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2012 MAY / JUNE

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PLUS: London after the Olympic Games, Secrets of a Self Made Millionaire


Fresh perspectives on the news and people that matter in the Middle East

Business 10 First Word

CEO’s surviving setbacks

13 Islamic Banking Vision plans open doors

15 Transportation

Railways to interlink GCC

16 trade

Medical tourism in Lebanon

18 Cover Story

Why you need a second passport

24 Real Estate

London post Olympics

26 Entrepreneurship

Egypt’s incubator eco-system

28 Investment Destination

Business opportunities in East Africa

32 Business Culture Diversity at work

34 Entrepreneurship Mumzworld Founder

36 Starting a Business

Mike Balfour, self-made millionaire

38 Coffee at the Club

Nabil Alyousuf on nurturing leaders

34

subscribe@reachmedia.ae Enjoy the convenience of having Global Citizen delivered right to your door at savings of over 15% off the cover price. We deliver for free to anywhere in the UAE so you’ll get your magazine before it’s even in the shops!

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Contents 40 Philanthropy

Dubai group builds a school in Pakistan

42 Hotelier

Gordon Campbell Gray

46 Brand Building

The Qode luxury consultancy

50 Inside Look

Elie Saab, building an Empire

56 Architecture

Turkey’s design rebirth

58 Art

Wall Street’s iconic street art comes to Dubai

60 Private Jet

Innovative interiors

62 Success Story GlamRock watches

50

Lifestyle 64 GIZMOS AND GADGETS

70

The best tablets for you

65 AUTO

Flying car soars

66 YACHTS

New luxury cruisers

78

68 GOLF

Where to golf at night

70 DINING

The hottest new restaurants

74 TRAVEL

Luxury safaris in Kenya

76 Grooming Essential skincare

80 Watches Basel’s best

74 May / June 2012 GC 5


Walid My occupation: Hotel owner My passion: To make the world stop for my guests My dream: To run a hotel more stars than the that has evening sky My private bank : J ul iu s B ae b ec au se th ey he lp sh r, ap e m y financial horizons My name:

www.juliusbaer.com Julius Baer, the leading Swiss private banking group, was founded in 1890 and today is present in over 40 locations worldwide. From Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Cairo, Istanbul, Hong Kong, Singapore, Moscow, Milan, Monaco, Frankfurt, London, Guernsey, Nassau and Montevideo to Geneva, Lugano, St. Moritz and Zurich (head office).


Global Perspectives For so many business people living and working in the UAE, the term “citizen” is not bound by the geography in which they reside. Instead it is used to describe a lifestyle spent between countries, between businesses and between homes. This unique way of life, as many of our readers describe it, encourages innovation while also instilling a sense of compassion and values-a desire to give back and be connected to others beyond perceived boundaries. This is a common theme present throughout this issue of GC. Our cover story, a special report on Immigrant Investment Programs, investigates the benefits of government programs that offer citizenship to investors. Our cover features Fadi Mehio, a Lebanese businessman with a fast growing company who is in the process of getting Bulgarian citizenship through such a program in a bid to “extend his reach” in the business world. We speak to lawyers and financial advisors to find

out how these programs work. On page 40 our writer Tahira Yaqoob takes you to the Parwarish School in the Swat Valley of Pakistan, a natural paradise marred by Taliban led violence. In an effort to rehabilitate youth orphaned

by war, a Dubai based group, the Pakistan Association of Dubai, has given hope and opportunity to thousands of kids. We also bring you an inside perspective into the world of famed designer and businessman, Elie Saab, (pg 50) a man who epitomizes the term ‘Global Citizen,’ having built a international fashion empire from his base in the Middle East. Lastly, I’d like to introduce you to the Global Citizen team. Together we represent a multitude of cultures: American, Indian, Iranian, Irish, Pakistani, British and French. We see this diversity as our greatest strength; giving us varied perspectives while keeping us focused on the bigger global picture. We hope you enjoy the issue and as always, welcome your feedback and ideas. RITU UPADHYAY Editorial Director

Global Citizen editorial DIRECTOR Ritu Upadhyay - rupadhyay@reachmedia.ae Senior editor Natasha Tourish - ntourish@reachmedia.ae Lifestyle Editor Aysha Majid - amajid@reachmedia.ae ART DIRECTOR Omid Khadem - okhadem@reachmedia.ae CONTRIBUTORS Matthew Hamilton, Andrew White, Sara Hamdan, Tahira Yaqoob, Mona Alami, Heba Hashem, Shane Philips, Patricia Andrews, Nausheen Noor

Reach media publisher Armand Peponnet Advertising sales@reachmedia.ae SUBSCRIPTION subscription@reachmedia.ae

Registered at Dubai Media City, PO Box 502068, Dubai, UAE Printed by raidy emirates printing group

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

May / June 2012 GC 7


Mona Alami

Matthew Hamilton

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

8 GC May / June 2012

is an American 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.

Andrew White A former editor of Arabian Business magazine, Andrew White writes for a series of international and regional organisations and titles. He is a stringer for the Economist Group, a columnist for the International Bar Association, and a regular contributor to titles including Esquire Middle East, Vision magazine, AME Info, Oil & Gas Middle East, Construction Week, and more.

is a French journalist who took to reporting after earning her 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 produces documentaries for Al Aan TV. Mona also has a special interest in interviewing and reporting on radical islamist groups.


Shane Philips

Heba Hashem is a freelance journalist based in Dubai. She reports regularly on the solar and nuclear power sectors for CSP Today, and Nuclear Energy Insider. Her articles have also appeared in the inflight magazines of Qatar Airways and Emirates Airlines on topics ranging from business news to medical tourism and environmental issues. Of Jordanian origin, Heba grew up between Cairo and Abu Dhabi. She has a B.A. in Communications and Media Studies from Middlesex University, London, and a B.A. in English-Arabic translation from Cairo University.

As the MENA Regional Practice Leader for Financial Services for Stanton Chase, Shane specialises in delivering strategic leadership talent for wholesale, retail, investment and universal banks across the GCC. As a writer for CEO magazine, he has interviewed some of the region’s top executives. Shane has an MBA from London Business School and a B.A. in Psychology from University of British Columbia. He is a Non-Executive Director of Fortis Plus and a Founding Member and Chairman of Big Brothers Big Sisters International. Previously he was an Executive Director with the Canadian Business Council.

Nausheen Noor

Nina Glinski is a freelance journalist from New York and a new arrival to the UAE. After earning her B.A. in Communications from the University of Pennsylvania, Nina worked as an analyst for Morgan Stanley and CLSA Asia Pacific Markets before deciding to leave the United States for a stint in Sydney, Australia. She most recently left her position at a social media startup in New York to pursue journalism in Dubai.

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.

May / June 2012 GC 9


word

P e r s p e c t i v e s f r o m t h e to p

Surviving Setbacks By Shane Philips

How one deals with challenges, both professionally and personally, is key to determining success in the business world. In one of the most terrifying economic environments since the Great Depression, many of the region’s companies came out standing stronger than ever. While some of the world’s biggest banks were going bankrupt, how did V. Shankar of Standard Chartered Bank deliver nine straight years of record profits? Or how does Ajay Bindroo, Group CEO of Supermax, the world’s largest manufacturer of disposable razor blades, deliver three times the growth rate of his nearest competitor? The financial crisis dealt a large blow to the advertising world, but Avi Bhojani, CEO of Bates Pan Gulf Group, a leading marketing solutions provider in the GCC, delivered record profits while other advertising agencies violently contracted. But as Raza Baig, CEO of one of the region’s most successful home grown retailers says, it’s the challenges that lead them to innovate.

V. Shankar CEO – Europe, Middle East, Africa and Americas Standard Chartered I have never made it a habit to be fearful; my approach is to live every day as your last. You will not need to be afraid if you plan for the best, but prepare for the worst.  However, preparing for the worst does not mean withering in the face of opposition or adversity. As a leader you have to have backbone or you will not last long. A big part of leading, especially through an economic crisis, is courage.  Courage to leave an organization if you do not agree with the direction or decisions being made.  My personal philosophy is it is better to get fired doing the right thing, being unafraid and being the best leader you can be, than to lead a life of regret.

10 GC May / June 2012


Ajay Bindroo Group CEO Supermax The responsive efforts an organisation makes in times like these to encourage consumers to use their products as opposed to the competition’s offering is what makes all the difference. We devised various product lines and price promotions offering both performance and value and communicated them well to our consumers. During a recession the natural tendency of shoppers is to alter their requirement depending on how much their budgets permit. However people will continue to shave irrespective of the recession.

Avi Bhojani Group CEO Bates Pan Gulf Middle East Opportunity in Adversity! From as early as Oct 2008 after the Wall Street meltdown, we realized very quickly that almost all our clients were unclear about the future, particularly those with heavy Dubai exposure. So very quickly we got four complementary firms (McKinsey, E&Y, Al Tamimi and BPG), all run by friends to organise a day long, closed door- thought leadership symposium branded ‘Paradigm 2009’. All of us invited our respective C Suite clients to deliberate over the future course we would need to take in retail, travel and tourism and financial services. This helped position BPG as a ‘go to’ firm for marketing solutions, and our new business wins more than made up for the shrinking spends of our existing clients.

Raza Beig CEO Splash and Iconic If challenges are not part of your life, you are not innovating. I look at setbacks or challenges as opportunities because they are the best teachers and help develop skills you were unaware of. I was an average student in school, but a fantastic teacher. The challenge of bringing bread into my home made me evaluate what I had, and I realised I had nothing; the easiest alternative was to teach. Fear, setbacks and challenges have been at every stage of my career path... and my future will still have them. Any new activity I do, they come staring back at me.

May / June 2012 GC 11


‘Vision’ plans open doors for Islamic Finance

Image courtesy of Corbis / ArabianEye.com

acing a rapidly growing population and social challenges, broad sweeping economic visions have become increasingly popular in the GCC region. In 2002, Saudi Arabia set out its vision for “a diversified and prosperous economy” by 2020. Qatar and Abu Dhabi were quick to follow with Vision 2030, aiming to sustain social and economic development. By 2020, the GCC population is forecast to reach over 53 million, with 30 percent growth within 20 years. And despite an abundant supply of energy across the region, power cuts are still frequent in places like the UAE’s Sharjah. As a result, regional governments are investing in clean fuel, improving water efficiency and development of infrastructure. This in turn presents a unique opportunity for the global Islamic finance industry. Overcoming historical baggage Historically, conventional banks have supported some of the leading projects in the region, with little interest from Islamic finance institutions. One such example, prior to 2010, Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority (ADWEA) projects were financed by conventional institutions. However, since then there have been some positive developments (such as $1 billion financing for Zayed University new

campus in 2009, with Islamic finance playing a key role), the overall perception has been that including Islamic institutions in financing can lead to significant delays, complexity and higher transaction costs. However, with liquidity in the leading financial markets drying up

With liquidity in the leading financial markets drying up following the eurozone crisis and increasing maturity in Islamic banking, governments and companies are showing more appetite for Islamic finance. following the eurozone crisis and increasing maturity in Islamic banking, governments and companies are showing more appetite for Islamic finance. This new-found enthusiasm was shown with the recent sukuk issuance by Saudi Electricity (in two tranches, $500 million due by 2017 and $1.25 billion due by 2022) which was ten times oversubscribed. Gaining momentum will not be

easy. Facing economic realities, there are concerns that Abu Dhabi is looking to cut back on its vision. For example, Masdar City, part of the Vision 2030, recently announced that it had put on hold its plans for headquarters by two years, a building that would have been the world’s first to produce more energy than it consumes. Nonetheless, policymakers are keen on an alternative to conventional banking, especially during economic difficulties.This will result in a more competitive Islamic banking market, with finer pricing. FIFA inspired sukuk There are other opportunities too. With Qatar being awarded the right to host 2022 football World Cup, there will be a massive need for infrastructure development, with estimated requirements of over $50 billion. The country needs to build stadiums and roads, which is an ideal opportunity for local Islamic banks such as Qatar Islamic Bank and Masraf Al Rayan to play an active role. Other regional centres, such as Malaysia and Dubai can play good support roles. After Qatar won the right to host the World Cup, Sepp Blatter, the President of FIFA noted, “We go to new lands.” If the Islamic banking industry can grasp the opportunities that have been presented, then this nascent market will also travel to new lands.

