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CONTENTS BUSINESS

18 FIRST WORD

34 LUXURY

20 INVESTMENT DESTINATION

38 BUSINESS

Royal horse trainer

56 Opera Gallery, Paris

22 SPOTLIGHT

ENTREPRENEUR

58 Art Foundations

42 NYC cosmetic dentist

62 Private Museums

Amir Khan

44 Fawaz Gruosi

66 Art Dubai art bar

PHILANTHROPY

46 GLOBAL CITIZENSHIP

Regulating emerging markets Nigeria on the brink Paris’ new reality

24 COVER

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Melinda Gates

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Gates Foundation Middle East

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The polo business

ART SPECIAL REPORT 52 Whitechapel Gallery, London

Invest in Antigua & Barbuda

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LIFESTYLE 68

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68 GIZMOS & GADGETS

78 YACHT

92 LITTLE BLACK BOOK

70 AUTO

80 HOTELS

94 FASHION

74 DESIGN

84 DINING

96 HOROLOGY

76 DESIGN

88 TRAVEL

Innovative gizmos

Honda NSX

Nadine Kanso for men

Design Days Dubai

The 70 Flybridge

Palatial residences

The world on a plate in Dubai

Singapore

Fashion Affair

Skeleton timepieces

Myanmar

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EDITOR’S LETTER GLOBAL CITIZEN PUBLISHER Armand Peponnet EDITOR Natasha Tourish - nt@global-citizen.com SUB EDITOR Tahira Yaqoob - ty@global-citizen.com LIFESTYLE EDITOR Nausheen Noor - nn@global-citizen.com ART DIRECTOR Omid Khadem - ok@global-citizen.com FINANCE MANAGER Muhammad Tauseef - mtauseef@reachmedia.ae CONTRIBUTORS David Batty, Peter Allen, Ben Flanagan, Simon de Burton, Tolu Ogunlesi, Rachael Taylor, Kate Slater, Rosamund Urwin, Amanda Fisher, Tara Gally

he notion that paintings were only ever supposed to be seen by a limited audience and were the sole commodity of rich emperors and kings, who flaunted their immense art collections to signify wealth and power, is long gone. Thanks to globalisation, art is widely accessible to the public today via public exhibitions and museums and if you see yourself as an amateur collector, it only takes a few clicks on the internet to pick up a print by a famous artist like Robert Rauschenberg or Damien Hirst for under $4,000. So what ushered in this change? In our interview on p52, Iwona Blazwick, director of the Whitechapel art gallery in London, the woman credited with discovering Hirst, says it was the likes of Hirst and his idea that art shouldn’t just be for the elite that spurred him into organising his own exhibition back in the 1980s when he was starting out, rather than waiting for an invite from museums and art galleries. Yet while Hirst and his counterparts called for art for the people, as David Batty writes on p62, the rising trend among the super-wealthy is to have their own private museums filled with collections they hope will provide a secure investment safe from the fluctuations of the global economy. We have to ask ourselves: has the work of Hirst and his contemporaries been undone by this new generation of uber-wealthy art collectors? Or is it less about the ego of the billionaire museum owner in showcasing flashy collections and more about the fact private museums can fill the void where there is a lack of public funding for the arts in countries like China and Indonesia, for example? We also look at whether art foundations and their association with luxury brands (Cartier, Prada, Louis Vuitton) have undermined the seriousness of the art exhibitions they display with their lavish settings and opulent displays of fashion and jewellery. Not forgetting the upcoming Art Dubai, we have a preview of the Art Bar installation by Palestinian artist Yazan Khalili and the best from Design Days Dubai.

PRINTED BY Masar Printing and Publishing www.global-citizen.com www.issuu.com/global-citizen www.facebook.com/GlobalCitizenMag MEDIA REPRESENTATIVE Fierce International Dubai Internet City Business Central Tower A - Office 2803 T: +971 4 421 5455 - F: +971 4 421 0208 tarek@fierce-international.com

REACH MEDIA FZ LLC CHAIRMAN Armand Arton CEO Armand Peponnet - apeponnet@reachmedia.ae ADVERTISING sales@reachmedia.ae SUBSCRIPTION subscription@reachmedia.ae Dubai Media City, Building 8, Office 87, PO Box 502068, Dubai, UAE T: +971 4 385 5485 - Email: info@reachmedia.ae Copyright 2015 Reach Media. All rights reserved. Neither this publication nor any part of it may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the permission of Reach Media. Where opinion is expressed it is that of the author and does not necessarily reflect the editorial views of the publisher or Global Citizen. All information in Global Citizen is checked and verified to the best of the publisher’s ability, however the publisher cannot be held responsible for any mistake or omission enclosed in the publication.

Natasha Tourish

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Photo by Robert Wilson


TogeTher WE InnovatE

Boeing collaborates with the Qatar Computing Research Institute to develop innovative computing solutions that address national priorities.

Leading through partnership Discover more at boeing-me.com/together

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CONTRIBUTORS

Simon de Burton

Tolu Ogunlesi

Rachael Taylor

is a UK-based journalist and author who covers a variety of subjects ranging from high-end cars and motorcycles to luxury watches and international auctions. He is a contributing editor to the Financial Times How To Spend It magazine.

is a Nigerian journalist and blogger based in Lagos and West Africa correspondent for The Africa Report. His work has appeared on CNN and in Al Jazeera, and in the Financial Times and the Guardian. He is a two-time winner of the CNN Multichoice African Journalism Awards.

is a watch and jewellery journalist based in London. She was the founding editor of UK business magazines Professional Jeweller and WatchPro and now writes for a variety of specialist and luxury titles around the globe.

Amanda Fisher

Peter Allen

Ben Flanagan

is a Dubai-based journalist from New Zealand. She worked at the Philippine Star and Radio New Zealand before taking up a post as special correspondent at the Khaleej Times. Amanda has reported from countries including the Philippines, Yemen, Bosnia and Iraq.

is a British journalist and author based in Paris. He writes for a variety of international media, including the Daily Mail, London Evening Standard and Sunday Telegraph. He has covered major news stories all over the world from Afghanistan to Yemen.

writes primarily about Arab affairs in the UK and Middle Eastern business. He writes for outlets including The National and the Al Arabiya News Channel, drawing on 14 years’ experience in journalism. He started his career at the Observer newspaper in London.

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THE BIG PICTURE

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Pulse Index, installation view, Sydney by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer

Mexican-Canadian artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s large installation Pulse Index will be on show at this years Art Dubai fair. The project is an interactive installation that records participants’ fingerprints at the same time as it detects their heart rates.

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International Sales Executive of theYear OR CORRUPT NEGOTIATOR? We help you decide.

Citizenship by Investment | Anti-Money Laundering | Investigative Due Diligence

Approved and actively engaged vendor to over half of the 10 largest global financial institutions. New York | London | Vancouver | Dubai | Phoenix ipsaintl.com | info@ipsaintl.com 2015 MARCH / APRIL

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GLOBETROTTER MARCH

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APRIL 2015

1 8 MAR

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Citizenship by Investment and International Residence Summit, Conrad Dubai

Emirates Classic Car Festival, Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard, Downtown Dubai

Arton Capital and IBC’s summit has been designed to address the key issues facing private client advisors, tax advisors, immigration lawyers and other professionals working within the immigrant investment industry as well as provide an overview of the most attractive citizenship by investment and international residency planning options available.

The seventh edition of the classic car show returns to Dubai to host some of the most memorable and finest old automobiles in the region. The colourful parade is one of the main highlights of the show and draws festive crowds on the prestigious boulevard.

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Dubai World Cup, Meydan Racecourse

World Art Dubai, Dubai World Trade Centre

Top Marques Monaco The Grimaldi Forum, Monaco

The world’s richest horse race is back to bring together equestrians and spectators for a day of heart-pounding entertainment culminating with a speculator fireworks display.

Catering for all art lovers, buyers and collectors, World Art Dubai will house an affordable collection of several hundred modern and contemporary works – comprising paintings and prints, photography, sculpture and urban art elements – amassed from international artists and galleries across four continents.

Taking place every April in the prestigious principality of Monaco, VIP visitors have the unique chance to test drive the world’s most bespoke cars on the Formula One track. Each year Top Marques Monaco hits the headlines because it hosts the world premiere launches of limited edition technologically supreme vehicles.

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THE FIRST WORD PERSPECTIVES FROM THE TOP

REGULATING EMERGING MARKETS Will corporate governance in emerging markets have an impact on performance? BY SHANE PHILLIPS

MICHAEL LAHYANI

founder and chief executive, Property Finder “By giving investors better control over corporations, corporate governance adds clear value to any business. However, most businesses in emerging markets and more specifically in the Gulf have been family-owned and operated with very little governance in place, making it difficult for investors to enter. It is without doubt that better corporate governance will attract more capital to the region and improve any businesses’ performance.”

SAID AL SHAQSI

chairman, the Shaksy Group “Effective corporate governance will be pivotal in the success and sustainability of growth in emerging markets. It encourages foreign direct investment and reduces capital costs. However, it is essential for corporate governance to be coupled with an efficient government and transparent legal structure to ensure maximum gains.”

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THE FIRST WORD

GHALEB FARHA

chairman, Cloisall “Corporate governance makes companies more accountable and transparent to investors and gives them the tools to respond to legitimate stakeholder concerns, such as sustainable environmental and social development. Corporate governance also contributes to development. Increased access to capital encourages new investments and boosts economic growth. Good corporate governance helps companies operate more efficiently, improves access to capital, mitigates risk and safeguards against mismanagement.”

DR NASSER SAIDI

founder, Saidi & Associates “Good corporate governance is a key ingredient for emerging markets to continue to prosper. This is because market perceptions, including economic fundamentals, determine where global capital will flow. Capital will flow to where it is best protected by laws, institutions and respect and enforcement of contractual obligations and an absence of corruption. Global capital flows will generally avoid markets where investor protection is perceived as weak, uncertain or untested. Well-defined corporate governance policies have benefitted firms in emerging markets through greater access to financing, lower cost of capital, better performance and more favourable treatment of all stakeholders.”

JELENA BIN DRAI

co-founder, Al Das Medical Clinic “Corporate governance will make an impact on emerging markets as it encourages foreign direct investment as well as local investment. It touches on items such as general legal definition, property rights protection, creditor and shareholder rights, transparency and disclosure regime, ownership structure and so on, all of which can be nebulous in a pioneering or emerging market. Corporate governance can stimulate performance, brings more transparency, ensures corporate accountability and can be considered a tool of risk management. I believe it is a form of investor protection and therefore influences how investors behave.”

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INVESTMENT DESTINATION

DIMINISHING RETURNS Boko Haram’s insurgency has killed thousands in northeastern Nigeria yet it is the country’s economic woes that are the main concern in the financial hub of Lagos BY TOLU OGUNLESI

ast April, after a long-overdue statistical reassessment of Nigeria’s economic output, the country emerged from the shadows of South Africa to become Africa’s largest economy. The news came on the heels of record levels of confidence in Nigeria’s bond and equity markets. The Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) ended 2013 as one of the world’s top performing. Between 2011 and 2013, four local banks raised close to two billion dollars in Eurobonds; a July 2013 sovereign bond offer worth $1 billion was oversubscribed by 400 per cent. Most of the excitement has since cooled in the wake of tumbling global oil prices. Nigeria, long dependent on crude oil for as much as 80 per cent of government revenues and 90 per cent of its foreign exchange earnings, has been hit badly by the slump. The currency (naira) has gone into a freefall, losing more than a quarter of its value, as measured against the US dollar, since October, as have the government’s budget assumptions. The country is expected to earn about $26 billion from oil and gas sales this year, down from close to $60 billion in 2011, according to a recent HSBC report. Complicating Nigeria’s financial woes is a longstanding terrorist insurgency that many are seeing as the worst threat to the country’s existence since a 30-month civil war five decades ago. Boko Haram, the terrorist group, recently declared allegiance to ISIL, or Islamic State, its counterpart in brutality and the size of its territorial ambitions. In its stronghold in Nigeria’s vast, arid northeastern region, the group currently controls an area almost twice the size of Qatar. Its onslaught has claimed more than 10,000 lives and displaced well over a million people. From time to time Boko Haram succeeds in striking outside its stronghold, causing panic in financial circles. In the weeks leading up to the World Economic Forum on Africa, hosted for the first time by Nigeria last May, a series of bombs went off on the outskirts of the capital Abuja, killing several people.

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Privately, however, business executives in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial hub 700km southwest of Abuja, say their biggest worry is not the country’s security situation but economic uncertainties – especially the wildly unstable naira and the government’s unsatisfying response. Olufemi Awoyemi, chief executive of Proshare, an investment advisory firm, says foreign portfolio investors, whose enthusiasm helped Nigeria’s stock market rebound from a 2008 crash, now have to deal with diminishing returns in the face of a weakening currency. He adds the situation has also discouraged the booking of letters of credit by importers. “The naira is difficult to hedge,” says an executive at one company that imports agricultural commodities and equipment for its Nigerian operations. The backdrop to Nigeria’s economic narrative is an equally precarious political situation. General elections, originally scheduled for February, have now been postponed by six weeks. Unlike in the past, when the ruling People’s Democratic Party – holding federal power since 1999 – went into elections as clear favourites, this time it is facing a serious challenge from the All Progressives Congress, a twoyear-old coalition of opposition parties. If the elections go on as planned and the APC wins, there is the possibility of a substantial change in economic direction from the middle of the year. What will not change is the size of Nigeria’s economic opportunity, based solidly on demographic potential. On his inaugural visit to Nigeria last year, Arif Naqvi, founder and chief executive of the Abraaj Group, told a youth gathering, “The biggest asset you have is your youth.” Like the rest of Africa, Nigeria is a very young country. Seventy per cent of the population – translating to more than 100 million people – are under 35. This large youth population, given the right education and training, constitutes a formidable labour pool. It also offers a promising consumer market to everyone from retailers to bankers.


