educational Verma launched the new website of the institutions in the emirate to provide free society, www.assamuae.org and released services to check carbon dioxide levels, the fifth edition of ‘Probaxi Bihuwan’, the examine the lungs and offer free medical Rongali Bihu 2010 souvenir, which serves consultation on different types of treatas a socio-cultural medium for the UAE’s ment which includes awareness therapies, vibrant Assamese community. conventional treatment using tablets and This year’s Rongali Bihu celebrations other medicines, and new methods of treatwere held at Dubai’s Metropolitan Palace ment such as laser and other magnet based devices. Hotel in Deira, where members of the The campaign emphasises on the community performed the traditional importance of a healthy lifestyle, healthy Bihu dance and hussorie amidst the unique food, and sports. It targets the middle sounds of exotic musical instruments school, high school, college and university like dhol, pepa and gogona. During the students, and the activities of the campaign cultural programme, local artistes were will be organised in coordination with joined by guest performers from Assam who enthralled the audience with the famous the Knowledge and Human Development
Curbing the sale of pirated software Five anti-piracy raids in Fujairah In its ongoing efforts to curb the spread of pirated software, Microsoft Gulf has filed criminal complaints which led to five antipiracy raids on resellers in Fujairah. The raids were conducted by the Fujairah branch of the UAE Ministry of Economy, the Fujairah Municipality and the UAE National Media Council. The raids resulted in the confiscation of personal computers loaded with pirated copies of software. Hassan Yousef Al Mushtaghil, Director of the UAE Ministry of Economy in Fujairah said, “In addition to the impact on economies and innovation, software piracy poses real risks to businesses and consumers. It is for this reason that protecting Intellectual Property Rights is at the top of the agenda for the ministry where we partner with organisations such as Microsoft in the development of strategies and mechanisms that will help tackle this issue in the Arab world.”
Symantec unveils plans for Lunar Data Centre Symantec Corp. has announced the purchase of two acres of land on the moon as the build site for its new state-of-the-art ‘Data Centre of the Future’. The new facility will benefit from the latest green technologies for power and cooling, taking advantage of the moon’s lack of air and freezing temperatures to keep the data centre cool and utilising solar light to power the centre. “This data centre will be the greenest (or in moon parlance, the whitest) in the galaxy and will run without an earthly carbon footprint” UAE Digest, May 2010 l 5
said a sustainability expert too embarrassed to be named. Symantec has a long history of preventing data from disappearing into black holes. This move is the culmination of a vision to move from cyberspace to real space. This project may be one small step for Symantec, but one giant leap for the next generation of data centres. The lunar data centre will benefit from the next generation of security protection since it will be built out of reach of earth-bound elements and threats. It will communicate with earth via secure wireless transmissions. Norton concludes: “This level of security will totally ‘eclipse’ anything we’ve seen before.”
DWTC reveals first hospitality partners at Trade Centre Plaza Leading F&B outlets confirm plans to launch as part of the Plaza’s First Class dining experience Dubai World Trade Centre has announced a major milestone for its new world class entertainment hub - Trade Centre Plaza revealing hospitality leaders Bin Hendi, Al Tayer Trends, Al Khaja Group and Wild Peeta founders Al Awadhi brothers as operators confirmed to launch leading food outlets that will anchor the Plaza’s hospitality offering. Trade Centre Plaza
6 l UAE Digest, May 2010
The agreements signal the arrival of Japengo Café, Caffè Nero, Hatam and Wild Peeta at DWTC’s Trade Centre Plaza development - the spacious open area adjacent to its newly opened extension, located steps away from the new Trade Centre metro station which provides visitors easy access to the exhibition halls. Scheduled to open in June, these four leading restaurants will provide business and leisure visitors with the choice of a variety of international cuisine options. Wild Peeta, the Emirati brand of quick service restaurants selling fusion Shawarmas and salads will open its first ever ‘lifestyle’ outlet in the Trade Centre Plaza this summer. The design of the 1,173 square foot store is a unique collaboration between Wild Peeta and the University of Sharjah (Department of Architecture) and the company’s impressive social media following, which includes a ‘thought wall’ for visualising and sharing ideas, a ‘story-teller’ area for small presentations and a ‘work’ section that is laptop friendly.
Eco-friendly watch In the spirit of the Earth Day, Hour Choice from the Rivoli Group, has announced a special initiative towards making the Earth a greener place. Bringing to their stores across UAE, for the first time is an entirely eco-friendly timepiece called Sprout. Made
of 100 per cent biodegradable materials for belts and buckles, mercury free batteries and natural ingredients like corn resin, bamboo and organic cotton, the timepieces are packaged in an eco-friendly box, which when ripped open and poured water into will ‘sprout’ into your own patch of grass. Hour Choice is also inviting children in the age group of 7 to 12 to paint their vision on the theme ‘Give Earth Some Time’ on A3 sheets and submit it to any of their outlets in the country before 31st May, 2010. At the end of the competition, the top 25 young artists will be invited as special guests for a fantastic summer event at Kidzania, Dubai Mall.
Ice Station Troll BT has announced the completion of its first satellite terminal in Antartica, at one of the world’s coldest, driest, and windiest locations. Ice Station Troll is part of the
global network BT is deploying for the Galileo programme - Europe’s civilian global positioning system (GPS), delivering improved accuracy and guaranteed positioning services. Other sites are located on islands such as La Reunion, New Caledonia, Easter Island and Hawaii. Detailed planning for Ice Station Troll began in 2008 and considerable planning was needed to meet the short ‘good weather’ window to ship last November. The project was completed in February. BT recently signed a contract extension with the European Space Agency for the further deployment of a data dissemination network for the pilot phase of Galileo. When fully deployed, the system will consist of 30 satellites and associated ground infrastructure - interoperable with the American GPS.
It’s Zee show at DMC By Vanit Sethi Indian television giant Zee Network organised a mega exhibition with numerous cultural, culinary and couture shows at the Dubai Media City amphitheatre in April. Called the Zee Dubai Mega Mela, the highlight of the three-day event was a stage appearance by Bollywood heartthrob Hrithik Roshan, who answered questions
UAE swings to the sound of big band jazz The sound of big band jazz arrives in the United Arab Emirates with live performances by The Duke Ellington Big Band, formed in tribute to the man widely considered America’s greatest and most prolific composer. The band will be appearing at The Palladium, Dubai Media City, for one night only on Thursday, 27 May, following restricted and invitation only performances in Abu Dhabi. Accompanying the band will be Mercedes Ellington, the most senior of the composer’s grandchildren and the producer, director and choreographer of the Panoramajazz programme. She is a torchbearer for the iconic Ellington cultural inheritance and formed The Duke Ellington Center for the Arts to ensure continuity of the legacy Duke Ellington, who led his band from 1923 until his death in 1974, was one of most influential artists in recorded music and widely recognised as one of the greatest figures in the history of jazz. His music also included blues, gospel, film scores, popular and classical and he composed a huge songbook.
Loy at the show
by the spectators, anchored by Rohit Roy. Other celebrity performers who graced the stage were the famous music trio ShankarEhsaan-Loy, and Ali Azmat, the former lead singer of Pakistani band Junoon. Star performers of the hit reality shows Sa Re Ga Ma (Raja Hasan, Yashita, Sanchita, Sumedha) and Dance India Dance (Kamlesh) added colour to the scintillating performances. On the culinary side, gourmet maestro Sanjeev Kapoor provided a delicious taste of India to Shankar and Ehsaan the visitors at the fair with signature dishes like tandoori items and dum style of cooking, while star chef Vineet Bhatia came up with tandoori salmon and chocolate samosas. Besides, a number of Dubai restaurants like Indego, Ashiana, Bombay Chowpatty, Qureshi’s, Shamiana, and Bikanervala had set up their
stalls to provide gastronomic treats. On the fashion scene, the 45-minute Catwalk Show presented by Centrepoint was colourful and foot-tapping, combining boutique fashion with the spectacle of theatre and dance. With creations from the Indian subcontinent, alongside locally inspired and high-street designs, the show offered something for everyone. A traditional yet contemporary collection was featured by Soirée, Dubai’s first high-end, multi-brand Pakistani boutique. The Samsaara sequence, featuring collections by designers Z4Z & Oozmani had a Latin theme, while the FNK Asia range of clothing was inspired by the people of Swat. Other designers and fashion brands who showcased their creations were BnK Fashions from Abu Dhabi, Suman Bajaj from India, Unge from UK, and Monga’s from India. Undoubtedly, the last word, or note, at the event went to Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy who
performed on the last day of the event, belting out hits from Rock On, Dil Chahta Hai, Bunty aur Babli, Taare Zameen Par, and My Name is Khan. A fitting finale to the colourful and lively event. The Zee Dubai Mega Mela promises to be an annual event now. UAE Digest, May 2010 l 7
Tweeting about holidays abroad Is the UAE’s travel industry ready to adopt the latest online armoury – Twitter - to sell its tourist sites? By Abha Sadana & M. Sadana
evelopment of the tourism industry and technology go hand in hand. Centuries ago, travel on foot was the norm, but now tours to space on spaceships are also available. Earlier, promotion of travel was through wordof-mouth, but now the internet has brought travel destinations to one’s bedroom. People chat about their travels on Facebook and other social networking sites. Recently, the Twitter craze has spread like wildfire in the US, but it has yet to become a phenomenon in the UAE market where high-tech developments are the norm. An American company, PacRim Marketing Group Inc., developed Manmohan Sadana a strategy to pioneer the use of US popular social media marketing platforms Twitter has applications which the travel industry can such as Twitter in the Japanese travel market. With offices in Honolulu (US) and adapt for consumers and travellers who are tech-savvy and Tokyo (Japan), PacRim began testing its like to gather information from others, and learn about efforts that led to the launching of Twitter destinations, hotels and activities prior to travel accounts for its Japanese national employees, as well as for its editor and writers in the Japanese language who oversee the times daily. This strategy has received waiiarukikata (Hawaii News), Hawaiicontent of Hawalii-Arukikata.com, one of some success and is ready for replication Friends (Hawaii-arukikata.com Readers’ the most popular web portal sites for Hain markets where computerisation is at a Café), HawaaiiDeGohan (Hawaii waii. It has created active Twitter accounts take-off stage. Gourmet) and MyHawaiiHotel (Hawaii for HawaiiTenki (Hawaii Weather), HaTwitter is the latest rage in the US, Hotel deals), that are updated several
8 l UAE Digest, May 2010
with the social media exploding to new levels. It has grown into a real-time short messaging service that works over multiple networks and devices. It has picked up in India, and this platform is a recent craze among the youth and the middle-aged. Presently, promotion of destinations in the UAE and the Middle East is being done through established promotional tools like advertising in print media, electronic media, outdoor advertising, participation in fairs and exhibitions, and word-of-mouth publicity. The discerning Arab traveller is educated abroad and wellversed with the IT revolution. Usage of Twitter accounts, with the travel industry back-up in using this platform, will bring destination promotion to the homes of the potential tourist.
Spreading the message In today’s world, Twitter is a simple-touse and powerful marketing tool to get a message out to various media channels and direct to consumers, if used correctly. One of its findings in its research of the Japanese market was that the number of Japanese who knew how to twitter was far smaller compared to those in the US market. Recognising this, PacRim developed a Japanese-language training tutorial and posted it on the Japanese YouTube for Japanese users to learn how to signup, create a Twitter account, and to use it to follow individuals or companies they can learn from, and make others follow. Launched on May 13, the Japanese-language video can be seen at www.hawaiiarukikata.com and YouTube. It would be an ideal opportunity to follow the same model in Arabic. We need to realise that the 140-character message on Twitter keeps communications brief, but the message remains powerful as it can link to articles, and include photos. Twitter is so simple and fun to use, and has some very practical applications for specific industries. It has
applications which the travel industry can adapt for consumers and travellers who are tech-savvy and like to gather information from others, and learn about destinations, hotels and activities prior to travel. Twitter can also work on mobile phones, and its concept is simple: “What are you doing now?” In 140 characters, consumers can use Twitter to find their friends or family at the mall while travelling, or use it as a powerful instant communications tool in ‘real-time’ to communicate experiences of their vacation directly back to their countries to friends, family, and also to the general consumer. Social Media is just that - it is social, and can spread a message quickly and instantaneously. It is worth mentioning that Twitter was the site US President Barack Obama took advantage of during his presidential election. Users can transmit opinions and comments and also exchange messages with other users registered on the Twitter account. Hence, whenever travellers convey messages from a particular site, they are dynamic, full of life, and the best source of database the travel industry and tourism boards can use for the their promotions and development of tourism products and policies. For example, Rakuten Travel Inc., which opened its official website on Au-
gust 17, 2009, aims to boost demand among followers by leaving messages on travel and campaign information that Rakuten Travel personnel recommend, in addition to information related to sightseeing and travel in general. Rakuten Travel said it plans to transmit preliminary news releases and campaign information exclusive to Twitter in the future. Another is OpenDoor Inc., the operator of the comprehensive travel information site Travelko-chan, which recently began operations. In addition to transmitting the least expensive tours and last-minute travel information, OpenDoor enables consumers to share a variety of data and postings among them by facilitating the retreat (retransmission) function from August 24, 2009. The above two companies aim to offer high-density, yet user-friendly communications with consumers via Twitter, which is equipped with higher immediacy bidirectional capacity compared to blogs. The UAE has the potential to excel, and in case this technology is adopted in this market, it can pay rich dividends in the near future. Tourism in this part of the world will never be the same again. (Abha Sadana is a lecturer at the IILM Institute for Higher Education in New Delhi, and M. Sadana is the Regional Director, Ministry of Tourism, Govt. of India) UAE Digest, May 2010 l 9
Helping eager parents SIMC experts prepare adoptive parents for all emotional and legal issues By Vanit Sethi
ubaiâ€™s Synergy Integrated Medical Centre (SIMC) expanded their international adoption services and introduced their growing team at a home study open evening on April 13 at their complex in Al Wasl Road. The adoption team comprised Dr Randall Phillips, Director, Synergy International Adoption Services (Canada); Suzanne Phillips, Adoption Specialist Hague Legality; Dr Veronique Cugnet-Richard, Head of Adoption Department (France); Emily Kerins and Fiona Brew, both Adoption Home Study Specialists (UK). The adoption team at Synergy supports all adoptive parents in every aspect; providing them with an international standard home study that includes an adoption preparedness programme, focusing on positive parenting. Their experts prepare adoptive parents for all emotional issues that the child may experience through life, which begins with the imprint of abandonment and rejection from their birth mother. The home studies follow the International Standards of the Hague Agreement. Prospective parents, numbering about 25, attended the meeting to familiarise themselves with adoption issues, legal requirements and preparation programme. Updated information on the legalities of adoption in line with the Hague Convention were provided at the meeting. The broad areas covered included international adoption, the role of Synergy Services in facilitating adoption, Home Study Process, how to get started, and the Hague Convention. The Synergy service for those planning international adoption includes a pre-adoption assessment, home study
10 l UAE Digest, May 2010
prepare parents for the challenge and joy of entering international adoption and to ensure a successful adoption process. Another open evening is scheduled for May as there are many people still on the waiting list, according to Gordona Sikora, marketing director of SIMC. Synergy International Adoption Services is part of SIMC â€“ a new concept in healthcare, which combines conventional medicine with complementary forms of therapy in order to provide a holistic healing model.
and referral as necessary. The home study is completed by a team consisting of a licensed psychologist, counsellor and social worker. Assessment is made of the prospective parentâ€™s philosophies, home, lifestyle and financial situation to ensure that the child enters a safe and loving environment. The pre-adoption assessment includes 10 to 12 hours of practical parenting, education and counselling to
Sharia law does not permit adoption in the United Arab Emirates. The Sharia Court may grant a guardianship, but such a guardianship is insufficient for the filing of an I-130 petition for US immigration purposes, according to the US Board of Immigration Appeals. Individual countries should be approached regarding their laws in allowing the children into their borders.
International adoption, or intercountry adoption, is a type of adoption in which an individual or couple becomes the legal and permanent parents of a child born in another country. In general, prospective adoptive parents must meet the legal adoption requirements of their country of residence and those of the country in which the child was born. The laws of different countries vary in their willingness to allow international adoptions. Some countries, such as China and Korea, have relatively wellestablished rules and procedures for international adoptions, while other countries expressly forbid it. Some countries, notably many African nations, have extended residency requirements for adoptive parents that in effect rule out most international adoptions.
The chosen one
Beauty, money, fame, age, health and love might disappear with time, but if you have a mission that brings deep happiness to people, you have a blessed life. Dubaiite for 36 years, Omana Menon, speaks to Manju Ramanan on her role of facilitating adoption in the GCC, that has enriched her own life and, after the death of her husband, paved the path towards selfrealisation.
ometimes you are chosen by destiny to do things you’d never have imagined. As you carry on your duty steadfast, the meaning behind the patterns emerge. A 20-something Omana Menon, never thought that, one day, she would be facilitating childless couples in the GCC (mostly Indians, Americans, Europeans and Australians) by bridging the gap between Indian orphanages, the government and them, when she stepped onto this soil 36 years ago. Omana came to join her husband, the late BK Menon, who was working with the Al Ghurair Group – mainly responsible for the first mall in Dubai, the Al Ghurair Mall, and the first mineral water plant, Masafi Water. She has two children and is a grandmother too. “Way back in 1974, community events and entertainment options in Dubai were meagre. So we decided to organise the Indian Ladies Association,” she says. The Ladies Association, which originally consisted of an elite group of women, spearheaded several community activities including starting the first music class for Carnatic classical music and Bharatanatyam dance by renting out a flat in Karama. They also indulged in various fund raising activities like starting a thrift shop where people would donate things they no longer had a use for, and selling them at throwaway prices to the needy. Soon, under Omana’s presidency, the club started accommodating women from all walks of life. “A large part of the UAE consists of working class Indians and I wanted them to be part of the organisation too,” she states. So, in 1976, nurses, teachers, home-makers etc, found in the Ladies Association, a forum of self-expression and a climate of bonding. Omana, being a senior member of the club, often doubled up as a counsellor and a confidante to many. During the course of one of her interactions, she met a childless couple who were keen to adopt a child from India. “They had been to orphanages there, but the Indian government had wanted a social worker to submit an assessment about them before it would allow for adoption,” she says.
