6 297000 388007
16 Global Calendar
28 Cover story
18 First Word
54 Global Citizenship
20 Investment Destination
58 Family Business
40 Social Business
24 Real Estate
46 Family Business
Events for your diary
Balancing Dubai’s art culture
Morocco’s golden opportunities
Syrian businesses in exile Germany is a safe bet
Varengold open commercial banking
Matthew McConaughey Cambodian children’s foundation
Canada loses golden ticket
West Eastern Divan Orchestra
MARCH / APRIL 2014
Art Special Report 72
64 Art Investment
70 Saudi Arabia
66 Central Asia & The Caucasus
Slavs and Tatars
El Seed: Artistic Democracy
Rising Above it All
Taking Art to Another Level
2014 MARCH / APRIL
104 Little Black Book
Obsessed by Cubism
Aston Martin Vanquish
The Ocean Emerald Kyoto, Japan
Furniture as Art
New watches pushing creative boundaries
Taste global locally
MARCH / APRIL 2014
Editor’s LETTER THE ART ISSUE Like most editors my inbox is inundated with media invitations on a daily basis. It is impossible to attend all of them but the ones that always grab my attention are for art exhibitions showing our emerging artists, whether it be in Tashkeel, Al Quoz or Sharjah. The stream of young talent from the region is endless and is a strong indicator of where the future of the art market is headed, from India’s newly established art fair to Saudi Arabia celebrating its second Jeddah Art Week. It is one of the reasons I love this time of year in particular because in preparation for our annual art issue, team GC makes an extra conscious effort to get to grips with the local art scene and the domino effect that results from the success of Art Dubai. In a rare interview, Ben Floyd, the co-founder of Art Dubai, speaks to Tahira Yaqoob about how the fair has evolved into a meeting place for the regional art community — more than he had ever expected it to after he conceived the idea for the fair on a layover from Australia. Jonathan Gornall and our art correspondent Anna Seaman take us on a journey through Syria, Saudi Arabia, Palestine, Egypt, Tunisia and Central Asia and the Caucasus to learn how artists and gallerists from these regions have not only used Dubai as a platform to reach broader audiences but in some cases, as a safe haven that allows them to create. We also got the opportunity to speak to the curators of this year’s Marker section of the Art Dubai fair, the often polemical artistic collective Slavs and Tatars. In Lifestyle, we select our pick of some of the world’s most chic art hotels and Georgina Wilson-Powell explores the ancient Japanese city of Kyoto. GC is really living up to its name of late; we are becoming truly global. In the past month, we’ve successfully launched a South Africa and Iraq edition and our next venture will be into the Turkish market so watch the space!
10 MARCH / APRIL 2014
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• Saudi Arabia: Alhamrani United Co., Jeddah, Tel: +966-2-6696690, Alhamrani United Company, Riyadh, Tel: +966-1-2332756, Dammam, Tel: +966-3-8144301 • Dubai & Northern Emirates: Arabian Automobiles Co., Main Showroom, Tel: +971-4-4079500 • Abu Dhabi & Al Ain: Al Masaood Automobiles, Tel: +971-2-6811118 • Kuwait: Abdulmohsen Abdulaziz Al Babtain Co., Tel: +965-1-804 888 • Oman: Suhail Bahwan Automobiles, Tel: +968-2-4661776 • Qatar: Saleh Al Hamad Al Mana Co., Tel: +974-44283366 • Bahrain: Y.K. Almoayyed & Sons., +973-17732732 • Lebanon: Rasamny Younis Motor Company S.A.L., Beirut, Tel: +961-1-273333 • Jordan: Bustami & Saheb Trading Co. Ltd., Amman, Tel: +962-6-5520333 • Azerbaijan: Nurgun Motors, Baku, Tel: +994-12-4481765
is the visual arts writer at The National newspaper. She reviews exhibitions, covers art-related news and runs a blog for art events across the UAE. Prior to this role, she was the editor of Brownbook magazine.
cut her teeth on newspapers in London back in the 1990’s before training as a psychologist. She recently returned to journalism and now writes widely for newspapers and magazines from Condé Nast Traveller to the Daily Telegraph on a huge range of subjects.
is a journalist specialising in fashion, the arts and lifestyle. Over 14 years she has written for publications including The National, Menswear Insight, which she launched and edited, The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and the Daily Mail.
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 BA in communications and media studies from Middlesex University.
is a UK-based freelance journalist whose work has appeared in publications including The Times, Guardian, Daily Mail and the British Medical Journal. He spent four years living and working in the Middle East.
is a Cambridge-educated British freelance journalist based in Berlin. She writes for publications including the UK’s Daily Telegraph newspaper and was the London-based Consumer Editor of the Daily Express national daily newspaper prior to her relocation to the German capital in 2010.
12 MARCH / APRIL 2014
GLOBAL CITIZEN editor Natasha Tourish - firstname.lastname@example.org Business Editor Tahira Yaqoob - email@example.com Lifestyle Editor Nausheen Noor - firstname.lastname@example.org ART DIRECTOR Omid Khadem - email@example.com Finance Manager Muhammad Tauseef - firstname.lastname@example.org CONTRIBUTORS Gemma Champ, Heba Hashem, Anna Seaman, Emma Inglis, Jonathan Gornall, Louise Barnett, Nathalie Salas, Simon de Burton, Paul Juziers, Georgina Wilson-Powell Printed by Masar Printing and Publishing
Nathalie Salas is a freelance travel writer and marketing consultant based between the UK and Italy. Nathalie is editor and founder of travel site Perfect Boutique Hotel and is also a judge for the annual World Boutique Hotel Awards.
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Simon de Burton is a UK-based journalist and author who covers a variety of subjects ranging from highend cars and motorcycles to luxury watches and international auctions. He is a contributing editor to the Financial Times How To Spend It magazine.
Getty Images / Jeff Vespa
the Big Picture The worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s largest refugee camp:
Thousands lined up as United Nations Relief and Works Agency arrived in Yarmouk, the Palestinian refugee camp south of Syriaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s capital Damascus. All roads are blocked in and out of the camp for the past eight monthsthree years into the bloody ongoing conflict.
0 8 april
1 1 april
Baselworld 2014 27th - 3rd April, Basel, Switzerland
Annual Investment Meeting 2014 8th - 10th April, Dubai World Trade Centre
Julius Baer Beach Polo 2014, 11- 12th April, Mina A’Salam Hotel, Dubai
Baselworld is the fashion week of the watch industry where luxury watch brands release their new products.Omega will preview the new Speedmaster Mark II watch, a popular reintroduction based upon the classic 1969 model that was worn by the astronauts who reached the surface of the moon.
Now in its fourth year, having witnessed record participation from countries around the globe, AIM attracts a mix of high profile government officials, private asset owners and project promoters from all across the globe.
The Beach Polo has become an internationally celebrated social event in over 30 cities. The weekend event returns to Dubai to mark its 10th anniversary.
2 8 april
Top Marques Monaco 17-20th April, Grimaldi Forum, Monaco
Citizenship by Investment and International Residence Middle East 2014, 28-29th April, Mina A’Salam Hotel, Dubai
This year Top Marques Monaco will enter a new decade as it launches its 11th edition of the world’s most exclusive and electrifying super car show where customers can drive select models on the famous Formula1 circuit.
Citizenship by investment, residence and visas options have proliferated all around the world since citizenship is considered an asset among many wealthy individuals whose desire is freedom of movement and safeguarding their wealth. The IBC and Arton Capital summit will address challenges facing the immigrant investment industry and advise on the various programmes available.
16 MARCH / APRIL 2014
Father of theYear OR INTERNATIONAL FRAUDSTER? We help you decide.
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the first word Perspectives from the top
Having it all: Culture and Commercial Dubaiâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s commercial art industry is thriving. How can we maintain a balance between allowing the commercial industry to develop while nurturing young artists to create a culture beyond profit-making galleries?
fair director of Art Dubai The story of the last decade was the boom in the commercial scene. The story post-2010 has been the growth of the non-commercial scene. Take Rami Farookâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Traffic gallery, followed by Satellite and the magazine The State â&#x20AC;&#x201C; all featuring Dubai born-and-bred talent. Even commercial organisations such as leading gallery The Third Line hosted book clubs, debate nights and film screenings alongside selling art. Dubai is unusual in its commitment to nurturing talent and debate among young artists, making for a rounded and mature arts scene. Long may it continue.
Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi
founder, Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah Dubai is part of the UAE and the wider Middle East cultural ecosystem. Art that is produced in the region needs a conduit to the outside world in the shape of galleries, which Dubai has an abundance of. I am pleased to see a number of new galleries in Dubai whose primary target is not commercial and which have identified promoting young artists as part of their core mission.
18 MARCH / APRIL 2014
The first word
Saeed al Nabouda
acting director general, Dubai Culture and Arts Authority Dubai Culture is led by the strategic approach that a grassroots movement is integral to enhancing the cultural fabric of the city. Through events like Art Dubai, Design Days Dubai, Sikka art fair, the Middle East Film and Comic Con and Gulf Film Festival, we will lend further momentum to our thriving creative landscape, enabling both the commercial arts sector to grow while creating robust platforms for our young talent.
director of the Delfina Foundation, a cross-cultural arts programme in London Dubai could balance its arts ecosystem by creating clusters of studios for artistic production and experimentation. Property developers could even incorporate artist studios into residential or commercial properties and cross-subsidise such non-commercial uses while making their new developments more attractive to potential residents and tenants. The government could form partnerships with property developers to facilitate artists and curators to occupy unused buildings temporarily for studios or pop-up exhibitions. Lastly, Dubai needs more international engagement through artist residencies.
founder, The Mine art gallery, Dubai I believe the answer is to take risks - to wholeheartedly put your faith in the hands of someone who is unproven but in whom you see potential and to promote emerging artists from sources that have not yet been tapped. The key is to find new ways to present artwork. We feel art does not need to have a monetary value nor does it need to be expensive to be valuable.
2014 MARCH / APRIL 19
WHERE EAST MEETS WEST At the crossroads of an important trade route, Morocco has been attracting interest from around the globe and is high on the list of many investors By Heba Hashem
The Tanger-Med Port is the focal point that connects Morocco to Europe and the Middle East and Africa
20 MARCH / APRIL 2014
Image courtesy of Gettyimages
orocco’s strategic location bordering Spain, Algeria and Western Sahara, coupled with free trade agreements with the United States, Europe and Middle Eastern countries, have made it an ideal hub for exports. Add to that low labour costs, free trade zones and tax exemptions for all locally purchased capital goods and machinery over the first year of business and you have a perfect start-up environment. At the crossroads of one of the world’s most important trade routes, Morocco has been aggressively improving its infrastructure and expanding the Tanger-Med port, one of the busiest in Africa. Only 10 miles away from Europe, Tanger-Med is connected by railway and highway to free zones and industrial parks and was critical to Renault’s $1.4 billion factory investment in Tangier –the French car manufacturer’s new export-focused plant in the region. Morocco’s self-propelled drive to put itself on the global map seems to be paying off, having lured international giants such as Bombardier Aerospace, Delphi, GDF Suez, Acciona and Del as well as the UAE’s telecoms company Etisalat and energy firm Taqa, in recent years. Deep cultural similarities and close diplomatic ties with many African nations has also smoothed the path for Morocco’s entry into French-speaking markets. But there is still plenty of room for development in a country with a population of 34 million people, of which more than half are under the age of 25. “Due to steady economic growth, Morocco’s middle class has been growing over the last decade. Yet the products and services offered have not kept up with the pace of increased income,” says Adil Hajjoubi, managing partner of Rabat-based AlShall Morocco Consulting and Investments. He says Morocco still lacks top quality office space, industrial and logistical sites, retail stores and housing for lower and middle classes, which could translate into potential property investment opportunities. Retirement homes are also in demand. “Attracted to the good weather and low cost of living, an increasing number of Europeans are retiring to Morocco. Developing retirement homes that are staffed with well-trained employees can be a very profitable venture,” says Hajjoubi. As incomes rise, more Moroccans are sending their children to private schools and demand is growing for good-quality education at all levels and for products like quality pharmaceuticals. This deficit presents an opportunity to invest in solid healthcare businesses, which explains Abraaj Group’s recent involvement in Moroccan pharmaceutical manufacturer Steripharma. “In Morocco, where local consumption is still low compared to other markets in north Africa, there is strong demand versus
low penetration of generics, which creates the opportunity to develop high-quality products at affordable prices,” says Ahmed Badreldin, partner and head of Abraaj Group Mena region. Economic growth has also led to a higher energy demand and the government is aiming to more than double its capacity to 14,500 megawatts by 2020, of which 42 per cent will come from wind and solar. As a result, renewable energy businesses have been flocking from across the globe to take advantage of these developments. Export potential When it comes to exports, the opportunities are as diverse as Morocco’s landscape yet there is still potential to export more to the GCC region. “Morocco is already exporting products to the UAE but could do better, especially in some of the niche products like highend fashion, which are similar to tastes in the UAE, as well as agribusiness and handicrafts,” says Noureddine Sefiani, former Moroccan ambassador to the Russian Federation, Kazakhstan, and Greece. Besides free trade incentives, Morocco offers benefits including a corporate tax break during the first five years of business and a 17.5 per cent rate thereafter. For offshoring facilities, the government offers telecom costs at 35 per cent below market price and training grants of up to $7,000 for Moroccans in the first three years of employment. Foreign investors can also obtain credit from local banks, which are largely in compliance with the international banking standards set by the Basel Accords. With an estimated 10 million tourists visiting every year, eight UNESCO world heritage sites and $41 billion in foreign direct investments made between 2005 and 2010, Morocco’s tourism sector has proven a viable prospect. The Moroccan Investment Development Agency offers lucrative incentives for six tourism investment schemes while regional investment centres throughout Morocco’s 16 administrative districts are putting great effort into facilitating company formations. Every market will have its challenges and in Morocco red tape and language could be the stumbling blocks. “While Arabic is the official language in Morocco, French is the language of business. It can be frustrating for non-French speakers to do business in Morocco as most inter-company communications and even government documents are in French,” says Hajjoubi. To succeed in this huge $90 billion economy, he advises companies to study the market well, understand the regulations in their specific investment area and get independent advice from a local, well-reputed firm as the first step to a successful entry into doing business there.
