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2017 JAN / FEB 3


Oman’s 2040 tourism strategy gets a $35 billion boost


The seven steps to acing your New Year’s resolutions


Where the world’s wealthy are donating their millions



Mark Wahlberg is Boston’s patriot


Emirati Mahmoud Adi is building the UAE’s first high-tech greenhouse in Al Ain


A teenager has found a far cheaper, faster and accurate method to detect cancer



The Swiss biotech company that has a secret formula for success


The Karam Foundation is imparting vocational training to Syrian refugees


Samuel L. Jackson has been to the dark side – and back

Roland Iten creates high-end mechanical objects of desire

34 Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer is living the dream



36 Cherie Blair is empowering women

50 Alexander Betts says refugees can boost


52 Saint Lucia has an attractive immigrant

Rob DiCrasti takes over as CEO of Royal Jet


Montegrappa is back under family ownership



Andrew Bastawrous’ plan to eradicate preventive blindness

the economies of host nations investment program







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70 ART

This month’s must-have gadgets and gizmos Mazu Yachts debuts its first super-yacht tender

The Ferrari GTC4Lusso is the everyday supercar you need


Bontoni is the shoemaker to Silicon Valley’s CEOs

World cuisines plated in Dubai The world’s coolest ski resorts The Russian artist fusing graffiti and calligraphy

Vietnam is positioning itself as a destination for luxury tourism


Winter accessories


A preview of the SIHH luxury watch fair


Lebanese Karim Jaber gives you the inside line on his favourite city – Beirut







2017 JAN / FEB 5

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 Etan Smallman, Georgina Wilson-Powell, Ivan Carvalho, Triska Hamid, Jake Hayman, Amanda Fisher, Ryan Young, Nigel Cumberland PRINTED BY Masar Printing and Publishing

would like to take this opportunity to wish all of our readers and partners a very Happy New Year! We hope that the year ahead is filled with success and determination whatever the challenges may be. Our January issue highlights the Global Citizens who are stepping up and speaking out on behalf of those people, namely refugees and the poor because they aren’t in a position to stand up for themselves. As Jake Hayman, CEO of Ten Years’ Time writes on page 18 in his annual philanthropy review, wealthy donors need to look beyond giving to their old universities and focus instead on real life, here-and-now problems that are affecting the world we live in, namely climate change and the refugee crisis. Like Hayman, Alexander Betts, Professor of Forced Migration and International Affairs at Oxford university also challenges the status quo and tells us that countries need to alter their way of thinking when it comes to refugees. On page 50 he tells us that instead of providing humanitarian aid, governments should be focusing on the positive contribution that refugees can have on a host nation’s economy. Similarly, Lina Sergie, a Syrian American who co-founded the Karam Foundation, which has been a lifeline for Syrian refugees over the past few years, is adamant that refugees should not be defined by their current status and it’s vital that we invest in young Syrians, as they are the generation who will put the war-torn country back together. Boston’s most famous son, (well one of them) Mark Wahlberg is our cover star this month. Through his own namesake foundation he has transformed young people’s lives in the US providing them with mentors and the skills they need to gain employment. Wahlberg tells us about the difficulties he had in making his new movie Patriots Day, which recounts the horrific events during the Boston Marathon terrorist attack in 2013.

Natasha Tourish 6

JAN / FEB 2017 MEDIA REPRESENTATIVE Fierce International Dubai Internet City Business Central Tower A - Office 2803 T: +971 4 421 5455 - F: +971 4 421 0208

REACH MEDIA FZ LLC CHAIRMAN Armand Arton CO-FOUNDER Armand Peponnet ADVERTISING SUBSCRIPTION Dubai Media City, PO Box 215381, Dubai, UAE T: +971 4 421 2770 - 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.

Brian Bowen Smith/ AUGUST


We can.


