Global Citizen 13

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Aston Martin Dubai, Emaar Boulevard Plaza, Tower One, Downtown Dubai, UAE Tel: +971 4 4521222,

Elegance is an attitude

Simon Baker

Conquest Classic

Contents Business


14 FIRST WORD Investing in art

16 INVESTMENT DESTINATION Hong Kong’s buying power

20 Philanthropy

Bill Gates on eradicating polio


24 Profile

Ten questions for Dan Rather

26 entrepreneur Moda Operandi

28 Media Mogul Abdullatif Alsayegh

30 Human Resources How to retain staff

34 Global Citizenship Investing for US citizenship


Art Special Report 39 The Art Road

Journey down the new Art Road


Revolutionary graffiti



Iranian artists thrive in Dubai



Art in a time of war


Modernizing miniature painting

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India’s first biennale

56 Turkey

Istanbul’s contemporary art scene

58 UAE

Emirati artists find their voice


61 UAE

Dubai’s café culture

62 Profile

Artist Anish Kapoor

66 Design Days Furniture as art

68 Design Heir

Matteo Di Montezemolo



70 Lifestyle

Gizmos and Gadgets

72 Auto

McLaren’s new P1 debuts


74 Yachts

Benetti Classic Supreme

76 Health and Fitness


Food for thought

78 Dining


Dubai’s design restaurants

82 Little Black Book Beirut’s coolest spots

84 Hotels

World’s best art hotels

90 style


Toby Bateman of Mr

94 fashion

The best from Milan

96 Horology

Horological pieces of art


GLOBAL CITIZEN editorial DIRECTOR Ritu Upadhyay -

For the Love of Art

Senior editor Natasha Tourish - Lifestyle Editor Aysha Majid - ART DIRECTOR Omid Khadem - CONTRIBUTORS Mona Alami, Pia Aung, Sara Hamdan, Matt Hamilton, Heba Hashem, Suhair Khan, Zahra Khan, Nausheen Noor, Shane Philips, Dania Saadi, Tahira Yaqoob Printed by Raidy printing group

t’s become somewhat of a cliché to label Dubai as a global crossroads, as much for business as well as its rapidly evolving multicultural identity. But as we head into our favorite time of year in the UAE, when the art world descends upon the region, there is no better way to describe the buzz that Art Dubai generates. Our special issue on art is a celebration of the creative outposts that dot the region. In our cover story, The Art Road, our correspondents take us on a journey discovering the transformation taking place along the region’s art landscape. From Turkey to Syria, the UAE to Pakistan, we look at how the region is responding to contemporary political, social and economic circumstances. The region’s creative expression is not limited to what you can put on a wall. In her feature on Design Days Dubai, Tahira Yaqoob shares the growing appetite for collectible furniture and design objects. She also interviews Italy’s design scion, Matteo di Montezemolo, on his new venture in Dubai, luxury design store PF Emirates. The art theme is also woven into our business and lifestyle section. In The First Word we speak to finance experts in the art world to learn how investing in art can yield great returns. And in Lifestyle, editor Aysha Majid shares her picks of the world’s best art hotels. Also don’t miss Little Black Book, where famed furniture designer Nada Debbs reveals her favorite spots in her home city of Beirut. The ‘Art Issue’ is one of our favorites to put together. As we research, report, edit and photograph, one thing is clear: the region’s new generation of artists, gallerists, and collectors are not slowing down, and the energy is infectious! !

RITU UPADHYAY Editorial Director

8 GC March / April 2013 MEDIA REPRESENTATIVE NEOPROMO FZ LLC Dubai Media City, Building 6, Ground Floor, Office G08, PO Box 118368, Dubai, UAE Tel: +971 4 391 4842 Fax: +971 4 391 8022 Email:

REACH MEDIA FZ LLC publisher Armand Peponnet Advertising SUBSCRIPTION Dubai Media City, Building 8, Ground Floor, Office 87, PO Box 502068, Dubai, UAE Tel: +971 4 385 5485 Email: Copyright 2013 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.

Nausheen Noor

is a freelance journalist based in Dubai. She is the author of the blog, Dubai Bites and is a frequent contributor to The National, BBC Good Food, Esquire, and Ahlan! Gourmet. Prior to moving to Dubai, she worked in non-profit management 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.

Heba Hashem

is a freelance journalist based between Abu Dhabi and Cairo. She reports regularly on the solar and nuclear power sectors for CSP Today and Nuclear Energy Insider. She has a B.A. in Communications and Media Studies from Middlesex University.

Suhair Khan

works at Google in San Francisco. (Her writing represents her personal views.) Suhair writes regular columns on art, culture and technology for Vogue India and is a contributor to Tech blogs including Women 2.0 and Google Women in Tech. A Harvardtrained economist, Suhair co-founded Education-focused social enterprise

Matthew Hamilton

is an American writer based in LA. His writing has appeared in The Christian Science Monitor, The National, and Monocle, among other publications. He first came to the Middle East fresh out of college to teach Iraqi refugee children in Jordan before returning to the US to pursue a career in journalism.

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Pia Aung

is a marketing and communications manager with eight years experience working within the luxury sector in London, New York and Dubai. With a background in Art History from the University of Edinburgh and an MA in design studies from Central Saint Martins, she now writes freelance for art galleries in Dubai.

Tahira Yaqoob

is a freelance journalist with 18 years experience in newspapers and magazines. She spent seven years at the Daily Mail as a news reporter and served as deputy showbusiness editor before moving to the UAE in 2008. She worked as a senior features writer at The National for four years before freelancing full time.

Sara Hamdan

Mona Alami

is a Dubai-based stringer for the New York Times. She also regularly contributes to Rolling Stone and Variety magazine. 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.

is a French journalist based in Beirut. She travels around the region reporting on business and political affairs from Jordan, the UAE and Syria. She regularly reports in both English and French for IPS (an international newswire), USA Today, Arabian Business, Now Lebanon magazine, L’Expansion, as well as producing documentaries for Al Aan TV.

Zahra Khan

is an independent curator with a focus on Contemporary South Asian Art. She is the curator for Satrang Gallery in Islamabad and is currently pursuing a Masters in Contemporary Art History at SOAS in London. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Zahra has previously worked at Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, New York.

Shane Phillips

is a leading Executive Search Consultant in the region and Managing Director of Shane Phillips Consultants, a local boutique search firm. Shane hosts his own show on Dubai Eye 103.8 every Thursday at 8pm called “Eye On Careers.”

Dania Saadi

is a bilingual journalist with a decade of experience in journalism in the Middle East. As a business reporter for Lebanon’s Daily Star newspaper, she has covered all aspects of the Lebanese economy and financial markets. She also contributes to various news agencies in the UAE, Iraq, Egypt and Syria.

March / April 2013 GC 11

the Big Picture

© Ron Mueck Photo © Gautier Deblonde

G a u t i e r D e b l o n d e ’s p h o t o g r a p h shows the reclusive artist Ron Mueck in his London studio c r e a t i n g h i s n e w e s t s c u l p t u r e —o n e of three newly produced works that will be on exhibition at the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain i n P a r i s f r o m A p r i l t h r u S e p t e m b e r.

larger than life

Your happiness and prosperity is our business

Untitled work by Alexander Volkov, 1920

At Oracle Capital Group we believe that only through active involvement in the lives of others can a person enrich their own. That’s why we have created the Oracle Capital Charitable Foundation to help causes whose mission is close to our heart, and to support the arts. In recognition of our passion and continued support for the arts and culture, Oracle Capital Group proudly sponsored the first solo exhibition of Alexander Volkov, one of the most prominent and acclaimed Russian artists of the early twentieth century, at Christie’s.

To find out more go to or call +44 (0)20 7725 6900 and come and see us.



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

Investing in art Leaders from the art world explain why art is a good alternative investment. By shane phillips

Phillip Hoffman

CEO of Fine Art Fund Group

“Art can b e a v er y in t er es t i n g s ou r c e of w ea lt h. T he And y W a r h ol 2 0 0 $ 1 d olla r b ills w er e p urchas e d b y a c l ien t in 1 9 8 6 f o r $ 3 0 0 , 0 0 0 a n d in 2009 i t s o l d f o r $ 4 3 m illio n ! Th a t s im ply o ut p e rf o rm s a n y o t h er a s s et c l a s s y o u c a n f in d . Ano t he r e x a m ple— w e h a v e m a d e a n a v er a g e o f 18% re t urn p er a n n u m o n t h e $ 8 0 m i llio n o f a r t w e s o l d s i nce t he gro u p ’ s in c ep t io n .”

Samia Saleh

Director of Courtyard Gallery

"the business of art is no less important than any other business in the global market. Investment in art, like any other business, has its risks but one has to note, unlike many other investments, owning an art piece has its aesthetic and cultural values."

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first word

Jeremy Baggott

Head of Zurich Private Clients

"Art can provide healthy financial returns as well as aesthetic pleasure for buyers. But, as with any investment, you need to research and seek the advice of experts in what can be a volatile market. And just as financial investments require a hedging strategy to protect the investor, art requires careful thought on how to protect your investment both financially and physically."

Mariam Thani Hodge

Independent Art Consultant

“Art i s a uni q ue i n s t r u m en t f o r p o r t f olio diversific at i o n. It i s a he d ge a g a in s t a n u n s t a b le econom ic cl i m at e . Art f und s c a n pr o v id e v a l u a ble insigh t i nt o t hi s huge ar en a , w h i c h is t h e A r t m ar ket. Fun d s w i l l al l o w y o u fu ll or p a r t ia l ( s h a r ed ) inves t m e nt w i t h a d e gre e of c o m f or t f o r y o u r in v es t m en t p o r t f olio .”

Yousef Ali BinZayed

Art Consultant at Culture Connection

“‘Is it a smart move to invest in art?’ is one of the first questions that I get when I advise on this subject from my clients and business associates. It is indeed one of the smartest ways to invest in something that you consider as an asset. Business tycoons have been saved during the financial crisis after selling their art collection, which was part of their long-term investment.”

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the allure of hong kong UAE banks are flocking to Hong Kong to open branches, despite an overheated property sector and a volatile economy. GC investigates the attraction to China’s offshore financial centre. By Dania Saadi

anks and firms in the UAE are expanding their businesses in Hong Kong, an offshore financial and trade hub for mainland China, in an attampt to bolster its trade and economic ties with China, one of the main buyers of its crude oil and its number two trade partner. Hong Kong, a former British colony that returned to China in 1997, is important to China for attracting foreign investment that can benefit from a looser economic environment than mainland China. UAE banks, like their western counterparts, are lured by China’s

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ambition to cement Hong Kong’s position as an offshore hub for trading of the yuan, also known as Reminbi (RMB). This is part of their plan to promote the use of the Chinese currency in global trade and finance. China’s efforts have already paid off with the yuan overtaking the Russian ruble as the world’s No. 13 payments currency, according to SWIFT financial messaging platform. Offshore yuan centers such as Hong Kong, London and Singapore contributed to the rise of the Chinese currency, with yuan payments growing in value by 171 percent between January 2012 and January 2013,

according to SWIFT. The increased interest in yuan led Emirates NBD, the UAE’s biggest bank by assets, to issue in 2012 a so-called ‘dim sum’ bond, a security denominated in yuan that is issued outside mainland China. They are the first Arab lender to tap such paper. The Hong Kong branch of the National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD), UAE’s second-biggest lender by assets, followed suit and issued several ‘dim sum’ bonds last year. Dubai-based Mashreq Bank also has an office in Hong Kong and it started last year to offer yuan account services in the UAE to help Chinese suppliers


percent to $4.3 billion in 2012 from a year earlier, according to the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC). Hong Kong’s imports from the UAE rose 36.5 percent in 2012 to $4.6 billion, led by telecommunication equipment and parts, pearls, precious and semi-precious stones and non-electronic engines, motors and parts, according to HKTDC. Such trade flows have spurred greater business for UAE banks with operations in Hong Kong, who will have to serve exporters and importers. “Currently, NBAD Hong Kong branch is primarily engaging in wholesale banking businesses with trade finance being one of our key product offerings, together with treasury and other general banking services,’’ said NBAD’s AlMulla. Hong Kong is home to a population exceeding 7 million people.

invoice and receive payments from UAE buyers in the local currency. It will also help UAE firms negotiate better terms for goods and services from China. China and UAE Strengthen Trade China, the world’s second-largest economy, is marketing the greater use of yuan in cross-border trade in goods and services as it seeks to loosen control over its currency and open up its financial markets to foreign investment. And as trade flows between China and the UAE grow, banks are seeking to take advantage of the yuan business it generates. “NBAD, being currently the only UAE bank who is granted the license by People’s Bank of China to engage in RMB offshore businesses in Hong Kong, is well positioned to tap on the increasing trade and payment flows between China, UAE and MENA region,’’ said Qamber Ali Al Mulla, Senior General Manager of International Banking at NBAD. The UAE is Hong Kong’s largest export market in the Middle East, with exports to the UAE growing by 24

Uncertain Future But Hong Kong is not without its challenges. Its economy grew only 1.4 percent in 2012, slowing down from the 4.9 percent growth recorded a year earlier, with the European debt crisis weighing on the global economy. The International Monetary Fund is forecasting a growth rate of 3 percent in 2013 as the Hong Kong government increases spending and implements other measures to spur

UAE banks, like their western counterparts, are lured by China’s ambition to cement Hong Kong’s position as an offshore hub for trading of the yuan. growth, while worries over European recovery ease. However, Hong Kong has started to feel competition over yuan trade from Singapore and London as more markets seek a market share of the growing business. “As with any international financial centre, Hong Kong is housed with over 140 licensed banks and thus competition is very severe among foreign banks and local banks,’’ said Al-Mulla. “Being a laissez-faire port, the city is also exposed to external and increasingly mainland China’s economic trends. This, coupled with increasing operating overheads and talents competition have posted a very challenging environment for banks operating in the city.’’

The National Bank of Abu Dhabi, the UAE’s biggest bank by assets, is investing heavily in Hong Kong.

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"I have no use for money. This is God's work." Having already given away $28 billion, Bill Gates intends to eradicate polio, with the same drive he brought to Microsoft.