May / June 2012 GC 13


transportation

Connecting

the Dots across the Gcc Mega Railways interlinking the Gulf will tranform the business landscape By heba hashem

ulti-billion dollar railway projects are currently underway from the UAE to Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, that will connect rural areas to cities. Together, these mega railway projects will gradually connect the entire GCC, creating a new economic infrastructure for the region. World’s biggest railway program The most ambitious railway in the region is being developed in Qatar. Qatar Railways Company’s (QRail) Doha Metro project is valued at $40 billion, the biggest railway program in history. The first phase is anticipated to be ready by 2019, in time for the 2020 Olympics, if Qatar is successful in its bid. The construction alone of this project presents a huge business opportunity for companies across the region. Tenders for the first phase are due to be issued in the second quarter of this year. “We are looking to get the best number of bidders. That will be about five bidders for each project,” QRail Programme Director for the Metro Red Line, Markus Demmler said. Each project will be worth $700 million to $1 billion. Uniting the Emirates In the UAE, Etihad Rail – formerly known as Union Railway – is constructing the country’s first railway network, with the goal of connecting all corners of the UAE and eventually the wider GCC, including Saudi

Train routes will connect the UAE both domestically as well as with neighbouring countries, Saudi Arabia and Oman.

Arabia via Ghweifat in the west, and Oman via Al Ain in the east. The project will consist of 1,200 kilometres of railway routes. Valued at around $11 billion, the nationwide project is being built in three stages to be completed by 2018. Owned 70% by the Government of Abu Dhabi and 30% by the UAE Federal Government, the Etihad Rail network will enable rapid transport of passengers as well as freight, opening up new trade corridors and journey opportunities that were previously complicated or impossible. Logistics and trade will be redefined, as the rail will accommodate heavy freight, including rocks, aluminum, cement, iron and steel, as well as other trade commodities and hydrocarbons. The system can transport 50 million tonnes of cargo during the first phase.

A vast network in Saudia Arabia A series of railways are being planned to connect the GCC’s largest country. Starting from the capital Riyadh in the northwest, the railway will extend to Al Haditha near the border with Jordan, as part of a 3,900 km rail expansion plan. Three deals worth $613 million were signed last January for this project. The country will need more than one railway. A 1,100km land-bridge project connecting the eastern and western parts of the kingdom is also being planned, and a high-speed rail link from Hamarain to Jeddah will connect Makkah and Madina. Critical to the busy pilgrimage season, the Makkah-Madinah Rail Link will provide a fast link for Umrah and Hajj pilgrims travelling between the two holy cities and Jeddah.

May / June 2012 GC 15


trade

Medical Tourism in Lebanon Upstaged in recent years by more modern facilities in the Gulf, Beirut, home to some of the region’s earliest hospitals, is seeing an upswing in medical tourism. By mona alami

ebanon has been at the forefront of regional medical care for over a century. Beirut is home to highly regarded institutions like the American University of Beirut Medical Center (AUBMC) and Hôtel Dieu de France, built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, respectively. But Lebanese hospitals have been upstaged in recent years by institutions in the Gulf, where there is more government led investment and support for the healthcare industry. But not for long, says Dia Hassan, CEO of Bellevue Medical Center. “Lebanon is gaining back its position as the best hospitals of the Middle East,” he says. Medical tourism accounted for an estimated 53 percent of the services performed at Bellevue last year. Gladys Moro, advisor for patient care services at Clemenceau Medical Center, says that 90 percent of the non-Lebanese patients in the country’s hospitals hail from Syria and Iraq, with a small percentage coming from the UAE.

16 GC May / June 2012

These patients expect luxury care. In response Lebanon is opening a flurry of luxury medical centers and targeting the Arab region’s wealthiest. “We are becoming more specialised in specific areas such as the field of

"We are becoming more specialised in specific areas such as plastic surgery. Among other interesting specialities are gynopediatrics and gastric pediatrics." plastic surgery. Among other interesting specialities are gyno-pediatrics and gastric pediatrics,” notes Hassan. But in spite of constant advancements, the Lebanese hospital sector is faced with several challenges, many linked to the country’s current unsta-

ble political and economic situation. There has also been a ‘brain drain’ of medical professionals leaving to work abroad. This shortage puts upward pressures on salaries, which constitute about 75 percent of medical centers’ budgets. This gets reflected in higher costs for patients. “A large segment of the population at home can’t afford their medical costs and public insurance does not cover hospital costs,” says Hassan. This makes the work of new institutions, which are built to international standards that use expensive medical equipment, much more challenging. The sector is as a result less profitable, with a return on investment requiring a much longer time. “Typically, hospitals require four to five years to break even,” adds Hassan. To overcome these obstacles, Lebanese hospitals are focusing on services that bring added value. This can take the form of efficient and up-to-date emergency units as well as putting more of an effort into quality monitoring as well as preventive medicine.


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cover story

Why you need a

Second Passport IN ANY GIVEN WEEK, Fadi Mehio, a Lebanese businessman

based in Dubai, spends at least half his time on a plane, jetting between homes and business ventures in the UAE, Lebanon, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Southern Africa. Fadi’s story is not unusual in Dubai. He and his family have been based in the emirate for 20 years. He’s fortunate, he says, to have grown his businesses here. “This is a place where my attachment and loyalty are 100%.” But as his business expands, he spends more and more time shuttling between countries.

Fadi Mehio

18 GC May / June 2012


cover story

The globetrotting businessman is in the process of getting his Bulgarian citizenship through a unique Immigrant Investment Program that enables investors to get residency and eventually citizenship to the Eastern European country. “My passport is a document that allows me to carry on with my life. I’m not trying to change my identity. Just extend my reach,” he says. Adding that a big motivation is for his four children – ages 18, 16 and 10 year old twins – to have the ease of travel a European passport offers. Benefits of second citizenships Ease of travel is just one of the benefits of having a second passport. The spirit of revolution that swept across the region in 2011 brought hope to many, but one year after governments toppled, the short-term economic environment remains unstable. In the Middle East businessmen are concerned about whether their assets are protected. Sam Bayat, a Dubai based immigration lawyer, says he’s seeing a major upswing in clients seeking alternative passports. “The safety and the security of having an alternative travel document or simply being part of a neutral small country is comforting to so many international travellers and businessmen.” Fadi has been exposed to both Middle Eastern and European culture. He is proud to be Lebanese and never plans to give up that passport. Bulgaria, which he has visited many times, is not only a place where he feels comfortable with the people and society, but as an emerging economy, it offers many business opportunities. “If a country has granted me a citizenship I feel I can also do something in return,” says Fadi. “We have learned a lot in Dubai about building businesses and industry and we can take that experience and know-how elsewhere in the world.” He is looking at opportunities to extend his interior architecture and facilities management business in Sofia.

20,000

*

families apply for second citizenships and residencies every year.

"My passport is a document that allows me to carry on with my

LIFE.

I’M NOT TRYING TO CHANGE MY IDENTITY. Just extend my reach." Finding the right program As clients look to build a proverbial portfolio of passports, what are the options? Many western countries welcome wealthy foreigners. The United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and Singapore all offer immigrant visas to those who invest enough money in certain types of enterprise. These programs don’t automatically result in a passport, but the visas are often a fast-track to naturalisation, and in some cases, large invest-

ments can expedite citizenship. However in almost all of these cases there is a minimum residency requirement. “Traditional Immigrant Investor Programs have become a lot harsher in terms of their requirements. Most of the better-known programs such as Canada, the US and UK require physical residency; sometimes clients have to live there for 6 months of the year,” explains Bayat. This can be a major deterrent. For businessmen like Fadi, Bulgaria, which does not have a legal residency requirement, was a great choice, as he said he wanted to do everything by the book. The country also has another added potential bonus, explains the Consul General of Bulgaria to Dubai. “Bulgaria has already covered all technical requirements for entering into the Schengen Agreement,” says Angel Kalinov. It could just be a matter of months before the membership is official and holders of Bulgarian residency will not require a visa for member countries which include France, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland and more. Benefits for governments At a time when many western countries are in dire need of inflows of investment, developing immigrant investment programs are a great way to diversify economies. “While Bulgaria

*data from Arton Capital May / June 2012 GC 19


cover story

this year almost 1,800 people renounced their American citizenship. The main reason? The US is one of the only countries in the world that requires its citizens working abroad to file taxes at home as well as disclose information on any foreign bank accounts containing more than $10,000. But Hanafin says the American government have caught on to the trend of renouncing, making it more difficult for high net worth US citizens to give up their citizenship. “The US has created an ‘exit tax’ which applies to individuals with a net worth of over $2 million,” he explains. Attracting the right investments Immigrant Investment Programs are not necessarily open to just anyone who can afford to pay for it. Cana-

"From a tax perspective, there are some disadvantages to having a US or British passport." benefits from fresh inflow of capital, know-how, and job creation, the investors gain access to a country that has a lot to offer,” says Consul General Kalinov. In the small island country of St. Kitts and Nevis, sugar cane exports sustained the economy for decades. When sugar prices fell, the government needed to find another source of revenue. As a member of the Commonwealth with visa free access to all Schengen states, their citizenship became a high value commodity. They developed a program enabling foreigners to invest $400,000 in order to get a citizenship. It’s a simple, short process without any residency requirement. An added bonus: there are no personal income taxes in St. Kitts and Nevis.

20 GC May / June 2012

Financial motivation Taxation is a big concern for most wealthy investors. Even some with a coveted US passport are looking at alternatives. John Hanafin, Managing Partner of Sovereign in Dubai, advises clients on wealth managment. He explained an increasing number of inquiries are coming from non-Middle Eastern clients for economic citizenship programs in tax free countries. “From a tax perspective, there are some disadvantages to having a US or British passport,” he says. Many Americans are renouncing citizenship due to the financial burden. US government statistics show

da, long considered one of the most immigrant friendly countries in the world, has put a cap on their program. Analysts believe it is because of abuses to the system. But the government says they will just be restructuring it to attract stronger investment. “We can no longer be a passive player in the global competition for talent and investment,” said Jason Kenney, Canadian Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism. “That is why we need to review and amend our immigration laws to create dynamic programs that allow immigrants’ investments to directly benefit the Canadian economy.


cover story

Armand Arton

"Second residencies and citizenships are fast becoming an essential part of basic wealth management strategies for high net worth individuals. It’s an important consideration if not just for yourself, but for future generations." promises of fast track passports. But law in the country clearly stipulates “physical residency” as one of the many requirements to get citizenship, which takes eight years.

Beware of fraud “The demand for second citizenships has created opportunities for fraud and misrepresentation,” says Armand Arton, Chairman of Arton Capital, a global investment firm specializing in Immigrant Investor Programs. He warns people to review options carefully and double check promises of passports in exchange for cash. Panama, for instance, offers passports without citizenships. Such passports clearly stipulate the holder is a citizen of another country. These, he says, do not qualify for visa free travel or other benefits of citizenship. When asked about this, the German Consulate in Dubai confirmed they look at the citizenship of the passport holder, not the country that has issued the travel document, when issuing visas. Similarly real estate developers in Cyprus have launched schemes to try and unload low value real estate projects on wealthy investors from the Middle East with false

Growing trend This is not deterring the development of legitimate economic citizenship programs. The governments of the Seychelles and Ireland have both announced plans for economic citizenship programs, recognising the demand among businessmen for second citizenships as a basic business tool. Arton, who also advises governments, including that of Bulgaria, on how to structure such programs, believes they are a key component of financial planning for the wealthy. “Second residencies and citizenships are fast becoming an essential part of basic wealth management strategy for high net worth individuals. It’s an important consideration if not just for yourself, but for future generations,” he says.

