Global Citizen 06

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What’s the Return on Investment? After making a fortune in finance, Bobby Sager is spending his life giving all his money away

Real Estate

Abu Dhabi scales back vision


Is Baku the next dubai?


Rolls-royce goes electric

Seychelles-UAE Strengthen Diplomatic Ties, Dubai’s Newest Dining Hotspots

10 finance

Fragile West, Resilient Islamic Banking Will Islamic Banking become mainstream?

12 energy

The Iraqi Oil Phoenix Challenges for Iraq’s oil industry

14 finance

Gulf Sovereign Wealth Funds Sovereign Wealth Funds Forced to Rethink Strategy

16 Cover story

Bobby Sager Philanthropy: What’s the return on investment?

22 entrepreneurship

The Jordanian Dream Oasis500 supports budding stars in Jordan

26 Trade

Dubai’s Global Marketplace Region’s largest international fair


28 investment


Baku’s Boom The ‘new Dubai’ is ready for business

30 Taxes

Secondary citizenships What are the tax benefits?

32 private banking

Why Private Banks Say Clients are Playing it Safe High net worth individuals focus on wealth preservation

36 investing

Where to Invest in 2012 Are there any safe havens left?

38 breaking records

Rising to Record Heights The Man Behind the World’s Tallest Flagpoles

PAGE 44 46 real estate


48 women in business

54 Sport

Scaling Back the Vision Abu Dhabi adjusts to economic realities

40 Profile

Giuseppe Cipriani Italian restaurateur

Can women get ahead in the workplace? Woman in Leadership Forum Gives Insight into Challenges


50 IVF

UAE Company Taps into Aircraft Manufacturing Industry Secures $2 billion in contracts

The Business of IVF Banks are cashing in

Private Jet Security Are they a threat to border security?

Breeding the Best The UAE’s powerful horse racing industry

57 government

Seychelles-UAE Strengthen Diplomatic ties Embassy opens in Abu Dhabi

04 • GC • January / February 2012

58 Energy

The High Price of Cheap Energy Renewable energy takes a back seat with subsidised gas

60 investing

Passionate Investments Silver, wine, art and gold set to lead investments

62 health

Boutique Fitness New DIFC gym takes a holistic approach to fitness

Contents 64 AVIaTION

The Quest for Perfection UAE company plans to build pioneering new helicopter

66 government

Wealthy Iranians Restricted from Investing in Immigrant Visas Bulgaria is one of the few countries still offering investor visas to Iranian nationals

70 Style

82 watches

72 style

85 Travel

74 profile

88 ARt

Made to Measure New York Tailor Max Girombelli

Forward Fashion Salvatore Ferragamo A Conversation with Owen Wilson Wilson speak to GC at Dubai International Film Festival

76 Film

The Price of Kings Documentary of Yasser Arafat

78 Art

LIFESTYLE 68 design

Breaking the Mould Julian Bond’s special technique

A Moveable Mansion Brought Back to Life Interior designer Nina Seirafi

80 dining

Dubai’s Newest Hotspots The emirate’s new upscale options

A Collector’s Ideal Investment Why Rolex retains value

Winter Weekend Getaways Ski holiday just a plane ride away Nurturing Regional Artists Art Dubai’s artists-in-residence

90 Health

Better Than Take Out A review of healthy meal deliveries

92 Auto

Rolls-Royce Goes Electric Eco-friendly luxury

94 fitness

Easy Office Work Outs Stay fit without leaving your desk


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THE GREATEST MASTERS RETAIN THEIR YOUTHFUL CURIOSITY. Tamara Novichenko, voice instructor at the State Conservatoire, St. Petersburg, Russia

Tamara Novichenko teaches tomorrow’s world-class opera singers. To prepare her talented pupils for the heights of success, she constantly explores inspirational techniques. At Julius Baer, we also place the highest emphasis on close and inspiring collaboration, to allow your finances to fulfil their potential. Julius Baer, established in 1890, is the leading Swiss private banking group.

For more information, please contact Julius Baer (Middle East) Ltd. in Dubai, regulated by the DFSA, +971 4 32 75 551, Bank Julius Baer & Co. Ltd. (Representative Office) in Dubai +971 4 33 00 751, Bank Julius Baer & Co. Ltd. (Representative Office) in Abu Dhabi +971 2 66 73 903.

Starting Afresh in 2012

For our first issue of 2012, we bring you some inspiring profiles of people who embody the meaning of the term ‘Global Citizen.’ In our cover story, meet the inspiring American entrepreneur turned philanthropist, Bobby Sager. A tough-minded businessman

who made a fortune by seeing opportunity where others hadn’t, Sager amassed considerable wealth in banking. However he gave up his day job and spent the last decade traveling around the globe using his entrepreneurial skills and street smarts to make the biggest difference he can – in some of the most difficult areas on the planet. (See page 16 for the full interview.) In an effort to put the doom and gloom of the eurozone financial crisis of last year behind us, Patricia Andrews has compiled a report of this year’s prime investment opportunities and reviewed the challenges facing investors from the region. In counting down to the world’s richest horse race, the Dubai World Cup, in March, we look at how the UAE has become one of the most powerful players in the horse racing industry. Learn how Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has invested in making the UAE a force to contend with.

As we usher in a New Year, we at Global Citizen are bringing our readers a refreshed, and hopefully, more engaging look and feel for the magazine. We are continuously looking to improve the magazine and look forward to your feedback. We would like to wish all our readers continued success in the New Year and look forward to having you on board for 2012. NATASHA TOURISH Editor WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU GC is now on facebook, check out www. for regular updates on the latest issues and you can even post reader feedback. Letters to the Editor can be emailed to and we will be only happy to publish them in our next issue.

Global Citizen Registered at Dubai Media City, PO Box 502068, Dubai, UAE

Reach media CEO Armand Peponnet editor Natasha Tourish— ART DIRECTOR Omid Khadem Prepress Asen Iliev Advertising SUBSCRIPTION CONTRIBUTORS Robin Mills, Matthew Hamilton, Tariq Qureishy, Sara Hamdan, Jonathon Savill, Mona Alami, Heba Hashem, Douglas Azar, Nausheen Noor, Emma Green, Marie Riot Printed by Masar Printing and Publishing Copyright 2012 Reach Media. All rights reserved. Neither this publication nor any part of it may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the permission of Reach Media Where opinion is expressed it is that of the author and does not necessarily reflect the editorial views of the publisher or Global Citizen. All information in Global Citizen is checked and verified to the best of the publisher’s ability, however the publisher cannot be held responsible for any mistake or omission enclosed in the publication

January / February 2012 • GC • 07


Robin Mills is the head of consulting at Manaar Energy (Dubai) and an expert on Middle East energy strategy and economics. He has authored two books, The Myth of the Oil Crisis and Capturing Carbon. Mills contributes to the National on energy and environmental issues and comments widely on energy issues in Foreign Policy, CNN, BBC, Bloomberg, Sky News and others. He worked for a decade for Shell, concentrating on new business development in the Middle East where he was described as “the Shell expert on Iran.” Mills has also worked with Dubai Holding and the Emirates National Oil Company.


Tariq Qureishy as the Founder and CEO of Vantage Holdings, Qureishy develops international and local projects in the technology, media and telecoms space. He was the launch CEO and Publisher of the Times and Sunday Times newspaper in the Middle East from 2007-9 and spent twelve years with Dow Jones Markets as Regional Director EMEA. He also founded Mobile Aid, a charity which uses innovative technologies to raise funds for children’s organisations.



Matthew Hamilton is a writer based in Amman, Jordan. His writing has appeared in The Christian Science Monitor, The National, and Monocle, among other publications. Before deciding to be a writer, Matthew held a variety of jobs including being a backpacking guide, lifeguard, paralegal, personal assistant, social entrepreneur and baker. He first came to the Middle East fresh out of college to teach Iraqi refugee children in Jordan.

08 • GC • January / February 2012

Jonathon Savill


Sara Hamdan is a Dubai-based stringer for the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times who also regularly contributes to Rolling Stone and Variety. Arabic is one of the four languages she speaks and she has worked in the region for five years – two years as a banker with Merrill Lynch and three in the media industry.

had worked in 63 countries and writes about planes, cars, motorcycles, boats and watches. He has written for Esquire, GQ, British Airways Business life and went round the world in eight days for the UK’s Daily Telegraph. His major interest is aviation and he is a specialist in aerial video filming. He is now resident in Dubai having spent a year in Kuwait. His deep passions are seaplanes and sailing. He worked for the BBC for twenty years.


Douglas AZAR


Heba Hashem


Mona Alami

48 Marie Riot

A French native, Marie studied journalism in the US before working as a news and education reporter for two years. In 2008, she moved to Dubai to become a features writer at a local newspaper. She currently works in online media, as well as being a regular contributor to Global Citizen.

is a French journalist, who took to reporting after a management degree and an MBA. Based in Beirut, she travels around the region reporting on business and political affairs from Jordan, the UAE and Syria. She regularly reports in both English and French for IPS (an international newswire), USA Today, Arabian Business, Now Lebanon magazine, L’Expansion, as well as producing documentaries for Al Aan TV. Mona also has a special interest in interviewing and reporting on radical islamist groups.

is a freelance journalist based in Dubai, reporting regularly on the solar and nuclear power sectors for CSP Today, CPV Today, and Nuclear Energy Insider. She has written for both Qatar Airways and Emirates Airlines in flight magazines, covering business news, the medical tourism industry, and environmental issues. Heba is of Jordanian origin, and grew up between Cairo and Abu Dhabi. Holding a B.A. in Communications and Media Studies from Middlesex University, London, and a B.A. in English-Arabic translation from Cairo University. She is a member of the Chartered Institute of Journalists.

January / February 2012 • GC • 09

started his carrier in New York as a Trader Assistant with Societe Generale. He relocated to Dubai in 2004 to be part of the project finance department. His next move was ABN AMRO Private Banking in 2008 as investment advisor and more recently decided to join Liechtensteinische Landesbank (“LLB”) to set up the advisory desk of the Dubai office. Douglas has extensive knowledge in art investment and art business related topics. He regularly speaks at conferences on the subject. He graduated from Audencia business school in France and also has a Master in business law form Assas University in Paris. Douglas is also a CAIA (Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst) charter holder.


Nausheen Noor is a freelance journalist based in Dubai. She is the author of the food blog, Dubai Bites and is a frequent contributor to various publications including BBC Good Food, Esquire, Explorer and Ahlan! Gourmet. Prior to moving to Dubai, she worked in the non-profit management sector in New York. She has a B.A. in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from the University of Pennsylvania and an M.A. in Anthropology and Development from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. She is fluent in Bengali, English and French.


Fragile West, Resilient Islamic Banking

Gallo Images / Getty Images

Will Islamic banking move into the mainstream to secure the industry’s future in the years ahead?

10 • GC • January / February 2012


ith the major economies of the world trapped in an economic quagmire and the recent upheavals of the Arab Spring, attention is returning to the global Islamic finance industry. We look into the industry’s newfound resilience, the key opportunities and challenges for the year ahead. Another crisis. Another opportunity. With an economic storm sweeping across Europe towards the Middle East, proponents of Islamic banking are once again sensing an opportunity for the increasingly resilient industry to move into the mainstream. But we have been here before. An article in the New York Times in 2007, argued, “rising oil wealth is lifting Islamic banking... into the financial mainstream.” And during the height of the credit crisis, many analysts again touted the industry’s potential to withstand market downturns. However, these expectations were dampened when global sukuk issuance collapsed by more than 50% in 2008. So does the latest crisis, which has the ingredients to make the credit crunch appear like a storm in a tea cup, present another opportunity for the Islamic banking industry to move into the mainstream? There is no doubt that oil wealth and an increasingly crisis-prone conventional financial system will continue to

drive demand for the more conservative and ethics-based Islamic finance market. But these are not the only components involved in “globalizing” the industry’s appeal. The 57 Islamic states (part of the Organisation of Islamic Conference Countries – OIC) have a combined GDP of USD 7.7 trillion, which is slightly above 12% of the world GDP. Therefore, for the industry to move into the mainstream, it must expand its global footprint, into minority- Muslim countries. The initial signs are positive. Looking to diversify its funding and investor base, the South African government

Malaysia, in providing a more conducive environment for the industry. And recent developments in North Africa, where all the signs are that Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Morocco will embrace Islamic finance following the Arab Spring, bode well for the market this year.These advances have provided the industry a platform for growth and expansion. But challenges remain. The Arab Spring countries will require support and direction from established Islamic finance centres to realise their potential. It is imperative for these countries to gain access to expertise in regulatory and tax treatment of Islamic products, in par-

“ ...for the industry to move into the mainstream,

it must expand its global footprint, into minorityMuslim countries.”

recently confirmed that it was preparing to issue a sovereign sukuk, in what could be the first sovereign issuance in the minority-Muslim world. Furthermore, the launch of the Islamic Interbank Benchmark Rate (IIBR) last month, points to increasing maturity in an industry known for its lack of direction and standardisation. In Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country is working closely with the word’s most developed Islamic market,

January / February 2012 • GC • 11

ticular relating to Sukuk. Another key minority-Muslim country that has been targeted by Islamic bankers recently has been the United Kingdom. Like South Africa, not too long ago it was also seriously considering launching a Sukuk, to spur the local Islamic finance market. However, due to various reasons, including a change in government, the plans have been put on the backburner. Lack of demand has also been cited by some sources for the delay in a UK sovereign issuance. However, a senior London-based banker speaking to the Financial Times recently noted “we are confident there would be strong demand for this product, as it is Islamic and would be denominated in sterling, which is what investors want, as there are so many problems in the eurozone.” The problems are not limited to eurozone. A recent report by Ernst and Young expressed concern on lack of favourable regulatory and legal environment in many OIC countries, which “adds to the cost and complexity of Islamic banking operation”. However, the same report noted that the market is expected to reach $1.1 trillion in 2012 (from $826 billion in 2010). If these challenges can be addressed, the industry will be well placed to benefit from a fragile conventional system.


The odds are stacked against the Iraqi oil industry but 2012 could see production levels rise to a pre-historic high. by Robin Mills

he truck was gathering geophysical data on one of Iraq’s largest oil fields when it reversed over the explosives. Were they left over from the war against Iran, or the retreat from Kuwait, or the US invasion? It hardly matters. The detonation tore the back off the vehicle. Fortunately no one was injured. About a month later, the endless saga of oil in the autonomous Kurdish region took a surprising twist. On 10th November, US oil giant Exxon Mobil signed contracts for six exploration blocks in Kurdistan, angering Baghdad, which maintains that such deals are il-

legal. These two incidents, one operational and one at the highest political levels, illustrate the challenges facing Iraq’s ambitious oil plans. The country may ultimately turn out to have more oil than Saudi Arabia. At least, it is neck-and-neck with Iran for second place within OPEC. But under fiery nationalist governments in the 1960s, followed by Saddam Hussein’s incompetence and war mongering, Iraq has fallen far short of its potential. The contracts given to foreign companies from 2009 onwards, if fulfilled, would raise Iraqi output to over twelve million barrels per day by 2017. In practice, no analyst expects this to occur.

12 • GC • January / February 2012

Infrastructural challenges Challenges range from the practical to the political. Unexploded bombs litter southern Iraq, security is still shaky in many areas, fresh water insufficient, ports clogged, and work permits are almost unobtainable. With electricity only available for a few hours each day, the area around Basra is lit at night by an eerie orange glow – a billion cubic feet of unwanted gas being burnt off daily, enough to provide most of the country’s missing power. Most serious of all, Iraq has limited capacity to export oil. Pipelines running through Turkey to the Mediterranean have suffered frequent sabotage. The terminals in the Gulf near Basra, which will bear the main brunt of supplying tankers, are old, rusting and short on storage. They are also uncomfortably close to Iranian territorial waters, and operations can be interrupted by sandstorms and choppy seas.

All Photos from Corbis /

The Iraqi Oil Phoenix


Political hurdles On the political level, the thorniest problem is the continuing lack of a national oil law, which would, amongst other things, determine what power the Kurdish government in Erbil has over its region’s resources. The Kurdistan region’s oil exports have been repeatedly halted by payment disputes. As Exxon Mobil was already developing one of Iraq’s largest fields in the south, West Qurna 1, its move into Kurdistan, whatever the ultimate resolution, threatened to upset the uneasy equilibrium that had allowed projects to continue. Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki appears to have indicated that ExxonMobil will not be expelled from West Qurna 1, but the strong-willed deputy prime minister (and former oil minister) Hussein Al Shahristani has suggested otherwise. Yet the geological potential is undoubtedly there, the first set of contracts – run by BP, ENI and, of course, ExxonMobil – are making progress, and Iraq’s production is rising steadily.

If Iraq comes even

halfway to its targets over the next decade, it will

profoundly change the oil world.

Challenges range from the practical to the political. Unexploded bombs litter southern Iraq, security is still shaky in many areas, fresh water insufficient, ports clogged, and work permits are almost unobtainable. It could easily surpass its historic 1979 high during 2012. If Iraq comes even halfway to its targets over the next decade, it will profoundly change the oil world. This expansion would provide at least half of the additional oil required by consumers over that period, finally taking some pressure off tight markets. For the first time since the 1970s, Saudi Arabia would face a competitor of comparable

weight within OPEC. And Iran, struggling financially and with its own oil production declining, would have to cede second place to its erstwhile rival. The Iranians would be tempted to use their own influence within Iraq to impede its rise, but that is a tricky balancing act that would risk inflaming Iraqi nationalism. Exacerbating inequalities The rising oil revenues will bring into starker contrast the poor performance of Baghdad in delivering basic services, in contrast to the Kurdish region, which now has almost continuous electricity supplies. Basra and two other provinces, Salahaddin and Anbar, have already started to make noises about forming autonomous regions of their own. Reconstructing Iraq’s oil industry is difficult enough. The top international oil companies have dealt with tougher technical challenges elsewhere, but rarely with such added complexities of security and politics. The harder challenge yet will be for Iraqi politicians to use the windfall to satisfy the needs of those who elected them. Robin M. Mills is author of The Myth of the Oil Crisis and Capturing Carbon.

January / February 2012 • GC • 13

sovereign wealth funds

rel analysts fear there will be very little capital to invest for the Gulf funds. To date, OPEC is on course for near-record oil export revenue thanks to over $100-a-barrel oil, and many members will be hoping prices stay there as they tackle the challenges from higher social spending. The era of cheap oil is over according to Petrobas Chief Executive Office Jose Sergio Gabrielli de Azevedo. At the annual Platts Global Energy Outlook Forum he said the “new normal will be a very tight oil market.” Good news for the Middle East Sovereign wealth funds, but probably not enough for them to put their hands deep in their pockets.