Images courtesy of Corbis

By neil tweedie

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Words courtesy of Neil Tweedie/ The Daily Telegraph / The Interview People


illiam Henry “Bill” Gates is a rich man. His estimated wealth, some $65 billion, equals the annual GDP of Ecuador, and maybe a bit more than that of Croatia. By this rather crude criterion, the founder of Microsoft is worth two Kenyas, three Trinidads and a dozen or so Montenegros. Not bad for a university dropout. Gates is also mortal, although some of his admirers may find that hard to believe, and as they say, there are no pockets in shrouds. So he is now engaged in the process of ridding himself of all that money in the hope of extending the lives of others less fortunate than himself. “I’m certainly well taken care of in terms of food and clothes,” he says, redundantly. “Money has no utility to me beyond a certain point. Its utility is entirely in building an organisation and getting the resources out to the poorest in the world.” That “certain point” is set a little higher than for the rest of us – Gates owns a lakeside estate in Washington State worth about $150 million and boasts a swimming pool equipped with an underwater music system – but one gets the point. Being rich, even on the cosmic scale attained by Bill Gates, is no guarantee of an enduring place in history. The projection of the personal computer into daily life should do the trick for him, but even at the age of 57, he is a restless man and wants something more. The “more” is the eradication of a disease that has blighted untold numbers of lives: polio.

"My wife and I had a long dialogue about how we were going to take the wealth that we’re lucky enough to have and give it back in a way that’s most impactful to the world." and innovation can help towards the attainment of that still–distant goal. Gates has put his money where his mouth is. He and his wife Melinda have so far given away $28 billion via their charitable foundation, more than $8 billion of it to improve global health. “My wife and I had a long dialogue about how we were going to take the wealth that we’re lucky enough to have and give it back in a way that’s most impactful to the world,” he says. “Both of us worked at Microsoft and saw that if you take innovation and smart people, the ability to measure what’s working, that you can pull together some pretty

dramatic things. “We’re focused on helping the poorest in the world, which really drives you into vaccination. You can actually take a disease and get rid of it altogether, like we are doing with polio.” This has been done only once before in humans, with the eradication of smallpox in the 1970s. “Polio’s pretty special because once you get an eradication you no longer have to spend money on it; it’s just there as a gift for the rest of time.” One can see why that appeals to Gates. He has always sought neat, definitive solutions to things, but as he knows

Conquering Polio Later this month, Gates will deliver the BBC’s Dimbleby Lecture, taking as his theme the value of the young human being. Every child, he will say, has the right to a healthy and productive life, and he will explain how technology Bill Gates and his wife Melinda during a visit to a village in Bihar, India.

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"My full-time work for the rest of my life will be at the foundation... I’ve had two careers and I’m lucky that both of them have been quite amazing."

Bill and Melinda Gates have pledged over 95% of their wealth to their foundation.

says Gates. “It does force us to sit down with the Pakistan government to renew their commitments, see what they’re going to do in security and make changes to protect the women who are doing God’s work and getting out to these children and delivering the vaccine.” The Big Switch “Melinda and I had been talking about this even before we were married,” he says. “When I was in my 40s Microsoft

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was my primary activity. The big switch for me was when I decided to make the foundation my primary purpose. It was a big change, although there are more in common with the two things than you might think – meeting with scientists, taking on tough challenges, people being sceptical that you can get things done.” Gates is still chairman of Microsoft but without his day–to–day attention it has taken on the appearance of a weary giant, trailing Apple and Google in innovation.

Some have called for Gates’s return to the company full–time to inject some verve but he isn’t coming back. “My full–time work for the rest of my life will be at the foundation,” he says. “I still work part–time for Microsoft. I’ve had two careers and I’m lucky that both of them have been quite amazing. “I loved my Microsoft: it prepared me for what I’m doing now. In the same way that I got to see the PC and internet revolutions, now I see child death rates coming down. I work very long hours and try to learn as much as I can about these things, but that’s because I enjoy it.” He emphasises that the foundation’s effort is part of a global campaign in which governments must play the lead role. “The scale of the (foundation’s) wealth compared to government budgets is actually not that large, and compared to the scale of some of these problems. But I do feel lucky that substantial resources are going back to make the world a more habitable place.” In 1990 some 12 million children under the age of five died. The figure today is about seven million, or 19,000 per day. According to the United Nations, the leading causes of death are pneumonia (18 per cent), pre–birth complications (14 per cent), diarrhea (11 per cent), complications during birth (nine per cent) and malaria (seven per cent). For Gates, though, polio is a totem. The abolition of the disease will be a headline–grabber, spurring countries on to greater efforts.

Images courtesy of Getty Images

from Microsoft, bugs are resilient things. The disease is still endemic in Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan, and killing it off altogether has been likened to squeezing jelly to death. There is another, sinister obstacle: the propagation by Islamist groups of the belief that polio vaccination is a front for covert sterilisation and other western evils. Health workers in Pakistan have paid with their lives for involvement in the programme. “It’s not going to stop us succeeding,”


FC Barcelona have teamed up with the Gates Foundation to help eradicate Polio.

Images courtesy of Getty Images

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will spend $1.8billion in the next six years to accomplish that goal, almost a third of the global effort. “All you need is over 90 per cent of children to have the vaccine drop three times and the disease stops spreading. The number of cases eventually goes to zero. When we started, we had over 400,000 children a year being paralysed and we are now down to under 1,000 cases a year. The great thing about finishing polio is that we’ll have resources to get going on malaria and measles.” Megaphilantropists Gates is no saint. He could be an intimidating boss at Microsoft and his company became notorious for using its clout to reinforce its dominance in the market place, at the expense of smaller rivals. Still, he and his wife are showing generosity on a staggering scale, a counterblast to the endemic greed

of the Nineties and early Noughties, and they have convinced others that megaphilanthropy is the way of the future. That wily investor, Warren Buffett, has so far given away $17.5 billion via the Gates Foundation. The children of Bill and Melinda Gates will never know poverty. They may not become multi–billionaires but even the loss to charity of the vast bulk of their parents’ fortune should leave them with a billion or so each. Gates explains: “The vast majority of the wealth, over 95 per cent, goes to the foundation, which will spend all that money within 20 years after neither of us are around any more.” So, is it about some new-found faith, all this giving? “It doesn’t relate to any particular religion; it’s about human dignity and equality,” he says. “The golden rule that all lives have equal value and we should treat people as we would like to be treated.”

Workers who give out free polio vaccines in countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan risk attack by militant groups.

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for 10Questions DAN RATHER The 81 year old veteran news anchor and host of one of America’s most watched nightly news programs speaks to Global Citizen about the decline of TV, Bin Laden and American Presidents. By nausheen noor

Do you get your news from television? I do get some of the news from TV. Almost any channel you can mention, there’s a high probability that I’ll at least spend a few seconds during the day. I’m a voracious reader of news, and of course these days that includes a lot of places on the Internet.

What is the most pressing issue of our time? I have three. The gap that is growing between the haves and the have-nots, on a global basis. Second, the exploding population growth that has slowed somewhat in the 21st century. Third, the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

How has TV news changed since you started? My own opinion is that more people probably get their news from the Internet now than they do television. But if I’m wrong about that, then it won’t be for long. The Internet is destined to become the place where most people get their news.

Which U.S. President were you closest to and whom did you admire the most? I’ve not been close to any of the U.S. Presidents. Some have allowed more access. I probably had the most exposure, personally and professionally, to President Johnson and President Clinton. I’ve interviewed every president since Harry Truman. All of the American presidents that I’ve been around or interviewed, without exception, were bright and capable men. Unfortunately we haven’t yet had a woman president. There isn’t a single president that, if you met them, you wouldn’t say “this is an intelligent person.” In that sense we’ve been lucky as a country.

What are the concerns arising out of digital news media? My biggest concern is accountability. On the Internet you can say terrible things about your neighbour, or about an institution that are demonstrably untrue. But if you choose, you can be unaccountable, you can anonymous. What is the greatest threat to journalism today? The greatest strength of journalism today is its reach. And the greatest threat is the reach. Journalism now has the ability to reach more people faster than it’s ever had. Also that reach can be a problem because the breadth and speed of the coverage leaves journalism more often than ever open to exploitation. To be used to spread propaganda, lies, and smear people’s reputations. What do you think the media fails to cover the most? The list is long, but you said “the most.” On a worldwide basis, I think we drastically undercover the plight of the poor and the poverty-stricken, the hungry, the homeless, the heartbroken, the helpless... the people who have no hope. It was true when I first got into journalism, and it’s even truer today than it was then.

What is the first question you would have asked Osama Bin Laden if you had had the chance to interview him? It might have been a long question but I would have liked to delve into his childhood and education leading to and answering the question, “Why?” If you weren’t a journalist, what would you have been? It’s very difficult for me to imagine. I have dreamed since my early childhood of being a journalist. While it is unimaginable to me, if forced to imagine something, I might have been a teacher. When do you plan to retire? I don’t. My running credo is that I would rather wear out than rust out. For the full interview, visit

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cover story

March / April 2013 GC 25


Fashion's most

creative entrepreneur By bringing fashion straight from the runway to clients’ closets, Aslaug Magnúsdóttir has revolutionized online retail. By RITU UPADHYAY

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slaug Magnúsdóttir is one of the most accomplished women in the fashion industry. She is the CoFounder and Chief Executive Officer of Moda Operandi, an online luxury retailer that has taken the global fashion world by storm since its launch in 2010. The site enables members to pre-order fashion right off the runway, giving fashionistas an opportunity to buy clothes six months

before they hit the department stores. Traditionally there is a lag that occurs because fashion shows preview what is coming up for the next season well in advance. “The beauty of our concept is that we offer women access to the full runway immediately; they haven’t been seen anywhere else,” said Magnúsdóttir in an interview with Global Citizen. In an industry where being the first to have or wear an item puts you at the top, the concept has taken off. Magnúsdóttir, who was previously a vice president at luxury private sale discount site, Gilt Groupe, says their concept is quite different than other luxury retailing models. They are focusing on high end positioning and don’t expect to have a high volume of memebers as Gilt does. Also clients will not find items on discount. Instead they are willing to pay full price to have it first. The company, headquartered in New York, tripled sales the second half of 2012, vs. the year before. They have 250 designers offering private trunk shows and an average purchase is $1,400, which goes up considerably during fashion weeks. Moda achieved a major milestone last summer when they raised $36 million in funding from venture capital firm RRE Ventures and several strategic investors, including IMG and LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton. The company plans to use the money to further grow the business internationally. Magnúsdóttir said the Middle East is a key market for the company. In the last quarter of 2012, 20% of their sales were generated from the region.

"The beauty of our concept is that we offer women access to the full runway immediately."

“People here have a real appreciation for luxury items. They love getting the pieces that are special and different,” she said. The company is also investing in the back end logistics side of the business by opening a new warehousing facility in the UK to service international markets. “Initially we shipped everything from New York, but as of last summer we are also shipping from the UK. That both speeds it up and makes the delivery costs a little bit lower.” A native of Iceland, Magnúsdóttir has an impressive resume that includes work for an investment firm that specialized in funding fashion companies. The Harvard Business School graduate who also holds a law degree from The University of Iceland, says another key differentiator of the business is the data they collect on what clients want to buy. This is not only valuable for them, but also to the designers, giving them a testing ground to see which of their runway offerings will sell immediately after a show—information that they can then share with department stores who will sell the same styles in stores later. With Moda designers don’t need to make an investment into producing every piece they showcase on a runway (which is often time consuming and expensive). Instead Moda takes orders from clients and the designers produce only what has been ordered. It’s an efficient and lucrative model.

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Surrendering to

the digital age After resigning as CEO of Arab Media Group, Abdullatif Alsayegh embraced the world of digital media. He tells GC why. By Heba Hashem

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"Anything that can be transferred into digital format is not going to last long; not just newspapers and magazines, but whatever you can think of – content, tapes, videocassettes...”

bdullatif Alsayegh has become synonymous with ground-breaking media projects in the UAE. Twelve years ago, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum asked him to build a portfolio of media assets for the Government of Dubai, which included three daily newspapers, eight radio stations and three TV stations. Amongst them were Emarat Al Youm, MTV Arabia, and Al Khaleejiya Radio Station– Arabic, favourites that are still going strong. Shifting Focus Alsayegh moved from a government-owned organization to run a digital media agency in 2010; a timely shift considering publishing firms have been struggling to sustain their businesses. He says media companies need to evolve to become content providers, not just publishers. “TV might not exist in its current platform (in the future), but the content is going to stay. Media, such as radio or TV, are only enablers – a way of transmitting the signal. You can now consume the same TV content on your iPad, mobile phone and other devices. We should start switching some terminologies, because soon they might not exist.” The Real-Time Factor While many think of social media as having a fan page and followers, fully exploiting digital media requires much more, says Alsayegh. “You must have a strategy behind it and objectives. There’s crowd-sourcing, tone of voice, crisis management, PPC campaigns, search engine optimization. So it’s not just about starting your Facebook and Twitter pages and the rest will happen,” explains Alsayegh, whose clients include Dubai Islamic Bank, Abu Dhabi Police, and Dolphin Energy, to name a few.

At the end of the day, there are two things we have to accept, he explains: “Anything that can be transferred into digital format is not going to last long; not just newspapers and magazines, but whatever you can think of – content, tapes, videocassettes – anything that can be beaten and eaten.” Moving Fast When Alsayegh was with Arab Media Group, he launched projects within a very short time span. Emarat Al Youm newspaper, for example, was established in just six months, when it usually takes a newspaper 1-2 years to get off the ground. Minimizing essential yet time-consuming processes that are part of setting up a business can be risky, but can also be rewarding. “The process of recruitment can take one month or it can take a week. There are people who like to call candidates for several interviews just to make sure they are the right ones, and then there’s people like me who decide during the first interview.” Taking a big picture approach is important to setting up a business. “I wouldn’t just start putting the place together first, then recruit, then look at processes, and the content,” he says. “Instead, I’ll do everything in parallel. Rather than ‘starting from here and finishing there,’ I’ll start from everywhere and finish faster.” When asked about “sailing against the waves,” as he once stated during a speech, Alsayegh’s eyes light up. “There’s nothing such as ‘this is how business is done’. It’s all about different styles, formats and experiments, until you come to your conclusion of what works. And whatever you apply today might not work tomorrow because the business environment keeps changing,” explains Alsayegh.