Omana Menon has helped adopt about 2,000 children from India to the GCC countries in the last 34 years
UAE Digest, May 2010 l 11
India rules, people in their 30s are given was restricted to couples who couldn’t To assist them, Omana phoned the infant children who are 2-3 months old, conceive, now it is spread over people Indian Association for Promotion of but if the couple’s combined age is 90 who want to adopt,” she states. Adoption in New Delhi, introduced heryears, they are given older children,” she Is there a parental criterion for adopself as the President of the Indian Ladies states. tion? The study that Omana submits to Association in Dubai and asked But, do the 2-3 year adopted them how she could help the children adjust normally? couple. There is a story about adoption that Omana “It is a popular misnomer “The Association loves to narrate. It is about a child who is teased that they don’t. I ask parents sent me guidelines and I by his peers at school that he is adopted and what they remember of their prepared a home study, runs home to his mother crying. She tells own life when they were two got the Indian Consulate and three years old and they involved and soon, the couple him: “Tell them, ‘they just happened, you usually are blank. So, it doesn’t got the baby,” she states. She was were chosen’. The child goes back to school really matter. In fact, we have thrilled! “All this happened even narrating the same incident and soon his peers a young couple from the UAE before I had any authorised pawho adopted an eight-year-old per from the Indian government. are crying - and he’s the one laughing, for he is the chosen one child,” she adds. It so happened There was no agency here that that the girl had lost both her was doing that. So, it did prompt parents when a car hit them, me to take it seriously. What killing them instantly and she was started out as a small step of help, being brought up at her uncle’s place, became my life’s mission,” she adds. where she was reduced to the position As for public knowledge about of a servant of the household. The adoption, word about Omana spread neighbours complained to the parish through word of mouth, and she was and the priest counselled the family, approached by more people, and the to no avail. That is when the news same process continued with success. spread across the world and was nar“In order to formalise it, I wrote rated by a priest in a Dubai church. to the Indian government request“I was amazed when I saw the ing for an enlistment but they didn’t couple who had come to me with do it for 10 long years, though the a request to adopt the eight-yearprocess of adoption continued. Only old child. The lady was in her early 14 years ago, they enlisted me,” she twenties and her husband was a little states. Today, the Central Agency for older than her. But they adopted her Resourcing Adoption that reports happily. When the girl was brought to the Ministry of Social Empowerhere, she was shy and timid but today, ment and Justice, through a Governshe is a star student in one of the ment of India letter, formalises and GEMS schools. It happens to all of acknowledges Omana is in charge of them. They blossom after the initial adoption to the GCC countries. six months,” states Omana. By enlisting, Omana means that There are so many such experiorphanages in India are intimated of ences that Omana has had that she Omana’s name and position in the feels truly blessed. UAE and it recognises her of being “Recently, a strapping young man the medium of adoption of Indian and a youthful woman came to see me the Indian government is exhaustive. children to the GCC countries. and, as usual, I asked them my routine Right from the prospective parent’s Ask her, how the process of adoption questions, presuming that they were marage, financial stability, educational itself has undergone change in the past ried (and that she was older to him). The background etc, everything is studied three decades and she says, there is more lady came closer and asked me if I failed to thoroughly. She also does a personal inopenness now. recognise her? She then introduced her son terview of the parents, counselling them “Earlier, children were not told to me, telling me that he was the first baby about the arduous paperwork involved about the status of their adoption, now I had helped adopt and that he was going in the whole process. 90 per cent of them know that they are to the US and they wanted to meet me and “According to the Government of adopted. The process of adoption earlier 12 l UAE Digest, May 2010
take my blessings. I cried,” she adds. With a skewed male-versus-female gender ratio in India, do prospective parents from the GCC ask for any specific gender of the child? “You’ll be surprised that 85 per cent of parents who come here ask for a female child,” she replies. Of course, she gets one of the odd requests where parents want children from the same caste or religion. “I tell them it is not possible to note that at all. When a child is abandoned, no one can tell that. And anyways, it is not important. What is important is that a child comes to your household and fills it with its banter, happiness and joy.” The transformation a child undergoes when he/she comes here after being adopted is heartening to note. Though Omana has to submit a yearly report to the Indian Government till the child is about three years old, she has never been disappointed with the way the parents in the GCC countries bring up their adopted children. “The reticent child that comes to me immediately after he/she is adopted, blossoms in six months time with love, care, food and attention, all provided amply,” she says. Does she encourage parents to tell their children that they are adopted? “Yes, I do. Because it is always better that the child knows about his adoption from his parents than from outsiders. The immediate families might be supportive, but there could be a jealous relative or a friend who can break the news to the child and devastate him/her,” she explains. She narrates an incident wherein a girl she had helped adopt was getting married and the parents wanted to intimate the groom’s parents about the adoption. The girl in question had never been told about it. When the groom’s parents were very accepting about the issue, the parents decided to break the news to the girl too. They sat her down and told her in all seriousness she was adopted and she laughed saying that she already knew about it 15 years ago, shocking everyone! “She had stumbled across some papers when she was
10 and knew the truth all the while but it didn’t matter to her at all,” she states. For a lot of parents, the tedious process of paperwork to get the child to a foreign country and the paraphernalia involved is a phase that they forget easily. “In fact, many children start looking like their parents, they dress like them, pick up their mannerisms, use their language – that makes it all so beautiful as if the child was waiting for a home like this,” she adds. After her husband’s death a few years ago, Omana believes that this is one job that has helped her move on in life. “We all go through a process of continuous evolution. As children, if you have played with dolls and doll houses and that was the most engaging thing at that stage of your life, you move on to other things like climbing trees or other activities. You shed off your past and move on. Similarly, when my husband passed away, there was an obvious void in my life, and I kept to myself. People asked me to move out, indulge in pastimes like playing cards, catching up with friends etc, but I am involved with my job. I am meeting real people with real problems and finding solutions for them. I couldn’t have asked for better,” she says.
Of course, she reminisces, “Life then was happier than it is today. You knew everybody and everybody knew you. People weren’t in large numbers as they are today. I was a mother figure for several people who had just moved in and you could say I did a lot of what is called ‘social work’. I realise that those were the seeds that were sown then and this is the pattern that has evolved.” On a parting shot, she does admit that once she sees that the child has adjusted with his/her new family, she detaches herself from them. “It happened that once or twice I ran into the families of the people I helped adopt and with great happiness went over to talk to them, but they turned their faces away. I cannot blame them. I remind them that they adopted their children and now they don’t want to think about that period of their life. What matters to them is now that they have a child. It hurt me immensely in the beginning, but I understood why and dealt with it,” she reiterates. For her, the entire process is like a spiritual journey. “You involve yourself completely with the parents, help them get a child, see the child grow up and then detach yourself from it. I have realised that with age, you also need a sense of vairagya (detachment) to evolve further.”
UAE Digest, May 2010 l 13
Your parents love you A call for child-friendly, safe environments By Linda Benbow
here is an old song/soliloquy (one person talking out loudly to himself, as if telling a story) from the 1950s about a child called Albert who visits the lion in a zoo, falls into his den and gets eaten up by the animal. The father consoles Albert’s mother by telling her that she can have another child, but the mother retorts “What? Just to feed lions, no indeed!” It’s an amusing song to those who have a peculiar sense of humour, but it does highlight how parents should be looking after and protecting their children, instead of just letting them do whatever they want to, and maybe getting hurt in the process – or worse. It takes a lot of time and effort to have a child, so shouldn’t you be looking after it? That bundle of joy that quickly grows into a toddler; and before you know it has grown into a podgy child who, like a chrysalis, emerges as a handsome teenager before leaving home to start his adult life. Parents are both morally and legally obliged to provide their children with a safe home life, and preferably a loving one too. In this multi-cultural expatriate society where families are not always around to give advice, parenting is often of mixed standards. So advice often has to come from authoritive bodies and concerned groups. Accidental injuries represent the number one cause of death among children up to the age of 14 years in the United Arab Emirates, according to a study carried out by Dr. Michal Grivna, Associate Professor, Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences, of the University of the UAE, with the support of Johnson & Johnson Corporate Citizenship Trust - as part of their Safe Kids Middle East
14 l UAE Digest, May 2010
programme. The findings were discussed during a policy session for injuries among children at the Arab Children Health Congress held in March. Dr. Grivna provided further insight on the types of injuries: • with traffic accidents representing 63 per cent of mortality cases • Drowning and falls at 10 per cent each • Surveys among local population showed that over 90 per cent had never used car seats before and that the majority of children were not restrained whether seated in front or at the rear of the car. “There are also environmental risk factors that need to be addressed such as ensuring appropriate traffic and urban planning around schools and safe drop off and pick up sites for children. We have found, for example, there are few
school warning signs, speed signs, bumps or radars to slow down traffic and that in about 80 per cent of cases children are dropped off into the main road or on the opposite side of the road instead of directly into the sidewalk,” added Dr. Grivna. The report calls for the introduction and enforcement of child safety restraints, effective traffic calming measures in and around schools to ensure that speed is low enough and safe energy-free drop-off and pick-up points, as well as the dispersion of schools in quiet residential areas away from high speed roads. “Creating child-friendly environments through innovative integrated legislation, enforcement combined with training and education, has the potential to eliminate most injury deaths in traffic as well as at home”. Participating in a separate policy
Safety bus activities at the Arab Children Health Congress 2010
roundtable session, Mr. Johannes Pattermann, Chairman of Johnson & Johnson Corporate Citizenship Trust Middle East shared best practice and lessons learned of the Safe Kids Worldwide and Safe Kids Middle East initiatives which focus on preventing unintentional childhood injury. “Over the past five years, we have been working with various partners such as the Dubai Road and Transport Authority and Dubai Healthcare Authority on educational safety programmes for children and families within schools and hospitals such as the Safe Kids Booklet, the Safety School Bus and the Baby Memories Programme. We strongly believe that a comprehensive approach that is built on policy and legislation, awareness and education on safety makes a difference in terms of reducing child injuries and fatalities”, stated Mr. Patterman. Several representatives from government authorities, international organisations such as Unicef, the Arab League and WHO, as well as academics and young people attended the policy roundtable.
BMW promotes the use of child restraints 4,000 child safety booster cushions were distributed in the UAE to families to encourage the use of child restraints in cars As part of its ‘Stay Alert. Stay Alive’ road safety campaign launched in the UAE last month, aimed at educating families about the importance of wearing seat belts and using child safety restraints in vehicles, BMW Group Middle East, supported by the Health Authority of Abu Dhabi (HAAD), the Road and Transport Authority of Dubai (RTA), Abu Dhabi Municipality and Dubai Municipality, hosted two road safety public awareness days. At these, BMW provided interactive demonstrations on the correct installation and use of child safety restraints, as well as distributing 4,000 child safety booster cushions to qualifying families. There were also fun activities such as face painting and giveaways for children. Educational brochures were provided to parents,
which gave a definitive guide on the correct use of seat belts and child safety restraints in vehicles. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), child safety restraints have been shown to reduce infant deaths by approximately 70 per cent, and fatalities by between Baby in the correct car safety restraint 54 per cent and 80 per cent in an accident. It is also for children aged between four and 11 known that 83 per cent of belted and years old have been shown to reduce the restrained children remain uninjured in risk of injury by 59 per cent compared to accidents. Child safety booster cushions seat belts alone. Mohammed AbdulKareem Julfar, Assistant Director General for Corporate Support Services Sector, donates blood during the Dubai Municipality employees’ Blood Donation Drive. Dubai Municipality regularly organises these drives where its staff donate to the country’s blood banks which provide blood for saving lives, in emergencies, and aims at helping thalassaemia affected children who need regular blood transfusions every three to four weeks.
UAE Digest, May 2010 l 15
Early Cure It is but a small heel prick. Now, done during the first 48 hours of an infant’s life, that screens the child for a variety of genetic disorders, some of them preventable at birth
small heel prick test is all it takes when a baby is born in the hospital in the UAE where 99 per cent of deliveries occur. The tests allow for the national neonatal screening programme for genetic disorders such as phenylketonuria, congenital hypothyroidism (endocrinologic), metabolic and hematologic diseases. The test is conducted because the UAE has a high rate of consanguineous marriages and there are chances that the children born out of these marriages might give rise to offspring with genetic disorders. If left untreated, these could result in permanent disability, mental retardation or death. The tests came into effect due to the efforts of several organisations in the UAE, experts and medical practitioners. Jamal Al- Bah, Chairman of the “Arab Family Organisation”, in his capacity as Director-General of the Marriage Fund (1993 to 2005), was instrumental in raising awareness on the seriousness of genetic disorders. These efforts bore fruit by the issuance of the first law in the Arab World mandating the process of pre-marital screening for some common genetic disorders. The heel prick test is done within a few days of the baby’s birth, ideally during the first 48-96 hours of life. With these disorders, enzymes essential in breaking down certain amino acids are missing, deficient,
16 l UAE Digest, May 2010
or defective. As a result, amino acids or nitrogen (a component of amino acids) build up in the body to toxic levels, resulting in metabolism disorders that include Phenylketonuria(PKU), Homocystinuria (HCY), Citrullinemia (CIT) etc. Haemoglobinopathies and sickle cell disease are disorders caused by abnormal haemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that is responsible for transporting oxygen to the body. Babies with these haemoglobinopathies may have problems with red blood cell production, resulting in anaemia (shortage of red blood cells), or produce abnormally shaped red blood cells that cause problems in blood circulation and damage easily. These disorders include sickle cell anaemia, thalassemia, and Hb S/C disease. Other disorders that might be screened for include congenital hypothyroidism (a hormone deficiency that causes problems with growth and brain development) etc. If the baby has tested positive for any of the disorders, additional testing is usually done, followed by a referral to a genetic specialist or a paediatrician that specialises in endocrine or metabolic
disorders. Several organisations within the UAE are working hard to raise awareness, prevent the spread of genetic disorders and work towards effective treatment. The Genetics and Development Research Priority Group based in the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS) in Al Ain focuses on birth defects and congenital abnormalities. The Genetics and Thalassemia Centre in Dubai offers cytogenic, molecular and biochemical techniques that address various types of common genetic disorders, the genetic service provided by the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences in Al Ain and the Maternity and Child Development of the Ministry of Health, and The Centre for Arab Genomic Studies (CAGS), Dubai etc. In fact, the CAGS part of Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum Award for Medical Sciences, a semi-government organisation that deals with research pertaining to the field of genetics in the Arab world, compiles painstaking data about the genetic disorders among them and advises ruling bodies on the path to address these disorders, resulting in policy level changes. The CAGS has initiated a comprehensive Catalogue of Transmission Genetics in Arabs (CTGA) with the aim of enlightening the scientific community and the public on the occurrence of inherited disorders in Arabs, and to suggest future investigation strategies.
Yours untruthfully! According to a poll conducted by YouGov Siraj Omnibul, a full-service market research company specialising in online polling and qualitative research, 14 per cent of people who are in a relationship in the UAE admit to infidelity
dultery is the application of democracy to love,” says Henry Louis Mencken. A statement, most people in a relationship or marriage will be happy to counter vehemently. To a world that still believes that marriages are sacrosanct and that ‘odd deviant behaviour’ of straying comes once in a while, mostly ‘to them, not to us’; a recent YouGov Siraj Omnibus Poll reveals otherwise. The poll reveals that close to one third of women in a relationship suspect their partner of infidelity. Call it insecurity associated with the buzzing pace of the emirate, a large population of singles (including married singles
with families back home), a glitzy world filled with the latest gadgets and gizmos that allows for flirting discretely and indiscriminately, a bevy of opportunities available at a cost - the results of the poll comes as no surprise. What was usually spoken about casually is now proven statistically. The
poll states that 14 per cent of people who are in a relationship in the UAE admit to infidelity and 28 per cent of women in
a relationship suspect their partner of infidelity. Only six per cent of women say they have been unfaithful compared to 19 per cent of men who admit infidelity. Arab expatriates are more likely to cheat at 22 per cent. A further 19 per cent - almost two in ten - say they have contemplated infidelity. The findings of the research that looked at attitudes towards infidelity were conducted between 1st and 8th March 2010 under which 699 UAE residents were polled. “This poll shows how honest people are when responding to our online surveys. As it is entirely confidential, people are more willing to open up. They would never admit to infidelity if asked, face to face, by an interviewer. This type of fast, accurate online polling is very useful for companies who need to ask their UAE Digest, May 2010 l 17
customer base sensitive questions, for instance questions about hygiene, finances or personal care,” says Joanna Longworth, Chief Marketing Officer, YouGov Siraj. It is known that the UAE has the highest number of divorces in the Arab world and like everywhere else in the world; one of the reasons cited for divorce is infidelity. Psychologist and marriage therapist Devika Singh from the Divorce Support Group, Dubai feels that the general reasons for divorce among the Emirati population could be a history of distress and abuse in the family, extra-marital relationships, changing financial situations, and ineffective communication. “The three main reasons couples tend to have increased marital conflict stems from basic issues like money, sex and communication,” she states. Perhaps the following case illustrates Singh’s statement quite aptly: June Fay, a receptionist at a real estate firm, who has seen a friend go through the trauma of being dumped, states that distractions are easily available and provide temporary relief. “The UAE is a land of many nationalities and they come from various cultures of the world. It is also a land of business and opportunity, and pressures at work run very high. Combine this with a high standard of living and it is increasingly difficult for couples to stay at the same level with each other unless they are properly grounded and either love each other, or respect each other, or are committed to a relationship,” she states. 18 l UAE Digest, May 2010
She narrates the incident of a friend who found out that her partner was dating a colleague after she checked his phone text messages. “He would never admit to it always stating that ‘they were friends,’ but his working hours kept increasing. Finally, when she cornered him, he admit-
ted to it and brushed it off saying it was a ‘temporary leaning’ he indulged in. His casual attitude broke her spirit and she tried to get to terms with it. She is still in the marriage though their relationship is not the same. And yes, the fling didn’t last,” she adds. But, for many, infidelity need not just be a pleasurable experience. It might stem from a basic need for companionship, emotional support and love.
