Global Citizen 34

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Mozambique’s natural resources Khalid Alkhudair Levison Wood Tom Hanks Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair Porsche Design Tower


Murray Moss’ Manhattan apartment James Perkins

Ebraheem Al Samadi Arvid Rosengren

Dennis McGettigan

Muncherie’s Natasha Stephenson Polio’s last days

Antigua & Barbuda in the UAE

George Bukhov Omar Samra







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Little ballerina. Big plans.

Unforgettable performance.

©2016 The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, L.L.C.

The Ritz-Carlton, Abama, Tenerife. One family’s memory captured in six words. A true story where one of our Ladies helps a young daughter’s love of ballet bloom. The surprise recital orchestrated just for her parents moves them to tears. What story will you tell?













U .® 2016 SEP / OCT 7









88 ART





83 SPA





Hot accessories Silver Fast

Bentley Bentayga Hermès

Blue-and-white porcelain


Power breakfasts Historic hotels Keeping it Fresh Anantara Spa Florence

Ferruccio Ferragamo Ayyam gallery Costa Rica

Copper cues

Special-edition timepieces







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EDITOR’S LETTER GLOBAL CITIZEN EDITOR IN CHIEF Natasha Tourish - DIGITAL EDITOR Varun Godinho - LIFESTYLE EDITOR Nausheen Noor - ART DIRECTOR Omid Khadem - FINANCE MANAGER CONTRIBUTORS Tahira Yaqoob, Ryan Young, Ben Flanagan, Ella Buchan, Amanda Fisher, Phill Tromans, Sheema Khan, Daniel Bates PRINTED BY Masar Printing and Publishing

he title of a “hero” is in most cases unwittingly earned. Those who earn it begin their day like every other and are in a split second forced to make a decision that will forever change not only their lives, but scores of others too. On January 15, 2009, Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger landed US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River. To successfully land a commercial aircraft on water is a near impossible task – a maneuver that hadn’t been attempted until then, and hasn’t since. Sully didn’t go searching for the sobriquet of a hero. When it was thrust upon him, he reluctantly dealt with not only the celebrity, but also the criticism that accompanied it. This month, cover star Tom Hanks plays the role of the courageous pilot in Sully. Hanks talks about playing a character who is still alive, his powerhouse director Clint Eastwood and what the title of hero means to him in a riveting interview. This month, we’ve also dedicated the edition to everyday heroes. People who selflessly work behind-the-scenes to significantly impact the lives of those around them. These include Aziz Memon, the chairman of Rotary International’s PolioPlus campaign in Pakistan. His nonprofit administers polio drops under armed police protection – several myths and misguided notions surrounding polio vaccines has meant that Islamic extremists often target and kill health workers. There’s also Saudi Arabia’s Khalid AlKhudair, who has had to fight insults and even threats from his own peers because he wanted to get women in his country into the workplace. These are ordinary people in extraordinary situations. What they did when confronted with a choice is what made them heroes and we salute them in this issue.

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REACH MEDIA FZ LLC CHAIRMAN Armand Arton CO-FOUNDER Armand Peponnet ADVERTISING SUBSCRIPTION Dubai Media City, Building 8, Office 87, PO Box 502068, Dubai, UAE T: +971 4 385 5485 - Email: Copyright 2016 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 Joe Pugliesel / AUGUST


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Phill Tromans

Daniel Bates

Ella Buchan

is a journalist with more than 15 years’ experience. His exploits have taken him to more than 40 countries. He has written for titles including Evo Middle East and

is a British freelance journalist based in New York. He is a regular contributor to the Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph and Daily Express in the UK and has covered major stories in his decade as a reporter, from the BP oil spill to the Boston Marathon bombing.

based between London and California, Ella Buchan is a freelance travel writer. In this issue she travels to Costa Rica, a place where the wildlife seems to have leaped from the pages of a children's picture book.

Sheema Khan

Ben Flanagan

Triska Hamid

is a Pakistan-based journalist who worked on an English daily newspaper before going freelance. She writes blogs for Huffington Post India and covers education, current affairs and terrorism.

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

has been a journalist focusing on the Middle East for the past five years. Previously, she has worked on the business desk at The National and MEED, covering te‎lecoms, media and technology as well as the political and socio-economic issues of the region.


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2016 SEP / OCT 13


Weeks before America goes to the polls, Donald Trump crossed the fence to meet with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. The American Republican Presidential Nominee’s campaign has been scathing on the issue of illegal migrants in America, especially those that cross over from Mexico. Controversially, Trump has pledged to build a wall between the two nations if he comes to power but who will foot the bill is anyone’s guess.


Image courtesy of Getty Images

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OCT 2016

2 0 S EP

26 S EP

Cirque Du Soleil – Varekai, Dubai World Trade Centre, Dubai

Wealth Think, Singapore

The world’s largest theatrical producer, the itinerant Cirque du Soleil entertainment troupe is back in Dubai after a three-year hiatus.The world-class performers will show up with their highly-acclaimed show titled Varekai, that is an “acrobatic tribute to the nomadic soul.” A riot of colour and gravity-defining stunts guaranteed.

Business heads and global CEOs get together for a one-day conference in this island city-state to analyse the opportunities and challenges specific to wealth creation and management in Asia as well as its larger impact on the region beyond.

F i f t h E U - S o u t h e ast Europe Summit O C T O B E R 5 T H 2016 . V IE N N A


1 6 OCT

0 5 OCT


09 OCT

Paris Motor Show, Paris, France

Fifth EU-Southeast Europe Summit, Vienna, Austria

Destination Antigua & Barbuda, Palazzo Versace, Dubai

The biennial motor show is the event for petrolheads to get their motoring fix.The show displays a range of wheels from concepts to production models and is the indicator of not only the health of the global car industry but also the direction the business is headed in the near- to mid-term.

The summit, a crucial one for the region, will explore untapped business opportunities and also methods to boost foreign direct investment. It will also address the sticky points including ways to deal with the migrant crisis, low economic growth rates and unemployment.

For those looking to invest in businesses opportunities in Antigua & Barbuda, or even those considering a luxe island holiday home, this two-day event will take them on a behind-the-scenes journey of what to expect in the twin islands. In focus will be Callaloo Cay, a rising star on the global luxury real estate development scene.


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CROPPING UP ON THE INVESTMENT MAP Mozambique has witnessed a period of relative peace and is a country on the cusp of transforming its economy with newly discovered natural resources

o look at the country now, you would be hard pressed to tell Mozambique has suffered through 30 brutal years of internal conflict that killed more than one million people. The former Portuguese colony, which only mended bridges and began a peace process in the 1990s after a tussle in the power vacuum created by independence, is now widely considered one of the African continent’s best investment prospects – and is often cited as a poster child for successful transitioning via foreign direct investment. The Sub-Saharan country of 25 million is, much like many of its continental brethren, brimming with natural resources. In fact, the first projects that put the country back on the economic


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map in the ‘90s as it emerged from decades of strife were mining behemoth BHP Billiton’s aluminium smelting project and mining of the Temane gas field. Two decades on, managing director of Mozambican business consultancy Astertax Diana Ribeiro says the country remains “a land of opportunities”, wedged in a continent that is exploding. “I believe that Africa can be the emerging market story of the next decade and Mozambique can find itself among the leading nations on the African continent. The biggest indicator of progress is Mozambique’s remarkable economic growth: in the last 20 years the economy has grown at an average rate of 7.3 per cent.”

Images courtesy of Getty Images



The phenomenal rate of growth is thanks largely, Ribeiro says, to the country’s geographic good fortune. “There is also a wealth of natural resources and, of course, the long coastline, which has helped the country develop an impressive tourism and fishery industry.” While the country’s once-strong coal industry has gone bust, there is a new glamour resource in the country since a series of discoveries from 2010 off the northern coast. The Rovuma Basin is home to a liquefied natural gas (LNG) project, operated by three international companies, that is one of the richest natural gas reservoirs discovered in recent times – holding trillions of cubic feet of gas and netting millions of dollars in tax money for the Mozambican government. This has been a big driver of interest from investors in China, South Africa, Europe and America, Ribeiro says. Middle Eastern investment is also growing, and trade between Mozambique and the UAE stands in the region of $13 million. “We know that the estimated 180 trillion cubic feet of offshore gas is enough to supply Germany, Britain, France and Italy for nearly two decades. This is a big opportunity. I think the future is in our hands. Mozambique has all the conditions to emerge within the next decade as an economically strong country.” The project has not been without its detractors and environmental organisations have decried the deaths of marine animals such as turtles and shellfish; while local fisherman have made complaints about noisy equipment resulting in hearing loss that has prevented them from working. This isn’t slowing development down, however. Global business law firm Norton Rose Fullbright Head of Africa director Gregory Nott also sees plenty of opportunity for foreign investors in the energy sector. “Mozambique (and Tanzania) are home to East Africa’s largest natural reserves. There are also other projects underway such as the new 120 MW Gigawatt Park gas-fired power station and Sasol has obtained approval from the Mozambique Council of Ministers for its field development plan, which would see further hydrocarbon resources developed.” Nott explains the country is well-regarded in terms of its projects and the African Development Bank Group has pledged to continue supporting the growing economy – with particular reference to the country’s energy, agriculture and infrastructure sectors. And these are the sectors Nott says are ripe for investors. The Investment Policy Review chief at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s (UNCTAD) Investment and Enterprise Division, Chantal Dupasquier rattles off the country’s impressive investment score card before stating: “Obviously tourism is a big sector as well. It has good access to a number of markets and it’s very close to South Africa. It’s also

a country that has a long experience with foreign investment, gained in not only the extractive sector but the industrial sector.” She also praises the economic reforms made by government as it ushered in a new era of peace. “Very quickly after the end of the conflict they opened their economy to [the world]. They’ve also been able to maintain a relatively good political environment overall. Usually after conflict it takes quite a bit of time, but they’ve managed.” However, media reports in recent weeks suggest otherwise, as hundreds of refugees from Mozambique have fled to bordering Zimbabwe to seek refuge from the Renamo rebel movement who have surged in a renewed conflict since 2014. Nonetheless Dupasquier remains steadfast with her advice to investors – particularly from the Middle East. “The relatively recent food crisis has made people aware that agriculture is definitely an area to invest in. When we look at Africa and the amount of land that remains available for food development, it’s attractive.” While this industry requires, by the necessity of farming, more cooperation with the local population, she says it is much more rewarding to both investor and country in the long run; unlike mega-projects, like Rovuma Basin, which can lead to a quick short term gain for investors and the government but runs out of steam and leaves citizens disgruntled. “As for other natural resources like oil or precious metals, such a discovery is usually, based on history, both an opportunity and a challenge. It’s definitely a good potential source of revenues for the government and they will need that money to finance public services like health, education and infrastructure. But it is also too often unfortunately a huge source of risks.” She warns of ‘Dutch disease’, where a boon in one industry leads to a corresponding decline in other sectors as well as dramatic price spikes. If and when this source dries up, the country is ill-prepared to diversify. “It makes everything else more expensive and creates a lot of tension in maintaining the economy. “Countries have to be very careful about the type of expectations they have, because natural resources usually take a long time before they bring in the expected revenues.” Ribeiro agrees: “We know that there are side-effects to this [gas] boom that may pose difficulties. Few jobs will be created beyond the narrow confines of hydrocarbon development, and the surge in the country’s currency resulting from its gas prospects can harm other more labour-intensive sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing and tourism. This is obviously a challenge. The next years will be decisive in understanding to what extent natural gas discoveries can contribute to social development in the country.”

“natural resources usually take a long time before they bring in the expected revenues”

2016 SEP / OCT 19


AN UNLIKELY HERO A Saudi entrepreneur has become an unlikely champion of women’s causes—but he says change begins at home BY TAHIRA YAQOOB

hen Khalid Alkhudair was launching his groundbreaking initiative aimed at finding jobs for Saudi women, he had to look no further than his own family for inspiration. His sister Aia, 27, a psychology graduate, spent seven months searching for a job without getting so much as an interview. “She would go out with a driver to different companies and would not be allowed in because the human resources department would be male only,” says Alkhudair, the founder of the Glowork women-only recruitment platform. “So she would leave her CV with the security desk and they would probably just chuck it in the bin. She did not even get an interview.” Then there was their mother, who spent the best part of two decades studying first medicine, then dentistry on three different continents at British, Canadian and Saudi universities


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before she was deemed qualified enough to work as a dentist. So in 2011 Alkhudair, then aged 28, quit his high-powered, lucrative job as accountancy firm KPMG’s chief operating officer in the Middle East and North Africa and took the plunge as an entrepreneur. His idea in launching Glowork was to create “an online platform that connects female jobseekers to employers”. He has helped secure jobs for more than 27,000 women in five years with aims to help 50,000 by next year. But Saudi Arabia is no easy recruitment ground, particularly where women are concerned, with a minefield of legal, religious and cultural ramifications to tiptoe through. While there is nothing to stop women from working, employers have to provide segregated areas for them to work in, making them reluctant to hire women with the extra expense involved in setting up separate working and childcare facilities.


And with women still prevented from driving, the logistics of getting to and from a workplace are laden with difficulty - not to mention the cultural taboo women face by taking public roles. Alkhudair, now 33, discovered that to his detriment soon after launching Glowork. He found jobs for about a dozen women as cashiers in a Panda supermarket but there was such a public outcry, they had to quit. “We got into trouble with the public because it was the first time women had worked in public spaces outside hospitals,” he says. “People’s perception was that it was shameful - but there are women who want to work. They were the ones who decided to work as cashiers and they were wearing full niqab. “It was a test in one supermarket in Jeddah but people were posting comments on Twitter and YouTube saying it was wrong and the women had issues with their families so they decided to quit.” The move by the retail chain to appoint a total of 16 women— which incredibly sparked the headline ‘women cashiers in Saudi supermarket!’— led to a backlash from religious scholars. Despite the cashiers working in check-out lanes reserved for women and families, professor Youssef Al-Ahmad from Riyadh’s Imam University led calls for a boycott of the supermarket amid claims gender mixing was against the tenets of Islam and a sign of the increasing westernisation of Islamic culture. The naysayers might have succeeded in driving the women out of their jobs then but change was already afoot. That backlash marked a watershed for Alkhudair as he instead decided to win over men rather than women. “It opened up different horizons for us,” he says. “We wanted to change the way we approached things so we stopped marketing to women and started marketing to men. All our communication was directed towards men—as employers, employees, as fathers, as sons—for them to understand the importance of women working.” Crucially, he also forged links with the Saudi government, which gave him access to its database of 1.6 million unemployed women. As well as the government subsidising Glowork’s research into women’s productivity, the company is paid a fee for placements and receives a payment every time a woman on unemployment benefit finds work through the scheme. Much of Glowork’s focus is offline, says Alkhudair, with only five per cent of business coming from its online platform, where jobs are posted, women can add their CVs and employers

can search for potential candidates with the right skills. That could soon change with the launch of the Glowork app earlier this year. It aims to take recruitment to another level with a geomapping function which alerts registered women whenever they pass within 500 metres of a company with a vacancy. At the same time, women can post their own profiles and CVs, message one another and access targeted product offers. Meanwhile, Glowork’s real world activities involve its 68 staff actively lobbying companies which have never hired women. “We have become job creators,” says Alkhudair. “We would go to companies which never hired women and try to convince them to do so. We would do the filtering and screening for them and connect them with women who were unemployed. They send us their job descriptions, we do the interview process and then we send ready candidates to the employers.” Glowork currently interviews 1,000 women a week and fields 5,000 phone calls each week. Staff have been active in persuading companies to create virtual posts for women, simultaneously overcoming the social taboo of women working in offices in close proximity to men and the challenge of reducing unemployment with 50 per cent of all those out of work living in rural areas. Alkhudair says: “It is not that hard for women to work from home but for men to understand the extra diversified income that could come into the household is very important.” The law is changing too, albeit painfully slowly. The late King Abdullah announced in 2011 he would begin appointing women to the shura advisory council. A year later a law was passed ruling only women could work in lingerie and accessory shops, creating “about 400,000 jobs just like that,” says Alkhudair. An increasing number of companies, including Bupa Arabia and Almarai, have been active in creating better childcare facilities and job opportunities for women. Meanwhile Glowork—which has also launched a Glofit women-only gym—attracted 65,000 women to its annual careers fair last year, where more than 270 organisations exhibited and hired 3,600 recruits in one day. Alkhudair says he now wants to expand to the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kenya and Uganda. “We want to change the perception of the Arab world when it comes to women, empowerment and women in employment,” he says. “Five years ago there were 46,000 women working in the private sector. Today there are more than 500,000. There are a lot of role models but we do not hear enough storytelling about it.”