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human resources

How to retain the best workforce What does it take to keep the very best employees motivated and engaged in their work? GC speaks to the winners of the UAE’s “Greatest Places to Work” survey to find out. By NATASHA TOURISH

The winners of the Top 15 companies to work for in the UAE

n years gone by, it was taken for granted that people would work for decades for the same company. But in a competitive and transitional market like the UAE, this is not the case anymore. The person who works ten or more years for the same company is a rarity. It’s a frustrating reality for companies who invest copious amounts of time and money in recruiting staff from overseas and putting employees through training programs, only to have them leave a few months later. This is why more and more UAE companies are turning to The Great Place to Work Institute (GPTW) for help and advice on retaining staff by gathering confidential feedback from employee

surveys, which in turn allows them to engage with their staff more effectively and improve retention rates. GPTW is a global research and management consultancy that recognises the best workplaces in over 45 countries worldwide. Last month, the institute released its 2013 list of ‘Top Companies to Work for in the UAE.’ Microsoft has been at the top of the polls for the 3rd time running, with the Marriot, Fedex and The One furniture store taking the top four spots. Secret to Success What is it about this list of diverse companies-both local and multinational, that makes them great places to work?

David Robert, CEO of GPTW UAE, explains trust is the keyword. “It is an employee-retention strategy that works for all organisations,” says Robert. “To stand out as an employer of choice, companies must invest in the building of trust. Trust is best built not through “what” a company provides or offers but rather through ‘how’ a company does it. Employees want flexibility, clear development opportunities, recognition for accomplishments, and fairness.” Ranked in 4th place with a staff retention rate of over 90%, the luxury furniture store The One, believes that it’s their reputation as ‘a great place to work’ that attracts staff. “We never advertise our jobs unless it’s for a very specialized

March / April 2013 GC 31

human resources

Staff at The One are encouraged to get involved in projects like building classrooms in Africa or cleaning up garbage in Hatta. This leads to ‘more involvement in their work and a sense of fulfillment.’

position, I usually get on average 2,500 applications per year because we are known as a great place to work,” says Ravi Singh, Head of Talent Relations at The One. The One staff are encouraged to volunteer for the company’s CSR projects, which involve beach cleaning, working in the autism center in Dubai and building schools and providing drinking water to villages in India, Bangladesh and parts of Africa. Robert says this gives “a sense of social engagement to the employees – they feel that their contribution helped build a school in Africa, which translates to more involvement with their work and better fulfillment.” He added, “In exchange for that level of engagement, the company gives them some interesting incentives, which brings about a tremendous work-life balance. For instance, their employees can take their annual leave of 30 days in one chunk at any time they want without having to coordinate with their colleagues – something unique in the work environment in the region.’’ However, the employees at The One want much more than flexible working

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hours, they wanted the “fun factor” to be introduced into their work life. “One of the things we’ve learnt from the confidential feedback in the GPTW survey is that our employees wanted to have more fun at work,” says Singh. “We addressed this issue by starting up breakfast mornings, so every Sunday at 8am in every store our staff get together and have breakfast. This just gives them time to chat and relax together.” Substantiating Performance Although companies themselves have to pay a fee to be surveyed and considered for the Great Places to Work ranking, its popularity is increasing year on year. Suha Mardelli, HR director for Bayt. com which ranked 9th place, says this is because of stiff competition among companies who want to obtain the coveted title. “There is a talent war happening right outside our door as more employers understand the importance of being a Great Place to Work and want to be one as well.” But how can small-medium sized companies compete with larger firms like Microsoft? The top ranked company offers employees benefits for autism

therapy, as well as back-up care when regular child-care arrangements break down, assistance with tuition for staff’s children and if an employee volunteers for a charity, Microsoft will donate $17 per hour to their chosen cause. For tech firm, the answer is to not respond in monetary value but by recreating a type of “home from home” environment to work in. “Our view on benefits is more panoramic than the standards. For example: we ensure our pantries have healthy food and snacks by stocking up on fruits, cereals, and herbal teas,” says Mardelli. “Some offices have various recreational ‘toys’ like dart-boards, foosball, punching bags. These are just a few examples, but they fortify our credo to always put the best interests of employees ahead of what most labor laws mandate.” She added: “We aim to trump the minimums they outline. “It makes it very challenging to provide similar benefits when our offices are located in 12 countries, so we are always looking for ways to improve, either by selecting better providers, or introducing new incentives,” explained Mardelli.



for US Citizenship

t was hard to find a seat at an EB-5 conference in Dubai recently. Investors from around the MENA region packed the room to hear from American entrepreneurs seeking funding for their businesses. But this was not an ordinary investor conference, these businesses were looking for funding through a unique immigrant investor program. The US’s EB-5 Investor Visa is gaining popularity among both US businesses seeking more cost effective and socially responsible funding in a tight credit environment, and residents in the MENA region seeking US citizenship. A mututally beneficial program Established as a government initiative to create jobs in the US, the EB-5 program benefits the American economy, business owners, and citizenship seekers alike. Each EB-5 Visa applicant is required to create a minimum of 10 full-time jobs for US-citizens within two years.

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"Each EB-5 is required to create a minimum of 10 full-time jobs for US-citizens within two years."

In return the government extends permanent residency (Green Card) to the visa holder, the holder’s spouse, and an unlimited number of children below 21 years of age. After 5 years of established residency, they may be eligible to apply for citizenship. “For foreigners, the EB-5 presents a relatively safe and attractive investment model, but more importantly, it provides the means to a passport over a five-year period,” explained Nicolas Salerno, Vice President of Arton Capital, a global advisory firm with offices in Dubai, specializing in Immigrant Investor Programs. The benefit to businesses: the EB-5 creates a source of funding that comes at an interest rate of around 1%. Potential investors are held responsible for performing their own due diligence when considering projects. Reputable immigration advisory firms such as Arton Advisors can guide investors on the rigorous regulations placed upon

Image courtesy of Gettyimages

Investors find opportunity in the US immigrant investor program as American businesses seek new sources of funding.


"For foreigners, the EB-5 presents a relatively safe and attractive investment model, but more importantly, it provides the means to a passport over a five-year period."

businesses and visa applicants. Salerno advises on choosing businesses that have an employment buffer of 20% to 30% above the required 10 jobs per EB-5 as it’s well advised to cushion the bottom line. “EB-5 has been gaining a lot of momentum, especially following the temporary suspension of the Canadian Federal and Quebec Immigrant Investor Programs,” said Salerno. Investment options Businessmen have two tracks towards a Green Card. “A $500,000 regional center investment is sufficient, if the project is in a designated economically distressed area (which can be as small as a city block), with an unemployment rate over 150% of the national average—this is classified as a Targeted Employment Area (TEA). Alternatively, there is the $1 million direct investment, where the only requirement is job creation,” explained Salerno.

Nicolas Salerno, Vice President of Arton Capital.

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An Alternative western passport Businesses incorporating an EB-5 element to the funding structure go to great lengths to safeguard this particular investment, acknowledging that for some, it constitutes precious life savings. “Applicants have to invest $500,000 as required for the EB-5 program. In addition, a $50,000 fee is payable to the Regional Center, which is transferred with the investment. Legal fees of $15,000 will also be applicable,” says Salerno. Competition among projects to win over investors will prove advantageous to foreign nationals, who can cherry pick the most promising investments. Arton Capital is offering its visa applicants an opportunity to invest in a newly developed Courtyard Marriot hotel in Mississippi. They have joined forces with the Mississippi Regional Centre to develop the project. The hotel will be part of a larger development project named “Cooley Centre Project” consisting of a conference centre and restaurants alongside the hotel, which will be located outside the entrance to the Mississippi State University. There are 10,000 EB-5 investor visas available on an annual basis, but this quota has never been reached. In 2012, total EB-5 visas amounted to 2,771, according to US Customs and Immigration Services, led by huge numbers posted by China. Additionally, the number of regional centers has increased from 174 in 2011 to 194 in 2012, creating a wider range of options for potential investors.

There are other options aside from the US EB-5 for investors looking for second citizenships. An alternative program offering EU residency and citizenship is the Investor Program for Residence and Citizenship in Bulgaria. It has become one of the most attractive immigrant investor products worldwide because of the relatively low net investment, physical residence exemption, and the benefits the country can offer as a EU member state. Recently amendments have been made to Bulgaria’s program that offer added incentives to investors. Arton Capital has been advising the Bulgarian government on the changes. “One of the main changes is the fast track citizenship option to BGIIP applicants as well as two other groups of big investors,” said Milen Keremedchiev, Vice President of Arton Capital. “Besides their initial investment for residency, which qualifies them for Bulgarian permanent residency, investors can put another 1 million Bulgarian leva in a certified Priority Investment Project and hold it for at least one year in order to become eligible to apply for Bulgarian citizenship,” he explained. “The time line for processing of such applications is not expected to be more than 6 months. Once citizenship is granted, the high net-worth individuals will need to maintain both the initial and the doubled investment for another couple of years.” Another amendment is the abolishment of the language requirement for the citizenship application. Until recently, all investors had to prove their competence in the Bulgarian language by taking a test or showing a certificate from a licensed Bulgarian academic institution. For those seeking a western passport, the advantages of the Bulgarian Immigrant Investment Program are creating a high demand for Bulgarian citizenship.


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March /agencies April 2013 GC 35 Arton Advisors is a company affiliated with Arton Capital, a leading global financial advisory firm providing custom-tailored services for Immigrant Investor Programs to Government and high net-worth individuals and families from around the world. The firm is supervised by the L’Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF) and is recognized by the Quebec Ministry of Finance as an International Financial Center (IFC).

Art Road


Just as traveling along the Silk Route was a journey of many contrasts, so too is the journey along The Art Road. The region bears witness to constant, transformative change. In the Gulf, new cities emerge from the desert. In other parts of the region, the Arab Spring has ushered in a cascade of events that have led to complete political, social and economic upheaval. Travel along The Art Road with us to discover how the creative world has evolved, documented and responded to the changes.

Egypt iran Syria Pakistan INDIA Turkey uae


ART Road

Egypt’s Public Canvas Graffiti artists in post revolutionary Egypt express their struggles in the public domain.

he Arab Spring has ushered in a new era of graffiti art. Youth around the region have taken to the streets, not just protesting against oppressive regimes, but covering grey walls with a flurry of colors. Gigantic murals and powerful stencils pepper the landscape with compelling truths. With their murals, Egyptian graffiti artists have not only denounced the corrupt regime of ousted President Mubarak, they have recorded the excesses of their revolution, from the blatantly biased media reports to the growing clout of Islamists. On a wall in Midgham in the Nile Delta, the faces of dozens of men killed in this winter’s Port Said massacre are stenciled on the wall, watching passersby with tranquil eyes. The mural is one of many street art pieces adorning the avenues of Egyptian cities. Another martyr mural series features large portraits of the men and women who were killed during the revolution, painted in

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the colors of the Egyptian flag. They are the work of an artist who goes by the name of Fahmy. Another graffiti artist named Ammar Abou Bakr painted dozens of one-eyed men on a wall in Cairo as a testament to protestors who were shot in the face by the security services and pro-regime thugs during the uprising. These artists and many more like them are using art as a vehicle for political expression when everything around them is falling apart. Sad Panda, Kaizer, and El Teneen are a few of many whose work decorates the walls of Egyptian cities. Mia Grondahl is the author of “Revolution Graffiti,” an expressive book detailing the works of Egyptian artists in the midst of a popular revolution. “We rarely saw graffiti work in Cairo before the revolution. It started showing up in the streets after the beginning of the uprising,” Grondahl said. Aya Tarek is one such artist. “The uprising allowed graffiti artists to reclaim the public space.

Photo credit: Graffiti Mia Grondhal

By Mona Alami


‘A Martyr’s Mother’, part of the mural at Mohamed Mahmoud St. by Ammar Abou Bakr.

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ART Road

‘Samo is Dead,’ Alexandria, Egypt.

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has been slightly modified by a second graffiti artist, who drew red horns on the policemen. “There are also many unifying messages showing both the crescent and the cross, which are symbols of Islam and Christianity,” adds Grondahl. Similar unifying messages can also be seen thousands of kilometers away in the Lebanese capital Beirut. In a country shaken by growing sectarian divisions, graffiti artists are trying to avoid alienating political slogans by focusing mostly on ones that can appeal to all Lebanese religious groups. In the wake of the 2006 war that pitted Lebanese Hezbollah against the Israeli army, and the political instability that followed, artists Charles Vallaud and Siska painted the famous mural “Beirut ma bit mout” (“Beirut never dies”). The mural became so popular it was featured on

a handbag designed by a local fashion house. “We later moved to stencils featuring bomb blasts that we tagged all over Beirut to show the absurdity of it all,” Vallaud said in reference to a wave of bombings targeting Lebanese politicians starting in 2005. He believes that street art became more widely popular after 2005 and the end of the Syrian occupation of Lebanon, which encouraged youth to make their mark on public space without fear. Next door in Syria, where a civil war is raging between the regime and opposition, there is also protest art, though not as much as in other Mideast countries for security reasons. An artist named Wael Mixtape has been tagging for 11 years. He says that he is now avoiding the streets, limiting his work to cartoons and canvas. “I am wary of tagging in public spaces. It’s now too

Photo courtesy of Townhouse Gallery/Revolution Graffiti Mia Grondhal

There was no more fear,” she said noting that before the revolution, “Painting in the street was a taboo.” The young artist, who is also an interior designer, started painting next to her studio in Alexandria after the protests kicked off at the end of 2010. Grondahl differentiates between graffiti artists and graffiti activists who emerged during the uprising, the latter relying mostly on spray paint and mass-produced stencils. “Young people are using graffiti to spread their message. They still feel misrepresented in spite of the revolution, and graffiti art is still proliferating in Egypt,” she said. Graffiti art is constantly changing, following the whims of artists and activists. On one wall on Cairo’s Mohamad Mahmoud Street, a picture depicting a woman being beaten by police officers designed by the Ultras

Photo: MARCO LONGARI/AFP/Getty Images


In just three sentences on a large wall in Cairo, an artist sums up the evolution of the Egyptian revolt: ‘2011, Down with Mubarak’s rule. 2012, Down with military rule. 2013, Down with Brotherhood rule.’

much of a risk. I would be immediately arrested.” Last month, Syrian artist Tamam Azzam broke the artistic silence by photoshopping Gustav Klimt’s painting “The Kiss” on the side of a bullet-riddled building in Syria. An image of the mural, which was breathtaking in its contrast, went viral, Azzam’s plea for love reaching many around the world. “We do not want to take sides; our goal is to change people’s thinking and influence their opinions. Looking at graffiti takes less of an effort than reading a book or an article. Posting a positive message on people’s way to work might push them to change their opinion,” said Vallaud. Grondahl also believes that “revolution art” will endure because of its reach. “Graffiti artists are still pushing for change in Egypt to make the dreams of Egyptians come true.” A graffiti mural by Aya Tarek, Alexandria.