INVESTMENT DESTINATION

Nigeria’s investment opportunities are concentrated in infrastructure (transport, power, healthcare and housing), agriculture, retail and telecommunications. State and federal governments are investing billions of dollars in building new roads and bridges and airports and increasingly focusing on public-private partnerships. Nigeria’s power deficit is staggering; it generates less than 5,000 megawatts of electricity – a tenth of what South Africa generates for a population that is only a third of Nigeria’s. The government is currently in the middle of a sale of several state-owned power plants, the second phase in a decade-old privatisation programme. A reform agenda pushed by the Ministry of Agriculture is helping build confidence in the sector and attracting local and

office in Lagos in 2014. Atlas Mara, an investment vehicle cofounded by former Barclays Bank chief executive Bob Diamond, acquired a 29.9 per cent stake in Nigeria’s Union Bank last year. Diamond is one of a group of high-profile international investors who are consistently bullish about Nigeria’s prospects; others include Abraaj’s Naqvi, Jim O’Neill, the former Goldman Sachs economist who famously coined the term BRICS, and Mark Mobius, chairman of Templeton Emerging Markets Group. For intending foreign investors, Nigeria’s many possibilities are easily obscured by its much-reported problems in security and political and economic uncertainty. But it would be a mistake to write off the country. Analysts say the economic

Image courtesy of Getty Images

Protesters hold a sign reading ‘All united against Boko Haram’ during a protest against deadly raids by Boko Haram last month in Niamey

foreign investors. Last year Olam, the global commodity giant, opened a 105,000 metric-tonne rice milling factory in Rukubi Village, a five-hour drive from Abuja, joining a growing clan of local and international businesses that have recently invested tens of millions in facilities processing fruit and meat and producing improved seed varieties. Telecommunications is now one of the fastest-growing sectors of the Nigerian economy, outpacing oil and gas. A raft of e-commerce start-ups have launched in recent years, attracting tens of millions of dollars in equity funding from international investment firms like Tiger Capital and Kinnevik. The financial services sector is also attracting attention. The Abraaj Group has recently invested in a local insurance company while Exotix, the UK investment bank, opened its first African

upheaval offers an opportunity to fundamentally restructure the economy, rescuing the country from a dangerous dependence on oil and gas. And the importance of a long-term strategy cannot be overstated. “The immediate matters less than the long term. No one I know wins in Nigeria betting only on the short term,” says Jonathan Berman, author of the book Success in Africa and chief executive of JE Berman Associates, an investment and advisory firm. “Five, 10 and 15 years from now, a well-crafted investment in Nigeria will be a good bet.” Yet for the thousands of displaced Nigerians who have fled their homes due to Boko Haram’s largely uninterrupted reign of terror to Africa’s poorest country Cameroon, the immediate is all they can think about.

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THE IMPACT OF TERROR The Charlie Hebdo terror attacks may have been France’s worse domestic terror attack in half a century but residents of its capital city are used to living against a backdrop of terror inspired by religious fundamentalism. Can tourists adjust to this new reality? BY PETER ALLEN

hen 17 people were shot dead by Al-Qaeda and Islamic State-linked terrorists in Paris in January, the French capital was reduced to a battleground. Armed police were on every square and boulevard, along with thousands of soldiers. Military helicopters buzzed over the nofly-zone which Parisians are used to seeing above them, while everybody braced themselves for further carnage. These images still linger in the public imagination and there is every sign that the City of Light has suffered considerable damage from its worst domestic terrorist attacks in half a century. What terrified people initially was how easy it was for two killers to get inside the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and slaughter 12 people, including five cartoonists accused of insulting the Prophet Mohammed. Police officers also died while four Jewish shoppers were gunned down in a kosher supermarket close to the Porte de Vincennes in the east of the city. Beyond trying to deal with the human suffering, the world’s most visited tourist city is fearful its reputation for glamorous high-living could have been badly hit. Half of its 47 millionplus visitors last year came from foreign countries and there are concerns such numbers are already dropping. MKG Group, the hospitality research firm, has already reported a 10 per cent drop in hotel occupancy compared to January last year. Some two weeks after the attack, revenues from tourism in the city dropped by 25 per cent and the trend remained down later on. A spokesman for Paris’s tourist office says visitors from

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Muslim countries are worried there might be an anti-Islamic backlash, while Americans are “always scared off” by reports of terrorism. Exane BNP Paribas analyst Luca Solca says wealthy shoppers from countries such as China have also been put off from travelling. He says when it comes to putting visitors off a particular destination, terrorist attacks are as serious as epidemics. Referring to the attacks on the USA by Al-Qaeda in 2001, Solca adds, “High-profile terrorist attacks like 9/11 not only affect travel but also consumer sentiment, causing a sudden stop in luxury sales.” Other statistics are even more concerning, particularly in the high-end retail and restaurant sector. Cancellations at luxury dining and drinking venues were calculated at almost 70 per cent in the days after the atrocities, for example, and revenue was down by up to 30 per cent. These figures are contained in a report of 400 businesses by Synhorcat, the hotel and restaurant syndicate, which says managers reported “subdued spirits” among customers usually renowned for their love of going out. Other foreign visitor groups also seem to be staying away, as Paris City Council works hard to reassure them. The city’s mayor, Anne Hidalgo, this month filed a defamation case against American TV news channel Fox News for falsely claiming there were eight “no-go zones” areas in Paris which neither non-Muslims nor the police could visit. It was pure fabrication as no-go areas do not exist in the greater Paris region.


SPOTLIGHT

Hidalgo also points to the fact Paris has always suffered unpleasant incidents involving high-end businesses, just like any other city in the world. A series of armed heists on designer jewellery stores including Harry Winston on the Avenue Montaigne, for example, caused concerns, along with the robbery of Chinese tourists who are well known for carrying bundles of cash. Terrorism itself is not a new phenomenon in Paris either. There were a series of attacks around popular tourist spots by the GIA, the Armed Islamic Group from Algeria, in the mid1990s. Plastic bombs were placed on the railway system and around iconic monuments including the Arc de Triomphe. In contrast, the violence in January took place well away from well-known parts of Paris and far from the big department stores and luxury hotels and restaurants. Nevertheless, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has stepped up security around all of them. Police in bulletproof vests and brandishing machine guns remain out on patrol and convoys of armoured vehicles can be seen everywhere. Thomas Deschamps, statistics research manager for the Paris tourist office, says it is “too early to tell” what the long term trend will be but there are clear indications that the early falls may well be just a blip. Deschamps points out the French economy is in a very poor state, with unemployment rocketing above the three million mark. The cost of living is also spiralling while growth is stagnant. Combine this with the top rate of income tax of 75 per cent, which the ruling Socialists introduced early

in their term after being elected in 2012, and it is not surprising Paris trade is doing badly, no matter what the security situation. A survey by ma-reduc.com, a website which groups discount and promo codes, found 39 per cent of French consumers plan to spend less in the winter sales this year with an average nationwide budget equivalent to just $288. Early reports showed the winter sales got off to a poor start on the morning of the first terrorist attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices, even before it took place. A spokesman for Printemps says there was a “slow start” in the sales but with no long-term indication that business would be down. A spokesman for Galeries Lafayette adds it is “too early” to know what overall statistics would be. Jean-Marc Genis, president of the Federation of Clothing Retailers, says additional security procedures are in place, as set out under Vigipirate, the French national security alert system created in 1978. The plan was simplified last year and the ‘attack alert’ level remains in place. This triggers exceptional temporary measures, including reinforced checks and surveillance around sites considered potential targets and restrictions on traffic and parking. Areas currently affected include most of the Champs Elysees. Discussing the ongoing effect of the terrorist acts, Genis says, “It is clear it will have an impact. Unfortunately, we went through similar situations many years ago. We know it is always dramatic and that confidence cannot be restored in the blink of an eye and that is precisely the intended effect of this kind of blind attack.”

Images courtesy of Getty Images

Tributes are seen on the wall outside the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo one month after the terrorist attacks that left 12 dead in Paris

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FIGHTING TALK In an exclusive interview, boxer Amir Khan talks about the sport that has made his fortune, his new charitable foundation and how fatherhood has transformed him

Images courtesy of Getty Images

BY TAHIRA YAQOOB

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COVER STORY

mir Khan was just eight years old when his father signed him up for boxing classes to knock some discipline into him and stop his unruly behaviour. “His intention was to keep me off the streets, not to make me a world class boxer,” says Khan now. But as time has told, that simple fatherly gesture - borne of concern because Khan was hyperactive and kept getting into trouble at school - has been the making of him. At 17, Khan became Britain’s youngest boxing medallist at the Olympics in Athens in 2004. He went on to become a two-time world champion, winning the first of his World Boxing Association light welterweight titles at 22. Now 28, all eyes are on him for a clash with the winner of the $300 million mega-fight between two of the biggest names in boxing, Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao - and Khan says he has never been more ready. He was spurned by Mayweather when he recently threw down the gauntlet, challenging his rival to a duel. While the unbeaten Mayweather instead decided to fight Khan’s friend and former training partner Pacquiao, speculation is rife Khan will go head to head with the winner of the May 2 showdown in Las Vegas. Boxing promoter Frank Warren has already suggested he will

be “back in business - big business - to meet the winner…both have intimated that Khan is next in line and it is an engagement he will relish with both of boxing’s Sunshine Boys.” Meanwhile, fellow Briton Kell Brook, the current International Boxing Federation welterweight champion with a 33-0 record, is waiting in the wings to knock Khan off his pedestal. As for Khan, he is champing at the bit for a chance to take on the world’s most prominent boxers. “I need to get back into training myself and focus on what I want to do and see where my career goes,” he says. “I gave the ultimatum [to Mayweather] because I am not going to be messed around. That happened last year and I was out for a year. “[A fight] would be massive for us both. I want to fight the best guy who is out there and Mayweather is one of the best guys - probably the best guy. “As boxing fans, we have to respect Mayweather’s career and what he has done in boxing. He has achieved a lot. “I know I have the skills and tactics to beat him. It will be a huge fight and give me a lot of recognition worldwide and [will be recognition] for Mayweather in this part of the world, where not many people know him.” If Mayweather, who has an unbroken record of 47 consecutive

Khan with five-year-old Ramatoulaye Sowe at an orphanage in Gambia. His Amir Khan Foundation is currently building an orphanage in the country to help support 150 children 2015 MARCH / APRIL

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COVER STORY

wins, fails to beat Pacquiao, Khan is equally keen to fight his friend. “Manny is up there with Floyd,” says Khan, who is in Dubai to promote the Glory World Series international kickboxing championships taking place next month. “He is definitely one of the top names and a friend of mine. We used to train together and have that respect for each other. “This is what the sport is about. Fans want to see exciting fights, not boring one-sided fights.” It is typical fighting talk from one who has made his fortune using his fists. Khan from Bolton in the UK, who cites legendary boxer Muhammad Ali as his inspiration, might no longer be the hyperactive troublemaker who was constantly getting into mischief at school but he does occasionally come unstuck. Last summer, he was arrested on suspicion of assault after an altercation with two youths in his home town in the early hours. The allegations were later dropped and described by Khan’s camp as a “misunderstanding”. But lately, it is his charity work which has attracted attention and praise in equal measure. Khan has a longstanding association with numerous charities, including the National Society for the Protection of Children (NSPCC), Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, Oxfam

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and Sport Relief, stretching as far back as when he was first propelled onto the international stage. His charitable work stepped up a pace in August last year when he launched his Amir Khan Foundation to help orphans in deprived communities in Africa and southeast Asia. Its first project is an orphanage for 150 children, which is being built in Gambia. “God gave me success so I want to give back,” he says. “The foundation is up and running and I am building my first orphanage in Gambia. We have already raised £300,000 [$451,350].” But it was the massacre of 132 schoolchildren in a school in Peshawar last December which affected him so deeply, he flew to Pakistan within days of the incident to offer his support and help rebuild the school. He spent Christmas last year meeting families of victims and donated the $45,000 gold thread shorts he wore when he defeated American Devon Alexander to the fundraising effort. As the son of Pakistani immigrants Shah and Falak Khan and having recently become a father for the first time, he was horrified by the bloodshed by the Pakistani Taliban and determined to make a stand. “I went to Peshawar because of what happened and to show

Images courtesy of Getty Images

British boxer Amir Khan (R) meets an internally displaced Pakistani child fleeing a military operation against Taliban militants in North Waziristan and distributes gifts during his visit to a refugee camp in Bannu


COVER STORY

He married 23-year-old American student Faryal Makhdoom in a lavish ceremony in New York in June 2013 and now splits his time between the family mansion in Bolton and a home in San Francisco. Their daughter Lamaisah was born in May last year and doting father Khan is pictured cradling the little girl as often as he is seen in the boxing ring. Has fatherhood changed him? “I think it has made me more focused as a fighter because everything I do now in boxing is for my little girl,” he says. “I want it for her so she has an easier life and does not have to work hard. Everything I do is for my family, to give them nice things and support them. “It is not only about the money. It is about having a name as well so when my daughter grows up she can say: ‘My dad is a champion’.” Yet both his mother and his wife give the arena a wide berth when he is in the ring because they cannot bear to see him get hurt and Khan would never tolerate a child of his following in his footsteps: “I would never let them fight. It’s a tough sport, probably one of the hardest. I would get them into education or something. There are other ways of having a better life. Boxing does not have to be the one thing.” But he is still immensely proud of his achievements as the only Muslim British Pakistani to make a name for himself in boxing. “Every fight I always want to prove something new. I want to prove I am still young, I have still got the energy. I am still one of the best fighters in the world so I want to prove that all the time. I want to be the people’s champion.” Amir Khan and his wife Faryal Makhdoom

my respects,” he says. “I met a couple of families of the children. They were so happy to see me. They were saying even politicians and people in Pakistan did not come to see us in Peshawar and you came all the way from England to see us. “When I went there, I wanted to do it for my own heart. Obviously it was very sad to see. There was still blood on the walls and bullet holes on the tables and on the floor. It was very upsetting to see something like that. The families were very upset but very strong mentally, which I was surprised about. “I also went to see the kids, to give them that push and tell them not to be scared to go back to school and to be a role model to them. It was my duty to do this. The money will help rebuild the school and increase security around those areas and other schools in Pakistan so children can feel confident going to school.” His pledge to give something back and be a role model means he is a frequent visitor to schools around the UK, where he gives motivational talks, and includes opening his first boxing academy in Lahore, Pakistan, in July this year. If he seems wiser and more mature than the punchy teenager who first burst onto the international stage, it is perhaps because his responsibilities in the last couple of years have grown considerably. The Amir Khan Foundation will help orphans in deprived communities in Africa and southeast Asia 2015 MARCH / APRIL