“We would go to companies which never hired women and try to convince them to do so”

2016 SEP / OCT 21

Image courtesy of Tom McShane



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A WALK ON THE WILD SIDE He’s been dubbed the “toughest man on TV” and “the real deal”. Levison Wood lifts the lid on why he can’t stop walking BY TAHIRA YAQOOB

ew homeowner Levison Wood is talking enthusiastically about painting his new digs and hunting for furniture in antique stores. Nothing unusual in that, you might think. Except domestic bliss isn’t a phrase normally associated with the former British Army captain, who has been living out of a rucksack for the best part of five years and has trouble keeping his itchy feet from leading him on another escapade. For Wood, 34, is the original Boys’ Own adventurer whose derring-do was captured on screen in two television series and books as he first risked life and limb walking more than 4,000 miles along the Nile, crossing warzones, swampland and jungles, then followed it with a 1,700-mile, five-month trek along the length of the Himalayas from Afghanistan to Bhutan. He has just embarked on his third marathon trek, hiking 1,700 miles across the spine of the Americas from Mexico to Colombia, including a treacherous 56-mile crossing of the Darien Gap, dubbed “the most intense and brutal terrain anywhere on earth”. Walking the Americas will be screened on Channel 4 in the UK on his return. His extraordinary adventures have made him a bestselling author topping the Amazon charts and whipped up a huge fanbase - a large contingent of them female admirers who regularly propose to him on Twitter. “I have no idea how it happened. Who would have thought a walking programme would ever be considered sexy?” he says now, blushing. But this was no ordinary TV show for a niche audience of rambling association members. In the four-part series Walking the Nile in January 2015 and the five-part series Walking the Himalayas this year (originally on Channel 4, currently screening on the Discovery Channel), millions of viewers were gripped as Wood was shot at, robbed, threatened at gunpoint in south Sudan, boiled bush rat for supper and weathered scorching temperatures of 56C. The Sunday night broadcast was a surprise hit in his native Britain, knocking Homeland and The Simpsons off the top slots as each episode raked in more than two million viewers. Wood shared in unflinching detail every moment of his gruelling treks, from the blisters which covered his feet - he was filmed slicing off the top of his infected big toe with a razor blade - to the agonising moment in Nepal when the car he was travelling in plummeted 150 metres down a cliff

after the brakes failed. He escaped with a broken arm but the American journalist Matthew Power, who was set to join him for a week on his Nile trek, was not as lucky. He succumbed to heatstroke three days into his trip and died as they crossed Uganda. A devastated Wood considered abandoning the ninemonth expedition but eventually decided to continue and dedicated his subsequent book Walking the Nile to Power. “It was a terrible tragedy and not something anyone could have predicted,” says Wood. “We were in a very remote area and heatstroke comes on very quickly. When your body gets to a certain temperature, it starts to shut down.” Wood’s army reserve prevents him from publicly showing too much emotion but it has also helped him face challenges on his walks head-on, whether it is facing danger, dealing with logistical obstacles or negotiating a treacherous path through regions rife with political conflict, wildlife and the forces of nature. “When you are on foot, you are putting yourself at certain risks,” he says. “You are very vulnerable but people appreciate that and you are viewed less as a tourist and as a human being first of all. With an expedition on foot, you are there for a long time so you get to know a place well and get under the surface of a place. There is something about walking in particular that forces you to interact. I have rafted down rivers and cycled but I don’t think anything comes near walking in terms of interacting with people.” It is perhaps that raw element of going back to basics, of man not simply pitting himself against nature but instead embracing it and exploring everything the planet has to offer, which has resonated with audiences and readers alike. It might seem, in a modern age of technology and Google Earth, that there are no pockets of the globe still waiting to be discovered. Are there any stones left unturned? Wood, from Forsbrook in Staffordshire, says while it might seem “everywhere has been mapped, it is much more than that. It is about documentation, whether you are a scientist coming back with data, a geographer mapping new areas or simply making a film. And it is about inspiring the next generation of explorers and adventurers, about educating yourself, finding out about new cultures and taking those experiences and sharing them with those who are less fortunate or who cannot go and walk down rivers.” A history buff who studied the subject at Nottingham 2016 SEP / OCT 23

Image courtesy of Tom McShane

Levison Wood on his trek along the Nile


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Above: Wood pictured crossing Attabad lake in Pakistan


University, Wood was himself inspired by the age of great Victorian explorers like Sir Richard Burton and David Livingstone, who brought back tales from the Middle East, Africa and Asia, as well as travel writers like Norman Lewis, Eric Newby and the 14th century adventurer Ibn Battuta. He joined the army, he says, because he realised many of his heroes had done the same. “I knew it would open up doors and give me the experiences you couldn’t get anywhere else,” he says. “It is useful in preparing you mentally and gives you certain skills but more importantly, it gives you that sort of mental robustness of dealing with being in the wilderness and the confidence to be around people with lots of guns and policemen and soldiers everywhere. It means you can gauge situations and appreciate when there is a real risk and when there isn’t.” Before that, though, he had already shown a penchant for adventure. As a teenager, Wood regularly hiked in the Peak District with his father. After leaving school at 18, he took a gap year and trekked around Australia, Zimbabwe and South Africa. Crucially, he was taken under the wing of Nepalese Binod Pariyar when civil strife broke out. Wood promised to repay his kindness and returned 15 years later to hire him as his guide on his Himalayan trek. After graduating from university, Wood then spent five months hitchhiking from Nottingham to Goa in India — a practice run, no doubt, for his more recent walks.

Home for the night: Wood stayed in a traditional Afghani yurt while trekking in the country

“I decided to follow the old silk road,” he said. “I went overland all the way through Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and India and covered 25 countries. It cost me £750 and that included the flight home. I was hitchhiking, walking and just relying on the kindness of strangers.” When he returned, he did his military training at Sandhurst academy alongside Prince Harry and served in Afghanistan as well as leading up to 30 soldiers on training missions in Belize, Malawi and Cyprus. Wood quit the army in 2010 and set up his own company called Secret Compass, taking journalists, film crews and curious clients to remote places to dispel some of the myths about so-called hotspots: “It was trying to challenge some of those stereotypes because whenever you turn on the news, places like Afghanistan are in the news for all the wrong reasons. I was looked after very well [there] and I want to try to show people that side of things.” A relentless book promotion and public speaking tour in the UK and US kept him busy for the first half of the year but inevitably, he has dusted off his walking boots to head off on his next mission. Wood, who previously spent three months in Mexico and trained in Belize as a soldier, will take in Costa Rica’s cloud forests, Guatemalan jungles and Nicaraguan volcanoes. “It will be a very diverse journey and an area I am familiar with and passionate about,” he says.

2016 SEP / OCT 25


Tom Hanks is shooting for an oscar in Clint Eastwood's latest film Sully


ourage takes flight in Tom Hanks' new movie Sully, where he stars as Captain Chesley Sullenberger in the real life ‘Miracle on the Hudson’, which saw the US Airways pilot pull off the impossible by safely landing Flight 1549 into New York’s Hudson River on a freezing January morning in 2009, saving the lives of 155 passengers and crew aboard. Sullenberger and his copilot (played by Aaron Eckhart) were forced to undertake the lowest landing of any jet in history when both of the plane’s engines failed after they were hit by a flock of geese. The film, directed by Clint Eastwood, charters the turbulent aftermath of the incident, including various tribunals which called into question Sullenberger’s competence and his decision to make an emergency landing in the Hudson river. It also shines light on the pilot’s reluctant rise to fame; he became a household name in the US shortly afterwards, appearing on


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TV interviews and even attending President Barack Obama’s inauguration and visiting Buckingham Palace. Speaking shortly after the incident Sullenberger told reporters: “My family and I went from complete anonymity to worldwide recognition in an instant — in spite of my best efforts to remind everyone that this was a team effort.” Eastwood’s decision to direct a film on the life of Sullenberger parallels his directorial debut American Sniper in 2014. Both were designed to look at the inner workings of a modern heroic man, and the decisions and choices that made them who they were. However, Scully is unique in that it is the first movie shot entirely with IMAX cameras. It’s likely that the combined force of Eastwood and Hanks' star power on and off screen will only draw further attention to the reluctant hero Sully and possibly even secure him a seat at this year’s Academy Award’s ceremony. “Sully” is in theaters from September 9th

By Suzy Maloy/The Interview People

Tom Hanks and Clint Eastwood, two of Hollywood’s most storied characters, team up to tell the heroic true story of pilot Chesley Sullenberger ‘Sully’, in what is sure to be an early Oscar contender


Tom why did you want to make this movie? The only reason why we made this movie is because we never heard this side of the story before. There are other reasons, of course. Commerce for example. But this subject fascinated me. I thought ‘Thank god, the guy stuck that landing’. Another huge airplane crash was avoided. Its happened too many times in New York. It turned out to be okay this time. This was not a crash by the way; it was called a forced water landing. The way this film portrayed the pilot, how do you prepare for someone like this, given that he is still alive? The particulars are always different. But it is tough to play a guy that is still alive. I mean he will see the movie. You don’t want to mess it up and piss him off. You attempt to capture as much of the truth as is allowed. I met with Sully and told him we are going to lie, because things will be left out and will be compressed, but despite that I want to be as authentic as possible. It’s a b**ch, it’s a lot easier to make s**t up. But it’s not inauthentic what we did. That’s what the task is at hand. Otherwise I don’t want to be in a movie. You need to take opinion out of something like this.

The difference between a simulator and what really happens is also shown in this movie? There is a big X-factor that is loaded with common sense, but at the same time, is utilising all the advantages that technology gives us. Fact is, technology was not wrong, but it was trumped by human behaviour. And that’s what technology is all about. It’s how it’s used in the hands of people. What happens in the chaos of real life and what happens with technology, that’s what we tried to portray.

“Fact is, technology was not wrong, but it was trumped by human behaviour... What happens in the chaos of real life and what happens with technology, that’s what we tried to portray.”

Everyone onboard US Airways flight 1549 were rescued after both the plane's engines failed and forced an emergency landing in the Hudson River

2016 SEP / OCT 27


You are a public figure, and you come under a lot of stress due to too much attention at times. Sully felt the same way in this movie. Can you relate in that sense to him? I talked to Sully and his wife and asked him how that felt to be a celebrity. And they understood, they got it. I met them in 2009 for the first time at the Vanity Fair Party at the Academy Awards. I asked them how they were holding up. The white-hot focus of attention is not always the best thing. And Sully had experienced just enough of that to shave off his moustache. And he told me that it helped a lot, and took some of the attention away. You learn very quickly there is a public version of yourself that people want to see, and there is a private version that you must protect. And that’s the battle you have to wage. Was the real Sully concerned about your portrayal of him? We talked on the phone a number of times, and we had emailed a couple times. I was up at his house for about four hours. And he walked me through the script. He had a lot more he wanted to talk about. He had his substantial moments finding out that everybody had survived. He waited for 18 months for the investigation to finish. What was Sully most worried about? I don’t know but Sully chastised me that it’s not allowed to have private conversations in the cockpit once you pull away from the gate. And that’s all the way until you reach altitude. Sully is a professional aviator. He walked around the script just like

he walked around the plane before he takes off. He wasn’t that thrilled to have this movie made about him. But he wanted us to get it right. What’s it like to work with the Clint Eastwood as a director? It’s amazing. There is no yelling and no stress. Everybody has been with Clint for years, everybody is like family. And you are welcomed in the midst as family, which makes the working environment extremely peaceful and productive. You never know that he is on set. All of the sudden he is there. He doesn’t say action or cut, he just says 'go ahead'. He just lets you act. We went over our stuff a lot. I found it useful to talk to his right hand before we started shooting. So, I was on set early. We didn’t want to screw it up.

“You learn very quickly there is a public version of yourself that people want to see, and there is a private version that you must protect. And that’s the battle you have to wage.”

Images courtesy of Getty Images

Star power: Clint Eastwood and Tom Hanks on the set of 'Sully' in New York


SEP / OCT 2016


Do you feel your own celebrity status is something you have to overcome on set? Everybody has something they bring to the set. There is no denying it. But that’s not a hindrance. At the end of the day you have to tell a brand new story. I have never been bored doing any of these jobs. It makes you lose a little sleep at night, because you don’t want to be bad. Being an actor and acting in a movie is different than being a celebrity. You learn by making terrible mistakes and you move on. I just hope they don’t ever

call me “Mr. Hanks” on the set. I want to always be part of the team. That’s what I want. Everybody is a professional on a movie set. And that’s great. Nowadays, these kind of movies are not made that much anymore. Where is the film industry headed? We are doomed. It’s all over. I peaked in the nineties. We’ll all end up on Netflix. Try to make something new and good then people will show up.