2014 MARCH / APRIL 21
Syrian Businesses in Exile As the brutal Syrian conflict marks its third anniversary, dislocated Syrians tell of their struggles to keep their businesses on an even keel By Jonathan Gornall
Tammam Azzam’s Freedom Graffiti in Homs, Syria
in Syria - three long years in which more than two million Syrians have been displaced and conservative estimates from the Syrian Observatory on Human Rights have put the death toll at 126,000 and rising. Its neighbouring countries are struggling to cope with the number of refugees, who can see little prospect of being able to return home any time soon. And while the violence shows no signs of abating, what is perhaps less frequently documented is the toll on those who have been dislocated, successful businessmen and women who ran flourishing companies in their homeland and are battling to maintain a degree of normality when life is anything but. Art collectors Samawi and his cousin Khaled founded the Ayyam Gallery in Damascus in 2006 in a bid to develop a
Tammam Azzam’s Syrian Olympic, 2013
Co-founders Khaled (right) and Hisham (left) Samawi of the Ayyam Gallery in Dubai
Photo Susanne Hakuba_B&W
hen the Syrian artist Tammam Azzam created Freedom Graffiti at the beginning of 2013, the digital projection of Gustav Klimt’s 1909 painting The Kiss onto the side of a shellshattered building in Homs went viral on social media. “It showed what man is capable of in his greatest moments and his worst,” says Hisham Samawi, owner of the Ayyam Gallery, which includes Azzam in its stable of artists. But Freedom Graffiti was also symbolic of something else - the extraordinary resilience of a generation of Syrian entrepreneurs, forced by violence and failing infrastructure to flee their country but determined to keep their businesses alive. This March will mark three years since the outbreak of conflict
22 MARCH / APRIL 2014
contemporary art scene in Syria. A year later they opened a second gallery in Dubai and by 2009, had expanded into Beirut. Then in March 2011, disaster struck. “When the revolution started we got a bad feeling that it was going to turn ugly,” says Samawi. The gallery staged its last exhibition in Damascus in November 2011. By then its attention had turned from the business of art to the business of protecting its family of artists, many of whom lived and worked in areas of the country where violence was flaring. “We decided immediately to stop exhibitions at the gallery and turn it into a safe haven for the artists,” says Samawi. Next, they set about transferring their headquarters and 2,000 artworks to Dubai and successfully relocated a dozen artists and their families to countries throughout the Middle East, including the UAE. The exodus was not easy, he says, but necessary. “Our business as a gallery is to promote our artists and exhibit them. All of a sudden we had to focus on getting visas and finding places to live and all the logistics involved with that.” It wasn’t, he says, “even a decision - we had to do it. It would have been such a terrible tragedy if that whole generation of art and artists from Syria was silenced.” It was February last year before Ola Al Hakim, managing partner of the Pure Holidays travel agency, finally threw in the towel, locked her office in Damascus and moved to Beirut to start all over again. Al Hakim, 26, had founded the agency just a year earlier and “business was good”, she says, even as Syria was growing more hazardous: “If anything, people were travelling more because of the situation.” She struggled with frequent power and internet blackouts, but the final straw came in December 2012, when sanctions meant that travel agencies could no longer issue tickets. She chose to relocate to Beirut because it is close and she can visit her family back home every couple of weeks, but the cost of rent and equipment in Lebanon meant she had to let go of
her staff of three. “It is difficult here because it is so expensive - 10 times the cost in Syria - so we had to minimise our costs. I told them: ‘When I come back, I will hire you again’, of course.” And, although her business is thriving in its new home, going back is something Al Hakim has no doubt she will do as soon as the situation allows. “If there were no sanctions I’d go back tomorrow,” she says. “Yes, I am worried about the violence, but in the end it is your country and wherever you go, it is not going to feel like home.” Thanks to the nature of his e-commerce business, home for 33-year-old Mohanad Ghashim is the internet, a space in which he could no longer operate in Syria but in which he has thrived since relocating to Amman in December 2011. A supporter of the protests, he quickly became disillusioned with the descent into brutality on both sides and, with his extended family safely in the United States, says: “I just decided to go.” The move was relatively easy. “Maybe that’s because I’m an optimist - everything will work out - but I have to be grateful to Jordan. It wasn’t difficult to start a business here.” Having studied in the US, his business in Aleppo had been focused on providing outsourced services to American e-commerce companies. Faced with unreliable internet services and bank sanctions that meant he could no longer be paid, he saw the move to Jordan as “a good opportunity to start from scratch with something fresh”. In less than two years his new company, ShopGo, has grown rapidly. It now has 18 employees in Amman and Dubai, with clients throughout the Gulf and plans to expand into Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Exiled Syrian businesses, like the Ayyam Gallery’s artists, are a rare glimmer of hope coming out of Syria, says Samawi and many of those running them are finding a new lease of life. “Tammam was one of the first artists we got out of Syria and by removing him from the situation it took the shackles off him,” he says. “He could do whatever he wanted, and say whatever he wanted, without fear.”
2014 MARCH / APRIL 23
SAFE AS HOUSES Can the security and stability of the German property market lure Gulf investors away from the hotspots of London and New York? By Louise Barnett
ising above Marlene-Dietrich Platz, just a stroll away from the iconic Brandenburg Gate, the impressive red-hued building sits at the very heart of the German capital. The luxurious Grand Hyatt Berlin is noteworthy not just for its enviable location near the city’s bustling Potsdamer Platz. It is also symbolic of a new wave of Middle Eastern investment in prime German real estate. Qatar’s Al Faisal Holding snapped up the five-star hotel last year together with a second centrally located Berlin hotel called the Maritim. The purchases were part of the company’s plan to build a portfolio of hotels in “prime cities around the world”. Meanwhile, international property firm Cluttons has reported a growing enthusiasm among Gulf region investors for German bricks and mortar.
“Middle Eastern investors are one of the major drivers of increased activity in the German property market,” says Cluttons associate Faisal Durrani. Responding to that trend, property company Berlin Capital Investments recently stepped up its marketing activities in the Middle East, prompting a 75 per cent surge in visits to its website from potential buyers in the region. Growing interest in Germany from Middle Eastern investors was a major factor behind the 2012 launch of Hamburg and Dubai-based property investment and management firm Encore RE. Its Gulf region clients typically plough their money into Germany’s luxury hotels, apartments and commercial property in prime locations. Their purchasing choices are influenced by a shared set of priorities, according to the firm’s chief executive Lennart Meyer.
Images courtesy of Corbis / ArabianEye.com
The Grand Hyatt in the Marlene -Dietrich Platz, Berlin
62 MARCH / APRIL 2014
German property is an attractive option for Gulf investors precisely because it does not offer the same rollercoaster ride of soaring and dipping prices characteristic of other markets
Lennart Meyer, chief executive of Encore RE
“A sense of values, an aesthetic affinity and an aspiration to identify with the investment is characteristic of investors from the Gulf region,” he says. Does this recent flurry of interest mean German property can tempt Gulf investors away from more tried and tested overseas markets such as London and New York? Recent strong property price rises in major German cities seem to indicate that it could. Late last year, Germany’s Bundesbank reported an average 8.25 per cent rise in house and apartment prices over the previous three years. Apartment prices in some German cities even soared by 25 per cent over the same period. Demand from domestic buyers was fuelled by low interest rates causing both cheap bank borrowing and poor returns on savings accounts. Property became a more attractive investment option, according to the Bundesbank. At the same time, more overseas buyers ploughed their money into German property following the housing crashes suffered in parts of Europe and the US. However, there are disincentives to investment in German sites. The cost of buying, including property taxes, can easily exceed 10 per cent of the purchase price. And significantly, Germany remains overwhelmingly a nation of renters: only 45 per cent of residential properties are owner-occupied. Strong tenants’ rights can put off potential buy-to-let investors and the residential property market is less fluid than the UK, for example. Dr Oliver Klein, tax director at audit firm PWC’s Middle Eastern-German business group, said language itself was sometimes a barrier to foreigners hoping to navigate Germany’s property purchasing process. “I do believe the German market is a must-have in all diverse property portfolios. But it cannot be denied there are issues for foreigners buying into German property. In particular, foreign investors often remark on a lack of transparency in the residential market,” he says. “I strongly believe you need a loyal local partner. You need
local knowledge on board.” Can investors who now put their money into the German market expect to benefit from the same strong capital gains seen in the past few years? “It is significantly more difficult to find an investment opportunity than it was two years ago - but there is still opportunity in Germany,” says Klein. Those opportunities vary wildly according to location. “The blessing and at the same time, the curse of the German market, is that there is not one dominant property market but a number of different markets. I do believe some cities are overvalued,” warns Klein. That view is shared by the Bundesbank, which in 2013 said the residential property market may have overheated by as much as 10 per cent in some cities. However, other experts say the recent price hikes simply corrected a previous undervaluation of German property that had been too cheap compared to Britain and France. In 2012, the Institute for the German Economy in Cologne dismissed fears of a property price bubble. In any case, German property is an attractive option for Gulf investors precisely because it does not offer the same rollercoaster ride of soaring and dipping prices characteristic of other markets. Rather, its track record of modest long-term property price inflation and cautious bank lending means German bricks and mortar generally represent a safe haven for investors looking to spread their risks internationally. What it lacks in excitement, the German property market makes up for in security and stability. Meyer says: “International investors from the Middle East and elsewhere all use their home markets for high chances of dynamic returns. To them, the German market functions as a risk-minimising asset in their international portfolios. “The German property market serves international investors as a substantial part of their asset allocation with low risks and solid returns.” 2014 MARCH / APRIL 25
German Bank expands Mena Business Varengold open commercial banking for global citizens
uropean and Anglo-Saxon banks have been courting private clients from the Gulf and emerging markets for decades. However, despite their short-term successes and huge profit margins, they’re finding it increasingly difficult to manage their private client’s expectations and anticipate the needs of global entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs who operate in international markets should no longer have to compromise between reliable account structure and a solid legal framework, which is typical of western banking institutions versus the more open nature and personal approach of the Middle Eastern banking system. Finally there is an international bank that can bridge this gap in the form of German bank Varengold. The private investment bank has recently opened a new commercial banking sector to serve its network of global ultra high net worth (UHNW) entrepreneurs. For the past 20 years, the owner-managed German Bankknown for its innovative international investment solutions -with offices in Hamburg, Germany, London and Dubai, has serviced UHNWIs and their individual investment plans. Since obtaining their commercial banking licence, Varengold has extended its exclusive services and benefits for global UHNWI citizens. “Move fast, be effective and always adapt to the client’s needs, this has always been our guiding principle,” says Mohammad Hans Dastmaltshi, co-founder and head of Middle East operations and International business for Varengold. “This was the USP that served us for the last 20 years and has helped us stand up to the big players of the banking community.
26 MARCH / APRIL 2014
“Ninety nine per cent of our clients are like us, internationally operating entrepreneurs and medium-sized business owners. And it is this understanding of one another that is a basic prerequisite for our joint business,” said the German entrepreneur. “Our clients run or own globally active commercial enterprises or production facilities. A lot of banks neglect the needs of small, medium-sized and owner-managed companies. They fail to engage the owner and his specific banking needs into the overall concept. At the same time, this is where Varengold bank sees its strength and core competence. “Starting with a 24/7 trading desk with trading and hedging opportunities all over the world, currencies, equities, trade, finance to flexible Lombard credits as well as letters of credits for clients’ international business relations, we are able to optimise our sustainable solutions for our clients,” explains Dastmaltshi. He adds, “We operate in the same way as our clients; on an international level in both private and business matters, like us they are global citizens and now they have a bank to represent them. “We accompany them as flexible, innovative and agile international partners who create tailor-made solutions for them.” Varengold combines the safety and structure of German engineered banking with international flexibility, from adequately paid interest on fixed deposit accounts with German deposit protection, via an international and flexible credit business including emerging countries for UHNWI’s business activities, to an exclusive club deal access in the investment banking sector.
Photography by Boa Campbell
Mohammad Hans Dastmaltshi, co- founder of Varengold Bank
Image courtesy of Gettyimages Lesley Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Toole / The Independent Photo Susanne / The Hakuba_B&W Interview People
McConaughey admiring his first ever Oscar win for Best Actor for Dallas Buyers Club after the 86th Academy Awards
WHY THE OSCAR GOES TO MYSELF When Matthew McConaughey scooped his first Oscar at the age of 44, he thanked his future self for being his inspiration. GC talks to Hollywood’s Johnny-come-lately about the road to success and his role in the award-winning Dallas Buyers Club By Lesley O’Toole
nyone who knows him, or has spent the tiniest modicum of time in his company, knows Matthew McConaughey has a thing for the open road, the call of the wild. When he first gained serious notoriety for the 1996 adaptation of John Grisham’s legal bestseller A Time to Kill he bought a one-way ticket to Peru, where he hiked Machu Picchu and canoed the Amazon. But mostly, he is on the road. “Most of the time on a road trip, I’m just driving. That’s my favourite place to think, or not think. I don’t go away to think about something, but I like to put myself in a place where answers sort of show up. My favourite place for that is behind the wheel, heading somewhere,” he says. As McConaughey’s unusual acceptance speeches have demonstrated (he invoked Neptune for his Screen Actors Guild best actor award and thanked himself for his best actor Oscar) this is no conventional movie star. But surprisingly, McConaughey, 44, is all for recognition - which is just as well, given he has scooped an Academy Award for playing the HIV positive Aids treatment pioneer Ron Woodroof in Dallas Buyers Club. “I definitely believe it is completely fair to have measures of excellence in the arts. Some people say you can’t judge art, but that is like saying 12-year-old Jane Doe’s diary is as good as Shakespeare,” he says. How is McConaughey finding it, winning and winning again? “Very nice,” he beams, his teeth considerably whiter than they were when we first met at a hotel in Austin, Texas, in 1998. “If
I’m in the conversation, that’s cool.” He was chewing tobacco back then but he was affable, funny, sincere and memorable. Today in Los Angeles, McConaughey, in an exquisite, expensive black leather biker jacket and slightly orange thanks to make-up from an earlier round of TV interviews, has a nasty-looking graze across the knuckles of his right hand. He is not forthcoming about the cause beyond “a stunt”, presumably on Interstellar, which he is currently filming for Christopher Nolan with Jessica Chastain and Anne Hathaway. His face is still slightly gaunt from losing 47lbs to play Woodroof. These days, with wife Camila Alves, 32, and children Levi, five, Vida, four, and Livingston, one, in tow, McConaughey has presumably progressed from the iconic silver Airstream trailer he towed all over America and also lodged in for extended periods at a Malibu trailer park. “My living space is so small that I can sit on the toilet and scramble eggs at the same time,” he once joked. “How cool is that?” A trailer park as a permanent address, even one in Malibu, eventually ceased to be viable, not least because his family expanded rather rapidly. McConaughey met Alves in 2006. A Brazilian who had arrived in the US to visit her aunt at 15 and never left, Alves has been modelling since her teens, worked as a TV presenter and designs a line of handbags with her mother. With romance sorted (he and Alves married in Texas in June 2012), McConaughey’s career also soared. After an almost two-year break from cinema while he was
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“I’d say I have more of a selfish desire now when it comes to work,” McConaughey admits.
attending to fatherhood, McConaughey came storming back out of the gate in 2011 with The Lincoln Lawyer - or at least out of the back of a chauffeured, battered Lincoln Town Car, his unorthodox criminal defence lawyer’s ‘office’. Killer Joe, Magic Mike and the much-admired Mud continued what Hollywood circles called “the McConaissance”. “I just needed to let time catch up with me,” he noted at the time of that first acclaim in the 1990s. Time, it could be said, has at last caught up with McConaughey who, when remotely possible, has been holed up in the comparative sanctuary of the family’s 1,600-acre working ranch in west Texas. As if the Dallas Buyers Club buzz isn’t overwhelming enough, he is also riding the wave of The Wolf of Wall Street’s success, given his scene-stealing role as Jordan Belfort’s (Leonardo DiCaprio) chest-thumping mentor. And he has a new hit HBO TV series airing, True Detective, in which he plays a tortured detective opposite long-time friend Woody Harrelson. Is there anything to which he attributes this sea-change? “Part of it is just growing up and part of it is I’m very turned on and excited about all kind of things. Probably more things now than I used to be. I work hard to maintain the good things in my life that I’ve built - friendships, work, family, my own time. Sometimes you’ve got to go, ‘ah man, I haven’t seen my brother in three months’. But it feels really great when you can think: ‘Boy, all my relationships are good, people that I love are good and my
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relationship with them is good. My career, I’m dialled, it feels good. Health is good.’ But to maintain that, when things change, you’ve got to be nimble at times.” Calculated or not, this career recalibration could not have been better timed. As recently as 2009, McConaughey was starring in rom-coms with titles like The Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, Fool’s Gold and Failure to Launch. But McConaughey is not haunted by past films nor ghosts of girlfriends past (he previously dated Sandra Bullock, Penelope Cruz and Ashley Judd and remains friendly with them all). “I have a few things I would like to say,” he announces, teasingly. “I’m not selling but I’m angling with our minutes.” And he is off. McConaughey, in that lilting Texan drawl which is somehow exactly the way you imagine it should be, could talk for hours about Woodroof and Dallas Buyers Club. Unchecked, he actually would. McConaughey saw the screenplay years ago and since then couldn’t shake off “the fangs” of Woodroof, whom he described as “a cantankerous b*****d with a wicked sense of humour”. Determined to get the script to the big screen after it had been rejected over the years by numerous studios, McConaughey decided to finance the project, ending up with a $6 million budget, a tiny figure by Hollywood standards and filmed it over 25 days. Finding the voice of Woodroof was his next challenge. “There were hours and hours of tapes and transcripts from our
screenwriter Mark Borten’s conversations with Ron. Watching those was really, really helpful. Seeing what he says and seeing what he doesn’t say. His wit and humour were right there, then all of a sudden he’d pop into a conspiracy theory and then pop right back. He would be all over the place, completely convinced the whole time. He was a smuggler and a dealer. He wanted to be Scarface.” But still, McConaughey hadn’t “found” Woodroof, until the subject’s family intervened with what the actor calls “the secret weapon.” “His family gave me the diary he kept up to before he got HIV. That gave me this dialogue he was having with himself because the tapes were from after he had the Dallas Buyers Club. “The diary was: ‘I got nothing to do. I got up again this morning, six o’clock, I had my coffee. I tucked my shirt in, pressed my pants, waited for my pager to go off, to get a call, get a little job done and nobody called. So damn it - I got to get high.’ Seeing who he was before he got HIV really informed me because here is a guy who turned 30 days of life, as he was told, to seven more years. That was the first time he had purpose in his life, ironically because he was having to fight for his life.” McConaughey gives an impassioned performance in Dallas
Buyers Club. He credits an anonymous friend, who has since died, with showing him the power of that formula in action. “He was going through a battle with cancer and as the cancer started eating away at his body, I saw his fight coming out more ferociously, not receding.” McConaughey’s own fight is ferocious too. If his earliest career plan was to be a criminal defence lawyer, fighting for others, his eventual plan has come full circle to fighting for himself. “I’d say I have more of a selfish desire now when it comes to work,” he admits. It has been a long time coming. McConaughey, a Texan native, was set to start law classes at university when he felt something was not right and decided to switch to film. “I remember that call to mum and dad and after about a 20-second pause, they were very supportive. They liked the hope, the individuality I took.” McConaughey had never considered acting and as far as he knew, there was not a whiff of artistic temperament in the family. “But then after my dad passed away [in 1993, six days into shooting Dazed and Confused], I found all these old paintings and pottery he had done. So there was something artistic in the blood line that I didn’t know about. It was neat to find out those things.”