By Patricia Andrews

s we usher in a new year, the outlook remains uncertain in the investment world. Investors the world over are trying to fathom where is best to buy into. Even the super rich Sovereign wealth funds are being cautious – despite some assets looking arguabley cheap. The head of Qatar’s $100 billion Sovereign wealth fund told German newspaper Handelsblatt recently that the debt crisis in Europe is the worst in decades, clouding the investment outlook and making any long term decision very tricky. “Currently, we can only act with a view to the short term, longer term

forecasts cannot be maintained in view of the insecure situation in Europe and the United States,’’ Qatar Holding chief executive Ahmad Mohamed Al-Sayed was quoted as saying. “This situation dwarfs everything that the continent has seen in the past 50 years ... It remains to be seen whether all the various states truly decide in favour of a common future.’’ He added. Capital depends on oil prices The uncertain outlook for oil prices and the need to increase domestic spending could make things even harder for Gulf Sovereign wealth funds, making them even more selective when investing abroad. If oil falls below $80 a bar-

14 • GC • January / February 2012

All Photos from Corbis /

Gulf Sovereign Wealth Funds Rethink Strategy

Cautious investing Distressed period are typically a time, as history shows, that the oil-rich Sovereign wealth funds snap up ‘opportunities’ to acquire trophy assets. This would normally appeal to Gulf investors, who have long favoured European assets to Asian ones. But there is a new caution in the air. As the Euro zone debt crisis drags on, there is a turning of the tables, and despite the fact that there could be many opportunities to buy European companies on the cheap, Sovereign wealth funds are beginning to turn their attention away from the West and divert their attention eastwards – where there is growth. The lessons learned from the 20072008 crisis have been a wake up call to many – and none-more so than the Sovereign wealth funds that jumped in head

sovereign wealth funds

first to rescue the likes of Western banks. Funds snapped up stakes in several banks including Barclays, Credit Suisse, Citigroup and Merrill Lynch. Mubadala buys into EMI Despite the caution; there has been some action. Abu Dhabi’s investment fund Mubadala recently became partowner of struggling music giant EMI – ending months of drawn out negotiations. The London - based group is being split in two after 80 years as an inde-

need to determine the roles of the label versus the role of the management.” Diversification strategy Mubadala, the Arabic word for ‘exchange’ was established in 2002 by the Government of Abu Dhabi, with a mandate to facilitate the diversification of Abu Dhabi’s economy. Under Abu Dhabi’s Economic Vision 2030, officials plan to cut the emirate’s reliance on oil to 36 per cent of GDP by 2030. And it is paying off; non-oil activity was the biggest driver of the

date, Mubadala’s core asset is a 51% stake in Gulf-based gas and liquids project Dolphin Energy and it also oversees Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s green city project. Mubadala may have deep pockets, but it is not immune to the global economy, and the SWF is picking its business partners carefully. It is well aware of its burgeoning young population, more than half of the GCC is under 30 years of age. This growing population presents many unlocked business opportunities – and Mubadala wants to be there to foster the

“ There are so many ways to monetize music,

Gallo Images / Getty Images

and it is interesting to see asset managers going after that space.”

pendent British music company after finally reaching a $4.1 billion consortium deal led by Japan’s Sony and Vivendi’s Universal Music. “We plan to acquire EMI’s recorded music division on attractive terms, adhering to our principle of total financial discipline,” Vivendi Chief Executive Jean-Bernard Levy said in a statement. It marked Sony’s biggest acquisition since 1989 when it bought out Columbia Pictures in a deal worth just short of $5 billion. “It is good to see asset management companies getting involved,” Mike McGuire, Vice President of Gartner’s Media Industry Advisory Services told Global Citizen. “They obviously see some value in the catalog, and they see the opportunities. There are so many ways to monetize music, and it is interesting to see asset managers going after that space.” He added that buyout firms have significant backgrounds in being able to help businesses streamline, “They now

emirate’s GDP last year, despite rising oil output. Non-oil activity accounted for more than half of growth last year, contributing 50.3% to GDP. Described by Mubadala CEO Khaldoon al-Mubarak as having a “unique mandate” to act as a “catalyst for economic diversification,” the group’s investments now encompass much more than oil and gas, and includes aerospace interests at home and abroad. The $45 billion Sovereign wealthy fund is also heavily invested in property and communications -- and it owns a stake in Ferrari. Despite its international man-

January / February 2012 • GC • 15

talent of the future, and capitalize on it. “There is huge potential here. A number of people wanted to partner EMI to be able to tap into the desire that young people have, and to be able to provide them a service that is potentially very valuable,” said McGuire. This new conservative approach from the wealthy from Abu Dhabi to Qatar may see less buyouts in Europe until the future of the 27-member bloc becomes more apparent, and until a credible plan is devised to tackle the debt crisis we may see funds shun Europe in favour of more stable economies in the East.

Bobby Sager

Philanthropy: The Return on Investment

Why multimillionaire entrepreneur- turned-philanthropist Bobby Sager is giving it all away “Be selfish, go help someone!” This is classic Bobby Sager – thought provoking, sometimes controversial, but always authentic. “I’m not a do-gooder. I’m a doer who has figured out that hands-on, eyeball to eyeball making a difference is a way to live a very full life,” the philanthropist tells GC. By Tariq Qureishy

16 • GC • January / February 2012

Bobby Sager

January / February 2012 • GC • 17

Bobby Sager

n any given day you might find Bobby Sager living in a tent in Karachi, sharing a toilet with 40 monks in the Himalayas, working alongside President Kagame in Rwanda, or discussing science education with the Dalai Lama. In 2000, the 57 year-old self made multimillionaire entrepreneur quit his high powered position leading Gordon Brothers Group, pulled his children out of school and created the Sager Family Traveling Foundation, a non profit organization that focuses on sustainable philanthropic work. The family spends up to 10 months of the year in the some of the world’s most remote, forgotten and war-torn places working “eyeball-to-eyeball” with the poorest and most devastated

people. In the last ten years they have lived in Rwanda, Palestine, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Syria and Zimbabwe. Is he crazy? No. Just on a mission to get the most out of life. Sager explains he only wanted to make money so that he could have choices in life and then use those choices to experience the fullest existence possible. It

jump in. We will eat food, sleep there on the ground or whatever – because you are not there to observe, you are there to be a part of it,” explains Sager. This hands on approach has earned Sager the respect of the communities he works in. The game changer “Hope isn’t just nice, it’s a game

was his selfish desire to live life to the fullest, rather than altruism, that led him to take this path.

Sager with Lady Gaga

Personal return on investment Sager is practical about what his philanthropic work, applying his deal making abilities from the financial sector to the non-profit world. He says that the impact of incremental wealth is now quite marginal in his life. However his philanthropic ventures with the same effort provide quantum impact and exponential personal ROI (Return on Investment). In the most difficult places in the world, a small investment of time and money goes a long way. Wherever the Sager Family Traveling Foundation goes, “we live as close to the ground as possible. Our way of travelling has always been to

18 • GC • January / February 2012

changer,” says Sager. In one of his most far reaching projects, the innovator and businessman created the idea of an indestructible football as a way to bring hope and teach life lessons to children recovering from war. The idea was inspired by Moise, a Rwandan child soldier who had killed 3 people by the time he was 9 that Sager and his son met while staying in a rehabilitation camp for former child soldiers. Moise’s most prized possession was a simple football he had created by tying together old trash bags with string. Sager thought he could provide kids like Moise with something more permanent to play with than a tattered old ball made of garbage. While a ball may seem a small thing to most, an indestructible football can mean so much more to a child living

All photos courtesy of Team Sager

Rock star Sting, a good friend and ardent supporter of Sager’s work describes him as “a big brash guy from Boston…flamboyant, eccentric, inexhaustible world traveler and practical philanthropist.”

Bobby Sager

Sager with the Dalai Lama

part of the construct so he stipulated that 6-12 women whose husbands, fathers, brothers were murdered start a business together with 6-12 women whose men folk were involved in the murders. Though an uncomfortable scenario, it slowly enabled the women to put aside their differences for a better future for their children and created sustainable and fundamental Sager says charity is not a “spectator sport.”

in those circumstances. As the ball survives the dirt roads scattered with glass and debris they’re so often kicked around on, it comes to represent an incredible and elevated sense of durability, longevity, possibility, hope. Put simply, Sager says these balls won’t let the kids down – and are the entry point to learning critical life skills through play – discipline, teamwork, citizenship, knowing how to give constructive feedback, and being a supportive friend. But make no mistake, this project is not about charity, says Sager. Every child needs to earn a ball by participating in programs that use football as a platform for teaching life skills. This makes the receipt of the ball - and trading in of their old, beaten up balls – that much more powerful. The consummate finance man, Sager keeps a close eye on the numbers when measuring the ROI on the project. He explains: “The cost of the ball is $15, lasts 30 years, so 50 cents per year, 1 cent per week. For this investment these kids have something permanent in their life and learn life skills with it. All this has a multiplier effect and quantum impact on the entire psyche and community. Now that is ROI.” Bridging divides and healing old wounds Equally comfortable in boardrooms in his native Boston as he is in the rugged mountains of Afghanistan, Sager bridges business, entrepreneurship and philanthropy seamlessly. In the process he has pioneered a unique brand of practical philanthropy and is impacting millions of people through his initiatives. Team Sager’s micro banks and micro enterprises in Rwanda focus on empowering women financially. But that in and of itself was not a good enough ROI for Sager. He wanted healing and reconciliation as

January / February 2012 • GC • 19

“ We will eat food, sleep there on the ground or whatever, because you are not there to observe, you are there to be a part of it.”

Bobby Sager

reconciliation between groups at odds. This initiative has more than 10,000 women now. The power of the invisible sun As the Chairman of Polaroid, Sager has an avid interest in photography. Inspired by his friend Sting’s song, The Power of the Invisible Sun, which is a metaphor for hope, he has released a coffee table book of photographs he has taken of children during the course of his work. Every book sale goes towards the purchase of footballs for children. He says, “by looking into the eyes of children, there is a light to ignite our optimism, perhaps even our action.”

Bobby Sager: from entrepreneur to philanthropist 1983: Earned a Master’s in Management, Yale University 1986: Joins Gordon Brothers Group. As President he grows it from a $10 million company to $6 billion. 2000: Founded Sager Family Foundation and Roadshow 2002: First ever Recipient of YPO Global Humanitarian Award

2006: Executive Producer, “A Guide to Recognizing your Saints”-award winner at Sundance Film Festival and inspiration for NBC primetime show “The Philanthropist” 2009: named Chairman of the Board of Polaroid. Pledges to give away all earnings of his position. 2009: Publishes a book of photos taken of children he met in war torn areas.

KEY MESSAGES “Money certainly matters, but when you make ourselves the currency, it matters even more.” “It’s hard to be happy unless you’re thankful and its difficult to be thankful without some context to appreciate what you have. The children provide context on steroids.”

“Hope is a game-changer.” “Eyeball-to-eyeball making a difference is a way to live a very full life.”

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Bobby Sager

An avid photographer,

Sager has discovered the transcendent power of

hope through the eyes of

children in war torn areas. Despite unthinkable vio-

lence and destruction, his portraits reveal joy,

innocence and strength.

January / February 2012 • GC • 21


The Jordanian Dream Oasis500 is catalysing young entrepreneurs in Jordan and throughout the Middle East. by Matthew Hamilton

ention ‘Ashrafiyah’ to anyone in the Levant, and they will think of the ritzy neighbourhood in Beirut with gourmet restaurants and boutique hotels. Yet a section of Amman shares the same name, and it could

not be any more different than its Beiruti counterpart. Concrete apartment buildings are nearly stacked on top of each other on this densely crowded hill in East Amman, and the exhaust from run-down cars has coloured the walls and storefronts a dusty grey. The hill was first inhabited in 1948, when newly

arrived Palestinians set up tents along its slopes. While it boasts Jordan’s largest public hospital, Mustashfa Bashir, and the Abu Darweesh Mosque, colloquially known as the Black and White Mosque, it rarely produces anyone (or thing) exceptional, nor is it expected to. Until now.

Waheed Barghouthi and Zaid Amireh - Dakwak

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Ala’ Al Sallal - Jamalon

Jabal Ashrafiyah is the home of Ala’ Al Sallal, one of Jordan’s youngest and most successful entrepreneurs. Just over one year ago, Ala’ founded Jamalon. com, an e-commerce site for Arabic and English books. His mother and four siblings are his core management team, and Fadi Ghandour, founder and CEO of Aramex, provided funding through his venture capital firm, MENA Venture Investments. Seven months after opening, Ala’ decided to accelerate his company’s growth and joined Oasis500. His site now receives over 80,000 monthly visitors, with a 33% monthly growth rate. is expanding to develop operations in Egypt and Lebanon, the two major cities in the Arabic book publishing world, and Ala’ is engaged in negotiations with to provide Arabic books on the global bookseller’s Kindle e-reader. To fund such ambitious growth, Ala’ raised $400,000 in private investments for Although no formal valuations were announced, his site is rumoured to be worth between one and three million dollars. Ala’ would be considered successful by any metric, but coming from Jabal Ashrafiya, where the average monthly salaries range between $210 and $280, he’s a triumph. Much of his success Ala’ owes to hard work and a palpable devotion to his growing brand, including his wearing purple –’s brand colours – every day and even driving a purple van. But an integral enabler to Ala’ and Jam- is Oasis500, the company that accelerated the site from an ordinary small business to a regional corporation with significant global potential.

Creating a tech ecosystem

Although only two years old, Oasis500 traces its roots to 1998, when Jordanian entrepreneurs Samih Toukan and Hussam Khoury founded Maktoob’s e-mail service was successful, and the site became one of the dominant online portals in the Arab world. It had 16.5 million unique monthly users and a staff of 300 in late August of 2009 when Yahoo! acquired it for a reported $164 million. Until then it was unheard of for two Jordanian entrepreneurs to develop a product and sell it to a multi-national corporation. But the deal bolstered the credibility and prospects for the tech sector in a country with few natural resources and an official unemployment rate of 12.5% and an unofficial unemployment rate of 30%. By all accounts, the will to harness the momentum of the Maktoob deal began at the top: HM King Abdullah II. The monarch reportedly consulted with tech executives, exploring new initiatives for generating more Maktoob-like enterprises, and included in the group was Dr. Usama Fayyad. Formerly the Chief Data Officer and an Executive VP for Research and Strategic Solutions at Yahoo, an investor in successful tech start-ups in Silicon Valley, and one of the world’s foremost

January / February 2012 • GC • 23

experts in data mining, Dr. Fayyad laid out what was necessary for the tech sector to prosper. A whole entrepreneurial ecosystem had to be constructed, he said, and the components included training, seed funding, incubation, mentorship, and follow-on funding through a network of angel investors. Likening the current entrepreneurial environment to a desert, devoid of support, training and capital, what was needed was an ‘oasis.’ Further, Fayyad, the King, and other tech leaders agreed that to make a real imprint on the societal mentality (and economy), any initiative had to be incredibly ambitious, bordering on the impossible. The target was to establish 500 companies in five years. In June of 2010, Oasis500 was born.

Oasis500 traces its roots to 1998, when Jordanian entrepreneurs Samih Toukan and Hussam Khoury founded Maktoob’s e-mail service was successful, and the site became one of the dominant online portals in the Arab world. Vertically integrated acceleration

Oasis, as entrepreneurs and investors call it, works by welcoming current or potential entrepreneurs to pitch an idea for a business. Established but underperforming businesses – like Jamalon. com – are eligible, as are good ideas, but the idea is not decisive. “We know the idea will most likely change, and change radically. The individual and the team are less likely to change, so we need teams that are ready to work on dealing with change effectively and on tackling problems and solving them,” explains Dr. Fayyad. Potential entrepreneurs are screened and enter a boot camp, beginning with a s ix-day intensive program that teaches finance, investment, accounting and


basic business and management practice. The boot camp ends with entrepreneurs pitching their ideas before a qualified board. Those greenlighted for induction receive a $15,000 seed investment and enter a 100-day ‘acceleration’ in which coaches monitor progress, prominent local and international businessman avail themselves as mentors, and entrepreneurs refine ideas, monetise their models, develop the product and launch. “What is most unique about Oasis500 is our linking the training with investment and with the 100-day acceleration plan,” says Fayyad, who adds, “No one else addresses all these areas.” At the end of the 100 days, companies typically increase in value by three to eight times, and can either solicit a second round of seed funding or appear before Oasis’s network of Angel investors comprised of Jordanian, regional and international investors eager to support start-ups, help a developing economy, and take a big risk with the promise of a bigger reward. It helps that the Oasis model effectively performs all due diligence, be-

cause at the end of the day, as Dr. Fayyad says, “Oasis500 is a for-profit development company,” not a saccharine NGO with all the funding and good intentions

Potential entrepreneurs are screened and enter a boot camp, beginning with a six-day intensive program that teaches finance, investment, accounting and basic business and management practice. but no business acumen. Almost a year and two months after Oasis welcomed its first wave of entrepreneurs, the results are better than forecasted. Creative concepts have sprouted up, including Zaytouneh, founded by veteran producer Fida Taher, whose company offers quick cooking tutori-

als on the internet and through mobile phones, and Dakwak, launched by Waheed Barghouthi and Zaid Amireh, whose site provides a fast-paced, integrated web translation platform with capabilities of over 60 languages. The figures are also striking: at the time of going to press, although expected to train approximately 125 companies, Oasis500 trained 350, and after expecting to invest in ten companies, Oasis instead invested in 43. Eight start-ups have received Angel Network or venture capital investments ranging from $100K to $3 million. Perhaps most significant, each of those 43 invested companies have hired between three and 20 people. Some of those jobs are not confined to Jordan; Ala’ of says six of his new employees will be in Lebanon and Egypt, underscoring the regional impact. And the applicants keep coming and boot camps are training even more potential entrepreneurs in the fundamentals of business. It seems that Jordan’s tech sector’s entrepreneurial ‘ecosystem’ has left its nascent stage, and that the far-fetched goal of launching 500 businesses in five years is, well, not so far-fetched anymore. For more about Oasis500:

Fida Taher - Zaytouneh

24 • GC • January / February 2012


Dubai’s Global Marketplace

In its 15th year, Global Village has grown to be one one of the region’s largest trade fairs, bringing together craftsman from around the world in a one billion dirham business.

ust off Dubai’s Emirates Road, the sight of a huge oasis of colour announces that you have arrived at Global Village. For the past 15 years, this eye-catching attraction, which is part of Dubailand, has been pulling in the crowds by providing a unique international shopping experience along with stimulating cultural entertainment. Each winter, it welcomes around six million visitors over an area of 17,200,000 sq ft, all keen to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy exhilarating live performances and cuisine, and authentic crafts and merchandise from all over the world. Currently running until early March 2012, this

season’s installment has attracted the usual participants from all around the world, with vendors keen to sell a slice of their home country through a bewildering array of merchandise. Last year’s installment created Dh1 billion of business for vendors. Revenue is expected to increase by about 5 per cent this year- through ticket sales, rent, sponsorship, and paid parking. Launched in 1997 as part of the Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF), Global Village grew and splintered off to become an independent entity and is now a recognised as a successful hub for business. However, recent plans to turn the Global Village into a year-round venue have been put on hold due to on-going world economic problems and the still turbulent

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Photography courtesy of Omid Khadem



state of the region’s political scene. Speaking to the local media recently, Saeed Ali Bin Reda, chief executive of Global Village, said that making a commitment to expand the offering year-round was all about timing. “Since the global recession affected everyone, its economic impact is still felt until today. Politically, the Arab Spring also has an impact. In Europe and America there is an economic impact and in Arab countries there is a political impact. So we need to take this into consideration. We cannot ask them to come year round if there is a negative effect. We have to consult

Last year’s installment created Dh1 billion of business for vendors. Revenue is expected to increase by about 5 per cent this yearthrough ticket sales, rent, sponsorship, and paid parking.

with our international participants in the Global Village,” he said. Some vendors had difficulty getting artisans to make products to bring to the region. Despite the caution about turning the shopping and entertainment extravaganza into a permanent fixture, organisers are making the most of the current edition – and it is clearly the usual hit, judging by the eager crowds.This season, the focus has been on rejuvenating the look of the place by renewing the façade of the pavilions, each of which embody the sights and symbols of the participating

January / February 2012 • GC • 27

countries. For the first time this year too, Tunisia, Spain and some African countries are participating.There are new ideas on display, such as the launch of a special 700-person capacity tent, which will host various events such as fashion shows for women and children. Aside from the winter fun, the Global Village also offers a perfect platform for the small and medium enterprises (SME) sector to promote their brands. Dubai SME, an agency of the Department of Economic Development has co-ordinated the participation of 48 members in the activities being held as part of this year’s Global Village, as part of its efforts to provide opportunities for young people to set up and grow their own businesses. Osama Al Muharam, Manager of the Government Procurement Programme (GPP) at Dubai SME said in an interview to local media: “Our goal is to help young entrepreneurs gain fast exposure to the business world and showcase their products.“The Global Village was chosen for several reasons most notably the millions of visitors it attracts every year and the diversity of nationalities and cultures it brings under one roof. It is a valuable marketing and learning opportunity for our members.” No money is taken from retailers’ profits, to encourage them to participate every year.