Jessica Antony, a former beautician, and a cybercafé attendant, feels that there are many expatriates trapped in the UAE, in relationships they would rather avoid if they were economically sound. “I have a son back home who is taken care of by my family members and I earn a salary of Dh2,000 out of which I have to pay my rent and my food, as well as send money home. I cut all corners and do the best I can. I did have a boyfriend who was married and he was a good companion, who knew the situation I had been in. He lent a patient ear to all my longings for my son and even helped me out financially. It was good as long as it lasted, since he too was single here. He left when he lost his job. I guess singledom in a foreign country gets people together. Some even have second families here and their families at home have no clue because they do live very far away,” she states. With three children to support back home and a wayward husband who mounted huge credit card bills before he left for his home country, Flora M, slogged for three years to pay off her bills. “I send money home so that my children are looked after and they have one parent living with them. In this case, isn’t it normal that I get attached to someone who gives me attention and treats me specially? I am a human being and I too need to be loved and pampered, instead of being a machine for creating wealth,” she states. The poll states that 14 per cent of respondents say they suspect their partner of being unfaithful, which matches the percentage of people who have admitted cheating. However, women are more
likely to be suspicious, with 28 per cent suspecting their partner of infidelity. “It won’t be wrong to say that people make an effort to look good in this part of the world. Very rarely would you find people in public places who are badly turned out. So, naturally, there is an insecurity that creeps in and that promotes suspicion,” says Malini Mohan, a homemaker. So much so, that private investigators make quite a sum out of these insecurities. According to newspaper reports, it would cost anywhere between Dh73,000 for 20 days’ work that includes monitoring a spouse for a month; though, according to Khalil Al Mansoori, Director of Criminal Investigation Department at Dubai Police, private investigation firms are illegal in the UAE. “No one has the right to interfere in people’s personal lives and take photographs without their permission. Anyone who does so will be punished,” he states. According to the newspaper report, Paul Hawker of UK-based Research Associates, who specialises in infidelity cases, said that it was important for firms to check out the local laws before sending detectives internationally. “We work with clients to help catch any inappropriate behaviour,” he said. We ask clients to cram their spouses schedule for a few days with social activities, but then let them know that there is a window of opportunity arising soon. When the time comes, we follow them and catch them when they meet the other party. Sometimes we have been able to get a hotel room right next to where they were staying, or a table at a restaurant next to them,” he stated. This might be a good result to the investigator, but a very sad thing for the other partner to hear. When asked what it is about infidelity that they find the most difficult, the poll’s respondents, the largest proportion (38 per cent) being of UAE society, believe the worst part of infidelity is if your partner falls in love with someone else. Another significant proportion holds a different view, 23 per cent say it would be worse if their partner had an extramarital relationship but it did not involve feelings. “I understand that you can grow out
of love sometimes in a relationship. But if you are committed to a marriage and you have children, you are parents first, then a husband and wife. I still believe in the norm that responsible behaviour is possible and you don’t need to get into an extra-marital relationship ‘to feel good’ about yourself,” says an Emirati, who is in a relationship and doesn’t want to be named. When looking at how the population would react if they discovered their partner is cheating, the largest proportion (42 per cent) says they would end the relationship. Arab expats are more likely to end the relationship (60 per cent). However, a significant number (29 per cent), almost two thirds of those polled in the UAE, would confront the issue and then forget it. Asked how she would react if she found her partner cheating on her, she says simply, “If he finds someone else, he can forget about me. When he realises his mistake it will be too late. I will be hurt for sure, but I will not stay with him if he is unfaithful, because if he does it once, he can do it again,” she adds. Counsellors state that the amount of stress these days is higher than it ever was. This is aggravated by issues like traffic, accommodation, cost of living, housing, space – that have a spill-over in the family circuits as well as relationships. Also observed is the constant use of negative styles of interacting. This actually means ineffective communication that manifests as blaming, taunts, restricting behaviour that could trigger off an outburst, wherein one of the partners involved might find respite out of a situation through an extra-marital relationship. “What people find most frightening is not perhaps the actual act of infidelity it is more the idea they are loved less, and that someone else is loved more. In the eyes of the UAE, this seems to be more of a betrayal. It is heartening to see and important to note that a large majority of couples are faithful to each other,” states Joanna Longworth. But, is there a process of keeping infi-
delity out of your life. What do people do? “Infidelity means cheating. Be it a serious affair or a one-night stand. If I am steadfast in my devotion to my partner, I expect the same from him. Nearly every day, I have to tear down a massage parlour visiting card that gets slipped under my door. It just has a heart and a mobile number. The fact that it is circulated so regularly means that there is a demand for it. And most people who live around my area are families as well as singles who have families back home – which means, some of them indulge in it,” says Tanya Suhail, a homemaker. “If you have a good communication going, it is easier to notice the early signs of straying. You have to rework on your relationships, redefine them all the time so that you stay together, ”says Jennifer D’Souza an account executive with a company in Sharjah. And what do people in the UAE consider to be infidelity? According to the poll, 77 per cent say it is having an affair, 75 per cent say it is prostitution, 70 per cent say it is loving someone else, 54 per cent say kissing and 36 per cent say checking someone out is a form of infidelity. The latter is where it all starts actually… in the mind. And with temptations galore and in abundance, it takes quite a lot to stay on track.Beware! (Names and nationalities of the people have been changed to protect their identity) UAE Digest, May 2010 l 19
Surf’s up Mark Hill takes a legal look at one area of cyberliability – employees and the Internet
or all those employers and managers out there, do your employees have access to the Internet and to email at work? If yes, read on! Did you know that an employer can be found liable for the actions of its employees on the internet and certainly any company whose employees are able to conduct commercial transactions over the web will be exposed to all sorts of potential legal liabilities. Harassment, discrimination and dismissal : Any remarks sent by email are capable of amounting to harassment and you could find them used as the basis for complaints of discrimination under various local laws. These laws are there to protect individuals from being treated less favourably on account of his or her sex, race, religion and so on. Though not a clear area of law in many Middle Eastern jurisdictions, the employer could face liability because it may be found that the employer has a duty to prevent its employ-
20 l UAE Digest, May 2010
ees from committing discriminatory acts. And then we have the inevitable area of downloading and circulating pornography. This can put the employer in a position of liability i.e. because employers risk discrimination complaints if they permit employees to create a hostile working environment by downloading and circulating explicit and inappropriate materials. Defamation : Defamation arises where there is the publication of an untrue statement which “tends to lower the subject of the statement in the estimation of right-thinking members of society generally or causes him or her to be shunned or avoided”. A little wordy but basically what it means is that, if you make untrue, insulting or critical statements about someone, both the employee and the employer are risking possible liability for defamation. So, if an employee is the author of a defamatory message sent by email or posted on the Internet, the em-
ployee will be responsible for it and will be legally liable for any damages it causes to the reputation of the individual that the statement is about. The employer may well be found liable too though - for example because the employer has provided the facilities for the employee to access the Internet in the first place. Infringement of intellectual property rights : The internet increases the way that employees can infringe copyright and trade marks. It is a usual rule that the employer will normally be held liable for any intellectual property infringements of its employees but the employer can also be directly liable for such infringements where it provides the bulletin board, the mailing list, the server or web page on which the infringement occurs. So employers should take care to ensure that their employees are observing copyright notices when downloading material from the internet. They should also be well aware of the problem of
downloading and copying unlicensed software (something that the Gulf is getting better at but which is still a problem here). Forming contracts where you don’t mean to: Contracts can be formed online just as much as they can offline. Something I see a lot is where a contract has been formed in the usual way by a contract being signed offline but then there has been email discussion about the contract which can actually end up varying the contract itself. This is just not something you want to happen! And unless controlled, this could give rise to the danger of employees inadvertently forming contracts on behalf of their employer or varying contractual terms to which the employer then becomes bound. Oops! Criminal law : We have laws around the Gulf which can have an impact on what your employees are doing online. Of particular concern in relation to the internet are the laws which make illegal the possession or transmission of child pornography and other objectionable materials. Again, in some situations, employers can find themselves liable for their employee’s criminal conduct on the internet. The solution : So, cyberliability is something that we know exists. And we have seen that the employer can find itself liable for things that most employers in this region would not even have the first idea might end up being their problem. Now let’s face it, employers providing internet access to employees is going to become increasingly common. So, there must be a way of dealing with the kind
of risks we have just been talking about. Well, yes there is and one of the solutions is a remarkably easy thing for all employers to do. Are you ready? Tell your employees what they can and can’t do! Yep, it really is that simple. The way to do this is by writing a simple policy document saying what is, and is not, allowed. What is not acceptable use? : Your policy could state that, except in the course of an employee’s duties or with the express permission of the employer, the internet access provided by the company may not be used for: • personal commercial purposes; • sending unsolicited bulk emails; • sending out confidential information about the company; • any illegal purpose; • knowingly causing interference with or disruption to any network or information service; • sending out personal contact information about employees or officers of the company without their consent; • knowingly causing any other person to view content which would make
the company liable; and knowingly downloading or requesting software or media files or data streams that will use a greater amount of network bandwidth than is permitted (especially if you are based in DIC or DMC where you pay for bandwidth and not time online). Consequence of breach : In the policy, you can also state that the company will monitor logs of Internet use which will reveal information about which sites employees are accessing and also the email addresses of those they are communicating with. Then, you can clearly state that any misuse of the internet on company systems could be viewed as a disciplinary matter. This is something that a lot of employees get wrong. Please remember that the question of whether you would be entitled to discipline or dismiss an employee who is using the internet for unauthorised purposes really comes down to whether or not you have made the policy clear. If you have no policy, you may not be able to discipline or dismiss an employee even if what they have been doing seems to you to be blatant. Mark Hill can be contacted at therightslawyers
UAE Digest, May 2010 l 21
Paper quilling Linda Benbow asked Farah Al-Fardh why she likes rolled up pieces of paper
arah Al-Fardh is an Emirati quilling artist from Umm Al Quwain. She has been interested in arts and crafts since an early age and loves to create art pieces using this medium. Farah has taken her love for this craft to great lengths: she introduced the art on various television channels, newspapers and magazines in the UAE; held workshops in Ras Al Khaimah, Umm Al Quwain, Dubai and Al Ain and launched the first Arabic website on paper quilling. Alongside all this she also holds a full-time job.
it because I enjoy it and it is an art for all age groups and you can do so many wonderful things with it. What made you take the leap from enjoying a craft to talking about it on TV and magazines? I started quilling in 2004 and the first time I appeared on TV to introduce it about. So when I received the invitation from Sama Dubai TV I said “yes” right away. And till now I get the same reaction from people who see my work, they are amazed and can’t believe that I made them out of paper strips. Also, I have taught this craft to many people (boys and girls) from all age groups and discovered that kids tend to focus and concentrate a lot while practising this, which made their parents thank me for teaching them, something that wwould keep them quiet. And some parents couldn’t believe that their children managed to create beautiful artwork.
What other crafts do you enjoy? I enjoy embroidery and making greeting cards but I love quilling the most Why is it the best? I wanted to try a new craft and quilling ended up being the best choice. I was also looking for something quite challenging. This helps me relax. Why do you want to revive the craft? The art of paper quilling is new in our region so I am actually introducing the art more than reviving it. I want to introduce 22 l UAE Digest, May 2010
was in February 2008. This art became a passion I wanted everyone to know
Does your sister Amna still do this craftwork – or has she moved on to
something else? Both of us started round the same time but didnâ€™t know that we are doing it, although our rooms are opposite each other. She is still quilling and does many other paper creations. This art is very addictive; once you start you cannot stop.
My parents were very supportive and they always admired my creativity and artistic mode. I have relatives in different countries who love to come to my facebook page and give their positive feedback on my latest creations. My sisters are
Was it difficult to launch a website on this topic? It was really challenging to launch the website. First of all it was unique (first website in the world in Arabic and English about paper quilling). I launched it on January 13, 2009 and I received Tamaiaz Award from Mawarid in May 2009 for coming up with this website. I started working on it round March 2008 and it has come a long way since then (look at www.farooha.net). How did the workshop in Ras Al Khaimah go â€“ were there many enthusiastic participants, or did they just come to see what it was all about? My first workshop was conducted in Ras Al Khaimah - all the attendees were art teachers from different cities and they were really surprised and interested to know to know more about it. So much so that they bought all the materials, books and tools that I had brought with me and took my contact details to order more. I am still in touch with them Does your craft get in the way of your day job? Quilling is the relaxation zone for me. I enjoy my work as Assistant ManagerVendor Relations at Dubai World Trade Centre, and I enjoy quilling. My boss, and the company, always support my artistic activities. When I received Tamaiaz Award they published it in the company newsletter and when I participated at the Doll Exhibition; the company sent an email to all employees announcing my participation. My craft does not come in the way of my work as I keep it for weekends or after working hours
preparing for this visit in July. My sister Amna and I would like to start a UAE Quilling Guild, and at the moment, are working on getting enough members to form this group. My biggest plan would be to have the first quilling exhibition in the Middle East and publish a book on quilling in Arabic.
Quilling the biggest energy boosters; whenever I have a new idea, they will keep asking if I have finished the project or not! What are your plans for the future? I received an invitation from Japan Quilling Guild to visit and attend a workshop as a quest, with my sister, and I am
Quilling is a lovely old art form which some believe may date back to ancient Egypt. It has been known by many names, including paper-rolling, paper-scrolling, filigree, paper mosaic. It is theorised that early quillers rolled their papers on a feather, or quill, hence the name quilling. The art form involves the use of strips of paper that are rolled, shaped, and glued together to create many designs.
Farah won the Tamaiaz Award in the category of Entrepreneurship in May 2009
What does your family think of your hobby? UAE Digest, May 2010 l 23
Horse with an Indian Lady
Art for heart’s sake Legendary painter MF Hussain talks to Vanit Sethi on his new projects, passion for cinema and history, role of controversy and awards for an artist
hat are your new artworks that are now displaying and what are you working on? I’m displaying 10 imprints each of my original works from different themes (horses, dance, music, map of India etc) and periods of my career out of a total of 110 each, and these are very affordable. Each imprint is numbered and with my original signature. These imprints are made with different techniques, most prominently the silk screen technique, on stone or metal plate. While the original works are priced above rupees 10 million (nearly Dh1billion), these imprints are available for Dh3,000-4,000 each. That’s why the theme of these imprints are ‘Art for the people with more taste than money’. These works are for the middle class who cannot afford the originals but want to acquire some art works. Rich people buy just for investment. They really don’t know what the art is all about – all they know is how much it is worth and how much it could fetch them. Apart from these imprints, what other works are you planning? I came here five years ago and wanted to do three major projects, but I was looking for sponsors, which I found here in Dubai and in London. The three projects are: (i) The History of Arab Civilisation (dating back to the times of Babylon) – how Muslims, Christians and Jews have all contributed to the betterment of man; (ii) The History of Indian Civilisation (from Mohenjodaro to Manmohan Singh). That’s the title, because Manmohan Singh has now become a phenomenon; and (iii) This one is my favourite - 100 years of Indian Cinema. Soon, Indian cinema will be completing 100 years; so I have to commemorate that because I’m
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crazy about cinema. My father wouldn’t let me go to the movies, and, in those days, it wasn’t considered a good thing to go to cinema. I got beaten up seven times (laughs), but still I was adamant. Now, all my works are an artist’s vision – recreations of something that has already been created by the Creator. So, all art is merely recreation and restructuring - nothing is original. If anyone says he has created an original work, he is lying.
had lost my mother at an early age, I kept looking for that image of my mother in different women for 50 years. I painted women thus in motherlike forms – Durga Mata, Mother India etc. But one day, some friend asked me to go and see the film Hum Aapke Hain Koun, which was running for
“I’m crazy about cinema. My father wouldn’t let me go to the movies, and those days, it wasn’t considered a good thing to go to cinema. I got beaten up seven times, but still I was adamant” You have painted many Indian actresses. Is it necessary for an artist to have a muse? Yes, why not? Again, it depends on what you are painting or looking for. Since I
a year. I saw and became instantly hooked and saw the movie 67 times in the movie halls. Actress Madhuri Dixit is the essence of Indian womanhood, so she became my muse for quite some time.
“People told me ‘you can’t treat the PM like that... at least inform her why you won’t be going’, but I didn’t. The next day when I went, she (Indira Gandhi) didn’t mention anything about my absence” You have also painted political leaders like Indira Gandhi. Do you feel artists need to court politicians to stay on the right side of power? Indira Gandhi was the most powerful woman in the world and the only politician who truly understood Indian culture and art, since she was in Shanti Niketan under Rabindranath Tagore. She was a true woman of substance. I was doing a portrait for her, and I was commissioned to work on a monumental image of her for the international airport in Delhi. For five days with 20 minutes each day beginning at 8.30am, I would paint her. But on the fourth day, I just didn’t feel like going. People told me “you can’t treat the PM like that... at least inform her why you won’t be going”, but I didn’t. The next day when I went, she didn’t mention anything about my absence. That was her grace. Coming back to art, what do you think of modern contemporary art? In the name of modern art, you can do anything crazy and it becomes art. It’s okay. I’ve nothing against it. They are doing some innovation... but it’s more like entertainment. Ninety per cent of art today is entertainment. But serious art is limited. If you’ve worked most of your life and created Finishing Line
something which has a link with past traditions and culture, that is serious art. Indian culture is full of colour and very sensuous. In the West, it’s more of form. They have mastered the matter and split the atom. But in the East, we went beyond reality. So, it’s reality and illusion or maya... that is the beauty of life in two different worlds. You shouldn’t remain stuck in one form, idea or philosophy. I’ve done 130 paintings of the Ramayana (Indian epic) after consulting various scholars. Do controversy and awards help an artist sell his works? First of all, I think controversy is mostly created by the media. But I’m not accusing the media - because that’s what keeps it going. And let’s face it, everybody loves gossip and controversy, that’s the spice of life. As long as it is not malicious and does not hurt people, controversy is fine. Now see, this controversy over my paintings has helped me. Many people look at my art works deliberately to see some nudes. That way, at least they look at my paintings. So, it does help an artist and people then try to understand art. Similarly, awards like Nobel or Booker Mother Teresa
“Everybody loves gossip and controversy... that’s the spice of life. As long as it is not malicious and does not hurt people, controversy is fine” definitely help writers, some of whom may not be so well-known, to sell their works. It has been proved, awards and controversies do help artists sell their works and become famous. Lastly, do you find painting about India difficult while living outside India? No, not all. I always carry India within me. It’s in my blood. I’ve painted in various cities and countries of the world, and that’s fascinating. But one lifetime is not enough to explore India. Even now, after so many years of my life, I’ve got out only 10 per cent of India in my paintings. Even if I’m out of India far away in a jungle or a desert - India cannot be out of me. Vivaah (Wedding)
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“Even if I’m out of India far away in a jungle or a desert - India cannot be out of me” Portrait of an artist Born in 1915 in Pandharpur of Maharashtra, a state in western India, M.F. Hussain began his career as a painter of film posters and graduated to becoming India’s most celebrated, as well as controversial, painter. After being hounded by the Hindu right in India for his nude paintings of certain Indian gods and goddesses, he has been outside India – mostly Dubai and London – since 2006. In January this year, he was offered the citizenship of Qatar, and he accepted it. Several court cases against him too have been pending in India on the charge of offending Hindu sensibilities. Hussain argues he is seeped deep in India’s predominantly Hindu traditions which are syncretic and allow immense scope for freedom of expression. But in an age of hardening attitudes and heightened sensibilities, his defence cut no ice. Ironically, some of his controversial nudes were done way back in the 1970s, but they assumed prominence only after the rise of Hindutva in the early 90s. Curiously, he also fell foul of the Muslim right over a qawwali song in one of his films titled Meenaxi, which was termed blasphemous, but the controversy died down soon after Hussain clarified that there was no intention to offend. In the midst of all the brouhaha and endless debates in India over his art and patriotism, Hussain has maintained that he is no less an Indian after being granted Qatari Art lovers at the MF Hussain exhibition in DIFC
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citizenship, and that he is living abroad more out of work compulsions than fear of the law or concerns about security. His son, probably less dictated by political correctness, maintained otherwise. However, his new projects on Indian history and cinema (to be executed from London) reveal that while he may be outside India, India has not really deserted him. “I’m free to return anytime,” as he has often said.
Controversial paintings: • Durga Mata • Mother India • Paintings of Hindu Gods and Godesses
Upcoming projects (to be completed in 2015): • History of Arab Civilisation (99 pieces) • History of Indian Civilisation (200 pieces) • 100 Years of of Indian Cinema (100 pieces) Movies: • Through the eyes of a painter (won a • • •
Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival in 1967) Gaja Gamini Meenaxi: A tale of three cities Another proposed film – a socio-political comedy
Art show in Dubai MF amazed guests at a private exhibition on April 8, when he premiered a limited edition collection of signed imprints. The collection comprised 120 of his most sought after masterpieces, some of which have never been seen before. The exclusive cocktail event was held at the Capital Club in the presence of the artist himself, and was attended by 300 of the most avid art lovers and well-known figures from the city’s vibrant social scene. The exhibition, entitled Imprints of India, was held in commemoration of Husain’s 95th birthday this year, in line with his desire to make art accessible to all. On display was a series of serigraphs, lithographs and digital art prints, featuring some of his most famed work, including Finishing Line, Krishna Gopala, and Mother Teresa. “It is a pleasure to show my collection in Dubai, a city that has brought so much to me, and makes me feel so welcome and at home,” said Hussain. Quickly snapped up by art lovers during the Dubai exhibition, Hussain’s imprints made a lasting impression on exhibition guests. Husain has enjoyed a long-standing and well-deserved reputation as the ‘Picasso of India’ and his art is internationally renowned. His creative forms have grown to include drawings, poetry and more recently, filmmaking. Hussain was recently honoured with a special award for his commitment to Diversity in Art and for his lifetime achievement as the ‘Greatest Living Indian Artist’ in the Speaker’s Apartment of London’s House of Commons.
Films in May
It is the turn of the century in Belle Epoque Paris and a scandalous romp is underfoot. The sensational tale begins as the ravishing Lea (Michelle Pfeiffer) contemplates retirement from her renowned stature as Paris’ most envied seductress to the rich and famous. Her plans are cut short when she is approached by a former courtesan and arch rival, the barb-throwing gossip Charlotte Peloux (Kathy Bates), who encourages Lea to teach her disaffected 19 year-old son - a bon vivant nicknamed “Cheri” (Rupert Friend) - a thing or two about women. The resulting escapades involve power struggles over sex, money, age and society and, unexpectedly, love itself - as a boy who refuses to grow up collides with a woman who realises she cannot stay young forever. Director Stephen Frears (The Queen) and screenwriter Christopher Hampton (Atonement) reunite (Dangerous Liaisons) to playfully bring Colette’s unconventional romance, Cheri, to the screen.
Academy Award winners Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett star in the untold story of how the man became a legendary hero, directed by Ridley Scott. In 13th century England, Robin and his band of marauders confront corruption in a local village and lead an uprising against the crown that will forever alter the balance of world power, in the process becoming an eternal symbol of freedom for his people. Robin Hood chronicles the life of an expert archer, previously interested only in self-preservation, from his service in King Richard’s army against the French. Upon Richard’s death, Robin travels to Nottingham, a town suffering from the corruption of a despotic sheriff and crippling taxation, where he falls for the spirited widow Lady Marion, a woman sceptical of the identity and motivations of this crusader from the forest. Hoping to earn the hand of Maid Marion and salvage the village, Robin assembles a gang whose lethal mercenary skills are matched only by its appetite for life. Together, they begin preying on the indulgent upper class to correct injustices under the sheriff. With their country weakened from decades of war, embattled from the ineffective rule of the new king, and vulnerable to insurgencies from within and threats from afar, Robin and his men heed a call to ever greater adventure. This unlikeliest of heroes and his allies set off to protect their country from slipping into bloody civil war and return glory to England once more.