As a leading provider of specialist security solutions and risk consulting, Consilium identifies and acts to remove or resolve vulnerability in order to permit their clients to mitigate or avoid complex commercial or personal security challenges throughout the world. Consilium’s international footprint permits long or short term global security solutions, sustained due diligence and business intelligence in active and passive environments. Client confidentiality and assured discretion is a trademark of Consilium’s delivery. IF YOU HAVE A PROBLEM | TALK TO US. +971 (0) 2 418 7560 | 24/7: +44 (0) 20 7078 9088





2017 JAN / FEB 7


Etan Smallman

Georgina Wilson-Powell

Ivan Carvalho

is a London-based freelance journalist, whose work has featured in publications on four continents, including The Times, The Independent, The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail, The South China Morning Post and The Australian.

is a travel journalist and editor living in London. She contributes to the Times, the Daily Telegraph, Conde Nast Traveller, Monocle and Gulf News. In this issue, she takes us to Vietnam to sample its laidback style.

is the Milan correspondent for Monocle magazine, covering a range of topics from politics to business. A native of California, he previously wrote for Wired, Domus and the International Herald Tribune.

Triska Hamid

Jake Hayman

Amanda Fisher

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.

is the founding CEO of Ten Years' Time. He co-founded the firm, following years working in New York with the foundation arm of the social-purpose business Peaceworks. Jake speaks regularly on panels and at conferences on the future of philanthropy.

is a New Zealand freelance journalist currently based in Nairobi. She previously worked at the Philippine Star and Radio New Zealand before taking up a post as special correspondent at the Khaleej Times in the UAE.


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Conditions worsen for Europe's refugees as temperatures plummet. A Syrian refugee stands at the entrance of the house where he lived at Kucukpazar district near Sultanahmet during unusually cold temperatures, even for the time of year, in Istanbul. Temperatures are expected to remain well below freezing throughout January.



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2 2 JAN

FEB 2017


2 9 JAN

Detroit Motor Show Detroit, USA

Australian Open Melbourne, Australia

While there’s an exciting line-up of concepts and all-new production variants that will be showcased at the auto show, we’ve got our radar locked in on the big ones. Among them is the Audi Q8 concept, an all-new SUV, and the Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe Night Edition.

Heralding the start of the Grand Slam season, the first of the year’s four major tennis championships takes place this month in Australia. While Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams will all take to the court in Melbourne, the spotlight will be firmly on last year’s winner and World No. 2 Novak Djokovic.


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Milan’s Men’s Fashion Show Milan, Italy

Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) Geneva, Switzerland

Dubai Jazz Festival Dubai, UAE

In one of the world’s most fashionable cities, it’s here where everyman streetwear borrows its cues straight from the runway. Some of the biggest names in fashion will peacock their take on the latest in menswear and set the mandate for your wardrobe essentials in 2017. This one is a red-letter event on your calendar.

The mighty Richemont Group descends onto the Palexpo in Geneva in a show of strength and will be joined by a number of independent watchmakers. The show, typically a by-invitation-only event for media and retailers, will for the first time introduce an open-day for the public on January 20.

Sir Tom Jones will be taking over the stage at the Dubai Media City Amphitheatre on the opening night, while Latin superstar Enrique Iglesias will close the three-day festival on February 24. In between, Mariah Carey is slated to perform in what will hopefully not be an encore of her disastrous New Year’s Eve performance in Times Square.


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A World of Sophisticated Beauty Armani Hotel Dubai brings to life the “Stay with Armani� philosophy delivering a genuine home approach and a unique lifestyle experience where every need and desire is fulfilled for each guest individually.

2017 JAN / FEB 13


OMAN ENTERS A NEW ERA Tourism is going to shape and accelerate future investment opportunities in Oman BY DANAE MERCER

Oman hopes to become a major regional centre for meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) through projects like the Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre (pictured above)