Baku’s Boom

Touted as the ‘next Dubai,’ Azerbaijan’s coastal city of Baku is in the midst of a building frenzy similar to Dubai ten years ago.

ike its famous counterpart in the Emirates, Baku is being transformed on the back of petroleum profits-a century ago the country produced half of the world’s petroleum. You don’t have to look beyond the shores of Baku’s coastline to see the wealth that has been accumulated over the years with mansions dotting the seaboard. Luxury hotels, malls and skyscrapers can’t go up fast enough for the ruling Aliyev dynasty. Baku has made no secret of the fact that they are open for business. Representatives for the Baku White City project have been on a non stop promotional tour of every trade and investment conference they can get into and it seems to have worked with foreign investments being pumped into the

city as fast as the oil was pumped out. Potential investors have special privileges kept in stock as an incentive. Once completed Baku White City is set to encompass 244 ha; 11 times the size of Iceri Shahar in Baku and more than Monaco-it is expected to be the largest development in the Caucasus region. At the forefront of new Baku is Pasha Construction, a private investment consortium responsible for two forthcoming mixed-use developments – Port Baku Towers and Port Baku Residence. So called because they are being built on the site of the city’s port, which is being rebuilt away from the centre, the Towers project will comprise 65,000 sqm of office space, restaurants and a spa and health centre, while Port Baku Residence will have 375,000 sqm of residential and retail units, complete

28 • GC • January / February 2012

Photography courtesy of Mohammed El Hebeishy

The fire towers under construction in Baku.


with a gym and wellness complex, and conference space. Ahead of this, Pasha will open two hotels in the city this year – the Four Seasons Baku, and JW Marriott Absheron Hotel and Residences. The Fairmont is also billed to open in 2012 and with expats flooding in to work in the oil and gas industry, Baku is crying out for international hotel brands, with only two Hyatt properties (Hyatt Regency and Park Hyatt), and a further two Rezidor hotels (Radisson Blu and Park Inn) already established.

“ The pace of change,

growth and internationalisation in Baku is astonishing to people who don’t know our city. ”

Similar words were echoed in UAE not so long ago, but it seems that the UAE are embracing the city and don’t want to miss out on investment opportunities; with the opening of Jumeirah Bilgah Hotel set to open in just a few months time. However, there is no guarantee that they it will indeed open soon as the Jumeirah Bilgah joins a list of international hotels that were due to open last year and have had their opening date pushed back to 2012. For now, however, travellers heading to Baku should be open to a country in flux. There’s plenty of infectious energy, passion and potential in a nation full of self-belief. Just don’t expect the polished streets you’d find in Dubai.

Javad Marandi, managing partner of the owners of Pasha, says: “The pace of change, growth and internationalisation in Baku is astonishing to people who don’t know our city. But as one of the world’s fastest-growing economies for several years, we are more than used to this pace of change. What would a few years ago have seemed an impossible step now seems like business as usual. Baku is ready.”

Advantages of investing in Baku White City Choice of investment medium as per approved Master Plan Assistance in development of concept and detailed design Legal support in project construction documentation Support in tendering of construction phase Supervision of the construction process Arrangement of connection of utility services Issuance of certificates for land property Support in marketing activity


The Old City of Baku with the new skyscrapers in the horizon.

January / February 2012 • GC • 29


Second Citizenship Investment Programs Acquiring a second citizenship through investment programs provides the peace of mind of having a hassle free travel document, as well as tax incentives and financial confidentiality for high net worth individuals. Yann Mrazek, Managing Partner of the Dubai law office of Cramer-Salamian, shares his thoughts.

Yann Mrazek

What types of clients look to have second citizenships? Obtaining a second citizenship may be considered for various reasons. Prime candidates are citizens from countries with poor international relations or under sanctions, who can through the second citizenship benefit from a visa-free travel. The second citizenship de facto acts for them as an insurance in times of political, personal or economical turmoil. Other typical candidates are entrepreneurs which require to be able to travel at first notice to some country and for which securing a visa with an advance notice is not an option, as it may end up negatively impacting their business. Finally, many high net worth individuals opt for a second citizenship because of the asset protection, tax incentives, safety and confidentiality associated with the citizenship of a neutral nation.

Which countries are popular for second citizenships among UAE residents? The UAE counts a large foreign population base from emerging markets – Russian and CIS countries, Subcontinent, other Middle-East countries and Africa – which historically have been actively seeking second citizenships. With the increase in outward foreign investment from China, many Chinese entrepreneurs use the UAE as a hub and take advantage of the jurisdiction to initiate steps towards an alternative residency or citizenship. For a number of years, Canada, Singapore and the United Kingdom have been the most popular countries for second citizenship. But with the tightening of the conditions of the regulations in established countries, valid alternative have emerged, most notably Belgium, St. Kitts & Nevis and Bulgaria. The latter two are particularly interesting as the respective programs do not require actual residency in the country to apply for the citizenship. What are the main tax related issues investors need to look at when considering a second citizenship? Acquiring a second citizenship offers many benefits but also has some potential drawbacks. Becoming a citizen of a specific country may automatically subject the applicant to the laws of such country, including tax regulations and the obligations contained therein. The tax obligations in the country of second citizenship may be limited to yearly tax filings, without a duty to pay taxes as long as the citizen is not effectively a resident of that country.

30 • GC • January / February 2012

In some events though, the tax obligations in the country of second citizenship extend to all the country’s citizens, irrespective of their effective place of residency. The citizen may then end-up becoming the subject of income and/or wealth tax from more than one country. Becoming a citizen of one country is further likely to increase the scrutiny of the tax authorities of that country. Finally, acquiring a second citizenship may negatively affect the tax treatment of an inheritance. When the benefits of a citizenship fail to justify the specific tax burden related thereto, one may consider acquiring a second citizenship by relinquishment of the current one, or if already a dual- or multiple- nationality citizen, formally renouncing to a second citizenship. While a formal approval from the correspondent authorities is required for both options, a relinquishment procedure is usually more straight-forward than a renouncement. Are there any hidden costs associated with these programs? Most programs are quite comprehensive and the relevant information is often publicly accessible. Standard costs usually involve the actual investment, due diligence fees (background check) and government fees. In some countries, gathering the required supporting documents can also generate costs, particularly when a translation is required. The process is generally handled by a qualified intermediary (or agent), which needs to be compensated accordingly. Adequate due diligence should therefore be undertaken on both the program and the agent.

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Abu Dhabi - Abu Dhabi Mall: 02 6452080, Dubai - Al Maktoum St.: 04 2236525, Damas - Official Agent: 04 4270336 PARIS - SINGAPORE - MOSCOW - ISTANBUL - DUBAI - SHANGHAI

private banking

Wealth Preservation Playing it Safe

High net worth individuals are focusing on basic asset classes and look at setting up trusts for future generations, say top regional private bankers.


etween the European debt crisis and the aftermath of the Arab Spring, it is no surprise that investors have maintained a cautious, wait-andsee attitude. Global equity markets have been remarkably volatile towards the end of 2011, with U.S. and Asian markets having recorded their worst weekly performances in over a year in late November. What does this mean for the region’s ultra high net worth individuals, who by definition have $1 million in liquid assets and are always on the lookout for good opportunities to invest their money – even during times of economic distress over the last few years?

high net worth populations and high net worth financial wealth just behind North America, based on research from the firm’s annual World Wealth Report released in June last year. “Asia is a big theme; for the first time ever in the history of the report, actual total net worth in Asia surpassed that in Europe,” Mr. Rashad told Global Citizen during an interview at the Capital Club in the DIFC. “Despite what’s happening in Europe due to banking instability that started last year, we’re also seeing how the Middle East is experiencing growth.” In 2010, the global high net worth population surpassed the pre-crisis high of 2007 for the first time, reaching 10.9 million individuals, according to the report.

Growth in High Net Worth Individuals in ME and Asia Top private bankers in the Middle East, including Tamer Rashad, the managing director of Merrill Lynch’s wealth management division in the region, are finding that the Middle East and Asia are becoming major contenders in the global financial scene. Rashad highlights that for the first time ever, Asia-Pacific is now the largest region in the world for both

Shifting investment priorities With this general growth in wealth, research shows that high net worth individuals have slowly reduced holdings in cash and fixed income, further shifting their allocations to equities in 2010, according to the report. “At this particular moment in time, clients want to preserve capital, but they still want yield and liquidity which may be

32 • GC • January / February 2012

All Photos from Corbis /

By Sara Hamdan

private banking

What does this mean for the region’s high net worth individuals, who by definition have $1 million in liquid assets and are always on the lookout for good opportunities to invest their money?

Tamer Rashad, managing director of Merrill Lynch’s wealth management division for the Middle East.

hard to find, and they want to understand the risks they are taking,” said Rory Gilbert, international head of private banking for Barclays in the Middle East and North Africa. “That’s a toxic mix that makes it hard to give advice. It emphasizes the importance of having stability and nurturing trust.”While the year-on-year change in geographical allocation of assets remained unchanged in 2010, this masked the important shifts within the year. During the first 11 months of 2010, investors entered emerging-markets en-masse to earn higher returns, however, as these markets surpassed pre-crisis highs, in December investors sought to lock-in some of these gains amid uncertain future outlooks, according to the report. In 2012, allocations to equities are expected to continue increasing with a further reduction in real estate and cash, how

ever clients seem to be less certain about their future regional allocation.“What’s difficult today is that risk is occurring in places which have traditionally been viewed as safe havens,” said Gilbert of Barclays. “The subjective perception of risk has increased dramatically.” Rashad says that during pre-crisis days, there was a heavy focus on alternative investments and little on cash and equity. During the crisis phase, there was a rush toward safe assets including gold and fixed income. During the current postcrisis period, Rashad sees a return to equity. He has also noticed a renewed interest in real estate investments in mature markets, such as London. Aside from asset allocations, Gilbert finds that high net worth individuals are also concerned with inheritance and succession of wealth.

January / February 2012 • GC • 33

private banking

Securing wealth for future generations A report released in November last year shows that 78 percent of respondents in the Middle East trust the next generation to protect their inheritance and wealth, while globally, 35 percent of individuals do not trust their children in this way. In addition, 40 percent of the wealthy individuals globally have experienced family conflict as a result of wealth. The survey is based on the responses of 2000 high net worth individuals. Regionally, 90% of Middle East respondents place a high priority on setting up a trust fund for their children to secure their future. Globally, parents want to pass on their material wealth to their children, as well as a roadmap for a happy life, but the report reveals some interesting paradoxes about inheritance and succession. Source of wealth is seen as a key determinant of financial happiness, with earned wealth much more likely to result in happiness than inherited wealth. However, wealthy respondents remain committed to passing on their wealth, with 96% of global respondents intending to do so. However, an unfortunate drawback of wealth is its ability to cause conflict – and in the context of succession – family conflict. The report reveals that 40% of the globally wealthy have had direct experience of family wealth leading to disputes. This figure was highest amongst respondents in India, with 61% of those surveyed stating that they have encountered family conflict due to wealth – a sentiment echoed by respondents in Singapore (53%), Hong Kong

An unfortunate drawback of wealth is its ability to cause conflict – and in the context of succession – family conflict... In every culture, there is the pattern that wealth doesn’t survive the third generation.

Forming trusts That’s where trusts come into play.” In the Middle East, Shariah law often dictates how assets are distributed, but trusts can be structured in a way for the client to decide how he wants his assets divided.“We have to remain extremely sensitive to cultural requirements, but at the same time, we can use structures designed to reflect the wishes of the settler,” he said. “We don’t want to contradict local customs, but accentuate them. ”Private banks are gearing for growth in the near future. Gilbert said that Barclays has hired 12 bankers in the last 12 months and is “looking to hire that much more in the next 12 months.” The firm has plans to increase its presence in Abu Dhabi and is on the verge of hiring a senior manager in Saudi Arabia after doing the same in Doha. Merrill Lynch has run wealth management services for nearly 50 years in the region and is currently expanding its footprint, looking to hire eight financial advisors this quarter for the first time in years, according to Rashad. “The region grew five percent last year – MENA’s share of global growth is increasing and we want to be a part of that growth story,” said Gilbert.

34 • GC • January / February 2012

Corbis /

(51%) and Monaco (51%). Conversely only 11% of respondents in Qatar said that they have experienced family tensions as a result of wealth.“In every culture, there is the pattern that wealth doesn’t survive the third generation,” said Gilbert. “Across the region, where family businesses are common, the current generation of businessmen is already thinking about how to pass wealth on.


Where to Invest in 2012 Are there any safe havens left? How investors can position portfolios in the new year.

s 2011 drew to a close, investors reflected on what has been a challenging year in the world markets. Indices the world over, only just recovering from the 2008 global financial crisis, were hit with challenge after challenge. So after the volatile ride in the equity markets in 2011, how can investors position their portfolios for 2012? Dr Marc Faber, an international commentator best known for his accurate predictions on the stock market was quoted as saying he believes the best thing an investor can do in the current economic crisis is to follow his ‘Rule of 25’. The publisher of the ‘Gloom Boom

Doom Report’ said,“the best thing an individual investor can do right now is hold 25% of his assets in equities, 25% in real estate, 25% in gold, 25% in cash. If equities, real estate or gold drop another 10-20% put more cash in.” Speaking during a visit to Taiwan in November last year, Faber criticized the practice of printing money which he believes will continue in the US and Europe. “Printing money is a way global governments will evade debt crises. Loose money policies are intended as short-term fixes,” he said. QE3 is looking more and more inevitable as some FOMC members believe the economic outlook might warrant additional ‘help’. The US Federal Re-

36 • GC • January / February 2012

serve is said to be gearing up for another round of quantitative easing in 2012. Faber recommends risk diversification against the current economic backdrop, but says to avoid government bond purchases, as they would require ‘trust’ in central bankers easy monetary policy. Instead he suggests owning physical gold, equities and Asian real estate, which will prove a better defense against inflation in the long term. Meanwhile, UBS said the 2012 investment outlook is to be “distressingly familiar” to the investment climate in 2011 dominated by the uncertainty surrounding the Euro zone crisis and doubts about the sustainability of the global economic recovery.

All Photos from Corbis /

By Patricia Andrews


Recession Threat The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reined in economic expansion across the board, most significantly in the United States, where worries about fiscal deficits sparked a credit downgrade in August of last year. The IMF is forecasting global growth of 4% in 2012, down from a June call for 4.5% growth. The European debt crisis and worries about insufficient bank capital have some in Europe staring down the barrel of a deep recession. UBS predicts the Euro zone to double dip into recession in the first half of the year and thinks markets will remain largely range bound and characterized by unusually high levels of volatility. It is neutral on global equities, REITs and cyclical commodities. It favours high-yield corporate bonds, and prefers the US and the emerging economies, but believes that Europe would fare better in the second half of the year -- if its sovereign risk premiums unwind. Safe Havens The ripples of the sovereign debt crisis in Greece, Portugal and Italy are now being felt in France and Germany. An auction of ‘traditionally safe’ German bonds failed to sell out in November sparking fears that investors are now beginning to shift money away from Europe. “European markets have entered a dangerous new phase of the crisis as bond auctions across core Euro member states are no longer a sure bet,” Scotiabank’s economists warned in a report.

Concerns of a European debt crisis contagion have sent investors looking for safety, and parking some of their portfolio in cash. ter fiscal positions, banking sectors and growth prospects than the U.S., U.K., Euro zone and Japan,” he added. Commodities on the Run Gold, which hit record after record this year, could still see more upside. Goldman Sachs recently updated its forecasts on many commodities – including the yellow metal. Goldman said gold prices could hit $1,930 an ounce within 12 months, up from an earlier forecast of $1,860 an ounce. Physical demand for gold has ticked higher in response to lower prices, but “it has failed to provide a solid floor as yet,” analysts with Barclays Capital, said in a note. Investors tend to buy gold on the belief that it holds its value more than other assets in times of financial turmoil. Gold has however, been seen losing some of its safe haven appeal recently as the European debt crisis unravels.

Cash is King Concerns of a European debt crisis contagion have sent investors looking for safety, and parking some of their portfolio in cash. UBS analyst Gareth Berry said investors should focus on three key themes to navigate volatile currency markets; a strong dollar, Swiss National Bank and the Bank of Japan and strong sovereigns. “The SNB and BOJ have adopted increasingly hard line stances against domestic exchange rate appreciation,” he said. “Norway, Sweden, Australia, New Zealand and Canada have emerged from the credit crunch with much bet-

Don’t Give up on Equities Despite the countless challenges, there are still opportunities to make money, but analysts say the opportunities are harder to find and they come with increased risk. And while many investors may have lost faith in the equity markets, 2012 could be the opportunity to snap up cheap stock and yield some great returns in the year to come. Morgan Stanley is the most bullish on emerging markets and Asia that has been since April 2009. “Emerging markets are starting to demonstrate the flexibility that will be supportive of growth ... Turkey, Brazil, Russia and Indonesia have already cut rates. China is undertaking a series of fiscal policy and regulatory changes designed to support consumption and reduce risks to the banking system,” it said. Diversify, Diversify, Diversify There are two obvious answers in the quest for sound investment opportunities; a diversified portfolio and finding quality amid all the uncertainty, whether it is equities or bonds, or currencies with strong fundamentals. For now, trading will undoubtedly continue to be influenced by news coming from politicians – and investors will need to see a concrete plan on how to solve the crisis, but this could prove easier said than done.

January / February 2012 • GC • 37

record breaking Business

Trident Director David Chambers climbs to the top of the world’s tallest flagpole built by his company, Trident.