Valhall Rising Set in the 10th century, an expedition sets out to return to Scandinavia but gets lost in the fog. They eventually reach an unknown land and think it is Valhall, the Viking equivalent of Heaven, but it turns out to be America.
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A market in transition
lthough the retail sector has not experienced the same levels of performance decline as other sectors of the Dubai real estate market, it is still undergoing a period of transition. The significant boost in new supply entering the market in recent years, declining sales, lower footfall levels and a drop in tourist growth in 2009 have put greater pressure on the industry and its players to reconsider their strategies to ensure future growth can be sustained. Jones Lang LaSalleâ€™s April edition of MENA House View highlights a number of new trends that are emerging within the sector; the most significant of these include the following: End of an era for new supply: The opening of Mirdif City Centre by marketleading developer Majid Al Futtaim Group (MAF) on March 16th, 2010 marks the end of an era of wide-scale development of super-regional malls in Dubai. Mirdif City Centre is likely to be the last of its kind, at least in the shortmedium term as this sector of the market approaches saturation. Mirdif City Centre reflects many of the changing trends 28 l UAE Digest, May 2010
underpinning the sector at present. More focus on local spending: The market is now adjusting to address the needs of the resident population; Attention to value: In line with global trends, the focus of consumers in Du-
new mall developments and some sectors of the market approaching saturation, several proposed future malls are likely to be delayed. This will result in much lower levels of expected future supply entering the retail market during the rest of 2010
bai has moved closer to a stronger value proposition. With a decline in purchasing power of the resident population over the past 18 months, consumer shopping budgets have been reduced significantly. This represents a shift away from luxury driven retail. For retailers and mall owners, there is now heightened competition to aggressively capture shoppers interests and disposable income. With financing difficult to achieve for
and 2011, with no new super regional centres expected before the completion of the first stage of the Mall of Arabia which is expected to complete in 2013. This reduction in the delivery of new retail shopping centres will give the market the necessary breathing space to absorb the high levels of supply experienced in recent years. Mirdif City Centre will be the last super regional centre to open for the next 3 years. While it is
clearly too early to assess the impact of this new centre, it is expected to attract both spending and retail tenants from other centres in the northern regions of Dubai. Mirdif City Centre also reflects a number of the other major trends impacting the market including the focus on local residents and the increased emphasis on value proposition. Anecdotal evidence suggests that retail sales are now starting to recover, with increased footfall and turnover being reported by some retailers during the recent Dubai Shopping Festival. The Dubai Chamber of Commerce reports that total retail spending in Dubai is expected to increase by around 4% in 2010 and by more than 8% in 2011. The shift in the structure of the retail sector is occurring with the emphasis being on a back-to-basics approach. A number of prudent retailers are already looking at new strategies in this regard. This trend is likely to result in the repositioning of both existing and new retail centres away from the previous focus on luxury brands towards value merchandising. Owners and managers of shopping malls will have to consider implementing active management strategies to re-align these properties to retain value. Some obsolescent or underperforming shopping centres may be redeveloped or even in some cases converted to other uses - as has been witnessed in some US and European markets. While the focus is expected to switch to serving the needs of the resident population of Dubai and the surrounding emirates, the tourist sector will remain a significant component of retail spending in Dubai. Dubai remains an attractive destination for retail related tourism and the retail sector is expected to benefit from the continued growth in visitor arrivals (forecast to increase by 5 per cent in 2010) and high levels of investment in developing the cities tourist infrastructure (e.g.: the growth and development of Dubai International Airport, the opening of Dubai Metro and the promotion of the city in international tourist source markets).
Trends in the retail sector Landlords
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Thinking more creatively by offering a range of lease lengths that match the tenant mix. Offering longer leases to strong retailers (from 3 to 20 year leases). Offering incentives to incoming tenants such as capital contributions and rent free periods to offset tenant’s upfront costs. Offering an exit strategy for poor performing retailers to recapture prime space. Consideration of redevelopment options to either add new retail space or redevelop the centre for alternative uses.
A must-visit mall in Mirdiff First there was Jumeirah Jane, then, when rents went up and folks started to move into more modest rentals and Satwa Sally and Deira Dolly became dominant. With the advent of freehold purchases more names appeared as the Arabian Ranches filled up with those who had to be temporarily housed at The Lakes, The Springs, The Meadows, etc while waiting for their homes to be completed as soon as possible after the delivery date had passed. Homes went up, people moved in and shopping malls were opened to make the best use of the spending habits of an affluent crowd. Each mall had a unique enticement to draw the crowds into their doors. For many years Mirdiff was known for its welcoming green park, big and cheap villas on the very outskirts of town - far from the ‘in’ crowd - and under the flight path of planes using nearby Dubai Airport. As folks moved into the area the retailers decided to move in too - to cater to a new affluent crowd who didn’t want to travel far to do their weekend shopping. Now there is another reason to go there. The opening of the Dh3 billion, 196,000 square metre Mirdiff City
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Likely to seek more flexibility on rental payments and intervals Value creation will mean looking more closely at alternative income sources such as speciality retailing, sponsored events or leasing vacant units on very short term leases as temporary measures. Focus on staff training to improve the customer experience, and offering alternative ‘value for money’for customers e.g. additional services or membership to money-saving schemes. Focus on accessibility, signage, parking provision and excellent facilities to attract customers and encourage repeat visits. Consider physical changes in unit sizing and configuration to improve quality of retail offering. Centre (MCC) which was delivered on-time, and with 85 per cent of its 430 retail outlets opening on the same day. The on-time completion of the massive project is a major achievement for the region’s construction industry, said Majid Al Futtaim Properties CEO Peter Walichnowski at the official opening “It is one of the most successful openings of any mall in the region. Once we started construction two years ago, we promised to open on 16 March 2010, and so here it is,” he said. “We have saved 20 per cent of the total energy consumption through design initiatives embedded in the scheme. We have selected materials with a high recyclable content, sourced from sustainable sources, and have championed a marketleading 50 per cent of the construction waste not going to landfill. This is a remarkable achievement,” said Majid Al Futtaim Properties vice-president, project management, Jonathan Emery. Opening day saw hordes of shoppers eagerly inspecting new shop names and new merchandise. And people have not stopped flooding through the doors since then. Some come to shop, others come to eat, or socialise, or watch a film at the cinema, or play games at the multitude of entertainments available such as indoor skydiving, water games and rides. iFly
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iFly Dubai – an experience By Manju Ramanan I sat with my six and a half year old son in our first-ever class together at the iFly training session at the Mirdiff City Centre. The instructor was addressing a group of flying enthusiasts spanning the age groups of 6- 60 teaching them the nuances of flying indoors. iFLY Dubai is not a ride or a simulator but a vertical wind tunnel that moves air up in a vertical column offering the best possible flight experience for indoor skydiving. “No talking inside the wind tunnel, we use only sign
Hamleys, the world-famous toy retailer, opened its second store in the UAE here. Eight winners from a nationwide drawing competition to ‘draw your favourite toy’ were invited, along with their classmates to participate in the opening parade, with winners each receiving a Dh500 gift voucher to spend within the store as well as seeing their drawings enlarged and framed as a permanent feature 30 l UAE Digest, May 2010
language,” said the instructor and my son smiled at me knowing how difficult it would be for him to do that. After a few sessions in sign language that included a pointer for chin up, a ‘V’ for keeping your legs straight, an inverted comma sign for folding your knees and a thumbs up for all well – he was ready to take the plunge - oops! flight! After wearing all the gear that was provided – a flying suit, a pair of socks and special shoes, a woollen cap and a helmet - the group was ushered into a glass room that surrounded the wind tunnel room (also made of glass) and made to sit in a semi circle. The wind tunnel room has an instructor who takes the participants in and assists them in their airborne adventure. What I noticed is that children, because they are more flexible and believe in flying (thanks to their dozens of comic superheroes) take to the sport easily while adults enjoy it, but take a while to get used to being airborne. Either ways, it is an experience of a lifetime and should not be missed. Don’t forget to remind your child about the theory of gravity when he’s trying to practice his flying skills at home! Safe for kids, the experience for first time flyers (peak) costs Dh145 for kids and Dh195 for adults offering two flight chances, off peak rates are cheaper and offer a single flight experience. There is a Learn to Fly package where you learn the real sky diving free fall skills. Timings, between Saturday to Wednesday between 10 am – 11 pm and Thursday and Friday between 10 am -12 am.
within the store. The official opening began with a parade of children led by the Hamleys bear and band towards the store where they were greeted by a live radio DJ and staff giving out party bags. Within the new interactive store, a replica of a red double-decker London bus was unveiled, as children explored the 22,000 square foot store which features a chrome race
track where kids can test the latest remote control cars, a Girls World dolls house and a Disney cinema, as well as all their favourite quality toys. The new store also features a Hamleys Party Room, which offers customised birthday parties complete with a play area featuring a bouncy castle and bicycle track. Hamleys is an internationally-recognised toy retailer with ambitious plans to
grow the brand further. It was established nearly 250 years ago by William Hamley and its flagship store on Regent Street, with over seven floors packed full of toys and games, is considered to be one of London’s major tourist attractions and receives about five million visitors a year. The company has developed an international reputation for choice, quality, and innovation. Juicy Couture, a contemporary brand of casual lifestyle clothing, has opened the region’s first stand alone accessory boutique at Mirdiff City Centre. The new boutique carries an extensive range of jewellery, shoes and handbags featuring the brand’s stylish and chic collections. It also showcases the latest Juicy swimwear that flatters any type of body! From the basic one-piece swimsuit
to the more chic bikini, beach dresses, this new collection, a first in the region, is available in various designs, styles and colours. Located on the first floor, the new concept store, expresses the iconic nature of the Juicy brand complete with its trademark graphics, slogans and props set in stone or etched glass. Founded in 1994 by Pamela Skaist-Levy and Gela Taylor, as premium designer, marketer and wholesaler of chic, sophisticated basics for women,
Juicy Couture has attracted many a Hollywood diva and style-conscious women alike over the years from Madonna to Jessica Biel. The flattering, slender fit of the products, the price points, the exclusive distribution and the loyal celebrity following have all played an important role in shaping the brand. Jumbo Electronics has opened its newest outlet here. With a floor area of more than 5000 square feet the store will carry the full range of consumer electronics including LCD TV’s, digital still cameras, Handycams, laptops, mobile phones and MP3 players. A main focus of this new store is the contemporary design, making it very easy for customers to navigate. This store opening follows a very successful Dubai Shopping Festival for Jumbo which also marked the company’s 15th year of sponsorship. Expanding its reach to customers further, Etisalat has opened the doors to its 38th retail outlet here, its one-stop shop offering customers a broad range of landline, mobile, broadband and enterUAE Digest, May 2010 l 31
tainment services. Located on the first level of the mall from the North Entrance and spread over nearly 210 square metres, this outlet is aimed to enhance the customers’ experience with its contemporary outlook, warm environment, latest tech gadgets in the market and an experienced customer care team. Open from 10.00am to 10.00pm from Sunday to Thursday and between 10.00am until 12:00am on Friday and Saturday, the spacious outlet is designed to offer customers an improved and wholesome retail experience. Shoppers and visitors will be able to visit the Etisalat outlet for new fixed-line subscriptions, prepaid Wasel and postpaid mobile connections, and Internet connections. The outlets are also fully equipped to provide customers information on services such as BlackBerry, iPhone, MobileCAM, 3G USB Modems, e-vision services and many more main and value-
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added services. Better Life, a leading specialist home appliance company, has opened the doors on its seventh store at MCC. With a shop area of 4,700square feet, the new store gives customers a warm and relaxing shopping experience with its entire brand portfolio on offer, which includes Siemens, Electrolux, Grundig, and Lagostina amongst many others. Aside from home appliances and accessories, the store also has on display its new S2 Kitchen by German manufacturer SieMatic. A minimalist high end kitchen, with the comforts and convenience of a fully furnished living space makes this a must for any modern household. For residents looking to personalise their apartments and villas in the newly opened developments in the vicinity, the new store offers tenants the convenience of having their entire home appliance
kitchen and accessories available in one single location. As with all Better Life stores, customer service is paramount, and an in-house kitchen designer is on hand to provide assistance and advice to ensure they chose the best products that suit their needs. Delivering on its promise to continue with its retail expansion plans despite the global downturn, Al Fahim Holdings, one of the largest diversified business groups in the GCC, has opened its stylish Paris Gallery at Mirdif City Centre. The new location takes the total number of outlets in the UAE alone to 27. Covering a total area of over 29,000 square feet, the store features more than 480 prestigious international and regional luxury brands under one roof and underlines the company’s commitment towards supporting the UAE economy. In a statement, Group CEO Mohammed A.R. Al Fahim said: “Our latest store at Mirdif City Centre continues our retail expansion which utilises our existing, successful retail blueprint and is the first of a series of several exciting ventures we wish to reveal for 2010.” The new store will also see more employment opportunities being generated for UAE nationals who have been trained in the group’s stringent retail philosophy. The group works closely with Zayed University where it educates and empowers Emirati students in the retail business through its Luxury Retail Leadership Programme, Graduate Management Training Programme, internal orientation programme and On-Job Training. In celebration of the new development, Paris Gallery held a two-day in-store event and a catwalk show where it presented the 2010 collections of its top brands Chopard, Givenchy, GianFranco Ferre, Escada and E. Zegna Eyewear.
Used computing equipment ICT cluster spearheads recycle and reuse initiative
ubai Internet City (DIC) has collected over 1,000 pieces of used computer hardware equipment from the companies based within its premises as part of its ongoing recycling campaign. The ‘DIC Recycle – Reuse’ drive extends to recycling laptops, printers, screen monitors and scanners, and is being carried out in association with Dubai Municipality, Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Humanitarian and Charity Foundation and Microsoft Middle East. DIC’s business partners were encouraged to give their used equipments which will then be distributed among educational, social and charitable institutions. The ‘Envirofone Recycling Drive’ is another ongoing green initiative by DIC. Developed by Envirofone, which manages and promotes the UAE national campaign for the recycling of e-waste, mobile phones, accessories and batteries, the programme aims to create a safer office environment through disposing of electronic waste that would be hazardous and toxic. In partnership with Envirofone, DIC has placed drop boxes across TECOM business parks including Dubai Knowledge Village and Dubai Media City. Individuals are encouraged to deposit used
phones, batteries and accessories, along with other related electronics. The items thus collected are exported to specialised e-waste recycling companies based in Singapore or Malaysia. As the region’s leading managed ICT cluster, DIC works towards driving sustainability across the region through the platform of technology. Among its vigorous recycling drive campaigns within the community, DIC also recently commissioned a white paper on how telecom operators in the region can reap cost savings through adopting sustainable technologies and meeting industry recognised environmental standards.
Waste management services at petrol stations Waste management agreement covers 36 service stations across the emirate of Sharjah Dulsco Sharjah has announced that it has recently signed a contract to collect waste from 36 service stations of Enoc/Eppco in Sharjah. Dulsco revealed that the agreement underlines the company’s continued success in providing expert services and reaffirms the company’s leadership in the field of waste management, spanning several decades. Dulsco Sharjah began the collection of food and other general waste from these petrol stations on August 1, 2009. The company already provides other services such as tank cleaning. Dulsco pointed out that the new waste collection service contract has further strengthened its business relationship with
fuel refilling companies. Providing service stations with waste collection services is not new to Dulsco as the company has a long and comprehensive experience of the same type of service with Emarat in Dubai and in other emirates. Dulsco Sharjah has been successfully providing waste management services to several companies involving different types of wastes over the past several years. It is set to further increase its customer base of companies in the emirate using waste management services. Moreover, Dulsco has set in motion the practice of seeking regular feedback about
its services from all its customers in the emirate. Officials have made it a practice both to make regular visits to key clients to see if their expectations are being adequately met, and also to take necessary action immediately if found wanting in even the slightest degree of service. UAE Digest, May 2010 l 33
More ‘brains’, less ‘muscle’
move towards knowledgeintensive activities in Dubai was highlighted by the Dubai Competitiveness Centre (DCC) recently at a debate hosted by Dubai Knowledge Village. Gayane Afrikian, the Director of the DCC, who presented information on the UAE’s global competitive ranking, said that it was time for Dubai to shift from labour-intensive activities to more knowledge-driven activities. She also revealed, with regard to promoting a culture of knowledge in the region, that there needed to be more of a push towards continued education where UAE Nationals were concerned. This indication of support towards improving knowledge and skills in Dubai was favourably received by higher-education and training providers who have been concerned that a tightening of budgets during the economic recession might impact negatively on skills development. “The UAE is developing rapidly. But ‘more’ is not necessarily better,” said James Norbury of Specialised Management Group. “Now, more than ever, companies require a strong focus on competence and capability. Sponsors want project managers and teams to do more with less. Precise decisions - on time, every time - requires project managers to facilitate the flow of 34 l UAE Digest, May 2010
information exactly as is expected – this means the multi-tasking capability has to be second nature. When business grows, the skills are expected to run in parallel. But when the business contracts, skills leave, or are harvested (meaning reduced capability to deliver and strain on those remaining), more is not more ... less is more becomes the key. This is where a focus on skills and competence development is crucial.” James warned against falling into ‘capability incompetence’. He used an example of technology incompetence, where people were faced with a mass of technological devices but had little understanding of their capability. “Today we are faced with the need to deliver projects with less, but how? The answers lie in the end-to-end understanding of how projects benefit and deliver business strategy. The axe is being swung on many aspects and has created much
disillusionment and fall in confidence,” he said. “The most beneficial education is experiential learning that offers a practical outlook rather than simple textbook training. This provides a good link between ‘doing’ and ‘knowing’.”
Teaching update Teachers from government schools across the UAE had the opportunity to improve the way they teach mixed ability classes and adapt materials at the first British Council Teaching Young Learners and Teenagers Conference in March. The two one-day mini-confer-
Fatma Al Marri, CEO of the KHDA School Agency in Dubai, delivered a warm welcome address to British Council conference delegates
ences, held at the Princess Haya bint Al Hussein School for Girls in Dubai, and at the Institute of Applied Technology in Fujairah, gave 350 teachers, supervisors and teacher trainees from primary, preparatory and secondary government schools new techniques to deal effectively with mixed ability classes and to adapt classroom materials to better meet the needs of their students. Hopefully, this information will be relayed to their colleagues at their individual workplaces. This was the first regional conference circuit organised under the British Council’s English for the Future programme, and took place in Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Yemen and the UAE. All presenters are IATEFLaffiliated and include UK education experts such as Wendy Arnold, Noreen Caplen-Spence, Coralyn Bradshaw and Martin Goosey. They are all specialists in the teaching of young learners and have previous experience of working in the Middle East. The conferences were supported by KHDA in Dubai and IAT in Fujairah. Karen Ryan, English Project Manager for the UAE, said: “This first Regional Conference Circuit specifically designed for the needs of government teachers working with young learners and teenagers provides an excellent opportunity for teachers from different government schools in the UAE to share best practice between themselves, for the benefit of Emirati students’.