A SNAPSHOT OF IMMIGRANT INVESTOR PROGRAMS * Country

Minimum Investment

Residency requirement

Time for citizenship

Visa free travel (number of countries)

`

USA

$500,000

6 months per year

5 years

169

UK

$1,600,000

6 months per year

6 years

169

Bulgaria

$675,000

none

5 years

150

St. Kitts and Nevis

$400,000

none

6 months

120

*Data compiled from country program websites. Minimum investment figures are approximate and have been converted to USD for comparative purposes. May / June 2012 GC 21


real estate

Life after the

OLYMPICS Investors from the Middle East have been snapping up real estate in the UK ahead of the Olympics. But will it still be a good value after the Games? By andrew white

24 GC May / June 2012


real estate

he Olympic motto ‘faster, higher, stronger’ might equally reflect the ambitious attitude of oil-rich Gulf investors looking to break real estate records. The athletes taking part in the city’s forthcoming Olympic Games will be eating, sleeping and training on Arab owned soil – the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), owns the Olympic Village next to the Olympic Park in East London, through a joint venture worth some US$885m. Qatar’s interest in London real estate is long-standing and with a penchant for the spectacular. The Shard, which will be Europe’s tallest building on completion, 1 Hyde Park, the world’s most expensive block of flats, and Harrods department store have all been snapped up by divisions of the QIA in recent years. But what happens to the investors when the Games are over, and the eyes of the world turn to Rio de Janeiro in 2016? The Olympic effect A recent report from real estate consultancy Jones Lang LaSalle revealed that Middle East investors were the second largest foreign customers for new build residential property in London. Thanks to the coming of the Olympiad, East London in particular has undergone a comprehensive transformation in recent years, becoming the new-build capital of London. Property close to the Olympic Park in Stratford has increased in value by an average of $1,280 a month since July 2005, according to Lloyd’s Banking Group. Despite the economic uncertainty which has engulfed Britain in the wake of the financial crisis, prices in London and the South East are expected to continue to rise long after The Olympic Village is owned by the Qataris.

the Games have finished. Investment drawbacks There are caveats to the post-Olympic opportunity. According to Hometrack, a house price index provider, the average property in the Stratford area was 10 to 20 percent below prices elsewhere in London when the city was awarded the Games. Since then, the disparity between Stratford, home to the main stadium and the rest of London has widened to 30 to 35

"As soon as the Olympics go, contracts finish and then you wonder about what fundamentals are driving the market ex-Olympics." percent - essentially, buyers would have been better off buying almost anywhere else in London, than in the shadow of the soon-to-be-opened Olympic Stadium. According to Robert Pearce of IP Global, a Dubai based real estate firm, would-be investors must keep in mind that the Olympic story, which attracts considerable inward investment in the build-up to the Games, is ultimately a finite prospect. “As soon as the Olympics go, contracts finish and then you wonder about what fundamentals are driving the market exOlympics,” he cautions. “I do think that over the long term you’ll see East London performing positively, but the areas that do perform positively will not be doing so

just because of the Olympics. They will be performing positively because they are well connected to the central areas of London.” Stratford has been all-but-rebuilt in preparation for the Games, thanks to a redevelopment programme that will add a remarkable 80 percent to the stock of houses in the area. Approximately 11,000 will spring up on the sites of the Olympic Park and Village, while another 2,500 are pencilled in for land surrounding the Olympic Village. And a large majority of these new builds will be able to take advantage of much-improved transport facilities including the revamped Stratford regional and international train terminals and the Javelin high-speed rail line, which will spirit passengers from Central London to the Olympic Park in just seven minutes. As transport links improve, East London is slowly emerging as a target for Middle East investors looking to take advantage of a lower price point than might be available in Central London. For Pearce the Olympics are not the key to whether East London will offer homebuyers solid long-term returns on their investment. There are more important fundamentals at play, which will determine the future of the area, long after the Olympic flame has passed on. “It’s all down to what the government does to continue to support the area after the Olympics,” he says. “Will it still be pumping in or trying to attract Foreign Direct Investment in terms of keeping those infrastructure projects going? Hosting the Olympics is great for infrastructure, for bringing capital in and for redevelopment, but by no means is it the answer to the re-gentrification process – there’s lots of work to do when the Games are finished.”

Property values have surged in the areas surrounding the Olympic stadium.

May / June 2012 GC 25


entrepreneurship

Egypt’s Other Revolution Business incubators in Cairo are sowing the seeds of a start-up ecosystem by funding ideas and educating budding entrepreneurs. By matthew hamilton

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entrepreneurship

All Image courtesy of Flat6Labs

t goes without saying that change is afoot in Egypt. While most focus on political events, the technology sector’s promotion of entrepreneurship is sparking a different sort of revolution. Incubators in Cairo and Alexandria are drawing on the aspirations of the tech-savvy youth, offering seed capital and laying the groundwork for an entrepreneurial ecosystem. This evolution is a “no-brainer,” says Mohannad el Khairy, Middle East regional manager for Plug and Play Tech Centre, a start-up community in Silicon Valley with satellite tech centres around the world. “Egypt has a sophisticated investment community, a high crop of engineering and computer science graduates and a huge local market where startups have a higher chance of becoming successful before going regional.” Funding fresh ideas Ranya Riad founded Snapze, a social activity recommendation application that was incubated in Cairo’s Flat6Labs. Along with networking opportunities, Flat6Labs provides seed capital of $12,000-$15,000, mentorship, office space and business training with seminars by the American University of Cairo. An experienced media strategist from the United States, Riad moved to Egypt in 2009 with entrepreneurial ambitions, but only when she joined Flat6Labs’ first round of entrepreneurs in October 2011 did her idea take off. “Flat6 introduced me to people who would have been very difficult to meet,” she says, crediting Flat6 CEO, Ramez Mohamed, for connecting her with developers and her current business partner. Professional experience in the US equipped Riad with a knowledge of marketing, business plans and finance, she says, but according to Mohamed, she’s the exception to the rule. “Most of the entrepreneurs have very good technical skills but they are missing the important business skills,” he says. Mostafa Nageeb, founder of another Flat6Labs-incubated business agrees. His concept, Ekshef.com – an online booking service for medical appoint-

ments-is poised to replace traditional directories and call centres. He credits Flat6labs with connecting him to insurance companies at which point the idea took off. Flat6Labs incubated five companies in cycle zero, with the current cycle having just ended last month to include an additional five. Mohamed hopes to incubate 20 companies by the end of 2012, and by this time next year, expand Flat6Labs to include branches in other cities like Alexandria.

"Egypt has a sophisticated investment community, a high crop of engineering and computer science graduates and a huge local market where start-ups have a higher chance of becoming successful before going regional." Sustaining young businesses Yet while Flat6 offers education, seed funding and networking, angel investing is not prevalent, and neither Snapze nor Ekshef have received secondary investments. “Angel investing is new here, so there’s not a lot of precedence to draw from to give us advice,” says Riad. Into the fold comes the Alexandriabased incubator, Tahrir2. Founded and funded by former eSpace CEO Samer el Sahn and Google’s Vice President for Emerging Markets and Emerging Businesses Mohammed Gawdat, Tahrir2 is structured to provide capable entrepreneurs funding up through and until the start-up is sustainable. “The ecosystem is not yet ripe enough, so we cannot leave our start-ups at the seed stage,” says el Sahn. “There are no angel investors to invest in them.” While Flat6Labs runs a three-month incubation in cycles and each ends with a Demo Day with investors and

the media, Tahrir2 features an ongoing, rolling admission. Prospective entrepreneurs sit with el Sahn and Gawdat, pitch an idea, answer a barrage of questions and the pair decides whether a candidate meets the entrepreneur profile. There follows a rigid and exacting incubation with “finance and harsh targets,” says el Sahn. “If entrepreneurs meet that challenge, we follow the investment up with more. If they meet these targets over time, we give them enough funds to self-sustain.” Entrepreneurs don’t write a business plan – “because they can’t,” he says – but the intensity of Tahrir2 offers on the spot due diligence. Those who perform are eligible for an average investment of $25,000 to $50,000, but el Sahn says they are willing to invest up to $150,000. Overcoming barriers to growth Despite the disparities in funding and structure at incubators in Egypt, entrepreneurs, mentors and incubator directors alike cite a host of other factors impeding growth in the sector. The complicated legal and regulatory bureaucracy can overwhelm small businesses, while the reliance of cashon-delivery owing to poor access to credit cards and e-payment systems are limiting e-commerce sites. Yet most agree that the ultimate barrier to the growth in tech start-ups and entrepreneurship involves education, cultural norms and a general aversion to risk. “Most engineers would rather land a job at a big company like Microsoft or Google,” says el Sahn. Riad diagnoses the problem as ingrained in the country’s mentality: “what limits Egypt is a consequence of the culture they’ve grown up in. People don’t want to try new things,” she says. Seeing the crucial role of education, Mohannad el Khairy of Plug and Play says that his organisation is now focusing on university partnerships to spur entrepreneurship, both in Egypt and across the region. “People didn’t know what Twitter was before the revolution,” says Riad. “Now, I have people saying the best way to reach them is through Twitter.”

May / June 2012 GC 27


investment destination

East Africa:

Land of New Riches By Heba Hashem

Foreign direct investment in East Africa has more than doubled in the past ten years totaling $1.7 billion in 2011. The prospect of huge oil and gas discoveries and mining and infrastructure opportunities has businesses across the GCC scrambling to invest in the once troubled region.

ast Africa recently made the biggest oil and natural-gas discoveries in a decade, luring investors from steel billionaire Lakshmi Mittal and Ireland’s Tullow Oil, to Royal Dutch Shell and Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Oil and Gas. Last October, Mubadala’s energy unit spent $23 million for one-fifth of a block off Tanzania’s coast, but analysts say oil may not be the reason behind the investment. “Although oil itself hasn’t been discovered in Tanzania, there are large reserves of natural gas, and that’s what is driving interest in the country,” Patrick Mair, analyst for subSaharan African at Control Risks, explained. Considering the UAE’s lack of indigenous gas and its growing need for the hydrocarbon, this may

28 GC May / June 2012

well be the case. In March this year, five months after Mubadala’s investment, Tanzania announced the presence of nearly 60 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. This

is in addition to the numerous gas deposits found in Songo Songo and Mnazi in the south. Tanzania is now weighing plans for a liquefied natural

gas plant, while China is loaning the country $1 billion to build a gas pipeline. Meanwhile, in Uganda, Tullow Oil found 1.1 billion confirmed barrels of oil and believes there are 1.4 billion left to find. By early 2013, Uganda will auction four blocks for oil exploration, as it establishes new progressive laws. Oil was also discovered in Kenya when Tullow struck 20 metres of crude after drilling its first well. “It’s the beginning of a long journey to make our country an oil producer, which typically takes in excess of three years”, president Mwai Kibaki said. Unlike Uganda, Kenya is not landlocked. This means if the country finally discovers commercial oil, it could export it like Ghana does, or refine it at its Mombasa refinery. However, the rest of the EAC (The East African Community is an intergovernmental organisation of the


investment destination

Through his company, African Middle East Recources, Mohamed Alabbar is investing in East Africa.

courtesy of Getty images

Republics of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi established in 2000) do not have a refinery, and member states are considering a joint venture to build one. Meanwhile, neighbouring Tanzania believes it has unexplored oil, and plans to hold a licensing round for 16 offshore blocks starting in September this year. Details of the plans were expected to be revealed this month and the process is expected to close in 2013. The GCC’s four OPEC members (Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait and Qatar) are obliged to restrict their oil output in accordance with the organisation’s commitments, which makes East Africa an ideal gateway for developing and exporting the newfound oil and gas. All that glitters may be gold East Africa is blessed with almost every mineral known to exist in earth; from gold, diamond and gemstones, to the more recently discovered nickel, copper, uranium, titanium, cobalt and platinum. Tanzania, the world’s third largest producer of gold, is also the sole producer of Tanzanite - a mineral 1,000 times more rare than diamonds. The worldwide market for rough and polished tanzanite is estimated at around US$100 million and $200 per annum respectively, signalling massive op-

"We all like to do business in easy environments, so who are the guys who like the challenge? " portunities for global miners. “Africa is like a goldmine in terms of what’s out there. There are major investments that have gone toward Africa and more will come”, UAE Minister of Foreign Trade Sheikha Lubna al Qasemi recently told a conference in Abu Dhabi.