Rising to Record Breaking Heights A Dubai based firm has set more than six Guinness World Records for building the world’s tallest flagpoles. By Natasha tourish

lagpoles in the Middle East and central Asian countries are seen as symbols of independence. “To have the biggest is a national pride issue,” said American David Chambers, Managing Director of Trident Support-the UAE company that builds the flagpoles. Last October his company built the world’s tallest flagpole to date in Tajikistan, which stands 165 meters in the air, putting Tajikistan in the Guinness Book of World Records just in time for the nation’s 20th anniversary of independence. But Chambers insists that they don’t build world records, just tall flagpoles. “We always tell the client when we are

building these massive poles, we are not building them for Guinness World Records,” he said. “We are building them

“ We always tell the

client when we are building these massive poles, we are not building them for Guinness World Records.” for the nation and for the people.” Trident Support’s extreme flagpoles are made in sections of about 12 metres

38 • GC • January / February 2012

using steel up to 50mm thick and cost in the lower to mid range of $7 million. The first major flagpole created by Chambers firm was a 123-metre flagpole on Abu Dhabi’s seafront.“I was working in Abu Dhabi for a Sheikh as a defense contractor and he went to Mexico for a holiday and he saw some big flagpoles there and he came back and simply asked me to build a bigger flagpole. “We had no experience, did some research and just figured out how to do it,” explained Chambers. Chambers attributes his skills and know how to his background as a defense contractor. He explained, “When we started we

record breaking business

bration analysis, double and triple checking. Even after it’s built we do tests on vibrations and deflections and are constantly monitoring the poles,” explained Chambers. With world leaders entranced by erecting flagpoles as tall as skyscrapers, Chambers says orders keep on coming. “We also build stately flagpoles - under 100 meters - in other countries, such as south Africa, Angola, India - places like that. “I would love to go back and build one in America some day,” Chambers said. However, to date they haven’t been approached by anyone in the US. But Chambers said, “I will build my own if no one else wants to do it. That will be my swan song - the world’s tallest flagpole, built in Dave Chambers’ backyard.” But the United States may have to wait its turn. Next in line for Trident’s monumental flagpoles are Nigeria, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Russia for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. And with no competitors in sight, the sky is their limit-well within reason in practical terms 600-700 feet is the limit.

didn’t know anything about flagpoles. As a matter of fact we spent most of our time in the first few days looking at how big the flags were and wondering where we could buy the flags, not realizing the flagpole itself was the biggest challenge for us. We hired engineers and researched and teamed up with a lot of very good companies and we figured out how to do it,” said Chambers. Like all of Trident’s pole sections, Tajikistan’s was built in Dubai and then transported by sea to Iran, then shipped by truck - through Iran, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan – to landlocked Tajikistan in Asia. Chambers explains that it could take up to three hours to get to the top of

The world’s tallest flagpole in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.

the flagpole. “All the monumental flagpoles have ladder access to the top. When you reach the top there is a hatch so you can stand outside. And every 36 feet there’s a rest platform where you can stop and rest. It has a fall arrest system so if you fall you don’t really fall. “In Tajikistan we have a refrigerator at midlevel that is fully stocked with water and Gatorade. The only people that climb have to be rope access certified. We train them in Dubai on a smaller flagpole. “After climbing more than 500 rungs on steel ladders, we emerge from a hatch

to a small platform, so high it has its own weather station,” said Chambers. Flying from the flagpole is a mighty flag of Tajikistan - weighing 350 kilograms, 1,800 square meters in size. Chambers is also submitting this to Guinness to earn the ranking for the largest flag flown from a pole anywhere. After using a variety of flag manufacturers everywhere from China to Turkey to Europe and the US, Trident now builds their own flags in their warehouse in Jebel Ali. It’s not an easy task to manufacture or maintain these large flags considering they weigh around 350 kilos and are 30 to 35 meters tall and 60 to 70 meters long. Although the flagpoles are made of a special fabric they still need to be replaced anywhere from two weeks to two months depending on the wind speeds of that city. “We spend months engineering these poles and doing wind tunnel tests, vi-

January / February 2012 • GC • 39

Giuseppe Cipriani

Giuseppe Cipriani:

Italian Restaurateur Extraordinaire The famous third generation businessman talks about the expansion plans for his global hospitality empire and why his sons are the lifeblood of the new Mr C brand. By Natasha tourish


or a man who presides over 25 Italian restaurants around the world, counts Bernie Ecclestone, Sir Richard Branson and the Duchess of York as friends, Giuseppe Cipriani is a man of simple tastes-well at least in his food. He tells Global Citizen that is favourite food is “just plain pasta with tomatoes,” and despite it being a staple of Italian cuisine he hates raw garlic. But then that’s part of the reason for his success; he would rather focus on the details of food than the glitz and glamour that surrounds his brand. “We are all about the simplicity of foods, simplicity of service,” he says. “People come to us and they know that they’ll find what they are looking for, nothing difficult and nothing fancy,” he adds. That earnestness can be traced back to his grandfather Giuseppe Snr’s humble

ambitions when he started his first bar in an old rope factory in Venice; Harry’s Bar is famed for inventing the Bellini. Today the Cipriani brand has properties in some of the world’s finest cities, including Cipriani’s Italian restaurant on Yas Island, which features a wine and bellini room; Yotto, the brand’s first Japanese restaurant; a cigar lounge; Allure nightclub as well as a private member’s yacht club. 2012 will see the development of the Cipriani combined Japanese/Italian concept with a second restaurant having recently opened in London followed by Ibiza in a few months time. Cipriani’s Yas Island is always buzzing during the Formula One and during concert events but how does it survive during the quieter periods, especially during the week?

40 • GC • January / February 2012

Starting every year after the Grand Prix the government and Flash entertainment has a huge program of events that happen every week. The only challenging time is during the summer with Ramadan and actually this year we closed during July and August. But overall it’s been a good year, I’ve been positively surprised by the traffic that we get here on the island. Where would Cipriani Yas Island rank if you were to list your best performing restaurants worldwide?

If you were looking at the whole global network I would rank it in the middle. There are worse performing restaurants and there are better performing ones than this one. Being a big place here on Yas Island when it’s busy we can do big numbers so that sustains us during the quieter times of the year.

Giuseppe Cipriani

Do you believe this region still offers potential for high-end International hospitality brands like yours considering the instability in the region?

I think after all the turmoil that has happened in the Middle East in Cairo, Tu-

In terms of Formula One, in your opinion how does the Yas marina circuit and the whole setting of Yas Island compare to others in the world?

I really think that the Abu Dhabi grand prix is the best in the world, I really do!

“ Being a big place here on Yas Island when it’s busy we can do big numbers so that sustains us during the quieter times of the year. ” nisia and Libya, Abu Dhabi and Dubai can only gain from it in terms of tourism because it’s going to be much more difficult for people to go to places like Egypt. Also just look at what the UAE has achieved, look at their airports and airlines for example, they have some of the best in the world. It’s amazing what has been done here and what has been achieved so I think there is a lot of potential for growth in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi but not necessarily in the wider region.

As a Formula one event and as a week of events I don’t think you can compare it to anywhere in the world. Except maybe Monaco as they have the street

circuit and they have the Port and lots of events also but I think it’s amazing what’s happening in Yas Island. I see people here that I don’t see during the year but they come here from all over the world for this weekend. I think 75% of the people that come to Abu Dhabi don’t come here for formula one; they just come for the hype of the weekend. Considering it’s only the third year, it’s amazing what they’ve achieved. I presume you attend most F1 races around the world, Have you noticed that there’s less opulence surrounding the worst hit recession host cities such as Britain, Spain and Italy compared to the Grand Prix’s in Abu Dhabi or Singapore?

Silverstone in England is a big motor sporting event because people are so passionate in the country about the Giuseppe & Harry Cipriani

Corbis /

Do you have plans to open more restaurants in the Middle East or indeed do your sons plan to bring their newly opened Mr. C Hotel and restaurant concept to this region?

No not at the minute, our main focus in the Middle East lies here in the UAE. It’s only natural for us to open up a restaurant in Dubai since we already have one in Abu Dhabi. We’ve been looking at possible locations but it will probably take a couple of years before anything opens. In relation to my son’s Mr C hotel brand and restaurant that is a young Cipriani version of a hotel, which just opened in Beverly Hills. I actually love it; I think my sons have done a fantastic job. We are looking at more growth in the US with that brand and definitely in Europe but we haven’t looked at anything in the Middle East yet. I think in the hotel market there is a big gap between extra luxe and younger but comfortable and hip places.There is a niche that we can fill. We will definitely look beyond Europe and the US but it just takes time.

Cipriani Yas Island

January / February 2012 • GC • 41

Giuseppe Cipriani

Formula One. Here they come to party and enjoy the event rather than just the racing. Therefore, in Silverstone you’re always going to get 200,000 people to come and watch the event regardless of the entertainment events surrounding it and London does not depend on the Formula One to bring them tourists, whereas Abu Dhabi does ands so it’s much more important for them to try harder. Overall, I don’t think the Formula One has been affected by the recession regardless of which city it has been held in; it’s a circus that lives on its own. How has your company had to adapt to the changes in market conditions? What measures have you taken to ensure you remain competitive and continue to be profitable?

We actually felt the recession three years ago; there was a big drop in business in our company because we were much more United States based company. Actually now business is good, we are almost back to the same numbers we were doing before the recession hit, especially in the US. Don’t ask me why because it sounds crazy but business is back. First of all it’s not the first recession we have experienced, we had a slump in the nineties, it’s almost like we expect every ten years or so that the market will change and something will happen. You have to be absolutely ready, I always say recessions are very good for companies because you sharpen your focus and you cut back on spending. When things are good you always tend to overspend and become a little sloppy that’s why I believe companies that survive a recession always come out the better for it. Fortunately we were able to adapt quickly to cut costs and stop projects that we had in the pipeline for a year. You’ve opened a Japanese restaurant Yotto here on Yas Island and a mixed Japanese and Italian restaurant in London called Downtown Mayfair. Why did you decide to diverge into Japanese cuisine when Italian has always been the backbone of your business?

Famous friends: Giuseppe Cipriani with the Duchess of York Sarah Ferguson and musician Fergie.

I’m a big fan of Japanese cuisine. I hate raw garlic on food so I started a Japanese restaurant that doesn’t use any garlic on

42 • GC • January / February 2012

Giuseppe Cipriani

raw foods. Too many of the new concept Japanese version of restaurants I always used to feel very heavy and bloated after I ate Japanese food because of too much garlic or leeks. Our restaurant is a very true Japanese restaurant with very little spices. We try to use only traditional Japanese recipes. We are going to incorporate some of the Japanese dishes into our existing restaurants and for example when we open a new Italian restaurant in Ibiza next year it will have a terrace with a Yotto Japanese grill so it’s a combined concept. You’ve said previously that you are close to opening a restaurant in Moscow, has that deal been finalized yet?

No we have nothing signed yet. The problem with Moscow is that too many restaurants are opening within quick succession of each other and so the local market is saturated with new restaurants and they are suffering because although the clientele is there, but not for the amount of places that they have opened. It now needs a cooling off period and for some of the restaurants to close. For Singapore there is plans but nothing concrete. For 2012, we have new restaurants opening in Monaco, Ibiza and Miami. Some countries work better than others in bringing people in and for the Middle East Dubai and Abu Dhabi is the hub of the whole region so I don’t see anywhere else that has the same enthusiasm to do things well.

Which markets appeal most to you right now in terms of potential of growth and sales?

I only go to places that I like, that’s the number one driving factor for me when I decide to open a new restaurant. I have to have been there before and felt comfortable there. For a business to flourish you need to spend time in that country and research the local market and make sure that it’s there. We’ve been looking at Sao Paulo for many many years and we have a hotel project coming up there but it will take another two years but Sao Paulo is one city that we are definitely focusing on. It’s not a business that you can open too fast, by the time you think of a project and the time you open usually takes three years.

“ Being a big place here on Yas Island

when it’s busy we can

do big numbers so the quieter times of the year. ”

Cipriani Restaurant at Yas Island

What advice would you give to a young entrepreneur who is struggling to get ahead in this economic climate?

The only advice I can give is to be very passionate about what you do. Nothing comes out good unless you put everything you have into it-that’s the same for everything in life whether its business, relationships and life. Cipriani’s is framed as a luxury lifestyle experience; how does this differ from the experience that your competitors offer in every other major city around the world?

I don’t know if they are different. I try not to look much at what other people are actually doing. I always try to focus on what I’m doing, I just want to make sure when a customer leaves my place that he’s happy and then I’m happy. When you can build a customer base that comes back time after time that’s how you measure your success.

January / February 2012 • GC • 43


Ross Bradley, CEO of Strata

Al Ain company taps into trillion dollar aircraft industry Backed by Mubadala, local start up, Strata, has secured $ 2 billion in contracts from the world’s leading aircraft manufacturers. By Jonathon savill

In the next 15 years the world will spend four trillion dollars on acquiring new airplanes,” explained Ross Bradley CEO of Strata- a start up aerostructures manufacturing company based in Al Ain that build wings for the likes of Boeing and Airbus. The company is a composite aerostructures manufacturing facility, which is wholly owned by Mubadala, and has formed partnerships with a number of leading aerospace companies to establish manufacturing programs at a new plant in Al Ain. “Strata will be part of this multi tril-

lion dollar industry,” stated Bradley. Before joining Strata, Bradley was the CEO of the Farnborough Aerospace Consortium, a start up-Global Business Development Organization. Prior to that he was Managing Director, Project Director and Business Transformation Change Director of the Eurofighter Programme. He says what drew him to Strata was a sort of sheer disbelief. His job was to build a factory from scratch to incredibly tight deadlines and to grab business from the Americans and Europeans, who have traditionally dominated the aerospace manufacturing market.

44 • GC • January / February 2012

It’s safe to say that Bradley has succeeded to a certain degree, Strata already holds US$2 billion (Dh7.34bn) in customer contracts with EADS, Airbus, FACC and Alenia Aeronautic to produce aircraft parts such as ailerons, flap track fairings and spoilers. And they have recently secured a contract for the new Boeing Dreamliner. Training up engineers Finding skilled staff locally is a challenge, says Ross. Currently only 1.83% of Emiratis work in the private sector, with the rest employed by the state and government. Mubadala and Strata are working closely with UAE schools, universities and colleges to embed science, engineering and aerospace into curricula enabling young UAE Nationals to gain the skills to join this industry. As one young employee explained, “my brother didn’t even know they had engineers here. I told him, come and work here it’s fun.” Homaid Al Shemmari, Associate Director of Mubadala Aerospace, has a long-term view: “The strength and


breadth of our partnerships allows us to build our technical and R&D capabilities over time, and importantly, share the risk and rewards that come with creating a new industry.” By the end of 2011 Strata will have 500 employees, of which 30% are UAE Nationals. These will comprise of professionals with transferable skills who have moved from other UAE national companies, and graduates that are being trained and developed in professional roles such as engineering, quality and procurement. They currently have 120 young male and female Nationals who are being trained and developed as apprentice technicians to manufacture composite aerostructure products. When Bradley describes the first approaches from Mubadala he describes the plan as “so audacious, so outrageous and so unbelievable that I had to be involved.” He has built a facility from scratch in the desert to manufacture wing empennage airframe structures. But the plan goes further. The facility will be used to support Abu Dhabi to bring out its first fully manufactured aircraft between 2016 and 2018/2020.” Mubadala has also created joint ventures with the American firms General Elec-

tric and Sikorsky Aerospace Services to establish maintenance companies that specialise in maintaining jet engines and military aircraft. Strata and aerospace are marked as pillars in Abu Dhabi’s 2030 development plan “although it is a relative newcomer to the local economy, Abu Dhabi’s aerospace industry is proving admirably nimble in its development. As part of the emirate’s long-term development plan, Economic Vision 2030, which was released in early 2009, policy experts highlighted aerospace as one of the many areas in which they envisage future growth, with this expected to play a key role in efforts to diversify the economy away from its traditional mainstay, hydrocarbons,” Global Arab

Mubadala and Strata are

working closely with UAE schools, universities and colleges to embed sci-

ence, engineering and

aerospace into curricula

enabling young UAE Na-

Network reported. And in Abu Dhabi the sky may not even be the limit. This year the city plays host to the Global Aerospace Summit 2012 - a strategic gathering of global industry leaders discussing future growth strategies. This summit brings together national and international executives from across the aerospace, aviation and space sectors to shape their futures. Since Strata specialises in the use of light composite structures, delegates from the conference will be giving a tour of the factory. This will enable delegates to see how far the multi million-dollar aerospace industry has progressed across the Emirate, as well as Strata, Abu Dhabi International Airport, Abu Dhabi Aircraft Technologies and Yahsat the satellite company will be visited. Ross Bradley must be wringing his hands in delight at the possibilities that space travel may bring to his manufacturing industry. Space is that part of aviation that has most need for light composite components. By now he must be feeling that the original idea was not so crazy after all and he is sitting on a business that is manufacturing sustainability all the way to 2030 and beyond.

tionals to gain the skills to join this industry.

Engineers assemble aircraft parts in Al Ain.

January / February 2012 • GC • 45

Real estate

Real estate developer Sorouh is focused on delivering projects in order to create much needed capital.

Scaling Back


Abu Dhabi’s real estate sector adjusts to new economic realities. he second half of 2011 brought many negative headlines for Abu Dhabi’s real estate industry-from the announcement of cutbacks in the workforce at major developers like Aldar, to delays in highly publicized cultural projects like the Louvre and Guggenheim Museums. What does this mean for the Abu Dhabi 2030 plan, the government’s blueprint for economic development? GC spoke to several top executives to find out. Demand driven delays Craig Plumb, Head of Research for the Middle East at Jones Lange LaSalle, says scaling back leisure projects is “a recognition that the initial plans were a bit too ambitious and perhaps now it’s time to be more realistic.” Lawrence Franklin, Strategy and Policy Director at the Abu Dhabi Tour-

ism Authority, says delays of projects like the Louvre and Guggenheim were “strategic decisions.” “It’s the result of looking at the portfolio of projects, looking at the delivery timeframes and demand issues,” he explained. “The landscape has changed. It’s basically a demand led rational review of what’s being delivered and ensuring the demand and the interest is there to sustain the investment and operating costs.” Though tourism numbers have spiked in recent years, Abu Dhabi’s great challenge will be bringing longer term residents to the city. “The longterm success of Abu Dhabi is dependent on creating more jobs which will bring in more people to live. The fact that the city is becoming more competitive, cheaper to live and work is a good thing,” says Plumb. Creating cash flow Cash flow is the main priority for developers, says Gurjit Singh, COO of real estate developer Sorouh. “The key takeaway from the last three

46 • GC • January / February 2012

Real estate

years of the global financial crisis was that you need to work very early on with your financiers to produce a clear and credible income flow. Cash flow is everything for a developer, hence we have a clear strategy to produce recurring income.” “Deliveries are our mainstay in the near future. We’re very focused on collecting revenues from the deliveries. That’s putting us in a good state.” He also says recurring rental income is a key pillar in Sorouh’s strategy. “These last two year we’ve been building up a good base of recurring income which puts us in a good state in talking about future financing of our developments. This recurring income base allows us to go out there and create more capital for our newer projects.” Other sources of sustainable income for Sorouh has been government contracts to develop housing for Emirati nationals. Though margins are lower, the income is guaranteed.

Spending on infrastructure Uwe Neienstedt, Senior Planning Manager at the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council says the 2030 vision he says is still very much on track. But he clarifies that it is an economic roadmap for the development of the city. “As a planning agency, we are following the economic developments.” “Over the last few years the climate of growth led developers to create a large supply of commercial, residential and retail offerings.” The government, he

says, is looking at that supply together with developers and trying to find rational ways to potentially phase developments. The Urban Planning Council is focused on creating what he calls complete communities, supported by government led spending on infrastructure. “We work with the developers to make sure that any future growth occurs in areas where infrastructure investment has already occurred.”