Six schools by Dewan for Al Ain Dewan Architects & Engineers, the firm behind the design of such landmark projects as The Yas Hotel in Abu Dhabi and Dubai’s Creek Towers & Plaza, has been selected to design six of the 18 schools planned by the Abu Dhabi Education Council for the emirate of Al Ain. ADEC recently unveiled plans to build 100 new schools in the emirate of Abu Dhabi with construction on 18 schools starting this year. Technology is a key feature of the design that will be applied to new school buildings. Labs and ICT rooms will be equipped with the latest technology and every educational space in the new school buildings will be prepared for wireless connections to the internet providing a new learning mode for students in which they will learn direct computer skills. A number of technological features will also be applied to teaching methods, making classes more interactive and conducive to an environment where students apply greater problem-solving and analytical skills. In order to achieve these aims, Dewan has worked with its teams of specialists to deliver world-class architectural solutions that are economical, environmentally friendly, buildable and easy to maintain. These principles were carefully adopted and packaged within outstanding exterior designs that correspond with the client’s vision for the future. Out of the six schools to be designed
by Dewan, four will be for girls and two for boys. Each school will have the capacity to cater for between 1,225 and 1,500 students, and will offer classes for either Grades 6 to 12 or Grades 10 t0 12. Dewan is well recognised for its forward-thinking approach to and incorporation of eco-friendly and sustainable design elements in each of its projects. The firm, established in Abu Dhabi in 1984, is ranked among the top 100 architectural firms in the world today, and is one of the top five ranked firms in the Middle East.
Gulf for Good partners with top educational institutions Gulf for Good (G4G), a Dubai-based charity that organises adventure challenges to raise funds to be donated to handpicked causes, is planning to partner with educational institutions across the UAE, to further promote its fund-raising adventure activities. The initiative is also part of the charity’s vision to expand its reach over the Gulf region and boost the number of regional participants in its adventure activities. G4G has previously worked with UAE-based institutions such as The English College and Dubai Men’s College and is aiming to involve other schools, colleges and universities in adventure challenges to raise funds for charity. The charity’s plan to collaborate with educational institutions can also assist programmes such as the ‘Duke of Edinburgh Awards’ and the International Baccalaureate, both of which are dedicated to the personal development of young people from all backgrounds and the promotion of peace through intercultural understanding. Some of G4G’s previous projects include the construction of a community hospital in Nepal, classrooms in Tanzania, purchasing children’s physiotherapy equipment in Sharjah, computer software for blind students in Oman UAE Digest, May 2010 l 35
English College group teams up with Gulf for Good for the Everest Base Camp Challenge
and medical equipment in Palestine. “We believe that students can learn important lessons not only inside the classroom, but also by interacting with and playing an active role in the community, which can hone a host of practical skills to complement their theoretical knowledge,” said Brian Wilkie, Chairman and Founder of Gulf for Good. “With the growing interest of students in the UAE in acquiring a holistic education, we are confident that our challenges will help students to get fitter, develop their skills, learn to respect and understand other cultures and become well-rounded individuals with a culture of serving the community.” Gulf for Good was recently honoured at the first ever ‘Noble Humanitarian Awards Middle East’, a prestigious annual gathering that recognises the achievements of philanthropic organisations. Founded in 2001, Gulf for Good (www.gulf4good.org) is operating under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President, Dubai’s Department of Civil Aviation and Chairman & CEO, Emirates Group. To date, G4G has organised 36 l UAE Digest, May 2010
a total of 28 challenges in 17 countries involving over 550 participants aged from 15 to 72, and has raised over Dh5 million in total funds, which have been donated to tangible and deserving community projects in the adventure challenge host countries. The challenges previously organised by the group include trekking to Machu Piccu in Peru and Everest Base Camp, cycling in Cambodia, kayaking in Madagascar, Oman and Borneo and even camel trekking in Jordan! This year, they are offering climbing Kilimanjaro, hiking in Lebanon, cycling in Cuba and cycling, trekking and kayaking in northern Thailand.
Pursuing postgraduate studies Getex Dubai serves as a platform for academic programmes International Conferences & Exhibitions (IC&E), organiser of Getex Dubai 2010, an education, training and professional development event held in April, has announced that post-graduate studies remain in great demand among working professionals in the UAE, as
reflected in a recent survey conducted by IC&E. More than 60 per cent of the survey’s respondents said they want to pursue or complete their master’s degree to boost their employment opportunities, while up to 74 per cent of those planning to take up post-graduate studies prefer to attend classes at the university campus. The survey also revealed that 22.9 per cent of learners are interested in online study programmes, while less than three per cent prefer self study programmes. Anselm Godinho, Managing Director, IC&E, said: “The survey confirms that the majority of working professionals in the UAE are proactively seeking opportunities to boost their career development. We have also discovered through the survey that one out of three learners prefer to attend exhibitions and trade events to find out more about different postgraduate programmes.” According to the survey, 72 per cent of respondents find information about various postgraduate courses either through the internet or by attending trade exhibitions and conferences. Moreover, the survey revealed that about 84 per cent of those who want to pursue a master’s degree are in the 24 to 35 age bracket.
t’s getting hotter every day, children are being taken to cooler climes and the pace of life is slowing. Time for summer offers and enticements from the hospitality sector to welcome visitors through their doors. Take advantage of the abundance of deals cropping up now, and try out things that you haven’t tried before: reduced prices on early dining, extra nights and meals at hotels, golf bargains, five-star cooking lessons, a variety of weekend brunches and more – including a German Maifest in the Middle East! Your wedding day should be the most
all. The hotel is even offering a choice of wedding presents (vouchers) from them to the happy couple, which can be used during the first year of marriage. Travel back to the 19th century as Hoi An, at Shangri-La Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri, Abu Dhabi captures the essence of colonial Vietnamese cuisine with a touch of French flair. Available from 19th to 28th May. Order before 7pm and enjoy a three-course set menu featuring authentic Vietnamese dishes inclusive of house malt or vintage. Hoi An opens daily from 6pm to 11.30pm. Banyan Tree Al Wadi is Ras Al
massages at the spa when staying at the resort. Stay one night at Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa and enjoy an additional night at half price with the resort’s ‘The Extended Experience’ offer. Valid until May 31st, the offer includes all meals and two nature-based activities per night’s stay, such as falconry, guided nature walks, desert drives, horse riding, camel treks or archery. Surrounded by some of the region’s most spectacular landscape, rich with protected wildlife and traditional Bedouin pastimes, Al Maha provides a secluded, romantic and tranquil experience. The Bedouin-inspired suites all have their own private, temperature-controlled swimming pools and a sundeck. As part of Bedouin suite at Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa
special celebration of your life, full of exciting and long lasting memories. The five-star Park Rotana Abu Dhabi is ready to offer you a complete hassle-free wedding experience starting from planning and all the way to your ‘big day’ reception. The newly opened property caters to various types of weddings from 100 to 350 guests. Its convenient location, stunning Grand Park ballroom with ample pre-function area and outdoor terrace, luxurious accommodation, great selection of wedding menus and a team of professional event planners will make you and your guests feeling at the centre of it
Khaimah’s latest exclusive resort, 45 minutes drive from Dubai Airport. Until September 21, enjoy a complimentary night with every three paid nights. Rates include daily breakfast and welcome drinks for two. Also, during this month, you can enjoy a 30 per cent discount off body UAE Digest, May 2010 l 37
the Al Maha experience, guests will enjoy a sumptuous five-course meal in the stunning Al Diwaan restaurant, or can choose to eat privately at their own deck. Spend your day at Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club and take advantage of the special full-day package for less than Dh500, which includes a continental breakfast for two people on Lake View Terrace, one round of golf on the championship course, plus full day use of all Golf Academy practice facilities, use of the club’s gym and tropical swimming pool all day for two, and enjoy the new buffet lunch for two at the Boardwalk. Valid for UAE residents every day until the end of May.
Dubai Creek Gold & Yacht Club Maifest at JW Marriott
Seafood at The Gem Garden By Linda Benbow Every Wednesday night at Holiday Inn Dubai –Al Barsha is a seafood night at The Gem Garden, an allday-dining restaurant with a minimalist Zen style setting, ideal to enjoy a family meal or a business lunch. Smooth and creamy seafood soup is a delight to savour while the popular serving platter of oysters with choices of accompaniements are replenished regularly. Three different ways of serving salmon and rollmop herrings can be found amongst salads and cold fishy mezzes. Hot serving dishes contain Thai curry, prawn pilau and stuffed squid. The chef at the live cooking station will chatter to you as he deep fries your choice of fish, or cook it on a hot griddle with your choice of marinade or flavourings. And, something that isn’t seen often enough, the dessert table holds a large cheeseboard for those who prefer a savoury dessert, as well as a selection of enticing looking sweet delights.
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Visit Junsui, Burj Al Arab for a gastronomic journey that explores the spices of authentic Balinese cuisine. Bumbu Bali’s Chef Heinz von Holzen will be cooking up a storm in Junsui this May, 11th to 15th, with his original recipes and will be teaching the secrets of Balinese cuisine at interactive afternoon cooking classes from 4pm to 6pm. Say goodbye to the winter chill and welcome in the warm beauty of springtime, with a traditional German celebration at Hofbräuhaus of the JW Marriott Dubai from 1st to 31st May. In keeping with the spirit of Maifest, there’s plenty of food and beverages to enjoy, accompanied by lively German music and singing. Indulge in a traditional Bavarian buffet from 6pm to 2am and enjoy specially made May Punch or Maibock – a German malt brewed only during this season. The Media One Hotel, located in the bustling Media City district of Dubai, is bursting with great value food and beverage promotions as well as top-class entertainment. On Sundays, at ‘The Z’ you can buy a cocktail and enjoy a second one free of charge, from 6pm to midnight. A similar promotion on Martinis is held on Thursdays.
Old ways are still good ways By Linda Benbow Don Corleone at Metropolitan Hotel, part of the Al Habtoor Group, is still serving home-made Italian food in the same way that customers have enjoyed it for many, many years. The white-washed stuccoed walls act as a friendly backdrop for the red-checked tablecloths on the cosy tables both inside and outside on the ivy covered verandah. Big and small portions of pasta, grilled vegetables and cheese fondue await you. Yes, the Al Habtoor Group is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. Congratulations! The hotel has always been a popular,
The Meydan Hotel, the world's first five-star trackside hotel has announced the launch of packages designed specifically and exclusively for GCC residents and business groups. Valid until September prices include free shuttle to Dubai Mall and DIFC, as well as 24-hour check-in stays and leisure based services, among others. The Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Deira Creek, offers a great deal for its family Friday brunch experience from May 7 to September 10. Every Friday from 12.30pm to 4pm, the second floor of the hotel is transformed into a Friday Fun Food Festival, and it’s not just for the parents, but for the younger members of the family as well. The price each child pays for their meals depends on how tall they are. Children below one metre get to eat for free. The choice that the children have for entertainment ranges from video games to a play area, a magician and even a mini soccer table. They can also have their face painted and try some cotton candy and popcorn. There is also a child-sized
affordable place to visit with its English pub – The Red Lion, topfloor chinese restaurant - The Summer Place, Indian restaurant with live band, and the oriental Market Place on the second floor with a wooden bridge arching over a pond of Japanese Koi fish.
buffet where they can help themselves or be helped by one of the many staff in brightly decorated colours. The buffet itself is placed on low tables to help the children reach it and has all items that ‘children simply love’. For adults, the buffet is endless, having over 200 dishes to be offered, in addition to a wide variety of cooking stations from 11 different outlets. Tune in to the latest trends with the in-house Fashion Advisor, a signature service for guests of The Address Dubai Mall. You will receive a consultation at the hotel, followed by advice on the most suitable styles for you, plus a personalised shopping session and great tips for accessorising your outfits. Try their exclusive ‘Fashion Dilemma’ session, perfect for ladies who need help with an outfit for a specific occasion. Featuring advice on combining events with the right fashion, and a shopping trip to selected outlets. The ‘Style Me and Shopping’ session for ladies and gents includes a consultation to match styles with the individual’s personality, plus a trip to key stores. Ladies, put on your stilettos and slip
into Shades, the chic and vibrant lounge at The Address Dubai Marina for a ladies night-out to remember. Live the Marina vibe as you unwind to the DJ’s latest selection of cool rhythms. This trendy hotspot is ideal for the fashionable at heart. Every Tuesday, 6pm to midnight, all ladies receive two complimentary glasses of bubbly. Stimulate your mind with quiz nights at Bunkers, The Address Montgomerie Dubai, with quizmaster Phil Richard, and enjoy great food and a fabulous ambience. Enjoy 20 per cent off on selected beverages and indulge in a specially prepared menu for the evening. Memorable prizes are up for grabs. Every Monday from 6.30pm to 10pm. Experience the ultimate BBQ evening hosted by Calabar and Zeta at The Address Downtown Dubai. Choose from an impressive array of seafood and marinated meats grilled to order on the terrace. Set against the stunning backdrop of the Burj Khalifa and The Dubai Fountain, it’s the coolest BBQ in town every Tuesday from 6pm to 10.30pm Monday nights are alive with Arabian traditions at Layali Ewaan, The Palace - the Old Town, with live Arabic music, belly dancing, tannoura dancer and shisha on the terrace. Featuring delicious mezzehs, falafel, saj, ouzi, barbecue and a lavish buffet in impressive surroundings adorned with silk tapestries. UAE Digest, May 2010 l 39
The business of fashion
ast month saw a multitude of fashion shows being staged in Dubai, with an array of different audiences. The professionally organised Motexha 2010 fashion and apparel exhibition at Dubai World Trade Centre had its usual success with exhibitors at the event expressing their satisfaction at the quality of visitors on the first day as leading buyers and merchandisers visited the event to place multiple orders on behalf of their organisations. This is what these events are supposed to be about. A showcase for designers and companies to display their wares for buyers, whether for stores and businesses, or individuals, to inspect. The much-fanfared event of Dubai Fashion Week (DFW), which began on Saturday, 3rd April, turned out to be a social event for those in the audiences and an opportunity for emerging designers to show their wares on stage and in the media. Before the event, organisers had promised ‘new international designers, more buyers and a spectrum of the season’s fashion’ and it did actually provide two out of three of those. The semi-professional organisation of the event was held up to the light in the local newspapers when various catwalk
Mariam Mazrou successfully showed her collection of designs at Dubai Fashion
40 l UAE Digest, May 2010
Managing Director and blogger of HellwaFashion.com. The Samsung stand welcomed 400 entries over five days, with fashionistas from all over Dubai posing with Samsung’s Diva mobile phones to compete for the title of Diva of Dubai Fashion Week. As the official product partner for mobile phones and televisions this year, the Samsung HellwaFashion.com DFW online diary was visited by 5,823 people, eager to get the latest from Dubai Fashion Week, and included notes on signature looks, up-andcoming designers, key trends for the season and of course all the front row gossip about who is wearing what. Then came The Bride Show, a fashionable feast for fiancés; children under 12 were not allowed in. His Excellency Abdul Rahman Al Ghurair, Chairman of Dubai Commerce and Industry officially inaugurated The Bride Show Dubai with a ceremonial ribbon cutting, followed by a tour of Halls 1, 2 and 3 of the Dubai International Exhibition Centre, where he met regional and international exhibitors and was treated to a preview fashion show by Bollywood designer Vikram Phadnis. The remaining opening day fashion shows wowed the crowds as the team of professional models graced the catwalk in embellished abayas by Al Motahajiba Abayas, jalabiyas and kaftans for Indulge by Divya Oswal and exquisite bridal gowns by local favourite and long-time Bride Show supporter Jalal M. Khan Est. - ‘Demetrios’. One of the biggest features to get eyes popping and camera bulbs flashing was the 16 foot tall wedding cake created by the culinary masters at the Shangri-La hotel in Garima Irish Kapoor is Samsung Diva of Dubai Fashion Week sessions started well after their advertised timings. Fashionably late is obviously different in various parts or the world, and some of the timings of between one to two hours late in starting were unacceptable to many in the audience who showed their disapproval by leaving the rooms. “Make your feet do the talking” is a much used slogan nowadays with crowds turning away from high-priced concerts, forceful planning dictates and late showings. The fashion displays that did take place were well received, and designers will be happy with the media coverage they received from the well organised Press Centre. Dubai Fashion Week and Splash once again collaborated to present the Splash Emerging Talent Contest, which has been a major breakthrough event for previous up and coming designers. The judges decisions were based on creativity in the collections, selection and usage of fabrics, use of accessories and presentation. Samsung Electronics, a sponsor of Dubai Fashion Week, announced Garima Irisha Kapoor as the winner of the Samsung Diva of Dubai Fashion Week 2010 judged by Samsung, Dubai-based fashion designer Salma Khan and Bebhinn Kelly,
Dubai. The new Bridal Lounge, an interactive demonstration area for brides-to-be to gain inspiration, advice and tips, proved to be very popular on the first day. Senior make-up artists from MAC Cosmetics and hair stylists from Jamil Style, a l’Oréal Professionnel salon explained the techniques they adopt in order to create flawless make-up and hair for weddings. Women’s World Live, the new exhibition running alongside The Bride Show Dubai, welcomed lots of visitors in fitness gear, which granted them free admission, to take part in an exercise class wearing Kangoo Jumps boots, Latino Cardio, Body Combat and Dubai Drums, a group drumming session which is proven to raise endorphin levels. The free health checks at the Philips stand were also a popular feature on the first day. Millions of dollars of diamonds were on display at the show with pride of place going to a 50-carat fancy intense yellow radiant diamond engagement ring on offer at $2million (Dh7.34million). South African Jewels took part for the second time to sell some of the world’s most exquisite diamonds to Dubai’s elite at wholesale price, some 50 per cent less than retail prices. The company’s decision to sell at wholesale was made because Dubai customers still typically pay in cash and upfront. Following on from their participation in The Bride Show Abu Dhabi in February, where they displayed a $1million (Dh3.67million) 25 carat yellow diamond engagement ring, the company brought a number of pieces guaranteed to drop jaws and pop eyes. This time they brought a 50-carat engagement ring, worth a staggering $2million (Dh7.34million), which
A 50-carat intense yellow radiant diamond engagement ring
has a prestigious Gemological Institute of America certificate. “We do not solely cater for the most expensive tastes; our diamonds range from $20 (Dh73) upwards with any kind of certification,” said Gary Shuster, owner of South African Jewels, a family business in operation for more than 70 years, that will launch its showroom in Dubai, located in the Al Mas Tower in Jumeirah Lake Towers, in September 2010. Mirdiff City Centre held a fashion extravaganza in mid-April with many of the stores in the newly opened mall taking part in the New Season Catwalk Show which was eagerly awaited by shoppers keen to make use of the many discounts
offered by established favourites, such as Salam Stores, Escada, Moschino, Paolo Frani, Catherine Dean, Armani Collezioni and suchlike. The glamorous, free, two-day event wowed crowds with a line-up of professionally produced fashion shows from the array (over 260) of leading fashion and beauty brands at Mirdif City Centre - showcasing a preview of the latest trends and hottest styles from around the globe. Visitors to the event were shown how they can achieve the chic runway looks seen on the catwalk with an amazing line-up of hair, make-up and styling demonstrations, in addition to in-store events and exclusive customer giveaways.