One of the latest players to delve into Africa’s mines is UAE business tycoon Mohamed Alabbar, away from his role as chairman of Emaar Properties, Alabbar runs Africa Middle East Resources (AMER). The Johannesburg-based company aims to find natural resources for key mining and energy stakeholders, with emphasis on base and precious metals, as well as oil and gas. “Africa is neglected...the size of Africa with one billion people, 300 million middle income, fabulous opportunities, welcoming government, but unfortunately we all like to do business in easy environments, so who are the guys who like the challenge?” Alabbar questioned. Developing the tourism sector Tourism in East Africa is a highly attractive and profitgenerating market: Dubai World tapped into this through the redevelopment of a lodge in Rwanda near Volcanoes National Park, home to one of the world’s last mountain gorilla bands, and by investing in a $25 million eco-lodge at Nyungwe Forest National Park, that became Rwanda’s second five-star hotel when it opened last summer. Moreover, the Hyatt Regency Dar es Salaam Hotel in Kilimanjaro, one of the country’s oldest landmarks, is owned by Dubai-based ASB Ltd, who is also redeveloping the historic Seventy Seven Hotel in Arusha. In the finance sector, Invest-Abu Dhabi’s Africa fund bought into the public offering of Rwanda’s Bank of Kigali. “The fund, which will deploy $75 million invested by the two partners, is looking to participate in initial public offerings, take stakes in unlisted companies, and negotiate block share purchases in listed companies,” Invest AD said in a statement. Etihad Airways and Emirates Airlines have launched direct flights to serve the expanding interest in Africa.

May / June 2012 GC 29


business culture

Diversity at Work Cultural awareness is critical to doing business in today’s global economy. By natasha tourish

e often hear the phrase “ the world is getting smaller” and in Dubai this definitely rings true. The UAE has positioned itself as a business and transit hub between East and West, with many international companies establishing headquarters in Dubai. While the multicultural nature of work in the Gulf offers an opportunity to be exposed to diverse communities, it can also be challenging as the traditions of doing business vary from East to the West. “The Middle East is a relationship driven culture and in the end the role personal relationships play is the deciding factor in whether or not business is done,” explains Jan Bladen founding COO of the DFSA, the financial

32 GC May / June 2012

services regulator of the DIFC. A self-confessed nomad, Jan grew up in Algeria, Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Tunis, where drinking tea, offering Eid greetings and escaping the summer heat was the norm. He believes that there are only a few expatriates who truly appreciate the importance of cultural respect, tolerance and understanding in this part of the world. Jan exemplifies the definition of a global citizen; born in the Netherlands to British parents, married to a Lebanese Arab, fluent in three languages, raised in 11 countries, holding both British and Swiss citizenship. “As a ‘third culture kid’ (defined as someone who, as a child, has spent a significant period of time being raised in one or more cultures other than their own), you be-


business culture

come a natural cultural chameleon,” says Bladen. Adding that he “intuitively” adapted his behaviour and manners to those of the culture around him. “I run my business operations as a Swiss and my business relationships as an Arab. Operational efficiencies are crucial for present performance while investing time into building and nurturing long lasting respectful relations is the foundation to all other aspects of my life in the Middle East.” Working within new cultural contexts “In the West it would be perfectly reasonable after a brief personal introduction, to discuss business. This is simply not the case in the Middle East,” says Bladen. “Time is required to get to know one another and to work out if a relationship and trust can be nurtured.

what nationality I am going to meet, and adjust my time keeping accordingly. (But don’t get it wrong … I would hate to imagine arriving 20 minutes late for a meeting with a Swiss!)” Adjusting mindsets “Sitting in your first meeting in the Middle East, noticing your Arab business host answering his mobile phone, sending text messages during the meeting and even greeting other guests whilst being ensconced in business dealings, should not come as a surprise. Be patient in meetings and allow for distractions and long delays.” Bladen recalls being invited to a private mid-week dinner meeting with a high ranking UAE government official where dinner did not commence until 11pm.

"In the West it would be perfectly reasonable after a brief personal introduction to discuss business. This is not the case in the Middle East." Jan Bladen, COO of DFSA, has extensive experience doing business in multicultural workplaces.

This may even require many meetings over tea. Simply trying to get “down to business” in the first instances of a first meeting is seen as rude and pushy,” he adds. “In the Middle East, there is a tendency to become friends first and then to do business with a very small contract, if any, as someone’s word is considered enough (although this is slowly changing). “This would make most expatriates nervous of doing business this way. But to become too insistent on contracts and deadlines could backfire as this could be considered as a lack of trust in your business host,” he explains. Also time keeping is not necessarily of primary importance, unlike other parts of the world, says Bladen. “Arriving 15 to 20 minutes late for an appointment will be considered, by some, as very normal. Westerners need to adjust their mind set, as this is not an insult or an offense, rather simply common practice.” “I actually find myself unconsciously remembering

At 3am his Lebanese wife advised him not to leave the table until the host decided that dinner was finished. Bladen says he doesn’t believe you can truly understand a culture by taking a course or reading a book. You need to entirely immerse yourself in it. “I married into a large traditional Arab family and can honestly say that my social circle includes more Arabs than Europeans. But despite all of this, I only now sense that I am just starting to understand Middle Eastern culture, its history, its people and its values.” So what would Bladen’s advice be to anyone wishing to do business or get ahead in the UAE? “Go have coffee or tea with your colleague from another background and look at what unites different cultures rather than what divides them and explore the cultural riches of other nations and nationalities. Work with a passion for understanding, rather than the drive for wanting to ‘do business’. The ‘business’ will eventually follow with trust and relationships in a natural way.”

May / June 2012 GC 33


entrepreneurship

Ruling Mumzworld Entrepreneur Mona Ataya, co-founder of Bayt.com, launches one of the UAE’s newest online businesses. By Sara Hamdan

Ataya is mother to eight year-old twins, Sufian and Tareq, and four year Yousef .

ike most successful online ventures, Mona Ataya’s idea was simple: offer children’s products online to busy parents. Ataya, one of the original founders of bayt.com, the largest recruitment website in the Middle East and Africa, launched her successful new venture, Mumzworld. com, last June. The busy mother of three says the concept for Mumzworld started from her own experience. “As an entrepreneur, I considered myself to be relatively educated and resourceful until I had my children. Then all of a sudden I was stuck,” she recalls. “I didn’t know what I needed for my kids or where to find it, had no idea about prices.”

34 GC May / June 2012

"We’re marrying e-commerce with women, with a real demand for a one-stop-shop for all their needs."

She spent months online trying to educate herself on what a mother needs and struggled to find answers in malls. And so, Mumzworld was born. The website allows parents to search for products online, compare prices, and arrange for delivery of products on offer-ranging from diapers to toys to strollers. The site saves parents the hassle of going from shop to shop to find specific items. The business is built on two basic premises; one is that the e-commerce playing field is large and growing very quickly in Dubai and globally. The second is that the mother or parent target market is not fully catered to e-commerce yet. “We’re marrying e-commerce with women with a real demand for a onestop shop for all their needs,” said


entrepreneurship

Ataya. “It empowers parents to access a wide range of products under one roof and promotes transparent pricing for local and international products.” Though simple in essence, she admits it was not an easy start. There was a lot of groundwork to reach out to distributors early on and convince them of the benefits of selling their products online. With no track record, she relied on a handful of distributors who took a leap of faith. Within six weeks, there was significant traction on the website and a team of four managed over 25,000 products on offer. Today, this has grown to over 40,000 products and the Mumzworld team has grown to twenty people, with plans to hire more. “Everything you see on the website is developed in-house, from the design to the choices on offer,” she said. She has leveraged the tech support and connections she made with bayt.com as well as key lessons learned while building the recruitment website. Out of the eight partners of Mumzworld, half of them are from bayt.com. Four of Mumzworld’s partners are investment partners and the remaining four are actual cash partners. The initial funding was done internally and the young company is now in the venture capital funding stage. She is in talks with potential investors for round A investing. “We just launched a service to deliver diapers door to door on a regular basis that is less expensive than

the market,” she said. “Our ethos is that the whole shopping experience must be seamless for the parent, whether they are buying everyday products or special gifts.” The website is now at a stage where orders have moved significantly north of what was expected. This makes it necessary to secure proper funding in order to accommodate the increase in business. Plans are also in place to expand to other parts of the Arab world, starting with Saudi Arabia. “We are ready to go heavy into Saudi,” she said. “We have so many Arabic users and successfully launched the website in Arabic in March. That was part of the plan.” “The most difficult thing is to balance work and family,” said Ataya. “Time management is always a challenge. I just don’t sleep much.” She is usually up at six and down at midnight, attending as many of her children’s soccer games as she can in between meetings. She always picks her children up from school and sets time in the evenings to help them with homework. When they go to sleep is when her work begins. “An online business runs 24 hours a day, it doesn’t sleep and neither do I,” she said.

May / June 2012 GC 35


starting a business

The Secret to Start Up Success Mike Balfour is a self-made millionaire who put his life savings on the line to open a gym, which grew into the international brand Fitness First. He tells Global Citizen how he did it. By Annie Maul

self-made millionaire of the ‘rags to riches’ variety, British born Mike Balfour spent the first 20 years of his working life as a Chartered Accountant. Then, in his forties, he risked everything to open his own gym. Twenty years later, those gyms, Fitness First PLC, have become the largest privately owned health clubs in the world. The group operates in 25 countries, with about 550 clubs and 1.5 million members. In the MENA region, the Fitness

36 GC May / June 2012

First franchise was bought by Dubaibased retail and hospitality company Landmark Group in 2010, through its investment arm Landmark Investments. “It’s all about being first. Doing gyms today doesn’t seem that imaginative. But back in 1992, dry gymsthat is a gym without a swimming pool, squash courts or restaurants-had not been done before. We were the first.” “I had a feeling that people would pay to just exercise in gyms and studi-

os so by leaving out some of the more expensive items, you could bring the price right down. At the time, people didn’t think it would work. And of course it worked.” Fresh ideas A serial entrepreneur, Balfour is not in retirement by any means. Since selling Fitness First Plc, he launched two new business ventures. One is a chain of health clubs called Pure Jatomi Fitness for the emerging markets of Eastern Europe, Turkey and


starting a business

Asia.“We’re building at a rapid rate. We already have 32 up and running, and we’ll have 60 by the end of 2012, employing 1,700 people.” He’s also launched the Hideaways Club, a global property fund that merges real estate investments with hospitality. The fund is limited to 600 members who have exclusive use of 100 luxury properties and share in the value appreciation of the entire portfolio.

managed to raise £50,000 by selling my house. I had personal guarantees going out to everybody and it had to work, if it didn’t I’d be ruined. That’s how you do it.” He had to get external investors as well. “Certain friends are prepared to back you. We needed about £250,000 in cash and £400,000 in bank loans. And this was in 1992, in the reces-

Humble beginnings How did Balfour’s entrepreneurial journey begin? “I was born in London to a poor family and had a very bad education,” Balfour says. “My father was a shipbuilder who left school at 14. I became a Chartered Accountant and worked for various companies for 20 years. I was a late starter; I didn’t become an entrepreneur until I was 42. “I started Fitness First because I was obsessed with bringing fitness clubs to the masses. I was incredibly unfit and it was a product I needed. I was working hard, travelling a lot, not exercising, so I came to the fitness industry as a consumer, rather than as a fitness expert.” Balfour says he risked financial ruin to get that first club opened. “I had a good standard of living, a house, two children and a wife but no capital. To launch Fitness First, I

"I was a late starter; I didn’t become an entrepreneur until I was 42."