“ The longterm suc-

Learning from Dubai’s experience Plumb believes the outlook for the Emirate is far from bleak. “Abu Dhabi can benefit from the Dubai experience. The two areas Dubai fell into trap: too much debt, too much supply. The government in Abu Dhabi is wisely trying to address that. Trying to cut back on the amount of supply and make sure there is no problem with the debt markets. Abu Dhabi is well positioned to avoid those problems.”

cess of Abu Dhabi is

dependent on creating more jobs which will

bring in more people to live. ”

Government spending is largely focused on infrastructure to support existing communities.

January / February 2012 • GC • 47

women in Business

Challenges for Women in Business Female entrepreneurs still face difficulties in developing small businesses into larger firms. By Marie Riot

CEO of the event organiser, Naseba, and creator of the Women in Leadership series, is positive about the integration of female talent into the economic and corporate workspace. To become a successful woman entrepreneur, she said, it takes a good idea, drive and focus to execute a business and the right network to facilitate the development of the business – like anywhere else and for both genders. “Being a woman in this region is in my opinion a plus. Women are always treated with courtesy and respect – you can get ‘through the door’ more easily than in Europe; then it is up to you to make the difference.” “The region offers relatively inexpen-

48 • GC • January / February 2012

Kenyan native Dr. Susan Mboya, senior executive with Coca Cola

Corbis /

hile times have changed, and more women are now in executive leadership positions, they are still in the minority and often work harder then their male counterparts. In the GCC in particular, women entrepreneurs have to challenge deeply anchored cultural, social and legal constraints in a male-dominated workforce. A number of prominent women entrepreneurs recently attended the third annual Women in Leadership (WIL) Forum in Abu Dhabi to discuss the the key role that women play in the development of the region. Sophie Le Ray,

women in business

Sophie Le Ray, CEO of Naseba and creator of the Women in Leadership series

This is evident whether in a corporate setting for educated women working in the world’s affluent Fortune 500 companies, or in the realm of the labour market, where a significant majority of the world’s women are employed. But the female executives participating in leadership platforms in the region are proving that women’s roles in industries and professions dominated by men are becoming increasingly important and respected. One great example, Le Ray said, is Lina Al Maeen, Director of the Jeddah United Sports Company. “She established a sports centre community in Saudi Arabia, open to women. She had to face a lot of negative attention, fight battles against local mentality to open a centre where boys and girls can

Only 36 per cent of women in the GCC work outside the home, compared to about 75 per cent of women in countries belonging to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). sive help for business women with a family. Having someone at home helping with domestic issues is a very important factor to succeed in a business venture,” said Le Ray. Challenges for women in business But the road to female leadership is not without it barriers. According to a strategy+business article published last year on the future of women leaders in the Middle East – only 36 per cent of women in the GCC work outside the home, compared to about 75 per cent of women in countries belonging to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Women from GCC countries remain a minority in the workforce, especially in the private section. On a 2010 World Economic Forum index of gender equality in 134 countries, the six countries of the GCC were all ranked below 100, ranging from 103 (UAE) to 129 (Saudi Arabia). In many international development and corporate circles, a glass ceiling exists together with a multitude of obstacles that prevent women progressing towards equity and economic stability.

practice sports. This project was started as a community association and was so successful that it turned into a profitable business,” explained Le Ray. Studies show that female leadership leads to women’s empowerment and in turn to economic growth. The futures of large corporations and the communities they serve are inextricably linked. According to a study on the role of women in the mobile phone industry across 14 mobile operators in 11 emerging markets, undertaken by the Cherie Blair Foundation, mobile retail sales present advantageous business opportunities for women entrepreneurs. The study also highlights the gains that mobile operators can make by having more women in their retail chains, including higher revenue potential through improved sales, stronger brand imaging and access to untapped markets. For instance, in Qatar, where cultural considerations may limit the participatory options of women in the nation’s mobile value chain, Vodafone Qatar’s ‘Al-Johara’ provides women with training, leading to increased skills for the women and increased sales for the company.

January / February 2012 • GC • 49

One of the key speakers at the WIL Forum, Susan Mboya, PhD, Group Director, Eurasia Africa Group for Women’s Economic Empowerment, discussed how, by partnering with the public, private and development sectors, large companies can leverage their extensive distribution system and value chain to economically empower and enable women in local communities. “In 2008, as part of the UN Millennium Development Goals, Coca-Cola pledged to establish micro distribution centers in Africa – run by entrepreneurs – as a way of distributing its products,” said Mboya. The Arab world is in the midst of fundamental transformation and change, but an institutional shift has already taken place over the last decade in women’s economic participation, and the future seems bright for power-seeking women. In the UAE, the percentage of women university students surpasses the men. The challenge is now for these women to pursue career paths that will lead to

Cherie Blair’s foundation studied the positive impact of women working in the mobile phone industry.

more employment opportunities. Balancing aspirations and professional drive with culture, tradition and societal norms –a refusal to accept the status quo – can’t happen overnight, but many women have already embarked on the road to success. And as women halfway across the world have proved it in the early 1940s, “We can do it!”

The Business of IVF Banks are cashing in on the high number of families seeking IVF treatment. by Mona Alami

e have wanted a child for a long time,” says Issam a 34 year-old hairdresser. As he looks away to the window, there is an embarrassed look on his face. “Family members were constantly asking me if I was ever going to provide them with an ariss (‘groom’ in English, a word also used to describe a male child).” After three IVF treatments, Issam’s wife, Sana – their names have been changed for the sake of anonymity – became pregnant with a boy. In Lebanon, infertility, once considered a taboo topic, is now an openly discussed issue and couples across the country are flocking to fertility clinics. The fertility association of Lebanon es-

50 • GC • January / February 2012

timates that 15% of Lebanese couples face problems with conceiving. Maher Mezher, marketing professor at Saint Joseph University (USJ) and marketing manager at the First National Bank (FNB), estimates this figure to be even higher. “A recent study conducted by USJ stated that 18.7% of newly married couples have difficulty in conceiving,” he says. The study, according to Mezher, attributed infertility to different factors, such as change in lifestyles, couples getting married later, as well as acute stress experienced by the general Lebanese population, due to precarious living conditions. Introduced in Lebanon in the late 1980s, In vitro fertilization (IVF) is used as a treatment for infertility when all other methods of assisted reproductive technology have failed. The process during which egg cells are fertilized by sperm outside a woman’s womb is also based on hormonally controlling the ovulation process. About 1,000 IVF cycles are conducted in Lebanon on a monthly basis, explains fertility specialist Dr Ziad Massaad, a figure similar to those in most Western countries. “However, only five of the

All Photos from Corbis /



15 to 20 fertility centers dominate the Lebanese market,” he points out. Over the years, baby making has become a big business in Lebanon, where IVF procedures priced between $1,800 and $2,500. Doctors are not the only ones taking interest in the industry, with financial institutions also jumping on the lucrative bandwagon. For example, FNB is banking on the trend by offering loans for couples seeking treatment. “This loan, which has attracted a lot of media attention since it was launched in 2008, has allowed us to tap outside of our traditional client base. About 60% of our fertility clients are actually clients of other financial institutions,” remarks Mezher, adding that he was surprised by the number of loan applicants in rural southern and northern areas that are traditionally more conservative. The FNB fertility treatment loan carries an interest of 5%, a capped limit of $7,000 and can be revolving. Applicants with a salary of over $2,000 a month, however, can obtain a loan of up to $10,000. “While the majority of fertility patients are locals, some 10% are expats. Lebanon attracts people from other countries in the region, such as the UAE and Syria, who seek our doctors mostly after other IVF trials have failed elsewhere, or when they want gender selection,” underscores Massaad, adding that IVF treatments in recent years have increased at a rate of about 10%. Dr Toufic Eid, head of obstetrics at the Clemenceau Medical Center (CMC)

Lebanese fertility specialist Dr. Ziad Massaad

Over the years, baby making has become a big

business in Lebanon, where IVF procedures are priced between $1,800 and $2,500. acknowledges that demand for fertility treatments has been growing by 50% at his hospital. “Our center is a newly established one, which can account for the higher growth rates,” he adds. “There is also a large demand for parallel procedures such as stem cell collection and conservation,” points out Dr Eid. In recent years stem cell therapy has been used in the treatment of deadly diseases.

January / February 2012 • GC • 51

Potential for growth could nonetheless be much higher if Lebanon had political stability, as fertility treatments in the country are much cheaper and of a similar standard to those in the West, where each IVF session can cost up to $20,000. Instability is not the only factor slowing Lebanon’s expansion in terms of the fertility treatment industry. Another hindrance is the sector’s lack of regulation. “A draft law was submitted to parliament, however, due to the sensitivity of the issue and the discord that it triggered between the various communities, it was dropped,” says one expert on condition of anonymity. Lebanon is currently home to 18 religious communities, comprised of Christians, Muslims and Druzes. One major problem resulting from the lack of regulation is that no health or safety standards are imposed on clinics. “The sourcing and protection of eggs is also lax,” explains the source. “Some centers around the country are even selling eggs of unknown origin, and this leads us to wonder if they were harvested from unsuspecting women. This, of course, raises many ethical questions.”


Are Private

Jets a Threat to Border Security?

Corbis /

Relaxed security checks at UK airports for private jet passengers puts spotlight on the private aviation industry.

52 • GC • January / February 2012


Emails leaked by an airport border agency worker suggested that some passengers entering the country on private jets didn’t have their passport checked at all.

he events of September 11, 2001 forever changed global travel. Normal airport workers were replaced special government agents. In the United Kingdom, the government created the UK Border Force, which was tasked with monitoring all borders including air, rail, road and seaports. Passengers were subjected to background checks even before they boarded their flights- all to ensure that they weren’t on the infamous terrorist watch list. But this is all for commercial travel. What happens for private jets passengers? Emails leaked by an airport border agency worker suggested that some passengers entering the UK on private jets didn’t have their passports checked at all. The UK Border official at Durham Tees Valley airport said that they were not “allowed to physically see the passengers” arriving on private jets. The official said the instructions sent from senior management were creating an “unnecessary gap in border security,” but their concerns were downplayed in subsequent emails from senior managers, who said their policy of “risk assessment” meant they were “responding proportionately.” The question now is whether or not this negative media coverage has the potential to harm the private executive aviation industry in the region? According to Ivan Vanderhyden, pilot and director of Business Aviation Concepts the main reason for using private executive aviation is the privacy and security that it affords its users. “This includes the privacy to conduct critical business on board the aircraft, privacy from unwanted attention including the media and public at large and the security of valuable intellectual property.” Vanderhyden says that the risk to security isn’t an issue as private aviation terminals at airports around the globe all share common international security and immigration standards, which must be followed for all non-commercial and commercial business aircraft arriving and departing from their airports. “These protocols at minimum will consist of confirming validities for any entrance visas for all passengers, passport verification against international security forces including Interpol and x-ray machine baggage screening. “Private aircraft are also subjected to unscheduled security checks by the police and aviation authorities upon arrival. This is commonly known in the industry as a “ramp check”, in which all aircraft and crew documentation including airworthiness, registration, operating certificates, insurance, cargo manifests and flight crew licenses are reviewed and confirmed for validity. Failure during a ramp check will undoubtedly lead to the aircraft potentially being impounded by the aviation authorities and heavy fines as well as future restrictions imposed upon the operating company,” explained Vanderhyden.

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Breeding the


The UAE’s horse racing industry is among the most powerful and lucrative in the world. BY Jonathon Savill

“I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s like something out of science fiction, the Planet Dune or something.” This was rockstar Sting’s reaction to the grandstand of Dubai’s new racecourse, Meydan, during his performance at last year’s World Cup. Meydan race course is a statement of how serious Dubai is about horse racing, and a sign of defiance in the midst of a property crash. It cost more than $1bn to build. Along with the world’s most expensive hotel and the world’s

tallest building, Dubai also hosts the “world’s richest day in racing,” at Meydan. With a prize of 60 million AED, the Dubai World Cup is the world’s richest horse race, attractsing the world’s best trainers and jockeys. But the racing season is only three months a year and gambling, a huge source of income, is illegal. How is racing in Dubai viable? Marie Ange Bourdette is an Arabian racehorse breeder from France and has sold horses to many owners in the region. She explains, “In racing, the big money is not made in prizes, it’s made

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in stud fees.” Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai and creator of the race, owns Darley Stud & Godolphin Racing, two of the most powerful stud farms in the world. “Sheikh Mohammed owns 50 or 60 of the best stallions around the world and that derives a tremendous income for him,” says John Warren is racing advisor to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Two years ago, Sheikh Mohammed pulled off one of the biggest deals in the history of racing when he bought


Woodlands Stud, in Australia, for a reported $420m. “His stallion investment has become vast,” says Warren. Influential figure in racing Widely considered to be the most influential figure in the sport, Sheikh Mohammed went to his first race at Newmarket in the 1960s when he was studying at Cambridge. He bought his first stud farm, also at Newmarket, in 1981. He’s owned a string of former champions of the Dubai World Cup including Street Cry, Singspiel andDubai Millennium. Godolphin Racing won the race four times (2000, 2002, 2003, and 2006). Sheikh Mohammed does have competition, the most notable of which is the Coolmore Stud, in Ireland. It is the world’s largest breeding operation of thoroughbred racehorses. This farm, in Tipperary, established in 1975, is known as the ‘Home of Champions’. It would be fair to say that there is a rivalry

there. Sheikh Mohammed’s spending on horses and stud farms runs into billions of dollars. He employs thousands of people on stud farms and stables around the world. “Horse racing is different to any other sport in that you have the industry,” John Ferguson, Sheikh Mohammed’s bloodstock adviser, explains. There was a question about whether Dubai’s debt crisis could curtail Sheikh Mohammed’s spending on horses, but his patronage of the sport has remained strong. There is long term gain to be made from Meydan according to Mohammed alKhayat, commercial director of Meydan, “Dubai got lots of recognition when the world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa, opened. Whenever you have iconic developments, you have tourists coming to see what Dubai has...when they are here, they spend in the hotels.” He added, “Meydan generates money from the five-star hotel overlooking the

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum watches as His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum gives the trophy to the Dubai World Cup 2011 winner.

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Meydan race course is a statement of how serious Dubai is about horse racing, and a sign of defiance in the midst of a property crash.

track, as well as concerts and conferences.” The development of an industry Horse racing in Dubai has come a long way since it started on a dusty camel track three decades ago. John Ferguson explains, “It is unquestionably his (Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum) love of horses that is the key driving element. Owning racehorses is about pleasure rather than monetary gain.” There’s no denying that Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum is an accomplished and respected rider internationally. “He is also very hands-

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on and makes decisions on everything from breeding to what his horses eat” at his Godolphin stables in Dubai, according to Ferguson. He added, “Horses are a big part of his life and Meydan is a cornerstone of his vision for the future.” What is less clear is whether this is Sheikh Mohammed’s personal vision or is one that will be carried on by his heirs. Perhaps his personal philosophy is best summarized by a quotation from his own website – it says ‘In the race for excellence there is no finish line’. This year’s Dubai World Cup carnival will start from January 5th and run until the famed 17th running of the Dubai World Cup on March 31st.


Seychelles Foreign Minister, Jean Paul Adams

Seychelles-UAE Strengthen Diplomatic Ties The opening of the embassy in Abu Dhabi marks the Seychelles’ first diplomatic presence in the MENA region, with high hopes of facilitating investment and travel.

he recent opening of the Seychelles embassy in Abu Dhabi not only marked the shared values between the two countries but it also demonstrated the close economic ties between them. “The opening of our new embassy is a strong message of our shared values; of the principles of development that we share, which are mutually beneficial to our respective peoples,” said Seychelles Foreign Minister, Jean Paul Adams, during his inaugural speech. He added, “Seychelles’ foreign policy has grown and evolved into an active

economic diplomacy that recognizes that we cannot just wait for the world to come to us. We must reach out to the world… And we believe there is no better place to start than in Abu Dhabi.” “The investment in the new coastguard base by the UAE is a strong message of the importance of our shared security; of shared responsibility for an oceanic space, which is an essential corridor for our respective development. “Never has the importance of the Indian Ocean become more apparent than today, as the world faces the unprecedented rise of piracy off the coast of Somalia. Two thirds of the world’s shipped

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oil passes through these waters, which is over fifty percent of the world’s container traffic. “We are thus the guardians of the arteries that supply the world economy,” said Adams. In the meeting with Sheikh Abdullah, the two ministers talked about a special conference on Somalia and piracy that the UAE will be organizing in Dubai in 2012 to further raise funds for the fight against piracy, and to strengthen nation building efforts within Somalia. Adams also discussed a future agreement on visa waivers for Seychelles nationals visiting the UAE, with the Interior Minister, HH Sheikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Talks have been ongoing between the ministry and the UAE Embassy. HH Sheikh Saif indicated the willingness of the UAE to bring these discussions to a fruitful conclusion as soon as possible, and noted that this would be done as soon as all the necessary requirements of legislation and process were completed. He said that the UAE had introduced a system of iris recognition at all airports, and this brought specific challenges that needed to be addressed before visa waiver agreements could be concluded. Meanwhile, Etihad Airways, the UAE national carrier has also launched direct air routes from Abu Dhabi to Victoria, capital of the Seychelles. “The growth of this tourism market for Seychelles is already very encouraging… We are now the best connected island destination to the Gulf region, and we are only four hours away from Abu Dhabi,” added Minister Adams.



high price

of cheap Energy As long as oil and gas are available and remain subsidized, the hope of deploying renewable energy in the region seems faint. Leading academics and environmentalists gathered in Dubai to discuss alternatives.

he UAE has one of the highest per capita carbon footprints in the world – triggered by energy - intensive industries such as aviation, public transport and fuel consumption. But things may change soon - since oil reserves are finite. An alarming need to power energyintensive desalination has prompted GCC governments to look at alternative sources. But when will renewable energy truly take off in the GCC? And how is the region preparing for the post-oil era?