McConaughey plays a homophobic HIV sufferer who befriends Jared Leto’s character- a transexual also suffering from the disease
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Images courtesy of Cambodian Childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Fund
Before and After: Neeson on set working with Mel Gibson in Braveheart and later with the children heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s devoted his life to helping in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
From Hollywood to Hell The executive director of a Cambodian children’s charity tells how he turned his back on Hollywood and his career as a film executive to devote his life to rescuing young souls By Emma Inglis
t was a transformative phone call. If Scott Neeson was at a crossroads before the call, he wasn’t by the end of it. The actor, enraged by the food served to him on a private jet, made it easy for Neeson with his indignant anger and his refrain that his ‘life wasn’t meant to be this difficult’. If Neeson had not been so tired, he might have told him where life was really difficult. But what that pivotal conversation did reveal was where his heart lay: in a rubbish dump on the outskirts of Phnom Penh in Cambodia. Neeson’s journey to Steung Meanchey as the executive director of the Cambodian Children’s Fund had begun months earlier - and worlds apart - at his home in Brentwood, Los Angeles, where the view was of the Santa Monica mountains and his next door neighbour Cindy Crawford would occasionally pop by for a chat. As president of marketing at 20th Century Fox, he enjoyed the perks of Hollywood life: “There was a Porsche in the driveway, first class travel, a nice house, a motor yacht and gorgeous girlfriends.” It was a good life and was about to get better. There was a new job about to start with Sony Pictures where there would be more money, more responsibility and more power. “I’d negotiated myself a terrific deal,” says Neeson. But first, there were six weeks to fill, so he booked a holiday. It was to be a hiatus from the world of films - a time for reflection and adventure. The plan was to visit various Buddhist sites in the East, starting in Bangkok and ending up in Rishikesh, north
India. Scottish-Australian Neeson set off with a backpack although he still travelled first class and stayed in luxury hotels. On the way to Angkor Wat, Neeson stopped at Phnom Penh, hungry for more of a backpacker experience. The children on street corners begging for coins appeared too savvy and he wanted to see the real Cambodia, where life was lived on a knife-edge: “Take me somewhere so gut-wrenchingly awful and it will remain with me forever.” It was a man in a cafe who gave him the name Steung Meanchey, scrawled on a scrap of paper. ‘If you want to see people who really need help, go there,’ he told Neeson. It was a “voyeuristic, insensitive” Neeson who took a cab to the outskirts of the city, not sure what he would see or find. The cab driver was incredulous, telling him it was a rubbish dump and there were better places to visit. Neeson was undeterred and after a breakfast spread at the luxurious Raffles hotel, he went in search of adventure. He got it in spades. He would later describe the scene as ‘apocalyptic’: the dark foul smoke, the stench, the corpses and the hypodermic needles, the sheer magnitude of putrid, rotting material, and the children – hundreds of them – crawling over it like ants, competing with thousands of birds for a tin can, a piece of plastic, a scrap of food. Something, anything, that could be sold, eaten or recycled. Neeson was appalled. His desire to do something was overwhelming. “A child was walking past - I couldn’t tell
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Neeson with the children of Steung Meanchey, a sprawling 100-acre rubbish dump in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
whether it was a boy or a girl as they were so wrapped up in rags - and through a translator, I learnt her name was Srey Nic. She lived on the dump, had never been to school and her job was to find money to support her family. That night I met Nic and her mother and we reached an agreement where for $30 a month, she would leave the garbage dump, go to school and the family would all live in a house.” It was a good feeling to change a life so quickly, all for the price of a burger and beer in West Hollywood. The rest of the holiday never happened. Neeson stayed in Phnom Penh, returning to the dump every day and changing the life of another family. When he returned to LA, he was a different man, convinced he had found his calling but “I’d seen some terrific mid-life crises go down in Hollywood so I didn’t want to do anything rash”. It was a calling that the management at Sony could have done without. Whenever he had the opportunity, Neeson returned to Cambodia. In that first year at Sony, he made 11 trips to Steung Meanchey, each time taking on more children. It was on one of these trips that Neeson received that fateful phone call. “I was on the dump with three young children. They had typhoid and they were going to die. I didn’t know what to do, or who to call. You can’t call 999. There are no
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police, no ambulances.” As his mind kept spinning, his cell phone rang. It was the actor in Tokyo, where he was promoting a film, conferenced in with his agent in Los Angeles. “He was furious because he had requested certain amenities for the flight back to LA. We had put the wrong amenities on the plane and he was refusing to get on it. He said to me, ‘Scott, my life wasn’t meant to be this difficult.’” It was a defining moment for Neeson, a “beautiful moment of vindication” that Steung Meanchey was where he was meant to be. When he returned to LA, he sold everything: his car, his house, the boat, his belongings - “I was shocked by the amount of stuff I had” - and moved to Phnom Penh. Ten years later, he is still there. The charity he founded, the Cambodian Children’s Fund, now has more than 1,800 children in its care and offers education, healthcare, food and shelter to those living on top of and around the dump. Neeson’s impact on these children and their families has been profound. He is unsure how long he will remain in Cambodia but of one thing he is certain. Being a big shot in Hollywood never brought him as much happiness as working out of a rubbish dump in the slums of Phnom Penh.
War reporter Christina Lamb in Camp Bastion, Afghanistan
Life on the frontline A glimpse into the life of veteran war reporter Christina Lamb, in Dubai for the Festival of Literature
here are countless self-help books that promise to teach would-be entrepreneurs the secret of success, but sometimes the simplest and most effective lessons can be learnt by studying the lives of those who have risen to the top in their respective fields. Take Christina Lamb, the renowned British foreign correspondent and author whose career is living proof of the value of the Latin aphorism carpe diem - ‘seize the day’. After leaving Oxford University shortly before her 21st birthday, armed with a degree in politics, philosophy and economics, she was all set to pursue a
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career in local journalism in the UK when a chance meeting with an extraordinary woman changed the direction of her life. “I never set out to be a war correspondent,” says Sunday Times journalist Lamb, talking by phone in the middle of a typically whirlwind four days of travel between London, Paris and Bahrain, shortly before her trip to Dubai to talk about journalism in turbulent times. “I was an intern at the Financial Times in London and one day I got to meet and interview Benazir Bhutto because the foreign editor couldn’t go and we got on very well.” That was 1987, the year before the
exiled Bhutto returned to Pakistan for the first of two terms as the country’s prime minister - and for her wedding. To Lamb’s surprise, “one day I came home from work and there was this invitation to her wedding in Karachi and of course I went.” It was her first visit to the country and “I was fascinated by it. Being Benazir, the wedding was a very political event after the ceremonies each day she and her political colleagues would get together and discuss trying to get rid of the then military dictator of Pakistan, General Zia. “After all that, I couldn’t really imagine going back and reporting on local news in Birmingham.”
Photography courtesy of Justin Sutcliffe
By Jonathan Gornall
Instead, she gave up her traineeship at Birmingham’s Central TV, jumped on a plane and went to live in Peshawar, where she celebrated her 21st birthday in the Qissa Khawani, or storytellers’ bazaar. After that, Lamb never looked back, reporting from trouble spots around the world, from Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation and later returning to the country after the 9/11 attacks. By her own admission, she faced a steep learning curve. Lamb recalls when she first arrived in Peshawar, walking into Barnes and Noble, “I had absolutely no idea what foreign correspondents needed - or did, for that matter.” That probably explained the contents of
her overweight suitcase, which contained a large number of novels, “a supply of wine gums, a bottle of Chanel perfume, Mahler’s Fifth and a pink felt rabbit”. Her first big interview was with Pakistan’s General Zia-ul-Haq - and she forgot to press the record button on her tape recorder. Luckily, his security officers had recorded the interview and let her have a copy. But she soon got the hang of tape recorders and journalism, launching a career that has seen her showered with awards - starting with the title of young journalist of the year from the British Press Awards for her coverage of Afghanistan in 1988 and including no
“I had absolutely no idea what foreign correspondents needed - or did, for that matter.”
Lamb chats with local Afghani policemen at a check point overlooking the Shomali Plains, north of Kabul
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fewer than five foreign correspondent of the year awards. Bhutto, assassinated in Rawalpindi while campaigning for Pakistan’s 2008 election, “had a huge influence on my life”, she says. It was partly what drew her to tell the story of Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistan schoolgirl who, equally inspired by Bhutto’s commitment to women’s rights, was shot in the head by the Taliban in October 2012 for outspokenly defending the right of girls to be educated. Lamb had travelled to the Swat district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in northwestern Pakistan in 2009 when the Taliban overran the valley. She interviewed Malala’s father, a local peace activist. “At that time,” she says, “nobody had heard of Malala.” They soon did. Lamb was working in Washington for the Sunday Times in October 2012 when news came through that the 15-year-old schoolgirl had been
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shot in an assassination attempt. Malala was brought to the UK for medical care and she and her family settled in Birmingham. The following January Lamb, back in the UK, received an email from Malala’s agent, asking if she would like to be considered to help the teenager write a book about her beliefs and experiences. “She had only recently come out of hospital,” recalls Lamb. “It was kind of weird being interviewed by a 15-year-old girl, but I was very taken with her right from the start. On the way there I wasn’t really sure it was something I wanted to do or not. But she is very eloquent and passionate and I was quickly enchanted by her.” Now 48 years old, Lamb is married and has a 14-year-old son of her own, but says she isn’t ready just yet for a desk job. Since the book I Am Malala was published last October on the anniversary of the shooting, she has been on assignment in
Malala Yousafzai with her biography I Am Malala co-written by Christina Lamb
Libya, Iran, Israel and Bahrain, “and I am still endlessly fascinated by these places”. The world of the war correspondent is, says Lamb, still male-dominated. “Maybe it’s the danger,” she says. “It doesn’t bother me, but it does bother a lot of people and I understand why people think it’s crazy to do what I do.” Also, for women, “if you have children it’s very difficult to combine that with always jumping on planes. I’m lucky because my husband works from home and so I’m able to do that.” Nevertheless, it irritates her “when people ask me about being a mother and a foreign correspondent, because they don’t ask the same question of the male correspondents who are fathers”. That said, she says she does not take the same risks now as she did when she was 21: “As you get older you become more sensible and also, I have a child dependent on me, so I am not going to do crazy things.”
Image courtesy of Gettyimages
Lamb started her foreign correspondent career in the streets of Pakistan at the age of 21
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The SegeraBusiness is a sustainable sanctuary built by German entrepreneur Jochen Zeitz
By Louise Barnett
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OUT OF AFRICA From the corporate world to contemporary art: ex-Puma chief executive Jochen Zeitz has his eye on another prize
Photography by David Crookes
By Paul Juziers
hen he became the chief executive of German sportswear firm Puma at the age of just 29, Jochen Zeitz also became the youngest boss of a listed company in Europe. It was a highly unusual appointment at the time and Zeitz credits the company’s more liberal-thinking Swiss shareholders for taking a leap of faith. A quarter of a century later, with his fortune made and considerably more business acumen under his belt, Zeitz’s entire focus has shifted from the corporate corridors of luxury sports manufacturing to the plains of Africa. He is no longer at the helm of Puma but remains as a director of the Kering group and chairman of its sustainable development committee, allowing him to devote time to his foundation, which bears his name and is focused on conservation projects in Africa with a credo of the four Cs - conservation, community, culture and commerce. Zeitz is also building the first ever museum of contemporary African art in Cape Town. His first conservation project is a newly renovated ecological lodge in Kenya called Segera Retreat, a charming estate that looks like a scene from the movie Out
of Africa, which coincidentally was filmed nearby. Surrounded by traditional Masai villages, Zeitz transformed the ancient farm and its stables into a luxurious sustainable 20,000-hectare sanctuary for the big five and their predators. A few miles away from Segera is Zeitz’s foundation, which he launched six years ago. “I had this idea a long time ago to create and develop sustainable tourism projects but it took a few years to mature.” says the 51-year-old German entrepreneur. “It was never my plan to just have a house or a farm. It goes far beyond that. With tourism, more than just agriculture, you can influence a much broader audience. You can create jobs locally and have a knock-on effect on things. In the end, it is not as small as you thought it would be.” This is exactly what Segera (Swahili for coral shell) has become. The estate is now a lush haven of peace. In Karen Blixen’s novel Out of Africa, the character Isak Dinesen says: “Here I am, this is where I belong.” It was a thought echoed by Zeitz when he first visited Segera eight years ago. At the time, he was at the peak of his career and in his 40s. As the chief executive of a multi-billion dollar company, he
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“I love adventure, nature and I have a passion for Africa. I went there for the first time 18 years ago and have been back every year since.” employed tens of thousands of people throughout the world. “I love adventure, nature and I have a passion for Africa. I went there for the first time 18 years ago and have been back every year since.” After a fortnight in the bush in 2010, Zeitz decided to upgrade Segera and turn it into a luxury tourist destination. He now employs hundreds of local people to grow vegetables and crops. The water and the energy are all sustainable, he says, as well as all the food served for the meals. Since taking over the lodge, Zeitz - who does not sleep more than three or four hours a night - has also published a book
called The Manager and The Monk, an exploration of values, spirituality and sustainability in business, following intense discussions with German spirituality guru Anselm Grün. Zeitz says: “I met Anselm at a decisive moment in my life. This book really helped me grow my consciousness and enhance my perception of the world. Curiosity guides my life. This is how I discovered many of the deep and human principles that we describe in the book. It was an important step because afterwards, my understanding of what I could achieve in the world was far stronger.” Before that adventure, Zeitz was always on the run. Without family or children, he lived in the moment. “I decided it was time to move on and change my role at Puma. I had been a senior executive for more than 20 years and my ambitions were very different. Having had such a career gave me the credibility to do other things. I had learnt enough about business to know what we can do better economically but also socially and environmentally.” But changing direction was not an overnight occurrence. “I did not start behaving ethically when I stepped down from
The sprawling 20,000-hectare retreat is a sanctuary for the big five located in Laikipia Plateau, Kenya 42 MARCH / APRIL 2014
The Segera is reminiscent of the Karen Blixen style estate from the movie Out of Africa
my position as chief executive [after 18 years]. It has always been important for me at Puma and in everything I have ever done. One must always do more than create short-term financial revenues.” According to Zeitz, it is not about charity but being responsible. “The power of an entrepreneur is finding solutions. Of course, you need to improve the gross profits of a company
in order to enable it to survive but you need to get things done in the right way from the start. Otherwise it is often too late.” He says solutions come from being open-minded and trying to understand and learn what others do while culture and art bring an extra touch of soul. Zeitz has accumulated more than 150 pieces of art, sculptures, photos, paintings and video installations at Segera, collected over the years from auctions in London and South Africa. He has also established a rotating artist in residence programme lasting three months, so a visit to Segera could include breakfast with South African artist Sue Williamson or Ghanaian-German painter Owusu-Ankomah. However, Zeitz’s artistic vision goes far beyond the walls of his retreat. He is opening a non-for-profit $56.5 million museum called Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in Cape Town’s historic grain silo building on the V&A waterfront. “I wanted my collection to be stored in a safe place and to give the African continent its first important museum in the field of contemporary art.” The nine-storey complex, centred around a light-filled atrium with a glass roof, is expected to feature 80 galleries when it opens in 2016 and will house more than 500 pieces of contemporary African art.