Be prepared for the risks What does it take to thrive as an entrepreneur? Balfour says there are limitless opportunities for running your

don’t then you don’t believe in your business enough so don’t do it. “If you’ve got a great idea you’ve got to back it with everything you’ve got. And you work a lot harder when you’ve got everything on the line. There are a lot of good and bad ideas; pick a good one and make it work. If it doesn’t work, pick another one.” The key, says Balfour, is giving it everything, adapting as you go and having a Plan B. “There’s an inner drive. You don’t always get it right but you adapt. That’s why when a journalist asked me if I’d had any failures, I said, ‘No, but I’ve had many changes of plan’.”

One of Balfour’s new ventures is the Hideaways Club, a fund which offers members an equity share in a portfolio of £1 million plus luxury villas and chalets across the world. Investors also get year round access to a range of luxury holiday homes.

Images courtesy of The Hideaways Club

The Next Big Thing:

sion!” But they managed to raise it. After that first club opened, it took two years to open the second one. “By 1995 we had five clubs and in 1996 I floated the business on the Alternative Investments Market in London. That was a really big break because for the first time ever I had real money raised on the stock market to invest in clubs. We floated it at £14 million valuation and five years later, it was a £600 million capital.”

own business and making money but first you must be prepared to take unimaginable risks. “I can’t believe it when I hear firsttime entrepreneurs saying they refuse to give personal guarantees to banks. Frankly, if you want a loan to start a business and you’re not prepared to put your house on the line, why should any bank manager? If you

May / June 2012 GC 37


Coffee at the Capital Club

Nurturing Young Leaders Nabil Alyousuf has harnessed the potential of the region’s rising stars through his work in both the public and private sector. By Nina Glinski

abil Ali Alyousuf’s career has revolved around creating new ventures and nurturing budding enterprises. The former Director General of the Executive Office of HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum uses his business expertise as chairman of AlJal Capital, a venture capital investor in entrepreneurial companies, and also as Chairman of Nabil Alyousuf and Associates, a strategic advisory firm helping multinationals navigate the regional GCC market. His greatest legacy, however, will be the numerous leadership development programs he has created over the last decade. With a massive pool of future leaders, such programs are paramount. “We live in a region that has 50 percent of the population less than 25 years old. As they grow, the infrastructure needs to change with them.” Alyousuf has high hopes for young UAE nationals growing up in the Internet Age. “They are more global, better informed… as a result they have bigger ambitions and are more determined to achieve.” Given a nurturing environment, he believes they can achieve great success. Alyousuf’s most recent launch is the Middle East Leadership Academy (MELA), a non-profit he started in 2011 with the support of the Society of International Business Fellows. MELA’s core philosophy is “to get the best and the brightest and give them opportunity.” Members are enrolled 30 at a time on a rolling basis, and have access to Fortune 500 CEOs

38 GC May / June 2012

and entrepreneurs, who serve as mentors. The program, whose members regularly meet for reunions and networking events, has been a great success in its banner year. That’s hardly a surprise considering Alyousuf’s past enterprises. Alyousuf, who was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2010, is no stranger to personal development. Following his success at a number of private, internationally operating companies, he was recruited to the public sector. It was during his nearly nine-year tenure as Director General at the Executive Office that Alyousuf became passionate about leadership development for youth. In 2003, while assessing the massive challenge of unemployment among UAE nationals, he noticed that “you always had new ideas, projects, and initiatives and there were very few UAE nationals who could actually take the leadership role. They were ill prepared for the environment of a global workplace.” Under his direction, a series of policy changes and the establishment of major programs including the Emirates Nationalist Development Program (ENDP) began to pave the way for leadership development. Alyousuf is also focused on bridging investment opportunies across regions. As Chairman of EU Capital Partners his company offers financial services to investors and companies seeking business opportunities in the Balkans with a special focus on Bulgaria. They also help companies from Eastern Europe expand into the MENA region.


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Philanthropy

A School for Orphans Dubai philantropists provide an education to children in Pakistan’s Swat Valley, a beautiful region ravaged by years of war with the Taliban.

courtesy of Getty images

By tahira yaqoob

ts breathtaking mountains, glassy lakes and verdant forests have earned it the nickname of “the Switzerland of Pakistan;” its tourism board proclaims it a “paradise on earth.” But just three years ago, the Swat Valley in Pakistan’s turbulent north-west frontier was a no-go area. It was overrun by the Taliban who went on a killing spree through the valley, banning hundreds of thousands of girls from getting a formal education-their schools shut down or blown up. The cost of the invasion was only really calculated once the Pakistani army succeeded in driving out the militants in July 2009. The official toll of children whose fathers had been killed was put at 2,213. Privately, army officials think the number of youngsters orphaned was closer to 7,000. Help from Dubai Thanks to a Dubai-based group, the Pakistan Association of Dubai, or PAD, those orphaned children of Swat are once more getting their birthright - an education- and a roof over their heads. Under any circumstances, the achievements of the Parwarish School and Orphanage would

40 GC May / June 2012

be admirable. Against that backdrop of violence and anarchy, it is nothing short of remarkable. For PAD it was unfathomable to sit by and do nothing. Sixty per cent of the one millionplus Pakistani expatriates living in the UAE are from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, formerly known as the North-West Frontier Province. And as Riaz Farooq, who was president of PAD at the time, says, abandoning the orphans to their fate would be akin to neglecting their own. “These children are like my own,” he says. “If we do not educate our children, then we cannot end terrorism. We might have left these villages to live abroad but we need to make them beautiful as a legacy for the children left behind.” So PAD’s 3000-plus members dipped their hands in their pockets to raise five million rupees (Dh218,000) and Parwarish - meaning nurture - was opened in the town of Mingora in November 2009, initially taking just boys. A year ago, the site opened its doors to girls. Today they make up more than a quarter of the school’s 100 pupils that their day at dawn being taught English, math, Urdu and Quranic studies. Two years on, the number of pupils has doubled. It is a far cry from the height of the


philanthropy

Photography by Muzammil Pasha

Taliban invasion, when it would have been unthinkable to have girls being educated openly.

"These children are alone and abandoned with no one else to care for them. When they come here, they are wary and worried but within a couple of weeks, they are transformed."

Decimated by war After a two-year campaign of violence, the extremist Maulana Fazlullah joined the Taliban and backed by 4,500 troops, swept through the valley at the base of the Hindu Kush, taking control of village after village and imposing a ban on female education on its 1.6 million inhabitants. A total of 400 schools catering to 400,000 girls were shut down; another 170 were bombed or torched when they defied the ban.

Giving orphans a home When the army finally managed to wrestle back control, a beleaguered Swat turned to expatriates for help. Naeem Ullah was one of those; a charity worker who had been dealing with refugees in camps, he saw a pressing need to take care of the thousands of children orphaned and enlisted the help of PAD. He converted an abandoned hostel

months ago, PAD members held a fundraising dinner in which they individually pledged to sponsor a child and pay the Dh4,400 cost of educating each of Parwarish’s 100 orphans for a year. And when devastating floods wreaked havoc in 2009, displacing 14 million people and sweeping away dozens of bridges which acted as vital links between communities, PAD stepped in again, this time paying

In Mingora alone, 10 girls’ schools were blown up. As more than a million people fled in fear for their lives, moved to refugee camps or crossed the border into Afghanistan, and supplies for those who chose to stay in a besieged Swat began to run out, education was relegated to a luxury and survival became key. An estimated 3,500 people were killed in the conflict and more than 90 per cent of Swat Valley residents were deemed to be internationally displaced persons.

into the orphanage and drew up a list of the neediest cases. “These children are alone and abandoned with no one else to care for them,” he says. “When they come here, they are wary and worried but within a couple of weeks, they are transformed. “We give them self-confidence and a tough schedule to keep them busy so they have no time to think of the past.” The philanthropy did not stop with the opening of the orphanage. Two

1.3m rupees (Dh56,500) to rebuild a link between two remote villages and saving its residents a 2km detour. PAD general secretary Faisel Ikram says: “It is the responsibility of the Pakistani community here to give something back. This is a drop in the ocean and a small solution to a much bigger problem. We all need to play our part.” Farooq adds: “Our association slogan is ‘We are Pakistanis, we are one’. We should be united in keeping terrorism at bay.”

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Gray

Vision Hotelier Gordon Campbell Gray, the man behind the famed Le Gray hotels, tells GC why he’s passionate about Lebanon and how he juggles a seemingly glamorous life with his work as Vice President of Save the Children. By Tahira Yaqoob

42 GC May / June 2012


entrepreneur

A stunning view of Hariri Mosque from the hotel’s restaurant.

ordon Campbell Gray has just returned to Beirut from a trip to South America where he had to fly economy on two legs. “Disgusting,” he says with a shudder. “If I were an emperor, I would ban totally fitting economy seats.” It comes as a surprise from the man who has faced scenes of abject poverty and desperation as the vice president of the charity Save the Children but then, by his own admission, Campbell Gray is “incredibly demanding and exacting.” As the founder of the luxury Campbell Gray hotel chain, which includes the beautifully understated Le Gray in Beirut, neither a tumbler nor a piece of fruit goes into one of his establishments before passing muster. Curious contradictions A curious mass of contradictions, the 61-year-old Scotsman preaches extravagance without excess, loves the glamour of Beirut but shuns parties and crowds, is poised to open an ecofriendly hotel in a nature reserve near Ecuador but admits he has a “humongous” carbon footprint and is as comfortable building schools in deprived pockets of Ethiopia and Nicaragua as he is helming a charity ball packed with millionaires or dealing with the demands of ostentatious guests travelling with their pet monkeys. The absurdity of such contrasts is not lost on him and he admits his life

often takes him “from the Ritz to the gutter and back.” Beirut, then, is the perfect fit for his chameleon lifestyle: “It’s certainly a city of contrasts. What you see first is the glamorous side and it’s fun and exciting and everyone loves it but un-

“If you’re only interested in hotels, it’s a problem. People who just eat, sleep, talk, drink, think hotels or restaurants create the most boring hotels.” derneath the surface, there is a grittier side that isn’t always as pleasant.” Underlying his philosophy is his meticulous attention to the minutiae: “I obsess about layer upon layer of tiny details, whether it is the painting on the wall or a lamp.” It is those little flourishes which have made Campbell Gray’s hotels -

as well as Le Gray, he owns One Aldwych in London and Carlisle Bay in Antigua and runs the historic Dukes Hotel in the English capital - stand out from the crowd, from the purple glass swimming pool at Le Gray to the site’s collection of 500 works of contemporary art. His eye for aesthetics, helped by British designer Mary Fox Linton, is to be showcased in a book he is compiling called, ‘Ultimately, It’s All About Marmalade’. Creating ‘materpieces’ “I think if you’re only interested in hotels, it’s a problem,” he says. “People who just eat, sleep, talk, drink, think hotels or restaurants create the most boring hotels. “If you don’t have an interest in art or travel or culture or people or are not open to freshness, you just become like everyone else.” He calls his venues “our little masterpieces” and is particular about which projects to take on, despite being approached at least twice a week. “We have to feel we are creating a masterpiece that is right for the place.” On the cards are two more hotels in his beloved Lebanon, one by the sea and another a mountain lodge just outside Beirut, as well as two “very exciting” ventures in South America. “There are so many brands rolling out formulas,’ he says. “It does not interest me to just churn out hotels, nor does London-Paris-New York excite me. It’s about doing more interesting, offbeat projects which blend in beautifully with the country and hopefully

May / June 2012 GC 43


entrepreneur

give jobs to people who really need them.” An unconventional path Campbell Gray was supposed to be an architect but after failing his science exams, was lured into the hospitality industry by the glamorous life of an aunt who resided in Claridge’s in London. His parents were appalled; his father memorably told him: “You stay in hotels, you don’t work in them.” But his grandmother paid for him to attend hotel school in Glasgow, where the young, rebellious Campbell Gray was already determined not to follow the crowd and dropped out after 10 months. “I couldn’t stand it,” he says. “I just found the people teaching me and the

people I studied with were dreadfully boring.” At 22, he was working in London as a purchasing manager for the Intercontinental hotel chain when he saw a news report about the plight of Bangladeshis caught in conflict. He rang Save the Children to offer help and spent the next two years buying and distributing medicine near the Ganges in India, running a school for disabled children in Morocco and providing relief in earthquake-hit Nicaragua. “I came back and it really changed my life. It made everything I do in hotels totally different. I wanted to really look after the team,” he says. The hotelier dubbed his staff his “true secret weapon,” saying service is key, as well as an ethos of making a difference. Panoramic views of Beirut’s skyline from Le Gray Beirut.