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PHILANTHROPY

GATEWAY TO CHANGE Together with her husband Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Melinda Gates has given away $30 billion since the turn of the millennium, making them America’s most generous philanthropists. Now the couple are calling for a movement of global citizens to create real change BY ROSAMUND URWIN

away $30 billion since 2000. Every year they write a letter setting out their development agenda. This year’s — published today — is markedly upbeat. “In the next 15 years, poor people’s lives are going to improve more than they have in the history of the Earth,” she tells me. “There are four levers in this: health through childhood deaths being down through vaccines, agriculture, education and mobile phones.” Gates’s personal cause is empowering women, though. “They are the ones making decisions about children’s health. If we don’t include women [in development], we lose by half.” In 2012 she gave her backing and funding to family planning. A Roman Catholic, she “wrestled with this for a long time” but was persuaded after meeting woman after woman in villages and slums who said, ‘I have five children — I can’t have another — I

Bill and Melinda Gates (in 2011) with Mwajua Saidi whose son Rashidi took part in the RTSS malaria vaccine trial in Mapinga Tanzania 28

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©Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

When I am in the developing world, my heart absolutely breaks at times,” Melinda Gates tells me. “I’ve gone back to my hotel room sobbing.” Every tale of suffering, though, is fuel for her charitable mission. “You say, ‘How can I make a difference in this person’s life and everybody around them?’” Gates has the perfect mix of traits for philanthropy. She is pragmatic yet idealistic; almost robotically efficient yet utterly humane. She is poise personified — calm-voiced and straight-backed with a perfect manicure, yet there’s a hint of fallibility: her mascara is slightly smudged. We meet in her office at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, a glass cathedral to do-gooding in Seattle. She and her husband, Microsoft founder Bill, used to be the richest couple in the world. But through their foundation — which aims to eradicate polio, stamp out malaria and fight Ebola — they have given


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can’t feed these five.’ “When you hear those cries, you say, ‘I need to take leadership’. I believe in contraceptives. I use them.” The Gates Foundation is a family affair: their children — Jennifer, Rory and Phoebe, aged 18, 15 and 12 — sometimes accompany them on trips,“I want them to be global citizens, to understand responsibility.” This is part of the couple’s broader campaign. Their letter calls for a movement of global citizens. “We can create change if we all say we are going to improve the lives of the poor.” Gates’s own commitment to helping others started young. She adopted the motto “serviam” from the Ursuline nuns who taught her at school, volunteering in her Dallas community. Now she and her husband spur each other on. “Bill and I talk constantly about the foundation at home, at dinner, just the two of us, out with friends.” She describes their skills as “super-complementary”. “We sometimes tackle problems from a different point of view,” she explains. “Bill will often come with a scientific focus, I will come with a humanistic focus.” That reflects a difference in personalities. Melinda is socially astute and warm, all eye contact and smiles, whereas Bill is famously awkward. So much so that the day before we meet, their daughter Phoebe asked her mother: “How is it that you gave Dad even a chance because he was kinda geeky?” Melinda replied that this was down to another man, a fellow computer science student called David, a good friend with whom she studied at Duke University. “[David] was very geeky but had an amazing tender heart so I gave [Bill] a chance because I thought that might be there too — and it was.” Gates had been one of very few female students doing computer science. “From first semester freshman to sophomore, the drop-out was huge for women. I got used to working around men.” This helped when she joined Microsoft, where she helped develop Encarta and Publisher, before leaving to have children. “Microsoft was very male-dominated — but that’s what I had been used to in school.” She believes paternal support is key to getting girls into the sciences. “Dads have to say, ‘You can be good at science and math’.” Her own father was an engineer who worked on the Apollo mission. At a company picnic he introduced her to a colleague, a female mathematician. “He was always trying to get her on his team, so I went: ‘Oh, women can be good at math’ [too].” In secondary school he bought Gates a computer so she could programme at home. It was an Apple 3. Apple products are now banned chez Gates. I thumb the iPhone in my pocket nervously and quickly move on to asking if it would help girls to have more role models.

“I want [my children] to be global citizens, to understand responsibility” “Absolutely,” she nods. “But we need to see more women of all types at the top. Right now we see women of a few styles. Boys see men of three dozen different styles.” She also believes men are more inclined to help other men. “Lots of men sponsor men and say, ‘You are ready to put your name in the hat’. We need women to do that for women — and men too. Men have to say, ‘I am going to leave the interview loop open until I have qualified male and female [candidates]’.” I ask about the ultimate glass ceiling: would she like to see a woman in the Oval Office? “Some day, absolutely. A female president would be fantastic. I hope it happens in my lifetime.” So, Hillary for 2016? Gates smiles. “I don’t take a political view. We work with whoever comes in.” The Gates’ are keen on collaboration and theirs is an enviable contacts book. Bono is a friend (“he’s highly energetic”), and the previous weekend was spent with the investor Warren Buffett.

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Melinda Gates in the maternity waiting room at Dowa District Hospital in Dowa, Malawi

“He’s fun to talk to because he has this big economic view but then he can talk to my kids about what interests them.” Buffett partly inspired the Gates’s plan to give away their fortune rather than hand it to their offspring, although the couple had never been big believers in inherited wealth. “Bill wouldn’t have been able to create Microsoft if he’d been born in Liberia. We benefit from where we grow up so these resources should go back into society.” Any would-be Paris Hiltons among the billionaire set may have the Gateses to blame for a depleted future shopping fund. They have persuaded 127 of the world’s richest to give away at least half of their fortunes. How did they win recruits? “It was sitting down with them over meals to talk about what is possible in philanthropy, how it can take risks where a government can’t. You can take on eight vaccine candidates knowing only one will [work] and think of it like a venture capital portfolio fund.” The couple are evangelistic about philanthropy. “We think this is something [other billionaires] would enjoy as much as we do. If you’ve got billions of dollars you probably don’t need all of it. A lot of them have it in the back of their mind that they might do it but they don’t know how.” The Gateses gather this group of billionaires together annually so they can learn from one another. I ask if it is a strange juxtaposition to go from cocktail parties with plutocrats to

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villages in the developing world. “I don’t go to many cocktail parties — I don’t have time. The real juxtaposition is sitting with families with no clean water, then coming back to my nice life where I have seat-warmers in my car.” That “nice life”, she assures me, is “pretty normal” — despite the fortune. “We do a lot of things with the kids, like going to the movies. And there’s homework — helping with math.” How do the Gateses balance the needs of the foundation and their family? “We’re like any working parents. It’s a constant juggle. We spend a lot of time looking at calendars. ” Her minimal “me” time is spent kayaking, hiking and meditating. As a family they like to party. Gates turned 50 in August and flew out to Austria with 18 relatives for a Sound of Music-themed do. “We wore lederhosen and dirndls.” Even Bill? “Yep. All the men wore lederhosen.” She smirks. “A few didn’t want to but they had to fall in line.” I ask if the milestone changed her perspective. “When you turn 50 you see the end of your life and how much time you have left. I have hopefully 25 great working years ahead of me. We have a goal for 120 million women to have access to contraceptives by 2020.” What, then, would she like her legacy to be? She looks me dead in the eye. “That I made a difference for women and children in the world.”


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FINDING THE ANSWER WITHIN Hassan Al-Damluji is Bill Gates’ eyes and ears in the Islamic world. GC finds out why he believes donating money to a wealthy Saudi university is a valid way of giving to the poor BY BEN FLANAGAN

he Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation does not need to rattle the charity tin in the Middle East – but if it did, donations would no doubt be plentiful. Muslims are among the world’s most generous charitable givers, partly due to the religious obligation of zakat, or almsgiving. Rich Gulf states are themselves notable donors. The UAE, for example, ranks as the world’s largest provider of overseas aid relative to its gross national income, having donated almost $6 billion in 2013. For the Gateses foundation – set up in 2000 by the Microsoft co-founder and his wife and which now boasts $42.3 billion in assets – such generosity means regional philanthropists and governments have become close allies in some of its key causes, such as eradicating polio and boosting agriculture. Such matters seem a little distant when sitting in the foundation’s sleek, expensive-looking fifth-floor offices in a modern block close to Victoria Station in London. But they are very real to Hassan Al-Damluji, head of Middle East relations

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at the foundation, who along with his colleagues continue in the relentless work of giving away billions of dollars. No one could accuse them of resting on their laurels. Since the foundation was formed in 2000, it has awarded grants worth $30 billion. Of these, $3 billion has been spent directly in the Islamic world, along with billions more given to global partners that work in the region. Eradicating polio ranks as the foundation’s biggest priority – and the Islamic world is a particular focus for that, says the 33-year-old British-Iraqi Al-Damluji. “Polio is our number one priority as a foundation because we are so near to eradicating it. We have almost finished the job - but it is really important that we do finish the job,” he says. In 1988, polio was endemic in 125 countries and paralysed about 1,000 children per day. Immunisation efforts have since reduced that by 99 per cent – but the disease is still found in three countries, namely Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan. Bill Gates has previously spoken about his mission to see the


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disease declared officially eradicated by 2018. In their annual letter, Gates and his wife predict polio, along with other diseases like guinea worm and river blindness, will have completely disappeared by 2030. The foundation does not solicit direct donations to help in this quest, nor does it deliver the aid itself. What it does do is channel money to partners that vary from government agencies to NGOs, private firms to research institutions. In the Islamic world, these include the Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank, to which the foundation has contributed $68.5m to increase productivity of smallholder farmers in Africa, as well as helping broker a $227m loan to Pakistan to help eradicate polio. The foundation also has strong ties with the UAE. In 2013, it co-hosted a vaccine summit in Abu Dhabi, where a total of $4 billion was pledged to fight polio, including $120 million by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, and $1.8 billion by Bill Gates. The need for such initiatives in the Islamic world is vital, says Al-Damluji. “There are millions of children dying under the age of five of diseases that are easily preventable like malaria or diarrheal diseases.” He points to Niger – one of the poorest countries in the world – as well as Mali, Somalia, Pakistan and Bangladesh. In the Arab world, Yemen is the country with the biggest need, he adds. “Yemen is the one suffering the most,” he says. “[People] are unable to grow enough food to feed themselves and make some money on the side. You have also got real health challenges: low rates of vaccination, kids dying from diseases that are highly preventable, an increasing prevalence of HIV.” Aside from funding immunisation campaigns and other health initiatives, the foundation also sees a growing need to invest in research and development (R&D) in the Middle East, says Al-Damluji. Bill Gates visited the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia in June last year “to explore the potential for partnership” over research into drought-tolerant crops. “A lot of people don’t think of aid in that way,” says Al-

Damluji. “Is aid giving money to a rich university in Saudi Arabia? Well, it could be if that research is going to remove wheat blights which affect farmers. So what I would love to do is to create an awareness among philanthropists as well as governments that R&D is a very valid way of giving to the poor.” Despite the charitable generosity seen in the Islamic world, giving away money is not as easy as it sounds, cautions AlDamluji. The “biggest challenge” faced by philanthropists worldwide is how they can ensure their money has the greatest impact, he says. The foundation itself has pointed to the dangers of money being lost to corruption or waste. “There are a lot of people who think about philanthropy more as the act of giving, rather than following it through to the impact,” says Al-Damluji. “The act of generosity is clearly in parting with your cash but that being effective depends on much more.” Al-Damluji says there is still a need for more data and measurement of the effectiveness of projects in the Islamic world. He says one example of a cause that provides clear information about its efficacy is Gavi, the vaccine alliance set up with an initial pledge of $750 million by the Gates Foundation. Gavi announced in January that it had vaccinated 500 million children over a 15-year period, preventing seven million deaths and providing the kind of data useful to philanthropists when choosing where to give money, says Al-Damluji. “Investing in Gavi is a sure bet. You are going to save lives,” he says. And the Gates Foundation will look to save more lives in the Islamic world in the future, having earmarked another $500 million in direct grants for the region. Despite that pledge, the region is now in the unprecedented position of being able to address its own problems. “The Islamic world is at a turning point right now,” he says. “There’s been huge wealth creation and economic growth in some countries. Those countries are not only developing themselves but they’re becoming really big donors on the global scale. For the first time in recent years you have got a unique opportunity for the solutions for the Islamic world to come from within.”

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Image courtesy of Cartier

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A ROYAL SPORT Polo is thriving in the Middle East, with luxury brands eager to associate themselves with the game BY TAHIRA YAQOOB

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POLO

hen businessmen and friends Ali Albwardy and Humaid bin Drai opened Dubai’s first polo club in 1974, it was little more than a sandpit while the stables were made of scaffolding. There were few players to use Dubai Country Club, as it was called, other than its founders and a handful of western expatriates who knew the game. But it sowed the seeds of a homegrown passion, which in the past four decades has propelled the United Arab Emirates to the top of the league table of countries fostering a love of polo and a serious contender in terms of hosting competitive championships and attracting sponsorship and prestige. The Dubai Country Club in Nad al Sheba has long gone, flattened in 2001 to make way for the Meydan racecourse. In its place are the Dubai Polo and Equestrian Club opened eight years ago and the Desert Palm resort, opened by Albwardy in the 1990s and taking things up a notch with an exclusive retreat featuring 85 villas overlooking a 150-acre private polo estate - a kind of nirvana for players and followers of the game. The resort hosts the Cartier International Polo Challenge and the Nations Cup and has seen some of the world’s leading players stampeding across its hallowed turf.