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ith its wealth of natural beauty, relative safety compared to its neighbours and close proximity to Dubai, Oman is a country ripe for tourism – at least according to Oman’s Ministry of Tourism. The government body has big plans for the future. “The Ministry of Tourism is investing up to $35 billion over the next 25 years into our 2040 tourism strategy,” says Salim Al Mamari, Director General of tourism promotion. “We hope to increase the number of hotel rooms by 40 per cent by adding 10,000 rooms by 2018. We are also converting a number of selfcontained apartments and farm houses to accommodate tourists, giving them the experience of actually living the Omani way.” Several big property groups have jumped on board to develop the hospitality sector. Anantara opened two new uber-luxury venues towards the end of 2016 and the Sheraton in Muscat is reopening after a decade of being closed. Kempinski has The Wave, a mixed-use community, opening in 2017. And that’s just to name a few. Add to this the recent investment into a 13,000 square foot space for the National Museum of Muscat, as well as the government’s plans to become a major regional centre for meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) through projects like the Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre, due to open this year and it’s easy to see that for Oman, tourism is the new buzzword. “With our new tourism vision for 2040, we expect a target of five million visitors, with the tourism sector contributing to six percent of the GDP,” says Al Mamari. “The economy is recovering. The growth and development of the tourism industry is vital to the country’s long-term economic strategy.” That’s not to say Oman’s economic situation is all rosy. There are considerable difficulties linked to the country’s economic past and its investment future. Dr. Calvin H. Allen, Jr., dean emeritus at Shenandoah University, points to the country’s over-reliance on oil, its tensions surrounding the Arab Spring, its high rates of un- and under-employment and its efforts to increase Omanis in the workforce as stumbling blocks. As a result, “Oman faces serious economic and political issues in the next 15 years,” he says. Tourism will play a big role, he

acknowledges. So will establishing Oman as a logistics centre for the western Indian Ocean region.” “The question is not whether [tourism] is a way to build an economy,” he says. “Just look at Jordan or even Egypt to see how big an impact it has had there on enriching the local population. Oman as a logistics centre probably has greater promise.” Then there’s the political instability linked to the succession of Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said and his generation of political leadership. With possible issues acknowledged, recent efforts have been made to make the country a friendlier investment destination for foreigners. Currently expat investors are required to have a local shareholder with a 35 per cent stake and minimum capital of just under $400,000. A draft law created by Oman’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry proposes that expats can start a business without an Omani partner and without minimum capital requirement. If the law passes, “Then expatriates would be allowed 100 per cent foreign ownership, [providing] investors with an open market in Oman,” says Al Mamari. “Oman has many benefits for the investor, but we should think of a new way to attract investment,” said Said bin Saleh Al Kiyuim, chairman of Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry, at an event announcing a new investment-focused forum. The forum, hosted late last year, was meant to examine Oman’s investment opportunities for the Arab private sector. “Some businessmen find it challenging to invest in Oman due to the laws and procedures, but we have to move beyond that.” Already Dubai-based retail and leisure developer Majid Al Futtaim has planned on investing $1.337 billion over the next five years, creating 42,000 new jobs and building projects like the Mall of Oman. “Additionally, to help the construction sector, a 50-year deal between Oman’s government and Chinese investors has been signed,” says Al Mamari. This will develop a $10.7 billion industrial city near the port of Duqm. So what’s the bottom line for would-be investors? Its obvious Oman is in a transitory period. Tourism is a primary focus and large hotel groups are already on board. There also appears to be a concentrated push to attract foreign investment. But as is often the case, only time will tell just how all these big shifts play out.

“Oman faces serious economic and political issues in the next 15 years”

2017 JAN / FEB 15


NEW YEAR SUCCESS The idea of success may only be seven steps away from where you are now BY NIGEL CUMBERLAND

ll of us are looking for success in one aspect or the other in the New Year. For some, it’s work related – expand one's business; for others it’s a personal goal – lose weight or reduce stress; while some may even opt for family goals – focus more on the children. No matter what you are aiming for, here are seven mindful steps to help you reach your goals.

1. Create your own 2017 Successful people never rely upon chance or fate. You might look at another successful person and think they got lucky – a case of being in the right place at the right time perhaps? But in your heart you know that the truth is every piece of good fortune is the result of hours, or even years, of hard work and preparation. Do not let yourself become complacent. Never forget that it is not enough simply to have dreams and a plan of how to achieve them. Putting a plan into action involves telling yourself that you will create your own future; that luck or fate will not solely determine what happens.