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Campbell still goes on field missions once a year and visits schools to explain the importance volunteer work. He feels a commitment to help put Beirut back on the tourist trail and shatter preconceptions about its dangers: “We’ve brought a lot of new people and tourism is such an important part of the economy.” Tom Fletcher, the British ambassador to Lebanon, says his contribution cannot be underestimated: “Gordon took a crater in downtown Beirut and turned it into one of the world’s most successful and universally praised hotels…it is a talismanic and striking symbol of hope.” Campbell Gray has a simpler way of looking at it: “I just see the world as a playground and look for adventure round every corner.”


Brand building

Cracking the

Qode

From events management to public relations, meet the men behind the UAE’s hottest luxury consultancy. By Sara Hamdan

46 GC May / June 2012


Brand building

s they walk up to meet me, both men impeccably dressed in dark suits, they look like they are ready for a photo shoot rather than an interview. Confident and warm, with easy smiles, they move like cameras are on them at all times. Who exactly are Dubai’s men in black? Chances are if you’ve been invited to a chichi event in the emirate, these are the guys who have thrown it. There is a reason why the likes of Hermes, Louis Vuitton and Lancome chose Ayman Fakoussa and Dipesh Depala’s brand consultancy to host events and manage their public relations efforts in the region. It’s all about cultivating the right public image down to the smallest detail. These two don’t just work with this mentality, they embody it. The pair joined forces two years ago to create Image Nation, now rebranded as The Qode, with a diversified portfolio of luxury brands that currently ranges from fashion

“We are a one-stop shop, able to provide a full package that other agencies may not in terms of both PR and event management,” said Depala. “We don’t compromise on either and are quite selective with who we work

"We were a bit bored with what we saw happening in Dubai and knew what we wanted to do differently when we started our company." and cosmetics to food and art. The two met 15 years ago on a night out. Fakoussa was working with fashion house Villa Moda. Depala was running his family’s FMCG business. It wasn’t until March 2010 that they became business partners and created Image Nation, offering their clients a team that can conceptualise and execute an event, as well as manage press coverage and get the city’s creme de la creme under one roof.

with. So far, we’ve been blessed.” Blessed is a modest way of saying they work very, very hard to get the job done right. They are just as likely to be seen handling the guest list on the red carpet as they are to be holding a broom and doing some lastminute sweeping in their tuxedoes. The Qode’s trick is to work on a personal level with clients. The company has grown very organically, responding to market

needs. What started with Fakoussa and Depala working with clients in Dubai has blossomed into a team of 12 putting together events out of the UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. While they continue to focus on what they do best, they also have an eye for opportunity. “Events were never meant to be a part of our business at first, it was just supposed to be a consultancy for luxury brands focused on communications strategy,” explained Fakoussa. “But it became a natural extension of our work.” Their events quickly became the most talked about parties in town. There was the launch for Rolling Stone Middle East magazine in 2010, complete with punk models holding electric guitars posing on the bar as reallife mannequins. Or the Saks Fifth Avenue runway show beneath the DIFC gate. And perhaps one of the most dramatic, the transformation of the Burj Park to celebrate the opening of the Louis Vuitton Trophy. “We work with clients who will be open to our creative ideas and trust that we know what will work,” adds Depala. How many events, exactly, do they attend in a week? “At least two or three,” they say together, with a laugh. But despite the hectic schedule, Depala puts his family-fashion designer wife Ayesha Depala, and his two kids, Leah and Neel-first. “Time with my family is essential. No matter what events I have, I always make it home to do homework with my babies, play a little, give them dinner, bathe and put them to bed.” The pair complement each other’s strengths. Whereas Depala is “really good at looking at the big picture and stepping back, I get caught up in details,” said Fakoussa. All of this is said with a smile, before the two head off to their next event. May / June 2012 GC 47


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Elie saab

Fashioning an Empire Lebanese designer Elie Saab’s glamorous gowns rule red carpets around the world. Born, bred and still based in Beirut, the designer quietly reigns over one of the most powerful fashion houses in the world. Here’s an inside look at his empire. By Ritu Upadhyay

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elie saab

May / June 2012 GC 51


elie saab

n an era where fashion designers are celebrity personalities, the elusive and surprisingly camera shy Elie Saab prefers to let his designs speak for themselves. And they make quite a statement. His elegant, ultra feminine gowns are favoured by every major A-lister on the world’s most glamorous red carpets. Though known in the Middle East since the 80’s, Hollywood’s love affair with Saab began with Halle Berry’s Oscar appearance in 2002. The image of Berry in the iconic figure hugging gown accepting her Oscar was forever etched in people’s minds. As was the name of the designer—Elie Saab. “When you say Halle Berry, she comes in your mind with this dress. It was a very important moment for us, one nobody can plan. It’s spontaneous thing, and I’m so happy to have it,” says Saab. Hollywood red carpets are the most important fashion runways in the world now. The wide media coverage, celebrity endorsement and brand recognition can do in just minutes what it takes marketing departments years to achieve. “The red carpet definitely has a direct impact on the business. When the customer sees a celebrity wearing that dress, there is more demand,” says

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Chucri Cavalcanti, Managing Director of Elie Saab Group. Destined to design Saab did not start out dressing celebrities. His passion for design began at the age of 9, when he used his mother’s tablecloths to cut dress patterns for his sisters. The self taught designer launched his business in 1982, at the age of 18. His intricate handmade designs were immediately well received by high society Lebanese clientele. In 1997 Saab says he was ready to expand internationally. He showed his

Hollywood red carpets are perhaps the most important fashion runways in the world now. The wide media coverage, celebrity endorsement and brand recognition can do in just minutes what it takes marketing departments years to achieve.

first ready to wear collection in Rome. Within 10 years he was invited into the prestigious Chambre Syndicale de La Haute Couture. Only 15 fashion houses in the world are officially allowed to call themselves Haute Couture. Saab is the only non-European in that category. A brand rooted in Beirut Despite global success with stand alone boutiques in Paris, London and Dubai and over 45 point of sales around the world, Saab still views Beirut as the creative hub of the brand. In 2005, Elie Saab opened a new couture house in the very heart of the reconstructed downtown Beirut. The modern, five floor building houses his accessories and ready-to-wear boutique, couture house and bridal salon. Most importantly though, it houses his atelier and design studio where each dress is painstakingly hand made by skilled Lebanese artisans. Every couture gown is made under his supervision. Proud of his roots he says he will never move headquarters from Lebanon. “Lebanese women were my first clients. When I’m in Lebanon I work in a different way. The energy is very important for me. It’s my country. For me to feel at home is very important.”


elie saab

Dresses hang like artwork at Saab’s couture salon in Beirut.

Creating clothes that sell While many couturiers create dresses that are more pieces of art than clothes, Saab is very practical in his approach. He designs wearable dresses for real women. “Sure it’s art but I don’t believe in art of no value. I like to see my clothes worn by women. The value of what I do is how much I see my clothes being worn.” His launch from the region has been a great boost to the business as well. Though the Elie Saab Group does not make their sales figures public, however Cavalcanti says the region remains one of their most important markets, generating 40 percent of their total sales. Saab’s couture gowns start at 30,000 euros, a price point not accessible to the average consumer. But the Middle East remains a hot market for such luxury products. In a recent report, Euromonitor International estimated residents of the UAE alone spend more per head on luxury goods than any other country in the world, with total annual sales of 1.47 billion AED.

Looking eastward With his business on firm ground in western markets and the Middle East, Saab is now rolling out plans for stores in the far east. The first stand alone boutique will open in Hong Kong by the end of this year. “The luxury market in Asia has been growing significantly. I think it’s important for us to be part of that market,” said Cavalcanti. After Hong Kong, they plan to expand to Beijing and Shanghai by 2013. Beyond the runway While haute couture are the highest margin products for the company, like all fashion houses, Saab can not rely on that alone. Committed to what he calls “continuous progress,” the ambitious designer and businessman has expanded his fashion house and vision to include many successful license agreements. The Elie Saab empire includes perfumes, accessories, special edition BMWs and even yachts. While launching the first of three megayachts designed by him in Abu Dhabi last year he

May / June 2012 GC 53


elie saab

said, “I always sought to represent my vision of modernity and elegance beyond the conventional limits of fashion. Designing a yacht and conceiving its art of living is a perfect opportunity to expand my brands universe by creating the experience of luxury.” Cavalcanti says next in the pipeline is an eyewear license agreement as well as home lines and furniture. Future plans for the Elie Saab Group includes a potential IPO. “Ultimately if we want to be a global player we

1982 At the age of 18, opens his couture atelier in Beirut with 15 employees

1997

Committed to “continuous progress,” the ambitious designer and businessman has expanded his fashion house and vision to include many successful brand extensions and license agreements.

1998

have to be thinking of that ahead of us,” says Cavalcanti. He says, they are preparing for it by institutionalising how the company is run. In the meantime Saab continues to create. Jetting between homes in Lebanon, Geneva and Paris, with his wife Cluadine and three sons by his side-Elie Jr., 21; Celio, 18, and Michel, 16-he sees endless opportunities for his company. His eldest son has shown interest in the family business. Something Saab says he welcomes, but doesn’t push for.

2002

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to the Oscars, forever immortalized in the moment.

54 GC May / June 2012

2003


elie saab

2005

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May / June 2012 GC 55


architecture

Turkey has become a respected hotbed of modern architectural creativity. One team is bringing those designs to Dubai. Architect Melkin Tabanlioglu

urkey’s architectural history is a complicated tale of reinvention. Islamic Mamluk, Byzantine, Iranian and Seljuk architectural traditions all placed their stamp on Turkey’s cities early on, leading up to the arrival of the country’s iconic Ottoman era. This overt architectural style is often described as synthesising the traditions of the Mediterranean and the Middle East. But in the 1980’s the economy blossomed, paving the way for a new generation of private sector firms who let their imaginations run free. One company which has played a 56 GC May / June 2012

central role in Turkey’s creative rebirth is Tabanlioglu Architects, now run by husband and wife team Murat and Melkan Tabanlioglu, who were joint winners of “Architect of the Year in the Middle East” at Cityscape Global 2010. Headquartered in Istanbul, the firm was established by Murat’s father Dr Hayati Tabanlioglu who is famed for constructing major state buildings such as Erzurum Atatürk University, Atatürk Cultural Centre Istanbul, Istanbul Atatürk Airport and the first shopping mall in the country – Galleria Shopping Centre. The second incarnation of the com-

pany began in the 1990’s when Melkan – who is the granddaughter of the ex President of the Republic of Turkey, Cemal Gürsel – joined her husband Murat and the two guided Tabanlioglu into a bold new era. Designs on Dubai The Tabanlioglu team are currently in Dubai working on a new beach tower in Jumeirah Beach Residence, designed to be a mix-use development that will include a total of 300 residential and hotel units, some impressive community facilities and open green spaces. The building will also incorporate JBR’s first mosque, which will


architecture

be a modern structure designed to fit seamlessly into the development. Speaking about the JBR development, due to be completed in 2014, Melkan says the UAE is vitally important as a source of inspiration for architects. “Here they have achieved something amazing from nothing, built cities out of the sand – and they’re continuing now into what I would describe as a second era of development. And I am very proud to be part of it,” she said. More than just buildings “We believe very much that as an architect you are creating a social structure, a place where a community lives and breathes – not just a building,” explained Melkan. “We like to create designs that bring people together and allow them to interact and do what they need to do easily, in comfort. The mosque will be part of everyday life, as praying is part of life, not something separate,” she stressed.