UAE Digest, May 2010 l 41
Gold swopping time By Linda Benbow
imes are still difficult at the moment and the atmosphere of ‘make do’ often clashes with the trendy ‘must-have’ moments that pop into people’s minds. But there is still a way to have your cake and eat it – well, actually, to have your old jewellery turned into new – just swop it. If needs be, then pay a little extra to get your choice of adornment. Buying, selling and exchanging of jewellery has been quietly going on for hundreds of years. Now, it is your turn to walk through the souks of Dubai. Dubai is well known for its gold shops. The gold souk, or marketplace, consists of a few streets which have been set aside for those in the business to carry out their trade, as is customary in the Middle East. Located within the first bend of Dubai’s creek, on the Deira side of the water between Al Khaleej Road and Baniyas Road, the area has in recent years been given a facelift by the municipality, which has constructed covered walkways for the convenience of shoppers. Walk through the old and new areas, malls and showrooms, pavements and cobblestones to savour the feel of the cos-
42 l UAE Digest, May 2010
mopolitan jewellery on offer. Shop after shop of baubles, bangles and beads attract the eye, making them widen in order to take in the full magnificence of the shiny displays. Shades of coloured gold fuse into delicate necklets and earrings. Shimmering shades of dull orange, primrose, iridescent glittery yellow, dusky pink, and even white, dazzle the eye when you
take a stroll through the gold souk. Solid chains, hollow chains, bracelets and bangles lie next to each other in tempting bulk displays of jewellery for both adornment and investment. Differing nationalities like different types of gold, settings and pieces of adornment. The traditional bright, shiny colour is well loved by all but a more yellow coloured metal, and a higher quality of carat is preferred by the main bulk of buyers consisting of people from sub-continent countries and some Gulf nationals. Europeans prefer the lighter colours in both matt and gloss. A newer trend is to buy white gold which looks very similar to the costlier metal of platinum. After the fun of “just looking, thank you” comes the fun of buying. Ask for the prices of a number of items that you like and watch the salesman as he weighs your chosen few, and quickly presses the buttons on his ever ready calculator. A little fore knowledge is necessary here. The local newspapers print the daily price of gold on the international markets. This is the price per ounce of 24 carat gold. Tone this price down appropriately for the 18 carat and 22 carat items which are mainly sold in these shops. Watch the salesman’s fingers to see what figures he is entering on the calculator and check that it is the same figure that the men in the previous few shops were selling at. There is usually a small
charge added on to the final cost price for workmanship of the item. And then bargain. Haggle. Ask for the “best price” and think carefully about whether you want to buy or not. Leave the shop to see what other jewellery is on offer in the area and feel free to return to your original choice. The salesman will be waiting for you with open arms. Remember to negotiate a price first before placing an order for specialist jewellery to be made to your own requirements and design. Allow up to one week for the craftsman to do his job properly although simple items like a necklet of your name written in Arabic and set onto a chain should take no longer than three days. Visitors to Dubai often gaze in wonder
at the variety of customers buying and selling precious metals, for this is a marketplace where customers are not always the person who has walked into the shop. Sometimes the customer, or buyer, is standing right there behind the counter. Women with carrier bags of adornments sell their dowries when prices are high. Traditional necklaces of coins and pendants, headdresses of linked discs, bulky bangles and tola bars can be sold one day and newer more appealing items can be bought the fol-
Gold Facts: • Alloy – Mixture of two or more metals. • •
• • •
Gold is typically alloyed with other metals to increase its hardness or change its colour. Baht – Thai bullion bar weighing 0.47 ounces or 15.4 grammes. Bars – Gold is frequently bought and sold in bars which are of a wide variety of weight units and sizes. Bars carry a manufacturer’s stamp guaranteeing weight and gold content to protect the buyer. Bullion – Precious metal in ingots, bars or wafers at least 0.995 pure. Carat – The purity of gold is described by its ‘fineness’ or carat as parts in 24. Thus, 18 carat is 18/24ths gold or 75 per cent gold. 24 carat is pure gold. Fixing – The London ‘fix’ is a trading session with five members held twice daily in the offices of N.M. Rothschild in
London. It is noted as a place where large volumes of gold can be traded and the fix price is widely used as the reference price for gold on a particular day. Gold – A yellow coloured shiny chemically resistant precious metal. Chemical symbol: Au. Specific weight: 19.3g/cm3. Melting point: 1064o centigrade. Hallmark – Marks on gold jewellery which indicate that the gold content complies with the stated ‘cartage’ and with legal standards. Krugerrand – A 22 carat gold coin minted in South Africa. The first bullion coin to contain exactly one ounce of pure gold (plus a little alloy to harden it). Mint – A factory, typically government owned, where the legal tender of a country is coined.
lowing week when prices have gone down again. All nationalities play this profitable game with society hostesses changing their jewellery almost as much as their change of wardrobes. For a cooler and more modern way of shopping, visit the Gold & Diamond Park in Al Quoz, Sheik Zayed Road, where a specialist shopping mall of hundreds of jewellery shops operates in air-conditioned splendour. Small and airy glass paned shops are there, with smartly dressed young salesmen who knowledgably discuss gems, precious metals and even purple gold. Yes, it really does exist. A combination of precious metals that has been ingeniously fused to produce a much treasured new colour of gold.
Tael – Traditional Chinese unit of weight for precious metals. The normal bar sizes are 1 and 5 taels. 1 tael = 37.429grammes. Tola – Traditional Indian unit of weight for precious metals. 1 tola = 11.1grammes. The normal bar size is 10 tolas.
Troy ounce – An Anglo-Saxon unit of weight for precious metals. 1 troy ounce = 31.1035 grammes.
UAE Digest, May 2010 l 43
Jewelled skincare By Linda Benbow
vlgari unveiled its range of new skincare products in a white tent on the lawns of the RitzCarlton, filled with hostesses dressed in white, white leather couchettes for sitting on and massage experts who
Amaranthine Amaranthine opens with a dramatic flourish of spices and tropical green. This lick of drama is beautifully ambushed by an unctuous accord of jasmine and ylangylang, a heady bloom renowned for its
Bvlgari guests were given a hand massage
gave guests a hand massage while explaining how to apply the various whitening products on offer. The theme of the evening was to show the whitening power of their jewelled skincare line inspired by luxurious gemstones. Currently exclusively available at Harvey Nichols in Mall of the Emirates, the range will go on sale later this year at all leading department stores. Priced from Dh190, there are 37 products in the collection, ranging from serums to crèmes and sun protection – all with a unique gem formula which is said to have healing powers for the skin. It uses sapphire, tourmaline, citrine and amethyst which emit energy, which is then absorbed by the skin, improving circulation and giving skin a radiant appearance. 44 l UAE Digest, May 2010
aphrodisiac properties, and clove swathed in spices, tea, musk and the rounded beauty of tonka bean absolute. It is available as Eau de Parfum; and as a limited edition Parfum (30ml) housed in a handcrafted crystal and silver bottle with a silver butterfly charm bracelet sitting around its neck. Available at Penhaligon stores
Clarins’ Daily Energizer Clarins, the skin care expert, has created Daily Energizer skin care to help make dreams of flawless skin come true. Each of
the refreshing, non-oily textures melts naturally into skin, combining effectiveness and pleasure in perfect harmony.
MasterCream Eye & Lip Our eyes and lips proclaim our thoughts, feelings or intentions. And with time, our emotions leave visible traces. Therefore the new MasterCream Eye & Lip from Juvena of Switzerland fulfils the allround skincare needs of the most demanding areas of a woman’s face – with just a single cream. It combines most highly effective anti-aging active ingredients with the company’s exclusive SkinNova SC Technology. Available at Areej.
Korres Colour The colour pigments used in Korres Colour are crystal substances that alter the visual properties of the formula to create a number of effects in terms of colour intensity, transparency and brightness. All their products have been developed using natural emulsifiers, vegetable oils and waxes, herbal extracts and vitamins. The Mango Butter
Lipstick has an SPF 10 rating and is rich in precious nutrient substances. Mango butter melts at body temperature and is easily absorbed by the skin, leaving a pleasant sensation. Even in extreme conditions, such as heat-waves, severe cold, prolonged exposure to the sun, or time spent in dry, ventilated spaces, mango butter protects lips effectively and offers a healthy shine.
Missha The Style Dia Pearl Eyes Missha, the revolutionary cosmetics brand has introduced attractive eye make-up with splendid pearls. The shining pearl eye shadow with Diamond Sparkling Pearls glitters from various angles, lending a glamorous look to the eyes. Available in seven different shades.
Beauty extravaganza Areej is hosting its annual exclusive Beauty Extravaganza across all their stores in UAE, Oman and KSA until May 8th. It was pure conincidence that a friend and I entered the Areej store near our home at the exact time that the Sales and Education Manager from the Estee Lauder Group started to speak to a group of ladies about designer fragrances and the special offers that are currently on offer in its stores. “Welcome to the launch of DKNY’s Pure perfume which has a floral undertone and a vanilla top scent. The company is continuing its trend of helping third world countries by buying its vanilla from Uganda farmers, where the countryside daily living expense is approx.$1.5 per
Announcing the special offers at Areej
day per person. DKNY has pre-ordered its stocks and pays its farmers invoices promptly,” Sandra Boubeckeur explained. “Also, try out the company’s limited edition Be Delicious perfume which has a light fruity aroma for daytime wear,” she explained. A pouf of spray onto a cardboard finger, specially designed for smelling purposes proved that she was right – it was a very light and pleasant aroma. “There were only 750 bottles for sale in this region, and half of those were sold within a week,” she confirmed. This year’s Beauty Extravaganza brings many incredible offers on premium beauty brands, in addition to make-up workshops, fragrance layering sessions, beauty consultation programmes, fragrance launches and several other pampering treats that will give customers a chance to
indulge in an unforgettable experience. Being a ‘lady of a certain age’ I asked if the make-up consultant could help me get rid of years of looking the same and wearing the same type of make-up, I wanted to look a bit more modern. No problem. Estee Lauder sorted out the black bags under my eyes, slack chin and laughter lines around the mouth. A number of other brands of make-up were necessary to transform the visage from plain-but-elderly to interesting-looking. And they worked. My husband said so – after a gentle reminder from me on how I had spent the morning! Exclusive Areej offers include Prada’s new limited edition fragrance Infusion De Tubereuse Eau De Parfum with the modern interpretations of classic scents and a uniquely designed packaging inspired by the fashion archives of Prada. Throughout the event, customers can visit any Areej store and avail an extensive range of attractive offers on select products, gifts or value sets from some of the leading global cosmetic and skincare brands; Guerlain, Dior, Lancôme, Chanel, Givenchy, Yves Saint Laurent, La Prairie, Estée Lauder, Clarins, Clinique and many more.
Discover the Elizabeth Arden set for a special price
UAE Digest, May 2010 l 45
ActiveHybrid X6 and ActiveHybrid 7, the next step in BMW’s efficient dynamics strategy to reduce fuel consumption and emissions. ActiveHybrid 7 - more than15 per cent better fuel economy with better performance than the new BMW 750i. ActiveHybrid X6 - up to 20 per cent better fuel efficiency compared to the conventional X6.
Overseas diagnostics AGMC, importer of BMW cars, has completed an expansion to its main showroom in Dubai By Linda Benbow
ave you ever seen a clean car repair garage? No, me neither, until I had a look around the AGMC service centre on Sheikh Zayed Road, which is part of the company’s newly expanded showroom. There were no grease patches
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on the thickly painted, anti-slip floor, and no bits and pieces of engines lying around. The place was almost clinically clean – well for a car repair shop – with BMWs, Minis and a Rolls Royce neatly lined up over work pits or raised on ramps. Portable diagnostic machinery
stood to attention near some cars and others awaited repairs from the various marked compartments at its allocated workstation. The workshop features the most up-to-date equipment and machinery and the most advanced specialist testing
technology in the automotive industry. When a car in Dubai is hooked up to the diagnostic machine, the results are whizzed down the internet superhighway to the manufacturer’s headquarters in Germany where experts not only diagnose the fault(s) but also send back information on exactly what must be done, which spare parts must be used and where they can be found in the Dubai stockroom.
Each car that goes in for a service or repair is tagged with an electronic barcode that, when scanned, will monitor the location of the vehicle and the progress of its service, its service history and any parts that have been replaced. This system is linked to the internet so that customers can track their car’s progress as it moves through the various servicing departments from the comfort of their home or office. BMW is the first car manufacturer in the Middle East to offer this tracking service. The company has started a 24-hour drop-off service whereby someone is available throughout the day and night to accept cars that have a problem. The new BMW ActiveHybrid X6, BMW Gran Turismo and BMW 5 Series models were also previewed at the showroom opening. The arrival of the new BMW 5 Series Sedan is the third new BMW model to be launched this year and is a very different car from the predecessor model in terms of design, comfort and
engineering. With its new sporting and elegant design, excellent comfort and the highest standard in efficiency in its class, the new 5 Series is expected to open a new chapter in the model’s impressive success story. Stathis I. Stathis, General Manager, AGMC said: “AGMC has been the importer of BMW, MINI and Rolls-Royce for 34 years and despite the tough economic climate, it continues to see growth potential in its business. We started out in 1976 with only a three car showroom and a three bay workshop. I myself was sent over to Dubai from Cyprus with two colleagues. I remember our first customer arriving in the very small showroom. He walked around the car - it was a 5 Series - knocking on its sides and bonnet. Eventually he said, “Is this Japanese?” He had never seen a BMW before, nor had many others, so we had a big job to establish the brand if we wanted to be successful. During our early years, we used to sell around 40 cars a year. Today, we sell over 3,000 cars a year. To accommodate this growth and an ever-increasing portfolio of new BMW Group products, we have undergone a Dh80 milllion expansion plan across all areas of our operations and will be employing an additional 80 staff. In addition to expanding our flagship
facilities here in Dubai, we have invested in our showrooms in Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah, and a Body-and-Paint centre in Dubai’s Al Quoz Industrial Area. Within the next six months, we will also be opening a satellite service facility in Deira, which will provide a 24-hour Fast Lane Service with the capacity for 30 to 40 cars per day.”
Stay Alert. Stay Alive. road safety campaign BMW Group Middle East, in partnership with the Health Authority of Abu Dhabi (HAAD) and the Road and Transport Authority of Dubai (RTA), have launched a ‘Stay Alert. Stay Alive.’ road safety initiative. Based on the results of an independent survey to ascertain what motivates drivers in the region to take risk in their vehicles, the group has identified the use of seatbelts, and in particular, appropriate child restraints, as the first theme of its umbrella campaign to promote and raise awareness about various road safety issues. Road shows have been held in Abu Dhabi and Dubai with over 4,000 child safety booster seats being given away to qualifying families.
Mini online design competition Do you fancy yourself as a modern day Thomas Edison and believe you have the ability to dazzle the world with a new creation? You’re a creative genius but no one else knows it yet? Well look no further; to celebrate the launch of the brand spanking new Mini Countryman, MINIspace.com the creative website behind the brand, has launched a competition asking the public to design a new invention for the inside of the latest edition. Your mission is to create something useful that you can’t leave home without on the centre rail of the new car.
UAE Digest, May 2010 l 47
Riders cross the spectacular Rub Al Khali or Empty Quarter
Crossing the challenging sands By Linda Benbow
here we were on a Friday, having lunch outside on the patio at The Warehouse, Le Meridien Dubai, quietly enjoying a chat with our chips, when a familiar, throaty, revving sound vibrated around the neat hedges framing a hidden car park. Everyone jumped up from their chairs to peep over the hedge but the noise from a powerful motorbike had moved on to another place. Then it came around again, along with a friend or two. The bike riders had arrived. And not any old bike riders, either. These were members of the French team – French Frogs – who had just completed a gruelling week of cross country racing in Abu Dhabi’s desert. There was a lot
The French Frogs met for lunch at Warehouse
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of hugging and greeting, especially by Executive Chef Pierrick Cizeron, who is a member of the racing team. Then they settled down to telling tales of the social side of the week. They didn’t win the Challenge but they had enjoyed trying to. Maybe next year, they all stated. A good bunch of lads. X-Raid did the trick last month, winning the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge title for a third consecutive year driven by three different pilots since 2008, while Mark Coma overcame some intense fifth and final day challenges to secure his fourth victory in the opening round of the FIA Cross-Country Rallies World Cup and FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship.
Team X-Raid’s Tina Thorner navigated successfully for Qatari Nasser Al Attiyah in 2008 and Frenchman Guerlian Chechirit in 2009, while Andy Schulz was co-driver for Novitskiy this year. While Novitskiy’s eventual triumph in the cars category was predictable after he took a comfortable lead at the end of the first stage itself, the bikes saw fortunes fluctuating all through the final day, given that only minutes separated the top five. Laurent Rosso played it safe for the second day running to ensure that his Team Fitech Nissan Patrol crossed the finish line to ensure him a second place, while Emirati Abdul Bari Bin Sugat was pleased with his third place on the
ADDC goes to Team X-Raid
Bin Soughat and Yahha Al Helai were involved in a tense duel for second place in a pair of Nissan Patrols during the fourth stage of Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge 2009. Al Helai finished the rally in a second place overall along with his co-driver Khalid Al Kendi. Ahmed Bin Soughat’s third stage performance in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge 2009 moved him up to 11th in the overall classification in the cars’ category, moving into the fourth stage.
podium. Bin Sugat’s late charge in the Challenge saw him eventually driving past Yannick Comagnac on a final day that could have gone either way, but driver acumen and Nissan endurance ensured the Emirati stood with Novitskiy and Rosso on the podium. Francisco Lopez, languishing at number 40 in the standings after the penultimate stage after Vicky White steps onto the podium he incurred heavy penalties, Colin Mercer, both riding a Suzuki proved his mettle by finishing ahead of all LTR 450, worked in tandem throughcategory pack leaders. out the five days to eventually finish Obaid Echtibi finished on top in the in the top three in the quads category. Quads category, largely because pack White’s achievement is commendable leader for the previous four days Sebastian for the fact that she was a late entrant Husseini was unable to capitalise on this following Suzuki’s offer to provide one-hour plus lead that could have eventuher with a quad, which however meant she had no time for practice.
The London Legends Cup A football40 tournament between the legends Of Arsenal, Chelsea, Spurs and West Ham
Emarti Obaid takes top step
ally seen him through. Local radio presenter Vicky White and
Football 40’s first major tournament will be unveiled at Upton Park on May 30th, with Chelsea, Arsenal, Spurs and West Ham’s top legends competing for the London Legends Cup. Football’s answer to 20-20 cricket has
been specifically designed for the legends market, and is an 11-aside game played for 20 minutes each way, with unlimited roll-on roll-off substitutions. Its format readily adapts to a four team tournament played with two semi-finals followed by the Final. The London Legends Cup is the first such event and the three matches will be refereed by Former Premier League officials Dermot Gallagher and Steve Dunn. F40’s Technical Director Glenn Hoddle, the former England manager, and ex-Spurs and Chelsea coach, has announced cut rate ticket prices for adults and a special ‘kids for a quid’ price to encourage families to visit together. He said: “I have been involved with Football40 since it’s inception and have been delighted to help shape a concept that we all believe will bring real opportunities for former players at both International and Club level whilst at the same time creating events
for the fans that will have real excitement and competition. For my part, I am also delighted to have accepted the role of manager of the Football40 England team and am looking forward to winning some trophies with them.” David Sullivan, co-owner of West Ham Utd FC, hosts to the first major Football40 tournament said “I believe it is a fantastic idea to bring back the legends of football in such a meaningful way with a highly competitive tournament structure. I just love the Football 40 concept.” UAE Digest, May 2010 l 49
Osvaldo Ardiles, a World Cup winner with Argentina in 1976 along with Ricky Villa opened the floodgates for foreign talent into English football. Ex-Spurs manager, and one of Spurs all-time legends, he is now Football40’s manager for Spurs and Argentina. Ossie said: “Football40 is a wonderful new concept. For that reason, I have signed up to manage Spurs, and also Argentina in Mini World Cup and competitive international tournaments.”
Dreaming of Golf at Night, so did we? Come out to play Faldo Course lights up Emirates Golf Club has officially launched night golf on the championship Faldo Course. Last month’s opening enables golfers to enjoy a full round of championship golf in the heart of Dubai for the first time, as the Faldo course becomes the only fully floodlit 18-hole course in the UAE. Open to public and members alike with highly competitive rates for 18 holes and 9 holes, the exciting development will extend play until midnight every day of the week, with players able to tee off as late as 8pm for 18 holes and 10pm for 9 holes on the championship course. 50 l UAE Digest, May 2010
The Faldo, a 7,348 yards Par 73 championship course, opened in 2006 following the redesign of the Wadi Course by golfing legend Nick Faldo, will be brought to life in the Dubai evenings by the very latest in lighting technology. “Night golf has the potential to revolutionise the game within the UAE. Typically, work constraints and limited tee off times means securing a round on a quality course in Dubai is a constant Team Abu Dhabi’s new livery
challenge. But with night golf, we hope to make golf more accessible, especially in the summer months for those wishing to play in the cooler evenings”, Andrew Whitelaw, Club Manager, Emirates Golf Club explained. The Emirates Golf Club selected global leaders in lighting, Abacus, to provide the on-course floodlighting system, with the environmental impact a key consideration in the system installed, as Whitelaw explained; “It was important a lighting system was installed to complement our existing world-class facilities and bring out the best of the Faldo course at night. We required a system that ensured energy use and light-pollution would be maintained at a minimum whilst providing the best possible conditions for players to enjoy.” Lower green fee rates have been announced to encourage regular night play by the local golfing community.