2016 SEP / OCT 29


BANKING ON EDUCATION Described as the UAE's top banker, Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair offered an inspirational light to the world when he announced a third of his family's fortune would be committed to philanthropy BY RYAN YOUNG

bdul Aziz Al Ghurair has long been established as one of the Arab world's best known, and most successful, executives – the longstanding CEO of the UAE's oldest bank, Mashreq, and board member of the Al Ghurair Group, the global manufacturing, real estate and financial conglomerate with interests reaching through six decades and five continents. But for the past year, the Emirati banker has also become one of the region's most visible philanthropists. In July 2015, Al Ghurair announced the formation of the Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education, a charitable organisation named after his father which, over the next ten years, will pledge a third of the family's fortune toward educating young Arabs – a sum of more than US$1.1 billion [Dh4.2 billion]. Such a sizeable gesture took many as a surprise, but it is far from the family's first good deed; in 1964 Abdulla Al Ghurair opened the country's first boarding school in Masafi (now closed and simply known as the “Masafi School”). Al Ghurair also founded Mirdiff's Dar Al Marefa Private School and Al Ghurair University in Dubai Academic City. “Philanthropy has always been part of my life,” says the younger Al Ghurair, who has been in business for more than 30 years. “But traditionally we never talk about it, we just do it on the quiet side. “Now it has come to a scale where you can't just keep it under


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the ground, it has to be on the surface.” At the time of the initial announcement, says Al Ghurair, the decision to form a foundation was just three months old. A mission pledge was announced to educate 15,000 young Arabs from the UAE and beyond, but no staff or infrastructure was yet established to make it happen. A significant milestone was reached in May when Al Ghurair, the foundation's public face and chairman of the board of trustees, announced the Open Learning Scholars Programme. Said to be the first of its kind in the Arab world, the programme offers its first cohort of students accredited online learning in key STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The initial phase includes a partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) – number one in the QS World University Rankings – to fund the development of two new specialist “MicroMaster's” programmes, launching next year and made up of five 12-week courses. Starting from fall 2016, the 170 students from the UAE and across the region that have been awarded scholarships as part of the Al Ghurair Stem Scholars Program will attend one of the Foundation’s four partner universities – American University in Cairo (AUC), American University of Sharjah (AUS), American University of Beirut (AUB), and Khalifa University—the clear and organised goal is to offer life-changing education to those without the means or opportunity to travel.


“Philanthropy must be run as a business, not as a charity on the sideline,” adds Al Ghurair. “Our foundation has goals, objectives, targets, dates, budgets – we track, we push, we challenge, we do everything we do in our business environment. This is the only way you can make a fast impact – I don't want my impact to be felt ten years from now, we want the impact felt immediately. “For me, with education, the sky is the limit.” It's this mix of clear-sightedness and ambition which has seen Al Ghurair lead such a long and distinguished career. As well as his role heading the UAE's largest private lender, Mashreq, since 2012 Al Ghurair has been the Chairman of the UAE Banking Federation. In 2007 he moved into politics, elected to a fouryear tenure as speaker of the UAE's Federal National Council. Other high profile roles include sitting as vice chairman of the Higher Board of DIFC, chairman of Masafi Company and Oman Insurance, and sitting on the Emirates Foundation's board of directors. In the past he has sat on the board of directors for Emaar, Dubai Investments, Visa International, MasterCard and the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Speaking about the UAE's future, Al Ghurair is matter-of-fact, predicting no great shocks or swells to the current economic conditions moving into 2017.

“I don't think we'll see massive changes, but what I see is the business community has adjusted to this new environment, to the new scenario,” he said, adding that while business leaders have learnt from the last global financial crisis, “what we see now is nothing compared to 2008/09.” The key to weathering future financial storms, adds Al Ghurair, is diversification. “I can't change the environment, but we should be adapting to the challenges of our environment all the time. If you're stiff, you're going to break – the more flexible you are, the more chances you have to succeed.” And right now, success to Al Ghurair is not just the bottom line. One senses he will not rest until each and every one of the pledged 15,000 young Arabs has received world-class education. “[Philanthropy] is in our DNA, it's in our heritage, in our family, in our religion,” adds Al Ghurair. “We made our wealth from this region, and this is a way to say thank you, to help our people in the UAE and Arab world. “Only through education can we raise the level of Arab youth, give them hope. Only with quality jobs will they contribute to our economy and development, will they stabilise the region – and will we evolve as a nation.” For more information, see

Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair and Eric Grimson, Chancellor for Academic Advancement at MIT 2016 SEP / OCT 31


HIGH ROLLERS The Porsche Design Tower is the hottest residential address in Florida right now. GC meets Billionaire real-estate developer Gil Dezer who is building big

The latest statement piece: a supercar in your living room


SEP / OCT 2016

Images courtesy of Getty Images


ike most billionaires Gil Dezer lives a charmed life, chock full of yachts, private jets and supercars. It isn’t a humblebrag when he says he “owns only 29 cars”. That’s because the President of the Miami-based Dezer Properties is quick to add that his father and founder of Dezer Properties, Michael, is a prolific collector who has notched up a staggering collection of over 1,200 cars. It was inevitable that the duo’s passion for automotive jewels transpired into a business project. Enter the firm’s sleek oceanfront 60-storey Porsche Design Tower in Sunny Isles Beach, Florida, that is just weeks away from being completed. Designed in association with the Porsche Design Studio, the skyscraper located just a 20-minute drive from Miami, is a next level condominium. The 132-unit project has already netted $840 million in sales. Apartments start at six-and-a-half million dollars a pop and max out at $32 million for one of the two sprawling 17,000 square-foot penthouses. While conventional residential units will likely sell you on the idea of a plunge pool in your balcony, trendy restaurants nearby or a luxury spa and gym in your building (all of which are present here too), this high-rise floats an idea of something far more radical – the concept of parking your car in your living room. Every single apartment on every floor has at least two parking spaces (it goes up to 11 for the penthouses) for the owners to park their cars alongside the couch, separated only by a few inches of reinforced fire-proof glass for safety purposes. The future-proof party piece of this tower is the patented car elevator called the Dezervator. “While typical car elevators are only semi-autonomous, this one is fully automatic. The passenger can be seated in the car while a mechanical arm will lift the car and its occupants into the elevator and whisk both straight up into their apartment. We’ve put in place systems that detect if the car is accidentally left on before entering the elevator by way of picking up CO2 emissions and we’ve also installed sprinklers in the elevator as a safety measure,” said Dezer. Reinforcing the automotive theme of the building is a special car concierge service that owners can avail of to get their cars pampered, as well as a race simulator installed on the fifth floor. For those who have more cars than they can park in their apartment, they can purchase what Dezer calls one of six “man caves” located on the third floor. These are special garages, each of which can accommodate between 4-9 cars, set up in a living room style with a bar, billiards table and a cigar lounge for the boys to kick back. Dezer, who owns an apartment on the 32nd floor, is too discreet to reveal the names of those who have bought apartments here. Although he does hint that the list includes, “CEOs, titans of industry, oligarchs – let’s just say that you probably use the products made by at least five of these individuals every day,” he says. With the Porsche Design Tower now a bonafide success both in terms of a project that was realised exactly how it was conceived and also one that is a proven magnet for billionaire

Gil Dezer

investors, Dezer doesn’t rule out, though cautious, about replicating the concept in other parts of the world. “We would love to do the same in other cities around the world. But we cannot do it unless we have a very strong local partner.” As the second-gen scion of a multi-billion dollar family-run real estate empire, it wasn’t nepotism that got Dezer a seat in his father’s business. “In fact, my father did not want to hire me once I finished college. I’ll never forget what he told me. He said, ‘Go out and earn your worth in the market place. Once you’ve done that, because you’re my son, I’ll pay you 10 per cent more.’ ” After completing a degree in international finance and marketing from the University of Miami in 1997, he worked in another firm for three years. “By 2000, I was drawing a salary of $180,000 a year. That’s when my father hired me at a salary of $198,000.” Dezer very quickly moved to stamp his own on the business and fundamentally change two core founding pillars of the company. The first was to do with location. “My father focussed his real estate business only in New York up until when I joined. But there was no reason to continue to be small fish in a big pond, whereas we could be big fish in a medium sized pond. So I convinced him to shift our business out of New York and to

2016 SEP / OCT 33


Miami. We began by picking up as many oceanfront properties as we could afford at the time in Miami.” The choice of location allows the Dezers to tap two distinctive, both very wealthy, client bases too. One of them is the high-rolling white-collar workforce from the financial sector living in Miami regarded as the banking capital of South America, while the other is a tribe of globe-trotting tourists who’d like a somewhat permanent outpost in the one of the world’s hippest corners. The second seismic change that Dezer brought to his father’s firm was changing the core nature and scope of Dezer Properties’ business model. “From the time my father started out in the Seventies, he never constructed a single building. He would buy existing buildings, renovate, refurbish and lease them. When I joined, we began to actually construct new buildings and we started that in Miami.” Those early projects include six buildings constructed along with Donald Trump, who Dezer is a fan of, including Miami’s iconic Trump Towers. “We believe that he is exactly what the country needs right now and we are confident that he will become President.”

With a current shakedown of the global economy, is the Dezer luxury real estate business really in a good place right now? If you consider the numbers Dezer rattles in a single breath, it is indeed. “My father currently owns 27 buildings, which equals nearly one million square feet, in New York. We’ve already developed nearly 7 million square feet in Miami alone over the last 15 years, and that doesn’t include the nearly 1.4 million additional square feet that will be added once the Porsche Design Tower and the Armani/Casa are ready. We expect to net close to a billion dollars in sales from the Armani/Casa tower alone.” The Armani/Casa that Dezer alludes to is his next big project, only a few paces from the Porsche Design Tower, on which construction has just commenced. Expected to be completed by 2019, the 308 unit condominium in the 56-storey building will also command multi-million price tags and is the next hot favourite for those who want in on Miami’s real estate pie, as well as the cement that will solidify the Dezer family name in the sunshine state. For Porsche Design Tower sales enquiries contact

The future-proof party piece of this tower is the patented car elevator called the Dezervator

The first of its kind car elevator transports supercars to the occupant's penthouse


SEP / OCT 2016





Join us in our exclusive luxury trackside superyacht at the 2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, with full hospitality, live DJ and celebrity guest appearances while you soak up the atmosphere from the F1 race from 12 noon to late. Global Citizen will host a private party onboard the stunning Riveria superyacht during this year's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in Yas Marina, inclusive of premium catering, hospitality and an open bar (including free flowing bubbles and premium spirits). If the action is too much for you, relax inside the luxury lounge area and watch a live stream of the race before leaving with a goodie bag full of surprises.

Packages also include a VIP walking tour of the pit lane on Thursday 24th November. Contact: +971 56 663 8811

2016 SEP / OCT 35


MOVING ON New York design entrepreneur Murray Moss is shelving his past and leaving the city that made him famous behind BY DANIEL BATES

urray Moss may be moving to the countryside, but don’t even suggest he is retiring. The design guru and arch urbanite is looking to leave New York after 50 years in the city that made his name. His famed design store may have closed in 2011 but his compulsive work ethic has doggedly stuck around - and will follow him to his new home. When Moss leaves New York it will miss him more than he will long for the city, something that would have been unthinkable in the past. During the 1990s Moss’ store in SoHo, simply called ‘Moss’, revolutionised what a design shop could be by making it more like a gallery. Over the next 20 years he put on more than 100 influential exhibitions across three continents and in 2011 Art + Auction magazine crowned him one of the most powerful people in the art world. Which begs the question: why leave New York after such success? Speaking to Global Citizen, Moss said: ‘I’m older now, I’m 67 and have never really since I was a kid, a small child, lived in the country. “I’ve dreamed about what it’s like to go outside in the morning barefoot with a cup of coffee. “Also I’ve never known how to relax. I’m strongly advised that it’s time for me to learn that skill.” Moss talks from his fifth Avenue apartment where he lives


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with Franklin Getchell, his partner in business and in life for more than four decades. The property is on sale for $3.9 million having been reduced from $4.3 million, a sign of how keen they are to make a fresh start. The live-work space in the Olympic Tower, which was designed by world-renowned architects Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and developed by Aristotle Onassis. Moss admits that when he first came to look at the home the views from the 16 windows - each 9ft high - were what sold it for him. Speaking like a true city dweller, he said: ‘The views are, for me, very particular. “What I appreciate about them is not that I am so high up that it puts me at an elevation where I can view this extraordinary spot which is a major destination in New York because of the convergence of the architecture.” Moss has lived there for 10 years during which time he opened Moss Bureau, a consultancy service that has allowed him for the first time to leave Manhattan behind and work anywhere. Moss is currently consulting for Starbucks, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston and the Jewish Museum in New York to design their shop. He writes a monthly column for a magazine, and travels regularly for work including a recent job in China - he would love an opportunity in the Middle East to present himself. Moss said: “Rather than tolerate change I feel it’s better to be a protagonist in change. I felt that if I had two parts to play,


Design guru Murray Moss is selling his 5th Ave apartment in New York for $3.9 million

2016 SEP / OCT 37

I would rather be the person taking an action and causing an effect than the person who is responding. “It’s just for me a more comfortable position because you can make change into something.” That attitude partly explains why Moss is moving before he falls out of love with New York. Another reason is more personal: he started taking medication for Parkinson’s in 2011. Moss says that symptoms are ‘very mild’ and his doctors hope they will stay that way but there is no way to predict how the condition will develop. Moss grew up in Chicago and was the son of a Romanian immigrant father who ran a company that manufactured X-ray equipment and a wealthy Russian Jewish mother. His upbringing was ‘quite privileged’ with the emphasis on not


SEP / OCT 2016

rocking the boat, advice he followed until 28 when he went off in search of adventure. Moss got a BFA in theatre from New York University and worked as an actor before meeting fashion designer Ronaldus Shamask who gave him a job. His regular trips to Italy got him interested in industrial design, and in 1994 he opened his store in SoHo, which at the time was just beginning to gentrify. Moss conceived the shop as visual theater, or as he has described it, a ‘stage in the window’. Staff were dressed head to toe in black and were referred to as ‘actors’ whilst the objects were the ‘stars’. A sign on the door banned food, drink and photography as if you were entering a museum. Rather than group items by name Moss put together displays based in colour, shape or size; a $3 bottle opener could be put next to a $30,000 vase. At the time

such a practice was unheard of - and it was a huge hit. Some good PR helped too and among the high profile stunts Moss pulled was hosting a Tupperware party, which was attended by Vogue editors who spent $2,000 on the containers. Moss told Global Citizen that when it comes to design: “I have no opinion, I like everything”. He said: “Objects are like books. They are things that contain a person’s ideas. “In a book that happens to be in writing, in an object they are expressed through colour, the choice of material and through function. “I like things not because of the function, which is the least interesting to me, but because of the ideas that are embedded into these seemingly mundane objects”. Moss opened during the dot com boom and sales peaked in 2007 at a reported $20 million a year but the financial crash in

2008 ended that. In 2010 the store was briefly seized by New York State for non-payment of taxes. It closed the following year, something which Moss said was ‘disorientating’. Not that Moss is nostalgic - for him the past is that past. He said: “I remember the moment that I decided: I’m going to leave now and never come back.” “It wasn’t the last day, there arrived a moment about approximately two weeks before we closed when I realised I had, at that moment, closed. I had closed.“I gathered some things and I said: ‘I’m never going back.’” For sales enquiries, contact Daniela Rivoir or Susan Greenfield from Brown Harris Stevens,

2016 SEP / OCT 39


A BRITISH FANTASIA GC meets the British multi-millionaire who has turned his stately home into a fantasy playground BY PHILL TROMANS

mere glance inside his home shows that James Perkins is not your typical entrepreneur. Aynhoe Park, a restored 17th-century country house in the heart of Oxfordshire, is filled with a collection of memorabilia, taxidermy, art and curiosities that make the word eclectic seem woefully insufficient. A stuffed giraffe hanging from artificial balloons adorns the orangery; a lifesize statue of Tintin stands next to the entrance to an underground nightclub; a selection of mounted otters’ heads stare down from the gents’ bathroom. The main stairwell is guarded by a giant statue of Hercules, wearing a Flavor Flav-style clock around his neck.