Those two sites will soon be joined by a third, the Al Habtoor Polo Resort and Club, named after the Emirati business dynasty who conceived the idea. The family, who are avowedly devoted polo players, will open the first phase by the end of the year. The luxury development will eventually include a 136-room hotel, 162 villas, a polo academy with four playing fields, a riding school and stables for 500 horses. Together with the Ghantoot polo club in neighbouring Abu Dhabi, it ups the ante in a nation where a love of polo is relatively new. But is there a market for four polo clubs in a small country where few locals have the skills to play competitively? “I think there is,” says Mohammed al Habtoor, 46, chief executive of the Al Habtoor Group, who first learned to play the game in Desert Palm 14 years ago. “We have about 20 Emirati polo players here. This is very low for such a country, where polo is advancing and becoming recognised internationally. “We are fourth or fifth in the world as far as the level of tournaments goes and now we are studying how we can encourage Emiratis to come and play. We want to give them a bit of a privilege to encourage them because other nationalities are already coming and know the game, whether they are from

The winning Habtoor polo team captained by Mohammed Al Habtoor (second from left) during British Polo Day at Desert Palm resort 2015 MARCH / APRIL

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Pakistan, India or England, where polo is already big. We need to convince Emiratis to start playing.” The only surprise, really, is that the Emirates has only recently embraced the sport. Not only is the UAE a horse-loving nation with a long association with equestrian sports but the glamour associated with the polo pitch make the two a natural fit. Then there is the potential for lucrative sponsorship with luxury brands clamouring to be associated with a sport deemed to be fast, exciting, skilled and attracting an equally salubrious clientele. Al Habtoor, who started the Gold Cup in 2009 as well as fielding horses and players for the Dubai-based British Polo Day, has had to turn down sponsors for his event. “This year we have McLaren, Bentley and Julius Baer,” he says. “This is a game that attracts a lot of sponsorship. “The patrons are high net worth because it is an expensive game. It costs a couple of million dollars for each patron to play every year. “The people who come and attend are always the quality that the banks and luxury cars need. The clientele and the fans who come are the target of these sponsors. “Polo was first played by royalty - kings and princes who played the game in their own compounds privately and invited lords to play with them.” Polo is thought to have originated in Persia more than 2,500 years and spread throughout the Levant and Asia. Favoured by royalty, it was nicknamed “the game of kings”. For Torquhil Campbell, the 13th Duke of Argyll in Scotland and an ambassador for the 214-year-old brand Royal Salute

whisky, which sponsors the UAE Nations Cup, the product made a natural pairing with the prestigious sport. “People in this part of the world are passionate about horses,” he says. “It goes without saying that to be right up there in the polo world and to be a serious patron, you need very good financial backing. “We are the king of whiskies and polo is the king of sports. It is all about skill, prestige and luxury so we thought this might be the right way to talk to our consumers and it just took off.” The company first started sponsoring polo tournaments in Shanghai in 2007, one of 14 sites where it backs polo. At the time, there were only a couple of polo clubs in China but that has soared to about 20. Like many luxury brands, Royal Salute has not only targeted countries where a love of polo already exists but places where there is a potential to tap into wealthy investors who could be drawn to play and back a game they know little about. The duke says, “It was a really successful way of speaking to the right people. Royal Salute has become one of the biggest global sponsors of high goal polo and it is because we are not just a sponsor. We take the game to countries that want to expand polo and put a lot of time and effort into the game, as opposed to just talking to people who turn up.” Malcolm Borwick, one of England’s leading professional players, adds, “With the history of the UAE, Persia and Asia, horses have played a huge part in the culture of the country for centuries so the combination of the sport, the love of horses and the glamour that goes with polo is a really attractive combination for this part of the world.”

The luxury Al Habtoor polo development will eventually include a 136-room hotel, 162 villas, a polo academy with four playing fields, a riding school and stables for 500 horses 36

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

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

THE ART OF TAX PLANNING Sovereign is proud to be sponsoring The Sovereign Art Foundation for the 12th consecutive year - helping it to make the world a better and more artistic place. Sovereign offers charity to its clients too. We form charities and foundations to help our clients with their charitable aims. And to ensure they have more to give we offer a comprehensive family office service including wealth management, tax planning, asset protection, company and trust formation.

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Abu Dhabi, Bahamas, Bahrain, British Virgin Islands, China, Curaçao, Cyprus, Denmark, Dubai, Gibraltar, Guernsey, Hong Kong, Isle of Man, 2015 MARCH / APRIL 37 Malta, Mauritius, Portugal, Seychelles, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Turks & Caicos Islands, United Kingdom


Photography by Boa Campbell

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Satish Seemar was handpicked by Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum more / APRIL than 2538 yearsMARCH ago to come to the2015 UAE to train his horses and run Zabeel stables


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HORSES FOR COURSES Royal stablehand Satish Seemar had never trained a horse when he was handpicked by Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum 25 years ago BY AMANDA FISHER

anapes are served by immaculately-uniformed waiters on soft rolling green grass as the early evening crowd mills amid wax horse sculptures. Nearby there is a pool and a spa and all of the facilities are temperature-controlled. It’s par for the course for Dubai – except this five-star location is not just for two-legged guests. Its key clientele are horses. The Zabeel racing stables are among the top world-class facilities on offer for horses residing in what is arguably the sport’s Middle Eastern home. Satish Seemar is the decorated horse trainer who set up and runs Zabeel Stables. He was recruited by Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Ruler of Dubai and Vice President of the UAE, 25 years ago. Seemar was trained by Monty Roberts, the legendary American horse trainer and bestselling author of The Man Who Listens to Horses. This evening, Seemar is entertaining the Entrepreneurs’ Organisation. “You will never see a stable like this in the world,” he tells the gathered crowd, pointing out the air-conditioned stalls, horse spa, swimming pool and lush open paddocks. “These horses live better than 65 per cent of the human population. They eat better and live better.” So one might expect the costs of caring for these investments to be as lavish as their surroundings. But apparently not, as Sameer says the monthly cost of stabling one horse at Zabeel is $1,634, compared to about $6,000 a month in Japan and $4,000 in the US. “It is the cheapest livery in the world because it is subsidised by the ruling family,” says Seemar, who adds that more than half of Zabeel’s 130 horses belong to the Al Maktoum family. “It goes with the Arab hospitality. Sheikh Mohammed understands we have six months of racing and another six months. If we make it so expensive to keep horses, how are those people going to afford to travel anywhere to international races?”

Like the story of Dubai, it seems part of Sheikh Mohammed’s bold vision – a vision Seemar understands well. The 53-year-old, who was born in Abohar in north India, spent his school days drawing horses on his books at the back of the classroom. He left India as a history graduate and signed up to a Californian horse husbandry course on a whim. Seemar then studied equine science at California Polytechnic State University in San Louis Obispo, where Roberts was lecturing. He took a shine to Seemar and gave him a job. Seemar was later headhunted by the prominent Taylor Made farms in Kentucky and learned “the business of horse racing”. His education, horsemanship and business nous are the first three things Seemar credits with his success. The fourth, he says, was being given an opportunity by Sheikh Mohammed. “Here is a person who could hire the best of the best,” he adds. “I was Mr Nobody – a kid who was working.” He recalls the first time he approached his boss, “It was lunchtime and I was sitting next to him. I gathered up all my courage to whisper to him: ‘Your Highness, I hope you know I’ve never trained a racehorse before’. And he stops eating and looks at me and says: ‘Of course I know that’. Then he puts something on my plate and says: ‘Enjoy the lunch’.” Sheikh Mohammed’s faith was rewarded when within months, Seemar’s horses started winning – causing their trainer some angst. “I won four races on the first day and I was embarrassed. I said, ‘How is this possible? Me starting out and just winning four cars as prizes’.” Undeterred, Sameer became the first UAE trainer to win a European race soon after in 1993. In 2012, he was given a special award by Queen Elizabeth II for his contribution to non-violent horse training.

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But his friends told him not to leave his American job and move to the “village” of Dubai when Sheikh Mohammed came knocking. “During our first conversation, he told me: ‘We will have the best race in the world. We will have people coming from all over the world to watch the racing. I said: ‘No way’ – in my head at least. And it has not only come true, but come true a thousand fold.” While Dubai is now home to the richest horse race in the world, the $10 million Dubai World Cup held at Meydan every March, it has not always been plain sailing. The 2013 Godolphin doping incident marked a low point in Dubai’s horseracing story. Mahmood al Zarooni, the Emirati head trainer of Godolphin stables, which are owned by the Al Maktoum family, was banned from racing for eight years after admitting to breaching British Horseracing Authority rules by treating 11 horses with anabolic steroids. But Seemar urges caution. The drugs were administered when the horses were out of competition, something that was

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then legal in the UAE, Australia and the US but not in Britain, where the incident happened. Seemar says, “I don’t think anyone can memorise the whole rule book. You are liable to miss a few things. I am not trying to defend it or anything. I think there is a lot of misunderstanding but the fact is those horses did not race. There was confusion at the time whether the horses could be treated or not.” While he does not believe Al Zarooni’s actions were deliberate, the incident has led to tighter restrictions in the UAE. “Now we follow the same rule as the UK,” says Seemar. “What has been done in this country in 20 years, it took other countries hundreds of years.” And nothing seems to slow down Sheikh Mohammed’s vision to keep growing at pace. “Until this day I cannot figure a person like him out,” he says. “He runs the country, he knows his horses, he rides himself in the endurance races, he goes to the auctions. If there was a superman in real life, I would say it is him because I do not know how many hours he has in one day.”


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MILLION DOLLAR SMILE Global Citizen talks to New York’s top cosmetic dentist about his new Dubai practice BY NATASHA TOURISH

t 37, New York-based cosmetic dentist Dr Michael Apa has been featured in as many magazines and US television shows as the celebrities he treats. He has even been described as the LeBron James of the dental world by an industry publication thanks to his quest for “imperfect perfection” and his renowned jetset lifestyle. Apa has been a regular visitor to the UAE since treating Abu Dhabi’s Royal family in his New York practice more than a decade ago. Since then he has made bi-monthly trips to Dubai to treat private patients and is currently in town to open his own state-of-the-art dental clinic in Jumeirah. He may be as polished as the PR machine behind him but Apa is a serious entrepreneur. He has just invested $2 million in his new dental practice, has his own product line coming out in June and has recently bought out his business partner in New York, making him the sole owner of the Rosenthal Apa Group. He says, however, nothing has changed in the dayto-day running of the practice, founded with 67-year-old Dr Larry Rosenthal. “Right now I’m in building mode,” he says over coffee in his hotel suite at the One and Only Royal Mirage, where he stays while he is in Dubai. His relentless schedule led him to take more than 40 flights last year, as well as long-distance commuting between his home in New York and Dubai, but he feels the Middle East is like a second home now. The married

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father -of-two also teaches at New York University and lectures in universities across the US and internationally. Apa, who admits to having obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), particularly in the dental chair, says he follows in the footsteps of his mother, who used to vacuum their carpets at home in perfectly straight lines. He is chauffeured every other week from his uptown Manhattan clinic on a Thursday evening to JFK airport and arrives in Dubai on Friday morning, then goes straight to work until Sunday evening, when he boards an overnight flight back to New York to be back in his office on Monday morning. He is such a regular in first class on the New York to Dubai flight that it has earned him a coveted ‘invitational only’ (IO) status on Emirates airline, meaning he is guaranteed a first class seat on any Emirates flight, regardless of when he books. It also allows him to be whisked through the airport at the last minute before boarding and receiving VIP treatment upon landing. “Flying first class is an amazing experience in itself but the IO just brings it to another level,” he says. “The things that would cause me stress are eliminated, like getting my luggage and getting out of the airport as quickly as possible, or dealing with weather and cancelled flights. They just seem to take care of absolutely everything.” With a cosmetic smile makeover consisting of porcelain veneers coming in at around $4,000 per tooth and the average


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client requiring 10 of them, it is hardly surprising Apa is accustomed to this type of treatment. Although he says, “it’s hard to say” how many days off he has had in the past year, on the rare occasion when he is not working, Apa spends his free time driving his beloved Ferraris. He owns two classic Ferraris and the new 458 Spyder. With plans to increase the frequency of his trips to Dubai once his new clinic opens so he can maintain “face time” with his patients here, Apa says it will be “digital technology” that will ultimately allow him to be in two places at once. “The advances in digital technology have simplified things for us. We have created this consultation room where we can put a patient in my office in New York virtually and I can do a treatment plan with either Jason [the ceramist] or myself and the team here via video conferencing. All of the scans and impressions we now take are digital so they are emailed to me. We are going to do daily calls so we can go over patient loads and treatment plans

and the hospitality end of things to make sure the clinic is running well.” The new 5,000sq ft Apa Aesthetic Clinic on Jumeirah Beach road will be one of the first dentistry practices to feature a stateof-the-art laboratory on site, allowing patients to have a more personalised approach, according to Apa. Two dentists from New York and a ceramist will be based full-time at the clinic, which opens five days a week. “A lot of the problems in my speciality come from communication problems between the patient and the doctor and the doctor and the laboratory. We don’t have that problem because both dentists are dual-trained as surgeons and in cosmetic dentistry and our ceramist Jason has his own lab, which takes away that problem for me. So we treat every patient as a team,” says Apa. He adds: “Down the road I would like to open high-end clinics in London, other parts of the Middle East and possibly China, but right now I’m laser-focused on the tasks in hand.”

The new Apa Aesthetic clinic on Jumeirah Beach Road 2015 MARCH / APRIL

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ENTREPENEUR

ROUGH DIAMOND The founder of De Grisogono jewellery and watch house on how he sees beauty where others turn up their noses BY RACHAEL TAYLOR

n a business bound by certification, high-level investment and heritage, those who break the rules are not looked upon kindly. But that is exactly what fine jewellery’s very own agent provocateur, Fawaz Gruosi, does best and his hunger to challenge the establishment and take risks has won him fame, fortune and an enviable little black book. Gruosi is the founder, creative director and elan vital of jewellery and watch house De Grisogono. His life is a whirlwind of red carpets, front rows and yachts, partying with the A-list’s elite; his Cannes parties are the stuff of legend. And he never misses an opportunity to be snapped with that moment’s bright young thing, who will, of course, be draped in De Grisogono. But behind all this razzle dazzle is a genuine business trailblazer, whose ability to think in ways that others do not has changed the international jewellery industry forever. And it all started with dank hunks of carbon deemed too brittle to be cut into gems, or black diamonds as they would be known when Gruosi was finished with them. “I had black diamonds on my desk for a while. They were mysterious but I didn’t know what to do with them,” recalls Gruosi, who set up his brand on the Rue du Rhone in Geneva in the mid-1990s. “One day I rolled a white pearl on my desk towards them and suddenly the contrast made the black diamonds come alive. It was the beginning of my first creation - a black diamond ring with a centre pearl.”