"If you go to Istanbul you see layers of different styles from the past all competing with each other. But we are moving away from this and looking towards creating structures that complement each other and improve the lives of the people." Reflecting on her home country’s transition from traditional design to modern day skyscrapers and certified green buildings, she says that is down to a new attitude displayed by the current generation of architects – one that focuses on creating sustainable developments that will add to people’s lives for years to come – not just act as a testament to the skills of the architect. In essence: a more holistic, less egoistic approach. “If you go to Istanbul you see lay-

The Tabanlioglu team have designed many of Istanbul’s most iconic new buildings, including ‘Istanbul Sapphire’ the city’s tallest building.

ers of different styles from the past all competing with each other. But we are moving away from this and looking towards creating structures that complement each other and improve the lives of the people,” she explained. Tabanlioglu has been awarded for its achievements across the globe and works in partnerships with key creative institutions on a variety of projects, which has all contributed to raising the profile of modern Turkish design to its current high status. May / June 2012 GC 57


art

Wall Street’s Bull

Charges into Dubai The sculptor behind the iconic New York street art plans to leave his mark on Dubai

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Art

talian-American artist Arturo Di Modica has been working on a new ‘Charging Bull’ sculpture for the past few months in his Soho studio in New York. The 71 year old is determined to find a UAE buyer for the piece, which is worth up to $4 million. Di Modica became famous after he created the original 3.5 tonne bronze charging bull sculpture in 1989 with his own money and installed it in the middle of the night opposite the New York Stock exchange in a defiant response to the infamous stock market crash two years previous. Since it was not commissioned by New York City as public art, the bull was seized and impounded by the police. Public outcry from New Yorkers forced the Parks and Recreation city authorities to reinstall it. However, they refused to put it back on Wall Street, instead placing the now iconic tourist attraction in Broadway’s bowling green, steps away from Wall Street.

The statue personifies financial optimism and prosperity (the combination of ‘bulls’ and ‘bears’) so it seems that Dubai’s International Financial District would be an obvious choice. Di Modica says that he will “drop” his new bull, which stands 11 ft high, 16 ft long, in Dubai by November of this year, regardless of whether or not its sold. He was in the emirate recently to scope out possible locations to place the sculpture. Since the statue personifies financial optimism and prosperity (the combination of “bulls” and “bears”) it seems that Dubai’s International Financial Centre would be an obvious choice. Two of his life-size works, the bull and the horse in stainless steel are already in the UAE with private collectors. But the artist believes that the emirate needs more public sculptures. “These cities need to be educated to commission such large sculptures so people are forced to stop, look and study the piece. “The point is to slow people down to admire something that may not be in their line of work,” he explained. Di Modica’s representative in the Middle East, Dyanna Sidiropulo, is in negotiations with potential buyers from the UAE who will hopefully commit to investing in the piece. But they have one condition: that it’s not hidden away. “That is why he is not in museums. He wants to have his work interact with the public and in a large space,” Sidiropulo explained.

Di Modica’s dropped his steel horse in DIFC during Art Dubai for visitors to enjoy.

Di Modica beside his iconic ‘Charging Bull’ sculpture in New York.

May / June 2012 GC 59


Private jets

Private Jet Interiors Designer Garry Cohn takes his cutting edge designs to the sky.

ven with a budget of $25 million, fitting out the interiors of a private jet with all the restrictions on space, materials and weight, while still delivering a luxurious environment is no

easy task. “The challenge,” says Garry Cohn, one of the world’s most renowned interior designers, “is for the jet not to be a flying blob of beige through the air.” And that is exactly what sets Cohn apart. Named one of the top interior designers of 2011 by the Andrew Martin Interior Designer Review,

60 GC May / June 2012

Cohn has a portfolio which includes hotels, clubs and residences. The former professor at Manhattan’s Fashion Institute of Technology’s work has been previously described as “haute couture of interior design,” so it’s no surprise when he says fashion “drives his vision whether consciously or subconsciously.” Although he is a relative newcomer to the private jet world, in just two years Cohn has been quick to leave his mark in the sky, with smooth stone surfaces and muted tones featuring heavily in his signature designs. Like all aircrafts, the materials used in private jets have to meet certain safety criteria including fireproof

flooring, but Cohn manages to overcome this without compromising the look. “The materials we use are durable and yet they give the appearance of being refined and luxurious,” he says. Adding, “I love designing a jet that makes a bold exciting statement… playing it safe and neutral does not work in some instances.” Cohn works between his offices in Dublin and London on projects for private jet charter company Quintessentially Aviation, as well as others. One of his projects, a Boeing Business Jet for Quintessentially, developed in collaboration with Carol O’Grady of Design Squared, features highly textured walls and bursts of bright yellow


Private jets

in furniture. The floors of the bedroom, lounge and dining area are covered with engineered wood floors and the floor plan is developed for maximum flow of space, while retaining a sense of intimacy within each area. A separate bedroom facilitates sleep, easing adjustment to changes in time zones. Lighting is an area in which Cohn has experience inhe has his own collection of lighting products, which comes in handy when planning interiors where days and nights may be shortened or lengthened to match the time zones being crossed. Integrating natural elements fashionably into jet interiors is another hallmark of Cohn’s work, one he sees as a trend waiting to happen in aircraft interior design.

All Image courtesy of Garry Cohn Design

“I love designing a jet that makes a bold exciting statement… playing it safe and neutral does not work...”

Cohn mixes natural elements like stone surfaces and wood floors with pops of colour to create unique ambiance zones for each room on board his client’s private jets.

“For the most part a client would prefer to have a jet interior to either follow a current trend or certain style that reflects their aspirations or culture.” Adding, “If they do go for a cutting edge design it is usually a high-end design that is fashion forward and breaks through current design taboos.” However, Cohn agrees that in some aspects the attitudes to aviation interiors has not changed over time. “Clients still want the latest design style for their jets but at the same time they want it to have longevity so it will not date quickly over time.”

May / June 2012 GC 61


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success story

Glam Rock

A Dubai based entrepreneur fuses European workmanship with a rock star edge in her unique brand of watches. auritian born Isabelle Maujean has a long history with watches. She started her career in PR for Fossil and worked her way up to become Vice President of International Sales for the American watch manufacturer. It was during this 14 year period where she learned the ins and outs of the watch industry. As Fossil grew in both size and stature, Maujean became disillusioned with the bureaucracy and left to start her own watch brand with business partner Enrico Margaritelli. Glam Rock was born in 2006 with the first collection ‘Miami,’ named for the city Margaritelli calls home. Every collection since has drawn on influences from there-a little edgy, a little glamorous, yet casual enough to wear to the beach . The “Gulfstream” is named after the famouse racetrack in Miami and the popular “SoBe Tech” is an allusion to the city’s famed South Beach. In the space of five short years, she has established a strong global distribution. Having the company’s headquarters in Dubai, Maujean says she feels she is in the “centre of the world.” She’s used this base to launch the brand in the Middle East, Europe and Asia. The success of Glam Rock, she believes, lies not just with hard work, but also with a savvy and clear brand identity. “My life is my business,” she explains. She takes a very hands on approach, responding to the demands of the market. “We’re small enough to make decisions for ourselves, unlike bigger watch manufacturers. If we want a certain coloured strap, even if we’re not sure it will be a best seller, we can go for it.”

Maujean is wearing a SoBe Tech men’s watch available at Damas.

May / June 2012 GC 63


GIZMOS & GADGETS TABLET WARS

With tablet devices stealing the market share from traditional notebooks, personal computers could be a thing of the past. GC examines the latest offerings.

iPad 3 Two years after it was first introduced, the iPad still dominates the market. Consumer Reports says Apples’s latest offering is “shaping up to be the best tablet we’ve ever tested.” The iPad 3 features a host of improvements over previous models including an HD screen and retina display that offers sharper text and richer colours. It also has a more powerful quad-core processing unit plus ten hours of battery life. The iPad 3’s new OS is more userfriendly and offers interactive features like voice-to-text recognition. On the downside, tests found it ran “significantly hotter” than its predecessors.

Windows 8 Microsoft is setting its sights on the tablet market with the release later this year of the Windows 8 operating system designed to support tablet devices. Microsoft will not be producing its own tablet hardware, but has made deals to supply the OS to a range of manufacturers like Nokia, Samsung, HTC, Dell and others. Enterprise customers will be drawn to the Windows 8 tablet’s business-friendly apps and features.

The Kindle Fire The Kindle Fire, a tablet version of Amazon’s e-book reader, took the market by storm when it came out last November. At $199, this cheaper alternative to the iPad is more focused on content consumption. It lacks 3G, a camera, microphone or bluetooth and has a smaller screen than the iPad. For consumers wanting a tablet for communication or productivity, the Kindle is not the right choice. But for those who want access to streaming movies, TV shows and e-books, the Kindle Fire strikes the right chord.


Auto

airborne automobile

courtesy of Terrafugia

he Transition is about to hit the roads...and skies! This real life transformer featuring two seats, four wheels and wings that fold up, took to the skies for the first time in March for a test flight in New York. More than 100 people have already put down a $10,000 deposit to own their own Transition when they go on sale later this year. Those numbers will likely go way up when it’s introduced to the global market later this year. The auto/plane was no simple build. The US government granted the manufacturers, Terrafugia, permission to use special tyres and glass that are lighter than normally used in cars in order to make it lightweight enough to fly. The Transition is expected to be priced at $280,000, but it won’t be an easy purchase. The vehicle requires a long runway to take off from and a qualified pilot to fly it. According to Terrafugia, an owner would need to complete 20 hours of flying time to be able to fly the Transition, a relatively low hurdle for existing pilots but challenging for basic car drivers!

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yachts

Luxury

yachtS

GC rounds up some of the most luxurious boats on the market.

Manufacturer: Gulf Craft Size: 32.6m x 7.1m Price: AED25 million Engines: 2 CAT C32 Speed: 27 knots

Majestic 105 This luxurious thoroughbred of the sea premiered at this year’s Dubai Boat Show. The Majesty 105 is a brand new superyacht concept from Gulf Craft’s Majesty Yachts range. Founded in the UAE in 1982, Gulf Craft is the largest manufacturer of luxury yachts and fiberglass boats in the Middle East and Asia. With its elegant sky blue hull and crisp white deck, the Majesty 105 is a testament to the builder’s rare capability to produce yachts of more than 100m. Its sleek design and high-end onboard equipment set the standard for ocean-going luxury.

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yachts

Koot 54 Designed by renowned naval engineer Sergio Cutolo, Koot 54 is unique in that it’s more of a loft on the sea. Produced by the Tunisian shipyard Koot International, the ship was built based on the concept of the Dewaniya – open common spaces – typical of the Arab Culture. In place of cabins, the Koot 54 has a large under-deck salon with atypical huge horizontal windows, offering unobstructed views of the sea. The cockpit almost suggests an open bar feel, as it is located next to the dining area. All in all, the Koot 54 is an ideal day cruiser to entertain and relax in style.

Manufacturer: Feadship Size: 42.5m x 8.9m Price: AED95.6 million Engines: 2 CAT 3412E-DITA Speed: 13 knots

Manufacturer: Koot Yachts International Size: 16m x 4.9m Price: AED4.6 million Speed: 30 knots Engines: 2 MAN R6-800

Andiamo The Rolls Royce of super yachts, this imposing 42.5m-long navy blue beauty has been privately owned since its construction in 2003 by American entrepreneur Nancy Mueller, known to have made a fortune in “petite quiche” manufacturing. Built in 2003 by Dutch superyacht builder Feadship, Andiamo was designed around the concept of cooking with friends, while travelling to the world’s most celebrated anchorages. Designed by the well-respected naval architect Glade Johnson, the luxury vessel is the first and only Feadship expedition-style boat, combining sophistication, functionality and comfort.