“ We’re so focused on

getting a few solar panels on our rooftops - it makes us feel good - but because they’re still vastly more expensive, they’re not actually going to solve anything. ”

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Speaking via skype during a debate on the future of energy in the region in Dubai’s Knowledge Village, Dr Bjorn Lomborg the internationally-acclaimed environmentalist and best-selling book author, recognized for challenging Al Gore’s positions on global warming said the current energy approach being followed worldwide was not working. “We’re so focused on getting a few solar panels on our rooftops - it makes us feel good - but because they’re still vastly more expensive, they’re not actually going to solve anything. They’re just going to be niche products that make western governments feel better;

All Photos from Corbis /

by heba hashem


they won’t really cut into the emissions of carbon dioxide.” Instead of focusing on subsidizing “inefficient technologies like solar panels, which has been the policy of the last 20 years and failed”, Dr. Lomborg’s proposition is to dramatically ramp up investment into research and development to make renewable energy technologies much cheaper. “Imagine if over the next 20-40 years we could make renewable energy and solar panels cheaper than fossil fuels - we would have solved the problem. Everyone would move; the Chinese and Indians and everyone else”, Dr. Lomborg said. However, Michael Peel, Middle East Correspondent for the Financial Times disagreed on the dismissal of solar power, saying, “This is a region where indeed it can be something more substantial.” He referred to the recent visit made by Alex Salmond to Dubai, the First Minister of Scotland, where he pitched to Emirati authorities on the potential of renewable energy, inviting them to consider an exchange of indigenous energy sources. With the UAE’s sunshine and capital, and with Scotland’s wind energy, technical expertise, universities and research facilities, the two nations could develop new techniques – especially as renewable energy is transferable across different industries. “It sounded like a very interesting idea, obviously at an early stage. But it gives a sense of how people in the Gulf and outside are thinking of these things right now and moving beyond fossil fuels,” Peel pointed out. Sharing the outlook was Kate Dourian, Middle East editor for Platts, a

Mishaal Al Gergawi

Michael Peel

global provider of energy and metals information. “I think we’re seeing a change. I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t have an oil-based economy as long as it is developed in a sustainable way. At the end of the day this is what we have; 60% of the world’s oil reserves are in this part of the world.” Renewable energy: much ado about nothing? Amongst the ‘debate’ panel was Robin Mills, Dubai-based energy economist and the author of ‘The Myth of the Oil Crisis’ and ‘Capturing Carbon’. As an oil expert, his opinion on solar power came as a surprise. “Solar power looks

“ Imagine if over the next

20-40 years we could make renewable energy and solar panels cheaper than fossil fuels - we would have solved the problem.”

very attractive and economically competitive (for the Middle East) and it looks better than oil,” Mills admitted. The UAE had completed a study on solar power a few years ago and found it expensive, but they’re reconsidering it. “The mindset has always been that solar is expensive,” says Mills. “If it’s in Germany – not the sunniest place in the world - and you need electricity in the middle of winter at night, solar in that kind of climate makes less sense.

Robin Mills

January / February 2012 • GC • 59

But in a climate like this, solar makes great sense; it’s very sunny, you need air conditioning in the middle of the day in summer and you have the sun shining.” “Just look at the numbers,” Peels echoed. Electricity generating capacity in the UAE currently stands at around 18GW and demand is forecasted to reach 40GW by 2020. Even if the nuclear energy programme starts on time, it would provide a little over 5GW – about quarter of the extra capacity expected. It shows something big will have to fill this gap. Gas would be an expensive and insecure solution, and therefore, solar seems like a logical energy source to consider. In conclusion, hard choices must be made, because there will always be some environmental impact from whichever energy source we choose. Mills laid all cards on the table: “We don’t want oil, gas or coal because they’re dirty and cause climate change; we don’t want nuclear because it’s dangerous; we don’t want wind because it’s noisy and it affects the whales. When you press the switch you want the lights to come on somehow. Unfortunately, all these energy sources have their weaknesses and strengths.” Dubai Debates was launched in February this year, primarily offering an online platform for opinion leaders, pundits, academics, journalists, politicians, activists and interested users, to exchange ideas through videos. In addition, regular debates are held to bring together experts for panel discussions.

Kate Dourian


Investing with Passion Silver, wine, art and gold all set to lead investments in 2012. by Douglas Azar

Francis Bacon’s early executed work ‘Figure with Monkey’ from 1951.

012 could well prove to be the year of “investments of passion.” Uncertain financial markets and mistrust in the banking sector could well entice investors to find refuge in Silver, Wine, Art and Gold (SWAGs), economist Joe Roseman told Investment Week recently. Real assets will be in the spotlight and might become a tangible driving force. 2012 might also be a turning point for the so called alternative art investment vehicles such as “art exchange” and “emerging artist derivative contracts.” The trend seems to be towards a transparency in the art market and back to basic behaviour. Either the art market will develop into a highly sophisticated investment tool or we will face a return to initial stages. Upcoming Auctions On the auction side, the early part of 2012 should yield great results looking at the consignments that the major auction houses managed to secure. The Hubertus Wald Charitable Foundation have entrusted Christie’s with the sale

of their founder’s collection. The works will be offered across seven London auctions in 2012 from February until May covering the main sectors of the art market. Collectors tend to pay more attention to sales from great provenance and thus quality will certainly be the one most looked after criteria in the coming year. The Contemporary Art Evening Auction, which will be held at Sotheby’s London on February 15th, is also one to watch. Most artists that shaped the art world in the 21st century will be represented during the sale. Among them is Francis Bacon’s early executed work ‘Figure with Monkey’ from 1951, which reflects the artist’s specific methodology and attraction to photography. Art Anniversaries The art world is in the midst of a few important anniversaries. TEFAF Maastricht will celebrate its silver jubilee this coming March and Basel Hong Kong will take place for the first time in February following the decision of its new owner (Art Basel’s owner, MCH Group, has acquired a majority

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stake in the Hong Kong International Art Fair). Art Miami has just celebrated its 10th anniversary. But this time around, Miami art fair was very much associated with the luxury brands and the glitters of the world of the super rich. Companies such as Dior, Fendi, Swarovski, Ferrari, Ruinart (official sponsor of the fair) all took part in the event. Late last year, the American twin of Art Basel (Switzerland) welcomed close to 270 galleries from around the globe, showcasing works by 2,000 artists with an estimated value of between $2 and $3 billion. The pop artist Andy Warhol, once again the bell weather of the art market, was exhibited in more than 20 galleries. The latter deserves its title of the most liquid artist of all time right after Picasso. December 2011 also marked the tenth anniversary of Art Review’s ‘Power list’. The magazine ranks the most influential artists and players in the contemporary art scene. Ai Weiwei managed to snap up first place in the ranking following his well publicized arrest at Beijing airport and his 81 days in detention for speaking out against Communism. Other key artists that were listed in the top 50 celebrities of the year are Cindy Sherman (ranked 7), Gerhard Richter (ranked 11), Anish Kapoor (ranked 50). The one artist that should benefit from his increasing popularity in 2012 is the provocative Italian Maurizio Cattelan who has currently a ‘Retrospective’ at the Guggenheim in New York entitled “All”, that runs until the end of January. The exhibition brings together almost everything the artist has produced since the late eighties. Overall, the art market in 2012 is set to continue to surprise. Historically, its cycles last between four to eight years. With the current cycle only in its second year, there is room for more upside in the short to midterm.


U Concept founders Alex Nazarian, Nick and Delphine Watson

Boutique Fitness A new gym in DIFC caters to Dubai’s fitness enthusiasts and takes a holistic approach to healthy living. by Natasha Tourish

ower couple Nick and Delphine Watson first established their U Concept brand in 2003 with the opening of a bespoke personal training center in Dubai’s Village Mall. Nearly a decade on, they have managed to turn the U Concept brand into a fully-fledged health and fitness provider within the heart of Dubai’s financial district-DIFC. The British couple along with business partner Alex Nazarian plan to revolutionize the health and fitness industry in the UAE by expanding beyond their U Concept umbrella company, which currently comprises of the boutique health club U Energy. The entrepreneurial trio plan to open

six separate entities including U Fuel– a healthy gourmet food and juice venue (opening soon in DIFC), U Escape – a therapy and spa getaway, U Design – health club management and design, U Performance – a performance centre for juniors and adults and U Express – the delivery of U Concept products such as on-site spa services, healthy food and beverages, as well as personal training. Although only launched a few months ago, U Energy has already become a firm favourite amongst DIFC’s corporate crowd, probably due to its uber modern design, which features sleek allblack gym equipment outlined by brick work and metal frames across three floors. There’s also a concrete juice bar in the U lounge area, where clients can

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relax after working out, which features oversized antique candles and art deco furniture. This is all amplified by a live DJ who plays upstairs most nights. The man behind the design of the boutique project is architect Jonathan Ashmore, “The idea was to bring together the raw industrial textures of a New York warehouse fused with the sophistication and detail of a luxury hotel,” explained Ashmore. “The development of the concept was influenced by a series of black and white photographs taken of an old gymnasium. The people are mostly seen in silhouette and the true mechanical forms of their bodies appear amidst the backdrop of a stripped out warehouse.” He said that he knew that his design was sucessful when he saw “people stopping outside to contemplate whether they just glimpsed at themselves, or a silhouette of someone else moving in the opposite direction.” Founder Nick Watson, says that U Energy caters to Dubai’s health conscious and hip that want to lead a healthy lifestyle in exclusive high-end surroundings. Part of Watson’s plan to revolutionize the fitness industry is to engage with


companies in DIFC and encourage them to promote fitness and healthy living during business hours. “Our plan is to form a wellness committee that will consult with the senior management within DIFC companies. The idea is to set goals and objectives for their employees and plan a tailored wellness calendar to suit the company,” said Watson. He added, “This can be incorporated into each business’s CSR plan via a company newsletter to communicate nutritional information and onsite fitness classes.” Watson says that companies who are serious about their employee’s wellbeing and fitness levels should hire a registered dietitian and nutritionist to hold sessions during office hours. “Employees who adopt these healthy patterns should receive personally signed letters from the CEO congratulating their healthy behaviour,” added Watson. Watson, who is a former member of the British Royal Marines, says that the whole philosophy behind U Energy is to offer an experience way beyond what any other training venue in the UAE offers. “From the moment you step into U Energy our clients experience an individual, boutique service as well as feeling a sense of privacy. Following our own methods and philosophies we look at you as an individual and assess your personal needs, crafting

the best route for you to get there.” The 650 sq meter venue is also home to U Escape. Nestled within the loft like interior, U Escape provides a serene environment to unwind, with a physical therapy room and spa area catered to relieve all the day to day stresses. Offering a variety of personalized bodywork therapies to members, the spa is dedicated to completing the wellness experience, utilizing the most up to date methods and the world renowned “Aromatherapy Essentials” products. Set to open in the first quarter of 2012, U Fuel by U concept will be a gourmet healthy food and juice bar located just opposite the fitness center in DIFC. According to Watson, it will be the first of its kind in the UAE. “Committed to fulfilling the palates of the UAE’s health conscious, U Fuel will provide members and customers the full benefits of eating good, healthy, wholesome, fresh and well balanced meals. “Ranging from tailor made wholesome breakfasts, to scrumptious salads.” Watson says that they will only serve the best quality produce and they have already found local suppliers to meet their requirements.“Both my wife and I love our food so we will only serve what we would enjoy to eat ourselves. We’ll have the best quality olive oil and the best homemade breads,” he said. U Fuel by U Concept is opening soon in DIFC. The uber modern interior of U Energy.

January / February 2012 • GC • 63

Fitness for a cause To help raise awareness for children with special needs, the U Concept group will be holding its 5th Annual family fun day at Jumeirah Beach Park on 3rd March from 12:00 until 18:00. The event will be under the patronage of HRH Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, wife of HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE, Ruler of Dubai.


The Quest prototype helicopter

The Quest for Perfection UAE-based Quest Helicopters plans to build a pioneering new helicopter. By Jonathon Savill

he first realistic helicopter design was created by Leonardo Da Vinci in the 15th century. And surprisingly, it hasn’t changed much since. There is one rotor that holds the helicopter up and one that stops it from spinning round. Quest Helicopters, a UAEbased company, is developing a pioneering new helicopter at their factory in Umm Al Quwain. The project is a radical change from current helicopters on the market. The Quest, which will begin manufacturing in 2014, is designed to carry five passengers and will sell for approximately $3 million, considered great value for a helicopter of its caliber. The company plans to make 20 units a year rising to 30 in 2017. The Quest chopper will break new ground by being a multi purpose, multi size aircraft capable of being used in a range of environments. It

can be easily stretched for carrying large loads onto oilrigs or for air sea rescue. Another key new feature of the Quest is that passengers are contained in a pod, which in the event of difficulties, is fired away from the

The Quest is designed to carry five passengers and should sell for approximately $3million

helicopter by a rocket and then parachutes safely onto the ground. The Quest is the first helicopter to use a fly-by-wire (FBW) system, previously used only in commercial planes like Airbus. This replaces manual flight

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control with an electronic interface. The movements of flight controls are converted to electronic signals transmitted by wires for real time monitoring of systems from the ground. Quest’s project director, Mike Creed, was previously responsible for bringing the Robinson Helicopters into prominence in Europe. But according to Creed these helicopters use very advanced techniques. “We are developing and using the technology for a better helicopter.” The concept was designed by Volodymyr Udovenko in the Ukraine and will feature engines built in the Ukraine. It’s a tough market in the GCC but the fact that Quest will build them here means that they will be able to fly here. The combination of twin rotors and turbine engines means that the helicopter is good for heavy lifting. This is also a major advantage in temperatures of 50C.

Abu Dhabi Air Expo 6-8 March 2012

Middle East First General Aviation Exhibition

Aircraft - Helicopters - Pilot Training Schools - Equipment - Services - Conference

Abu Dhabi, UAE


Wealthy Iranians Restricted from Investing in Immigrant Visas Bulgaria is now one of the few countries offering Immigrant Investor Visas to Iranian nationals.

he attack on the British embassy in Iran in November last year not only severely damaged relations between the two countries but it also prompted several other countries to impose visa restrictions on all Iranian nationals. After protesters stormed and ransacked the British embassy and residential compound in the capital Tehran, the UK prime minister warned of “serious consequences” for Iran. This included the expulsion of all Iranian diplomats from the UK and the closure of the Iranian embassy in London. But more importantly, the UK border agency announced that it would be no longer processing UK visas for Iranians in Tehran, instead applicants must submit papers in the UAE or Turkey. However, a spokesperson for the British Embassy in Dubai insisted that there was “no change” in the application pro-

cess for Immigrant Investor Programs to the UK for Iranians. But in a sign of solidarity with the British government, officials in Quebec announced that they would be imposing “restrictions on the acceptance of immigration applications for the investor programs” from Iranian nationals. This caused out roar amongst the PICAC, (Persian Immigration Consultant Association of Canada, Vancouver/ BC) and prompted them to voice their objections about the intended restrictions on Iranian nationals in an ‘open letter’ to the Quebec government. A similar announcement was made by the Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, where they also offer immigrant investor programs to wealthy businessmen and their families. “Our Economic Citizenship Programme has taken a decision to suspend any granting of economic citizenship to Iranians who are living in Iran at the point of their application for investment in the economic citizenship programme,” Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, The Right Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas said during his monthly press conference. He explained, “We do this in strong support of the unfolding events coming from the international community in observing what is happening in Iran. We are a country friendly to all and enemy and hostile to none.” Dr. Douglas also noted that the international community has become increasingly concerned that Iran “continues to flaunt whatever support it might have had in the international community with regard to its nuclear programme.”

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This means that wealthy Iranians who had planned to invest in a western country that offers Immigrant Investor programs are now severely restricted in their choice. Bulgaria is one of the few programs that is still widely available to Iranian nationals for economic citizenship investment. The others include, the US, UK, Quebec and Canada and St. Kitts and Nevis. Bulgaria is one of the most recent Investor programs to be established for residence and citizenship. The decision came about after the Bulgaria Government in 2009 decided to modify the legislation and waive the physical residence requirement for qualified investors, provided they invest 511,292 Euro (1,000,000 BGN) in a guaranteed governmental bond portfolio for five years. The procedure of obtaining permanent residence through this program is very efficient, taking only six to eight months to complete. In order to qualify for citizenship after 5 years, investors have to keep their investments in the country and are offered a financing option in order to comply with this requirement of about 170,000 Euro.

A Moveable MansioN Brought Back to Life

Interior designer Nina Seirafi

Renowned Iranian interior designer Nina Seirafi redesigned and restored the illustrious Cyan yacht. GC takes a look inside

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ow do you redesign a residence whose very nature is mobile? Such was the challenge for Nina Seirafi, New York-based interior designer who was charged with redesigning the Cyan, a 140-foot Codecasa yacht. It’s standard practice for any professional designer to make sure the interiors of a project harmonise with the environment; the views must complement the décor and the surrounding’s colours must meld with the selected palette. When Seirafi set about updating the interiors of the Cyan from their former “pretentious” state, complete with dark mahogany panelling and gilded bathroom fixtures with mermaid motifs, she had to constantly attend to the ship’s impermanent coordinates. One month, it could be off the coast of Alaska, and the next, exploring the Galapagos Islands. Never having set foot onboard any yacht, let alone one of the Cyan’s size and stature, Seirafi felt overwhelmed. “The yacht world was very foreign to me, and I didn’t know her very well,” she says, referring to “her” Cyan, but over the yearlong design, renovation and styling, a bond between Seirafi and the yacht was forged. “I had to spend time with her and feel very comfortable around her,” she recalls. Immersing herself in the yacht world also meant delving into the peculiarities of yacht design. A floating home cannot be worked on in the water, so renovating a yacht involves docking the yacht in a shipyard. Since yachts traverse the globe and frequently perform transatlantic journeys during which the ship shakes and sways, furniture, especially the Cyan’s grand piano, must be tied down or nailed in and carpentry must be flawlessly installed. In fact, yachts require carpenters who specialise in maritime renovations so as to stave off liabilities. “If you’re crossing the Atlantic and the ceiling falls on your head, that’s not small damage; it’s a huge one,” remarks Seirafi. The oceanic air also means that every material, right down to the zippers on the pillows, is ship-ready; metals on the hardware, including zippers, can only be stainless steel or bronze because all else rusts. Outdoor furniture must be heavy enough to be stationary and light enough to be

by David Heald

by Matthew Hamilton


easily moved into storage on transatlantic crossings. What’s more, space must be economised to provide ample storage space. Perhaps most decisive, all of those yacht-specific design conditions have a premium price tag, making any ship redesign a fiscal, aesthetic and logistical balancing act. To cut down on cost, Seirafi retained the mahogany panels but lightened the ceiling with oak finished in a grey hue, complementing the sun-bleached teak decks outside. The ceiling, formerly with many levels, was put on one plane, and the walls were likewise simplified. Carpeting was installed, but Seirafi custom designed a carpet that gradually lightens from charcoal to an iridescent silver-white as one

progresses towards the interior, windowless areas of the Cyan. “When you go from the outside of a yacht, where the sun is glaring, to the inside, it is dark, no matter how light the inside is. The carpet is meant to make the places that get less light, lighter, and the areas that get more light, darker,” she says. The owners of the boat, a laid-back, sophisticated but not pretentious bunch, also wanted African elements, which Seirafi added through textile selections and custom designs. When crafting a custom outdoor furniture collection, for example, Seirafi used Corian, a weatherproof material, and also incorporated a lattice motif typical to African design. Also in a nod to Africa, two rooms onboard Cyan also feature a tree trunk as a

side table, a small accent with a striking, raw effect. “Everything in a yacht ends up looking kind of man-made,” reflects Seirafi, who still considers the Cyan one of her favourite projects. “Yachts feel so plastic sometimes, and every once in a while, you need to bring in something that feels natural and unexpected.”

The Cyan at sea.

The luxury interior of the redesigned Cyan yacht.

January / February 2012 • GC • 69


Made to Measure New York tailor brings his custom made suits to Dubai.

The Girombelli family has been in the men’s atelier business for three generations and has produced some of world’s best-tailored men’s suits.