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Once the idea had cemented in his mind, Gruosi travelled the world, buying up as many black diamonds as he could afford. With a start-up fund of less than $17,000, it was a risk to hitch his wagon to these stones as the difficulties in cutting the delicate carbonados meant the process cost twice as much as the gems themselves. Gruosi bet everything he had on black diamonds and won. The debut collections were a high-profile success, attracting an enviable clientele and securing De Grisogono’s future. By 2006 – two years shy of the brand’s 15th anniversary – the company was already racking up annual sales of $114 million. The jewellery industry itself was less welcoming, however, and Gruosi remembers a time when he dreaded stepping outside in Geneva for fear of an outraged community who accused him of selling the jewellery equivalent of the emperor’s new clothes. But for Gruosi, who has never undertaken any formal gemological training despite working in the industry since the age of 18, the beauty of a gemstone isn’t found in a Rapaport price list, the standard baseline for determining the cost of wholesale polished diamonds. “I make intuitive choices and impulse buys,” he explains. “I see how to elevate unfit-for-jewellery gems to extraordinary ones. For me, every stone can be deemed exceptional when you have the capacity to see its inner beauty and strength. By highlighting and enhancing the intrinsic qualities of every stone,


ENTREPENEUR

I reach to turn so-called faults into qualities. I know how to see extraordinary in ordinary things.” A quest for the extraordinary is what led Gruosi into the jewellery business in the first place. He was born in Beirut in the early 1950s but spent the majority of his formative years in Florence with his Italian mother, where he moved following the death of his Lebanese father. He loves Florence and says the city’s “culture, good taste and aesthetics” inspired him to vow to dedicate his life to beauty. After taking a job in a Florence jewellery store in his teens, where he quickly elevated himself from glorified cleaner to store director, he moved at 30 to Saudi Arabia to head up Harry Winston in the kingdom at the request of the high profile Alireza family. After three years he returned to Europe to Bulgari, where he worked under Gianni Bulgari before setting out on his own. When Gruosi started De Grisogono, he did so with a laissezfaire attitude towards commerciality. He built his brand on creative risks that have set him ahead of the curve in terms of trends. Just as he did with black diamonds, he rebranded

low-value, heavily included, cloudy diamonds as luxurious Icy Diamonds. He was a forerunner in the use of bespoke alloys when he introduced brown gold and never shies from an extravagant design, living up to the brand’s motto: the beauty of audacity. The next few years will see even more risks for Gruosi, as the jewellery maestro gives up his controlling stake in order to push for even more expansion. De Grisogono has 15 monobrand boutiques and more than 140 stockists worldwide but a sale of 75 per cent of the business to a group of investors in 2012 has given the jeweller a reported $100 million cash injection to fund further expansion, with a particular focus on the Middle East – last year the brand opened its first subsidiary with the support of the Dubai Investment Economic Development Agency. But for Gruosi, taking risks is nothing new and after all, this charismatic champion of beauty has a powerful talisman at his side. “I do believe that stones hold mystical powers,” he says with a smile. “They have always brought me luck and success.”

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INVEST IN PARADISE Middle Eastern Investors join the race to become Global Citizens by investing in Antigua and Barbuda he sandy Caribbean shores of Antigua and Barbuda have been awash with foreign direct investment (FDI) since the twin-island nation joined the race to attract the world’s wealthiest in exchange for citizenship. It initially took its lead from its Caribbean neighbours St Kitts and Nevis, which has the oldest running citizenship by investment programme in the world and was one of the most successful programmes until recently, when it was stripped of its visa-free status to some countries after numerous warnings and allegations of misuse of the Citizenship Investment Program. Antigua and Barbuda has managed to attract substantial investors in the past 12 months alone, including Hollywood actor Robert De Niro, who just launched an exclusive $240 million resort on the secluded beaches of Barbuda and Chinese investment group Yida, which is investing $1 billion in a 1,600-acre mega-resort development on the island. These deals come hot on the heels of the announcement of an investment in excess of $120 million by a UAE investor who is building a luxury five-star hotel with Al Caribi developers. The new Callaloo Cay resort in Morris Bay will occupy 36 acres of

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prime beachfront lands, five acres of which will be developed into a public National Park facility. Both projects are part of the government’s commitment to bring investments that will provide jobs, help reduce debt and support the economy through economic citizenship programmes. Meanwhile the Arton Index— a benchmark for the global citizenship industry — has placed Antigua in first place among its Caribbean counterparts offering immigrant investment programmes for its speed, cost, quality of life, simplicity and mobility. Despite Antigua’s speedy road to success, it is being “cautiously optimistic” about its future and is determined to learn from the mistakes of St Kitts and Nevis, while taking “every step possible to protect its reputation as an industry leader in citizenship by investment programmes,” according to Casroy James, Antigua’s ambassador to the UAE. One example of its “cautious optimism” is a clause the government has inserted into investors’ contracts, stating they must perform within a specified period or else the land will


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automatically revert back to the government. “Every applicant [investor] who applies for citizenship, especially those from risk countries, goes through a cautious selection process which is done via our certified intermediaries and all proposed projects must be fully reviewed and approved by the citizenship by investment unit,” explains James. Speaking about the new Callaloo Cay hotel project, Prime Minister Gaston Browne said it was a “blueprint project of sorts” as it is the first public-private partnership under the citizenship by investment scheme, which sees the government invest 20 per cent. It is joined by the Indian-born, UK-based tech entrepreneur Nitin Singhal and global investment firm Arton Capital through its subsidiary Arton Estates together with the main UAE-based investor. Armand Arton, president and chief executive of Arton Capital group of companies, who was recently appointed as special economic envoy for Antigua and Barbuda, is responsible for the private placements offering of Callaloo Cay, which will be launched later this month in Dubai at the IBC Arton Capital Citizenship by Investment Summit. “The first special preferred redeemable shares offering will be limited to $40 million or 100 investors that will have the

Morris Bay: The picture perfect site where the new luxury Callaloo Cay hotel resort will be built

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option to become part of a great success story and exclusive brand while having the option of a guaranteed buy-back within five years of their investment,” says Arton. The private placement will be rolled out through a series of road shows in Dubai, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Moscow and Monaco later this year through the affiliated Arton Bank. And if you are in the market for a second citizenship, the timing couldn’t be better, according to Arton. The Callaloo Cay places are offered just days before the closing deadline of the Quebec investor programme, which is expected to see a decline in numbers since the strict conservative government implemented more stringent requirements on foreign investors. “The industry is now focused on European and Caribbean products,” says Arton. Presently Arton Capital is actively advising government agencies in four different jurisdictions on how to create new programmes. Arton believes with “increased demand from Middle Eastern wealthy families, the ongoing Russian crisis and the steady growth of Chinese millionaires, there is still enough demand for countries to join the movement of global citizenship.”


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ART SPECIAL REPORT

Paris-based Jaeger Bucher gallery will bring French artist Fabienne Verdier’s Walking-Painting Series,Polyptyque N°03 (below) to Art Dubai 2015

Ways of Seeing Global Art The road to Dubai is paved with art

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ART SPECIAL XXXXXXXXXX

FEMALE INTUITION She discovered Damien Hirst and now runs one of London’s most innovative galleries. GC talks to Iwona Blazwick, Britain’s most famous female curator

wona Blazwick remembers the first time she saw a piece of work by Damien Hirst. Blazwick was a young curator at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in London and Hirst, a student at the time, had submitted one of his nowfamous medicine cabinets to an open competition. “It was the fact that it was so squeaky clean, so brand new, so exquisitely realised,” she says. “The drugs inside it were also very particular. It was just extraordinary.” She pauses, then says: “Do you know, I could have bought it for £1,000 – but I didn’t have £1,000. Even then, Damien was very specific about his prices.” With this, she throws her head back and laughs. Being the woman who discovered Hirst – she gave him his first solo show at a public art gallery – is just one of the many interesting things about Iwona Blazwick. As the director of the Whitechapel Gallery in east London, a position she has held for 13 years, she is often referred to as the most important woman in British art. A respected curator, it was she who spotted the potential of not just Hirst but his Young British Artists [YBA] friends too, many of whom she still knows. She played a vital role in the development of the Tate Modern and its headlinegrabbing installations. She is an outspoken champion of the arts, is the chair of the London Cultural Strategy Group, on the advisory board of the Government Art Collection and was awarded an OBE in 2007 for services to art. She is also the person many people believe could succeed Sir Nicholas Serota, the director of the Tate museums, in the country’s

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biggest job in art. For someone with such a stellar career in a world often associated with hype and ego, Blazwick is remarkably understated. When we meet to talk about the Whitechapel’s latest exhibition of abstract art, Blazwick, 59, is wearing an appropriately minimalist black and white shift dress, her blond hair is loose and the only visible make-up is her magenta lipstick. At first she seems rather earnest, scholarly even, but once she begins to talk about art she sparkles with energy and warmth. “I’m really, really excited about this show,” she says. “Although God knows what it will look like when it’s up.” She gives a low, throaty chuckle. Called Adventures of the Black Square: Abstract Art and Society 1915-2015, it is the story of the legacy of geometric abstract art and is as close as the Whitechapel gets to a blockbuster. The show, which is co-curated by Blazwick, includes works by more than 100 artists, including Kazimir Malevich and Piet Mondrian. Its aim, Blazwick says, is to “challenge art history” and show that the influence of geometric abstract art was felt all over the world, from Soviet-era buildings to Ikea furniture. Typically for the Whitechapel – and for Blazwick – it is offbeat and avant-garde. She grew up in southeast London, the child of Polish architects who both painted and instilled in her a passion for art and design. After studying English and fine art at Exeter University, she worked as a publisher of art books and dabbled with becoming an artist herself before realising she was

Photography by Stephen White

BY KATE SLATER


ART

Adventures of the Black Square currently on show in London’s Whitechapel Gallery

better at writing about art and presenting it than making it (“a moment of wonderful clarity and the world was spared a very mediocre artist,” she has said). Today she lives in east London with her husband Richard Noble, a lecturer in fine art, and their teenage daughter Bella. Blazwick cut her teeth as a curator at the ICA in the 1980s, where she worked with Sandy Nairne (now the director of the National Portrait Gallery), whom she describes as “visionary”. She went to New York, met Cindy Sherman and gave Sherman her first solo show in Britain. She organised exhibitions of the then-emerging British sculptors Antony Gormley and Anish Kapoor. As the director of exhibitions and displays at the Tate in the late 1990s, Blazwick was responsible for the Tate Modern’s permanent collection being grouped thematically rather than chronologically, something that exasperated art critics. “At the time it was totally radical but now everyone is doing it,” she says, smiling. Now in her fourth decade as a curator, Blazwick has witnessed the British art scene change beyond recognition. “I remember the exhibition opening of a major international artist when I was at the ICA in the 1980s and there were a total of 20 people there, eight of whom were members of staff,” she says. A decade later Blazwick found herself at the centre of a watershed. For many, Hirst has become a victim of his own success and is now often dismissed as a cynical, tiresome self-publicist. Blazwick, on the other hand, is very clear that not only was he gifted, but changed the British art scene forever. “What Damien did,

most shockingly for the art world, was to say, ‘F— you, I’m not waiting. I’m not going to sit waiting for the ICA or the Serpentine or Whitechapel to come knocking at my door. I’m going to do it myself ’.” It was a time when, to the horror of many art critics, conceptual art staggered drunken and leering into the spotlight. In 1988 Hirst organised Freeze, an exhibition of his and his Goldsmiths contemporaries’ work at an empty Port of London Authority building. Blazwick says that, until then, artists waited until they were invited to exhibit, or, as she puts it, “the protocol was you worked alone in your studio with a steady northern light, perhaps copying from antiquities. To have anything to do with commercial galleries was seen as slightly corrupting.” These days London is a serious contender in the international art world. Spend an hour at the annual Frieze art fair and it is impossible to avoid the expensively coiffured, tanned couples walking around with their personal art advisor whispering in their ears. These are people who, until recently, would have spent their money elsewhere. “London, in terms of the art market, was a bit of a backwater until Frieze made it fashionable,” Blazwick says. “It’s become a bit like Cannes or the Oscars – it’s a big moment for the international professional art world to have a huge get-together. Because of Britain’s geography it means that colleagues from America will come to London to meet colleagues from Europe, Japan and so on.” Blazwick says this globalisation of the art world has had a

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ART

What about the jaw-dropping amounts that certain artworks fetch at auction? Last year Jeff Koons became the most expensive living artist when his Balloon Dog sculpture sold for $58.4 million. “We have these headline-grabbing results in auction houses but when you look at the artists who get those prices they are a tiny, tiny percentage,” she says. “We can be bedazzled by a few high-profile names but for the majority of artists that is not the reality. There was a shocking statistic that came out a few months ago, which stated that the average salary for an artist in Britain is £10,000 a year.” Blazwick says the “image of the starving artist in a garret is now such a cliche” but supporting the careers of young artists is something she is passionate about. In 2007, she set up the biannual MaxMara Art Prize for Women in collaboration with the fashion house. The winner is given a six-month artist’s residency in Italy with the work produced there exhibited at

Dora Maurer - Seven Rotations 1–6 - 1979 - Six gelatin silver prints 20 × 20 cm each - Collection of Zsolt Somlói and Katalin Spengler © Dora Maurer

levelling effect, the sense now being that it is anyone’s game. “Fifty years ago you could have said there’s a top 10 league of artists but I do not think you can say that anymore. It is less hierarchical and I think it is a good thing. It is more diverse, more cosmopolitan.” But the fact there are now so many emerging art scenes has made her job as a curator – discovering new talent – even more demanding. The world of a high-profile curator is, she admits, “very competitive” and she spends a lot of time on aeroplanes. “How on earth do you cover it all when it’s India, Lebanon, Norway?” she says. “We all worry about our carbon footprint and how to navigate all this.” This broadening of the market means there is also a fevered search for undiscovered – and potentially lucrative – new talent. “Now we’re seeing artists being recognised from Latin America, the Middle East and so on, so the geography of it has expanded and the collector base has expanded,” Blazwick says. “That demand, the appetite to collect those works, drives the prices up, even though that is an inevitable part of the market. It is problematic because then the insurance premiums go up and that makes it all the more difficult for the public sector to show those works. “So, ironically, having been part of the process of giving them visibility and providing a platform for them, we then find ourselves in a situation where we struggle to afford to be able to present these very artists because their market values have gone up.”