Team Abu Dhabi have new team livery Power boat team to begin F1 season in Portugal
Gary Player gives a round of applause to juniors at the Gary Player designed, 18-hole Saadiyat Beach Golf Course which has launched a number of tailored experience packages to cater for the whole family. As part of the club’s young golfer development programme, it will be hosting free-of-charge Junior Golf Clinics, Fridays and Saturdays from 5-6pm and 6-7pm, for children to learn more about the game from the club’s top pros.
Team Abu Dhabi will tackle the 2010 UIM F1 World Championship with team drivers Thani Al-Qamzi and Ahmed AlHameli. The team has a new livery for the boats that it hopes will help it to regain the UIM F1 Teams’ Championship and clinch the UIM F1 Drivers’ Championship. “We have made these changes to be consistent with the ambition of the club and the continued development of Team Abu Dhabi in UIM F1 racing,” said Salem Romaithi, Assistant General Manager of the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club (ADIMSC). “The aim is to see one of our own local Abu Dhabi team drivers winning the title for the first time. The team has already won with former star Scott Gillman and it would be the next step for an Emirati national to win the title.” Romaithi confirmed that both AlQamzi and Al-Hameli will benefit from the latest equipment and new boats for the 2010 championship campaign, which gets underway in Portugal on May 8-9. The
race boats have been shipped to Portugal, although Team Abu Dhabi drivers have been able to test in home waters during the closed season to ensure they are fully prepared for the new season. His Royal Highness Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the ADIMSC said: “They are at the business end of the championship and are always competing for titles. Team Abu Dhabi are one of the pillars of the UIM F1 World Championship. They have won many titles and achieved a high level of success. That is why I have renewed confidence in our drivers, Thani Al-Qamzi and Ahmed Al-Hameli, to continue in the same way this year.
Are you tough enough? Ski Dubai announces ultimate physical endurance competition Ski Dubai from Majid Al Futtaim Lei-
sure is bringing one of the world’s toughest challenges to its renowned indoor ski attraction. The Aprilia Ice Warrior Challenge will see participants pushed to the limits of mental and physical endurance, as they race to become the fastest man or woman to complete the assault course in sub zero temperatures. Scheduled to start at 6am on Friday June 4, the Aprilia Ice Warrior Challenge will span over two kilometres and is designed to test the willpower, strength and determination of contestants as they push themselves to the limit, overcoming 18 separate obstacles. Participants will have the opportunity to be sponsored by friends and family, with the proceeds going to a chosen charitable organisation. Aprilia Motorcycles will also be giving away an amazing motorcross bike worth Dh20,000, to whoever raises the most money for charity. The competition is open to all and will be held at Ski Dubai. Last day of registration is 21st May 2010. UAE Digest, May 2010 l 51
A grand vision
Balcony view of a model of Abu Dhabi’s urban plan
The first ever lifesize model of Abu Dhabi’s urban landscape unveiled at Cityscape
he first ever lifesize model of Abu Dhabi’s urban landscape as envisioned through Capital 2030 was unveiled at last month’s Cityscape event by Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council (UPC), the agency responsible for the future of the emirate’s urban environment. Measuring 23 metres by 17 metres, the model marks a milestone moment for the economic, cultural, environmental and social aspirations of Abu Dhabi as it brings together in a single format all the various masterplans and components for one of the world’s most ambitious urban development projects. Displayed at the UPC’s Cityscape stand, the model stretches from the Corniche on Abu Dhabi’s main island to Shahama, Mussafah and Al Falah on the mainland and includes the islands of Saadiyat, Yas, Lulu, Reem and Sowwah, which have been earmarked as key development areas of Capital 2030. “This initiative is a visible demonstration of our commitment to deliver what we embarked upon three years ago when UPC was set up by Emiree decree. It is a model that will be constantly updated to reflect progress on the ground and serve as a great communication and promotional platform for all of Abu Dhabi’s stake-
52 l UAE Digest, May 2010
holders,” said His Excellency Falah Al Ahbabi, General Manager, Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council. Its 1:2000 scale enabled the designers to include significant details of various existing landmarks such as the Emirates Palace and the Grand Mosque as well as some of the iconic projects under development, including Sowwah Square, Masdar, and the tower on Lulu Island. The model was surrounded by a selection of interactive digital totems which enabled visitors to gain more insights into the framework plans for the emirate and some of the more technical aspects of UPC’s work in creating a sustainable next generation Arab capital. Detailed and interactive information on the 2030 urban structure framework plans for Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Al Gharbia on these kiosks presented to visitors a holistic impression of the scope of Vision 2030 urban development initiative for the entire Abu Dhabi emirate. Besides rendering information on the three broad masterplans for Abu Dhabi emirate, UPC also showcased information on other key developments, including street design and infrastructure, and the recently launched Urban Street Design Manual with highlights
of some of the planned changes to make Abu Dhabi’s streets safer, more vibrant and pedestrian-friendly. Developers also had the opportunity to interact with a virtual demonstration of the Abu Dhabi Development Code (zoning code), the city’s regulatory framework for managing land use and development as per Plan Capital 2030. The Code, which regulates all types and scales of developments both existing and proposed, will ensure that the city’s varied planning and livability initiatives as well as Estidama programmes are wellconnected and work together to create complete communities.
Waterfront design guidelines for Al Bateen In its incessant efforts to safeguard the natural resources and the cultural heritage of Abu Dhabi, as it realises the key elements of Plan Capital 2030, UPC recently unveiled the waterfront design guidelines for the Al Bateen area. The key objective for the guidelines is to provide all property owners and developers along the waterfront with a framework to contribute to the achievement of Plan Capital 2030 goals with regard to provid-
ism market. UPC has, in the recent past, also unveiled coastal development guidelines which provide direction for development in the major coastal basins, extending from Al Dhabiya Island to the boundary with the emirate of Dubai.
Reem Island’s Marina Square Master developer offered personalised experience to home owners at Marina Square
ing public access to the water’s edge. This will be achieved through dedication of land for the design of community access and amenities along the entire waterfront. As per the new guidelines, the waterfront is to be connected physically and visually to the circulation routes of the city. Primary pedestrian connections perpendicular to the waterfront and linking Bainunah Boulevard and the surrounding neighbourhoods will be identified and preserved for public use. These identified routes will provide minimum corridor widths free of built constructions to maintain unobstructed and sweeping views to open water. These routes will
integrate landscaping, pedestrian scaled lighting, public art and street furniture, way-finding tools and multi-modal transportation uses. One of the key components of the Bateen Waterfront guidelines is the development of the waterfront promenade which will eventually become a destination not only well connected with future public transit options, but also a place where all members of the community can walk or bike and enjoy the scenic beauty. Additionally, the community will have the opportunity to participate in diverse retail, cultural as well as non-commercial activities, while capitalising on the tour-
Master developer Tamouh showcased its Marina Square development on Reem Island, featuring City of Lights, Meena Plaza, and Danat Gateway projects during its fourth consecutive participation at Cityscape Abu Dhabi 2010. The company used the platform of the international real estate exhibition to engage Marina Square home owners by sharing helpful insights that will guide them through the process of moving into and decorating their new residences at Marina Square. Through the interactive process, home owners will acquire knowhow on ways to maximise the benefits offered by state-of-the-art architectural design and home-automation facilities that the apartments come equipped with. Senior representatives from Tamouh’s marketing, project management and customer service teams addressed queries pertaining to community living, construction progress, delivery timelines and handover processes. The 400 square metre stand (No. C10) at Hall No.3 in ADNEC also featured several bespoke presentations by the company’s facility management arm, Three60. Home owners in the Marina Square development had the opportunity to meet with interior designers, gain new ideas from Tamouh’s specially made Interior Design Handbook and UAE Digest, May 2010 l 53
Sheikha Lubna Al Qaisimi at The Saadiyat Story
choose a design format that appeals to their individual taste. Tamouh is scheduled to commence delivering homes in this development from May to June 2010 to the commercial investors, who will then manage the handover to ultimate homeowners. Spread across an area of 66 acres with a built-up space of more than 827,000 sq metres, Marina Square will house more than 8,500 residents and have 6,550 parking bays. It is set to bring an exciting marina lifestyle to the capital, topped with a vibrant pedestrian culture through its multifarious gourmet restaurants, luxury retail outlets, a boutique mall and a fivestar hotel. The mixed-use development will offer a selection of residential units including studios, one, two, three and four-bedroom apartments, townhouses and villas.
Manarat Al Saadiyat’s visitor centre A permanent exhibition telling the story of Saadiyat Island Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC), the master developer of cultural, residential and tourism desti54 l UAE Digest, May 2010
nations in Abu Dhabi, has announced the official inauguration of Manarat Al Saadiyat visitors’ and art exhibition centre on Saadiyat Island, by HE Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoun Al Nahyan, Chairman of TDIC, along with key dignitaries and diplomats. Located in the Cultural District of Saadiyat Island, Manarat Al Saadiyat is a purpose-built 15,400 square metre visitors’ and exhibition centre, designed to showcase the island’s numerous projects and to host art exhibitions from around the world. Home to three major art galleries; Arts Abu Dhabi Gallery, Contemporary Art Gallery, and Universal Art Gallery, Manarat Al Saadiyat also offers a central events space, sales centre and a 250-seat theatre. The inauguration celebrated the opening of The Saadiyat Story, a new and permanent exhibition documenting the historical and cultural milestones, as well as the vision of Saadiyat Island, through an interactive narrative of nine chapters. “The priority for TDIC’s dynamic cultural programme is to foster public understanding of art and culture, and the official opening of Manarat Al
Saadiyat is another key milestone in that plan. This space will enable us to host exhibitions from around the world and to foster a greater engagement with the arts on a local level, in the lead-up to the opening of the museums in the Saadiyat Cultural District in 2013,” said HE Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoun Al Nahyan. The Saadiyat Story adopts the latest museum technologies and employs a variety of interactive mediums to engage with visitors; touchscreen catalogues to encourage independent learning, audios from architects for each of the museums, films documenting key conservation methods and the vision and progress of Saadiyat Island, and a ‘virtual book’ technology that has never before been deployed in the region. Its final chapter allows visitors to view a realtime video feed from the major construction sites on the island. Designed to offer a rich educational experience for all visitors irrespective of their age, culture or level of appreciation for arts and culture, Manarat Al Saadiyat is open to all visitors from 10am to 8pm seven days a week for free.
Al Zarouni: “Investment projects help achieve social justice”
Project for medium and limited income class Burooj Properties, the real estate arm of Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, has unveiled its new investment project located in the
City of ‘Mohammed Bin Zayed-1’, announcing that 20 per cent of construction work has been finalised and that the project is expected to be complete by end of 2010. A great opportunity for investors looking for a valuable return on their investments, the Mohammed Bin Zayed project includes 11 plots with five residential villas on each, catering to the growing residential needs of the medium and limited income class in Abu Dhabi. Ownership of plots is exclusively reserved for UAE citizens. Twenty per cent of construction work has been finalised at Mohammed Bin Zayed project Says Adel A. Al Zafavoured by Middle Eastern investors who rouni, Managing Director of Burooj Propdivision of the Harrods Group, particiappreciate grand houses or apartments erties: “It is really important to focus on pated for the first time ever at Cityscape with large lateral space, period features developing real estate projects that cater to Abu Dhabi 2010 and immaculate interiors as well as prethe needs of the middle and lower income Harrods Estates showcased their mium services such as first class concierge class, and it’s also important to place these prime residential property portfolio in and 24-hour security. projects in various areas in the emirate to Central London at the exhibition. The achieve a balanced growth rate and social company was established over 100 years justice by enabling people to freely choose ago and continues to offer a comprehenthe location of their homes,” he added. sive range of property services with the He noted that such investments may highest standards of customer care. It Sharjah’s Al Nujoom provide good results, especially considerspecialises in the sale, let, acquisition and Island project to ing that the medium and limited income management of some of the most excluclass constitutes a big portion of the sive properties in Central London. go ahead community who are looking for luxurious Over the last few years, it has seen a residential units with reasonable rental steep increase in the number of Middle Salah Butti Obaid bin Butti, Director prices, and taking into consideration that Eastern buyers in traditionally favoured General of the Sharjah Planning and projects catering to the needs of this class areas in London such as Knightsbridge Survey Department has said that the are fairly few in number. and Mayfair. Supported by the strength emirate’s government has not canBurooj Properties is currently researchof the Harrods brand, the company has celled nor suspended the Al Nujoom ing available financing methods with successfully developed strong brand Island project at Al Hamriya. Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank as well as other awareness in key international markets, “We are going ahead with it and banks to finance the project, of which the predominately the Middle East, Russia the plans for the first 1,000 villas were total cost amounts to Dh150 million. The and India, with the result that internaapproved by the department and will total available construction area comes to tional clients now account for 87 per cent be finished in 18 months,” he said. 213,000 square feet. of sales and lettings. The project features Andalusian-style Prime property in Central London architecture and comprises residential, will remain in high demand and will concommercial, retail and hospitality faHarrods Estates’ debut tinue to achieve growth as there is rarely cilities including parks facing the Gulf. at Cityscape an oversupply of property in this area. This category of property is particularly Harrods Estates, the luxury real estate UAE Digest, May 2010 l 55
Arabian Travel Market By Linda Benbow
ah, what fun it is to be an armchair traveller. Flicking through brochures, darting about on the internet from one page to another, watching happy people on holiday in foreign climes on the television. And now, once again, the Arabian Travel Market has arrived in Dubai where the undecided have an option to become strolling travellers as they wander between exhibits and stands showing enticing pictures of sun, sand, sea, slopes and snow in a multitude of countries. The exhibition of colourful information, nationals from the many countries, shows, ceremonies and other enticements give an entertaining atmosphere to the intense business of choosing where to go for a holiday. Last year I received a neck and head massage at the Thailand stand, stretched out in an individual first class cabinette on the Emirates airlines stand and said “G’day” to many Australians. There were cultural dance shows at many of the ‘country’ areas; and roaming robots singing and dancing amongst the crowd. Arabian Travel Market (ATM), which runs from the 4th to7th at the Dubai World Trade Centre, has expanded its web presence to increase further its networking and knowledge sharing opportunities. Reed Travel Exhibitions - the organisers - have invested heavily in the show’s online activity, introducing Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin accounts in addition to its regular web site. The all-year-round web presence allows visitors, exhibitors and the media to interact with one another prior, during and after the event. This year will see the return of both Travel Agents’ and Careers 56 l UAE Digest, May 2010
Day, to be held on Thursday 6th. Travel Agents’ Day was first introduced in 2007 and is designed to foster the latest top class travel and tourism education among travel agents through a range of seminars and entertainment features. Another addition, ‘Jobs Hot off the Press’ is a service which will deliver- via Bluetooth- new jobs directly to your phone. Run by ImageMatters.ae, all visitors on Careers Day will be able to take advantage of this exciting new service. Rotana, a hotel management company, is the official sponsor of registration for the tenth year running. Just one of the many sponsorship opportunities that ATM offers, allowing companies to expose themselves to over 2,000 exhibitors and 15,000 visitors from around the globe. Ahead of the ATM, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts outlined its growth strategy in the Middle East and North Africa
Mohammed Al-Arkobi, Vice-President and General Manager of Makkah Clock Royal Tower (left) and Kent Cooper, Vice-President, Regional Hotel Sales MEA
as key emerging markets for the hotel group. After opening four new properties in 2009, - Fairmont is relaunching two iconic properties this year – The Savoy in London and The Peace Hotel in Shanghai - while aiming to open five additional new destinations for 2010. Fairmont executives noted that despite the challenging international economy, the hotel group is growing at a healthy pace, with plans to open about five new properties per year, including mega-projects such as the Makkah Clock Royal Tower, Saudi Arabia. The brand blends the history and tradition of its landmark properties with the contemporary elements of their newlybuilt hotels which then become iconic as well – these brand hallmarks are resonating with clients travelling to the newer properties in the Middle East and also regionally-based clients heading abroad, where the company addresses the specific needs of guests from Arab countries such as halal food and family suites. One of the most eagerly anticipated developments for Fairmont in 2010 is the opening of the Makkah Clock Royal Tower, for which more than 2,600
Makkah Clock Royal Tower
Muslim staff members are currently being hired to service the monumental hospitality complex in Saudi Arabia’s most sacred destination, with more than 850 rooms as well as serviced residences. In addition to pilgrimage bookings, Fairmont anticipates that the region’s growing meetings, incentives and conferences business will be a major draw for the Makkah Clock Royal Tower property. In a special ceremony held at Sharjah Millennium Hotel to celebrate the completion of the first advanced training for tourist guides, which was organised by the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA), Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qassimi stated that tourism is one of the main contributors to the economic growth and domestic product of the emirate in particular, and the UAE in general, and has become, over the last few years, a major contributor to the payment balance and the national income. Al Qassimi said: “The initiative comes as the authority seeks to enhance the quality of tourism packages on offer to develop the tourism sector and strengthen its competitiveness factor. To this end, SCTDA has started collaborating with Skyline University College to make the tourist guide training programme available to all tourism companies. The programme will become mandatory in the coming period and all tourist guides will be certified by SCTDA who will supervise the programme to ensure that laws and regulations based on transparency, are adhered to. This should provide a kickstart for the support of the Sharjah tourism sector and the emirate’s leading tourism packages.” Since its launch, the training programme has seen a large amount of interest from the biggest destination management companies in the UAE, including Arabian Adventures, Orient Tours, Al Khalediah Tourism and the Sharjah National Travel Agency. During the first advanced training programme, guides were provided with the latest information and updates on the tourism sector in the emirate. Field visits to various important tourism sites in the emirate - including
museums, commercial outlets, archaeological sites, etc. - were organised to increase awareness and identification of Sharjah as a destination. Al Diar Siji Hotel (ADSH), a five-star business hotel managed by Abu Dhabi National Hotels (ADNH) will showcase its newly-opened luxury serviced apartments. With the opening of Siji Hotel Apartments (SHA), Al Diar Siji Hotel management hopes to increase
East Coast hope that leisure tourists will continue to come even with the present economic condition. Siji Hotel Apartments feature 78 tastefully furnished apartment units fitted with quality finishes, fixtures and highend furnishings. Each of the 1-, 2-, and 3-bedroom apartments has generouslysized bedrooms, fully-equipped modern kitchens with all appliances, as well as living and dining areas, in-room entertain-
Al Diar Siji Hotel
tourist influx to Fujairah as it provides additional accommodation options to leisure guests, corporate travellers and families. Fujairah is now becoming a more popular tourist destination in the UAE, and with alternative choices of less expensive accommodation which also gives more options like bringing and cooking their own food, hoteliers on the
ment including flat screen LCD satellite TVs, and broadband internet connection. Le Méridien Al Aqah in Fujairah is participating at the event for the seventh consecutive year. This year it will be showcasing its newly launched Teens Club Al Aqah; the latest leisure initiative that caters to guests aged between 13 and 16. The club is complete with the latest-techUAE Digest, May 2010 l 57
HOME & GARDEN
Le Meridien Al Aqah
nology facilities, including an internet centre with safety screening to ensure the websites are teen-friendly. The facilities also include video games, Wii challenge, cinema room, DVD library, mini-gym, aerobic room, squash court, a book library and billiards room. The club offers a variety of scheduled activities and is supervised by qualified entertainers to ensure teens have an ideal opportunity to make new friends and socialise during their holiday. The club is located in the resort’s basement level, near Spa Al Aqah, so it gives parents an ideal chance to pamper themselves while their teens have fun. The hotel will also be announcing its summer package and promotions for the coming season, offering value for money to both local UAE residents and overseas tourists. To offer some time-out during the busy exhibition, visitors can receive a complimentary foot massage from the Spa Al Aqah therapists to relax and re-energise them for the rest of the days’ Desert Island Resort & Spa
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walking. Desert Island Resort & Spa by Anantara, developed by Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC), a master developer of cultural, residential and tourism destinations in Abu Dhabi, has been voted one of the world’s greatest hotels by Conde Nast Traveller, as published in the magazine’s Gold List 2010.. Located on Sir Bani Yas Island, just 250 kilometres southwest of Abu Dhabi in the emirate’s Al Gharbia (Western Region), the resort attracted over 25,000 guests from around the world in its first year of operation. The island, originally the private retreat and royal nature reserve of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the late founder and President of the UAE, reopened to the public in October 2008. “Over the past year, Sir Bani Yas Island has established itself as an upbeat destination for those who seek wildlife adventures and pure natural habitat in a luxurious and tranquil setting,” said Lee
Tabler, CEO of TDIC. “The island showcases its unique environment through a range of exciting activities. The opening of the 64-room boutique resort managed by award-winning Thai hospitality group Anantara Resorts has ensured that the island is firmly placed on the global tourism map.” As the largest natural island in the UAE spanning over 87 square kilometres, Sir Bani Yas Island is a nature-based destination like no other. Home to several million trees and plants, and a vast range of birds and marine life, the island also includes the Arabian Wildlife Park where there are around 23 species of freeroaming animals. The park has hyenas, giraffes, cheetahs and the Arabian Oryx, which has been classified as extinct in the wild since the early 1970s but is being rereleased into the Arabian Peninsula after extensive rehabilitation and breeding programmes. The island’s bird sanctuary houses a vast variety of species from emus to pink flamingos and ostriches, while the surrounding sea is equally rich in marine animals as it is frequented by dolphins and sea turtles. The Desert Islands Resort & Spa by Anantara is the perfect hideaway for those seeking nature-based adventure, combined with the ultimate in luxury and pampering. The island’s natural surroundings offer a beautiful backdrop for outdoor activities such as wildlife and nature drives, biking, hiking, kayaking, archery and snorkelling. Further developments on Sir Bani Yas Island are already moving forward with future plans, including two new nature lodges, dive & sports centre, conference centre and an equestrian centre to open in 2010, providing guests with stunning views of the island and up-close-andpersonal animal experiences. In 2011 two more lodges are set to open, bringing the total number of lodges to four.