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Iranian art thrives in Dubai Artists from Iran find a wide audience and collector base in the UAE.

Farhard Moshiri’s ‘Secret Garden’, (2009) is expected to sell for between $300,000 and $500,000 at the Christie’s auction in Dubai this April.

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Photo: Courtesy of the artist and The Third Line Gallery

By Tara Gally


ART Road

Golnaz Fathi, ‘Untitled 3’, mixed media on canvas

n a dusty area of Dubai, animated stories of epic battles come to life on a modern canvas at The Third Line gallery. Splashes of vibrant color merge with figurative elements reminiscent of ancient Persia. This is Golnaz Fathi’s interpretation of Shahnameh, the epic poem by Persian poet Ferdowsi. Like many Iranian artists, Fathi has found an outlet for her artwork in the Gulf emirate, at a time when the economic situation in Iran and Dubai couldn’t be more different. The former is ridden with multiple layers of sanctions that have stifled growth, weakened its currency and brought about an inflation rate close to 29 percent. The latter, however, is ushering in an economic recovery thanks to its ‘safe haven’ status in a turbulent region. While The Third Line, like many other galleries mushrooming in the area – known as Al Quoz - represents Middle Eastern artists of various nationalities, it has a rich list of Iranian artists on its roster, including Monir Farmanfarmaian, Shirin Aliabadi, and Farhad Moshiri. “Emerging and established artists from

Pantea Rahamni, ‘Tehran 2’, (2012) Gesso, ink and acrylic on unprimed canvas 175x500cm.

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ART Road

"Iran today is truly a unique country to live in and has many challenges. The experience of navigating these challenges is different for each artist and makes the art of each artist unique."

Iran are producing work with passion and skill. Their practices are diverse and cover many facets,” said Claudia Cellini, co-founder of The Third Line. “There is a strong artistic energy coming out of Iran that perhaps has always been so, regardless of the political climate of the country.” Hala Khayat, Head of Sales and Associate Director for Christie’s Dubai, has been working for the auction house in the region since 2007 and has witnessed “a significant increase in the interest in works by Iranian artists” during her tenure. Christie’s upcoming Modern and Contemporary Arab, Iranian and Turkish Art auction in April will feature a selection of sculptures, works on paper, paintings and photographs. Secret Garden, a seminal art piece from 2009 by Farhad Moshiri, is the highest valued work in the sale. The painting, which is one of the few works that depicts the artist in a self-portrait,

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Reza Derakhshani, ‘Mirror of Time’, mixed media on canvas (2009), 152cm diameter

is estimated to fetch between $300,000 and $500,000. When it comes to buyers of Iranian art, the profile has changed. “There is no ‘typical collector’,” said Khayat. Buying has become “less territorial” and “crossbuying” is helping create a stronger base for all regional art to grow, Khayat added. “Obviously, there is an interest from Iranian collectors in works from their country, but they are also increasingly interested in buying works from other countries represented in the sales.” Iranian art continues to evolve, and despite Iran’s troubled economic and political situation, the nation is a major producer of creative talent. Ramin Salsali, Founder of Salsali Private Museum in Al Quoz says: “Iran today is truly a unique country to live in and has many challenges. The experience of navigating these challenges is different for each artist and makes the art of each artist unique.”

Photo: Courtesy of the artist and SPM

Ramin Salsali, founder of Salsali Private Museum in Alserkal Avenue.


‘Witness from Baghdad’ by Halim Al-Karim, 2010 Sovereign Asian Art Prize finalist

THE ART OF TAX PLANNING Sovereign is proud to be sponsoring The Sovereign Art Foundation for the 10th consecutive year - helping it to make the world a better and more artistic place. Sovereign offers charity to its clients too. We form charities and foundations to help our clients with their charitable aims. And to ensure they have more to give we offer a comprehensive family office service including wealth management, tax planning, asset protection, company and trust formation.

Contact us for an exploratory conversation. Sovereign Corporate Services JLT Tel: +971 4 448 6010 Fax: +971 4 448 6011 Abu Dhabi, Bahamas, Bahrain, British Virgin Islands, China, Curaçao, Cyprus, Denmark, Dubai, Gibraltar, Guernsey, Hong Kong, Isle of Man, Malta, Mauritius, Portugal, Seychelles, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Turks & Caicos Islands, United Kingdom.

March / April 2013 GC 45


ART Road

Syria Art in a Time of War Crushed by the current political climate, Syrian artists in exile, free from censorship, use technology to create and share their work.

Freedom Graffiti: a digital work by Syrian artist Tammam Azzam who superimposed Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss on to an image of a Syrian bomb site. 48 GC March / April 2013

Photo: Courtesy the artist and Ayyam Gallery

By Pia Aung


yrian art is dubbed by some as stumbling upon a new movement—where recently exiled artists have greater freedoms to conceive without the shackles of censorship, while increasingly drastic conditions at home drive the wheels of creation. The results are a surge in politically inspired activist art, with technology, digital media and a globally engaged audience married into the mix. The first decade of the 21st century saw the emergence of a burgeoning art scene in Syria. With galleries such as Atassi Gallery flourishing since its opening

"Technology is definitely playing a huge role in the development of the art scene..." in 1993, followed by Ayyam Gallery in 2006, there was an air of excitement and freedom in the city with platforms for eager talent ready to engage. Today the Ayyam Gallery in Damascus has been converted into a place of refuge for those same artists to work and, on occasion, reside in. Others have been forced to flee to safer havens including the Gulf, Egypt and Lebanon. Last month an image by artist in exile Tammam Azzam went viral with over twenty thousand likes on Facebook in just a few hours. The diaspora responded in droves to the images of Gustav Klimt’s masterpiece “The Kiss” photoshopped as graffiti on a bullet-ridden building. The haunting photo, breathtaking in its contrast, juxtaposed an image synonymous with love, contrasted against the war torn reality of a crumbling facade. The internet—which only became available in Syria in 2000—is now

Mohannad Orabi ‘Profile Picture’ 80 X 60 cm. mixed media on Canvas Paper, (2012)

the very tool supporting freedom of expression for Syria and for many in exile it is the only way to communicate freely with those who remain. Hisham Samawi, the founding director for Ayyam Gallery says, “Technology is definitely playing a huge role in the development of the art scene in the Middle East. Not only does it allow for an artist to reach a much wider audience, as we saw with Tammam’s ‘Freedom Graffiti,’ but it also allows artists from our region to be exposed to the rest of the world as well.” Artist Mohannad Orabi was recently forced to leave Syria and is now living in exile in Egypt. Constrained to resort to communication via the Internet;

Facebook has taken on an entirely different function in his life. So much so, that this influence has inspired his latest series of work entitled “Profile Portraits” which will be the inaugurating exhibition for the Ayyam Gallery in Jeddah. Using images of family and friends as a departure point, Orabi manifests an extension of the digital world in a stylized permanence. Childlike, the faces seem vulnerable and mesmerizing. Dark eyes lure the viewer into an abyss of apprehension. The disturbance echoes the distance between the artist and his loved ones, expressing a melancholia intrinsically linked to his exile, the abomination at home and a newly realized reliance on technology.

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Pakistan Modernizing Miniature Painting A new generation of Pakistani artists employ principles of an ancient tradition to create a new style of miniature that includes abstract and sculptural works. By suhair khan and zahra khan


ART Road

n the midst of unprecedented interest from the international art market, Pakistan’s art world is evolving quickly. The contemporary coterie of artists have come of age during a period of massive political, social and cultural upheaval. Art by leading lights such as Rashid Rana are selling to breathless demand at Sotheby’s and Christie’s, with more recent artists like Ali Kazim, Hasnat Mahmood and Muhammad Zeeshan leading the younger pack. Several established artists such as Jamil Naqsh, Faiza Butt and Huma Bhabba live and work abroad, but virtuosos including Rana, Imran Qureshi and Naiza Khan continue to create their art in Pakistan, teaching at local universities and producing work that is reflective of their immersive existences.

delicate penmanship and balanced compositions. Traditionally found in ancient Persian manuscripts; miniature works were small enough to fit within the confines of a page, and detailed enough to portray an entire narrative. Scholars of Islamic Art write extensively of the earliest Persian miniature paintings, dating back as far as the 13th Century. In the centuries that followed, miniature painting was championed in Mughal India, becoming exceptionally elaborate and dynamic as its reach expanded. Indian miniature utilized wasli - a layered, hand prepared paper, as well as a non-transparent, waterbased paint called gouache. The style was similiar to the Persian school, with the addition of Indian patterns, architectural characteristics, and elaborate costumes and jewelry.

An Ancient Tradition One of South Asia’s oldest art forms is miniature painting, a style with deep lyricism, imbued with rich colours,

Merging Miniature and Abstract It was not until the 1970s that miniature was revived in Pakistan. At a time of political and national flux, with General

Ayub Khan’s ascent to power through military coup, graduates of the Mayo School of Arts in Lahore (now called the National College of Arts) were eager to reclaim South Asian traditions and culture. Amongst them was Zahoor ul Akhlaq (1941–1999) who popularized postmodern ideas in the 1970s when he became a professor at NCA. Insisting that traditional South Asian forms of art be included in the syllabi, his own work merged miniature and abstract art. Akhlaq and his contemporaries trained a generation of artists who were to push miniature to the furthest edges of contemporary art and expression. Shahzia Sikander (b. 1969), Imran Qureshi (b. 1972) and Aisha Khalid (b.1972) took classical techniques and aggressively layered on contemporary themes and scenarios, probing social issues, and depicting modern clothing and architecture. Perhaps more than any other of this group, Sikander has brought modern

Photo: Courtesy of Corbis / Getty Images

an evolving art Left: Miniature painting originated in Persia and moved to South Asia, where it evolved based on the local culture and influences. Right: Imran Qureshi, ‘Moderate Enlightenment’ 2009.

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ART Road

Sahyr Sayed ‘The New Address Is’, (2012), Styrofoam panel, gypsona strips, acrylic paints, junk items

miniature to the global mainstream. She has had pieces on show at the MoMA in New York and is represented by the prestigious Pilar Corrias Gallery in London and Sikkema Jenkins in New York. Expanding the scale of miniature artwork, Sikander demonstrated that the genre need not be constricted by traditional rules. Also choosing to deviate from the traditional in distinct ways, the 2013 Deutsche Bank Artist of the Year, Imran Qureshi has created a series of massive pieces, including commissions for the Sydney and Sharjah biennales. Pakistan’s battles with terror and militancy cast an obvious pall on the work - he paints intimidatingly bearded modern-day men in jarring, yet mundane scenarios. The darkness of the gold-flecked satire is unmissable.

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Attiya Shaukat Structure, (2012) - Tea wash, silver paper, thread and gouache on wasli

Breaking Existing Moulds Younger artists continue to modify and transform the rules of the genre. Using a range of mediums (plastic, wire, glass, clay) to create their pieces but sticking to traditionalist techniques, they have produced unexpected and distinctively South Asian work. Deeply personal art is also increasingly common in Pakistan, as a generation in flux has turned the lens around from depicting the outside world and into the mind and soul of the artist. Rather than depicting the lives of historical characters, this new generation of artists are creating pieces centered on their own emotional minutiae, daily challenges, interactions, and relationships. Sahyr Sayed (b. 1987) is the product of a broken home. She uses doll’s houses to create traditional homelike situations out of tiny objects that she selects, builds, or paints and fills with familial clutter. Taking this break with tradition one step further and daring to make herself the subject of her own work, the physically disabled Attiya Shaukat (b. 1980) paints herself in the brace she is required to wear - emphasizing her own confinement. Her twisted, somber images play in direct contrast to the


ART Road

Breaking all of the moulds laid out in the thousands of years of this art form is the introduction of the sculptural miniature.

Noor Ali Chagani , ‘Pixels of My Portrait,’ 2011, terracotta bricks, cast iron and rubber solution

historical role of miniature as depictive of beauty and an idealized reproduction of reality. Lines and architecture also figure prominently and issues of perception are examined by artists like Noureen Rashid (b. 1982), who deconstructs miniature into its bare essentials – lines and planes. The repetition of slender threads on aluminium creates entire pieces– a dichotomy between these vulnerable fragments and what is solid and complete. Sculpting in Miniature Breaking all of the moulds laid out in the thousands of years of this art form is the introduction of the sculptural miniature. The brilliant Noor Ali Chagani (b. 1982) and newcomer Maha Ahmed (b. 1989) both use cubes and boxes to build pieces. The youngest nominee of the

Noor Ali Chagani explores the ancient technique of clay brick making using kilns; he makes his own bricks in miniature size that act as units for his art objects.

Victoria and Albert’s Jameel Art Prize, Chagani utilizes miniature, handmade bricks to build walls, mirrors, and other architectural pieces; his tiny creations are an ode to the rich architectural history of cities like Lahore, and represent his search for order and stability, creating a home, fitting in. He encases these bricks in mirror frames and metal stands, warping perception. Similarly, Ahmed creates sculptures out of miniature handmade paper boxes that are then sealed within larger plastic trays. Contemporary Pakistani miniaturists have inherited an ancient school of Art and made it their own. As the international art world watches, the Pakistani modern miniature school evolves, a generation of artists with more questions than answers, a nation at a crossroads, and a society in seemingly perpetual transition.