In Perkins' own words, his home is part-James Bond, partIndiana Jones and part-Thunderbirds, and it’s a window into a creative, nostalgic and eccentric British mind. Perkins made his name, and started his fortune, organising a series of popular rave music events in the 1990's, starting in his hometown of Cheltenham. The success of the Fantazia events and a subsequent record label allowed him to pursue other interests. His personal passions for art, architecture and property have fuelled his success and directed his path in business. “As I’ve got older I’m doing the things that more suit my age group,” Perkins says. “My function in [Fantazia] was finding

British millionaire James Perkins 40

SEP / OCT 2016

Inside Aynhoe Park, a restored 17th-century country house reflects the owner's eccentric personality 2016 SEP / OCT 41


the most amazing venues and creating an environment that was magical, in the same way that Pink Floyd would have done it. It was the theatre of it that I was all about, which as you can see is carried through in the house.” Aynhoe Park is in many ways a giant business card – a visualisation of the flamboyant, theatrical nature of Perkins’ businesses. The house plays host to music concerts and is available to hire for corporate events and weddings – celebrities including Jade Jagger and Howard Donald have got hitched here. It’s also the headquarters for A Modern Grand Tour, Perkins online store named after the traditional European trip that young upper-class British men would take in centuries past. The store sells curiosities from around the world as well as Aynhoe Park artwork that has been both collected and created over several decades. “I’ve always been involved in businesses that I’m passionate about," he explains. “I’ve had a bucket list of interests, which has all merged together in what you see today. A Modern Grand Tour reflects my travels around the world, buying and selling things over the last 25 to 30 years. “In the last 10 years it’s culminated in being able to live in Aynhoe Park and enjoying an eccentric and quite British way of living, in the way one might have done in the 18th or 19th centuries.” Among the pieces Perkins sells is limited-edition, half-scale working replicas of Aston Martin’s famous 1959 DBR1 race car. The models, sanctioned by Aston Martin, were inspired by a one-off Perkins commissioned for his young son, and later hung on the wall of his office. “It’s come out of an idea of mine and I’ve wanted other people to enjoy it,” he says. “I guess I’ve always been a bit of a dreamer and an entrepreneur. But money, weirdly, isn’t my main motivator. That sense of adventure is more important,


SEP / OCT 2016

but you can’t do that without money.” Perkins is also a successful property developer, focusing particularly on restorations. His latest projects will sit within the grounds of Aynhoe Park – three new contemporary and very exclusive houses, inspired by the ethos of stately homes, nestled within 400-year-old trees and overlooking grounds created by legendary landscape architect Capability Brown. He enthusiastically refers to them as James Bond houses, and has spent eight years perfecting the designs and getting the necessary planning permissions. The new houses reflect a modern approach to the philosophy seen at the main house, but with added pizzazz. “There’ll be a sunken fire pit area, a hot tub area, a viewing area and a subterranean basement through a secret door where you can park 12 cars,” he enthuses, “then you can come up, Thunderbirds-style, from a lift in the ground.” It’s not been an easy task, but it’s intended to be the start of an international expansion for the brand that he is building. “There have been a million and one stresses and strains, but that’s what you’d expect when doing something special. We’re not building boxes here, we’re building something that’s got to stand the test of time.” With so many of Perkins’ projects inspired by personal interest, rather than pure business sense, is there a danger that emotions could overrule sensible decisions? “It does make it more difficult to accelerate the growth,” he admits. “I’m doing things organically. When you’re doing something you enjoy you have to be careful that you’re doing it for the right reasons, because ultimately it’s got to make money as well. “I’m building a brand; that’s the essence of this, the Aynhoe brand. I want people to buy into what I’m doing and I’ve got to deliver.”

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WHEELER DEALER Self-made millionaire before his 18th birthday, Arab-American entrepreneur Ebraheem Al Samadi is now CEO of the Al Samadi Group, a Dubai-based retail empire worth more than $70 million

oday, 28-year-old Arab-American entrepreneur Ebraheem Al Samadi manages an extensive business network – overseeing 150 staff, and global brands in everything from jewellery to fast food – as CEO of retail with family firm, the Al Samadi Group. But far from being handed a silver spoon, it was desperation – and a desire to break away from his father and family – which unlocked his own entrepreneurial impulses. Born to a Kuwaiti father and an American mother, and raised in Florida, his parents separated when Al Samadi was aged 13. The youngest of five


SEP / OCT 2016

brothers, he was the only son who chose to leave the family's luxury villa and move into's his mother's one-bed apartment. Needing cash, the resourceful teen started selling off the clothes he had collected in his old life. “The first thing I sold was a pair of Levi's jeans for $20,” he remembers, “which I had bought for $10.” The cogs turned quickly. “I took that $20, bought two more pairs, and made $40,” he adds. So began Al Samadi's first business empire – an Ebay resale operation which he estimates made him $40,000 in two years, by the age of 15.


After running a used car dealership, and partnering with his Strategically shipping exotic brands internationally, in the days father on a mobile phone franchise, in 2010 Al Samadi began before widespread internet shopping channels, Al Samadi was investing in Dubai, which he now calls home. named one of the platform's first 1,000 “PowerSellers”. “I fell in love with this vision of an oasis in the desert,” he It was all driven by a desire to help out his mother – slipping bank notes into her purse and even buying her a car; at first she says, “a city making itself a role model for the Middle East, and presumed the money came from illegal activity. the rest of the world.” His parents had met 24 years earlier in Miami, where his His first move was to install New York hairstyling brand father, a hotelier and businessman, had travelled from his native Amika in Deira City Centre, which quickly opened doors Kuwait to study. One day he spotted a blonde woman leaving for expansion into other malls. Having founded a new retail the mosque in a hijab; it was wing of the family business, the American's first visit after this was soon merged with converting to Islam. She the existing hospitality firm was an 18-year-old orphan, into one united Al Samadi divorcee, and mother of two. Group. Installed as CEO of retail, After marrying they returned to Kuwait, where the past five years have seen Al Samadi's empire the couple lived for more steadily bloom, importing than a decade, before fleeing on the brink of the Gulf War, a total of nine brands into when Al Samadi was aged the UAE. These include two. Canadian restaurant chains Growing up in Florida, Big Smoke Burger and The a few miles from Disney Chickery, haircare brand World, had a profound effect Juicy, and custom jewellery on his young mind. “Walt brands Wired Up, My Disney had one of the best Imenso and sister brand My business minds in the world,” Trends. A recent deal will says Al Samadi. “He sold see his firm supply all 17 dreams – and to do that you food carts on Dubai's The have to have imagination.” Walk at JBR by the end of At 15, he successfully year. Based in Business Bay appealed to the Senator with a workforce of 150, Al of Florida to fast track his Samadi estimates the current secondary studies. Rather portfolio is worth more than “I will never sell this company, because than waiting until he was 18, $70 million. Al Samadi gained his high Amongst the most I have already reached the limit of my successful additions is school diploma – with a score life, so money does not make a difference Forever Rose, a company of 480/500 – before his 16th that imports luxury birthday, and began working to happiness anymore,” Ecuadorian roses, which a string of jobs; rose-seller at survive for several years a medieval themed attraction, lifeguard, assistant buyer in a without water or sunlight. department store. By 17 he had more than doubled his savings Al Samadi bought the London-born brand in 2014 for $1.36 to $90,000. million. Since launching in seven locations in the UAE, he With this he founded his first company, EHA LLC, and claims to have recently turned down a bid of $23 million for the firm. pulled his most audacious trick. Tapping into a rampant midnoughties youth trend, Al Samadi designed and marketed a range “I will never sell this company, because I have already reached of children's shoes with rollers in the sole. Imported from China the limit of my life, so money does not make a difference to happiness anymore,” he adds. for $7.50 and sold for $79, in a year he opened nine stores and “What makes me happy is when I empower my own team banked $2 million from the brand, Wheelies. members to go above and beyond. I've already empowered my However Heelys, who pioneered the concept, were not happy, life – so it's time to empower other peoples'. I can no longer be and served a $2.5 million lawsuit – eventually Al Samadi settled happy, unless I see the other people around me happy.” for just $800.

2016 SEP / OCT 45


Arvid Rosengren in Charlie Bird restaurant in Manhattan where he works as a sommelier

JOIE DE VIVRE Arvid Rosengren’s healthy obsession with wine has put him at the top of his game

f you want to understand what it is to be obsessed, take a trip into the world of Arvid Rosengren. The winner of the World’s Best Sommelier competition studied for five years to compete in the prestigious event this spring, where he beat 59 other people from 58 countries. Every day since 2011 he spent two hours each morning learning 16,000 flashcards covering everything from vineyard law in Chile to all the regions of Bulgaria. Rosengren hired an acting coach to look more confident whilst on the floor of a restaurant. And almost every day he would do a blind taste test where he had to identify four wines in four minutes without seeing the labels, often filming himself and sending the footage to his coach. Along the way Rosengren lost contact with friends, broke up with his girlfriend and had to explain to his family that for the next half decade his priorities lay elsewhere. Fortunately for Rosengren - and his mum and dad - he did exactly what he set out to do. As we meet a month afterwards, Rosengren admits that he has not gone back to the books since his victory in Mendoza, the winemaking region of Argentina. He is trying to calm


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down a bit too and is down to three coffees a day instead of eight expressos he was on before. Looking back on the last five years, he says: "Yes, it was super obsessive and was not great for many social relationships. "In my free time I did this, that’s all I did. It’s been a long time since I sat down and read a book that’s not about wine or watched a movie outside of an airplane. "That is obsessive. It’s something you have to be very clear with people you love that are around you. This is what I’m going to do, this is the timeline, and this point it’s going to be done and that’s what I’m going to do". Rosengren is extremely driven, but he is also very clear about the role of the sommelier, which he thinks needs an image change. When he won the competition he told journalists that it was a "victory for hip hop and wine", on account of the music they play at Charlie Bird, the restaurant in Manhattan where he works and where we meet. At work Rosengren wears an open neck shirt, jeans and sneakers which makes him look more like a tech startup founder than a sommelier. Rosengren says he thinks it is a big step for the industry that

Image courtesy Michael Holst



"a guy like me can go and win the competition and they will accept that". He says: “The people judging are for the most part classic european Michelin star restaurant guys. This is how I look when I work. That’s representing of a sort of movement in the restaurant world in New York, London and Paris. “Restaurants where the wine drinkers go to drink wine are probably not going to be an ironed linen, penguin suit restaurant, it’s going to be a casual, fun place where they happen to serve great wine in a friendly atmosphere”. The role of the sommelier has changed enormously over the past 10 years and for many their reference point is the 2012 documentary Somm, the industry nickname for sommeliers. The film followed candidates competing for the Diploma from the Court of the Master Sommeliers, an exam similar to the World’s Best Sommelier which only 200 people have passed in 40 years. Rosengren says that now he wants to take the wine industry a "step further" from Somm to make it "more democratic". As such, at Charlie Bird there are 120 wines on the main list with none more expensive than $300. On top of that there is a separate list for those who want to spend more, some 1,000 selections from $300 up to about $3,000. Rosengren says: “There has been too much of that excluding mentality, you can never get a table, you can never get in unless you know someone. “You cannot afford to buy anything good off the wine list. We’ve designed an experience here, it’s hard to get in, it’s a busy restaurant, we always leave room for walk in’s”. Rosengren grew up in Malmo, Sweden, and puts his interest in hospitality down to cooking for his siblings from a young age. He studied nanotech engineering at university but didn’t like lab work and decided to become a sommelier after working in a wine shop.

He began entering competitions in 2009 when he won Best Sommelier of the Nordic Countries, followed by Best Sommelier of Europe in 2013 among others. But he became restless with his job in Copenhagen working for a chain of restaurants because he was sitting in front of a computer all day. He decided his last competition would be the World’s Best Sommelier contest, which takes place once every three years and is notoriously tough. The competition was spread over four days with multiple rounds of blind tastings, theory exams and a mock restaurant part when entrants are judged on their service skills. During that final stage the judges tried to fool Rosengren with a fake bottle complete with mocked up label. Rosengren says that he was genuinely surprised when his name was read out and is not yet comfortable with the celebrity it brings. For now he plans to keep his feet on the ground and in addition to his work at Charlie Bird is running a wine consultancy service with the restaurant’s owners called King St Sommeliers. Rosengren describes it as a private consulting service of curating wine cellars, handling valuations and organising purchases for people "who want their wine to be as good as their art collection". He still works the floor at Charlie Bird and loves the ‘30 second psychology’ involved in guessing what a diner wants. Rosengren says he also understands arguably the most important part of the job - knowing when to shut up. He says: "Some people want to make sommeliers into the rock star chefs. I don’t think that’s going to happen and I don’t think it should happen. "We’re in a different situation. We perform a service and we’re best at doing that. Do it well and then get out of the way because people are in your restaurant to engage with who they’re with."

"Some people want to make sommeliers into the rock star chefs...I don’t think that should happen"

Rosengren was crowned the world's best sommelier at a cermony in Argentina earlier this year

2016 SEP / OCT 47


Founder and CEO of Burger and Lobster, George Bukhov in his London restaurant 48

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KEEPING IT SIMPLE It may have started out as a joke but Russian restaurateur George Bukhov has carved out a new business model by specialising in only two dishes BY BEN FLANAGAN

or a man who never had a business plan, George Bukhov is surprisingly sure of what’s on the menu in his quirky restaurant chain. The Russian entrepreneur is cofounder of Burger & Lobster – a name he readily admits is a bit silly – which serves, you guessed it, burgers and lobsters. If there was a printed food menu – which there isn’t – it would be a short one, listing just three mains: a burger, lobster, and lobster roll. Each is priced at £20 in London, and Dh127 at the branch in Dubai, which opened in February. If the London-born Burger & Lobster concept sounds simple, that’s because it is. But Bukhov, who lives in the UK capital, is embarking on a somewhat more complex expansion drive, in which he sees room for as many as 50 or 60 branches. That’s to meet demand for a restaurant concept that has been so successful it has reportedly attracted the most dubious of accolades: a copycat branch in China. Still, it’s not bad for a business that started life on the back of a napkin, rather than a spreadsheet. “We asked ourselves how many people we need to break even,” says Bukhov. “That was the business plan – on a napkin, nowhere near Excel.” The 38-year-old is sipping a glass of white wine in the basement floor of Burger & Lobster Bond Street, one of ten outlets in London. While spreadsheets and risk assessments were not key ingredients in founding Burger & Lobster, that’s partly because such things are not a great formula for the food business, Bukhov says. “It’s all about emotions,” he says. “Consumer choices are 100 per cent emotional… The only thing that matters really is what people feel when they come to a restaurant.” It certainly feels quiet as we meet this sunny afternoon, but then it is midway between the lunch and dinner rush. The London restaurant, which features a large tank for crustaceans and an even bigger bar, has a much livelier vibe later on, with diners often staying on for drinks late into the night. With his clipped beard and dark sunglasses hanging from his white T-shirt, Bukhov – who is married with two children – very much resembles the cool but casual clientele his restaurant aims to attract.