An artist impression of the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa due to open in Cape Town’s V&A waterfront in 2016 2014 MARCH / APRIL 43
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Doing it Heir Way GC meets Anna Zegna, co-heir to the famed Italian sartorial family business Ermenegildo Zegna - one of the few independent luxury groups today By Paul Juziers
chic and elegant Anna Zegna greets me in the lobby bar of the Beverly Wilshire Hotel just off Rodeo Drive. Just a few hours earlier, she had been sipping champagne with a host of Hollywood’s stars, including Gerard Butler, Edward Norton and Jeremy Renner, alongside Zegna’s new head of design Stefano Pilati and Peter Marino, the architect who dreamed up Zegna’s newly opened flagship store in downtown Los Angeles. As well as toasting the new store, Anna and her brother Gildo, the chief executive of the company, used the glamorous event to unveil the brand’s new couture line created by Pilati exclusively for the Beverley Hills store. Although now in his second season at Zegna, Pilati’s arrival in September 2012 caused a stir, because until then the design of the luxury brand had always remained in the hands of the family. Even though Pilati was renowned for having skilfully succeeded at Yves Saint Laurent after Tom Ford’s departure, his collaboration with such a traditional fashion institution was surprising. “Stefano’s arrival represents an important step in Zegna’s history,” says
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Anna. “He is not just any stylist. He has experience and respects our heritage, our craftsmanship and our history. Stefano interprets the Zegna language in his own way. He does not take anything away from us, he just adds relevant skills. But really it is an evolution more than a revolution.” So how has the sartorial Italian dynasty adapted to one of fashion’s most wellknown troublemakers?
“He coerced us in a good way” - Zegna on head designer Stefano Pilati “He coerced us in a good way,” says Anna. “Zegna is a very integrated company and he knows how to use our assets, like our know-how on raw material and fabrics. He stimulates us and brings his own ideas as well.” By appointing Pilati as head of design, Anna, Gildo and the company chairman
Paolo Zegna, another of Ermenegildo’s grandchildren, accepted the idea of transforming the 114-year-old brand into an exclusive collection. The new couture line allows them to emphasise the creativity and the innovation of the brand, putting them in a much stronger position. Zegna has always pioneered, far beyond its reputation as a master tailor with annual revenues of more than $1.6 billion, but as much as it is an important global brand, it has only recently appeared on the fashion scene. With a ready-to-wear Zegna suit ranging from from $3,000 to $5,400 and the elite Vellus Aureum collection costing upward of $27,000, the men’s fashion market is still the most important for the group, despite Pilanti’s focus on Agnona, the group’s female range. “Socially, there has been an awakening of men in fashion. The interest of the media has changed the way men buy clothes,” says Anna. She is also optimistic about the brand’s future gaining momentum, with new customers in China, the Middle East and South America adopting old favourites like the occidental suit. But at the same time the fashion demands of men in
Image courtesy of Gettyimages
expand into America in 1938. He started with New York and its famous Italian tailors, to which he extolled the virtues of his fabrics, handmade after 260 stages of production. When Ermenegildo died in 1966, his sons Aldo and Angelo took over the business and launched ready-to-wear lines. They multiplied the number of factories in Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey and Mexico but Zegna remained faithful to Trivero. “This place sums up the history of our family,” says Anna. In 1980 the first Zegna shop opened in Paris. Since then, more than 560 outlets have been developed worldwide. “If we export to the whole world - and we have been present in China for the past 25 years - it’s because since the 1930s, our fabrics were sold in the US. “We owe this to my grandfather, who was a visionary. We inherited his spirit. Nevertheless, in a very fast pace changing world, we continue to do things at our
rhythm. Maybe this is our secret,” says Anna. The Zegna charitable foundation that Anna runs carries on this community spirit but in a more organised fashion. The charity oversees projects in India, China and Africa, funding teams of doctors, schools or offering community help. “We help schools with art [projects] for children and invite artists to create public pieces of art that people will be able to see, touch and be a part of,” says Anna. The Zegna dynasty hosts two major exhibitions every year, which are open to the public and has one goal in mind - to “improve the quality of life where people live, when you can.” “I have always been fascinated by Albert Camus and what he wrote about human dignity,” says Anna. “There are common values to all human beings.” Her grandfather would, no doubt, have been proud.
Image courtesy of Gettyimages
Europe and the US are increasing. The fact men are also more interested in knowing about the fabrics and materials of their suit or shirt is key to Zegna’s success. “There are very few brands which have accompanied men so well in the past 100 years with so much diversity. It proves that fashion is not always ephemeral. Zegna has already crossed four generations and conquered new markets.” The company’s history, of which they are justly proud of, started in 1910 in Trivero, a small and remote village in the Italian Alps an hour’s drive from Milan. It still shapes the brand today. Anna’s grandfather Ermenegildo Zegna built a fabric factory and quickly acquired a reputation for the quality of his production and his woollen suits with the finest tailoring. At the end of the 1930s, his wool mills already employed more than 1,000 workers. This enabled the founder to
Anna Zegna with the brand’s head of design Stefano Pilati
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Keeping it in the family:( L-R ) Gildo, Anna and Paolo Zegna
Reinstating ITS Crown Once the Crown jeweller to the British royal family, Garrard has partnered with Damas in the Middle East to bolster its share of the UAE’s luxury segment
amed for designing Princess Diana’s engagement ring, which now sits firmly on the Duchess of Cambridge’s finger after Prince William proposed with the 18 carat blue sapphire, Garrard is the world’s oldest fine jeweller, sitting alongside Tiffany and Cartier. Garrard now operates in 25 new locations globally and the Middle East is its “strongest market globally”, contributing to the company’s strong growth in sales for 2012-2013, according to the company’s chief executive Eric Deardorff. However, the American CEO insists that Garrard’s resurgence is a result of “picking great local partners who understand their brand”. In the UAE, Garrard has partnered with high-end retailer Damas to sell its fine jewellery across the country. It also has retail partners in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey. “Over the last two years we have been in rapid methodical global growth phase, which includes Harrods, key franchise partners and becoming very visible in important markets,” says Deardorff. Garrard’s association with the Middle East stems back to the 1970’s, in recent years, the jeweller has had high-profile commissions for silverware, including the Dubai World Cup trophy, bespoke medals and objets d’art. “Today the Middle Eastern buyer wants matching sets and top of the range precious stones, which account for 99 per cent of our sales,” says Deardorff. Deardorff boasts of the “new Garrard”, referring to the house’s international expansion in ‘new money’ markets in Eastern Europe, as well as Malaysia where it recently opened a free-standing store. It also opened a new 510 sq ft store in Harrods in London with a private viewing area, high jewellery cabinets, fireplace and decadent furniture, which will resonate particularly with the Middle Eastern client, says Deardorff.
Top: Chain from the Wings collection Left: Ring from the Tutor Rose collection Right: Earrings from Entanglement Tassel collection
Garrard’s core collections – Wings and Entanglement have been added to by head designer Sara Prentice, appointed in 2012. Garrard has also introduced Tudor Rose, the first collection by Prentice and a testament to beautiful, intricate, timeless, yet forward-thinking design and craftsmanship. Prentice has changed the design throughout the collection with various innovative interpretations of the Tudor Rose, known traditionally as the floral heraldic emblem of England. Prentice will present a new collection at Basel in March. Typically Garrard’s prices range from $5,000 to $400,000 at the upper end of high jewellery or bespoke pieces. On Garrard’s philanthropic activity, it has supported many charities like The Prince’s Trust, Prince Harry’s Sentebale charity, Chain of Hope and the Royal British Legion.
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Photo by Aditya Kapoor
62 MARCH / APRIL 2014
La Dolce Vita He was a renowned playboy - but Lapo Elkann has turned his back on his former hedonistic life and turned a corner. He tells GC what inspires him now By Paul Juziers
made to measure menswear. The Gucci partnership was signed on a wintry morning with the brand’s creative director Frida Giannini in the Italia Independent offices. Elkann’s own factory is located in a remote industrial area on the outskirts of Milan, far from the glitzy fashion avenues he is accustomed to. “I said I would not go into fashion and I am not,” he says. “This project is not some dated capsule collection, it is a project of timeless style.” His country might have found it difficult to replace disgraced prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, but Elkann embodies a new wave of Italian entrepreneurial spirit. His values are still deeply rooted in culture and classical elegance but he reinvents them with a twist. With Gucci, it is the first time Elkann, who has
Image courtesy of Gettyimages
apo Elkann’s reputation precedes him. As well as being a member of the famed Italian Agnelli family behind the luxury sports car brands Maserati and Ferrari, the Fiat group and Juventus football club among others, he is one of Italy’s most iconic style ambassadors and former hedonistic playboys. A much-publicised overdose nine years ago resulted in what can only be described as a purge of every part of his life. After a stormy youth, Elkann seems much more sedate at 36 years old. He is now the chief executive of his own public company Italia Independent, a luxury product design company that sells sunglasses, as well as running Independent Ideas, a creative branding agency. He has just added an extra bow to his arrow by collaborating with Gucci to create a capsule collection of
Elkann poses during the Cartier Travel With Style Concours at Taj Lands in Mumbai, India. 2014 MARCH / APRIL 51
become a barometer of Italian style, came into contact with fashion as a designer. He had sworn he would never do so. But the aptly named Lapo’s Wardrobe debuted at Milan’s Spring/Summer 2014 Men’s Fashion Week to rave reviews. “I define it more like a way of twisting the DNA of the traditional Italian made to measure with a spirit of renewal. Especially in terms of the fit of materials. It’s a global approach to style.” Unlike the capsule collection, the association between Giannini and Elkann was not new. They worked together on the launch of the special Gucci Fiat 500 on both the creative and communication side, and there were also collaborations between the fashion brand and Independent Ideas in 2011. Giannini did not need persuading about Elkann’s style credentials. Vanity Fair magazine voted him the world’s bestdressed man and he is considered one of the world’s most eligible bachelors. “Like in my family, we share a common and strong passion for beauty, know-how and Italian culture,” he says. “It is exactly what we’ve been trying to do with these new products. “It took us more than a year to develop this idea of a new contemporary made to measure department.”
So is this the future for Italy’s ex-bad boy turned entrepreneurcreating products for other brands after his successes with Fiat, phone brand Vertu - for whom he created the constellation blue handset in 2012 - and Gucci? Elkann is a man with deep-rooted ambitions. Despite being born into wealth and privilege, he continues to hammer away at his convictions and vision and they both serve his need for independence. It is no secret that before he left Fiat (he is still the largest shareholder along with his sister and brother, who is the chairman of the group), he turned the struggling car manufacturer’s fortunes around. The share price had dropped to just three euros and by the time Elkann left it was 23 euros. “I am very passionate about the things I do, and everybody knows I am fond of cars. I just needed to do things my way. I need my freedom. It is my shot of adrenaline.” Lapo started modestly a decade ago with a range of super-light carbon glasses. Today, the start-up has become a group and has ambitions to be the “the Swatch of the glasses world”. Elkann creates dozens of new designs every year and innovation is his driving motivation; his latest release claims to be unbreakable. Elkann with a copy of his new book, ‘The Italian’ by Glenn O’Brien and Wayne Maser
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Image courtesy of Gettyimages
“ I just needed to do things my way. I need my freedom. It is my shot of adrenaline.”
Photo by Aditya Kapoor
Meanwhile Italia Independent recently announced a collection with the designer Karl Lagerfeld. Glasses represent 85 per cent of the company’s revenue but Elkann’s aim is to “bring Italy’s image far ahead. I am mainly interested in mixing talents and influences and collaborating with people from various horizons.” His future ambitions include working on the design of a megayacht and creating visual equipment for police forces. As a constant reminder, his breaking away is symbolically tattooed on his forearms. Elkann has learned how to surround himself with the right people, which he credits for his success, not just in business but also in his personal life over the past decade. He is now teetotal and drinks nothing stronger than
decaffeinated coffee. “I have had my share of temptations, my demons. I have overcome them; I am more mature and focused. All the rest is behind me.” Last year he published a bestselling book in Italy called The Rules of My Style. He was also inducted into Detroit’s automative hall of fame - a great feat considering his picture hangs alongside that of his great-great-grandfather Giovanni Agnelli and Enzo Ferrari. He plans to set up a children’s foundation and is preparing to represent the brand Italia at the 2015 Expo in Milan. Despite his personal demons, the new reinvented Elkann seems unstoppable.
2014 MARCH / APRIL 53
The End of Canada’s Golden Ticket Europe will be the biggest winner from Canada’s decision to close its immigrant investment programme
he decision to terminate the 25-year-old Canadian Immigrant Investment Program (IIP), which attracted global entrepreneurs and investors from China and the Middle East, will benefit the European Union most, according to immigration experts. The Canadian government made the announcement back in February in its federal budget and since then, has been heavily criticised for “giving up on trying to compete for investors” just as the concept of global citizenship (applied to those who invest in multiple passports) has taken off worldwide. The cancelled visa programme granted permanent residency to those who invested 800,000 Canadian dollars (US$726,700) to a five-year zero-interest loan to one of the country’s
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provinces, after which they could then apply for citizenship. The programme appealed mostly to wealthy Chinese and Middle Eastern families who wanted to relocate to Canada for its highly ranked education system and favourable economic climate. The government, in an attempt to ease the backlash from angry opposition party members and those involved in the immigrant investment industry, including banks, financial intermediates, lawyers and consultants (some of whom have since went out of business as a result of the programmes closure) has said it will replace the programme with a new immigrant investor venture capital fund, which will require immigrants to invest money rather than just loan it. However, the announcement is “premature” and only fuels
Image courtesy of Gettyimages
The dreary skies over Vancouver may be a distant memory for the thousands of wealthy immigrant investors who will now opt for European cities like Hungary pictured above
feelings of mistrust towards the Canadian government, says Armand Arton, CEO of Arton Capital, a global advisory firm specialising in immigrant investment programmes, which previously consulted the Canadian government prior to the programme’s surprise demise. “The news of the closure itself did not come as a total shock but what was surprising was the fact the government had thrown out 15,000 pending cases waiting approval for the investor visa programme without consideration for the impact on its own economy, since all of these applicants have to be reimbursed,” he says. “That is not to mention the culture of mistrust it has created for future programmes in Canada.” It is estimated the termination of the programme will cost the Canadian economy at least $1 billion in lost revenues. Former citizenship and immigration minister Sergio Marchi echoed Arton’s thoughts in an open letter to the Canadian government, which was published in the Toronto Star, Canada’s largest daily newspaper. Marchi said the closure of the programme, which was the oldest of its kind in the world and became the blueprint for more than 20 other countries to model their own immigrant investment programmes, was “a missed opportunity”. Although he acknowledged it was not perfect, he said: “If the government thought the investment amount was too low, then they could have proposed an increase. Most stakeholders were actually anticipating and supportive of a higher threshold.” Marchi went on to say: “If there were shortcomings, it is incumbent to fix the problems and tighten the criteria… But why throw the baby out with the bath water? Who benefits from the closure? If there is a real loser in all of this, it is the city of Vancouver in British Columbia. An influx of Chinese millionaires in Vancouver pushed high-end property prices up and now the programme has closed, property prices are expected to fall in line with the decreased demand for luxury homes. But where will these wealthy business immigrants go now? Canada’s programme closure may have eliminated the ‘golden ticket’, so to speak, but it has not silenced the demand among wealthy foreign investors seeking second residency and citizenship. Many savvy global citizens will have already diversified and invested in multiple programmes, which means they simply go for other options now Canada is closed to them. “We try to advise our clients to invest in more than one
It’s estimated that the termination of the programme will cost the Canadian economy at least $1 billion in lost revenues immigrant investment programme at a time because we want them to have the security of knowing they always have a backup plan if one option fails. It is the same as any other business investment. The recent closure of the Canadian programme has just reinforced this belief,” says Arton. The chief executive says he anticipates his offices in Dubai and South Africa in particular to see a surge in inquiries for their programmes in the Caribbean (Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Dominica and St Kitts and Nevis) but he is convinced most clients will opt for Europe in the long run, particularly Bulgaria, Hungary and Cyprus as these countries offer the most flexibility to foreign investors with an expedited path to European citizenship and no physical residency requirement. He says: “Investors who want to remain in their native country and simply invest in a second passport so that they can travel freely within the EU and Canada, as well as have their children educated in Europe with home status, will be most likely attracted to countries such as Bulgaria, Hungary and Cyprus.” Arton Capital are also monitoring programmes in Malta and Portugal.