Noureen Rashid, ‘Neem Rang’, (2012), Thread on aluminium composite panel March / April 2013 GC 53


ART Road

India joins the global art market India’s first biennale reflects the country’s burgeoning economy. By Nausheen Noor

he bucolic, sleepy shores of Kerala were once home to a Muziris, a bustling ancient seaport near present-day Kochi, with trade links to the Middle East, Europe and China. An epic flood in 1341 washed away the city, and with it the region’s historical prominence. 12/12/12 marked a return of these towns in the global collective consciousness, with the beginning of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, the first of its kind in India. The event almost did not happen. It was conceptualized in 2010 by two Keralanborn artists, Bose Krishnamachari and Riyas Komu, with then Cultural Minister M.A. Baby. Later, a change in

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government administration pulled the bulk of public funding, leaving the 80 Indian and international artists to float their own endeavors shoestring budgets. Still in the first week, the fair drew in an impressive 10,000 visitors ranging from intellectual luminaries such as Shashi Tharoor, to Bollywood beefcake John Abraham, and Sri-Lankan/British rap star M.I.A. In recent years, prolonged economic growth and increasingly globalized tastes have contributed to a boom in the Indian contemporary art market, which peaked in 2008. As culturally rich as India may be, contemporary art has yet to penetrate a cross-section of society. The organizers

of the Kochi-Muziris see the festival as an equalizer. “Biennales democratize art, taking it from the confines of galleries and mix it with people and place, removing the elitist tag,” says Krishnamurthy, Artistic Director. “[Kochi] is a natural choice when you think about the spirit of a Biennale, a non-commercial enterprise– art for the people, art for debate. Bombay and Delhi are commercial cities. London, Paris and New York do not need a Biennale. Every day they could live with art, see art. Here, from nothing we had to start something…” The fair spread out across heritage buildings, many of which were open

Photo: Courtesy of Kochi Biennale India

P S Jalaja, ‘Untitled X 2’, 2010, watercolour


"Biennales democratize art, taking it from the confines of galleries and mix it with people and place, removing the elitist tag,"

Photo: Courtesy of Corbis

Ernesto Neto’s ‘The Edges of the World’

to the public for the first time. They included the former offices of a 19th century English trader, the court of the Maharajah of Kochin, and even a group of sea-facing abandoned spice warehouses. The setting also was an inspiration for the artwork. In Brazilian artist Ernesto Neto’s installation, the attic ceiling of a former coconut-fibre factory is swathed in marigold fabric. Gossamer sacks sewn from local cotton tenuously hold bushels of aromatic spices, defying gravity while looking out onto shipping lines- a sensory tribute to Kochi’s history. The Indian artist Vivan Sundaram assembled a model of Muziris from shards of terracotta retrieved from the town’s archaeological site. The intricately arranged objects recreate towers, walkways, and communities-a town rising from rubble. Kerala’s legacy of cultural pluralism has been a model of tolerance. In addition to Hindus, the state is home to the country’s oldest communities of Christians, Muslims, and Jews, who coexist peaceably. With this background, it is not surprising that Saudi artist Ahmed Mater was invited to present his photographic chronicle of the Hajj. Aerial shots taken from a helicopter communicate the scale, chaos, and ardor of the pilgrimage.

Visitors look at artist Vivek Vilasini’s work at Aspinwall House.

An event of this magnitude proved challenging to coordinate and the early weeks of the Biennale were plagued by inefficiencies. Many artists had their materials held up in customs and by opening day, the sight of partially installed works was commonplace. The event has been criticized for underrepresenting women, as well as lacking basic organizational amenities such as catalogues, maps, and labels. However, some patrons found this disorder part of the charm. “…The exhibition as a visible work in progress

– a literal site of production – came to be an integral part of the Kochi-Muziris experience,” writes Amanprit Sandhu on In a country that is notorious for its ingrained class divides, some of the most heartening sights at the event were of people, from all walks of life, meandering through the exhibitions. “We have seen young children with parents, taxi drivers-really the common man. People are getting to know what art is, and now everyone is familiar with the Biennale,” says Krishnamachar.

Sudarshan Shetty, ‘This Too Shall Pass’, 2010, aluminium and wood March / April 2013 GC 55


ART Road

all eyes on Turkey

For centuries Istanbul has been known as a place of mythical beauty, historical significance and cultural splendor. Now it has captured the world’s attention for a distinctly different reason—its contemporary arts scene. By Nausheen Noor

Istanbul Modern, a contemporary art museum, is set against the backdrop of the city’s historical architecture.

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ontemporary Turkish art blossomed in the early 20th century with the dissolution of the Ottoman sultanate and the establishment of the Turkish republic. The fledgling nation attempted to Westernize and forge a new cultural identitt. Influenced by the ‘avant-garde’ in Europe, artists rejected the Ottoman style and looked to emulate the West. One hundred years later, the West is glancing East. In addition hosting more than 200 contemporary galleries, Istanbul is preparing for three massive international contemporary art fairs this fall—The Istanbul Biennale, Contemporary Istanbul and Art International Istanbul. The turning point in Turkey’s contemporary art scene has coincided

affords artists greater liberty to engage in political and societal commentary. There are manifold critiques of Ataturk, depictions of Ottoman nostalgia, as well as shockingly graphic nudes— surprising in a predominantly Muslim population. A painting by Taner Ceylan, one of Turkey’s most successful artists, depicting a veiled Ottoman woman standing in front of Courbet’s painting of a female pudendum, ‘L’origine du Monde,’ recently sold for £229,250 at Sotheby’s. Some critiqued the piece as a crass, commercial exercise in selfOrientalization. Others found the photorealism striking. Regardless of one’s opinion, the freedom to exhibit and engage in a dialogue about a controversial piece such as this is a rare privilege

Istanbul’s Art calendar Art International Istanbul 15 – 18 Sep The newest addition to the calendar debuts in September in Istanbul.The co-founder is the fair veteran Sandy Angus, who co-founded the Hong Kong International Art Fair. Istanbul Biennale 14 Sep – 10 Nov

Visitors stroll inside Istanbul Modern.

with a time of economic prosperity and global influence. Turkey boasted 28 billionaires in 2010, just behind New York, Moscow and London. The arts community has been largely bolstered by private investment, with wealthy families acting as modern-day Medicis. The Eczacibasi pharmaceuticals family founded the Istanbul Modern in 2004. Omer Koc, industrialist and one of Turkey’s most established collectors, opened his gallery Arter in 2010. Unlike the decorative pieces, calligraphies and textiles that flood the state-funded Gulf museums, Turkish contemporary art is less Islam-focused while still exhibiting Eastern character. Presumably, the absence of state funding

elsewhere in the Middle East. Not everyone shares in the euphoria. The contemporary arts scene suffers from the symptoms of a market that has expanded too rapidly. It has been criticized for lacking depth, intellectualism, aestheticism and ironically, critique itself. In September 2010, several galleries in Istanbul were attacked. Since then undercover policemen have been shadowing gallery openings. There is something intrinsically Turkish about the nature of these tribulations— a nation that is perpetually straddling tradition and modernity, East and West. Proving that more than a century later, “What is Turkish?” is still an enduring question with an elusive answer.

The Istanbul Biennale is is considered to be as prestigious as the Venice or Sao Paolo Biennales within art circles. Spread out across the city, former courthouses and schools act as temporary venues, exploring “the notion of the public domain as a political forum.” Contemporary IstanbuL 7-10 Nov Arguably the most extensive contemporary art event in Turkey, CI promotes the cultural and artistic life of Turkey with a range of Turkish and international art.

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ART Road

UAE Looking ahead

A well-established hub for regional art, the UAE is now beginning to develop its own distinctive Emirati art voice By Natasha Tourish

ver the last decade, the UAE has been dancing to applause of the world’s art aficionados. Fairs like Art Dubai and, more recently, Abu Dhabi Art have provided the stage for regional artists to showcase their work under the watchful eye of the regions’ curators and gallery owners. Iconic projects on Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island like the Louvre and Guggenheim have elevated the UAE’s position as a

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leader in the Art world internationally. And well before the conceptualizaton of those projects, Sharjah has long been known as a hub of culture, boasting 17 museums in its Heritage District alone, as well as hosting the Sharjah Bienniale. In 2009, the country received the ultimate accolade, when the UAE was selected to be the first Gulf country to participate in the Venice Biennale, described by some as the ‘Olympics of

the Art world’. But how far has the UAE gone to develop its own local artists? Nurturing Emirati Artists Sheikha Lateefa bint Maktoum, artist and founder of Tashkeel, a public studio providing specialist facilities for artists and designers living and working in the UAE, believes the UAE art scene is still in the very nascent stages. “The art scene in general lacks artists with a developed

Photo: Courtesy of Reem Al Ghaith and Lateefa bint Maktoum

‘Observers of Change 4’, (2011) by Lateefa bint Maktoum.


body of work. Here artists get shown sometimes too early before they are ready; this would never happen abroad,” she said. “Sometimes that stops their development and it halts their creativity. I have a problem with galleries who exhibit people who may have done only one drawing and they have it on the wall. Not every piece is good enough to show. Even for me who has shown around the world and regionally, I wouldn’t just show every piece of my work.” She acknowledges that even the local art fairs like Art Dubai have an international focus and lack Emirati work. But she’s optimistic this will evolve. “I think it will happen but maybe in around five years time when the artists have a body of work to show.” The Tashkeel founder says that Emirati artists should draw inspiration from Saudi’s Edge of Arabia artists who, according to her, are on a “different level” in terms of the maturity of their work and the knowledge and education behind the artwork.

Sculpture by UAE artist Reem Al Gaith from ‘What’s Left of my Land’ exhibition.

Held Back: Reem Al Ghaith.

Work in progress: Sheikha Lateefa bint Maktoum paints ‘Eliane’.

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ART Road

“I see a lot of galleries here importing art, I’d rather bring in the people who can teach and influence our own artists,” she says. This is something that Tashkeel is aiming to do with its annual Guest Artist programme. “The idea is to allow artists to advance in their own professional practice, whilst at the same time benefitting emerging artists in the local community through interaction with artists who are more established in their discipline,” says bint Maktoum. This year marks the third presentation from the UAE Pavilion at the Venice Biennale and Sheikha Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan’s Foundation has launched the Venice Internship- a specialized program that offers local artists the opportunity to be trained and based in Venice for a month long tenure. Sheikha Lateefa showcased her photography series ‘Observers of Change’ in the ‘Second Time Around’ exhibition in Venice in 2011, alongside two other Emirati artists selected by the Turkish curator Vasif Kortun. The reoccurring theme in all three artists work was that

"I see a lot of galleries here importing art; I’d rather bring in the people who can teach and influence our own artists."

Reem Al Ghaith’s ‘Held Back’ series explores tensions between past and future landscapes in her home city of Dubai. 60 GC March / April 2013

of change. For Sheikha Lateefa her photography allows her “to capture as time passes, sometimes revisiting the same site multiple times to re-shoot as things develop, and to see the effect this has on the physical location as well as on the people living in the area.” As the youngest of the Emirati artists, Reem Al Ghaith also paid homage to the ever-changing landscape around her with a specially produced series of work, ‘What’s Left of my Land’. Her pieces, which are the outcomes of rigorous research, serve as a form of documentary or visual archive for future generations to bear witness to the changes the UAE has undergone. While Abdullah al Saadi’s work echoes the rural environment around him. His painted works are visual representations of a grand hike he took through the mountains of the Northern Emirates.

Photo: Courtesy of Reem Al Ghaith and Lateefa bint Maktoum

‘Observers of Change 2’, (2011) by Lateefa bint Maktoum.


Dubai’s trendy new way of life:

Art, Books, and Cafés

Between the gleaming sky scrapers that have come to define Dubai’s skyline, an increasing number of art hubs are helping shape the city’s personality. One trendy space at a time. By Sara Hamdan

etween the trendy restaurants of Zuma and Roberto’s, nestled in a small space that could easily be overlooked amid the Dubai International Financial Center’s gray columns, is a tiny, outdoor magazine shop. Inside, there are no tables, just wooden stools. The rectangular space is enclosed by white blocks instead of walls, so that it’s possible for people walking by to see you leafing through the magazines that line the perimeter amid the plants. Dubai’s economic revival is clearly visible in the trafficchoked streets and packed malls of the city, but its effect on the cultural scene is more nuanced. The economic vibrancy is reflected in places just like DIFC’s Magazine Shop, one of a handful of new arty spaces that have opened up in the city. Magazine Shop, an initiative of Brownbook that also manages spaces like The Shelter and The Pavilion, is a contribution to the rise of diverse non-profit spaces that focus on arts and culture. There was no funding for such projects during the financial crisis. While liquidity remains tight, the rise of cultural spaces is

a reflection of the fact that the economy is back on track today. Alserkal Avenue, a center for international and local art galleries nestled in the industrial part of town, was long at the heart of Dubai’s underground arts and culture scene. Amid the trucks and cranes is an art hub that faced difficulties during the crisis. A handful of galleries shut down following the crash of 2008, when money ran dry. Over the last few years, however, new galleries have opened, with additions every few months. The latest is Tunis-based Al Marsa, which will participate in Art Dubai this year. “The market is past its teething stage and is probably adolescent at the moment,” said Will Lawrie, co-founder of Lawrie Shabibi, one of the most prominent and longest-running galleries in Alserkal. “It’s a relief to be released from the unsustainable market we had a few years ago.” Traditional art galleries are growing in number and popularity, while creative new spaces such as Magazine Shop and The Archive in Safa Park are coming to the fore.

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anish kapoor

FILLING THE Void Artist Anish Kapoor chats with GC about his life and work and why the UAE’s impending cultural district is vital to its future.

Image courtesy of Getty Images

By Tahira Yaqoob

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anish kapoor

"There is a possibility of a shining example here. Europe is in dreadful decline and culture seems to take the brunt but here we have the opposite."