He grew up in Moscow, where he trained as a lawyer, working for media companies and then as a director of MTV Russia and VH1 Russia. Bukhov says without any hint of boastfulness that he had made it as a lawyer aged just 28 – “in Russia it was possible, back then” – but wanted more. “If you’re a successful lawyer, and you sit in your office and you have a nice salary, and everyone respects you, then so what?” he says. “I had success in certain fields, and I just wanted something else.” So Bukhov teamed up with Ilya Demichev and Misha Zelman, with whom he went to school in Russia, and who had earlier founded the upmarket steakhouse group Goodman. After launching Goodman in London, the friends opened the first Burger & Lobster in 2011. It was almost a side-project, but you could hardly call it that now. Bukhov is refreshingly honest about the birth of the brand. “The name was very stupid,” he says. “Now, because it’s already a brand and people know it, it doesn’t sound as stupid… I’m sure that when Rolls-Royce started, people were like 'What kind of name is that? Who are these people?’” But there was some rationale behind it. Calling the restaurant “Bukhov, Demichev and Zelman” would have been both wordy and overblown, given that the three are not full-time chefs and, even if they were, their job would be to prepare just three dishes (along with the fries and salad that come with each order). Instead of coming up with some highfalutin name, they just told it straight. The restaurant received a positive reaction from visitors to London from the UAE, leading Burger & Lobster to open its doors at the Dubai International Financial Centre, in conjunction with local partner Global Hospitality Asset Management. Bukhov says a branch in Jeddah is opening imminently, joining other international branches in Kuwait, the US and Sweden. There are now 17 Burger & Lobster outlets globally, including a “pop up sports bar” in London, as well as restaurants in Manchester, Bath and Cardiff. Bukhov says a new lease has just been signed in One Bryant Park in New York’s Midtown, with branches in Malaysia and Thailand also on the cards this year. But there won’t be a Burger & Lobster “in every petrol station”, he adds.

“The name was very stupid... Now, because it’s already a brand and people know it, it doesn’t sound as stupid…"

2016 SEP / OCT 49


“First of all we have to be careful with lobsters,” says Bukhov. “There is no problem with overfishing or anything like that. But obviously we definitely cannot become a McDonalds, or a Starbucks, just because of supply. But I think we can easily get to 50 to 60 units without putting the lobster market in danger.” Bukhov’s restaurant already buys a lot of lobsters, the rising price of which he says makes his business a little vulnerable. Burger & Lobster has its own crustacean tank at London’s Heathrow airport, and – given that the business hauls about 18 tonnes of the creatures into the UK per week – it stands as Europe’s biggest lobster importer. It’s an impressive feat – especially for a company that’s just five years old, and given Bukhov’s acknowledgment that it all almost happened by accident.


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In fact, he makes it all sound so effortless, it’s easy to wonder if it’s all an affectation, and the restaurant was actually the product of a branding agency charging millions of dollars. But Bukhov promises it’s not and – with his open manner, and glass of wine now drained – it is easy to believe. “We went with what we thought and felt was right. We didn’t listen to experts, consultants, we didn’t do any research,” says Bukhov. “Imagine in 2011, you do the research that asked people ‘Will you go to a restaurant that only sells burgers and lobsters for $27?’. People will be like, ‘Are you crazy? Why would I go?’” But go, they did – as will many more diners as this restaurant chain, which was started almost as a joke, expands further. It’s all part of the plan.

2016 SEP / OCT 51


REACHING FOR THE SKY Omar Samra is using his small travel company to promote low carbon expeditions BY TRISKA HAMID

hat is perhaps most striking about Omar Samra is his hair – big, impressive and difficult to miss, it reflects his cornucopia of achievements to date. He is the first Egyptian to have conquered Mount Everest, climbed the rest of the world’s highest summits, skied the North and South Poles and is now set to become the country’s first man in space. But in reality, Samra is a quiet, softly-spoken man with an air of humility rather than brashness. The 37-year-old London-born Egyptian is arguably the region’s foremost explorer and traveller and his mission now is to reach space. He won AXE Apollo Space Academy’s competition to send 23 people to space and is working with two other space programmes to realise this ambition by 2020. When not preparing for an adventure in space, Samra runs the travel company he founded, Wild Guanabana, which offers people in the region “life-changing journeys” around the world and is also in the process of launching Rock ‘n’ Rope adventure park in Cairo. 52

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Despite his interest in exploration from a young age, Samra was “pretty directionless”, when it came to deciding what he wanted to do with his life. “I set out to study engineering, but somehow fell into economics,” he says. “When I graduated, I didn’t know where to work.” He attained an economics degree at the American University of Cairo and upon graduation, he was accepted onto the investment-banking graduate scheme with HSBC in London in 2000. Within a year he was transferred on a secondment to the Hong Kong office, from where he began to travel around Asia. “From that point, I started to get consumed with saving enough money to travel the world and quit my job after two and-a-half years,” says Samra. He spent the whole year travelling and visited 14 countries before going back to HSBC. “I came back and I was broke. It took two years to realise


why I had quit in the first place. I quite HSBC again and this time applied for an MBA,” he says. He enrolled at the London Business School in 2005 and in his first year was asked whether he was interested in climbing Mount Everest. It took two years’ of training, but when he reached the summit, at the age of 28, he fulfilled a childhood ambition and broke the record as the first Egyptian to reach the top of Everest. He then landed a job in brand marketing in London, but took a two-month break in Egypt to recuperate. It was during this time that the British Council in Cairo invited him to speak about his journey to Mount Everest. His talk resonated with many people and the experience encouraged him to decline the job offer in London and instead set up his own company in Egypt. “The decision was based truly on intuition. I wanted to use this opportunity to make some kind of positive change,” he says. To support himself financially, he worked for a private equity firm in Egypt focusing on emerging markets and spent his spare time visiting schools and universities giving talks. In 2009, he founded Wild Guanabana in Cairo, but with the revolution in January 2011, 80 per cent of his customers cancelled their trips for that year. “The only way to survive was to look for an investor that believed in the idea and allow us to open an office or have a presence in Dubai to give us access to a market that was less vulnerable to changes,” says Samra. He soon managed to get an investor on board and moved to Dubai. The Cairo office remains open, and is where much

of the operations take place. Offering tours, expeditions and explorations, Wild Guanabana attracts travellers from across the region, but primarily the UAE and Saudi Arabia where there is a desire for such trips like the ‘Great Tuk-Tuk Rally” in Sri Lanka, or climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. The company is among the region’s first carbon neutral companies. Each trip is designed with the aim of reducing carbon emissions and maintaining a low carbon footprint. “I’ve had the opportunity to travel to a lot of extreme places and seen the impact of climate change,” says Samra. “We are a small business and we want to raise awareness of the things that happen beyond our borders and become an inspiration to other companies.” Samra has used his climbs to raise awareness of other causes he is passionate about. He is the chairman of Marwa Fayed’s Toy Run, a charity started by his late wife who had begun the initiative before meeting Samra, collecting toys from family and friends to donate to orphanages in Cairo. The charity secured a grant from MBC and won the media company’s humanitarian project of the year. There are now eight chapters across the world, delivering more than 100,000 toys to children. Samra has no plans to slow down. He continues to climb, give motivational talks, run a business and prepare for a mission to space. “I feel compelled to push myself,” he says. “Now I can’t see myself living any other way. I look at myself and I look at other people and I’m not as motivated by the idea of stability and comfort and safety. I value it, but I believe we’re overvaluing it.”

Omar Samra in the South Pole on an expedition with his travel company Wild Guanabana

2016 SEP / OCT 53


PUBLIC HOUSE Irish pub chain McGettigan's has grown from its UAE base to spread across more than a dozen locations on three continents. Founder Dennis McGettigan has ambitious plans to take the company public BY RYAN YOUNG

s business models go, opening an Irish pub was hardly a radical proposition. There must be few significant global cities without a humble drinkery inspired by The Emerald Isle – Dubai already had a good half-dozen when Dennis McGettigan opened the first branch of McGettigan's in the JLT neighbourhood in 2010. But six years later and the brand has spread far beyond the emirates, with more than a dozen locations on three continents. And that is just the beginning – another five McGettigan's are set to open in 2017. The plan is to build an empire of at least 50 venues, worth a target value of more than $300 million, before going public and selling stock. Not bad for an idea, which started as a way to fill an empty plot of land, and help prop up a new hotel launched amid a world in financial crisis. A hotelier by trade, Dennis' father Jim had acquired a series of properties in Ireland and the UK when, in 2005, he was


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invited to buy a patch of sand in Dubai. Four years later, the Bonnington Hotel opened on that spot, one of the first six buildings to open in JLT. It was the height of the economic crisis, and largely adrift from the rest of the city, things got off to a sluggish start. Dennis, who had reluctantly bowed to parental pressure and flown out to launch the business, figured opening a bar would not hurt. “We opened at a really hard time,” remembers the 41-yearold entrepreneur. “Everyone had just gone bankrupt. “I got to know the town, and I saw an opening for a bar that was a bit above the typical 'Irish' venues.” McGettigan's antidote was to “contemporise” the Irish image, shunning the typical rural cliches in favour of the distinctly modern sheen which has become synonymous with the brand. A difficult early decision was the name – McGettigan's seemed “too egotistical”, but family history convinced Dennis otherwise. Because our story actually begins back in 1964, when


Jim McGettigan, now 79, opened an eponymous bar in Dublin. The original McGettigan's still runs to this day but, stuck in something of a timewarp, is not yet part of the global group. After the breakout success of the JLT venue – a huge 2,000-capacity complex soon beloved by expats – McGettigan was approached to launch a branch in Dubai International Airport, displacing another popular Irish pub name in the process. Simultaneously a building under licence from Dubai World Trade Centre was secured for a third venue. Both opened in late 2012. “After the first three, I just went on a rampage,” says McGettigan, CEO of what became the Bonnington and McGettigan's Group. His next move may have been the most audacious – selling his Middle East-born Irish pub brand to the Irish. In late 2013, McGettigan's Letterkenny opened, in Jim McGettigan's birthplace. It was the first of four venues in Ireland, with pubs now in Limerick, Galway and Bray. “To take something that's so in-your-face Irish – with a shamrock on the logo and all – into Ireland was a little bit of a challenge,” admits McGettigan. “But all of a sudden it took on a life of its own.” A venue in Abu Dhabi, at Al Raha, was “only natural”, while a franchise in Fujairah recently followed. The two bravest additions were Singapore and New York, with June 2015 seeing the opening of a McGettigan's slapbang in Midtown Manhattan. It all happened because McGettigan's wife convinced him to take a belated birthday trip to the Big Apple. But unable to switch off, by the end of their five-day stay McGettigan had found a spot for his ideal bar – between 5th and 6th Avenue, a seven minute walk from the Empire State Building.

The story illustrates an important character trait – McGettigan is distinctly hands on. At the original, and still most lucrative, JLT venue, he hosts a full staff meeting every Monday morning, thrashing out every complaint and employee absence. He checks online reviews of his venues at all hours. “If something has gone wrong, I want to know why,” he says. “I don't want to be sitting in an office somewhere barking orders at people. We're all in this together.” At one point in our interview he whips out a smartphone and shares a list of text messages, oblique lists of times and figures in exotic currencies – an hourly update of takings from every single McGettigan's on the globe. This interest in the bottom line is more ambition than greed. McGettigan talks openly about his ambition to build the business to a value of more than $300 million, within a target of four years, before selling shares to the public on the UK stock exchange. With the capital, he then hopes to invest in more hotels – McGettigan's currently runs three of the family's nine properties. That dream certainly does not seem inconceivable. This summer being a case in point, the brand’s first UK outpost opened in Fulham, London and in Letterkenny, Co. Donegal they opened a brand new concept called Warehouse Bar + Kitchen. Back in Dubai, McGettigan's opened in the popular tourist spot Madinat Jumeirah. The bullish CEO says he will kick start next year with pub openings in Glasgow, Jakarta and Doha, and add two further UAE venues – franchises in Al Ain and JBR's Hilton Dubai Jumeirah Resort. Scouting is also underway for more stateside locations. “The most important thing is to reinvent, reinvent, reinvent,” adds McGettigan. “The day I get complacent, is the day to give up.”

“After the first three, I just went on a rampage,”

McGettigan's has perfected the modern Irish experience with their sleek interiors 2016 SEP / OCT 55

SCRATCH MADE UAE based entrepreneur Natasha Stephenson is pioneering the country’s first all-natural food company

t wasn’t until a friend suggested that she should cut down on dairy that Natasha Stephenson learned she had a food intolerance. The health conscious yogi, had grown up with eczema and despite the constant irritation of the skin condition, she learned to manage it. After hearing about the adverse affects of dairy for the skin, she also wondered if her gluten rich diet could be feeding her eczema and so she decided to completely cut out both from her diet. “I tried it for over a month and felt superb. My rashes went away and my energy was through the roof. I changed my life completely,” explained Stephenson. However her weekly shop from then on proved to be a challenge. “I just moved to Dubai from London where it was really easy to get gluten and diary free products but in Dubai I struggled to find them. Sure, I could find imported versions with a long shelf life but that wasn’t as healthy or as tasty as the regular versions,” she says. But what was worse for the self-confessed dessert junkie was that she couldn’t find any gluten or dairy free homemade desserts. These discoveries spawned a new business idea for the entrepreneur who previously owned Rawr yoga studios - to start her own organic all-natural food manufacturing company in Dubai to supply local retailers. “This is how Muncherie was born,” she says. “My mission


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was to create delicious alternatives, free of these sensitivities, as well being clean, nutritious and to be accessible and affordable to everyone.” The Estonian native says that living gluten and dairy free is a lifestyle rather than a diet for her. “It comes naturally to me now and no longer means depriving yourself of something scrumptious.” In less than a year since her company launched, the 33-yearold entrepreneur has produced an extensive line of organic raw products - which includes everything from chili flavoured kale chips to dairy free almond milk and coffee drinks to probiotic coconut yoghurts and protein brownies - in over 40 stores across the emirates including Spinneys, Milk and Honey, Jones the Grocer, Waitrose and Choithrams. “It started with me making desserts at home for myself and then it evolved into proper food manufacturing - everything is raw, we’re not cooking anything,” she says. Eating a bowl of Muncherie’s kale chips is the equivalent to “eating a huge bowl of salad”, according to Stephenson as all of the nutrients are retained. “All of our drinks are cold pressed and our kale chips are dehydrated below 46 degrees to retain the nutrients, only water is lost in the process,” she adds. And Muncherie’s dessert range is equally guilt-free, using only Non-GMO, Paleo and unprocessed ingredients.