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Aleksandr Rodchenko - Radio Station Tower 1929 Gelatin silver print 22.4 x 14.2 - Jack Kirkland Collection © Rodchenko & Stepanova Archive, DACS, RAO, 2014


ART

the Whitechapel (one winner, Laure Prouvost, went on to win the Turner Prize in 2013). Despite the many brilliant, talented female artists in Britain, Blazwick believes the odds are still stacked against them; even a year’s maternity leave can damage an artist’s career, she says. “Just look at the difference between the highest amount paid for a living female artist and a living male artist – it is huge.” Although there is “an amazing roll-call of women artists” in Britain, Blazwick says there are not enough role models for young women. “There should be more women leading things, in visible positions, doing all the marvellous things they do as politicians, scientists - and artists, of course.” Which brings us to the rumours of her potential next career move: taking over from Serota at Tate. “Hmm,” Blazwick says, stifling a groan. “People always ask that, which is very flattering. It’s very nice to be considered to have the possibility of following in such great footsteps because Nick is a phenomenon and something of a mentor for us all. What he has done is quite extraordinary. But I don’t think he is leaving any time soon.” Besides, such a prominent position might not suit Blazwick, who has a habit of criticising politicians’ attitude to the arts. The most animated she becomes during our conversation is on the subject of arts funding. “There is a fear among politicians about culture. They think it’s not a vote winner but I beg to differ,” she says. At the heart of it, she believes, is a failure to recognise how essential creativity and ideas are to the economy. “We have a proven connection between any kind of creative industry, innovation and prosperity,” she says, banging her palm on the table. “Who made Apple great? A kid from Central Saint Martins School of Art and Design. If you give people access to an art education it makes them self-reliant, entrepreneurial, innovative and that is where the future lies. We have to have the arts. We ignore it and underfund it at our peril.” A successful curator, rather like a successful artist, must live and breathe the job and Blazwick is rarely “off”. She admits that even on holiday she finds it impossible not to go to see art (she tells me she was recently in Vancouver, where she saw two “transformative” exhibitions on Chinese art). “And I always have a suitcase full of magazines I haven’t got round to reading all year,” she says, laughing. “My heaven is sitting on a plane with Art Forum and Frieze.” It may be a world of international travel, larger-than-life personalities and glamorous parties but Blazwick says there is no question what her favourite part of the job is. “Spending time with the artist, understanding where they come from, what influences them, everything from the quality of light, to what they’ve got stuck up on the walls in the studio, to the materials they’re using and the social and political context in which they’re working,” she says. “That and actually installing the work – that’s the cherry on the cake, because the rest of it is admin and finances, which can be exhausting. The moment when you are in the space with the artist and the work of art, there is nothing like that.”

Piet Mondrian - Composition with Yellow, Blue and Red 1937–42 Oil paint on canvas - 72.7 × 69.2 cm © DACS, London/VAGA, New York 2014 Courtesy Tate Collection: Purchased 1964

Peter Halley - Auto Zone - 1992 Acrylic Day-Glo and Roll-a-Tex on canvas - 244 × 238 × 10 cm © Peter Halley Courtesy Collezione Maramotti, Reggio Emilia 2015 MARCH / APRIL

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BANKING ON ART Opera Gallery’s one-size-fits-all model, selling everything from Renoir to regional artists, has made the brand an international success BY TARA GALLY

illes Dyan has come a long way since opening his first art gallery in Singapore two decades ago. Sales were slow in Europe at the time, in contrast to the growing interest in buying art in the southeast Asian island. For the 20 years that followed, Dyan not only established a popular brand but also created the first network of international galleries under the Opera group, which now includes 11 galleries in major cities across North America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. The key to its success? Its everything-under-one-roof model. “The concept we have, which is a little bit different from classical galleries, is that we propose to collectors a mix of contemporary artists from all over the world. We can propose some upcoming artists and this is mixed with masterpieces which cover the 20th century movement, from Renoir and Monet to American pop art,” says Dyan from his home in Paris. Just as the Opera Gallery’s collection of art is wide-ranging, so is its clientele. A collector can find painting, sculpture and photographic masterpieces as well as works by young and emerging artists, priced between $7,000 and $9 million. Dyan says the gallery wants to “attract rich people”, explaining its prime locations surrounded by luxury brands wherever it operates. In Paris, an Opera Gallery is nestled among designer brands and five-star hotels in the Place Vendome. “With this kind of location, we can contact regular collectors because they are also working in the high-end district,” he says. The company made its foray into the Middle East market in 2008 with the opening of its first gallery in Dubai. This was key to serving its growing customer base in the GCC countries. “This is a very important market. We already had relationships with a few collectors based in Dubai, Qatar, Abu Dhabi and Oman and for us it was very important to be able to establish a space in this region. Dubai is very international and I think it is the centre of the emirates and all the public events in the region. People go there to relax over the weekend and it attracts many tourists so it was the place to be for us,” says Dyan. Opera’s Dubai gallery is situated in the heart of Dubai’s financial district DIFC, home to the regional offices of top global banks, financial institutions, high-end retail outlets and fine dining destinations. About half its customers are Emiratis and other Gulf nationals while the other half are expatriates

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Gilles Dyan, founder, Opera Gallery Dubai

living in or visiting Dubai. “I think we have two types of clientele in Dubai. Some want to make a good investment in masterpieces and have part of their assets in art so they try to buy important names among contemporary artists and we have collectors who buy because they like the art and want to decorate their home,” he says. Collectors can find works by renowned artists such as Marc Chagall, Joan Miro, Salvador Dali and Sam Francis in the


ART

DIFC outlet as well as paintings from Emirati, Syrian, Iranian and Lebanese artists. Last year sales at the Dubai gallery grew by 10 per cent compared to the previous year and represented 6.5 per cent of the group’s global turnover, says Dyan. While sales are accelerating, Dubai still lags behind the gallery’s fastest-growing markets - New York, London, Hong Kong and Paris. That could change once the UAE’s art scene expands and matures, says Dyan. “It takes time to educate people to buy important works. I think the market will be more important when all the big museums open in Abu Dhabi like the Louvre and the Guggenheim. “The market is good but it could be much better in the future because more and more people will visit. [The market] will expose the public to art, educate them and will give people who wish to own paintings or to decorate their home more options. The more people there are in the art business, the more museums, the better it is for everyone and for our business as an art gallery.” Increasingly, high net worth individuals are betting on art as a longterm investment, with the perception that works by the world’s best artists will retain their value even during times of crisis. In February, a Paul Gauguin painting depicting two Tahitian women was sold for a record $300 million, reportedly to the Qatar Museums Authority and exceeding any amount paid for a single art piece. “Confidence is very high and if you look at all the studies being done about art compared to the stock market or gold, in the long term art is the better investment. The only thing you need to show is the right artists at the right price,” says Dyan. With this in mind, Dyan has a lot of planning to do, as he prepares to add a number of new galleries this year to Opera’s portfolio. Among the locations slated for new openings are Beirut, Baku, New York and Colorado.

Argentine artist Antonio Segui is being exhibited in Opera Gallery Dubai. The collection will be shown during Art Dubai as it ties in with this year’s focus on Latin America

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WHEN FASHION MEETS ART Have luxury brands patronising art blurred the lines between serious exhibitions and lavish displays of prestige? BY DAVID BATTY

rt has to an extent always been associated with luxury. Throughout history, wealthy patrons, such as the Medici family, have commissioned extravagant fine art in a display of their wealth, power and taste. In the past decade this association has reached an industrial scale as luxury brands have become increasingly entwined with the rise of a new global nouveau riche, particularly in Asia and the Middle East, which seek the same values from both sectors: big names with even bigger prices. In a bid to maximise this trend, luxury brands have become major art patrons, sponsoring both museum exhibitions and commercial art fairs. The lobbies and VIP lounges of fairs such as Art Basel display watches by Bachon Constantine and jewels from Bulgari and until this year Cartier had been the main sponsor of Art Dubai. Fashion houses have increasingly courted famous artists. Last year the American artist Sterling Ruby collaborated with Belgian designer Raf Simons on a neon paint splattered menswear collection; in 2012 Damien Hirst created a range of luxury backpacks for Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen’s label, The Row, which carried a price tag of $35,000. In the same year, Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama collaborated with Louis Vuitton on a clothing range featuring her signature polka dot patterns, sold at a specially commissioned concept shop in London’s Selfridges department store. Such flashy ventures have, however, often overshadowed the more serious and enduring engagement of some luxury

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houses with contemporary art, including Cartier, Prada and Louis Vuitton, who have set up major art foundations with programmes worthy of the best museums. Their prominence in the art world is growing. The Louis Vuitton Foundation for Creation, a new museum designed by the architect Frank Gehry in the Bois de Boulogne park to the west of Paris, opened in October. In May, Fondazione Prada, the art foundation set up by fashion designer Miuccia Prada and her husband Patrizio Bertelli in 1993, will open the latest and largest contemporary art gallery in Milan, with 11,000 square metres of exhibition space and a bar designed by film director Wes Anderson. Meanwhile, the art foundation of the high-end French department store group Galeries Lafayette will open in an office block refurbished by Rem Koolhas in 2016. Housed in an eight-storey glass structure in Montparnasse designed by the French architect Jean Nouvel, the Cartier Foundation, which celebrated its 30th anniversary last year, has commissioned more than 800 works and staged more than 150 exhibitions. Its highlights include orchestrating a reunion of the Velvet Underground in 1990, being the first major museum to exhibit the drawings and photographs of film director David Lynch in 2007 and commissioning the celebrated American photographer William Eggleston to document Paris in 2009. Although 60 per cent of its funding comes from the jeweller Cartier, the foundation operates a strict rule that no commissioned artist can ever work with the luxury brand,


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340,000

visited Ron Mueck exhibition

Headquartered

Paris

CARTIER FOUNDATION FOR CONTEMPORARY ART

More than

1,300

Collection

Established

31 years ago

1,200 sq m

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ART SPECIAL XXXXXXXXXX

Headquartered

Paris

Opened Oct 27, 2014

Established

nine

years ago Four themes for the permanent collection

THE LOUIS VUITTON FOUNDATION In 2062, the museum will be gifted to Paris

11,000 sq m including 11 galleries

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ART

PRADA FOUNDATION Three structures and 10storey tower

Established in 1993 Opened in 2011 in Grand Canal Venice

New HQ in Milan’s Largo Isarco 19,000 sq m

Opening May 9, 2015

maintaining a strict delineation between the brand’s business and arts patronage. Foundation director Herve Chandes is keen to stress that the organisation’s interest in art extends beyond the big names, contending its major achievements have been championing and nurturing the practice of emerging and midcareer artists, many of whom have gone on to much greater prominence in the art world. This work has included a major exhibition of African photographers and the first art exhibition of the Japanese director Beat Takeshi Kitano, which included a multicoloured sculpture of a T-Rex and an elephant with a cybernetic weaponised trunk. Chandes says: “It’s very easy to make a programme of the most famous names. If the public come to the foundation and they already know what it is about, what is the point?” Among the artists the foundation has helped to gain greater prominence are the Australian hyper-realist sculptor Ron Mueck, the Chinese painter Yue Minjun and Sarah Sze, who represented the US in the 2013 Venice Biennale - the world’s most important contemporary art event - with her sprawling installation Triple Point. Fourteen years earlier, Chandes visited the artist in her New York studio and fell in love with her then small-scale intricate installations. He invited her to make a huge installation – called Everything That Rises Must Converge – for the ground floor of the foundation, an experience that not only raised her out of relative obscurity but one which the artists herself has said helped transform the scale of her practice. “She was very surprised with the scale,” Chandes recalls. “It was challenging in a good way in terms of questioning the dimensions of her art.” Some art experts are uneasy about the increasingly close relationship of fine art and fashion. Georgina Adam, editor

at large of the Art Newspaper says luxury brands are using their association with big-name artists to heighten the sense of exclusivity about their clothing. “They just want to have their logos everywhere,” she says. However, others are more relaxed about such collaborations. Wendy Cromwell, president of the US Association of Art Advisors, says her first introduction to art and fashion was through Yves Saint Laurent’s Mondrian collection, inspired by the Modernist minimalist paintings. “I tend to look favourably on the merger of fashion and art because I see fashion as a form of self-expression and I believe art collecting is also a form of self-expression,” she says. Cromwell shares Adam’s disquiet about the commercial sponsorship of art fairs, which now often includes luxury goods displays in the VIP lounges. “When you’re greeted by a display of watches by Bachon Constantine and jewels from Bulgari, it is a distraction and out of place,” she says. “It debases the intellectual experience.” However, she says there is a big difference between that kind of marketing and “true collectors and visionaries like Miuccia Prada”. The art expert reserves special praise for the Prada Foundation’s recreation at the 2013 Venice Biennale of a landmark 1969 exhibition of conceptual, minimal, postminimal and arte povera artists who defined art-making in the late 20th century. “For someone like me who was born too late to experience this landmark exhibition that was a spectacular thing for Miuccia to do,” she says. “I adore what she does,” adds Cromwell. “I think she is a consummate connoisseur and has really not conflated what she built as a brand and her business.”

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ART

THE BILLIONAIRE’S MUST-HAVE Forget panic rooms or the five supercars parked outside the front door. There is only one thing the super-rich need - their own private museum

The Long Museum in West Bund in Shanghai houses the largest private collection in China owned by tycoon Liu Yiqian

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Images courtesy of Getty Images

BY DAVID BATTY


© Iwan Baan

ART

The Broad Museum under construction on Grand Avenue in downtown Los Angeles

t has become the ultimate status symbol of the super-rich. Less ostentatious than a yacht or a penthouse, more classy than jewels or designer watches, the private art museum has become the must-have for the global elite. Over the past decade, as a new breed of ultra high net worth individuals has arisen in the growth and emerging markets of Asia, the Middle East and Latin America, the number of these institutions has grown exponentially, transforming the global art market. The Broad museum, scheduled to open in Los Angeles in September, is an 11,000 square metre space that will showcase the collection of the billionaire Eli Broad, who is worth $7.2 billion. Indonesian billionaire Budi Tek, rated one of the world’s top 10 art collectors by Art & Auction magazine, has branches of his Yuz museum in Jakarta and Shanghai with a third set to open in Bali near the capital Denpasar in 2017. Last year husband and wife Chinese super-collectors, billionaire Liu Yiqian and Wang Wei, opened the second Long Museum, now the largest private museum in China with 16,000 square metres of exhibition space. Such is the significance of these institutions that a new Global Private Art Museum Association (GPAMA) launches on May 20 at the Art15 fair in London, bringing together museums from as far afield as China, Italy, Indonesia, Turkey and Dubai. But what is driving their proliferation? Firstly, it is the growing wealth of the BRIC countries and other emerging economies, particularly in Asia, where there were a record 444 billionaires in 2014, according to Forbes.