“Yes, it is desperately silly,” he says. “But what is the paradigm of the artist? The artist is, in a way, the perennial fool, doing apparently meaningless, stupid things which when we look deeper, can look profound.” In his lengthy career stretching back four decades, Kapoor, who turns 59 this month, has done a great many “meaningless things,” from putting a giant block of red wax on rails and shunting it between rooms for his artwork Svayambh to creating the swirling Orbit sculpture outside London’s Olympic Stadium, variously brandished a “£19 million rollercoaster”, “horrific squiggles” and “the Eyeful Tower.” Kapoor is unrepentant of the controversy caused by the landmark feat of engineering, built as a permanent legacy of last year’s Games: “I like that it has been hated. Artists are not very good at popularity.” He is in an ebullient mood on a trip to the United Arab Emirates, which he last visited in 2007 to see the saplings of the museums district project first take hold on Saadiyat island, Abu Dhabi.

Image courtesy of Abu Dhabi Art

he invitation was simply to come to the artist’s studio and dance Gangnam Style for a video. The calibre of those who turned up to the south London den reads like a Who’s Who of the art world, from Turner Prize-winning artist Mark Wallinger and painter Tom Phillips to Tamara Rojo, artistic director of the English National Ballet and Alison Myners, chairwoman of the UK’s Institute of Contemporary Arts. Galleries around the world, from the Museum of Modern Art in New York to the Sakip Sabanci in Istanbul, filmed their own contributions to be merged into the resulting video. But then, coming from arguably one of the world’s most famous living artists, the invitation was impossible to ignore. Anish Kapoor, complete in bubblegum pink shirt and brandishing a pair of handcuffs, was filming his own take on the South Korean pop star Psy’s chart-topper in support of Ai Weiwei, whose own parody of the viral hit was banned by Chinese authorities for being too subversive.

Visitors view art by Anish Kapoor on Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi.

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Six years on, he is blown away by the progress in developing Middle Eastern outposts of the Louvre and Guggenheim museums and the cultivation of an art scene. “It is unbelievable,” he says. “One is used to the idea things like this have a sort of endless gestation and then maybe happen.

“Here the whole island has suddenly got life and form. It is just astonishing.” There are few artists as universally visible or appreciated as Kapoor. His Cloud Gate stainless steel sculpture in Chicago’s Millennium Park has become a tourist attraction in itself, as has Sky Mirror at the Rockefeller Center, New

An inside view of Kapoor’s installation at the Grand Palais in Paris during the Monumenta 2011 event.

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York, and, for all the criticism, the Orbit, which drew 130,000 visitors during the Games and even inspired three (successful) marriage proposals. If it is not simply down to Kapoor’s and the UAE’s shared love of things on a grandiose scale, then the artist’s resonance in this part of the world perhaps has as much to do with his background as his artwork, which seems to cross cultural divides. An Artist’s Persona Born in Mumbai in 1954, he had the kind of cosmopolitan education “where you grew up knowing about Jahangir as well as Louis XIV.” He went to study art in London in 1973 but it was on a return trip to India, where he saw mounds of brightly-coloured pigment heaped high on market stalls, that inspired him. “I rediscovered the idea that colour could play a very particular role in forming sculpture and the whole notion of the object making itself,” he says. “Pigment is material and physical and at the same time, it is kind of immaterial.

Photos courtesy of Raymond Boyd/Michael Ochs Archives/AFP Patrick kovarik/Getty Images

Anish Kapoor’s ‘Cloud Gate’ sculpture sits in Millennium Park in Chicago.

anish kapoor

It is both presence and absence.” He experimented with the idea of creating sculptures from pigment on the ground to give the impression of an iceberg with the idea “most of it is underground with only a bit emerging.” That led naturally to his void series from the 1980s onwards. He became fascinated by the depths that could be achieved by working with monochrome and using it to explore Freud’s theory that self-recognition can only be achieved by looking into the darkness within. “Freud points to the back of the cave and says there is the real human adventure; that is the demon fear, where war comes from, that is where death lives,” says Kapoor. “I keep coming back to red because it makes a kind of darkness that no other colour does.”

Photos courtesy of AFP/ Jacques Demarthon

"Big projects are a risk...the first time it is shown to the public might be the first time I see it." Perhaps because he deals with universal themes of life, death and regeneration, it is impossible to pigeonhole Kapoor as either an Indian or British artist, labels he detests. “If you say of an artist: ‘He’s Indian’ you attribute quite a lot of creativity in the process to the background culture,” he says. “Artists themselves play that role of being a kind of cultural export. Those are things we have to be very clear we are not doing; I have fought that for the longest time because I feel it is very important.” As the Middle Eastern art scene finds its voice and its place on the international stage it is crucial, he says, not to simply buy in imported culture but to develop homegrown talent. “There is a possibility of a shining example here,” he adds. “Europe is in dreadful decline and culture seems to take

Kapoor’s ‘Leviathan’ installation, at the Grand Palais in Paris.

the brunt but here we have the opposite. “You cannot just import but how do we make sure what comes here is not just another kind of imperialism? “There needs to be talent - curatorial, artistic and so on - grown here. You need a generation of artists, dealers and entrepreneurs who understand these questions and have the ambition to take it beyond.” If building the 115-metre tall Orbit with engineer Cecil Balmond taught him any lessons, which the museums’ creators

might heed, it is that “big projects are a risk. One is conducting one’s project in public and the first time it is shown to the public might be the first time I see it.” But according to Kapoor, the focus on culture is “absolutely vital”. “Culture is the only place of real depth,” he says. “Building museums and taking forward an aesthetic agenda is absolutely vital. “In that there is the ability for us to belong, to have citizenship and a sense of who we are.”

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furniture asart Design Days Dubai taps into a growing market for collectible furniture and objects of design amongst the region’s art collectors. By Tahira Yaqoob

Design Days director Cyril Zammit.

frazzled Lou Weis was facing a conundrum: how to transport a 2m high lamp made entirely of 100,000 toothpicks across 12,000 kilometres to Dubai without damaging a single one? After scratching their heads, the team at Broached Commissions design gallery in Melbourne came up with a solution: creating a kind of armature installed inside a shipping crate with multiple prongs to ensure the prickly lamp did not move an inch. “I hope,” says creative director Weis, “that is the last time I ever have to transport it.” Once it arrives, the $14,000 sculptural piece by Australian artist Lucy McRae, will take pride of place in the gallery’s booth at Design Days Dubai (DDD).

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Whether it will find a permanent home is another matter entirely. Now in its second year, the fair heralds Dubai’s ambitions to match London, Paris, New York, Miami and Basel for cutting-edge contemporary design. “Dubai is one of the few cities hosting both an art fair and a design fair,” says DDD director Cyril Zammit. “It confirms Dubai as a key platform for the art scene not only in the region but worldwide.” These are lofty ambitions indeed, particularly considering the city’s rivals have a longer history of nurturing and exhibiting contemporary design. Can Dubai really compete when so few of the products and designers are from the region? Or will it simply be a glorified furniture sale? Zammit says holding the

event at the same time as Art Dubai, now in its seventh year, means organisers can reach the same audience. “The collectors are here and they are starting to invest in design,” he says. “Art Dubai had a much bigger challenge when it started because it was presenting contemporary art in the region for the first time. An audience for design will be much easier to achieve because our buyers are people who already collect art.” While most of the pieces on display have a function, Zammit is keen to see them showcased as art rather than furniture items. “They are beyond simple furniture,” he says. “Technically, you could use them in your house but this type of work is becoming increasingly exclusive and is a form of art. They are all limited editions.

design days

"They are beyond simple furniture... Technically, you could use them in your house but this type of work is becoming increasingly exclusive and is a form of art. They are all limited editions." Bench by Wiid design by Laurie Wiid van Heerden.

Barcelona learning all aspects of design. Zammit says it will take “a year or two” before designers from the region can compete on an international stage and tastes veer toward more abstract pieces. Last year, most of the sales were for “very obvious pieces like mirrors, tables and chairs. It is still quite a premature market.” But Trevyn McGowan, co-director of Southern Guild gallery from South Africa, says of the event: “It was a great experience for buyers in Dubai to have this quality of design coming to them for the first time so they weren’t having to go internationally to find it. I was astounded at how polished the fair was.” This year she is returning with a mixture of new emerging designers and more established artists like Brett Murray, who sold a work to US rapper P Diddy at last year’s Miami fair. For Weis, it is not simply about bringing eye-catching pieces, which stop visitors in their tracks, but making connections and joining the dots between regions. His offering this year, which includes a tallboy, a tea service and a lantern, is on a colonial theme drawing on both Australian and UAE history because “the trade routes that have intersected the UAE make for a rich narrative”.

“It is haute couture as opposed to ready-to-wear.” This year, 29 galleries from around the world will be exhibiting their high-end design pieces, including nine galleries from the Middle East. The exhibitor numbers put Dubai on a par with other international design fairs while DDD has decided to trump its Miami equivalent by taking its quirky announcement board, made up of 24 clocks spelling out messages, and making it more than 10 times bigger with 260 clocks. Guillaume Cuiry, director of La Galerie Nationale in Dubai, says there is a long tradition of western designers appealing to eastern tastes, from Frenchman Jean Royère, whose flamboyant style found favour with the Shah of Iran and King Hussein of Jordan in the 1930s, to the late French designer Charlotte Perriand in the 1950s. “Europe and America have become very jaded,” he says. “Here there is an appetite; they want to learn.” Cultivating Local Talent Four Emiratis have been sponsored by Dubai Culture and Arts Authority to spend six months in Dubai, London and On sale: Frequency Tube Riediger.

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design heir

The design Heir

Matteo di Montezemolo brings his family’s collectible furniture company to Dubai. By Tahira Yaqoob

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design heir

n the chicken-and-egg scenario that is Poltrona Frau and the Montezemolos, it is easy to say which came first. The famed luxury Italian furniture brand has been around for more than a century, making furniture for royals, while the Montezemolos were the Johnny-come-latelies to the party, only scooping up the label to add to their portfolio of assets in 2004. But ask which name is the bigger draw and that’s a tough one to answer. At the packed launch of the furniture brand’s new showroom in Downtown Dubai, it is hard to know whether the eyes scanning the room are seeking out an exclusive design or the Poltrona Frau Group’s elusive deputy chairman, Matteo di Montezemolo, whose charm and impeccable manners override his lateness. Little wonder there is a cluster of Dubai’s elite to meet him. His father Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, the 65-year-old godfather of the family business and the descendant of a long line of aristocrats, cardinals and colonels, is best known as the chairman of Ferrari. In his native Italy, the senior Montezemolo is something of a hero; there were even murmurings he should run in this year’s elections for prime minister although for now, he is focusing on his businesses. And showing the apple never falls far from the tree, 35-year-old Matteo, gave up a career as an investment banker with Goldman Sachs in 2002 to follow in his father’s footsteps. Matteo has been managing the family’s investments as chief executive of Montezemolo and Partners, which has a controlling stake in the multimilliondollar Charme Investments private

equity fund. And if the family name is synonymous with the crème de la crème of Italian high society, then the assets acquired by Charme have been carefully managed to represent the epitome of good taste. As well as Poltrona Frau - which kits out the interiors of a range of luxury cars, including Ferrari, Alfa Romeo and Lancia - its acquisitions have included the Scottish cashmere sweater firm Ballantyne and PF’s younger, more hip cousins, Cassina and Cappellini. It is no coincidence the new PF Emirates showroom sits alongside luxury car showrooms and high-end fashion stores on Emaar Boulevard. Clearly, location is everything. “Our clients are the ones buying Hermès or Rolex. They are the same all over the world, whether it is Singapore, Hong Kong or New York,” says Matteo. He says PF was “a couple of years late” in arriving in the Middle East in 2009. “You see many fashion brands, but not many design,” he says. “History is an incredible pull.” A century of producing finely-crafted, classic and contemporary Italian furniture like the Vanity Fair armchair and the Chester sofa may be a draw but so too are the Montezemolos as ambassadors for a brand with a legacy. “I remember looking at the Vanity Fair chair in our house in Rome when I was young as if it was a sculpture,” he says. Firas al Saleh, the chief executive of PF Emirates, says the Montezemolo name certainly helps the brand. “In Italy, both Poltrona Frau and Montezemolo are household names,” he says. “They are quintessentially Italian and it is an asset to have the Montezemolos involved.”

"Our clients are the ones buying Hermes or Rolex. They are the same all over the world."

The new PF store in Downtown Dubai.

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Monowheel Minimalism

Deriving its distinctive look from the Ciclò— a monowheel prototype exercise bike designed by Luca Schieppati— the Ciclotte combines steel, glass and carbon fiber materials in a futuristic and minimalist design. The award winning ‘wheel’s’ dual satellite epicycloid system uses four gears and every pedal rotation generates a high-intensity magnetic field and maximises resistance.

The Ciclotte’s touch screen display has 12 different program settings. The handlebars and the saddle— with alcantara padding— are both adjustable to suit various riding positions. Available in several colours. From $10,699

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Samsung’s smart-est TV

The 75-inch ES-9000’s picture quality provides an enhanced Smart TV experience. It has the highest contrast ratio on a Samsung Smart TV and the best picture quality available on a Samsung LED TV, in the Middle East to date. Incorporating a rose-gold-colored finish and super-slim 0.31 inch curved, seamless bezel, the impressive design also boasts LED-backlit set, 3D-capabability, as well as a built-in web camera that retracts when not in use. The TV’s Smart Interaction function enables gesture and voice controls and Smart Content allows for sharing media across several devices. $10,900 Samsung stores and Jumbo Electronics

Sony Cyber-shot RX1

The world’s first compact camera with 35mm full-frame 24.3 effective megapixel sensor, for flawless, detail-packed photos and film-like movies. The compact body packs a wide aperture F2 fixed-focal lens, making the camera perfectly proportioned for travel as well as portraits and day-to-day shooting. The DSC-RX1’s sensor is over twice the size of the APS-C sensor inside much bulkier DSLR cameras with an impressive range of manual control modes. $3,430 Sony Stores and Jumbo Electronics

Luxury android

The brand new VERTU TI is the company’s first smartphone device powered by Android™ 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. Continuing the tradition of hand craftsmanship, peerless material selection and elegant design, the phone has a polished Titanium case that delivers incredible strength and optimised weight. A new feature is the Vertu key, which provides instant access to a curated world of benefits and services available to customers 24/7. These services include Vertu Certainty— which helps protect the device, its data and where necessary, the customer— along with Vertu Life and the company’s famous Concierge Service. Choose from luxurious options of alligator and black PVD, titanium, and red gold mixed. Priced from $10,209 at Vertu Stores.