While Stephenson was medically diagnosed as gluten kale chips from all over the world and I can honestly say that intolerant - which is a physical condition of the gut – she says ours are the best I’ve tasted. If you buy kale chips from the many people today are self-diagnosing as gluten-sensitive and UK or Germany the shelf life is usually around eight months eating gluten-free as a lifestyle choice, which can only be good whereas ours is around three months. All of our products have news for start-ups like Muncherie. a low shelf life which is more expensive for us as a producer but While the “organic movement” in the UAE is lagging this is our philosophy to have nutrition and taste as our priority behind in comparison to countries above cost or volume.” like Australia, the UK or US where Muncherie has just relocated to it’s a multi-billion dollar industry, larger premises in Al Quoz industrial " the organic movement in demand for organic food is on the rise, area to meet the growing demand according to a UAE University survey from local retailers for their products the UAE is lagging behind and Stephenson is convinced that the last year. in comparison to countries But according to experts, the organic UAE market is ripe for the organic industry’s growth in the UAE is being movement despite a sluggish start. like Australia, the UK or US stifled by a lack of local production. “Abu Dhabi for example is a little where it’s a multi-billion This is about to change if Stephenson further ahead of Dubai with this has her way. “There is big demand organic movement. We already supply dollar industry " for organic locally produced products our freshly made cakes to retailers here, it took me six months of meetings there and we also supply a lot of cafes with our raw almond milk but Dubai and various tastings before I convinced supermarkets here but once they found out that we were a local is quickly expanding also as people become more and more manufacturer using locally sourced organic ingredients they conscious about what they are eating.” Stephenson says the next step for her is to become a UAE were happy to have us in store.” Stephenson believes that having locally produced organic exporter and springboard Muncherie’s products into other products is what will fuel Muncherie’s growth. “I’ve sampled markets in the near future.

2016 SEP / OCT 57

Aziz Memon XXXXXX

TILL THE LAST DROP Pakistan and Afghanistan remain the only two polio-endemic countries in the world today. GC explores the hurdles health workers face in eradicating polio. BY SHEEMA KHAN

t would have taken only a few drops of the polio vaccine in his mouth as a child to allow Muhammad Khaleeq to live a normal life. Khaleeq, now 35, was crippled after he contracted Polio at the age of two, a deadly consequence of the disease. Khaleeq who is a factory worker in Karachi has come to terms with his disability. “There is not much you can do about this disease once you have it,” he tells GC. Although not fatal, he admits it is “crippling.” “I used to have regular physiotherapy sessions at a government hospital but they stopped a long time ago as my mother couldn’t afford it. With the little physiotherapy I did get in the early years, my neck, arms and right leg started functioning again.” However, after the family fell into financial hardship Khaleeq’s treatment stopped and he says he was “left to limp on one leg,” lifting his jeans to expose the brace on his left leg that biomechanically assists him to move. The CIA’s hunt for Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden using a fake hepatitis B vaccination campaign in 2010-11 bred mistrust about polio vaccines amongst the local population in Pakistan but the real damage to the immunisation campaign has been caused by misinformation about whether or not Pakistanis need to get their children vaccinated. While the number of Polio cases in Pakistan is currently at its lowest levels for more than a decade, according to End Polio Pakistan, the fight will not stop until the disease is totally eradicated. More than a decade ago in 2005, polio cases stood at 28 a sign that the vaccination message was getting through to parents, but by 2011 the spread of the disease had significantly increased again to 198. The biggest escalation came in 2014 with a total of 306 polio cases — the highest level since 1999. Fortunately since then it’s been in decline with 54 cases last year


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and 13 this year thanks to effective immunisation programmes. Even before the Bin Laden polio scandal, vaccine drops have been associated with a Western conspiracy to sterilise Muslims. Some clerics claimed that the vaccine was made from pork, a taboo for Muslims. Even more bizarre was a story circulated after the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 that the vaccine contained urine from then US President George W. Bush. This was followed by deadly attacks on health workers who administered polio vaccines door-to-door in the local communities. In December 2012 alone, over 100 health workers were killed by militants despite being protected by armed police. According to Dr Rana Safdar, head of National Emergency Operation Centre Pakistan, the government is “absolutely serious” about polio eradication. “We know that this is the way forward.” Dr Safdar accepts past security failings that resulted in polio workers being attacked nationwide but she’s adamant that these attacks have been reduced, thanks to the backing of the country’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the national task force. Moreover, the military operation which started in the North Waziristan region of Pakistan in 2014, led to destruction of militant hideouts as well as freeing the population in that area from them. Polio vaccinators now have access to this region and are able to vaccinate large numbers of children, which is a huge step forward from when thousands of thousands lived without polio inoculation. Today, the disease remains endemic in neighbouring Pakistan and Afghanistan, down from over 125 countries in 1988, according to the World Health Organization. Nigeria was removed from the list of polio-endemic countries in September 2015. In Pakistan, the virus still exists in Karachi, Quetta, FATA and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa regions.


the FATA region, female illiteracy is high but if mothers were educated on the other hand, they would ensure that the health programme required for her child from birth to nine months is completed.” To combat further misconceptions about polio, Memon helped create the Rotary Ulema (religious scholars) group, which educates religious leaders at a grass roots level about polio vaccines in the hope that they will spread the message among the local communities. “We tell people about the number of Muslim countries which are polio free. We invite religious leaders from all over the world to sign declarations that say that there is nothing wrong with the vaccines.” Memon explains. While Memon and the Gates Foundation have been on the edge of eradicating polio for some time now, the last hurdle for the public health campaign lies in changing the vaccine, a process known as The Switch. Since April this year, the oral vaccine, which was designed over 60 years ago, will be changed to an injected vaccine. However, the switch does not come without risks. There are three strains of polioviruses. The new vaccine will not have a component that protects against Type 2. For the most part, that’s not a problem — Type 2 polioviruses haven’t been seen since 1999 and have been declared eradicated and Type 3, according to Memon has also been eradicated for almost four years ago, but is awaiting certification by the WHO. “We are fighting against Type 1, and we have begun an important switch shifting from trivalent oral-polio-vaccine (OPV) to bivalent OPV,” he explained. The 155 countries that had been using OPV were expected to make the vaccine switch this year and if the planners’ assumptions are correct and the switch is executed as intended, the world’s children will be safer and campaigners will end polio in the near future.

Images courtesy of Getty Images

“The movement between these two countries [Pakistan and Afghanistan] is so much that the virus is difficult to control,” says Aziz Memon, chairman of Rotary International’s PolioPlus campaign in Pakistan. Memon believes that the key to unlocking this deadly disease is in inoculating those children who previously missed out when they were younger. He says, “The inflow and outflow enables high chances of children getting away without being vaccinated.” In 1988, the forty-first World Health Assembly adopted a resolution for the worldwide eradication of polio. It marked the launch of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), spearheaded by national governments, WHO, Rotary International, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), UNICEF, and supported by key partners including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Since the GPEI was launched, the number of cases has fallen by over 90 per cent, which is why only Pakistan and Afghanistan remain polioendemic. Cases have fallen dramatically since polio eradication programmes were introduced, from 350,000 globally in 1988 to around 60 in 2015. In May this year, for the first time in Pakistan’s history, environmental samples for polio tested negative. A sample is considered positive if the polio virus is found in sewerage water, which is the basic parameter to determine if anti-polio campaigns have been working. But for Memon who is wearing a red-colored badge that reads End Polio, the results still fall short of their ultimate goal. “The high-transmission seasons are from June till September. So what if the samples tested negative? We have to aim at making Pakistan polio free.” Memon believes illiteracy also plays a huge factor in determining the success of immunisation programmes. “In

Pakistani policemen stand guard as a health worker administers polio drops to a child during a polio vaccination campaign in Karachi 2016 SEP / OCT 59

Work will commence on Callaloo Cay beach club and villas this year

SHINING A LIGHT ON THE CARIBBEAN he Caribbean twin-islands of Antigua and Barbuda signaled that it is open for business to the Middle East with its recent announcement that it will offer visa-free access to UAE citizens, but it will go a step further by sending a star-studded delegation including the country’s prime minister Hon. Gaston Browne and Hollywood legend Robert De Niro to the UAE in October. The island nation’s economy has been on an upward trajectory for some time— a report released last month by the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank showed that there has been a significant increase in investments coming to the twin-islands compared to last year, along with an increase in the number of tourists. This is in part due to the government’s push for large-scale projects, including a contract with a British solar firm that it signed in August to supply 10 MWp of solar facilities to the islands. The agreement covers equipment for over 50 schools and public buildings with roof top installations. The move to offer visa free travel to UAE nationals is part of an ongoing campaign to actively seek foreign investment to the islands. An airline services agreement with the general civil aviation authority of the UAE was also signed last month further cementing the Land of 365 Beaches — a reference to the island’s bounty of beautiful beaches, as not only a tourist destination but as a prime investment destination in the Caribbean. The Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to the UAE, Casroy James, told the Antigua Observer that the move is aimed at “putting the framework in place for us to see and welcome capital and visitors from that part of the world”. The country has been relentless in its bid to become


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economically tied to the UAE. In addition to the opening of the Antigua and Barbuda Embassy in Abu Dhabi – the first Caribbean full embassy in the UAE, it also announced its intention to develop a trade and economic center in Abu Dhabi, to serve as an investment and promotion arm in this part of the world. One of its announced objectives is the promotion of Antigua and Barbuda’s Citizenship by Investment Program (CIP), which has gained significant traction among high networth individuals in the region who wish to obtain alternative citizenship against a qualifying investment, such as the newly announced Callaloo Cay resort that offers foreign buyers opportunities to invest. John Hanafin, CEO of the global citizenship advisory Arton Capital, said that the program for the twin-island has become popular thanks to the level of trust built due to the continued bilateral economic developments and favourable investment climate. In addition, Passport Index, the global passport authority has ranked Antigua and Barbuda’s passport number one amongst its Caribbean peers with an active CIP, allowing for visa-free travel to over 124 countries, including the Schengen zone, Canada, UK, and Singapore. The culmination of this campaign is eagerly anticipated in October when the country’s Prime Minister will host an inviteonly event in Dubai. Hon. Gaston Browne will be accompanied by a delegation including Hollywood icon Robert De Niro who is one of the largest investors on the twin-island and also serves as an economic envoy to Antigua and Barbuda, as well as Armand Arton, special economic envoy for the Middle East and an expert on Global Citizenship.

Image courtesy of istock photo

Antigua and Barbuda showcase investment potential to the UAE with star-studded delegation

DISCOVER ANTIGUA & BARBUDA IN DUBAI OCTOBER 8-9, 2016 PALAZZO VERSACE, DUBAI, UAE Hon. Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua & Barbuda, accompanied by a delegation including Hollywood icon, Robert DeNiro, Special Economic Envoy, are delighted to host a private event dedicated to Antigua & Barbuda's recent economic developments with the UAE. Invitation only event. Please contact + 971 4 456 9220 or


Government of Antigua and Barbuda

2016 SEP / OCT 61

LIFESTYLE ZENOS E10 R Zenos E10 R is the fastest, most focused and most thrilling model of the range. Fitted with a 2.3-litre turbocharged EcoBoost engine, the E10 R is an extremely quick car. 0-60 mph takes an estimated 3.0 seconds – thanks to a combination of 350 bhp and 475 Nm, and a dry weight of just 700 kg.

All prices approximate



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BERLUTI FOOSBALL Foosball, the pub and fraternity house staple game gets an exquisite luxury makeover by Berluti. Berluti joined forces with the French gametable maker Bonzini to transform this barroom fixture into a gentleman’s game with a leather tabletop and hand-polished players.

Price on Request

PHANTOM GOLD The most powerful connected speaker is eight times more powerful than the Phantom, 4,500W of power, 108 dB of physical impact, and the sound level of a live rock concert. In its extreme version it creates the unique experience of ultra-dense sound with physical impact, at the other end of the spectrum, it goes down to the lowest sounds ever emitted (14 Hz).


TRATAR BICYCLE These bicycles, made in Slovenia, are crafted from top quality, locally sourced wood and assembled by hand with biodegradable glue to minimise the production’s environmental footprint. These wooden monocoque bicycles are 100% recyclable and are available in a single-speed or in a kick shift version.


2016 SEP / OCT 63

SILVER BULLET This metallic beauty is the fastest yacht of its kind


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his $85 million Silver Fast superyacht is the fastest of the aluminium yachts. Last year it completed its maiden voyage, from Perth to Sri Lanka, travelling 3,200 nautical miles. It reached an average of 17 knots during the journey, though in ideal conditions, the vessel can reach speeds as fast as 27 knots under power of its twin MTU 16V 4000 M90 engines. The svelte profile of this silver-hulled beauty, designed by Espen Oeino, is sure to catch the attention of fellow yachters on the high seas. The interior layout comprises of owner's suite with lounge and large private deck; three double VIP guest cabins, one double guest cabin and three further twin cabins. Beautiful wood panelling accents many of the staterooms. The yacht is designed for 18 guests, with additional sleeping quarters for 18 crew.

One of the exterior highlights is the sundeck, which features an outdoor cinema and a glass-front, eight-person spa. The large beach club at the transom includes plenty of room for sun loungers and for launching water toys. For further relaxation, there is an interior with a full spa area (a sauna, steam room, gym, and massage room). And for those who need to get ready for a chic evening, a beauty salon. The aft deck also has a “winter garden”—a wraparound glass enclosure that allows the owner and up to 20 guests to dine outdoors, in a space that can be heated or air-conditioned. And when one’s guests become too much to handle, the forward “touch and go” helipad can offer a swift escape to sandy shore.