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Golf

Golfing After Dark Courses across the UAE offer night golf enabling enthusiasts to enjoy the sport year-round regardless of the climate and hectic daytime schedules. GC rounds up some of the top spots in the UAE to enjoy a few rounds. By Marie Riot

Emirates Golf Club

Location: Emirates Hills, Dubai Last tee-off time: 7.45pm for 18 holes, 9.55pm for 9 holes Green fees: AED425 for 18 holes, AED255 for 9 holes (excluding club hire and shoes hire fees) Bookings: +971 4 380 1234 As the only fully floodlit 18-hole golf course in Dubai, the Faldo Course at the Emirates Golf Club continues to attract guests and members alike with competitive rates

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for 18 and nine holes – and the ability to tee off as late as 9.55pm. Whether you’re a serious amateur or you’re simply after a social round with friends after work, night golf on the Faldo course is possible every night of the week until midnight. “Because of how well the greens are lit you can’t always see the natural shadowing that would help pick out any subtle slopes that may be there,” says David Adams, senior golf pro at the club.


golf

Sharjah Golf & Shooting Club

Location: Emirates Road, Sharjah Last tee-off time: 9pm for 9 holes, 7pm for 18 holes (course played twice) Green fees: AED230/385 on weekdays, AED190/315 on weekends for guests. Free for members on weekdays, 50% off on weekends. Bookings: +971 6 548 7777 Designed by well-known architect Peter Harradine, the Sharjah Golf and Shooting Club boasts a nine-hole, fully flood lit golf course. If played twice, this grass oasis provides a par-72 layout that stretches more than the 7,300yard mark. With between five and seven different tees on every hole, vast water features, generous fairways and challenging bunkers, the course guarantees guests and members alike a fair but tough test to every level of golfer.

The Montgomerie, Dubai

Location: Emirates Hills, Dubai Last tee-off time: par-3 course closes at 10pm and last golf balls issued at 8.30pm for driving range Green fees: AED135 Bookings: +971 4 390 5600 Located on a luxurious resort, the nine-hole par-3 floodlit Academy course is ideal for evening golfing enthusiasts. The 662-yard course features a large lake with holes meandering around from start to finish. The signature fourth hole is a 65-yard shot across water to an island green. Many club members and residents of the surroundings areas come straight from work to practice their swing either on the course or at The Academy, and to unwind post effort at the Links restaurant.

Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club

Location: Al Garhoud Road, Deira Last tee-off time: 8.50pm Green fees: AED80 for adults and AED60 for Emirates Golf Federation Members & Juniors (excluding club hire and shoes hire fees)    Bookings: +971 4 380 1234 The nine-hole par-3 course, part of the Dubai Creek Academy, is ideal for beginners to test their skills before taking on the championship course, for more experienced players to improve their short game. George Kasparis, senior golf professional at the club warns there are added challenges at night. “One thing that creates more of a challenge on the putting surface are the shadows, due to the high number of flood lights, so there can be up to four or five shadows at one time.” May / June 2012 GC 69


dining

Dining

Delights From Korean to Italian, new restaurants liven up Dubai’s dining scene. By Nausheen Noor

Sonamu Ethnic culinary adventures in Deira are not usually located in chic five star hotels like Sonamu. The flagship Korean restaurant at the Asiana Hotel features the requisite eastern aesthetic – sleek woods, towering ceilings, paper lanterns, and walls of Japanese calligraphy. The restaurant offers set tasting menus, but if you’re prepared for an exploration, order a la carte. Each dish is near perfect. The kimchi pancakes with pork come panseared, crispy on the outside but fluffy and savoury within. The grilled Kalbi is marinated in a sweet ginger and garlic sauce – typical of Asian barbecue. The Chap Chae (stir-fried glass noodles) come loaded with vegetables and a delicate hint of sesame oil. The restaurant also specialises in unusual raw seafood items like sea squirts, which taste like a cross between scallops and oysters. Sonamu offers tables with grills for those who want to cook their own meat. There are also private rooms for groups. Asiana Hotel, Deira, +971 4 238 7777

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dining

Donatello’s Donatello’s, a new Italian restaurant in the Trade Centre Tower, is a welcome addition to the Exhibition Centre’s otherwise limited culinary options. Executive Chef Maurizio Bosetti has devised a menu with regional specialties from the Alps to the Ionian Sea. They serve a perfectly seared tagliata (rib-eye steak) with rocket, and reliably indulgent tiramisu. The three course executive lunch menu is guaranteed to be served in 45 minutes. The interiors, created by the same design team behind Armani Prive, are surprisingly oppulent. Trade Centre Tower +971 4 386 3577

Roberto’s A new home grown concept brings a breath of fresh air to the sea of imports in DIFC’s restaurant scene. After spending a decade at BiCE, Italian chef Roberto Rella has opened his first restaurant, a sleek modern environment with contemporised Italian dishes. Try their signature black-ink spaghetti with baby squid, red shrimp, fennel emulsion and orange-scented oil. Roberto’s has the region’s first ‘crudo’ (raw fish) bar, offering fresh Mediterranean seafood. The restaurant also caters to the modern diner by offering gluten-free pasta. DIFC Gate Village, + 971 4 3469182

May / June 2012 GC 71


dining

Alfie’s At dunhill Dunhill, the men’s luxury lifestyle brand, has just opened its restaurant concept, Alfie’s, at Jumeirah Emirates Towers, building on the success of its Shanghai and London locations. As you walk through the doors, you feel as though you’ve entered another era. It’s the kind of place any gentleman would feel completely at home. There’s plush seating with club chairs, a beautiful bar area with private booths, and library lounge with shelves lined with tomes. It’s all just so…civilized, and so very English. Alfie’s Chef de Cuisine Christopher Driver, brought over from London’s famous Hurlingham Club, has created a menu of contemporary British cuisine. The oxtail soup with onion puree is the kind of thing that makes you wish for a chilly winter night. Alfie’s is also one of the few places you’ll find haggis on the menu. It is time to re-examine whatever pre-conceived notions you may have of this Scottish dish of minced sheep hearts, livers and lungs. This version is spectacular-- nutty, gamey and very hearty. Alfie’s also offers a lounge menu of smaller dishes to pair with their extensive cocktail list. Dessert portions are meant for sharing. The “burnt lemon cream” is a refreshing lemon verbena custard topped with a perfectly crunchy caramel sheath. Whatever you do, don’t call it crème brulee. This is, after all, as English as it gets. Boulevard at Jumeirah Emirates Towers, +971 4 3198088

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travel

Journey to Africa Kenya offers some of the continent’s finest game reserves, equipped with luxurious amenities. Visit during the summer and experience the splendour of the Great Migration.

Giraffe Manor Nairobi BEST FOR: A 1930’s Boutique hotel that is the only hotel in the world where you can eat breakfast with the endangered Rothschild giraffe. GETTING THERE: It is a 50 min drive from Jomo Kenyatta airport and a 20 min drive from Wilson Airport. GUIDE PRICE: From $440 per person per night full board. (The Manor is closed during May.)

Sasaab Samburu BEST FOR: The perfect blend of African wilderness, responsible tourism and refined luxury. GETTING THERE: Local scheduled airlines fly to Samburu daily. It is also possible to charter private planes from Nairobi or Nanyuki. Alternatively opt for the 7 hour drive from Nairobi-a spectacular journey across the Equator past Mount Kenya and into the Northern Frontier District. GUIDE PRICE: From $545 per person per night. (The lodge is closed during November.)

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Travel

Sala’ s Camp Masai Mara

BEST FOR: The first camp in the Masai Mara to see the wildebeest migration from July to September. GETTING THERE: Multiple daily scheduled flights from Nairobi or private charter into Keekorok airstrip (45 minute drive from the airstrip) or a 4 hour drive from Nairobi. GUIDE PRICE: From $490 per person per night. (Open mid Dec until mid March and mid June to mid October.)

Solio Lodge Laikipia BEST FOR: The best place to see black and white rhino in Africa. GETTING THERE: Daily scheduled flights from Nairobi to Nanyuki airstrip (45 minutes drive from the lodge) or a 4 hour drive from Nairobi. Charter flights into Solio Ranch airstrip (a 15 minute drive from the lodge) from anywhere in Kenya. GUIDE PRICE: From $545 per person per night

All Image courtesy of Robin Moore Photography

www.thesafaricollection.com

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DUBAI’S FIRST STANDALONE INDEPENDENT BEACH ESCAPE

Building 8, e Shoreline Palm Jumeirah Dubai For reservations : +971 4 430 9466 | info@riva-beach.com www.riva-beach.com rivabeachdxb

rivabeachdubai


grooming

SKINCARE FOR MEN Let’s put it this way; you don’t have to iron your shirt, but it would look better if you did. A similar statement can be made about skincare. Male grooming is not all about necessity, but consistent use of the right products improves appearance over time. Here are some of the basics to keep in your cabinet.

Smoothing Moisturiser With a non-greasy effect, this is ideal for male skin. Every product in the Cowshed range contains a herbal infusion sourced from the walled garden at Babington House.

Body Wash Gel with essential oils of petitgrain and grapefruit, it contains naturallyderived ingredients, free from Parabens, Petrochemicals, Sulphates, and artificial fragrance and colours.

Close-Shavers Shaving Formula For men with sensitive skin, ingrown hairs, razor burns, or a tough beard. Natural oils help protect and moisturize skin for a smooth, comfortable shave. GÉNIFIC HD soothes skin after shaving and provides comfort all day long.

Energizing Face Wash Removes dirt, surface oil, and impurities without an over-drying effect. Helps skin resist the effects of environmental stress and gives even dull, tiredlooking skin a healthier appearance.

All products available at Bloomingdales and Harvey Nichols in Dubai.

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fashion

All Aboard A fresh spin on the classic nautical look for Spring/Summer

ith the summer holiday yacht season upon us, structured looks and clean lines abound on the high seas. Base your nautical wardrobe around the horizontal stripes trend. Go classic with a red and white shirt and paired with a fitted navy blazer. With patterns, create a streamlined look by pairing a striped shirt with a solid bottom. Red or blue espadrilles or boat shoes are the perfect compliment to this look.

Opt for a pair of geek chic shades to add a preppy touch to your ensemble.

Tom Ford sunglasses available at Dubai Mall.

Carolina Herrera available at Dubai Mall and Mall of Emirates

Sebago Docksiders available at Wafi Mall.

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fashion

For a more traditional look on deck after the sun sets, pick up Carolina Herrera’s fine knitwear in red, white and navy stripes with tailored navy shorts. Slip on a pair of comfortable deck shoes for a sophisticated yet casual look.

For a more casual look, Louis Vuitton has replaced the blazer with a varsity style jacket. Perfect for a casual lunch date, this look is kept smart and tailored with the addition of the crisp, white shorts.

J.Lindenberg proves to be a friend to all fishermen, producing lightweight jumpers in primary bright colours with nude shades. J Crew has also updated classic ‘deckhand’ stripes with orange tones this season.

J.Lindenberg available in Boutique One

J. Crew

courtesy of Getty images

Net a-porter.com

Teamed with cream, tailored trousers, a striped belt is the perfect accessory to create an elegant look for lunch or poolside drinks.

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watches

Watches

The best of the Basel 2012 collection ROMAIN JEROME STEAMPUNK

To mark the 100th anniversary of the Titantic, RJ-Romain Jerome has used their expertise to transform coal, steel and rust that was salvaged from the wreck into integral parts of each timepiece.

SEAMASTER PLANET OCEAN CERAGOLD

The 18 ct red gold applied indexes are coated with white Super-LumiNova emitting a blue light.

BOVET SPORTSTER

All watches are available from Omega stores andAhmed Seddiqi and Sons.

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OMEGA De Ville CO-AXIAL CALIBRE With its combination of simple elegance and cutting-edge technology, it’s a stunning reminder of what a classic, yet highly technical mechanical watch can be.

The Sportster is an edgy and durable timepiece with stainless steel case and rubber strap.


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