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Count Anton Wolfgang von Faber-Castell
Pencilling in the Future How does a 253-year-old family owned luxury pencil manufacturer compete in the digital age?
ount Anton Wolfgang von Faber-Castell is passionate about pencils. As always, he has one close at hand in the jacket pocket of his sharply tailored suit. But the item nestled next to his pale blue handkerchief is not just any pencil. It’s the platinum-plated $275 Perfect Pencil that two decades ago launched the Faber-Castell company’s move into the luxury goods market. “It is a pencil which is also something special. To me, it symbolises making something attractive out of something simple,” says the count. Turning the humble pencil into a luxury object of desire was a necessary move for Faber-Castell, the world’s biggest pencil
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manufacturer, following concerns the digital era would erode sales of pencils and pens. “From a strategic point of view, you have to take into consideration that the computerisation of offices will mean less handwriting,” he says. “I can see with my daughters, there will be less handwriting and lots of use of the computer among older schoolchildren.” That sounds ominous for a 253-year-old company that makes some 2.3 billion pencils every year. Of those, about 200 million pencils are still produced annually in the village of Stein near Nuremberg in Germany, where a cabinet-maker named Kasper Faber first started making pencils in his spare time. Back in the 1760s, Kasper made pencils by hand from graphite
Images courtesy of Faber-Castell
By Louise Barnett
strips sandwiched between pieces of wood. Today Faber-Castell produces 750 different types of pencils as part of its 2,000-strong product range that includes stationary products, cufflinks and even leather wallets. The 72-year-old count, who is impeccably groomed with wavy white hair, is the eighth generation of the Faber-Castell family to run the firm from the Stein headquarters where the onsite production is reminiscent of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. Window frames are painted bright blue, red and yellow. Inside, newly made pencils shoot out of machines before they’re sprayed with paint and rows of fresh new pencils hang from the ceilings to dry. But can the centuries-old company and the pencils it makes remain relevant in the digital age? “These questions were haunting me 30 years ago. I was worried about getting stuck with pencils and that the pencil business would disappear,” says the count. “Nevertheless, there will still be a market for handheld products, for people who need to make notes and for creative people who use pencils as a tool as well as for schools.” The firm navigated the choppy economic waters of the last financial year with a 3.5 per cent year-on-year sales uplift that pushed its global sales to $812.2 million. The Asia Pacific region, including the Middle East, was its star performer of 2012 to 2013 with a 12.5 per cent sales rise. Dubai’s Pens Corner and World of Pens both sell Faber-Castell products. The UAE even has one of the firm’s highest per capita sales worldwide. Meanwhile statistics from Saudi Arabia show sales of the brand’s Alligator black lead pencils from Germany are equivalent to half the population. Beirut’s ABC department store already has a Faber-Castell outlet whilst another two in-store boutiques are planned for Tehran. Beyond the Middle East, Faber-Castell now has 14 factories
around the globe, including China, Indonesia and the world’s biggest pencil factory in Brazil as well as the world’s biggest eraser factory in Malaysia. Its global workforce totals 7,500 people. That truly international scale means Faber-Castell is tailoring its marketing strategy to two very different global demographic trends. Firstly, it is promoting creative materials in countries with ageing populations where more retirees have the leisure time to take up drawing. At the same time, the firm is expanding into the schools market in countries where booming birth rates and expanding education systems are creating a demand for affordable pencils for schoolchildren. A key element of Faber-Castell’s strategy in Asia is the promotion of its Graf von Faber-Castell luxury range that launched in 1993 with the Perfect Pencil. Another flagship luxury product is its pen of the year, the 2014 version of which is embedded with red-brown jasper stones and priced at $4,400. “There may be a lot of misery on this planet but on the other hand, we have a lot of people making more and more money, particularly in Asia where there is an opportunity for an interesting German brand,” says the count. Horse lovers who want to immortalise their animals can even get horsetail hair hand-woven into a bespoke Faber-Castell fountain pen for a $6,900 fee. These status symbol products currently account for about seven per cent of Faber-Castell’s total sales and, according to the company, have a halo effect by creating a buzz around all its products. When asked to name his favourite Faber-Castell product, the count reaches for the shiny cap of the Perfect Pencil in the pocket of his pale grey suit. “If we want to be successful in the premium range, we have to start with the pencil,” he says with a smile.
The Graf von Faber-Castell luxury range
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Maestro Daniel Barenboim Business conducts the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra at Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi
Il Maestro Legendary Argentinian-Israeli conductor Daniel Barenboim, in Abu Dhabi for a performance with his West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, speaks of music triumphing over politics By Gemma Champ
60 MARCH / APRIL 2014
Image courtesy of Gettyimages
hen Daniel Barenboim took to the stage in Abu Dhabi for the second time in three years, he was not accompanied by the Staatskapelle Berlin orchestra, but by a much more controversial ensemble: his West-Eastern Divan Orchestra (WEDO). A remarkable achievement of art over politics, the orchestra’s raison d’être is to bring together musicians from the Middle East – Arab and Israeli alike – in a way that transcends the political and religious differences of its members. The great Argentinian-Israeli conductor and pianist has experienced much in his eventful 71 years, from the death of his first wife Jacqueline du Pré at the age of 42 (the extraordinarily gifted cellist whose career and life were cut short by multiple sclerosis), to playing Wagner in Israel, a taboo rarely broken before or since. But WEDO, which started in 1999 as a small musical forum for young Arab and Israeli musicians, created with his great Palestinian-American friend, the late Edward Said, could be the greatest achievement of his life as a musician, humanitarian and teacher. “When we started, many of the musicians were very young players and with practically no experience,” he says before the performance in the Emirates Palace hotel. “In fact, they were extremely good in the art of inexperience. More than 30 per cent had never heard an orchestra live. But then it developed wonderfully and there was a lot of interest and we established the connection between the young musicians and the Staatskapelle.” With the support of the Andalusian government, an annual workshop lasting several weeks now takes place in Seville, allowing musicians from across the Middle East to play for several weeks before commencing a tour. WEDO has been both lauded and condemned for its ambitions. Indeed, it is an indication of Barenboim’s remarkable personal charisma that he is able to continue to drive the orchestra peacefully on, while on one hand being described by a hardline Israeli minister as a ‘Jew-hater’ and on the other vilified as a ‘Zionist’ in the more extreme quarters of the Arab press. Yet for Barenboim, politics and nationhood are irrelevant when there is an opportunity to train and work with the finest classical musicians in the Arab world. “In six or seven years, the orchestra became a really first class orchestra and we’ve played everywhere,” he says. “There was a will to really develop it into a fine orchestra and not just [to organise] the odd meeting of young people.” Education in music offers, for Barenboim, a route to peace and empathy and the Barenboim-Said Foundation will see the fruition of various educational projects with the opening of a music academy in Berlin, which includes a Frank Gehry-built oval concert hall. It will primarily host young musicians from the Middle East as well as some from Germany and Spain, the two countries most supportive of the orchestra. But for these disparate cultures
“ ... music has the ability to give human beings another dimension.”
to work together, it takes much more than pure music theory and practice – and Barenboim has ambitions to change music education around the world as a result. “This academy will not be like a normal music school,” he says. “Young musicians will get tuition in their own instrument, then in piano, then all the necessary tuition in theory – and then six hours a week of what I can only call the art of thinking, thought and the humanities. It is a philosophically inspired programme - not a history of philosophy, but a journey through all the philosophers and their preoccupation with how humans should think about themselves in society and with relation to religion. Every three or four weeks, I will spend the weekend with the students and try to make the connection between that and music.” Music is not conceived or performed in a vacuum, in Barenboim’s world view, and to create an understanding between musicians – and between humans – he says there must be more than simply technical tuition. His choice of music for the Abu Dhabi concert was something of an educational journey too, chosen for an audience with mixed musical experience and cultures. It included classic, approachable pieces such as Sinfonia Concertante by Mozart and Beethoven’s Symphony No 7, a work of universal appeal. Through these, Barenboim hopes to have sown some seeds of enthusiasm for learning how to play orchestral instruments: “I want to give the message that what enabled me to do this was not only a love of music but also training, and that music has the ability to give human beings another dimension.”
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Art Dubai 2014 • Contemporary: 313 Art Project, Seoul • Agial Art Gallery, Beirut • Sabrina Amrani Gallery, Madrid • Art Factum Gallery, Beirut • L’Atelier 21, Casablanca • Athr Gallery, Jeddah • Ayyam Gallery, Dubai/London/Beirut/ Jeddah/Damascus • Baró Galeria, São Paulo • Bolsa de Arte, Porto Alegre/São Paulo • The Breeder, Athens/ Monaco • Laura Bulian Gallery, Milan • Carbon 12, Dubai • Carroll / Fletcher, London • Chatterjee and Lal, Mumbai • Chemould Prescott Road, Mumbai • Galleria Continua, San Gimignano/Beijing/Le Moulin • CRG Gallery, New York • Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris • D Gallerie, Jakarta • Experimenter, Kolkata • Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde, Dubai • Galerie Imane Farès, Paris • Selma Feriani, London/Tunis • Galleria Marie-Laure Fleisch, Rome • GAG Projects, Adelaide/Berlin • Galerist, Istanbul • Giacomo Guidi Arte Contemporanea, Rome, Milan • Gladstone Gallery, New York/Brussels • Marian Goodman Gallery, New York/Paris/London • Alexander Gray Associates, New York • Green Art Gallery, Dubai • Grey Noise, Dubai • Hales Gallery, London • Leila Heller Gallery, New York • Kashya Hildebrand Gallery, London/Zurich • Hussenot, Paris • In Situ / Fabienne Leclerc, Paris • Rose Issa Projects, London • Galerie Jaeger Bucher, Paris • Galerie Rodolphe Janssen, Brussels • Kalfayan Galleries, Athens/Thessaloniki • Galerie Krinzinger, Vienna • Lombard Freid Gallery, New York • Lumen Travo, Amsterdam • Elmarsa, Tunis/Dubai • Galerie Greta Meert, Brussels • Victoria Miro, London • Marisa Newman Projects, New York • Galleria Franco Noero, Turin • Gallery Wendi Norris, San Francisco • Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris/Brussels • Omenka Gallery, Lagos • Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo/Singapore • Paradise Row, London • Pechersky Gallery, Moscow • Pi Artworks, Istanbul/London • Pilar Corrias, London • Galerie Polaris, Paris • Tyler Rollins Fine Art, New York • Schleicher/Lange, Berlin • Sfeir-Semler Gallery, Hamburg/Beirut • Gallery Ske, Bangalore/New Delhi • Tashkeel, Dubai • Tasveer, Bangalore • Galerie Daniel Templon, Paris/Brussels • The Third Line, Dubai • Galerie Tanja Wagner, Berlin • Yavuz Fine Art, Singapore • Modern: Agial Art Gallery, Beirut • Aicon Gallery, New York/London • Albareh Art Gallery, Manama • Artchowk, Karachi • Elmarsa, Tunis/Dubai • Karim Francis, Cairo • Grosvenor Gallery, London • Jhaveri Contemporary, Mumbai • Lawrie Shabibi, Dubai • Galerie Janine Rubeiz, Beirut • Shirin Gallery, Tehran/New York • Marker: ArtEast, Bishkek • Asia Art, Almaty • North Caucasus Branch of the National Centre for Contemporary Art (NCCA), Vladikavkaz • Popiashvili Gvaberidze Window Project, Tbilisi • Yarat Contemporary Art Space, Baku. www.artdubai.ae
Dana Awartani, Dodecahedron (Heaven) from the Platonic Solids series, 2014, 81 x 81 cm, Pencil & natural pigments on mount board
ART special Report
GC takes a look at Dubaiâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s burgeoning art scene ahead of the eight edition of Art Dubai and explores how the city has become a magnet for artists and creatives alike from neighbouring countries in the Middle East to showcase their work.