2016 SEP / OCT 65



GC puts the Bentley Bentayga to work to discover a new level of luxury BY PHILL TROMANS

he SUV revolution has been a long time coming for Bentley. The British marque – owned by the huge Volkswagen Group – has watched with interest as the market for big, practical vehicles has grown worldwide. Originally the preserve of volume manufacturers, the 21st century has seen the luxury SUV market explode, led by Porsche’s Cayenne and the venerable, but excellent Range Rover. And now Bentley has decided to get in on the action. Newer markets like China and the Middle East is prime hunting grounds for large, super-premium transport. But a manufacturer with Bentley’s heritage can’t afford to get this wrong. Mistakes and bad impressions tend to stick around in the automotive industry, especially when targeting the world’s most demanding customers. When you spend more than $200,000, you have the right to be picky. A 2012 concept car – the EXP 9 F – received a lukewarm reception from the media, but enough customers were enthusiastic for Bentley to greenlight the project. The Bentayga is the result. It’s a bold, muscular and slightly gawky design that calls a lot on visual elements found on Bentley cars, most notably the Continental GT. It’s tricky to continue a brand identity in a new model range, as Porsche showed in the first Cayenne, and the Bentayga’s looks divide opinion, but the interior is where owners will primarily cast their gaze and it drips with craftsmanship. Our test car is outfitted with swathes of soft leather and wooden veneer, matched with beautiful brightwork that echoes the coachbuilt interiors of yesteryear. The seats adjust myriad ways and are supremely comfortable. A lumbering, high-riding SUV might seem anathema to a company that promotes its performance and motorsport heritage as much as it does luxury, but a glance back through Bentley’s history shows that its cars have always been very large, and very


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fast. The Bentayga is longer and wider than a Range Rover, and powered by a mammoth 6-litre, twin turbocharged W12 engine (think of two V6s sitting next to each other). All those cylinders push out 600 brake horsepower – around the same as a Lamborghini Huracan – and 664lb ft of torque, delivering strong acceleration without the need to rev the engine hard. The earth-twisting power means that despite its bulk, the Bentayga is a seriously rapid machine, but its grunt is delivered in a manner befitting its image. Push the throttle pedal into the thick carpet and the reaction isn’t visceral; it’s gently, but firmly insistent, like a giant butler ushering you effortlessly towards the horizon. The Bentayga will accelerate from standstill to 100kph in around four seconds, and if you don’t mind losing your licence it’ll carry on to 301kph with seemingly minimal effort. It will, though, drink fuel like there’s no tomorrow. Bentley insists the Bentayga is no slouch off-road either. The drivetrain boasts different terrain-tackling modes that can be selected by a small cluster of buttons on the centre console. It’s unlikely to rival the Range Rover’s prowess in the tough stuff, but it’ll have no problem parking on the grass at the polo club. Handling for such a large car is impressive, with active air suspension keeping things level even when the pilot gets enthusiastic. It’s most at home at a cruise though, with any road imperfections ironed out long before they reach the sumptuous cabin. Wind and road noise is kept to a whisper. Objectively, the Bentayga is an excellent machine – fast, comfortable, luxurious and bearing a badge rivalled in its prestige by very few. It’s expensive compared to the Range Rover, and likely won’t perform as well off-road. But it’s exceedingly fast and, crucially, it feels like a Bentley; like a level of luxury that even its most competent rivals can’t match.

2016 SEP / OCT 67



The Hermès Sur Mesur bespoke service caters to the fantasies of the global elite


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ermès is perhaps best known for its leather goods, in particular its handbags such as the Birkin, which are as exclusive as they are expensive. But the luxury goods manufacturer also offers an entirely bespoke service, where the only limitation is the customer’s imagination and, of course, their budget. Hermès began making bespoke harnesses in 1837, followed by saddles a few years later, thus establishing their bespoke practice, which they still maintain today. “The very first activity of the brand was made to measure, so it’s always been a part of the brand,” says Francois Dore, Managing Director of the Hermès Horizon’s department, a division created ten years ago dedicated to Hermès’ bespoke services. No challenge is too great – customisations could range from custom handbags, luggage, and furniture or, what they call “big products” — the full interior fit-out of a yacht, private plane, car or helicopter. All made with the guaranteed quality, and look and feel of Hermès. In the past four years, the company has been more active in developing the big products – “We don’t really promote this offering, we are now more ready to share our experiences with our customers,” says Dore. The collaborative process extensive back and forth with the client to take something from the idea phase, to hand-drawings, 3D models and the final product. Hermès engineers employ their technical expertise—be it in aeronautical, nautical or interior decoration. Balancing customer’s wishes while staying true to the Hermès brand is one of his “daily concerns” says Dore. However, most of the time he finds that the brand and the customer are in sync.

“In fact I’m really lucky, most customers that come to see us are good Hermès customers. They know the values and core style of the brand and I never have to fight with them about this. To date, it has never happened.” One of the more whimsical creations included a custom bag made for carrying an apple. “A client wished to give to a friend who ate an apple everyday,” explains Dore. The green case even comes with a small paring knife tucked into the side. Aircraft projects, such as a recent fit-out of an Airbus 319 for a Taiwanese customer, are particularly interesting to Dore, who used to work as an engineer. “We have to work within the parameters of so many aviation rules and regulations. Every time we take the pencil to draw something, we realise, we cannot do it. So it is a particular challenge. I love this project because we managed to create something really beautiful.” “The coordination of a project like that is also a challenge, with a client based in Japan, an airplane built in America, and interiors crafted in France.That’s why on our team we have craftsman, studios and also a strong project management team.” Another recent project, a client requested the refurbishment of the trunk of his vintage Bugatti, a car that was actually driven by Ettore Bugatti himself. Hermès had fit out the original trunk in 1929. This project was particularly challenging as they only had a few photographs to work with in order to maintain some historical authenticity. Dore shares, “The client came to our offices several times, spending time in the workshops, chatting with the craftsman… He really wanted to share the emotional importance of the car for him. The relationship is so strong. In every project, there is a story like that.”

2016 SEP / OCT 69



From Occident to Orient, blue and white porcelain is a universal refrain

Evil eye vase, $702 at Mosaique

Ceramic birds, $140 each at Concept-Me Store

Beach House

Richard Orlinski crystal King Kong, $36,755 at Cities 70

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Delft Blue Vases, Marcel Wanders, price on request


Spider side table, Khaled El Mays $1,858, candleholders, $46-$148 lanterns, $46-$115, all at Cities

Porcelain Chandeliers, Lladro, $6,600

Mosaic pattern cushion, $135 at The Rug Company

Ceramic cherry sculpture, Bull & Stein, $160 at Cities Cabot chair, Bernhardt, $1,800 at Interiors

Heritage cabinet, Boca do Lobo, $25,910 at Nakkash Gallery

2016 SEP / OCT 71


POWER BREAKFAST They say it’s the most important meal of the day. Here’s where to go to start your day right

AUBAINE This London-based French bistro opened last year on the ground floor at the main entrance of The Dubai Mall. Car traffic from shoppers replaces street life, but the effect of watching the world go by is the same. Aubaine means treat in French and this bistro’s offerings are just that -- everything is made daily by hand – the bread, pastries and juices. For a healthy start, try the Formule Sante­— egg white omelette, roasted tomato, kale, spinach on brown toast and then save some room for the delightful French toast with blueberries. Dubai Mall, +971 4 510 8391


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FIREBIRD DINER BY MICHAEL MINA Firebird is an authentic American diner in Dubai’s financial district, albeit an upscale version— as one would expect of a restaurant attached to the Four Seasons hotel. While the food is more fine dining than casual fare, the vibe is typically laid back, with soft red leather booths, black and white chequered tile flooring and a funky jukebox playing in the background. It’s the perfect place for a mid-week breakfast meeting and at just 79 dirhams, it won’t put your expenses over budget. All the usual suspects are there

including smoked salmon eggs benedict, a cheesy egg and potato filled bagel aptly named Yonkers. But for something a little different, try their sweet pepper frittata oozing with melted cheddar cheese, red chilli and topped with creamy avocado and a green salad on the side. Four Seasons, Podium Level, building 9, Gate Village DIFC, +971 4 506 0100

2016 SEP / OCT 73


BRASSERIE QUARTIER be missed. For those seeking a grander affair, Brasserie Quartier’s weekend brunch delights with homemade foie gras, towers of seafood and plentiful carving stations. St Regis Dubai, Al Habtoor City, +971 4 435 5577

Images courtesy of Getty Images

This restaurant serves authentic French fare in a chic setting. Their breakfast menu, served buffet style, is simple and satisfying-omelettes, French toast, Greek yogurt and granola served alongside foamy cappuccinos. Adjacent to the brasserie is a patisserie serving a range of freshly baked breads and pastries. The raspberry croissant, filled tangy-tart raspberry coulis, is not to


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LA SERRE This dazzling boulangerie with its oak floors and white furniture recalls the charm of a Parisian street cafÊ, albeit a decidedly more luxurious one. The shaded outdoor terrace is the perfect spot to take in the street life of Downtown Dubai with your morning coffee. In addition to traditional breakfast offerings, the menu also boasts scrambled eggs with freshly shaved truffle and fried eggs with foie gras. The pastries are worth every calorie, particularly the Deauvillaise, a croissant filled with Valrohna chocolate and custard. In the bistro upstairs, weekend breakfasts bring live musicians and an atmosphere buzzing with Dubai’s most beautiful and fashionable. Vida Hotel, Downtown Dubai, +971 4 428 6969

2016 SEP / OCT 75


HISTORIC HOTELS These iconic properties have reinvented themselves into modern day masterpieces

MONTEVERDI TUSCANY This charming hilltop retreat is the brainchild of American lawyer Michael Cioffi who stumbled upon Castiglioncello del Trinoro — a crumbling medieval village deep in the Tuscan countryside— while on the hunt for Renaissance art. Cioffi fell in love with the tiny village and piece by piece renovated it into a boutique hotel and spa with the help of the locals, who still live there, without compromising on luxury or authenticity. Room sizes vary between a double to a six bedroom villa but each skillfully balances contemporary interiors with the original charm of the buildings, thick stonewalls, wooden ceiling beams and roof tiles have all been preserved to maintain its rustic character.


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Monteverdi’s elevated position affords it with sweeping views of the vineyards and farmhouses below—reminiscent of an artist’s palette filled with muted greens, browns and yellows. Afternoons are built for recharging by the pool surrounded by lavender filled gardens or soaking in an outdoor tub in the newly opened spa, which is housed in a 15th Century stone granary, before trying one of the treatments that use local herbs and grapeseed oil from the surrounding Val d’Orcia. Guest rooms from $650 per night,


2016 SEP / OCT 77


VILLA MAGNA MADRID The Villa Magna hotel embodies Madrid’s fashionable side, its located in the trendy Salamanca district, known as the Spanish capital’s shopping haven. The leafy streets are lined with big name boutiques and the type of restaurants that foodies go loca over. The hotel itself is adjacent to El Corte Ingles, Europe’s largest high-end retail destination making it the place to stay for celebrities and tourists alike. The former palatial residence has been modernised in recent years after an extensive renovation, providing guests with understated opulence. While the exterior of the hotel is unbefitting— covered in dull concrete slabs, its


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interior is fabulously stylish. The lobby is dotted with soft velvet sofas, Art Nouveau paintings and bright red art-deco pillars. Guest rooms are less bold but are equally art deco inspired with grey and white colour schemes, striped Louis chairs, oversized fabric headboards and sprawling beds, over-shadowed only by the spacious marble bathrooms with a separate tub and shower scented with Asprey of London toiletries. +34 915 87 12 34


HOTEL HASSLER ROME Perfectly positioned at the top of the Spanish Steps, the hotel Hassler is as iconic as the city that gave birth to it. It’s one of a handful of luxury hotels that remains in private hands, run by a fifth generation hotelier. Hassler oozes old world charm with rich interiors dripping with shades of ochre, red and cream and framed by chandeliers in every corner. Guest rooms are more modern but maintain the same warmth and grandeur with velvet headboards,

Venetian lamps and soft carpets. Besides the attentive service, the Hassler stands out for its panoramic views over the historical heart of Rome. None more so than from its rooftop Michelin starred restaurant ImĂ go, which boasts the best views of the Pantheon, Aventino Hill and the Borghese Gardens in the city. +39 06 699 34 642

2016 SEP / OCT 79


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HOTEL RITZ MADRID The Hotel Ritz in Madrid is a European institution set within Madrid’s Golden Triangle. The historic allure of the hotel— built in 1910 by French architect Charles Mewes and Swiss Hotelier Caesar Ritz— is centered on its tragedy and exuberance in equal measure. It served as a hospital during the Spanish Civil War, saw Frank Sintra charm his former wife, actress Ava Gardner over the piano in the hotel’s famous Krug champagne bar and it hosted the wedding of King Alfonso XIII, where guests can still pay to use the original gold cutlery from the wedding. While the property has aged in recent years, the romanticism has endured.

Nonetheless, a $100 million renovation to breathe new life into the luxury property is slated for 2017 by the Mandarin Oriental group. The makeover will include a whole new façade, a destination spa, gym and swimming pool as well as a refreshed lobby area. Guest rooms, including junior suites should retain their light and airy appeal thanks to a patio door terrace overlooking the Prado museum and the spacious bathrooms with gilded taps will be brought into the 21st Century. +34 917 01 67 67

2016 SEP / OCT 81


POST SUMMER RECOVERY The hot weather can wreak havoc on your skin. Rejuvenate with these products and autumnal scents. Oud Edition, Roberto Cavalli

Roberto Cavalli’s newest fragrance, Oud Edition, is rather assertive, playing on a masculine-feminine sensuality, with a dose of mysticism brought by the incense. The person who wears it is confident and unafraid to be noticed— true to the brand’s unabashedly flamboyant style the fragrance is packaged in a velvet-lined box housing a softly curved gold bottle crowned with a tiara in the shape of the designer’s logo. 75 ml, $160

Uomo Intense, Valentino

The new Valentino Uomo is a more intense and masculine version of the fragrance launched two years ago. The composition is suave leathery, deep and bright; a typical Italian fragrance style, meant to recall a young Italian artistocrat. Its top notes contain clary sage oil and fresh mandarin. The heart notes include the elegance of iris absolute and tonka bean, laid on a base of black leather and vanilla bean. 100 ml, $102

Italian Resort, UV Face Protection SPF 50 Aqua di Parma

Aqua di Parma’s Italian Resort collection has been designed to rejuvenate skin. The UV Face Protection SPF 50, combines strong UV filters with the revitalising power of the “Mediterranean re-activating complex” to create a daily barrier effect against the ageing effects produced by UV rays and environmental stresses sudden weather changes and pollution. Its light formula leaves the skin perfectly protected, soft and hydrated. 30 ml, $70

Petitgrain Reviving Body Gel, Aesop

Everyone loves some time in the sun, but your skin may not always comply with your summer plans. Aesop’s after-sun body gel absorbs rapidly to refresh and calm the skin post excess sun-exposure. Enhanced with aloe vera and panthenol to soften and soothe, with extracts of grapefruit and lemon to cool, the product is ideal in hot or humid climates, particularly for those who eschew rich creams in warmer weather. 150 ml, $33


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The Anantara Spa boasts a new look and additional treatment rooms his two-tier luxurious sanctuary has recently re-opened following a refurbishment and the addition of treatment rooms. Those seeking relaxation will be indulged in treatments inspired by Asia, the Middle East and Ayurveda – whether Microsilk oxygenated bubble baths, hammam treatments, or personalised facials. The spa also uses its own bespoke range of branded products, and the 100% natural spa line features carefully selected ingredients with floral notes, fruit blends, botanical extracts, essential oils, spices and nuts, sourced from across Asia, which are blended to deliver optimum results. Spa visitors will also be able to enjoy full access to the resort’s Tuk Tuk Kids Club, with complimentary pool and beach access for guests booking Couple’s Quality Time and Anantara Spa Journey treatments.