The most exceptional growth has been in China, which had no billionaires 20 years ago but now has 152. Beneath this top tier of wealth, there is also a growing, highly affluent middle class with the money to seriously collect art. The Chinese Luxury Consumer White Paper 2012 found there were 2.7 million high net worth individuals with personal assets of more than six million yuan ($960,000) and 63,500 worth more than 100 million ($16 million). The second factor is the art market’s strenuous courting of this new money, with new art fairs opening and extensive VIP programmes to cater to new collectors. Georgina Adam, editor at large for the Art Newspaper, says: “The art fairs are keen to bring in new money. They’ve got the yacht, the Rolex and now they’re seeing that to be taken seriously, they also have to have art. You will have a VIP person for China, for southeast Asia, and their job is to get people together at dinner and cocktail parties. They invite and probably pay – it’s never been clear – for them to come. Then they get sucked into the lifestyle. They get invited all over the place – to Venice and other biennales – and it gets to a point where they decide to have a museum. It’s become the billionaire’s must-have.” Wendy Cromwell, president of the US Association of Professional Art Advisors, says the proliferation of private museums has in turn contributed to the growth of art fairs. In the past decade the number of fairs worldwide has risen from 68 to more than 200. The biggest fair, Art Basel, launched Art Unlimited, a 12,000sq m exhibition hall, in 2000 to showcase

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ART

Ramin Salsali at the Salsali Private Museum in Alserkal Avenue, Dubai

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Image courtesy of SPM

The private art museum has become the must have for the global elite


ART

massive works of art, from 22-metre paintings to installations and sculptures the size of an apartment, to cater for private museums. It is now a global brand with three editions, the original in its Swiss home city and fairs in Miami and Hong Kong, which court the new class of mega-wealthy collectors from Asia and Latin America. Cromwell says the Rubell Family Collection in the US, which includes works by Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons and Andy Warhol, was instrumental to the establishment of Art Basel in Miami Beach, while the Zona Maco fair in Mexico City launched a year after Eugenio Lopez’s Jumex Collection, said to be the largest private art collection in Latin America, opened in the suburb of Ecatepec. She adds: “It is a pattern that is quite self evident. Where private museums open, fairs do come.” This symbiotic relationship is evident in the UAE where Art Dubai enjoys a close relationship with local private collections, including Sultan al Qassemi’s Barjeel Art Foundation in Sharjah, which specialises in Arab art, and the Iranian collector Ramin Salsali’s eponymous museum in Dubai, both of which are part of the press and VIP programmes at Art Dubai. Al Qassemi, who is a director of this year’s Global Art Forum at this year’s

fair, says: “I was able to visit galleries that came during the fair with other collectors and compare and speak to the artists. It allowed me to build a mental map of where I wanted to go.” Salsali, a member of the GPAMA, says up to 10 further private museums are planned in the UAE. The Saudi Abdul Latif Jameel Community Initiatives, which operates the Jameel art prize shown at the fair, is also opening a new arts centre in the country in 2016 and another in Jeddah. Fair director Antonia Carver says private museums have “a trickle-down effect” in terms of building a sustainable art scene by encouraging other collectors to be more adventurous and buy installation or video, and by commissioning and exhibiting lesser-known or emerging artists. Philip Dodd, founder of GPAMA, agrees that in regions such as the Middle East or Asia private museums are more than status symbols: they make up for a lack of state funding for art. He says: “Across the globe, private museums of contemporary art are becoming more numerous and more important. In certain parts of the world they are more important than their public sector counterparts in sustaining and developing contemporary art.”

Image Courtesy of Barjeel Art Foundation

Guided tour of Peripheral Vision (2010) with private collector Sultan Sooud al Qassemi, founder of the Barjeel Art Foundation in Sharjah

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ART

FUTURE PERFECT ArtistYazan Khalili’s installation at Art Dubai gives a nod to the city’s past from a modern perspective

he marriage between the art world and vodka brand Absolut goes back three decades to when Andy Warhol was first invited to create a series of iconic advertisements inspired by the drink’s bottle. Since then, the brand has collaborated with more than 550 artists on 850 commissioned projects, a number of which sit in the Spritmuseum in Stockholm, Sweden. This year, the Palestinian artist Yazan Khalili will give his own take on the Art Bar, an integral part of Art Dubai every year. Called The Island and sitting on Madinat Jumeirah’s Fort island, it will consist of a mountain with a tunnel going through it and leading to a bar hidden within the shell of the mountain. “The height of the mountain creates intrigue, drawing people towards the island. This is a nod to Dubai’s urban makeup where the height [of buildings] has come to symbolise reaching toward the future,” says Khalili. Deconstructed neon signs from Dubai will light up the tunnel, a nod to the city’s recent past. Khalili explains that “neon lights were a very strong visual element in Dubai from the 1980s - a staple on Dubai streets, overcrowded with flickering and unnatural shades.” The installation will explore the dual nature of islands as “ a space of survival from endless seas, a refuge from the everydayness of life, as well as spaces for isolation and loneliness.” Certain themes on The Island will continue to evolve during the art fair, which runs from March 18 to 21, as performers and sound artists from the Emirates interact with audiences. Khalili, a former Dubai resident who now lives and works in Palestine, has long been intrigued by his former residence’s fixation on modernity. “We have tried to take an innovative approach in our conceptualisation of the Art Bar. We have looked at the Dubai landscape, both physically and from a perspective of its mentality and tried to capture the essence that moment when the future is created and then take a look back at that moment, at a future date, so we are presented with a past interpretation of what we thought the future would behold.”

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Absolut Art Bureau, the unit within the Absolut company responsible for global art initiatives, has partnered with artist Yazan Khalili to create The Island art bar for this year’s Art Dubai fair in March


XXXXXXXXXX ART SPECIAL

US-born artist Adrian Wong was one of the artists commissioned by Absolut Art Bar. His installation Wun Dun appeared at Art Basel Hong Kong in 2013.

Installation view, Better Days, Mickalene Thomas

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Nadim Abbas’ installation Apocalypse Postponed, Art Bar, Art Basel Hong Kong


LIFESTYLE PANDORETTA 360° SOUND SYSTEM Designer Thomas Feichtner has created a clean and minimalist design, akin to a musical instrument for the 360° sound system, built with solid oak and stainless steel for the Austrian start-up producer Poet Audio. The sound system is equipped with the latest in bluetooth technology, capable of wireless music streaming from iPhones, other smartphones and computers. Seven loudspeakers and a crystal-clear 170-watt amplifier ensure that the Pandoretta lives up to its name, providing 360° high-end sound regardless of the listener’s position within a space.

$3,586

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GIZMOS & GADGETS

APPLE WATCH

This much-anticipated item will launch in April. The watch gives pertinent information like weather, stocks and scheduled calendar events and sends alerts through a gentle tap. It tracks your all-day physical activity, shows your progress and even motivates you to move around more. There are photodiodes on the back to detect your heart rate. It keeps time within 50 milliseconds of the definitive global time standard, adjusting to local time when you travel.

Pricing starting from $350 for the basic watch

DJI INSPIRE 1 DRONE

The leading manufacturer of camera drones, this is DJI’s most advanced technology yet. It offers everything you need for a complete aerial film making tool in a box. Just add a mobile device or screen for live HD view. Get a full, unrestricted 360-degree view of the world below and create images like never before. A second controller allows one person to control the flight path while the other aims the camera.

From $3,391

BANG & OLUFSEN BEOSOUND MOMENT

BeoSound Moment is an intelligent, wireless music system that integrates your music and streaming services into one. With just one touch on the solid wood interface, you can instantly start a continuous, high-performance sound experience that fits your mood preference, creating precisely the atmosphere you are looking for, day or night.

From $2,795

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BACK TO THE FUTURE

Honda’s new super-tech NSX will go head to head with Ferrari after its summer release BY SIMON DE BURTON

f there is one car that will go down in history as an overlooked classic, it is surely Honda’s futuristic NSX of the 1990s. This high-tech Ferrari beater boasted aluminium bodywork, a windscreen design based on that of an F-16 jet fighter canopy, a bulletproof V6 engine and a chassis and suspension set up that was developed on the advice of none other than triple Formula One world champion Ayrton Senna. Although almost 19,000 NSXs were sold around the world during its 15-year production run, it somehow failed to make it into the lexicon of supercar greats, despite being able to outpace its Italian rivals while demonstrating the reliability for which Japanese cars are renowned. But now the original NSX is beginning to attract the attention of collectors - not least because a full nine years after it was first announced, a new generation NSX has finally made it to the

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production stage. And what a car it promises to be. Unveiled at the Geneva motor show last year and set to start rolling off the line in the late summer, the new NSX arrives more than 25 years after the original - and serves as an object lesson in the march of technology because this 21st century version is brimming with it. Developed mainly in the US (where it will also be built), the car combines a mid-mounted, twin-turbocharged V6 petrol engine augmented by no fewer than three electric motors driving all four wheels, two being mounted on the front axle, the other sitting at the back between the engine and a nine-speed, dual clutch gearbox. The T-shaped battery pack which powers them fits along the car’s central spine and behind the seats, ensuring the lowest possible centre of gravity and good balance for optimum handling. There are four electrically-switchable driving modes which are


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AUTO

operated from a dial between the seats and range from quiet (in which the NSX runs purely on electric power) through to sport, sport plus and track. The car’s swooping bodywork - which appears to combine elements of the Audi R8 and McLaren P1 - is made from a combination of steel, aluminium and moulded composite with a carbon fibre roof and floor. Honda is keen to point out, however, that for all the NSX’s high-tech gadgetry it is primarily intended as a sporting machine for those who still get a thrill from the feeling of being in control of a high-performance car, rather than simply piloting a highly automated vehicle that is designed to compensate for its drive’s mistakes.

What is perhaps most impressive about the NSX, however, is its projected price. Like the original car of the 1990s, it is intended to compete with premium sports cars from marques such as Ferrari and Lamborghini while remaining relatively affordable. And that means it will probably cost around $150,000 when the order books open this summer prior to the first deliveries at the end of the year. Considering the level of development that has gone in to the car, not to mention the space age materials from which it is made and the technology that it carries, it seems impossible that Honda will make much of a profit unless it sells it in serious numbers. One thing seems certain, however - this time around, the NSX won’t have to wait long in order to achieve modern classic status.

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DESIGN

A MAN S TOUCH Nadine Kanso forges links with her cousin Samer al Ameen to launch a men’s jewellery collection

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DESIGN

It was either him or no one. He’s a great designer. I couldn’t have chosen someone better,” says Nadine Kanso, the Dubai-based photographer, artist and designer about her collaboration with Samer al Ameen. The duo have just launched a men’s collection for Bil Arabi, Kanso’s jewellery line. Second cousins Kanso and Al Ameen, whose grandparents were siblings, grew up together in Beirut and have seen an early childhood camaraderie flourish into a strong friendship and creative partnership. “Our design aesthetics are very similar. We like the same things, we look at things the same way. When we go to an exhibition, we will both notice the exact same thing,” says Kanso. Even though this is the first time they have actually launched anything together, it is not their first collaboration. The pair frequently consult each other on their independent design projects. “I think I am the second person after Nadine who is most familiar with Bil Arabi,” says Al Ameen. His background includes advertising, image consulting and product design but he says the most difficult part of the process was designing the lettering for the new collection. He spent hours

leafing through books on Arabic calligraphy and studying fonts. It took him about three months to develop a unique, hand-drawn script. The result is distinctly different from Bil Arabi’s women’s line. While the earlier line is curvy and flirtatious, the Arabic letters in the latter are more linear and clean — unmistakably masculine. The collection consists of sterling silver necklaces, bracelets, cufflinks and rings. Everything is handcrafted in Dubai. It is likely this will not be the last collaboration for the pair as they found working together remarkably easy. “Most of the time, artists want to impose their mark,” says Kanso. “What works for us is that we have zero ego.” The launch comes at a time when men’s jewellery is growing ever more popular. Euromonitor estimates global sales of men’s luxury goods will hit $110 billion by 2019, up 36 per cent from $81 billion last year. Signs point toward men growing ever more image conscious and a blurring of the conventional notions of masculinity. “Men nowadays need to look trendy. It is no longer just about wearing any business suit. Fashion for men has really taken a giant leap in the past few years,” says Al Ameen. Bil Arabi Men’s is available at Sauce Rocks in the Galleria Mall on Al Wasl Road.

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Dechainements chandelier, Vincenzo de Cotiis, polished brass and blown Murano glass, Carwan Gallery, $90,000

AN EYE FOR DESIGN Global Citizen showcases the best of the cutting edge fair Design Days Dubai

Split chair, brass, Zhoujie Zhang, Gallery All, $9,800

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DESIGN

Mirror, Jorge Moura, cast metal, Nakkash Gallery, $1,920

Lamps, Jean Cacheleux, Galerie Silbereis, $8,542

Rosewood folding table, Naihan Li, Gallery All, $11,800

Copper screen, Fay McCaul, Crafts Council, $14,936

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KEEPING IT FLY Numarine launches its new yacht, the 70 Flybridge

he Turkish yacht builder Numarine has unveiled its latest model, 70 Flybridge. With sleeker and more aggressive exterior lines than its predecessors, this is a highperformance yacht with twin 1,000 horsepower engines which are capable of propelling it to 34 knots on the open seas. The boat can come with either three or four bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms, according to the owner’s preferences. In the four-cabin layout, the galley is integrated seamlessly into the main deck saloon. The large windows in the master cabin stop it feeling

too enclosed. Taking up the full width of the yacht, the cabin comes complete with a walk-in wardrobe, dressing table and a spacious bathroom, such as those found in much larger yachts. Natural light bathes the interiors through expansive side windows and a retractable roof. The large dining area is equipped with a wet bar and sun pad for entertaining. The bow features a large lounge-like seating area and sunbathing space. This smaller yacht with a bigger boat feel is designed to be agile and manageable without the need for a crew.