Cheetah cubs born on Sir Bani Yas Island Successful breeding and conservation programme saves species from extinction As its mission of wildlife and nature conservation continues to evolve, Sir Bani Yas Island, recently welcomed four cheetah cubs as a result of a successful breeding programme. As the cheetah is classified by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) as extinct in the UAE, and vulnerable worldwide, the births are of particular significance to the continuation of the species globally and locally. Following the birth of the first ever hyena cubs in the wild in the UAE, this is yet another success for Sir Bani Yas Island in protecting and re-introducing previously extinct animals. Safira with three of her cubs The cheetahs on Sir Bani Yas Island are from captive bred popula- from their original birthplace in a small cave in the mountains, which is known because Safira is fitted with a radio collar and can be tions. The mother and father of the cubs, Safira and Gabriel were tracked and monitored by the conservation team on the island. raised in His Excellency Sheikh Butti Al Maktoum’s Wildlife Centre, Visitors to the island will soon be able to see the mother and her and the Sharjah Breeding Centre for Endangered Arabian Wildlife, respectively. The cheetahs were brought to the island as part of TDIC’s cubs venturing into the 4,100-hectare Arabian Wildlife Park, which is the only one of its kind in the region bringing guests closer to nature conservation efforts which include breeding, re-wilding, releasing into the Arabian Wildlife Park to become an integral part of the natu- by taking them through guided tours and educating them about Arabian free-roaming animals that inhabit it. ral population control for hoofed species on the island. The flagship species on Sir Bani Yas is the Arabian Oryx that was Survival rates for cheetah cubs are very low both in the wild and introduced in 1971 and was an unprecedented success, as the animal captivity, and according to the conservation team, Safira, the cubs’ was declared extinct in the wild by 1972. Now, there are around 400 mother, is doing an impressive job of taking care of her cubs, even Arabian Oryx on the island roaming freely in the park. though she was raised by humans. She has not yet moved the cubs
As flowers flourish, gardens become colourful, and families appreciate quality time outdoors before the Middle Eastern summer heat kicks in, Rosewood Corniche in Saudi Arabia invites guests to enjoy a sumptuous spring break at the Red Sea for a fraction of the price. With clear blue skies, ideal temperatures and green scenery for a few more precious weeks, spring is a favourite time among the Kingdom’s residents. Whether for Jeddah’s outdoor activities, shopping or simply gathering around a meal, it is also perceived as especially valued family time. Families will be in honour at Rosewood Corniche, Jeddah’s premier hotel and will enjoy great discounts on rooms and suites until the end of June 2010. Prices include complimentary buffet breakfast with breath-
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The hotel also receives a large number of guests from Morocco, Egypt, Turkey, Malaysia and Indonesia. Tourism contributed 47 billion riyals – 2.7 per cent of gross domestic product – to the Saudi Arabian economy in 2008 driven by religious and business travel. “Recent studies predict that international tourism expenditure will grow to $10.74 billion by 2013. We are therefore looking at targeting pilgrims from countries like the USA, UK, Canada, South Africa, Pakistan, Senegal and Nigeria. As a Swiss hospitality brand, we enjoy a strong reputation for service excellence and a loyal following in these markets,” said Omar Boujlid, General Manager, Mövenpick Hotel & Residence Hajar Tower, Makkah. These on-going efforts of the Saudi Arabian government Movenpick Hotel & Residence Hajar tower Makkah to expand tourism infrastructure in the holy cities have received a major fillip with the opening of the five-star property in Makkah, where demand for highend hospitality is in a state of continual growth. Located a few steps away from the Holy Ka’abah and overlooking the King Abdul Aziz Gate, the Mövenpick Hotel & Residence Hajar Tower offers the most convenient and comfortable accommodation for pilgrims and families arriving in for Haj or Umrah. The recent Haj season saw the hotel running to full capacity, despite the swine flu scare that cast a shadow
taking views on the Red Sea at Habsburg restaurant, in-room check in, VIP amenities and personalised butler service, complimentary garment pressing for two pieces of clothing and free unlimited internet access. Children below six years joining their parents will stay free of charge. Designed for both business and leisure travellers, the hotel is ideally positioned on Jeddah’s Corniche which runs parallel to the Red Sea for over 20 miles and provides convenient access to the city’s business and leisure areas. Over 40 per cent of the people who check in at the Mövenpick Hotel & Residence Hajar Tower Makkah are from the GCC, with the biggest contingent coming in from Saudi Arabia, followed by visitors from Kuwait and the UAE.
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over the pilgrimage, underlining the growing demand for premium residential and leisure facilities in Makkah. The first phase of the 41-storey hotel, which was opened in 2009, has 283 well-appointed rooms with a full set of amenities from wireless Internet to 24-hour concierge services. The hotel’s location within the Abraj Al Bait Tower also gives guests access to a wide range of lifestyle facilities. Five world-class restaurants offering varied dining options, a six-storey shopping mall, health club and a prayer hall that can accommodate 3,000 worshippers are also part of the hotel and residences complex. Singapore Tourism Board’s (STB) recent brand evolution from ‘Uniquely Singapore’ to ‘YourSingapore’ is to be showcased at the ATM. The brand evolution underpins the country’s strength as a travel experience that can be easily personalised due to the concentration of sights, sounds, tastes, culture, and attractions. At the centre of the brand evolution is an interactive website www.yoursingapore.com that has been developed in response to the rise of digital and social media, and the shift in the way that people plan and book travel: from passive content consumption to active engagement. ATM attendees will be able to experience the new www.yoursingapore. com website and view a wide range of multimedia, elaborating on Singapore’s rapid transformation, and get a sneak preview of the STB’s latest commercial at the Singapore pavilion. Jason Ong, Area Director for the Middle East and Africa, Singapore Tourism Board (STB) said: Last year Singapore saw a 2.7 per cent increase in visitors from the Middle East, with a total of 117,000 visitors arrivals from the region. STB is predicting record tourism numbers for 2010, forecasting total annual visitor arrivals to hit between 11.5 million and 12.5. The opening of two new multi-billion dollar integrated resorts – Resorts World Sentosa and the Marina Bay Sands – are expected to
attract Middle East visitors who are looking for world-class accommodation, entertainment, shopping and dining experiences. Resorts World Sentosa began operations in January and features South East Asia’s first Universal Studios Theme Park which brings to life the best movie-themed attractions packed within seven zones ranging from Hollywood, Far Far Away to Sci-Fi City and The Lost World. The park features 24 thrilling rides and attractions, including the world’s only Madagascar theme park, creating a fun-packed destination for both the young and the young at heart. Meanwhile, the first-phase of Marina Bay Sands, launched on April 27, sees the opening of 963 hotel rooms, part of the designer shopping mall and convention centre, as well as six celebrity chef restaurants and a casino, offering a luxurious experience for all travellers. Just two weeks after launching a brace of GCC routes with flights to Muscat and Kuwait City, flydubai, Dubai’s first low-cost airline, has announced a further two routes – Assiut in Egypt and Istanbul, Turkey – to bring the airline’s network to 15 destinations. Priced from Dh350, flights to Assiut, the largest town in Upper Egypt, are three times per week and start on Monday, May 24. Travellers will be able to visit Istanbul, European Capital of Culture 2010, with flydubai’s uncomplicated, low fare service for as little as Dh450 from Thursday, June 17. Flights to Istanbul will be five times per week. Ghaith Al Ghaith, CEO of flydubai, said: “The addition of these new routes is in line with our commitment to make travel to key destinations in this region more accessible and more affordable. Assiut currently has very few direct links to the UAE, so by offering this destination, we are fulfilling our promise to make travel a little less complex, a little less stressful and a little less expensive. Although Istanbul is well known to many, there is such a demand for short breaks to the city and to the country in general that we anticipate strong demand for our quality, low-cost service.” The largest town in southern Egypt, Assiut is known for its agriculture, especially grain and cotton. It is also home to one of the country’s largest universities and has much to offer tourists. Steeped in heritage, Assiut was founded in the Pharaonic era and is located 400 kilometres south of Cairo. The flydubai model is simple, with customers paying only for the services they want to receive. The ticket price includes all taxes and one piece of hand baggage, weighing up to 10kg, per passenger. Passengers have the option to purchase checked-in baggage in advance at Dh60 for the first piece and Dh150 for the second, weighing up to 32kg, subject to availability. Checked baggage at the airport is also strictly subject to availability and passengers are advised to book online early to secure the space, as only prepurchased baggage can be guaranteed. A nominal payment of Dh5 allows customers to select their seat and Dh100 secures the extra legroom positions. Bookings can be changed for a small fee, plus any difference in the fare, and food and drink can be purchased on board.
Marina Bay Sands, Singapore
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Destination Oman By Manju Ramanan first 10 months and this new route will flydubai recently took a group of journalonly serve to strengthen ties between ists on a single day trip on its first flight to the UAE and Oman, which was always Muscat, Oman, for lunch at the Shangri going to be a natural choice of destinaLa Hotel there. When the flight landed at tion. Oman is a unique destination Muscat International airport, it was given a traditional welcome of water being poured on the aircraft. The flight makes Muscat the third GCC destination for Dubai's first low-cost airline, after Doha and Bahrain. Kuwait is yet another destination the airline will be flying to within the next 48 hours. A VIP delegation from Oman, headed by the Undersecretary for Civil Aviation Affairs, HE Mohammed bin Sakhar Al-Amri, met Cake cutting ceremony in Muscat the flight, which included that combines ancient history and a HE Mohammed A. Ahli, Directormodern economy with a very friendly, General, Dubai Civil Aviation Authority welcoming population. This is a 10,000 and flydubai's Chief Executive Ghaith Al year old society that for centuries was Ghaith. on the essential trade route between “flydubai has enjoyed an excellent Shangri La Hotel, Muscat
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the Arabian Gulf and the Mediterranean. The Sultanate is known for its culture and tradition and everyone who has visited will tell you there is something magical about Oman.” He continued: “While business ties grow ever stronger between the Emirates and the Sultanate, many passengers will also be looking to visit Oman for a chance to unwind and indulge in one of the region's most fascinating locations. Oman has seen a vast increase in tourist numbers, attracted by Unesco world heritage sites, natural wadis and extensive white beaches, and has won a reputation for capturing the essence of the region. The latest Oman Tourist Report quotes a 17.5% year-on-year rise in tourist arrivals during the first five months of 2009, and while visitor numbers are recorded at just over two million per year, the Sultanate hopes to increase that to 12 million by 2020.” “With flights to Kuwait, we are widening our network to 13 locations,” he added. The airline’s existing routes include Beirut-Lebanon, Amman-Jordan, Damascus and Aleppo-Syria, Alexandria-Egypt, Djibouti-Africa, Doha-Qatar, KhartoumSudan, Baku-Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Kathmandu-Nepal. FZ043 and FZ045 leave Dubai at 06.25hrs and 16.25hrs respectively, arriving in Muscat at 07.25hrs and 17.25hrs local time respectively. The return flights, FZ044 and FZ046 leave at 08.10hrs and 18.10hrs and arrive at 09.10hrs and 19.10hrs local time. The flydubai model is simple, with customers paying only for the services they want to receive. Its flights operate from Terminal 2 of Dubai International Airport and the twice daily flights to Oman cost from Dh250 one way including all taxes.
he 400-square metre India Pavilion will focus on the country’s Wellness Tourism, with 28 tour operators/ travel agents and three state governments showing their wares, explaining why this is the preferred destination for many. Tour packages can be arranged to Kerala, Rajasthan, Goa and Delhi among other places. Medical tourism is a growing sector in India. Advantages include reduced costs, the availability of latest medical technoloT.W. Sudhakar, Regional Director, India Tourism gies and a growing compliance reproductive techniques, such as IVF, and on international quality standards, as well a full range of Assisted Reproductive Techis almost 30 per cent lower to that in as the fact that foreigners are less likely to nology (ART) services have made India the western countries and the cheapest in face language barriers in India. Most estifirst choice for infertility treatments. South-east Asia. mates claim treatment costs in India start 4) Your package will include pick-up 2) All medical treatments and investiat around a tenth of the price of comparafrom the airport, accommodation at a 4 or gations are done using the latest, technoble treatment in America or UK. 5-star hotel, ground transportation to and logically advanced diagnostic equipment. The most popular treatments sought from doctor’s appointment and hospital, 3) The cost of infertility treatments is in India by medical tourists are alternamedical procedure, travel reservations, trip almost a quarter of that in developed native medicine, bone-marrow transplant, itinerary and much more. tions. The availability of modern assisted cardiac bypass, eye surgery and hip replacement. The country is known in particular for heart surgery, hip resurfacing and other Wellness options areas of advanced medicine. The natural beauty of India fuels rapid Ayurveda recovery and there are organisations that Ayurveda is a holistic healing science which contains practical make it all happen for you. They have and scientific information on various subjects beneficial to tie-ups with major hospitals and medihumanity like health, philosophy, engineering, astrology etc. cal institutions. You can contact them at Ayurveda has developed a tradition of medicine and a system email@example.com, furnish the of treatment based on the inherent ability of the human body to rejuvenate, to heal, and to restore its natural balance. essential details and the rest of it will be undertaken by medical tour experts. Yoga India is a perfect destination for mediYoga is considered to be the ultimate way of attaining enlightenment. Proponents of yoga see daily practice as beneficial cal tourism that combines health treatin itself, leading to improved health, emotional well-being, ment with visits to some of the most allurmental clarity, and joy in living. ing and awe-inspiring places of the world. Naturopathy A growing number of tourists are flocking Nature Cure believes that all the diseases arise due to acin large numbers because of the superlative cumulation of morbid matter in the body and if scope is given medical care, equipment and facilities. for its removal, it provides cure or relief. It excels in providing quality and cheap Panch Karma healthcare services to overseas tourists. Panch Karma is a purifying therapy to enhance the metabolic process through food and herbal In 2004, some 150,000 foreigners visited medicines. It is used in deep-rooted chronic disease. As the wastes are eliminated from the India for treatment, and the numbers have body, the person becomes healthy. been rising by 15 per cent each year. Siddha India is in the process of becoming The principles and doctrines of the Siddha system, both fundamental and applied, have a close the “global health destination” owing to similarity to Ayurveda, with specialisation in Iatro-chemistry. According to this system, the huthe following advantages: man body is a replica of the universe and so are the food and drugs, irrespective of their origin. 1) The cost of medical services in India UAE Digest, May 2010 l 63
Moolah and the muck By Con Clude
t’s like a soap opera on Indian channels – first were the IPL matches along with the glitzy IPL Nights; then skeletons came tumbling out of cupboards, making news more interesting than a Bollywood masala film. The Indian Premier League (IPL), which started with a bang three years ago, has had its fair share of excitement, glamour, competition and controversy. But nothing could prepare anyone for the scandals rocking the league ever since Lalit Modi (until recently IPL Chairman) tweeted on a proposed IPL team. He just let off steam over the way buyers of Kochi franchise went about their job. While the secrecy of the franchise bugged him, lack of control over the wheeling-dealing got his goat. All the while, he merrily deluded himself he was invincible by moving in a rarefied stratosphere of cricket legends, Bollywood babes, feisty cheerleaders and exuberant crowds. Sadly, reality has devious ways of catching up. Modi’s descent began when he decided to stretch his might and catch federal minister Shashi Tharoor on the wrong foot. While Tharoor had to pay for his public indiscretions by relinquishing his ministry, Modi (at the time of going to press) still appeared defiant, threatening to rip open a can of worms that could unsettle powerful people. Bollywood film-makers may be salivating at the prospect of a blockbuster coming on a platter, but as always, who could imagine truth will turn out stranger than 64 l UAE Digest, May 2010
fiction? And the whole truth is not out yet. Money, power, glamour and success are a heady mix indeed!
Dash from ash It was a forced holiday for thousands of people stranded due to the volcanic ash arising out of Iceland. Not everyone was happy being stranded and told they could holiday, as it came with a heavy price tag. Many people took whatever transport they could and managed to reach England from the UAE through a variety of modes – plane, train, ship and bus. It wasn’t exactly hop, skip and jump as everywhere they encountered people who had the same bright idea as them. But it must be a big relief to reach home, despite all odds. The airlines complained they incurred huge losses, despite not being obliged to pay for passenger stays, since it was a natural occurrence. At such times, people should take it easy and consider it an act of God over which they have no control. What’s the point in grumbling? Why can’t we let things just be? Why should airlines keep counting their lost dollars every time a calamity occurs? Why do we revel in making ourselves miserable all the time? Is there a shortage of miseries? Take a chill pill, folks, and simply flow with the tide of things! Is that so difficult?
Going home You hear about it more often these days – expats finally going home after a long stay
in the UAE. Some of my relatives, after a 15-year stint here, have packed their bags and taken up new jobs in Delhi. They were the last persons we imagined would go home, as they were happy here with all four members earning good salaries. But recession took its toll and two of them lost their jobs. Wary about getting good jobs back home, they were pleasantly surprised by the jump in salaries. One colleague too has left after two interrupted stints in Dubai. Her husband is waiting to join her after he completes his project in September. He wants to start his own consultancy; while she is expecting their second child. He is keen to return, unmindful of the hurdles ahead. Both of them arrived at this decision after evaluating both sides of the coin. Another ex-colleague has already put in his papers at the newspaper he worked for the past seven years. He was offered a decent raise, but stuck to his guns, and is now winding things up. He says his colleagues were shocked when they heard the news. They did not see it coming, because he kept the news of his prospective job in India under wraps until the offer came. Others have their own stories to tell. With the Indian economy doing well even in the downturn, many Indians are going back home. When people you know announce their departure, you feel a sense of emptiness. But that’s life! We expats are passengers here who have to get off at their stop when the time comes. And it’s coming sooner than ever before.