2016 SEP / OCT 83


FINDING REFUGE Ayyam gallery celebrates its 10th anniversary

From the beginning, our goal was to find talented artists who had something to say and all we wanted to do was give them the proper platform and support to do it,” says Hisham Samawi co-founder of the Ayyam Gallery, reflecting on a decade of work. The Ayyam Gallery was founded in Damascus in 2006 by Hisham and Khaled Samawi, two cousins and art aficionados of Syrian origin, raised in the West who set out to uncover the Syrian contemporary arts scene. What they discovered was numerous young Syrian artists who were generating quality work on an international level. “Each artist had his or her own vision. Considering they were living in Syria at the time, they didn’t have much global exposure because Syria


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at the time was still pretty closed off, they were still able to create relevant art,” recalls Hisham. However, despite this calibre of work, there were very few art collectors and the cousins took it upon themselves to foster the work of these talented Syrian artists. They opened a gallery in Damascus and promoted the bulk of the works by word of mouth and diverting foot traffic from the Damascus Four Seasons Hotel, where they would hang some of the paintings. Today Ayyam Gallery is one of the leading commercial galleries specialising in a roster of Arab and Iranian artists. The gallery was the first to move into a warehouse in Al Quoz, in the area now known as Al Serkal Avenue, at a time when it was not even zoned for commercial activity. They also have branches in Dubai’s


financial district, Jeddah, Beirut and London. In addition to raising exposure of Middle Eastern art to a wider audience, the gallery has played a crucial role in the preservation of Syrian art during the conflict. “I remember we were at Art Dubai the day the conflict started in Syria in March 2011. At the time, we didn’t know whether it would blow over or escalate,” says Hisham. “We had to make a quick decision and we didn’t. It wasn’t worth the risk. If things got worse, it could really compromise the future of Syrian art forever.” The Samawis relocated the gallery’s headquarters from Damascus to Dubai as well as 20-25 Syrian artists, their families, and some 22,000+ works of art from Damascus over the course of three years. This move not only ensured the artist’s personal safety, but also the freedom to work and the legacy of Syrian art. Hisham explains, “It was important for us to allow the artists to have that freedom, that safety to work. We couldn’t take the risk of our artists being hurt, or their works being destroyed.” Over the years, many Ayyam’s artists have gone on to receive commercial success and international recognition. “In the early days, in Damascus, there were so many deals to be had. Most pieces were $1,000 - $2,000 in the beginning, even Safwan

Dahoul was selling for $5,000. Now some of his works are selling for over $200,000…” Tammam Azzam, who first exhibited with Ayyam in 2010, achieved worldwide acclaim in 2013 when his image Freedom Graffiti, featuring Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss superimposed on a bombed out building in Homs, Syria went viral. “It’s a beautiful image that shows how destructive and creative man can be all at once,” reflects Samawi. To celebrate the gallery’s 10th anniversary, the gallery is currently featuring work from the 52 artists who have had a solo exhibition in any of the gallery’s six venues, titled 10:52. Predictably, many of the art pieces deal with war and regional conflict. “The conflict weighs heavily on our artists,” says Hisham contemplatively. “They miss their home and families. Many of them are contemplating their displacement from the place that their ancestors have always lived and they always thought they would live in.” 10:52 runs until October 29 at Ayyam Gallery, Alserkal Avenue, Dubai. Visit 2016 SEP / OCT 85


STEP FORWARD Ferragamo looks towards a more fashionable future

Ferrucio Ferragamo

t’s a sight that has become increasingly commonplace on social media. Fashion bloggers preening about on city streets, taking selfies with their smartphones, showing off their outfits of the day, or #OOTD. However, on one sunny June day in Florence, high-street fashion was replaced with clothing from the luxury brand Salvatore Ferragamo. Various European fashion bloggers had convened in the historic city and location of Ferragamo’s headquarters to participate in the celebration of the launch of the brand’s latest men’s fragrance, UOMO. Since it was started in 1920s by the company’s namesake Salvatore Ferragamo, a shoemaker, Ferragamo has catered to celebrities and royalty alike. But it has mostly been known for its good construction and quality, if not fashion forwardness. If the fragrance launch event was indicative of anything, millenials clad in the brand head to toe, styling it themselves with a folded pant leg or a popped collar – one could say that this conservative brand is evolving into something far more au courant as it tries to appeal to a younger demographic with its clothes, accessories and of course, fragrances. “The essence of Ferragamo is quality and respect for the customers who wear our product. But we are always searching for newness. It’s not necessary to make a revolution. But we are always trying to do better,” says CEO Ferrucio Ferragamo, son of Salvatore who attended the event with his teenage son. Ben Barnes is the new face of the fragrance. The handsome English actor is perhaps best known for his role as Prince Caspian in the children’s movie series Chronicles of Narnia. In the advertisement for the fragrance, he was captured zipping around Los Angeles in an Alfa Romeo Spider, leisurely reading a newspaper at a breakfast table and smiling at the camera as he


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juggles an orange. The film was directed by Italian photographer Francesco Carrozzini, Vogue Italia editor-in-chief Franca Sozzani’s son and an “influencer.” The scent itself, the heart of which is built around tiramisu, is not overtly masculine. “On the top of the olfactory brief it had to smell Italian and we wanted to create something for a man between 25-35,” says Luciano Bertinelli, CEO of Fragrance for Ferragamo perfumes. He echoes the sentiments of the company’s CEO, “At Ferragamo, we don’t like the word revolution we like evolution and there’s certainly been that in all of our products over the last few years. This fragrance is one of the results. Ferragamo doesn’t sell sex. We are not super fashion. We sell elegance.” The lower floor of the company’s headquarters, the 13th century building Palazzo Spini Feroni houses Museo Ferragamo. The permanent collection contains over 10,000 models of shoes created and owned by Ferragamo from the 1920s until his death in 1960. The museum also includes films and photographs of the ambitious shoemaker catering to his celebrity clientele, Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn included. During his lifetime, Salvatore Ferragamo developed over 20,000 pairs of shoes with inventions that required 350 patents. So, in many ways, innovation and appealing to contemporary tastes is very much in tune with Salvatore’s legacy. “My father’s left us with many values,” says Ferrucio. “It taught us that despite many difficulties, with his determination, he was still very creative.” “The world is changing and people grow up and we need to follow new trends and markets,” adds Bertinelli. “However, we will never cut our roots, that is still fundamental to us.”


“But we are always searching for newness. It’s not necessary to make a revolution. But we are always trying to do better...” Ferrucio Ferragamo

Actor Ben Barnes at the launch of the Ferragamo men's fragrance, UOMO 2016 SEP / OCT 87


LITTLE BLACK BOOK FLORENCE Chef Annie Feolde was the first woman in Italy to receive three Michelin stars for Enoteca Pinchiorri , her restaurant in the heart of Florence, Italy. Born in France to a family of hoteliers, Feolde tried her best not to enter the hospitality business, working briefly as a bureaucrat in the French government, before a trip to Italy to learn cooking turned into a lifetime vocation. Earlier this year, she brought her talents to Dubai and opened The Artisan by Enoteca Pinchiorri in DIFC. She spoke to GC about her favourite haunts in scenic Florence.

Coffee Break Rivoire, in Piazza della Signoria is right around the corner from the Uffizi Gallery and makes perfect cappuccinos and homemade pastries.

Storytelling Florence has so many secrets, because of its age and history. Every street has a story to tell. Piazza della Repubblica, Borgo Ognissanti is a great place to spot Florentine celebrities.

Il Palagio, in the Four Seasons Hotel is my favourite restaurant. It has a Michelin star and does very creative and innovative interpretations of classic Italian cuisine.


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Images courtesy of Getty Images

Fine Dining


Window Shopping Via Tornabuoni is a great place for high-end shopping amidst historic architecture

Sweet Dreams J.K. Place in Piazza Santa Maria Novella is a lovely boutique hotel. Its rooftop bar has direct views onto the Duomo.

Sunset Views The best place to people watch is on the central bridges at sunset, while people choose the right place for their “aperitivo”. (Ponte Vecchio)

I love Florence’s history and elegance and above everything the feeling of being in a small village, because we all know each other.

Renaissance Highlights There are so many historical sights in Florence but the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo has been recently renovated and reopened. It is simply magnificent!

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GREEN GOLD From rainforest-clad mountains to storybook wildlife, tiny Costa Rica is the place for an eco adventure BY ELLA BUCHAN

In the most part, energy-guzzling resorts are eschewed in favour of laid back, barefoot luxury. The government provides incentives to landowners who preserve and maintain their forests. Hunting for sport, which had decimated species including scarlet macaws, jaguars and sea turtles, was also banned in 2012. With gurgling volcanoes, deafening waterfalls, natural hot springs and wildlife straight from the pages of a children’s storybook, there is plenty worth protecting. Villa Blanca, perched high in the San Ramon cloud forest, is part of the Greentique Hotels group, committed to sustainable tourism. The resort has recycling and water conservation practices in place, serves food made from local produce and hires most of its staff from San Ramon. At Don Juan Farm, a coffee plantation in La Fortuna teaching sustainable farming practices, guides are armed with an arsenal of knowledge - and machetes. They use the latter to sever cocoa pods and papaya fruit from branches while showing tourists or groups of schoolchildren around. The richest biodiversity is in Corcovado, on the southwestern tip. This is the wildest of Costa Rica’s national parks, roamed by curvy-trunked tapirs, big cats, anteaters and four species of monkey, including the endangered Geoffroy’s spider monkey. Here you can also see the graves of those who once lived in the forest, panning for nuggets of gold in the rivers. Nowadays greenfrom emerald leaves to the glistening turquoise of a resplendent quetzal’s wispy tail feathers - is the country’s most valuable asset.

Images courtesy of Getty Images

ew things sum up Costa Rica’s spirit like its coffee makers. The traditional chorreador consists of a simple wooden frame, carved from rosewood, with a soft cloth filter placed in the round hole. Then, slowly and deliberately, freshlyboiled water is poured over the grounds, drip-dripping into an aluminum pot below. The result? One of the best cups of coffee you’ve ever tasted. Partly because the Latin American country grows some of the world’s finest, most flavoursome beans. But also because of the patience, simplicity and love that bursts from every sip. This is the essence of ‘pura vida’, or ‘pure life’. This ubiquitous phrase is used as a greeting, to compliment anything from schoolwork to a delicious meal, and as a mantra that guides daily life. Nestled between Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south, Costa Rica is the size of Denmark - yet packs in more attractions and raw, natural beauty than most countries twice its size. Its Pacific coastline is blessed with creamy, jungle-fringed beaches and candy-floss sunsets, while the less-developed Caribbean side boasts ‘mini-Amazon’ Tortuguero National Park, a tangle of canals accessible only by boat. Around a quarter of the country is protected national parks, from dense rainforest to the mist-enshrouded cloud forest in the north. Since the 1990s, when Costa Rica suffered from devastating deforestation, it has made a bigger commitment to sustainability and eco-tourism. It has even pledged to become carbon neutral by 2021.


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The fascinating capital is well worth a day or two. The Gold Museum, built underground in an inverted pyramid, showcases the metal-smithing and sculptures of pre-Columbian settlements dating back to 500BC. Tour the opulent 19th century National Theatre and stroll through La Sabana Park, where native trees are being reintroduced to draw toucans and parrots to the city.

Image courtesy of Getty Images

The perfect peak of Arenal Volcano, active until October 2010, dominates this national park in the La Fortuna district, one of the best areas for thrill seekers. Zip line through the treetops and over canyons, or cross the canopies via a series of hanging bridges. Hikers might spot jaguar, deer, parrot snakes and even the elusive, endangered resplendent quetzal.

On the Nicaraguan border, this wildlife refuge is clustered around a milk-chocolate river, populated with storks, purple herons and ‘Jesus Christ’ iguanas, which skim over the water. Various companies offer boat tours, with expert guides pointing out white-headed capuchin monkeys swinging from branch to branch.


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Perched on the Pacific coast, this is the country’s most photographed spot for good reason. Walk through the dense forest towards a curl of sandy beach, spotting long-nosed coatis, rare squirrel monkeys and zany-beaked toucans. Local guides locate sloths dangling languidly from high branches and bats snoozing in ‘tent’ houses constructed from leaves.




Suites from $305 per night

Cabins from $250 per night

The grandest hotel in San Jose, this restored Victorian mansion has marshmallow beds, plush robes and period furniture, while some rooms have private patios and trickling fountains. The elegant lamplit restaurant with sunken bar is a local hotspot with couples huddling over plates of savoury crème brûlée.

Every detail at this resort and spa in the cloud forest of Bajos del Toro is designed to encourage guests to reconnect with nature - and each other.The flawlessly chic cabins are tucked away for complete privacy. Floor-to-ceiling sliding doors lead to a decked patio and outdoor jet tub, fed by pure spring water.


A holiday at this Guanacaste resort on the Pacific Coast comes with added adventure. Rates include unlimited sunset horse rides, kayaking through the mangroves and moonlit excursions to see nesting Olive Ridley turtles. Scarlet macaws, from the hotel-sponsored Ara Project for injured parrots, swoop past patios with whirlpool baths and plunge pools. Villas from $575 per night

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While the Autumn runways showcased many of the season’s traditional colours – gray, navy, dark green – the colour that stood out was copper, a rich orangey-brown

Wool Sweatshirt, Boglioli, $695

Cargo trousers, Neighbourhood, $315

Pal Zileri, A/W 16

High top sneakers, Santoni, $645


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Slim-fit checked silk and wool blazer, Etro, $1,500

All prices approximate

Tiger’s eye bracelet, Bottega Veneta, $350


Sunglasses, Dries Van Noten, $345

Headphones, Master & Dynamic, $550

Cotton poplin shirt, Solid Homme, $345

American football, Shinola, $150

Woven leather belt, Brunello Cucinelli, $825

Berluti, A/W 16

Quilted washed nubuck jacket, Berluti, $6,600

Leather sneakers, Officine Creative, $525

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These special edition watches are sure to round out a discerning watch collection MONTBLANC CHRONOGRAPH UTC AUTOMATIC CARPE DIEM SPECIAL EDITION


This watch is one of three special edition watches released this year by the luxury pen manufacturers. While the three watches may differ in certain functionalities, similar design cues remain throughout. The Chronograph UTC Automatic version comes in a 42mm case and features three sub-dials at the 6, 9 and 12 o'clock positions, offering the wearer additional timekeeping functions.

First revealed during 2015, the Slim d'Hermès watch returns this year with new dial colours in a 100-piece limited edition featuring a three-layer grand feu enamel dial. The Slim d'Hermès Grand Feu Email is identical to the existing Slim d'Hermès – the same 39.5 mm case, the same caliber H1950 with micro-rotor and 42-hour power reserve, and the same thin case. The enamel dial is made the oldfashioned way.


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This year marks the 85th anniversary of the Reverso watch and Jaeger-LeCoultre has released several editions to mark this occasion. Among them is the Tribute Calender. This watch has, on the front, the time plus the day, month, date, and moonphase; the back shows the time in a second time-zone, and as well has a day-night indication. It is available in pink gold only, in a 49.4 mm x 29.9 mm x 12.06 mm case.

The Beatles limited edition watch in the larger Maestro collection commemorates the brand's 40th anniversary in addition to playing tribute to one of the world’s greatest rock 'n’ roll groups. The band’s album titles are placed around the silver galvanic dial and it comes in a 39.5mm polished stainless steel case with a water resistance of 50m. On the back, there is a smoked sapphire crystal featuring the official Beatles logo.


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