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ax Girombelli is a third generation tailor and owner of luxury menswear company Duca Sartoria. He first started his Atelier business in Milan before moving to New York City where he launched his custom made Duca Sartoria brand over 15 years ago. Girombelli credits his family for his choice of career saying that they “played quite a big role in the fashion history over the last fifty years.” That is somewhat of an understatement considering his uncle was the one who discovered Gianni Versace. His father and older brother worked closely with men’s fashion in Italy with famous designers such Enrico Coveri, Marithé François Girbaud, Franco Moschino, and Valentino Garavani. Humble beginnings Girombelli recalled being paid ‘cento lire,’ which is around $12 to take the dust off the jackets shoulders when he first started working. He said, “I started to admire the tailors who were working on the most beautiful fabrics with great passion and love.” Max grew up in a world full of creativity and love for fashion. He often used his family business as a way to test his designs and inspirations for menswear. “I grew up always using the family company as my ‘playground’,” he added. After many years of working in the family business, he and his younger brother Roberto decided to launch their own company dedicated entirely to the tailoring of men’s

suits. Hence Duca Sartoria was born. “From the beginning we set our standards at the top. Quality was never a compromise and our goal was not to sell suits, but to provide a special service and attention that our customers deserved,” he said. Max Girombelli now splits his time between his New York base and traveling to some of the world’s most exclusive events to custom fit suits. He offers services from personal fittings, selecting fabrics, linings, and other specialized elements for a unique tailormade to measure garment. Max will return to Dubai in January to host an event at the Capital Club where he will showcase his use of lighter materials in suits for clients working in hotter climates. He explained, “This is the perfect place to wear nice classic patterns like the Prince of Wales, eventually on the brown shade with a burgundy line to be matched with the same color of shoes.” “I use materials such as light wools mixed with silk to obtain a lighter feeling and a nicer look. Another great one is kid mohair; it’s a special wool that breathes a lot and is always very fresh to wear and is completely wrinkle free. “And not to forget the beauty of the Solaro as a classic masterpiece of a gentleman’s suit in the usual red shiny version or on the new blue reflex.” Max Girombelli will be in the UAE from January 27th until February 7th. He will host events in both the Capital Club in Dubai and Cipriani’s Yas Island. email:

Photographs © by Donnelly Marks

Renowned New York tailor Max Girombelli

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Fashion Forward Ferragamo’s spring/summer collection 2012

Salvatore Ferragamo is one of the world’s Monroe in the early 1900’s. most respected Italian luxury brands. His- The late Ferragamo once said: “My shoes torically, the brand is known for its shoes. must satisfy the people for whom they are The shoemaker’s creativity, the fine crafts- designed…the strength of my name is in manship of his work and the incomparable each pair of shoes I offer.” comfort of his shoes, made Ferragamo’s All the brand’s products feature exclusive name synonymous with original design, handcrafted details, special crafting techhigh quality, and a perfect fit. When Sal- niques and the use of metal accessories. vatore Ferragamo founded his company he The latest collection boasts a ready-to-wear started to produce exclusive shoes for mov- line ranging from knitwear to leather and ie stars like Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn canvas.

The Linen Suit Ignore the traditional beliefs that linen is a fabric only to be worn casually. The new breed of linen suit can be worn for a day at the office or to a relaxing brunch. Finish it off with a pocket square and a formal watch.

Aviator Sunglasses The classic Aviator style will always be on trend. If you want to keep this timeless style but update with a modern twist, choose black frames with a rounder frame, channeling your inner Maverick!

The Modern Espadrille For a fresh spring look, keep your shoes light with the classic Derby. The spring collection offers two different materials, canvas with cowhide piping, natural leather sole and light coloured stitching. Or the 30s two-tone plaiting of the sophisticated fringed model. For an updated look on the espadrilla, Ferragamo’s shoe has a woven rope sole, squared at the front with leather piping, perfect for a hot day!

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Double-Breasted Jackets This is a trend fresh of the runway for spring 2012, everyone from Giorgio Armani, to Tommy Hilfiger featured DB’s. Start with a simple slim-cut double-breasted jacket and have a little fun with it! Ferragamo’s range features an impeccable cut with a lived-in look.

Sharp Ties A tie can speak volumes about a man, the fabric, colour, pattern and style,all hint of a man’s personality. This new generation of ties will add arefreshing dash of vibrant colour to any suit that you wear to the office. Astrong, bold coloured tie will look superb against a dark suit.

The Fisherman Sweater A light knitted sweater works well with linen trousers in neutral shades. Ferragamo’s creation in soft, neutral shades juxtaposed in a palette that goes from beige to creams is the perfect choice for a smart, casual look.

Woven Belts Break away from tradition and don a woven belt to achieve a casual weekend look. Wear with chinos and light coloured trousers for a laid-back, effortless style. Don’t try and wear one with your suit to the office.

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A candid conversation with

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Owen wilson

ot only is Owen Wilson one of the funniest actors in tinsel town but he is also one of the most talented, scooping Variety’s ‘International Star of the Year Award’ at the 8th annual Dubai International Film Festival. The Wedding Crashers star appeared in four films in 2011, and has worked alongside some of the finest names in the business, including Robert Di Niro, Ben Stiller, Bruce Willis and Jackie Chan. On his recent trip to Dubai, the American actor admitted to being nervous at the prospect of working with director Woody Allen one of his latest films, ‘Midnight in Paris’. Speaking during the Dubai International Film Festival, Wilson revealed that the mundane details about the weather helped him bond with the legendary director. “Woody would always be on his iPhone during takes, checking the weather around the world,” he said. “So trying to make conversation I asked him, ‘Where is the hottest place in the world right now?’ and it turns out it was Dubai where it was over 50 degrees at the time.” Wilson plays Gil, who travels back in time to 1920s Paris, and Marion Cotillard is Adriana, a fictional mistress of Picasso’s who catches Gil’s eye. Wilson, who is better known for his comedy roles, conceded that he was surprised when he received a letter from Woody Allen asking him to take on the lead role in his film. “He sent me a really nice letter and he described the character as a bit more intellectual than I would normally play,” said Wilson. “Anyone else may have been offended but I wasn’t,” he added. The 43 year old made his acting debut in 1996 in the comedy, ‘Bottle Rocket’, which he co-wrote with his friend and director Wes Anderson. Soon after, Wilson auditioned to be in the ‘Cable Guy’, a film directed by Ben Stiller and Jim Carey and got the role. However, Wilson started his career as a writer and went on to cowrite, again with Wes Anderson, the critically acclaimed film, ‘The Royal Tenenbaums’. The film was nominated for an Academy Award in 2001 for Best Original Screenplay and included a star-studded cast, including

Owen Wilson with director Woody Allen and co-star Rachel McAdams

“ I was living in Dallas, so it seemed so far-fetched to just go off to Hollywood... I thought I would just be a writer but Wes (Anderson) pushed us to act in Bottle Rocket. It’s funny how things work out, ” Ben Stiller, Gwyneth Paltrow and Gene Hackman. The Texan native said he never dreamt that he would become an actor, despite both his parents working within the creative industry. His father worked at Dallas PBS television station, whilst his mother was a photographer. “I was living in Dallas, so it seemed so far-fetched to just go off to Hollywood,” said Wilson. “I thought I would just be a writer but Wes (Anderson) pushed us to act in Bottle Rocket. It’s funny how things work out,” he added. It’s fair to say that Wilson owes a lot of his big breaks to the personal relationships he formed with the likes of Wes Anderson and Ben Stiller. He openly admitted that, “Ben really loved Bottle Rocket and said he was excited to find stuff that we could work on together.” Wilson and Stiller have worked on over ten movies together including the box office Zoolander, Starksy and Hutch and Meet the Parents. Wilson said of their close working relationship; “You develop a level of comfort with a person that seems to be a natural thing. I have worked with Ben a lot because I like his sense of humour and he’s an incredibly hard worker. I don’t have to worry too much because I know he’ll be sweating the details.”

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Despite being one of Hollywood’s finest actors, Wilson admits that he still gets starstruck when working with people he admires. ”I remember being on the set of Meet the Parents and I turned around and saw Robert Di Niro standing there looking at me and I just froze, I completely forgot all of my lines. It was extremely embarrassing and of course Ben was there laughing because he knew that I was nervous,” said Wilson. Wilson is currently starring in the animated movie ‘Turkey’s’ alongside Woody Harrelson.

Did you know? Wilson is part of the comedy ‘frat pack’, which includes brother, Luke Wilson, Will Ferrell, Jack Black, Vince Vaughan and Ben Stiller. Self-proclaimed troublemaker, Wilson was expelled from school in the tenth grade and later headed to military school in New Mexico. Wilson is known for his distinctive nose which he broke several times playing football at high school. Wilson became a dad on January 14, 2011 to son, Robert Ford Wilson. He has recently ended his relationship with ex-girlfriend Jade Duell.


THE PRICE OF KINGS British filmmaker Richard Symons paints a positive picture of controversial ruler Yassar Arafat in his new documentary.

A celebratory view of PLO leader Yasser Arafat’s personal sacrifices during his political career.

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Richard Symons debuted his documentary at the Dubai International Film Festival.

ritish documentary maker Richard Symons’ planned 12-part series on world leaders kicked off during the Dubai Film Festival with the long, colourful and controversial Yasser Arafat, whose political and diplomatic achievements are depicted in the most positive light possible. Choosing not to address the accusations of terrorism that have been levelled at Arafat’s PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization), this wellresearched documentary focuses on the personal sacrifice made by Arafat to create a portrait verging on hagiography. “The film was very warmly received. Above all our aim was to give a personal narrative on Arafat from those closest to him and explore his leadership style and the personal sacrifices he made for what he believed in,” Symons told Global Citizen. Most interesting is the appraisal of friends and adversaries like his widow Suha, former Maltese president Guido de Marco and Israeli prime minister Shimon Peres, who will be the subject of Symons’ next film. The quality of the film-making lifts it above straight history channel material, and it should see the light in a number of festivals beyond Dubai, before it goes to DVD. The story of Arafat (1929-2004) starts with the 1947 partition of Palestine when he was still a student in Cairo, though it was not until 1959 that he founded the political party Fatah, espousing liberation from Israeli domination through the efforts of Palestinians themselves.

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Freedom fighter Per Suha Arafat, her husband was “never a killer or a terrorist, but a freedom fighter.” When statesman Guido de Marco suggested to Arafat that he pursue a policy of non-violent passive resistance like Mahatma Gandhi, the PLO chief replied there are a billion Indians but only a few hundred thousand Palestinians, who could be shot and killed. Nevertheless, by 1974 Arafat seemed to realise that military means would never achieve peace. Arafat was the first Palestinian leader to recognize the state of Israel, and his concessions in Oslo in 1993 and at Camp David in 2000, agreeing to accept the 1967 boundaries of Palestine with only 22-23 percent of the original land, are recognized on camera by Israel’s chief negotiator as major concessions. The film depicts him as a wily, astute politician “married to his country,” flexible on the outside but tough as nails underneath. This

The film depicts him as a wily, astute politician ‘married to his country,’ flexible on the outside but tough as nails underneath. helped him win the grudging respect of Israeli P.M. Yitzhak Rabin, whose assassination in 1995 came as a terrible blow to Arafat’s negotiations for peace. Symons skillfully edits a great deal of complex Middle East history into digestible, bite-size chunks, and narrates Arafat’s life through an array of important interviews. There is no attempt to make journalistic scoops about the corruption of Arafat’s coterie, or to espouse unproven theories about his death.


Breaking the Mould Julian Bond’s pixel vases put a playful spin on a traditional technique. by matthew hamilton

moveable-casting machine in which the mould’s walls are composed of over 1,300 uniform plaster squares that are attached to metal rods. By moving and rearranging the rods, the mould can be shifted and manipulated, each time producing an entirely new design. The Pixel Casting Machine, so called because the sides of objects created with it appear ‘pixellated’ from so many identical squares, now produces custom and mass designs, although Bond has focused solely on making vases. Along with a host of private clients, he has crafted bespoke vases and exclusive collections for Selfridge’s in London, the Salone Milano and Design Marketo, among others. Instead of the standard smooth curves, the forms of Bond’s vases are rendered stepwise, and the appeal of his pixel vases lies partly in this fresh but nostalgic design. Pixellated vases evoke the rudimentary graphics of now-obsolete video games like

here’s a tendency to think that all ceramics are made on pottery wheels by virtuosic artisans and their smiling assistants. But when it comes to making obscure shapes – like ashtrays and curved jugs – in the time constraints necessary to run a profitable business, slip casting is the preferred (and more efficient) production technique. In so many words, slip casting involves pouring slip, a mixture of clay and water, into a fixed mould of plaster. It’s a simple, if impersonal process, and one that lends itself to mass production. There was nothing necessarily distinctive about slip casting until Julian Bond came along. Two years ago, Bond created the first

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Photography courtesy of Julian Bond.

British artist Julian Bond at work.


College of Arts. Indeed for Bond, it’s all about the process. “I initially trained as an architect, and I changed scales because of the influence of architects that are also designers,” he says. Citing Shegeru Ban and both Ray and Charles Eames as major influences, he favours the “hands on” nature of the Pixel Design machine and how it “celebrates the craftsmanship and the process.” The pixel vases and the machine that creates them are Bond’s first postgraduate endeavour and also his first venture into ceramics. Long term, he hopes to establish an atelier “where projects would vary in discipline and scale,” he says, but for now, he is focusing on ceramics. To find out more about the Pixel Vases and to locate stockists, visit

The process is so accessible whilst also being such a unique form for ceramics. Atari and early Nintendo products, but the translation of the aesthetic is more sculptural and permanent. As well, design enthusiasts admire the vases’ melding of tones playful, delicate and formal, especially how each vase resembles a colourful arrangement of sugar cubes or a masterful stack of Lego pieces. Another element to Bond’s success is the production technique’s flexible and hands-on nature. The adjustable walls offer myriad possibilities for forms and pat- terns, and even ordinary people can participate in a vase’s production since the Pixel Casting Machine can be loaned to individuals, galleries and art schools. “The process is so accessible whilst also being such a unique form for ceramics,” declares Bond, a graduate of London’s Royal

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Dubai’s Newest Dining Hotspots

A new year brings a whole new set of dining experiences to Dubai. Book your tables now for the new entrants into the up market dining scene.

by Nausheen Noor

Hakkasan The latest London import has all the trappings to become the newest Dubai hotspot: a celebrity following (the Beckhams are said to dine their twice a week), sumptuous interiors, and a Michelin star since 2003. Serving contemporary Chinese cuisine, over the last decade the restaurant group has established a global presence. Dubai is the latest venue amongst others in Miami, Mumbai and Abu Dhabi with plans to expand to Shanghai, New York and Paris next year. The restaurant’s outdoor area is simply gorgeous, with an elegant water feature path to the entrance and each encaged dining table designed be private and comfortable. Leading the Hakkasan Dubai kitchen is Chef de Cuisine Pang Pin Lee, who brings with him over 10 years experience in gourmet Cantonese cuisine. The small dishes generally fare better than the mains. The jasmine tea smoked beef ribs are so juicy and tender, you’d think they were porcine. The Vietnamese king crab salad with jellyfish is crunchy and refreshing with just the right balance of lemon and mint. Jumeirah Emirates Towers, +971 4 384 8484

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Toro Toro Walking into this South American restaurant, two giant and somewhat menacing bulls are there to “greet” you. Aside from this one decorative eccentricity, Richard Sandoval’s new pan-Latin tapas restaurant is strikingly swathed in glowing amber, burnt sienna and chocolate tones. There is also a dramatic floor to ceiling fireplace. The food is equally bold. In accordance with Latin culture, the menu is family style with small plates from ‘land’, ‘sea’ and ‘garden’ which are inspired by dishes from Brazil, Peru, Argentina and Colombia, followed by churrasco, traditional Latin American grill. From the tapas menu, one must try the crispy calamari and the salt cod croquettes. Grosvenor House Tower 2, +971 4 399 8888

Gaucho Gaucho, which has over 13 locations in the UK, recently opened its second international location, following Beirut, in Dubai. This Argentine steakhouse puts an extraordinary amount of attention to the provenance of their products. Gaucho’s beef is imported from the grasslands of Rosario in Argentina. Their cattle are allowed to roam freely, and are exclusively grass-fed. Gaucho’s creators believe this results in a tastier steak than grain-fed, or Wagyu, cattle which are usually penned and fattened on corn and wheat. Although Wagyu beef may be more tender, because of the extra fats the meat will lose flavor. The Dubai location also sports a ceviche bar with an 18 metre long marble table and a DJ. Even with all these accouterments, gem of this restaurant may be the wine room; a four metre, all glass room that seats eight. One can go in and taste different wines, under the guidance of expert sommelier Marina Diaz, before narrowing down a selection. The wine list is almost exclusively Argentinian, with the exception 4 French champagnes, and reasonable priced with bottles starting at AED 200. DIFC Podium Level, Gate Village 05, +971 4 422 7898

Table 9 Gordon Ramsey may have departed Dubai for greener pastures, but an exciting new home-grown concept has arrived in its place with Table 9, the brainchild of two former Verre chefs, Scott Price and Nick Alvis. The décor has been changed from Verre’s harsh and industrial lines to something softer and sleeker. The menu is very creative and designed to be served on small plates, allowing the diner to try several dishes in one sitting. The venison with blackberries and crispy polenta is a star, as are the sweetbreads – a rarity on Dubai menus. There are also plenty of choices for vegetarians. One can come in for few tasting dishes, or for the full gastronomic experience with a seven-course meal and wine pairings. For those who love to cook, be sure to book “table 9,” the Chefs Table for 10. There is a direct view of the kitchen through a glass wall and via video link. The restaurant also highlights local talent by collaborating with Mojo Gallery who change the art every three months, and Homa Farley, a Dubai-based pottery artist who has created hand-made ceramic tableware for the restaurant. The chefs’ personal touches are seen in the music selection and the delightful homemade candies that are sent home with every guest. Hilton Dubai Creek, Deira , +971 4 227 1111

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A Collector’s Ideal Investment There is a saying that the only sure things in life are death and taxes. But there is a third – if you buy a Rolex it will double in value seven years after you’ve bought it. BY JONATHON SAVILL

ew would argue that Rolex is the world’s premium watchmaker. They produce a million watches a year, or 2000 a day, but still have long waiting lists for certain models, especially the sports ones. It is generally accepted that the sports watches gain in value faster than the others. Here are some of the best buys. Daytona There is a curious anomaly in the market with the Rolex Daytona. The Daytona is made in steel, bi metal and gold. The cheapest is obviously the steel model but it remains more valuable on the market than the other two. Incidentally the white-faced one is marginally more desirable than the black face. You can buy this model secondhand but Rolex will make you wait several years for a new one, depending on where you live. The most desirable of the Rolex Daytona is the Paul Newman series – Paul Newman wore a Daytona until his death in 2008 and had done so since 1972, the watch having been given to him by his wife, Joanne Woodward, when Newman took up automobile racing. Submariner The British Royal Navy issued divers with the Rolex Submariner during the 1970s. They had fixed lugs so they could only be worn with a NATO strap. They also had a broad arrow denoting military issue on the face. A lot of divers left the navy and had them converted to look like civilian ones. Several changed hands in bars for 600 AED or so. Recently they have been changing hands for around 300,000 AED at auction. And there are now some people who convert civilian ones to try to look like navy ones. A warning though – they must have provenance or proof that they are what they say they are. Sea Dweller A French diving company, Comex, issued their divers with Sea Dwellers and they now change hands for roughly 180,000 AED. Even watches with different coloured writing on the dial such as the ‘Double Red’ make over 70,000 AED.