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Get in quick for McLaren’s P1 supercar Hailed by McLaren as the most technologically advanced supercar ever made, the P1 has a lot to live up to. GC talks to McLaren P1’s legendary designer Frank Stephenson. By Natasha Tourish

Frank Stephenson stands in front of the McLaren P1 which he designed. 72 March / April 2013

he Middle East debut of McLaren’s P1 last month was a warm up for the official unveiling at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show in mid March when McLaren are expected to close their order books, having reached their cap of just 375 orders worldwide. Just ahead of the show, McLaren confirmed that the P1 will cost $1.15 million and can accelerate from 0-62mph in less than three seconds, and from 0-124mph in less than seven seconds. Top speed is limited to 217.5 mph. The hybrid supercar’s average CO2 emissions will be less than 200g/km, and the car can be driven in electric-only, zeroemissions mode at low speeds for about six miles. Specially developed Pirelli P Zero Corsa tyres come as standard, and the brake discs are made from a new carbon ceramic material that McLaren says has never been used for a road car. Although the P1 has one of the smallest production figures for any supercar, the man behind the machine, or beast, as


it could be described since its design is inspired by animal aesthetics, Frank Stephenson, believes it’s still “too high.” “Personally I’d rather that we sell much less because it becomes much more exclusive,” Stephenson told GC. “But if we sell over 300 then our business case is perfect.” Stephenson is responsible for producing classics like the Mini Cooper, Alfa Romeo, BMW X5, Maserati Gran Sport and the Ferrari FXX Super Enzo. So how does designing the world’s most talked about supercar differ? “When we launched the 12c spider it wasn’t meant to shock anybody from a design point of view. It reflected McLaren’s personality of a more reserved British design. But with the P1, everything changes, it’s the maximum expression of what you can do and it’s a dramatic design because when your paying so much for a car it has to be dramatic and when you have performance like that, the only way to make it work is to have that type of design,” explained Stephenson. “I think of it as technical beauty, like a nice piece of jewellery that works.” Stephenson says the P1’s “lean design” draws inspiration from nature. “I studied all the fastest animals and the reasons why they are so fast. For example the Peregrine Falcon is not the fastest bird in a straight line, but it is when it dives down. It changes its shape and does things with its body that you wouldn’t expect to be aerodynamic but they are.

"I think of it as technical beauty, like a nice piece of jewellery that works."

“Those animals bodies are so lean and the skin is as tight against the body as it can be, with muscles pushing through and the minimal amount of surface area on the body,” he said. “We followed that formula of not adding surfaces but rather shrink wrapping and sucking all the volume out so that we could to make it as tight as possible.” Adding, “That in itself is a whole new design language that hasn’t been done before.” McLaren has the smallest design studio in the world, according to Stephenson, with just two British designers working under his lead but the rarity of the company lies in the closeness of which the design team and the F1 engineers work side by side under one roof, not too far from Heathrow airport in London. “We bring the engineers in right at the beginning when we’re sketching and we’re constantly checking to make sure that we’re not going off the deep end, but you have to be careful not to restrict the creativity of a designer otherwise your not really pushing the limits, he’s just doing what’s been done before in a different colour,” says Stephenson.

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The Breathtaking

Petrus II Yacht ew for 2013, the Classic Supreme 132 represents an evolution of the Benetti look. Beautifully interpreted by renowned Italian architect Stephano Righini, the yacht measures 40.24 metres overall, with a maximum beam of 8.28 metres. The owner’s cabin with terrace, double jacuzzi (both on the forward upper deck and on the sun deck), gym area and open-air exterior stairways, are just a few examples of this new model’s innovations. Full height windows on both the main and upper deck give greater light and a more streamlined look to the yacht’s profile. Francois Zuretti is responsible for the elegant and contemporary interiors, in collaboration with the yard’s internal design team. The furnishings of Petrus II are of natural oak and wenge, enriched with handmade leather inserts and are completely customisable (as with all

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Benetti interiors) with a mix of marble, leather finish and mosaics. Benetti’s exclusive Sea Technology integrates all onboard electronic systems (home automation, entertainment, security and communications) with a single user-friendly interface. The design of the dashboard allows a more modern and efficient use of space with just three monitors, three joysticks and three touch panels, which give control over the whole yacht. Easily sleeping ten guests and a crew of seven, the Classic Supreme 132 reaches a top speed of 15.5 knots and a cruising speed of 14.5 knots, thanks to her twin MTU 12V 2000 M72 engines.

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Brain Food James Heagney, exercise specialist and certified sports nutritionist, explains how to feed your brain and achieve crucial results.

The brain is like any other living organism—it needs to be fed, watered, stimulated, and exercised. This creates an environment for a healthy brain. The greatest effect you can have on your brain is via your knife and fork. Your food choices directly influence your brain. With the right diet, you can manipulate your brain chemistry, influencing it to your convenience, protecting it from ageing, and making sure it’s firing on all cylinders.



Everything you consume is broken down in the stomach where the neural influence occurs. 60% of your brain’s neurotransmitters are made in the gut. Neurotransmitters are the brain’s signallers and activators, hence the chemical reaction you create by eating has a direct and immediate effect on brain function. Certain foods trigger specific pre cursors that form neurotransmitters. Here are the key players that need to be a part of your diet.



Dopamine gives you motivation, drive, improves mood and attention. Low dopamine levels can create restless leg syndrome and lead you to become easily distracted.

Acetylcholine gets your brain firing on all cylinders by improving memory and attention. Low acetylcholine can cause you to become forgetful.

Serotonin is called the happy hormone. It creates feelings of serenity, relaxation, optimism and can induce sleep. Low levels can make you feel blue.

GABA installs feelings of relaxation and calmness. GABA rebalances the brain, preparing it for a new day. Low levels can cause anxiety and hypersensitivity.

Found in: Red Meat Almonds Blueberries 70% + Dark Chocolate

Found in: Chicken Eggs Beef Liver Peanut Butter

Found in: Turkey Banana Salmon Rice Dairy

Found in: Brown Rice Banana Green Tea Broccoli

Preventing Alzheimer’s disease

Sugar ages the brain very quickly. The more sugar in your diet, combined with the inability to utilize it efficiently leads to abnormally high levels of circulating blood sugar. This accelerates the ageing of the brain and causes Alzheimer’s disease, which the progressive medical community commonly refer to as type 3 diabetes.

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Food Choices Breakfast

The first thing you consume upon waking directly effects your brain. Since most of your body’s neurotransmitters are made in the gut, it goes without saying that for breakfast you want to look for foods that will wake up your brain, increase drive and motivation. This falls to dopamine rich foods. The perfect breakfast being meat and nuts. The worst type of breakfast would be cereal, milk and a banana. Sound familiar?



Brain Boosting Foods


is an omega 3 rich food and the DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) found in salmon is a powerful brain booster known to increase IQ. 65% of the brain is fat of which 60 % is DHA.


Choline is a memoryenhancing nutrient and can be found in abundance in eggs.


Lunch should provide you with the mental boost to continue your strong and focused start to the day. Something light and low in carbohydrates will keep the mental fires burning brightly. If dining at a restaurant dishes like beef carpaccio to start and for main course, tiger prawns, which are naturally high in tyrosine are a good choice. Both boost brain function.


Rich in anti oxidants, blueberries help to protect the brain from free radical damage offsetting and even preventing age related cognitive disorders.


At the end of the day you want to unwind, relax your mind and prepare yourself for a deep night’s sleep. This is when you would turn to more serotonin releasing foods such as turkey and sweet potato. They both contain tryptophan. You could have a banana for desert.


Coffee drinkers show better neural function and activation. Coffee drinkers tend to offset degenerative neural issues more frequently then non-coffee drinkers. Stick to black coffee, not a caramel Frappuccino.


Enemies of a Healthy Brain

• Stress • Toxins • Malnutrition • Physical laziness • Mindlessness • Lack of sun • Sleep deprivation

Grass fed beef This Dopamine inducing food is also high in Omega 3’s.

For more health and fitness advice go to

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dining rooms high on


From opulent to avant garde, restaurants in Dubai feature some of the emirate’s most artful interiors. Here are some of GC’s favourites...

VOI FRENCH VIETNAMESE This French-Vietnamese restaurant mixes 18th century French Neoclassical design with contemporary glamour. The striking black and white color scheme is enriched with ornamental details. Majestic crystal chandeliers hang from dramatically high ceilings. The ceiling themselves are coffered and adorned with intricate panelling, a theme that continues to the walls. Mirrors flank the silver-leaf capped Ionic columns. Curtains are embroidered with silver and crystal. In contrast to all the lightness above, the floors are finished in sleek wenge parquet. Jumeirah Zabeel Saray +971 4 453 0000

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The Farm International Part restaurant and retreat, the ethereal world of The Farm is situated on a natural, lush oasis just a short drive from the city. Designed with an eco-friendly philosophy, the outdoors and indoors blend seamlessly with the use of floor to ceiling windows, glass and light woods sourced from Thailand. There is an onsite bakery and the international menu also includes raw, vegan, vegetarian and diabetes-friendly options. An outdoor deck extends over a small lake and there is a pleasing herb garden around the corner. The seating, a mix of sumptuous white sofas, Philippe Starck chairs, and Spanish hammocks, simultaneously emphasize luxury and relaxation. Al Barari Villas +971 4 392 5660

Toro Toro Latin American Two menacing iron bulls greet patrons as they enter this sexy restaurant, strikingly swathed in radiant amber, burnt sienna and chocolate tones. The ground floor features a central open kitchen framed by an orange onyx wall. Grand tables are lined with highbacked, animal motif-clad furnishings and walls are adorned with dark wrought iron bars, forming areas perfect for intimate dining discourse. The tapas menu is inspired by Brazil, Peru, Argentina and Colombia, followed by churrasco— traditional Latin American grill. Grosvenor House Dubai +971 4 399 8888

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Pier Chic Seafood There is something magical and distinctly Dubai about the seafood restaurant, Pier Chic. The long wooden pier between the restaurant and the mainland is just long enough to allow you to shed your mortal concerns and enter the surreal universe of Dubai architecture. What appears to be a traditional Arabic building is turned on its head by being placed in the middle of the ocean. The view of the Burj Al Arab converges the old and the new. Madinat Jumeirah +971 4 366 6730

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Armani/Ristorante Regional Italian True to Giorgio Armani’s style, the restaurant serving upscale regional Italian dishes, manages to be minimalist and yet opulent at the same time. The spacious golden glowed venue appears to be lit from within. A curved bar area opens up onto the restaurant itself, with panoramic windows and a natural polished yellow onyx wall. All the furniture is bespoke Armani/ Casa. Cream leather horseshoe-shaped booths create a semi-exclusive dining experience. The tableware is personally selected by Mr. Armani himself— 24-carat gold plated cutlery, silk dupioni linens and a subtle woven gold sheet under each tablecloth— reflecting his love of the simple yet refined. Armani Hotel, Downtown Dubai +971 4 888 3888

Hakkasan Modern Chinese Adhering to a design ethos of “Bring Back the Dragon,” Hakkasan seeks to regain Chinese imperial splendor with its rich and sensual decor. Subtly lit slate pools lead to outdoor wooden pavilions, encaged dining areas and lush gardens. The Ling-Ling lounge is set in white marble, black and gold. Despite the dramatic interiors, Feng Shui principals allow diners a sense of calm whilst enjoying the modern Chinese fare. Emirates Towers +971 4 384 8484

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6:05 at Depechemode

“Concept stores are among my favourite shopping destinations.” Nada recommends 6:05 at Depechemode, a spinoff of another iconic Beirut shopping establishment, Depechemode. What makes 6:05 different? “The music is great, with Caline Chidiac as the music curator.” The clothes are chic and street-savvy, perfect for strolling around Achrafieh and Gemmayze.

Lebanese designer Nada Debs is known for her discerning eye and savvy style. After all, she blazed the trail for the now widely mimicked design strategy: fusing Arab motifs with modern aesthetics. Nada’s furnishings are sold across the globe, but she remains based in Beirut, where she has a boutique, gallery and studio. She shares her favourite haunts in Lebanon’s bustling capital. By matt hamilton

Galleries Galore “When it comes to Beirut’s art galleries, it all depends on what one wants. I prefer SMO Gallery in Karantina for designs, while the best selection of emerging artists is at Running Horse Gallery (also in Karantina). XXe Siècle in Hamra has the best vintage furniture in the region— especially if the retro European style suits your taste.”

Old World Charm

Secteur 75 exhibits a contrast of elegant chandeliers, pristine crown moulding and graffitied walls. This urbane eatery in Mar Mikhael delivers great food and music, and according to Nada, ‘it’s just cool.’

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Flea Market Vintage

“For Middle Eastern antiques and vintage furniture, the Basta Antiques Market in West Beirut is unrivalled. Flea market finds have inspired many of my own creations.”

Al Falamanki

i “I head to Al Falamank l ona diti when I want tra -back Arabic cuisine in a laid ing spr the In e.” atmospher i’s ank am Fal Al r, me and sum is ard rty cou or do out fy lea re a the perfect spot to sha our sav and meal with friends . ileh arg some

New visitors to Beirut can expect contrast. Chaos versus organization, rich and poor, old and new – and chic versus tacky...

Hip Neighbourhood

Beirut is a tapestry of districts and neighbourhoods, so knowing which one’s to explore (and which to avoid) can make all the difference. The tried-and-true route is to hit up Gemmayze, Achrafieh and Monot, but Nada says she’s fond of Mar Mikhael. “It’s a lot of fun— there’s many up-and-coming shops, restaurants and bars.”

Cuban Cocktails

“For a night on the town I recommend Pacifico. This Cuban-inspired bar and restaurant brings the best of Havana to a restored home in Monot.” Order a margarita (or two), and if you are lucky enough to get a table, indulge in the fajitas.