The Art of making Money British banker Benedict Floyd co-conceived the idea of starting up an art fair in Dubai on a layover from Australia; the fair is now in its eighth edition and attracts global recognition and sponsorship
y his own admission, Benedict Floyd had never been interested in art. It is a confession of breathtaking honesty from the co-founder and executive director of Art Dubai, which in its short history has already become a fixture on the international art calendar and the biggest contemporary art fair in the Gulf. Now in its eighth year, it will be hosting 86 galleries this month and is expected to welcome more than 25,000 visitors over four days. Yet British-born Floyd, who dreamed up the venture with his longstanding friend John Martin, was a high-flying banker with a background in derivatives trading, more used to wheeling
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and dealing in the City than buying and selling paintings. “I did not have a particular interest in art,” he admits. It was only during a stopover in Dubai on his way back from Australia that the notion of an art fair occurred to Floyd during a meeting with Martin: “We were having dinner and looking at all the construction and thought: ‘Why don’t we do an art fair?’ “With all the buildings going up, there were few art galleries and no art fair, which did not really make sense to me.” The next day, without a single gallery signed up, Floyd put down a deposit to hold an event in the Madinat Arena: “John was probably not expecting us to act that quickly but I tend to make decisions fast.” For if Martin brought a certain artistic flair to the idea, Floyd
Photography by Boa Campbell
By Tahira Yaqoob
was the money man who could make it happen. While Martin had contacts in the art world, Floyd had financial clout and knew how to close a deal and turn a pipe dream into a reality. So in 2007, two years after the friends first thought of the idea, the Gulf Art Fair opened its doors. It had no sponsors and only one serious investor, Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), which still owns half the business. And business it is, for - as much as artists might chafe at the idea - the art world is dependent on works being bought, sold and traded much like any other commodity. That is a world Floyd, 45, understands well. A former pupil from Douai School, a boarding institution run by Benedictine monks in Berkshire, he entered the banking industry at 18 and quickly rose through the ranks. It was a time when City bankers worked hard and played hard, a hedonistic time of big spending and playing hard and fast with the rules. “Trading was just beginning to take off,” says Floyd. “It was an exploding market and Credit Suisse Financial Products, where I worked, was one of the pioneer banks in that market.” When Credit Suisse merged with the First Boston Corporation, he worked as a derivatives trader in its London
“We have concentrated on becoming a fair of discovery. “There is no other really comparable fair in the art world.” and Zurich offices for 12 years before becoming a principle derivatives trader with the Bank of America in its London office in 2002. But by 2004, he was starting to tire of the industry. “I decided on a career change. The market was changing dramatically and more and more compliance rules were coming in.” He spent a month in Australia mulling over his options and flew back through Dubai, where he stopped to visit his brother, who was living there. It was a stopover he never came home from. Floyd spotted the potential of becoming an entrepreneur in Dubai and setting up initiatives which did not exist in the city. His first venture was creating a trading floor called Dubai Professional Trading Group, launched as part of Dubai Multi Commodities Centre. Operating in Jumeirah Lake Towers, it
was the Middle East’s first professional trading floor, enabling traders to seal deals themselves rather than trading through banks or hedge funds. Dubai, he says, was a natural place for him to establish himself: “People come here and see the potential and stay on.” It was during a dinner with Martin in 2005 that the pair hatched their plan for an annual art fair. By its second year in 2008, it had doubled in size and had been renamed Art Dubai. Martin, who was based in London throughout, stayed on as fair director for four years before stepping down as the growth of the fair became difficult to manage long-distance. He was replaced by Antonia Carver, who is now in her fourth year as fair director. Floyd, whose role involves generating sponsorship and partnerships for the fair as well as for its sister fairs, Design Days Dubai and Downtown Design Dubai, says its success took its original founders by surprise. “We did the sums but did not expect it to become such an internationally renowned fair,” he says. “We expected to have a fair with some galleries looking to venture into new markets but not the high calibre that applied. We were in the right place at the right time.” The opening of a Christie’s auction house in Dubai in 2005, followed by other leading auctioneers, further fuelled the art market. One of the startling side effects of holding the fair has been a flourishing art scene with dozens of galleries opening, a blossoming appreciation of art and a burgeoning knowledge of the importance of contemporary artists - even if the original ethos was not an altruistic one. “When we first thought of it, we were looking at bringing a marketplace where people could buy art to put on their walls,” says Floyd. “We were not thinking of benefitting the local community but after seeing the demand for it, we were quick to realise without an art museum here in Dubai, the fair could take a much greater role than just being somewhere people sell art. “There are now more than 40 galleries and the fair brings collectors, art professionals and press. People who come to Art Dubai see things they would not see at any other fair and we now have an extensive non-commercial programme, one of the biggest in any art fair in the world.” This year will see a new wing dedicated to modernism in the Mina A’Salam hotel neighbouring the arena while the property developer Emaar, which has a cultural quarter and opera house planned for Downtown Dubai, has come on board as a new sponsor, joining the likes of Abraaj, Cartier and Jumeirah. “We are becoming known as a meeting point for the international art world,” says Floyd. “We bring all these different components of the art world into Dubai and that helps things grow organically.”
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1: Altai Sadikhzade, Observers of The Planets, 2010, 170x145 cm, Courtesy of Baku MOMA 2: Yuriy Dvinyaninov, Untitled,1999, 21х29.7cm., Courtesy of the artist’s family 3: Stanislav Kharin, From the Series ‘Poetic Entente or Occupation of the Heart’, Paul Celan, 2009, 120x100cm. *Courtesy of North Caucasus Branch
6 4: Hsar Gassiev, A Man with a Dagger,1993, 74x30cm, *Courtesy of North Caucasus Branch
7 5: Reza Hezare, Nostalgya,2009, 120x140cm, Courtesy of YAY Gallery
*Courtesy of North Caucasus Branch of the National Center for Contemporary Art
6: Galina Konopatskaya, Cosmic Mother,1970, 124 x 91, *Courtesy of North Caucasus Branch
7: Alexander Barkovskiy, The Dance with the God (detail 3),2008, Video Courtesy of the artist
Central Asia and the Caucasus
Slavs and Tatars The often anarchic collective of artists known as Slavs and Tatars have curated this year’s Marker segment of Art Dubai, focusing on Central Asia and the Caucasus. hey call themselves a “faction of polemics and intimacies devoted to an area east of the former Berlin Wall and west of the Great Wall of China, known as Eurasia”. Slavs and Tatars have been exhibiting their work in museums and galleries around the world since 2006 and have collaborated since 2000 but prefer to keep their individual identities anonymous. Their work is sometimes edgy and controversial, sometimes tongue-in-cheek and almost always a talking point with black humour verging on the brutal. Fillip arts magazine in Canada described their work as an “attempt to reclaim history by retelling it…through the perspective of the defeated, as opposed to the victors”.
Why you have decided to work with Art Dubai on the fair? The context of the Gulf was a compelling reason for us: it is safe to say we would not have accepted an invitation to curate art from Central Asia and the Caucasus for a venue in, say, London or Berlin. Both the Caucasus and Central Asia have increasingly strong ties with the UAE and the Gulf in general. They share a relatively recent history of nation-building: 1960s and 1970s for much of the Gulf and early 1990s for the former Soviet sphere. But perhaps most importantly, the Gulf has a compelling imperative to consider the role of these regions in the development of a pluralist, even modernist Islam. It can be argued that the golden age of Islam happened not in the Gulf or
Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Rappaport
Dubai is an emerging hub for contemporary and Middle Eastern art. How important is Art Dubai in facilitating this and how would you like to see this kind of event grow? Art Dubai is incredibly important in that it has consistently emphasised what happens outside art as much as the art itself. This investment in discourse can be seen from the programming of the Global Art Forum, to the numerous parallel projects, to the very people who attend. Contrary to most fairs, Art Dubai brings people from UN policy thinkers to philosophers to lay people, who are simply interested in art’s potential to ask questions.
Friendship of Nations: Polish Shi’ite Showbiz (installation view), 2011, 10th Sharjah Biennale.
only in Baghdad or Cairo but equally in Bukhara, Khwarezm, and Samarqand where Ibn Sina’s Canon of Medicine [an 11th century five-volume medical encyclopaedia], Al Beruni’s astronomy and Al Khwarizmi’s algebra appeared. Or in Tashkent and even Tbilisi where the moderate modernists such as the Jadidists inaugurated crucial reforms in educational policy.
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Central Asia and the Caucasus
From the pieces of work that will be on display at this year’s fair, in particular from artists who hail from politically unstable regions, are there any pieces that resonate with your group or that echo some of your own works? We believe in topsy turvy times such as ours, the rearguard is as radical as any conventional understanding of the avant garde. How will Slavs and Tatars’ contribution to this year’s Art Dubai differentiate or elevate the fair from previous years? For the first time Marker will be one contiguous space, not divided into the traditional booths of an art fair. The exhibition design, the samovars and the seating all invite visitors to occupy the space and to engage with works as artefacts as much as art pieces.
“Art Dubai brings people from UN policy thinkers to philosophers to lay people, who are simply interested in art’s potential to ask questions.”
“Not Moscow Not Mecca” (installation view), Secession, Vienna, 2012.
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Photo courtesy of Secession / Oliver Ottenschläger.
The UAE remained relatively stable throughout the Arab Spring. Does it surprise you that we haven’t seen more challenging or edgier works? We’ve seen plenty of challenging work in the UAE, especially in Sharjah. It is not our task as artists to tell stories frontally. Today we not only need intellectual acrobatics but metaphysical ones: substitution requires us to cultivate the agility, coordination and balance necessary to tell one tale through another, to adopt the innermost thoughts, experiences, beliefs, and sensations of others as our own, in an effort to challenge the very notion of
How-less, needlework, silk, cotton, 200 x 120 cm, 2012 Not Moscow Not Mecca, Secession, Vienna, 2012.
distance as the shortest length between two points. Your work has been described as unconventional research-based practice. How do you go about carrying out that research? In terms of our practice, to understand contemporary Iran, we looked at Poland and Solidarnosc [Poland’s trade union federation, the first non-Communist Party union in a Warsaw Pact country] to grasp the nature of political agency in the 21st century [for our show] Friendship of Nations: Polish Shi’ite Showbiz. We studied Muharram [the first month of the Islamic calendar and a holy time for Shias] and the 1,300-year-old Shia ritual of perpetual protest to demystify Islam for Reverse Joy. We turned to communism for Not Moscow Not Mecca for the Vienna Secession [artistic collective in Austria] and it is through mysticism that we told an alternative version of modernity at the Museum of Modern Art in New York with Beyonsense.
Edgy Arabia Saudi art is breaking out from its bubble - and the rest of the world is sitting up and taking note By Anna Seaman
hen Abdulnasser Gharem first began painting, he was, by his own admission, restricted to “landscapes and butterflies”. Then the Saudi Arabian artist discovered the internet - and an online world of conceptual and critical works opened up to him. “It was so liberating,” he says. “I would stand in front of a computer monitor for hours just waiting to see museums, exhibitions, art fairs.” Gharem, 40, who still works as a lieutenant-colonel in the army while creating bold new artwork, is the embodiment of Saudi’s burgeoning art world, which until recently has been operating in a bubble.
The Saudi conceptual artist Abdulnasser Gharem with his artwork The Stamp (Amen)
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Like the growing movement he represents, he has one foot in tradition and convention and the other venturing into a brave new world, which the rest of the globe is suddenly sitting up and paying attention to. It is now a decade since Gharem first forged links with fellow Saudi artist Ahmed Mater and British artist Stephen Stapleton to form Edge of Arabia, an arts enterprise which has toured the world and helped introduce new audiences to art from the country and region. And when the second Jeddah Art Week ran last month, about 10,000 people passed through its doors - more than six times the number of visitors seen at the inaugural event the preceding year while there was more evidence of serious art buyers.
Dania Al Saleh, Ahwak, 2014, Watercolour Gouache pencil and genuine gold leaf on paper, courtesy of the artist
The week-long event was no doubt helped by the recordbreaking sale of Gharem’s dome installation titled Message/ Messenger, which sold at a Christie’s auction in Dubai for $842,500 three years ago. It made him the highest-selling living Arab artist, a record which was eclipsed last year by the $1.6 million sale of Chant Avedissian’s Icons of the Nile at a Sotheby’s auction in Doha. With talks on global contemporary art and French-Tunisian artist El Seed in Jeddah spray-painting walls to encourage audiences to think about art in public spaces, it was contemporary, forward thinking and all-inclusive, a description that might not immediately spring to mind when you think of Saudi Arabia. But things in the Kingdom are changing. Since Edge of Arabia opened with an exhibition of 17 Saudi artists in London in 2008, there has been a groundswell of interest in Saudi art internationally, which has picked up phenomenal pace in the last three years. As well as Edge of Arabia, it has been given a life force by the Abdul Latif Jameel Community Initiatives (ALJCI), the body which organises the annual Jameel Prize at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and joined forces with a grassroots organisation called Arabian Wings in Jeddah. “For us that was really a turning point,” says Mohammed Bahrawi, the founder of Arabian Wings, one of the key organisers behind Jeddah Art Week, together with Lina Lazaar from Sotheby’s. “We have been working since 2006 with local artists to establish a platform for them to showcase their work
Images courtesy of Jon Soriano, Nasser Al Salem and the Athr Gallery
“The artists are as diverse as the landscape in which they live”
Nora Al-Mazrooa, can you hear me now, Ceramics, 40X40X40 4pcs
Basmah Felemban, Mind, Body and Soul from the Sama Dance series, 2014, Rotating plexi sheets, 140 x 140 cm 2014 MARCH / APRIL 71
“In Saudi Arabia our art scene is a grassroots approach which revolves around the art and the artists. The nice thing about this region is that we complete each other.”
Ayman Yossri Daydban, White Buffalo from the Maharem series, 2014, 25 tissue boxes, 182.5 x 68 x 8 cm
and then, in the last three years, everything has changed.” Until the beginning of this year, Bahrawi was a software engineer who dedicated his free time to the arts. An artist himself, he founded the non-profit initiative with his wife Najlaa Felemban to bring together artists from different disciplines. It started as a casual platform for connecting like-minded people, which grew into occasional exhibitions, lectures and workshops. But after some time, people began asking them for their services and help in organising events on a larger scale and Arabian Wings turned into a business venture. “We never used to talk about funding and budgets but as it gained traction and we became more responsible, we rented a small space and took things more seriously.” In 2011, when ALJCI, now known as Art Jameel, gave the organisation backing, its managers began curating an annual sculpture and contemporary art competition as well as the Jameel photography award. It is also the only Saudi Arabian initiative to take part in Res Artis, a global network of artist
Mohammed Bahrawi and his wife Najlaa Felemban, co-founders of the non-profit, Arabian Wings
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residency programmes. “We are a platform for everyone,” says Bahrawi. “We are not just for Saudis, we support all Arabs. The key is working together. Art, he says, is not new to Saudi Arabia: “If you look at the GCC, we were the first nation to send artists for residencies in Europe. Dia Aziz Dia [the Jeddah-born sculptor and painter] graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome in 1971 and Dr Mohammed Said Farsi, the first mayor of Jeddah, bought many fine sculptures from Henry Moore, also in the 1970s. What has been missing here until now has been support.” And that support comes in many different forms. Whether it is businessmen or companies looking to invest in art, keen to buy into the kudos of owning cutting-edge art or whether art is now being recognised as a valuable education tool, there is certainly rising interest in art in the Gulf. Perhaps the biggest indicator of this is 21,39. The inaugural event, funded by 30 Saudi families, opened at the same time as Jeddah Art Week and runs through March until the end of April.
Mohammed Hafiz, vice chairman of Saudi Arts Council and co-owner of Athr gallery
gallery five years ago with friend and artist Hamza Serafi, he was driven by the lack of Saudi art in major regional art fairs such as Art Dubai. He says the outlet is not just a gallery: “Our educational component is very important so we invite curators and lecturers to come and we support our artists on multiple levels.” “In Saudi Arabia our art scene is a grassroots approach which revolves around the art and the artists. The nice thing about this region is that we complete each other. Other countries have institutions and art fairs.” Khaled Samawi, the founder of the Ayyam Gallery, a regional outfit that has galleries in Jeddah, Dubai and Damascus, says Saudi Arabia still represents the unknown frontier while Saudi art has provided a window into a culture that is often contrary to that which is portrayed in Western media. “The cleverness, the poignancy and often the direct critique which can be found in Saudi art is surprising to many who believe the country to be extremely strict and traditional,” he says. “The artists are as diverse as the landscape in which they live. Saudi art raises questions more than merely portraying a state of affairs and the myriad of themes is ever-evolving.”