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HOTELS

SLEEP LIKE A KING Get a royal welcome in these former palaces

CIRAGAN PALACE KEMPINSKI ISTANBUL, TURKEY The name Cıragan, meaning lighting or festival in Persian, comes from the fireworks set off at the many banquets and festivals held in the gardens of the mansion built by the 18th century grand vizier Ibrahim Pasha. Although the building — once the home of sultans Abdulaziz and Murat V — has witnessed many changes over the years, including the fall of the Ottoman Empire, this magnificent hotel along the Bosphorus and its resplendent interiors are still a prime destination for weddings and celebrations among the Turkish

elite. Six years ago the palace was diligently restored with 19th century historical details. The main atrium features a spectacular chandelier but the old hammam, with its ghostly beauty, is the true crown jewel of the palace. The only part to have survived a 1910 fire, it boasts marble surfaces and exquisitely carved walls, railings and doorways. Rooms from $382 per night

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HOTELS

PALAZZO DELLA GHERARDESCA, FOUR SEASONS HOTEL FIRENZE FLORENCE, ITALY After a seven-year renovation, the 15th century Palazzo della Gherardesca and the Conventino, a 16th century convent, are now home to the Four Seasons Florence. The palazzo was commissioned in 1473 by Bartolomeo Scala, chancellor to Florence’s legendary Medici family and was later home to Cardinal Alessandro de Medici, who became Pope Leo XI. The unassuming entrance on Florence’s Via Borgo Pinti leads to an arcaded courtyard decorated with 16th century frescos by Flemish mannerist artist Jan van der Straet. There are other frescos by him in what was once the palazzo

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chapel and on the staircase that ascends to the grand suites of the main floor. The Della Gherardesca suite features rococo frescos by Baldassare Franceschini, whose work can be found in the church of Santa Croce, the Franciscan church in Florence’s main square. Similarly impressive baroque flourishes abound in the hotel, including original Florentine art and craftsmanship in several of the hotel’s bedrooms, suites and bathrooms. Rooms from $523 per night


HOTELS

TAJ LAKE PALACE UDAIPUR, INDIA A glittering jewel set in the middle of Lake Pichola and surrounded by the Aravalli mountains, the hotel retains every bit of 18th century Mughal splendour. Marble colonnades line sweeping courtyards inlaid with coloured stone. Crystal chandeliers, silk drapes, gilt moulding and antique furniture ornament public spaces. Guest rooms are adorned with handpainted motifs, mosaics, silk bolsters,

swings and exquisite stained glass. Certain rituals of the nobility are not lost. The rooftop restaurant Bhairo still requires formal attire. Candlelit evening walks and sunset ceremonial cruises make the hotel one of the most romantic on the planet. Rooms from $392 per night

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DINING

THE WORLD ON A PLATE Dubai’s new restaurant openings cross the globe with international flavours

SEA FU In Dubai, there is no shortage of beachfront restaurants but Sea Fu commands a particularly uninterrupted view of the Arabian Gulf. With the windows open, the spectacular evening sunset gives the perfect backdrop to fine dining. The dishes, as the name suggests, are primarily seafood, drawing inspiration from both the Mediterranean and Asia­— a somewhat curious combination but still complementary. The mizuna salad with Asian pear and

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pomegranates is refreshing while seared foie gras with Jerusalem artichoke puree is velvety. The dessert platter is spectacular, with a rainbow section of sorbets and ice creams in delightfully unusual flavours such as lychee and wasabi. The Four Seasons Resort, Jumeirah +971 4 270 7777


DINING

EM SHERIF Lebanese chef Mireille Hayek’s chic new Dubai restaurant looks as if it is straight out of the pages of Elle Decor with its slate blue walls, Ottoman mirrors and antique porcelain plates adorning the walls. The restaurant also boasts a view of the Burj Khalifa and the Dubai fountain. With no menu, the kitchen will roll out 32 courses of some of the best Levantine food in town, including some dishes rarely found outside homes, such as beef liver in

yoghurt sauce and fish fillets in tahini. Leave plenty of room as it is easy enough to fill up on the warm, pillowy bread from the centrepiece woodfired oven. Evenings bring an energetic crowd and live Lebanese musicians. The Address Downtown, Downtown Dubai +971 4 424 3000

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DINING

CHINA GRILL This upscale New York eatery has brought Asian-inspired fare to Dubai’s Westin hotel. The impressive backlit bar, via a private entrance, is surpassed only by the 6m high wooden ribbon wall that forms a backdrop to the restaurant, framed by hanging ceiling features and artwork inspired by early global cartography and the fabrics of the ancient silk route, giving China Grill an edgy yet grandiose vibe. Each dish is made for sharing from a rather inventive menu, including tuna and crab tartare with

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finely chopped edamame crostini, the perfect accompaniment to scoop up the subtle raw tuna and Moorish crab mixture topped off with delicious guacamole, and fire-roasted eggplant with silky aubergine slathered in a sweet, sticky mizo glaze and creamy burrata. The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi, Jumeirah +971 4 511 7333


DINING

COYA This Peruvian restaurant has long been a London hotspot, securing places in top restaurant lists in the Times and Zagat. It is the place to see and be seen — and the Dubai location is no different. Aside from people watching, the menu is a big draw. The snapper ceviche with truffle and ponzu is a standout dish. The Josper cooked octopus is perfectly tender, balanced by grilled tomatoes and potatoes.

The Pisco Lounge featuring South American cocktails is the perfect place to let loose after a meal. If the hard-to-get reservations are still not exclusive enough, a members’ club area offers a private terrace. Restaurant Village, the Four Seasons Resort, Jumeirah +971 4 316 9600

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Images courtesy of Getty Images


BURMESE DAYS

This remote and exotic locale is on the cusp of some very big changes

Images courtesy of Corbis / ArabianEye.com

BY NAUSHEEN NOOR

or decades, strict military rule kept this tiny southeast Asian nation hidden from world view. Its lush landscapes, Buddhist culture and archaeological treasures were privy only to the most intrepid travellers drawn by its mysterious allure. Much has changed since the military junta dissolved itself in 2008. One of the world’s most prominent former political prisoners and chairwoman of the opposition party, the National League for Democracy, Aung San Suu Kyi has mellowed her position on tourism in Myanmar (also known as Burma) from boycotting it to urging individual tourists to come if they go about their travels “in the right way, by using facilities that help ordinary people and avoiding facilities that have close links to the government”. The tourists have been steadily increasing ever since — from one million in 2012 to more than double that in 2013 and rising to 3.5 million last year. Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, is indeed open for business and like any country tiptoeing toward modernity, it is full of contradictions. Travellers expecting to find a remote and disconnected country will be surprised to find airport pick-up cars with wifi, plenty of cash machines and the CNN channel in hotels. With a deeply devout populace, much of what there is to explore in the country centres on its spectacular shrines to Buddhism. Theravada Buddhist monks are ascetic, sworn to live without worldly possessions with exception to - it seems - the latest in Samsung technology. Even the majestic Shwedagon Pagoda, the most holy in Myanmar, is not immune to the sight of crimson-robed monks with shorn heads smiling and taking selfies. Yangon, the former capital, is a jumble of colonial era buildings, street vendors and urban lakes. Decrepit but with abundant charm,

it is these streets that have inspired countless writers including George Orwell, Rudyard Kipling and Pablo Neruda. Along the banks of the Irrawaddy river, the terrain magically turns from dusty to lush and life transpires much as it has for generations. Child monks play netball in the courtyard of a temple, their laughs a momentary respite from a lifetime dedication to piety. Fishing boats set out for the daily catch in the early morning. In the afternoon, locals gather in makeshift tea stalls, sipping their chai under the protection of the banyan branches overhead. With the absence of light pollution, the evening stars light up with incandescent brilliance. The city of Bagan is an archaeological wonderland with more than 2,000 scattered temples, stupas and pagodas dating from the 11th and 12th centuries. The more prominent temples will draw moderate crowds but it is easy to turn a corner and have a place entirely to yourself, free to discover exquisite details in nearly forgotten places— hidden frescoes, a carved door, a gleaming gilded Buddha. Find the right temple and you can climb its face to take in the spectacular sunset. The sheer beauty of the landscape combined with an untouched quality is what makes Myanmar so special and at the same time, so vulnerable. Development often goes hand and hand with desecration and even on a smaller scale, there are few barriers to stop tourists from touching wall paintings, spoiling 1,200-year-old relics or exploiting the country’s truly warmhearted people. It is nearly impossible to leave the country without a deep connection to it and, inevitably, a sense of fearfulness about its rapidly changing future.

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TRAVEL

WHERE TO GO

BAGAN

INLE LAKE

NGAPALI BEACH

YANGON

This glass-like lake in central Myanmar is interspersed with villages on stilts, island-bound Buddhist temples and floating gardens. Fishermen use paddles attached to one leg to row and navigate the watery paths.

Images courtesy of Getty Images

Located on the banks of the Irrawaddy river, this is an archaeological treasure trove of more than 2,000 Buddhist temples, pagodas and stupas scattered across the plain and dating back to the 11th and 12th centuries.

The perfect way to end an adventure trip is by relaxing on the pristine white sands along the Bay of Bengal. Local fisherman bring in the catch of the day that is later served in the many restaurants and hotels popping up in this formerly sleepy fishing village.

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Though the capital has officially moved to Naypyidaw, Yangon is still the capital in spirit with its charming jumble of colonial era buildings, temples, street vendors, urban lakes and parks. The glittering dome of the magnificent Shewedagon Pagoda dominates the skyline.


TRAVEL

Two buddhist monks praying at Kyaiktiyo Golden rock at dawn

WHERE TO STAY WHERE TO STAY MYANMAR TREASURE INLE LAKE

With 50 over-water bungalows, this hotel gives a sense of what it is like to live on the lake, albeit in the most luxurious way. Rates from $230 per night

THE STRAND

BAGAN LODGE

Rates from $255 per night

Rates from $230

A colonial legacy, The Strand is housed in a restored Victorian mansion in Yangon with a white-washed faรงade, teak-framed windows, bamboo furniture and soaring ceilings. The scent of jasmine lingers in the air.

Situated on the edge of the archaeological zone, this hotel allows for easy access to the less visited temples to create a more personal experience of Bagan. The safari-style rooms are luxuriously appointed.

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LITTLE BLACK BOOK SINGAPORE A fourth generation artisan, Ethan Koh was born into a family specialising in luxury exotic skins. London-based Koh has secured a loyal following for his beautifully crafted handmade leather pieces in bright colours, inspired by a childhood in Singapore, under his Ethan K label. Here he tells GC about his favourite spots in Singapore.

During the week, breakfast is usually a rush for me as I have early morning meetings but when I get the chance, nothing compares to Sunday brunch at the Fullerton Bay hotel.

Art and culture The ArtScience museum has a variety of cool exhibitions throughout the year that nobody should leave Singapore without visiting.

Keeping it fruity I usually take a selection of exotic fruit back to my family’s crocodile skin tannery and use a special technique to transfer the colour of the fruit into the skins. The colours of my bags are inspired by the dragon fruits, calamansi and mangosteens. 92

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Images courtesy of Corbis / ArabianEye.com

Leisurely brunches


Going to market Feeling carnivorous ired steakhouse, is one of The Fat Cow, a Japanese-insp feeling very happy. my favourites. I always leave

Singapore is a rich culture mixed with an appreciation of luxury. I love that you can eat delicious food at markets and have tea or go for drinks at the most amazing rooftop bars in the world’s most luxurious hotels.

I really love to walk around the markets in Singapore, especially the fruit markets. The one in Chinatown is really impressive. You can’t walk by without smelling the delicious fragrance of fresh tropical fruits.

Hot’n’ spicy Jumbo Seafood restaurant, which has several locations in the city, is famous for its chilli crab.

Well turned out

Images courtesy of Getty Images

Malmaison By The Hour Glass [where a selection of my men’s pieces are available] is the best place to shop. The boutique is really special as each item has been carefully selected.

A breath of fresh air Singapore Botanic Gardens makes you feel like you are completely out of the madness of the city and can take your time walking among the beautiful orchids. It takes me back to the Singapore that my great-grandfather grew up in.

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FASHION

A FASHIONABLE AFFAIR The design duo behind menswear line Afffair make waves in the fashion world with their debut collection li Bakhtiar has always had a great sense of style. In 2013, he was attending a wedding in Baku, dressed in a suit he designed himself. People kept complimenting it and asking him where he purchased the item. That’s when he got the idea to start his own fashion line. A year later in 2014, Bakhtiar teamed up with is friend Rufat Ismayil to launch their brand Afffair. The label is a one-stop shop for everything to athletic gear to suits. A mix of high and low, the label is characterised by its use of very opulent fabrics, such as crocodile leather on simple items such as a sweatshirt. Bakhtiar, who is from Iran, and Ismayil, who is from Azerbaijan ,also incorporate their heritage into the design with items such as a vintage Persian buckle. All of their production happens in Istanbul. “The inspiration for the whole collection came from getting both our backgrounds, our heritage and incorporating that into a men’s

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fashion line,” says Bakhtiar as he holds out a belt inspired by the emblem of the Qajar dynasty in Iran. The line debuted at Pitto Uomo in Milan in January. Post-show, the audience was entertained by Sufi and Persian dancers. “Even the song we did for the catwalk has a Middle Eastern touch to it so we are combining the East and the West but giving it our own touch,” says Bakhtiar. The launch has generated much interest from buyers from Beijing to New York and features in many publications, includng Italian Vogue and style.com. The duo also opened Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Istanbul this month with their fall/winter collection. The label, which describes the typical Afffair man as “a bit of a dandy, a charismatic person, who loves to get attention”, is already garnering interest. A fashion show and store launch is planned for Dubai later this year.


FASHION

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HOROLOGY

SKELETON WATCHES A number of brands are putting their own spin on the classic skeleton watch

CARTIER CRASH SKELETON

PIAGET EMPERADOR COUSSIN 1270S ULTRA-THIN TOURBILLON AUTOMATIC It is the world’s thinnest watch with a skeletonised automatic movement that also features a tourbillon. The watch, part of Piaget’s Black Tie collection, has a cushion-shaped case with a mere 8.85mm thickness. The movement, Caliber 1270S, is similarly slender, made up of 225 parts (including 35 jewels) but is just 5.05mm thick. This watch has an off-centre platinum micro-rotor for automatic winding (most skeleton movements are manual-wound) and a tourbillon topped with a stylized Piaget ‘P’ emblem.

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The first Cartier Crash watch appeared in 1967 and its oddball, asymmetrical design — inspired by an actual damaged (“crashed”) Cartier watch — became an icon of the Swinging London era. Over the years, various versions of the Crash have appeared, produced in very limited editions and becoming cult favourites among Cartier watch enthusiasts. This year’s model, however, is a true milestone in the collection — the first Cartier Crash with an open-worked movement shaped to conform to the “crashed” dimensions of the case. The skeletonised, manualwind movement, Cartier’s in-house Caliber 9618 MC, has distinctively sculpted plates and features bridges that flow into the shapes of curvy Roman numerals, allowing the movement itself to serve as the dial.

PARMIGIANI TONDA 1950 SQUELETTE Caliber PF 705, the automatic movement powering the new Parmigiani Tonda 1950 Squelette, is just 2.6mm thick and 30mm in diameter. It has 144 components, including 29 jewels, a 42-hour power reserve and a frequency of 21,600vph. Caliber PF 705 uses a platinum micro-rotor, which is visible through the back of the case at the top right. Thanks to the open-worked design, it can also be seen through the front. An invisible sapphire crystal is placed above the movement and under the hands. It has a metallic rim, which serves to hide the points of contact between the movement and the case and thus giving the watch the appearance of having no dial at all.


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Global Citizen 25  

Amir Khan on the cover. Global Citizen Magazine is a bi-monthly publication with a unique blend of business, art, philanthropy, and fashion...

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