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Some of the most illustrious pieces of art can be found in hotel collections, often painstakingly curated over decades. GC shares some of the world’s best...

Where True Artists Reside La Colombe d’Or, Provence A hotel with rich artistic heritage, where greats like Picasso, Miró and Matisse really did hang out, and left behind work “better than many museums.” Once an unpretentious café in the 1920s, legend has it that many regular artists used their pieces as leverage to settle debts incurred in their learner years. Later popular with European and then Hollywood royalty (Yves Montand and Simone Signoret married here and F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald famously had a row over dancer Isadora Duncan), the property displays “but a glimpse of the hotel’s collection,” which is so prodigious it is said to be rotated like that of a museum. The restaurant, with exposed wooden beams, serves traditional Provençale dishes, while Fernand Leger’s evocative ceramic mural takes centre stage framed by luxuriant ivy in the walled garden and an Alexander Calder mobile stands next to the swimming pool. Rooms and suites are rustic with wooden bed frames, embroidered canopies and terracotta floors. Paintings hang over tables and occupy hotel corridors oh so casually, along with a fascinating collection of letters and photographs. From $430 per night. St Paul de Vence, Provence +33 4 93 32 8002 84 March / April 2013


Contemporary Glamour Andaz West Hollywood, california With a rotating art collection spearheaded by L.A. art mogul and cofounder of the city’s Museum of Contemporary Art, Merry Norris, Andaz features pieces by Los Angeles based artists. The current installation includes contemplative works by Jaime Scholnick, Dion Johnson’s vibrant, oversized paintings, sculptor Danny First’s neoprimitive clay heads and Elisabeth Higgins O’Connor’s contradictive reclaimed metamorphosis’. The hotel “wanted to make the space a laboratory for local artists to publicly display their work” and most pieces are for sale. Kick back on the Sundeck and watch it set over the Hollywood Hills, or opt for RH bar’s well-crafted cocktails, while the restaurant serves fresh and locally sourced California fusion. An urban oasis, with a mix of Hollywood glamour in a refined and relaxed space, rooms are modern and minimalist. The hotels’ infamous past of music and mayhem (once a landmark famous for its rock ‘n’ roll parties hosted by the likes of The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and The Who) still however, echoes within its walls.

From $302 per night. Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles +1 323 656 1234

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Art Deco Verve Lord Byron Hotel, Rome This 1930’s noble villa is a striking homage to Art Deco with a vast collection of sculptures and evocative paintings. Within the residential quarter of Parioli, close to the Villa Borghese Park and Via Veneto, this antique-filled five-star offers pampered, exclusive luxury and Belle Époque romance, with a distinguished Italian sentiment. Exuding old-school glamour, the Salotto Lounge & Wine Bar and Sapori di Lord Byron restaurant attract a well-healed, chic set. The encyclopaedic cellar offers a wide assortment of wines, from the most famous Italian and foreign regions to independent local wine producers. Enigmatic women with dreamy 1930’s poise, lovingly immortalised by painters such as Nicholas Granger Taylor and Maurice Paul Joron have occupied the walls for almost a century. Bathrooms offer Carrara marble and Deco decadence and most rooms have French windows opening onto a small private balcony, while floor length curtains frame mahogany and rosewood furniture. From $355 per night. Via Giuseppe De Notaris, Rome +39 6 3220 404

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Picture Perfect Antithesis Dolder Grand, Zürich Perched high above Lake Zurich with a backdrop of luscious rolling hills. Dolder Grand mixes contemporary architecture with palatial guise, offering a pristine setting in a retreat from urban life while gallantly unveiling a pulsating view of the city from its elevated location, along with a contrasting vista of the Alps and flourishing nature below. Two modern wings with sweeping glass facades are set either side of the 19th century main building. The generous rooms and suites are a harmonious balance of classic European and modern design— ambient lighting and silk fabrics in subdued tones, with dark wooden floors and minimalistic opulence. The hotel’s traditional wooden framework and fairytale steeples embrace its historic origins, while renovations by world-renowned architect Lord Norman Foster transform the historic landmark into a present-day masterpiece. Salvador Dali, Andy Warhol, Miquel Barcelo, Camille Pissarro, Robert Motherwell and Abraham Bisschop are just some of the artists to create work proudly displayed within the Dolder’s grand walls. From $635 per night. Kurhausstrasse 65, Zürich +41 44 456 60 00

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Parisian Luxe Le Royal Monceau Raffles, Paris Receiving a Philippe Starck makeover in 2012, this 149 room, Art Deco beauty sprinkled with contemporary offers a host of glamorous facilities; including the city’s largest hotel pool, Le Bar Long, Spa My Blend by Clarins, an Art Concierge, gallery and art bookshop. Dining boasts two Michelin stars— both for gourmet Italian Il Carpaccio; where Rosson Crow’s HIS HER Grand Salon Maison d’Alsace, hangs in the restaurant’s VIP room, and the Gallic La Cuisine; where exquisite desserts are created by the ‘Picasso of pastry’ Pierre Hermé, beneath Stéphane Calais’ wistfully painted Jardin à la Française. Interiors are grand with exceptional attention to detail and art from Le Royal Monceau’s esteemed collection is exhibited within the hotel and garden. Each of the bedrooms and suites (with their enormous beds and euphonious contrariety of vintage elegance and modernity) are decorated with mostly fine-art photography, from artists such as Simon Chaput, Koichiro Doi, Marie Maillard and Lucien Hervé. The rambunctious Salle des Trophées by Russian artist Nikolay Polissky inhabits the first landing— an installation of 15 life-size wooden elk and deer. From $1,030 per night. Le Royal Monceau, 37 Avenue Hoche, Paris +33 1 42 99 88 00

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Townhouse Tales Egerton House Hotel, London Steeped in rich history (artistic heritage of authors and poets, Countesses and stories of high society and theatrical dalliances) this five-star boutique hotel, built in 1843, is located on a quiet, treelined street in the heart of London’s Knightsbridge— walking distance from some of the city’s most prestigious museums including the V&A, Science Museum and Natural History Museum. The 30 rooms vary in decor from classic luxury; with walnut furnishings, dense velvet and silk curtains, to kitsch patterned walls, and leopard print chairs. The hotel’s varied art collection exhibits original lithographs from Henry de Toulouse-Lautrec, alongside paintings like contemporary artist Kim Brooks’ The Parrots. Corridors are decorated by original prints from the Illustrated London News, dating back to 1910. The Egerton Bar is an intimate and discrete little hideaway packed with caricatures by JAK and Sems, and is graced by an original print of the ‘Snoopy’ by Charles Schultz. Some guestrooms hold stunning oil on canvas paintings, while others boast engravings and lithographs from the likes of Picasso, Matisse and Braque. From $422 per night. 17-19 Egerton Terrace, Knightsbridge, London +44 20 7589 2412

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defining fashion GC Lifestyle Editor Aysha Majid sits down with buying director Toby Bateman to discuss personal style, must have items and the secrets of success for the ‘essential’ male website.

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ince its launch in February 2011, Mr Porter has established itself as the premier go-to global e-tail destination for men. Epitomising luxe living, it not only offers a world-class mix of designers (from wellestablished labels like Marni and Valentino, to newcomers Maison Kitsuné and Thom Browne) but also an online magazine, The Journal and a personal shopping team. Benefiting from the global infrastructure of the Net-A-Porter Group— which includes award-winning sister site Net-A-Porter. com and— Mr Porter was immediately able to ship to 170 countries from day one, with impressive same-day delivery in London and Manhattan. Bateman— with some 15 years experience at the likes of Selfridges and Harvey Nichols— is clearly grateful for the

boys about town. When asked what brands define Mr Porter, Bateman explains, “We’re really the mix that resonates to any man, classic or fashionable, of any age, that wants to or needs to know about style.” Querying what the site would not be the same without, he says adamantly without taking a breath, “Our award winning editorial content.” A nod to good friend and editor Jeremy Langmead, or an informed fact, either way it is at the very

reflective, his must-have items for 2013 are quite plainly, “A deconstructed lightweight blazer, a pair of Gucci loafers— as it is their 60th anniversary— and a bomber jacket in any fabrication.” With around 170 brands, defining the most luxurious could be difficult, but Bateman responds, “In terms of specifics both Loro Piana and The Elder Statesmen work with the finest cashmere but with a different approach— Loro Piana create

When asked what the site would not be the same without, he says adamantly without taking a breath, “Our award winning editorial content.”

plain sailing foot up onto the e-tail ladder. This allowed Mr Porter to almost imminently establish itself, quicker than its big sister, “but again this is thanks to the hard work across the group” Bateman says humbly. The site is many things rolled into one; a dapper little e-package accessible to all, from the fashion-phobic chancer, to busy high-flying execs and style-savvy

least an added string, if not crucial ammo having the former Esquire UK editor as part of the team. Allowing this luxury online retail hub a flex of its well-groomed muscles. Recalling this year’s favourite autumn/ winter shows Bateman explains, “I really enjoyed Alexander McQueen in London, Dolce & Gabbana in Milan and Saint Laurent in Paris.” Not distinguishably

classic products which are timeless, whilst The Elder Statesmen approach their knitwear with a more laid-back feel as befits being based in LA.” Touching on brand exclusivity the dapper director explains, “We’ve worked with a number of brands to ensure that we can offer our customers products that they can get nowhere else globally. Late

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“My favourite product is a slim fit Jean Shop jean. I buy and wearwash, buy another, wear-wash. It’s a cycle for me and they are definitely my go to jean.” Unstructured blazer by Loro Piana

Essential item: Jean Shop jeans

Designer to Watch: Ami

last year we collaborated with ACNE on an exclusive collection based around the tuxedo.” Questioned about future ventures he divulges, “Coming up in 2013 we have exclusive collections from AMI, Raf Simons, Alexander Wang, Grenson with Foot the Coacher and Beams Plus. We also have a tab on site specifically for all exclusive products, as we will always try to ensure that where possible we can get exclusive pieces as part of our buy.” Discussing 2013’s most exciting, upand-coming designers and who he thinks readers should watch out for, Bateman excitedly peaks (like a Trekkie asked to relay his favourite Star Wars movie). “We have always championed new designers and will continue to do so. We’ve stocked French label AMI since it launched in 2011 and I also love O’Keeffe’s handcrafted shoes. As a buyer you are always on the lookout for a label that has something new to say and one that you think your

customers will enjoy discovering.” Bateman relies on a simple Kitsune button-down Oxford shirt, Jean Shop jeans and John Lobb ‘Lopez’ loafers to complete his classic style. “Because my days are so varied in terms of dressing requirements, I tend to wear smart jeans, a bench made shoe and a shirt and blazer of some sort.” Summing up his essential item he lovingly recalls, “My favourite product is a slim fit Jean Shop jean— I buy and wear/wash, buy another wear/wash— it’s a cycle for me and they are definitely my go to jean.” It is evident that Bateman is most comfortable in a pair of jeans. Although the carefully combed side parting and smart demeanour from the waste upwards exude a ‘means business’ exterior, the lived in denim and comfortable loafers as well as the relaxed off interview demeanour, unearth a casual and candid personality— that often surfaces in a breath of fresh air and then retreats, like a tortoise afraid to divulge more.

Saint Laurent— Favourite Paris show for A/W 2013.

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Loafers by Gucci


the best from Milan

Autumn/Winter fashion week in Milan redefined the aesthetics of modern luxury, with designers combining functionality with exclusivity. A line-up of brooding models sported layered looks with isolated flashes of colour.”



Z Zegna Autumn/ Winter







1: Jumper, Gucci, knitted wool,, $497 2: Sunglasses aviator, Bottega Veneta,, $335 3: Loafers, Christian Louboutin, Level Shoe District, $923 94 March / April 2013

4: Belt, Tod’s stores, $272 5: Bag double stripe, Tod’s stores, $855 6: Shoes, black leather, Tod’s stores, $420






Salvatore Ferragamo Autumn/ Winter 2013-14 Milan

2 6

1: Shirt navy, Alexander McQueen, Harvey Nichols, $698 2: Bags grey and blue leather, Tod’s stores, $811 3: Jacket, Bottega Veneta,, $2,340

4: Sunglasses, Cutler and Gross, Bloomingdales, $598 5: Bag maroon, Burberry Prorsum, Burberry stores, $885 6: Loafers, Christian Louboutin, Level Shoe District, $1,497 95 March / April 2013


Horological Pieces of Art

CLASSIC ELEGANCE WITH DEFINED COMPOSITION John Singer Sargent Madame X Madame Pierre Gautreau 1884 Patek Philippe’s rose gold Calatrava offers timeless elegance with definitive beauty. $22,330 Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons and Patek Philippe Boutiques

Reflections of some of the world’s most revered artists

Abstract Realism Andrew Wyeth, Wind from the Sea,1947 The realists watch with abstract poignancy, TAG’s Carrera SpaceX 1887 new limited edition chronograph marks the 50th anniversary of TAG Heuer as the first Swiss timepiece to be worn in space. P.O.A. TAG Heuer Boutiques

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Abstract Illusionism Frank Stella, The Marriage of Reason and Real Squalor II, 1959 Like Stella’s prints this minimalist Roger Dubuis Excalibur Automatic utilises darkness and incorporates elongated Roman numerals with abstract specter. $14,500 Roger Dubuis, Emirates Towers

Excessive Surrealism Salvador Dalí, The Persistence of Memory, 1931 A. Lange & Sohne’s new Grand Lange 1 “Lumen” rejects the conventional with Dali-esque flair. This watch, with a 40.9mm platinum case, is limited to only 200 pieces $66,000 A. Lange & Sohne Boutiques

Glashßtte Original – more than 165 years of German watchmaking art. PanoMaticLunar

The PanoMaticLunar. Asymmetrical harmony. The off-centre dial visuals are presented in an elegant manner, embedded within a clear and pure overall design. A characteristic feature of this noble timepiece is a disc, artfully decorated with a moon and stars, indicating the current phase of the moon. For more on the PanoMaticLunar, please visit You may also wish to download our iPhone application from the App Store.

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