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Navy submariners have sold for as much as 300,000 AED Fit for a President The holy grail of watches is the John F Kennedy Rolex. The President was a big fan of the brand and wore a famed Rolex President on a regular basis. In fact, it has been purported that JFK’s President sold for 440,000 AED in 2005. The used Rolex watch came with an inscription on the back that read, “Jack-With love as always from Marilyn, May 29th, 1962.” It is assumed that this was a gift from non other than Marilyn Monroe on the evening she sang the infamous “Happy Birthday, Mr. President.” Tips for buying a Rolex So how do you make your watch especially collectable? Firstly pick a model that is likely to appreciate in value. The watch pictured on the left is a Rolex Explorer 2. The earlier Explorer 1 was the watch worn for the first ascent of Mount Everest in 1953. The Explorer 2 was introduced in the 1970s and has an orange GMT hand reminiscent of the earlier models. They have just increased the case size from 39mm to 42mm. The first examples after a model change will be more valuable. I’d bet on this watch but I’d buy the white dial model. Buy the watch from a famous dealer if you can – Harrods, Tiffany or here in Dubai from Ahmed Seddiqi and Sons. A good dealer is proof that the watch is original and not fake and adds cachet to its value years later. Also it’s very important to keep the original box and the receipt. These act as proof that the watch is genuine and in Europe a watch with ‘box and papers’ is worth around 20% more than those without. Do not buy Rolex on the Internet unless you really know what you are doing. Also avoid buying from Italy, Hong Kong or Thailand – they have a reputation for being less trustworthy for this commodity. Many Rolexes, such as the navy diver watches, are actually cherished for the amount of use they have had. So buy one you like and enjoy it as much as you can. When it comes time to sell, you will be pleasantly surprised.

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Winter Weekend Getaways Snow may be a long forgotten site in the UAE, but ski holidays are just a short plane ride away.

Corbis /


Although temperatures never quite reach single digits in the UAE, and snow may have become a long forgotten sight, the winter season is underway, and ski holidays are just a short plane ride away. Nothing beats time on the pistes for a true winter holiday. While the deserts of the UAE don’t offer a full range of snow-steeped fun, fantastic resorts await beginner and avid skiers alike in the nearby mountains of Lebanon, India, Turkey and Iran.

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Mzaar Kfardebian Lebanon From December until April, Lebanon’s slopes are the most popular in the region for skiing, snowboarding, cross country skiing, snowmobiling and even paragliding. Located about an hour drive from Beirut, Mzaar Kfardebian is the best-equipped ski resort in Lebanon with the charm of an old Alpine village situated in Mount Lebanon. This ski season looks promising, according to Ronald Sayegh, bookings manager at Mzaar Kfardebian. “This season is so far exceptional because it snowed early,” he said. For those who want a break from the slopes, there are several sites nearby such as the stunning 30m natural bridge of Kfardebian, or the ruins of a Phoenician temple and Roman tower. For more information: and Where to stay: Intercontinental Mzaar Moutain Resort One of the region’s most beautiful hotels, this five-star hotel guarantees a posh stay and features a private lift and slope for hotel guests. Les Thermes du Mzaar, the hotel’s spa in the heart of the snow, has an indoor swimming pool, steam and sauna, perfect for relaxing after a day on the slopes.

Gulmarg, Kashmir India The hill station of Gulmarg, in the Kashmir region, is the most popular ski destination in the Himalayas. Gulmarg first became popular in the 19th century as the summer retreat for the British colonials. Now this worldclass ski resort blanketed with fresh powder from the Himalayas attracts ski lovers from around the world wanting a change from the Alpine lift queues. The resort’s claim to fame is the Gulmarg Gondola, the highest ski lift in the world at 3,979m. At the top station, skiers and snowboarders can take on challenging runs with Nanga Parbat, the world’s ninth-highest peak, as a backdrop. An added bonus: expect curry and chai at the gondola stations. For those who don’t ski, Gulmurg offers other snow sports such as sledging, snow scooters and snow bobbing. The famous shrine of Baba Reshi, a highly revered Kashmiri Sufi saint, is another attraction of Gulmarg and is visited by thousand of devotees all year around. For more information: and Where to stay: Highland Park Hotel, Highland Park Hotel, located on the top of Gulmarg’s beginner slopes, also overlooks the Gulmarg Golf Course, one of the highest in the world.

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Uludag Turkey Lying in the beautiful Uludag National Park, thus surrounded by forests of pine trees, Uludag ski resort can be reached by road from Istanbul in about two hours. In addition to its family friendly ski resorts and excellent snow quality, Uludag offers a busy nightlife with many restaurants, bars and live music events. Uludag features an array of slalom and giant courses mostly suited to beginner and intermediate skiers and snowboarders. Heli-skiing is also available with vast off-piste bowls to explore for the more experienced skiers. For a more intense skiing experience, visitors can head to Palandöken ski resort, Turkey’s coldest and highest ski center. Located on the outskirts of Erzurum in Eastern Turkey, the resort has a vertical descent of 900m and great snow conditions between December and April. Palandöken hosts many international competitions as well. For more information: and Where to stay: Grand Yazici Uludag Hotel, This five-star hotel combines charming traditions and Turkish hospitality with luxurious facilities. Located in the heart of Uludag, it has two lifts ranging from easy to intermediate difficulties at 800m and 1,700m.

Dizin and Shemshak Iran Iran may not be the first winter destination that comes to mind for a ski holiday, yet the country boasts two top skiing resorts, Dizin and Shemshak, in the Alborz Mountains. Both are about an hour from Tehran. Developed in 1969 by the Shah of Iran, Dizin is known for excellent snow thanks to its altitude at 2,650m and north-facing slopes. The ski season in Dizin lasts longer than in European ski resorts. The highest ski lift reaches 3,600m, making it one of the 40 highest ski resorts in the world. Although the resort is not particularly picturesque, Dizin offers first-rate facilities and amazing views. The real selling point of this destination, is its advanced skiing. Skiers and snowboarders can choose from 23 runs, chairlifts, three gondolas and a serious black run, which snakes down from Sichal Peak on Mount Damavand (at 3,550m) and eventually joins the beginner routes halfway down. For an advanced skiing experience, head to the slopes at Shemshak resort, located about 15 minutes from Dizin. Shemshak targets more experienced skiers with its steep slopes and mogul runs. The resort also offers night skiing facilities. For more information: Where to stay: Dizin Hotel, phone: Tel: +98 261 521 2449 Situated at the foot of the mountains near the ski slopes, this three-star hotel offers basic facilities with beautiful views of the mountains.

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Mah Art Gallery, Art Dubai 2011.

nurturing Regional artists rt Dubai, the region’s premier art fair, have selected six artists from across the Middle East and Asia to participate in their annual artists-in-residence programme. Artists Hadeyah Badri, Fayçal Baghriche, Zeinab Alhashemi, Magdi Mostafa, Nasir Nasrallah, and Deniz Uster will take part in the three month residency as part of the gulf wide programme of fairs, museum shows, exhibitions, performances and projects. “These programmes have been designed to offer students, graduates and arts enthusiasts a chance to actively participate in successful international fairs,

“ Our foremost ambition is to create a platform where local participants can create and exchange ideas and play an interactive role as the region’s art sector develops. ”

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immerse themselves in the local cultural community and engage with artists, gallerists, curators, filmmakers and other visionaries,” said Antonia Carver, Fair Director, Art Dubai. “Our foremost ambition is to create a platform where local participants can create and exchange ideas and play an interactive role as the region’s art sector develops.” The group of artists will be led by Art Dubai’s curator-in-residence Alexandra MacGilp. Based in London, MacGilp works with film, video and performance archive materials. She has curated multi-media exhibitions with accompanying talks and performance

Courtesy Capital D Studio

Art Dubai launches their annual artists-in-residence programme for artists and curators based in the historic quarter of Bastakiya.


artist works in – paint, video, bronze, and so on. To everyone else, ‘media’ is the catch-all term for the local and global ecology that includes news organisations, radio, television, film and burgeoning versions of these on the internet. Global Art Forum 6 will take place just over a year after the Arab Uprising commenced, and one of its ambitions is to take stock at how this historical period has been constructed by media and consumed by us as media. The Global Art Forum 6’s intention is to become a media production about media. It will elicit contributions in different formats, including but not limited to, live lectures, performances, screenings and conversations. The Forum opens at Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha, Qatar, March 18-19, and continues at Art Dubai, Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai, March 21-24.

Varunika Saraf rep by Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke

programmes in London, Hamburg and Kabul. The artists -- three from Asia and the Middle East and three from the UAE-will be exhibiting as part of an Open Studios programme during Art Week 2012 in March. As part of their residency, Fayçal Baghriche, Magdi Mostafa, and Deniz Uster are commissioned to make site-specific works for Art Dubai Projects, a programme of new works and performances that explore the fabric and economy of an art fair, embracing the theatrical nature of such an event. Developing dialogues in art and media The Gobal Art Forum 6- the region’s leading platform for contemporary art discourse, will this year be directed by writer and curator Shumon Basar and titled, ‘The Medium of Media.’ The forum focuses on the overlaps and misunderstandings of both words in two separate but related contexts. In the art-world, ‘medium’ refers to a technological or material practice an

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Bharti Kher rep by Galerie Perrotin


Better than take out Healthy meal delivery programs are gaining momentum in the UAE. GC reviewsthe most popular. by Nausheen Noor

any new Dubai residents are forewarned of the “Dubai stone,” a 14 lb weight gain that some people fear is the inevitable consequence of living in the Emirates. Mythical forces aside, the reality is that a sedentary lifestyle, more hours at the office and socializing that centers around lavish meals are to blame for expanding waistlines. With an increasing number of people in the UAE becoming more health conscious and numbers of diabetes and obesity cases still on the rise, healthy food delivery companies are tapping into a niche in the market. Concern about diet goes beyond vanity and weight issues alone. One in four Emiratis suffers with type 2 diabetes. According to the UN, childhood obesity affects one in eight

children in the country. Many people live with high cholesterol and borderline diabetes for years which, left untreated, can develop into full-blown diabetes and heart disease. Healthy deliveries that provide three fully catered meals, with snacks in between, are proving to be a popular alternative to “take-out” which is often laden with fats and salt. The theory is to encourage a person to eat smaller meals more frequently, which increases metabolism. At about 3,000 AED per person per month, it’s also a cheaper option to eating out. While some people turn to meal delivery for the nutritional value, there are others who opt-in for the sheer convenience. With Dubai’s significant young, single and professional population, it is easier to get someone to prepare healthy meals than to cook for yourself.

Right Bite The Right Bite menu is diverse and impressive. Their philosophy is to reduce calorie intake, without feeling deprived. They deliver three small meals a day, including two snacks, which are often reduced calorie cakes and biscuits – a nice treat for those with a sweet tooth. Prior to commencing the delivery program, a consultation will go over your health history and measure your body mass index (weight to height ratio). Although most people who tried the program were satisfied with the quality of the food, the chief complaint was a lack of follow up after its completion. There is no coaching to guide you through the weight loss process. The one thing that set Right Bite apart from other meal delivery programs is their policy to recycle the many plastic dishes used.

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Kcal Kcal is a healthy eating cafe and delivery service located in Dubai’s Jumeirah Lake Towers. Their menu options, which include items such as herbed beef Italiano and salmon ragout, are all under 300 calories and cost around 40 AED. They go one step further than meal delivery by adding in complete medical testing. Their philosophy is prevention rather than cure. All customers are sent for blood tests within the premises. Kcal believes that counting calories isn’t enough; it’s also about the nutritional content. Once the results from the bloods tests are back, the meals are adjusted for fiber, vitamin and/or mineral content depending on one’s body composition. Tailor-made exercise programs, weekly weigh-ins and consultations, along with the option of group exercise classes and personal training ensures discipline throughout the process. Even if you don’t decide to sign up, it’s possible to order a meal from Kcal any night of the week as a healthy alternative to take-out.

Health Factory Most people find Health Factory’s meals to be unimaginative and bland. Moreover, they rely on reducing the portion rather than manipulating the actual content of the food. Also, at roughly 35 AED a meal, it is disappointing that they include Kellogg’s Special K cereal for breakfast, and sugar-rich processed Alpen bars as snacks, both of which can be purchased for far less at any grocery store. Although this company also has an in-house nutritionist and gives all of its customers an initial consultation, there is no follow-up to track your results through the weight loss process.

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Rolls-Royce Goes Electric

GC’s Jonathon Savill takes a ride in the Rolls-Royce 102EX, a fully electric plug-in version of the Rolls-Royce Phantom. The only one like it in the world, it was built to gauge customer response to the very idea of an electric ultraluxury sedan. ne of the most famous advertising slogans of all time came from a 1958 review of a Silver Cloud. ‘At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise in this Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock.’ Reputedly when the chief engineer at the Rolls-Royce factory read this, he shook his head sadly and said: ‘It’s time we did something about that darn clock’. Now Rolls-Royce has gone one step further and removed the engine. The Rolls-Royce concept car weighing 3030 kgs has been touring the world this year. It travelled to Singapore and Beijing in July, the U.S. in August, and Europe and the Middle East in October, with a return trip to the U.S. in November and December. When it came to Dubai a select few journalists where offered the opportunity to drive it around the Autodrome track to compare the electric sedan to its petrol equivalent. I had already written the review in my mind; it went some-

thing like, ‘the electric car performed nearly as well as the petrol model.’ It didn’t though – it blew the petrol car right out of the water.


There is no gearbox in this car and so torque is theoretical. Essentially the electric Rolls is either on or off and this means the acceleration is impressive (0-60mph in around 8 seconds but it feels very fast.) The car is not silent either, there is noise from the wing mirrors and it’s generally about the same as the petrol car. What is impressive is that the Spirit of Ecstasy on the hood of the car is made of glass and lights up at night. The main thing that would stop this car from selling if it were on the market is its range, which is only 200 kilometers. However that’s being optimistic – they invited us to drive the car at night when it was cooler – whereas the desert heat dur-

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“...the thing that would stop this car from selling if it were on the market is its range, which is only 200 kilometers.” ing the day would decrease the range significantly. The car takes eight hours to charge at a special threestage station. That’s a long time by any standards, but not surprising given the magnitude of that 290 kW-battery. By comparison, it takes 20-90 kilowatt hours to power an average home for a day. Yet the most interesting thing about this car is that you don’t have to plug it in – you merely park it over a wireless induction charging pad and walk away. “It’s a more Rolls-Royce way of charging your vehicle,” says Nigel Wonnacott, Rolls-Royce spokesman. That said, the 102EX’s batteries can also be charged with a plug-in cable, though it takes 24 hours using a standard outlet. Rolls-Royce owner, BMW, must be reassured that sales are still climbing in the holy trinity of consumerism, the Middle East, China and Russia. Just last month, Rolls-Royce announced the opening of a new office in Abu Dhabi “to enhance their regional presence”. It’s clear that Rolls -Royce is pragmatic about its future “the V12 petrol engine can’t be around forever” Nigel Wonnacott explains. This car is part of

an ongoing dialogue with Rolls-Royce customers. There is a real possibility that in future there may be a dual powered Rolls-Royce. Some would say that Rolls-Royce already makes cars that are eco friendly. Most of the energy used by a car is in its production; so one Rolls-Royce is arguably more efficient than a small car like a Toyota that would need to produce five or six cars for the lifespan of a Rolls-Royce.


Bentley is probably Rolls-Royce’s closest competitor and they were once the same company in effect. They have no plans to develop an electric car according to a spokesman but they are trying to get the petrol engine to be more efficient. The industry refers to this as ‘the well to wheels cycle’. Rolls-Royce will obviously be doing the same research because although their owners don’t have to worry about the price of petrol there is a potential social backlash against large cars.

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Easy office exercises Grant Goes of Dubai-based Go Exercise Solutions shares simple ways to exercise without leaving the office. t’s hard to find time to exercise, especially for business execs who are often traveling or stuck in the office until late evening. Exercising at work may seem impossible, but it’s one option for staying fit and keeping your energy up. It takes some creativity, but there are opportunities to exercise at work if you pay attention. All it takes is a little planning and some inspiration to

squeeze in a little movement all day long. Below are six simple exercises that you can easily slip into your working day. Choose only 3 exercises each hour and do for only 45 seconds each. This will help to improve your daily stamina, make your immune system stronger, and your mind more productive during those stressful periods.

Chair Dips

SET UP: From a seated position, grab both sides of the chair and then move your body position just off the front of the chair. MOVEMENT: From the start position, bend you elbows to 90 degrees as your hips drop straight down to the ground. Squeeze the TRICEPS to extend the arms and return to the top. KEY POINTS: Keep elbows close together, keep shoulders away from the ears and keep chest lifted. VARIATION: For higher intensity, move feet further away from hips.

Squat Hold

SET UP: Stand with heels slightly wider than the hips, toes slightly angled outwards. MOVEMENT: Sit hips backwards/downwards towards the floor, and going just below the knee. Return to standing position. KEY POINTS: Knees stay out and move slightly forwards inline with second and middle toe of foot, chest and upper body remain upright, brace abdominals during movement. VARIATION: Stand wide like a sumo wrestler, to allow a larger range of movement and a little work for the inner thigh.

Press Up

SET UP: Facing the chair, place hands on each side of the chair. MOVEMENT: Begin by bending the elbows, and lowering your body towards the chair. Bring your body to elbow height, return to top by extending the arms. KEY POINTS: Keep body straight and long by bracing the glutes and abdominals. VARIATION: Can be done from the knees

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March on the Spot

SET UP: Stand in an upright position with the heels directly below the hips. MOVEMENT: Lift up 1 knee to waist height and then place back on the ground. Repeat with other leg. KEY POINTS: Keep the upper body in a tall upright position, with the abdominal muscles braced. VARIATION: Increase the intensity by increasing the speed.

Arm Circles

SET UP: Stand in an upright position with the arms fully extended directly out to the side of the shoulders. MOVEMENT: Keeping the arms fully extended, rotate the arms in an anti-clockwise direction. KEY POINTS: Try to avoid rotating too far behind the body. VARIATION: Standing on 1 leg will help to improve balance and stability.

Wall Posture

SET UP: Stand with your back against a wall and feet shoulder distance apart and about a foot away from the wall. Sink slightly into the knees and curl your tailbone under so your lower back is in contact with the wall. Roll your shoulders back and down by squeezing the middle back so your shoulder blades are flat against the wall and relax them down, away from the ears. MOVEMENT: Not much. Draw your belly button in to your spine and tense the abdominal muscles. You are going to stay in this position for 60secs. For more go to

STAY FIT WHILE SITTING AT YOUR DESK Sit on a Swiss Ball Using a Swiss ball at work for a 30 minute interval 3 x a day can really help to boost your metabolic rate and keep your body active. When you sit on an unstable environment your bodies stabilizing muscles work to keep you balanced, so by holding great posture and balance, your body will burn more energy and be more productive.

Keeping Correct Posture A lot of people do not realize just how important a correct posture is in our everyday lives. Correct posture prevents injury, fatigue, sickness and chronic illness. By keeping the basic anatomical position for posture, you will increase energy output gaining benefits of weight reduction, muscular toning and muscle conditioning.

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