Dana Awartani, Tetrahedron (Fire) from the Platonic Solids series, 2014, 81 x 81 cm, pencil and national pigments on mount board
It features a programme of exhibitions, educational workshops, artist studio visits, gallery openings and talks highlighting the narrative of art in Saudi Arabia. The exhibition is organised by the newly formed Saudi Arts Council, chaired by Princess Jawaher bint Majid al Saud, the founder of the Al Mansouria Foundation. The council’s vice-chairman Mohammed Hafiz, who also co-owns Saudi’s Athr Gallery, says in an environment where there is a lack of public and educational institutions for the arts, it was time to do something about it. When he founded the Sara Abdu, Frameless Lives, 2014, dry ink on paper, 61 x 45.7 cm
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Artistic Democracy French-Tunisian artist El Seed, famed for his calligraffiti, talks to GC about his year-long residency in Dubai’s Tashkeel studio By Anna Seaman
hen El Seed took his spray can and painted the minaret of a mosque in his home city in Gabes, Tunisia, his primary intention was simply that of an artist looking for a
Images courtesy of the artist
new canvas. However, by choosing a verse from the Quran and spraypainting it in his distinctive style, the young Tunisian gained worldwide recognition as well as marking a turning point in his career. Perhaps he attracted attention because it was two years after the Tunisian revolution, widely considered to be the trigger that started the so-called Arab Spring, or perhaps it was because he painted it during the holy month of Ramadan. Either way, El Seed’s bold statement was more far-reaching than he intended. “I never thought it would get this much attention,” he says. “The point was only to bring a verse from the Quran and make it a universal message.” Commissioned and supported by Sharjah’s Barjeel Foundation, the Jara Mosque project was the artist’s first large-scale public El Seed poses in front of his artwork ‘The Miracle of Civilisations’, 2014, in Tashkeel 74 MARCH / APRIL 2014
Alone- Chott Jerid, Tunisia 2014 (Lost Wall)
contribution of calligraffiti, a style of combining calligraphy with graffiti that he thought up a few years earlier. “I have been learning Arabic calligraphy for seven or eight years but it was when I brought it into graffiti that I felt I was doing something different,” he says. The discovery started as a personal quest for identity. El Seed - a pseudonym meaning the master in Arabic - was born and raised in Paris and did not start learning classical Arabic until the turn of the millennium, when he was trying to reconcile his French and Tunisian roots. Almost a decade later, while making his mark locally as a graffiti artist, he made a decision to stop tagging his artwork, a practice that usually distinguishes graffiti artists among each other. “It was the Arabic tradition that inspired me to switch from writing my name and having a narcissistic way of doing graffiti, to writing a message that could bring peace or love. I wanted to go to something different where I was making the piece for the people; it was a way of democratising my art.” With this in mind, El Seed describes the minaret’s wall in Gabes as a gift to the people. In its wake have come invites to contribute public art globally, including a collaboration with Qatar Museums Authority to create public artwork in Doha last year and an invitation to take part in Saudi Arabia’s Art Week in February. But the artist has continued to embark on his own projects and last year, just before he travelled to Dubai to begin a year-
“It was the Arabic tradition that inspired me to switch from writing my name and having a narcissistic way of doing graffiti, to writing a message that could bring peace or love” long residency at the Tashkeel studio hub in the Nad Al Sheba district, El Seed took a crew of assistants, photographers and filmmakers to Tunisia for a project he has documented in his newly released book Lost Walls. Last August, he travelled across his home country, stopping at places he felt were either forgotten or held a special piece of Tunisia’s rich history. “I wanted people to see Tunisia from a different angle, without the mass tourism and without the romance of the revolution,” he says. Selecting places like an abandoned city that was once rich with the reserves of iron ore, dry salt lakes and the city of Tataouine, which is home to 150 ancient Berber castles, El Seed painted
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El Seed describes the minaret’s wall in Gabes as a gift to the people
“I wanted people to see Tunisia from a different angle, without the mass tourism and without the romance of the revolution”
his messages of inspiration on the walls he found. The stories he heard and those he told are all collated in his new book, which will be launched in Dubai during the annual art fair. Since he began his residency at Tashkeel in November, El Seed has been working on his own art as well as organising workshops with local schools. He is producing work for a solo show later this year and has other plans to make his mark on the city. “As part of the guest artist programme, El Seed is making a
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valuable contribution to our community outreach through his participation in school projects, workshops and collaborative public projects,” says Jill Hoyle, Tashkeel’s manager. “His spontaneous, energetic and responsive approach to these opportunities, and his ability to successfully combine contemporary aesthetics with traditional Arabic influences, reflects Tashkeel’s ambitions to bridge communities and bring art to the UAE’s wider public.” In his own way then and through his very personal journey, El Seed is making an impact on the wider community.
Rising above it all Art has taken a back seat during political strife in Egypt but one gallery aims to showcase its artists across the Middle East By Anna Seaman
Egyptâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Gallery Ward is showcasing the work of 15 different Egyptian artists with one common theme, a countrywide cultural event called El Moulid
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I’m more of an art lover than a gallerist,” says Yaser Askar, leaning back in his chair. “Originally the idea for a gallery came because I wanted to create a platform to exchange experiences, ideas and eventually see them come to life in art. It was never about making money.” Askar is an Egyptian architect who owns Gallery Ward in Cairo. Last year, in partnership with Ehab el Labban, a respected curator and artist, and Abdel Aziz al Abdul Kader, a Saudi businessman, he opened a second branch in Dubai’s Al Quoz industrial area. Gallery Ward was the first Egyptian gallery to open outside the country and having survived two political revolutions at home, as well as the rocky road of going into business in a new country, is being hailed by many in the art world as a global ambassador for Egyptian art. Building a dream “We are in the kitchen,” Askar jokes, referring to the fact that as producers of art, they will never stop, no matter what happens. “We are farmers, we will continue to produce.” Askar is used to facing challenges, he says. Even in 1992, when he graduated from Helwan University, he began breaking with convention. “There was a gap between the community and the art scene so I opened a gallery in a mall. All the artists hated it,” he says.
Images courtesy of Gallery Ward
The Gallery Ward outpost in Al Quoz, Dubai
Guirguis Lotfy, Sax Player, 2013, 105x104cm
Ahmed Kassim, Honey Badger Attack, 2014, 220 x180cm 2014 MARCH / APRIL 79
“We’ve been drawing for 7000 years since the pharaohs. We didn’t need a revolution to make us creative.”
Egyptian architect turned gallerist Yaser Askar
Ahmed Kassim, Sufi (2), 2014 160 X 140 cm
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The Egyptian Foundation for Promoting Art and Creativity (EFPAC) opened in First Mall in Giza in 1998. It held several exhibitions but, by his own admission, Askar was not really interested in the business side and closed the gallery about five years later to concentrate on what he describes as his “real dream”, Gallery Ward. The gallery, which was named in 2009 after his daughter Ward, so called because of the desert rose by the same name, started life as an architectural and agricultural project on a piece of land 50 kilometres outside of Cairo. Persuading a handful of friends to invest with him, Askar bought some land and began to build. “It was the start of a dream,” he says. “I wanted to build a whole life, not only a house, so as I went along I started doing art and music events for my friends.” Those friends included Hamza Serafi, now the owner of Jeddah’s successful Athr gallery, Nasser Shamma, a celebrated oud player and the photographer Ramses Marzouq. They started to collaborate and share ideas, in part achieving what Askar had set out to do. In December 2010, weeks before the January 25th revolution, Ward Culture and Art Centre opened its doors. However, no sooner had the crowds taken to the streets in Tahrir Square, business all but ground to a halt. “When the revolution started I said to myself: ‘I don’t care even if I lose my house, I’m going to fight for this,’” says Askar. “It took us a long time to educate people to start buying art and after the revolution, nobody was buying.” Although the revolution focused the eyes of the art world on what was coming out of Egypt, particularly with a surge in graffiti, some gallerists on the ground are adamant there is no such thing as post-revolution art. “Any art that came after the revolution is fake,” says Askar. “The real artists did not go to their studio for almost a year. Either they were in the street fighting or inside thinking
and talking politics all the time. When they did return, they continued their work as normal. We have been drawing for 7,000 years since the pharaohs. We didn’t need a revolution to make us creative.” So when Gallery Ward opened in Dubai, it was not with the purpose of depicting struggle or conflict but with a mission to become a cultural flagpost. Haytham Nawar, an Egyptian artist who divides his time between Cairo, Greece and Switzerland, says: “Gallery Ward is an ambassador for the Egyptian art scene. It reflects what is happening in the contemporary art scene in Egypt and I have not found any other galleries like this in the rest of the world.” Under El Labban’s expert curatorial eye, the gallery has held four exhibitions, which have at times touched on the political situation, albeit indirectly. The Hive, Ahmed Kassim’s solo show which ran until mid-March, was based on the concept of a beehive and, using an aerial perspective, the artist made
Ahmed Kassim ‘s The Hive Exhibition runs at Gallery Ward until mid-March
some wry commentary on the human condition, likening the people to worker bees and portraying large political powers as giant honey-eating bears. “Ahmed was the perfect artist for this idea,” says El Labban. “But it is not about the revolution, he is just responding to the human condition.” The task of being a curator is not an easy one, El Labban adds. “The art is outside us and the problem is that there are not many new ideas in our lifetimes, so we have to select our artists very carefully.” It is this mantra that underlines everything the gallery owners do both here and abroad. With a third space due to open after the summer in Riyadh, Askar’s original dream is well on the way to becoming a reality. “We were initially a platform for Egyptian artists because we are all one family and these are the artists we know and love, but soon we hope to be showing art from all over the region.” Mohamed Abu El Naga, Woman Sitting, 2013 120 x 170 cm
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Taking art to another level Palestinian entrepreneur Ehab Shanti has taken art out of galleries and into a virtual space giving regional artists a new platform By Anna Seaman
or centuries Middle Eastern households have been built around a central courtyard or alhoush, as it is known in Arabic. It signified a meeting point or a means of putting a private space between different branches of the same family as well as being used for gatherings. The courtyard functioned as a common area long before we entered the technological age. Eighteen months ago, businessman Ehab Shanti used this concept as a metaphor and used it to create an online space for
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artists and designers called Alhoush.com. “Alhoush is a common space that allows the public to purchase from, and interact with, the design and art community,” says Shanti. “It is not only about empowering the design and art communities in the Arab world but also about serving as a catalyst for creating a creative economy for them and shedding light on their tremendous achievements.” Part e-commerce site and part social network, Alhoush.com enables an artist or designer to set up a personal profile where
Images courtesy of Alhoush.com
Alhoush.com connects artists and designers from the arab world directly with buyers around the world
they display their work for sale. Visitors to the site who buy them can have the art works shipped to anywhere in the world. “We take a fee of 30 per cent but the artist doesn’t have to do anything or go anywhere,” says Shanti. A polished speaker, his background is in communications coaching in Canada, where he grew up and completed his education. But he is clearly passionate about the region. He is from a large Palestinian family and worked for five years as head of communications for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Jerusalem before taking a position as director of global outreach for the office of Queen Rania in Jordan. He also studied art history and has always had a soft spot for the arts, something that did not come to the fore until the Alhoush project. The idea for the website was something Shanti had in the back of his mind for a few years but came to fruition during the Amandla Forum in Jordan in 2010, a convention bringing together some of the brightest minds with Arab and American online business expertise. It was Shanti’s attempt to revolutionise
Top: Painting by Dr Saleh Abu Shindi, one of Palestine’s earliest artists Bottom left: Tables by Alhoush.com designer, Dina Gildeh
communications in the region. One of the attendees was Rashid Abdelhamid, an architect and furniture designer who designed and developed Gaza’s first boutique hotel, Al Deira. “Rashid suggested we create something to help artists and designers and in fact, I had already bought the domain name but had not done anything about it yet,” says Shanti. Together the pair set to work, forming a committee to judge the quality of the art and see if it was viable for their site while putting out the word to the community. “The internet means that people have power like never before,” enthuses Shanti, “and the Arab world is a region with 100 million people, most of them young and bursting with creativity.” The site was immediately popular and began to grow with the stimulus of offline events such as This Is Also Gaza, a celebration of contemporary visual arts from the Gaza Strip. Late last year, Abdelhamid stopped working with Alhoush to pursue a career as a film director so Shanti now runs the organisation with the help of a small team and is in the process
Ehab Shanti co-founder and CEO of Alhoush.com
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“E-commerce in the Arab world is still embryonic in itself and selling art online is non-existent so this is not an easy business. “The only way to galvanise online sales is to do offline events, which builds our credibility as a brand.”
Painting by Gaza based artist Shareef Sarhan
of moving its headquarters to Dubai. The site itself displays more than 3,000 pieces of art from 320 published artists, with another 260 artists on its database. “We also have 28,000 online pages of content in the arts, which is the largest in the region,” says Shanti. “This is the power of viral communications. No physical gallery space could display this many works of art.” But the art of e-commerce is not plain sailing, adds Shanti. “Online sales are not high. E-commerce in the Arab world is still embryonic in itself and selling art online is non-existent so this is not an easy business. The only way to galvanise online sales is to do offline events, which builds our credibility as a brand.” The savvy entrepreneur organised a six-day event called This Is Palestine running from March 12th in Meydan’s Imax cinema and conference centre, with a daily schedule of musical performances, theatre and film, focusing on work from 200 Palestinian artists. The initiative shows “the amazing pillars of Palestinian cultural achievement”, says Shanti. “The beauty of artists from Gaza is that they are able to transcend their reality and create beauty and colour that they simply do not have,” he says. “That is the role of art - to create a different reality. Art is a million times more powerful than politics and that is the philosophy behind what we are doing.”
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Where most amplifiers hide their inner workings away, the Woo Audio WA7 Fireflies headphone amplifier lets it all hang out and rightly so, as it is aesthetically perfect. It becomes the focal point of any desk it sits on. A warm orange glow radiates from two tubes in an unabashed display, protected by a glass cover. A low profile volume knob is next to dual headphone jacks to tie everything together in an elegant way. $999 www.wooaudio.com
gizmos & gadgets
If there’s one luxury accessory we thought was overrated and overpriced it was the watch winder – a device that holds your watch (or often more than one) and rotates it to operate the selfwinding mechanism. However, since Swiss Kubix developed a new cube version that is fresh, innovative and comes in a range of bold colours, we’ve changed our minds. From light granite stone, high-grade leather and Warhol-esque patterns, the 10cm cube winds in both directions and can be connected to a computer via a USB to control the rotations in order to mimic a humans wrist in day-to-day activity. From $700 www.swisskubik.com
The GCUBE humidor by Gérard Père et Fils is a chic design piece made from bamboo and also available in black. The humidor protects cigars by maintaining a desirable level of humidity, controlled by a digital hydrometer. It also comes with a cool pair of steel scissors to help you cut your cigars. $3,298 www.gerard-pere-et-fils.com
Based on the classic 1974 Carlsson OD-11 speaker, this sleek and minimalist speaker combines retro looks with cutting-edge tech. Built in wi-fi and a bluetooth remote let you control the 100W amp from across the room – a lot of noise considering it’s only 10 inches tall, it also comes with a magnet on the back, just watch out for the cat. $885 www.teenageengineering.com/od-11
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Colour me beautiful GC test-drives the new Vanquish Volante in the Golden State
eal Blue, Arizona Bronze, Madagascar Orange - they might not do much to lift the spirits on a foggy day in my home city of London, but the paint options available for Aston Martin’s fastest-ever convertible, the Vanquish Volante, sure did look the part when seen shimmering beneath the Palm Springs sun where the car was launched. The one I drove - with none other than the son of the late racing driver James Hunt in the passenger seat - was appletree green
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and was finished with cream leather and matching stitching. It looked as bright and inviting as a David Hockney swimming pool picture and screamed ‘California dreamin’ louder than Mama Cass at full volume. Indeed, it’s not too far-fetched to suggest that the Vanquish Volante might have been created with the Golden State in mind - or, for that matter, the equally sun-drenched climes of Dubai. A carbon-skinned beauty moulded, according to Aston design
Images courtesy of Aston Martin
By Simon De Burton
chief Marek Reichman, to evoke the look of a ‘scarf blowing in the breeze,’ it’s a supremely comfortable long-distance GT with the six-litre, V12 heart of a refined drag racer. The available 565 horsepower is sufficient to catapult the less than slimline Volante from standstill to 60 in just 4.3 seconds barely slower than it’s hard top sibling - with top speed being quoted as 183mph. More importantly, though, this is a car that proved as happy to purr down Palm Canyon Drive between the shops, galleries and restaurants (and beneath the billowing skirts of the town’s 26-foot sculpture of Marilyn Monroe) as it was to growl along the arrow-straight, gently undulating desert roads or roar between the rattle-snake twisty switchbacks of the driver’s delight that is California State Route 74. Admittedly, it should be pretty good since it’s currently the
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most expensive car in Aston’s ‘standard’ line-up - but, for your money, you do get something exceptional. Even those who don’t consider themselves to be ‘car types’ will not only be wowed by the Vantage Volante’s appearance, but by the sheer quality of the way everything is made, from the aluminium underpinnings (a sculptural work of art that’s worth crawling on the ground to look at) to the hand-stitched interior and the beautifully snug-fitting roof that electrically retracts in just 14 seconds. And it’s not a selfish sports car, either, with comfortable room in the back for a pair of pre-teen children - or even, perhaps, oneand-a-half average-sized grown-ups who don’t want to go too far. So, if you have $325,285 to spare and love the idea of driving a car that goes as well as it looks, we recommend you get to work on Aston’s on-line Vanquish Volante configurator as soon as possible - and don’t hold back on the colour scheme.
Under the High Patronage of His Majesty King Mohammed VI of Morocco Under the Auspices of The Royal Moroccan Polo Federation
British Polo Day Morocco Saturday 19 th April 2014
For more infor mation, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Pioneering Design Architectural guru Norman Foster braves the waves and brings his unique touch to the yachting industry tter the name Norman Foster and the iconic buildings designed by the architect spring to mind, from Wembley Stadium and the Gherkin in London to the transformed Reichstag in Berlin and Masdar City and the upcoming Zayed National Museum in Abu Dhabi. What few people know is that the design and engineering genius who left school at 16 has also turned his hand to superyachts. The Ocean Emerald is the first of four identical yachts commissioned by the fractional ownership company YachtPlus and designed by Lord Foster. The boat is the result of 15 monthsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; work by a team of seven architects, helmed by Lord Foster at his Foster and Partners offices in London and Italy. Boasting four decks and five suites that can accommodate up to 12 guests, it was first launched in 2009. A crew of seven caters to every need while special attention was paid to the quality of light - a Foster trademark - with all
major areas of the yacht benefitting from forward-looking views. The entire length of the airy, 53sq m master suite has full-length windows on both sides. There are lots of amenities on board for recreation. The main saloon features a home cinema using a giant screen hidden in the ceiling. Next to the upper saloon is a cappuccino bar and childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s game station area. The spacious second deck can be used as a workout area. The sundeck holds sunbeds and a massage area while the garage stores two jet-skis. The state-of-the-art lighting system gives passengers the ability to change the mood and atmosphere in every room. The panoramic saloon can easily be transformed from a beach hut by day to an urban lounge by night with scene-setting ceilings. At night, the windows offer privacy by becoming opaque from the outside. During the day light from outside floods the interiors, making the windows appear completely transparent and open to the marvellous seascape.
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a shrine to the Japanese past
Kyoto is the cultural heart of ancient Japan By Georgina Wilson-Powell
Kyoto is also revered for its local cuisine. Kaiseki is a balanced meal of tiny morsels, such as grilled fish, tofu, rice and salad, all served in stunning pottery bowls (which are usually made locally), a sort of uber-healthy tapas selection. Kaiseki changes with the seasons and is utterly wonderful. Some kaiseki restaurants in Kyoto date back to the 18th century and are still in the same family. Another tradition that is kept alive and well in Kyoto is that of the geisha. These ethereal companions are still seen as the ultimate status symbol but like an endangered species, Kyoto is the only place in Japan they remain in a traditional manner. Regulated by the tea houses, trainee geishas called maiko have five years of study in the arts and music before they can work for themselves. Visitors can take part in audiences with a maiko to discover a unique custom that has no equivalent in western society. Kyoto as it is today, a wonderful mix of the preserved past, distilled for national and international tourists alike, nearly didn’t make it. Because of its sentimental importance, it was on the Americans’ bombing list at the end of World War II. However, an American diplomat had been so taken with the city, he persuaded decision makers that Nagasaki should replace it. Saved from destruction, Kyoto has become a city-sized working shrine to Japan’s past where modern artisans sit alongside ancient traditions.
Images courtesy of Corbis / ArabianEye.com
f Tokyo is the modern, glitzy, attention-seeking Japanese city, Kyoto is its restrained older sister; wiser, quieter. It runs at a completely different pace of life. Here, bicycles are the preferred method of transport as residents cycle between the low-slung, unpretentious wooden architecture with a sort of gentleness not often found in today’s world. Kyoto seems as if it is from another time and in a way, it is. The original capital city of the country (its name means capital), Kyoto was the spiritual, intellectual and cultural heart of ancient Japan, the ground zero of many traditions which sum up the distinct Japanese culture to outsiders – the tea ceremony, samurais and geishas all sprung from Kyoto. Tokyo only took over in 1869 after political power shifted away from the samurai and back into the hands of the emperor, where it has remained ever since. As much as its importance stems from its place in Japanese history, there are plenty of reasons to visit today. Kyoto is home to more than 2,000 Buddhist and Shinto temples, the most famous of which - the Kiyomizu-dera complex - sits on top of a steep hill overlooking the city. It has cast its careful eye over Kyoto for more than a millennium and is one of the most popular attractions in town. Ancient tori (gates), huge shrines and statues make it a fascinating glimpse into Japanese beliefs.
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MUST SEE & MUST DO
Tawaraya Yoshitomi sweet factory
Kyoto was the home of the samurai as much as the geishas. Nijo Castle, built in 1603, was where the shogun, or ruler of the samurai, lived. The open plan, one storey castle is a lesson in minimalism, all worn wooden floorboards and beautiful frescos but very little furniture. It was here in 1867 that the last shogun, Yoshinobu, handed power back to the emperor.
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This 17th century temple is set in one of Kyotoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s most beautiful zen gardens, all mirror-flat ponds and tiny bridges. It honours Toyotomi Hideyoshi, a politician who abolished slavery. He loved the ritual of the Japanese tea ceremony so much he even had a gold-leafed mobile tea ceremony room made, which you can see at the temple.
Japanese sweets are a cuisine all of their own, made from a sort of slightly sweet, coloured dough. The traditional designs change with the season and they are still all made by hand at the oldest such factory in town. Sit with the inhouse tea master and sample them alongside a Japanese tea ritual experience.
Images courtesy of Corbis / ArabianEye.com
Ancient Kyoto was home to five geisha districts. Pontocho was the most famous, a warren of tiny backstreets and tea houses. Today that same architecture remains, from the closely knitted wooden houses to the paper lanterns that fill the narrow streets. The geishas have been replaced with upscale restaurants, which often have much sought-after terraces overlooking the river.
Where to stay
185 Kita-machi Karasuma-Dori, Rokujokudaru From $287 per night
Anenokoji-agaru, Kyoto From $420 per night
A modernisation of the ryokan, or traditional Japanese inn, the lobby of the hotel could be mistaken for an art installation. Each sumptuous room retains traditional elements though, including tatami mats on the floor and bathtubs made of Japanese cypress. The deluxe rooms feature private courtyard gardens, while the Kanra suite boasts a secluded outdoor bath.
The oldest and most famous ryokan in Kyoto, Tawaraya has hosted a bevy of royalty, celebrities and dignitaries in its 300-year history, including Marlon Brando and Alfred Hitchcock. With elegantly appointed rooms furnished with antiques from the family collection and perfectly curated gardens, it has been rated one of the best hotels in the world.
Thirty minutes north of Kyoto sits this super-private ryokan. It has only two villas, one western style, one Japanese, both with al fresco pine jacuzzis. Each two-storey villa is perfect for a romantic escape in the countryside. Kibune village, Kyoto From $483 per night
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Skip the museums for a night in one of these chic art-filled hotels By Nathalie Salas
Hotel B Lima, Peru Hotel B, a converted “mini-Gatsby” mansion, has now been transformed into Lima’s first luxury art hotel. With its ornate façade, high ceilings, open balconies, and marbled terraces, the property embraces the reviving art scene that gained popularity in the historically protected neighbourhood of Barranco. The hotel houses a unique contemporary art collection that veers towards surrealism with well-curated graphics, photographs, and oil
paintings. Hotel B also exhibits other works through collaborations with neighbouring galleries, providing guests with the opportunity to attend private viewings and special events, lending more insight into the social and cultural lifestyle of this buzzing city. Double rooms from $450 www.hotelb.pe
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THE THIEF Oslo, Norway Once a hunting ground for robbers and thieves, Tjuvholmen - meaning thief island - is now a waterside development promoting art and culture. The Thief, a recent occupant on the peninsula, has wholeheartedly integrated that ethos. Swedish art historian Sune Nordgren has curated pieces for common areas and guest rooms using works from both celebrated artists such as Sir Peter Blake, Richard Prince, Magne Furuholmen, Camilla Lรถw and Kjell Nupen, as well as art borrowed from the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, which the hotel sponsors. Double rooms from $305 www.thethief.com
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South Place Hotel London, United Kingdom A vast array of canvases, photography, installations and sculptures pepper the walls and floor space of South Place in the heart of the cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s financial district, home to global banks, technology firms and now an emerging art scene. British artistic talent is showcased extensively while the hotel prides itself on promoting up-and-coming talent with its annual art prize, which invites submissions from graduates completing masters in the cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s art schools. Double rooms from $280 www.southplacehotel.com
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GC handpicks the most creative and artistic pieces from Design Days Dubai
Fallen tree bench, oak and glass, Benjamin Graindorge, Ymer & Malta, $57,500
Powell shelves, sandblasted concrete and brass shelves, Phillippe Malouin, NextLevel Galerie, $26,800 Bloom, American oak, John Vogel, Southern Guild, $9,000 (set of 6)
Sofascape, lambskin and oak, Benjamin Graindorge, Ymer & Malta $48,000 102 MARCH / APRIL 2014
Console with two vases, marble and glass, Emmanuel Babled, Galerie Yves Gastou POA
Beautifully intertwined furniture & Art
Teaset, sterling silver, Tomas Alonso, Wiener Silber Manafactur, $16,392
Acoustic system, marble and granite, Arne Faeber, J&A Gallery, $400,000
Desk and stool, copper and burned oak, Valentin Loellmann, Galerie Gosserez $11,000
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little black book
ook Little Black B Stockholm
rector of Happy m-based creative di ol kh oc St e th ll, Te ator for Viktor designer and illustr c hi ap gr a as d ke otto, “all Socks, wor upon fashion. His m g in bl um st re fo be ns and several years cks’ colourful patter so e th in t en id ev play, no work” is to this list of his iment could apply nt se e m sa e Th . ns desig his hometown. favourite haunts in
Contemporary art Galleri Kleerup is a really cool venue with the best selection of contemporary art by new and up-andcoming artists from both Sweden and all around the world.
Scandinavian design Night swimming One of Stockholm’s best-kept secrets is, in the summer, you can take a night swim anywhere in the city. Especially from the City Hall.
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Our legacy - I love the brand and the people behind it. If you’re looking for a stylish Scandi brand that serves up wardrobe staples that are timeless, this is your go to shop.
little black book
Hipster watching Riche in Lilla Baren is my home away from home, A perfect place to kick back with friends, no matter what time of the day. Expect to see artists, musicians and the city’s fashion lot checking out the monthly art exhibitions.
Hotel for the bookish Lydmar Hotel - This hotel is really charming, no two rooms look the same and bookshelves deck the hallways with wonderful reads. They also have a fantastic patio in summer and lots of great live acts.
The advantage of being in Stockholm is that you can walk throughout the entire city in about 40 to 45 minutes
Eternal peace Skogskyrkogården - This incredible cemetery took 50 years to build and is now a UNESCO world heritage site. It’s truly beautiful.
Image courtesy of Gettyimages
Snapped Fotografiska Museum - If you’re a fan of photo graphy you’ll absolutely love visiting this museum. It holds unique exhibitions by some of the most renowned photograph ers in the world.
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Taste global, eat local GC takes a look at new restaurant openings with world cuisine.
The Act Evoking the intimacy of a burlesque theatre, The Act has been a staple of Dubaiâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s nightclub scene since opening last year. The new Dreams by The Act themed dinner and show offers another excuse to try its Peruvian cuisine. Start with the subtle and delicious ceviche clasico, red snapper marinated in garlic, ginger, onion and lime juice. The yellowfin tuna is paired with classic Japanese flavours - chives, ginger, yuzu and soy - while the ceviche de salmon is dressed with coconut, mango and chilli. A must-try main dish is arroz con pato, crispy roasted duck on a bed of rice and coriander with a delicate orange sauce. Shangri-La Hotel, Sheikh Zayed road + 971 52 811 9900 106 MARCH / APRIL 2014
Toko There is an instantly romantic feel about Toko. The interior is filled with dimly lit, cosy leather booths for dining Ă deux. The outdoor terrace is a zen dream. Japanese paper umbrellas canopy diners under a starry evening sky. Glass with sheets of moving water forms delicate partitions while emanating the soothing sounds of a stream as one enjoys the izakaya menu. The kingfish sashimi, in a sharp yuzu sauce, could easily be mistaken for hamachi but is a far more sustainable fish. A truffle-dusted chawanmushi, or egg custard, is the very embodiment of umami. The saltgrilled barramundi with pickled onions and a piquant tomato ponzu is a refreshing change from the ubiquitous miso cod. Vida Hotel, Downtown Dubai +971 4 442 8383
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Qbara A two-storey vertical installation behind the bar forms a mesmerising focal design feature at Qbara. It consists of 60 timber panels with Arabesque carvings sourced from Central Asia while a state-of-the-art three dimensional mapping system projects onto the wall, creating the illusion of moving imagery to pulsating soul music. The food is equally creative. The dishes, all small plates meant for sharing, consist of modernised versions of traditional Middle Eastern dishes such as cruditĂŠs with truffle labneh and lobster kibbeh. The must-try is a riff on the classic Arabic breakfast dish, chicken liver with onion and sumac, reinvented with foie gras. Qbara, Wafi Fort Complex +971 4 709 2500
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Social New Yorkâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Waldorf Astoria chain is the latest addition to the luxury resorts sprouting on the Palmâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s crescent. The hotel combines forces with Heinz Beck, the chef from La Pergola, the equally famous three Michelin starred restaurant in Rome, for its signature restaurant Social. The elegantly minimal dining room, awash with muted grey tones, sets a blank canvas for the dramatically presented food. Art on a plate, expect a myriad of colours accented
with hot pink flowers. The star on the menu is the cacio e pepe gnocchi, pillows of potato dumplings enveloped in pumpkin foam with wild mushrooms. Cheesy and savoury, it is refined and yet intensely comforting. The Waldorf Astoria, the Palm Jumeirah +971 4 818 2222
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ART ON YOUR SLEEVE
Christopher Kane at matchesfashion. com $448
This spring’s runways were awash with graphics and prints. Incorporate the trend by choosing neutral colours to add some edge to your everyday basics.
Image courtesy of Gettyimages
Shirt, Alexander McQueen, Bloomingdale’s $831
Shoes, Jimmy Choo, Bloomingdale’s $722 Dsquared spring/summer 2014 110 MARCH / APRIL 2014
T-Shirt, Shots, Saks Fifth Avenue $230
Backpack, Christopher Raeburn, mrporter.com $740
Jersey T-Shirt, Lanvin, Dubai Mall $288
Flame print leather pouch, Givenchy, Dubai Mall, $740
Utility Jacket, Christopher Raeburn, matchesfashion. com, $993
Scarf, Christopher Kane, matchesfashion.com $422
Gucci Spring/Summer 2014
High-top sneakers, Pierre Hardy, matchesfashion.com, $550
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Art in motion
The new release watches that are pushing the boundaries of creativity
Jaquet Droz The Charming Bird
A real collector’s item, this watch was unveiled as part of the Jaquet Droz’s 275th anniversary celebration. The creative genius of the piece lies in the tiny singing bird that actually turns, flaps its wings, moves its head and tail, and even opens its beak to chirp. Intricate details such as the bird’s feathers are visible through the transparent bubble near the watch face. Limited to 28 pieces. $450,000
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Van Cleef & Arpels Midnight Planetarium Poetic Complication
The Midnight Planétarium is an incredible feat of engineering, design and artistic craftsmanship. Besides showing the time, the watch also accurately displays the movement of six planets in the solar system as they orbit the sun. (Mercury goes around the dial in 88 days, while Saturn will take twenty-nine years.) The watch is also filled with precious and semi-precious stones carefully ground to be the perfect weight for the movement. The watch took three years to complete and has 396 pieces. $245,000
Our spirit of excellence. Senator Chronometer Regulator
Senator Chronometer Regulator. Aesthetics, elegance and precision. An officially certified chronometer combined with the classic display of a regulator. The dominant position is taken by the minute hand at the center, while the other hands are smaller and positioned in off-center areas of the dial. To learn more about us, please visit www.glashuette-original.com. You can also download our iPhone application from the App Store.