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2. Develop your emotional intelligence Are you one of those terrible bosses who can react without thinking, getting angry too quickly, acting jealously or being too easily provoked? Losing control of your emotions can damage your chances of living and maintaining your successful life. It can easily be the difference between success and failure. I have seen too many successful careers, marriages, families and business partnerships destroyed by moments of emotional madness. Do you really want to lose what you have created? Make it your New Year resolution to start controlling your emotions, pausing before you react and speak and always acting in a mature way.


3. Focus on things you can control Are you a control freak, thinking that power and money makes you invincible? Stop worrying about what you cannot control. It always astonishes me how much time people spend trying to change what cannot be changed and then waste more energy complaining. The alternative is much more productive – simply focus on what is under your own control and influence. This process of deciding what is and what is not controllable is hard. Harder still when you have strong feelings about what is happening. But do you really want to waste your precious time focusing on the wrong things? 4. Stay super healthy Working yourself into the ground serves no one. It only decreases your chances of living a long and healthy life. Do you really want to sacrifice your health and long life for a big house, fancy car and hefty bank account? So many of us, it seems, are planning to focus on our health when we’ve finished working and making money. Well, don’t hold your breath. Sadly, evidence suggests that your health is probably going to decline very quickly once you retire. A 2013 IEA study in the UK concluded that ‘being retired decreases physical, mental and self-assessed health’. Don’t be banking too much on using all of that free time you’re suddenly going to have to become healthier.

“It is important to avoid polluting environments, but the biggest danger is being polluted by people around you”

5. Start the year by forgiving others Refusing to forgive never made anyone feel better about anything. All you are doing is holding on to feelings of upset, anger and jealousy and that can never be good. I once read that being angry and unforgiving towards someone else is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. To sustain your successful life you must forgive others who have hurt or offended you. Not because they were right or because you can forget what they have done, but because forgiving frees you up to live a more full and positive life. By forgiving, you allow yourself to move on.

7. Have the courage to fail in 2017 All great people fail at one time or another. When was the last time you let yourself fail at something? Or, perhaps more tellingly, when was the last time you held yourself back from doing something for fear of failure? I am tired of coaching successful people who seem no longer willing to make changes. They love saying “But I am ok and successful enough”. I often ask them what they think is the worst thing that could happen, in changing careers, leaving a toxic relationship or undertaking whatever change they know in their heart they should make. Their responses rarely justify their holding back.

6. Walk away from toxic people It is important to avoid polluting environments, but the biggest danger is being polluted by people around you. They might be your friends, family members or colleagues who fill the air with negativity, scepticism or jealousy, who are always moaning and wanting, but never giving. I coach so many individuals whose struggles seem to stem solely from being connected to incredibly negative, nasty or bitter people. Bid such people goodbye and spend 2017 with people who support and help you.

Nigel Cumberland is a Dubai-based Leadership & Executive coach, trainer and author whose books include “100 Things Successful People Do: Little Exercises for Successful Living”. He is a founder of The Silk Road Partnership and last summer was given the honour of being made a Freeman of the City of London.

2017 JAN / FEB 17


THE MILLION-DOLLAR GIFT Where the world’s millionaire donors should contribute their money — and it isn’t in vain scholarship funds in western universities BY JAKE HAYMAN

$1 million+ gifts. This consisted of 2,197 individual donations. More than half of this came from a single $32 billion donation from HRH Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia, in order to launch Alwaleed Philanthropies. Excluding the prince’s extraordinary donation, the amount donated in 2015 was consistent with 2014 when $24.5 billion was given in $1 million+ gifts. So where can the money be spent

Images courtesy of Alwaleed Philanthropies

n terms of philanthropy, it’s too soon to evaluate the year just gone, but we can look at figures from the previous year as a benchmark. In 2015, over $56 billion was donated in Europe, the US, the Gulf and the UK in increments of over $1m, according to Coutts, the private bank and wealth management firm who released their annual million-dollar donor report at the end of the year that looked into all of the

Donors need to focus more on the world's poorest including refugees, as well as fighting climate change in 2017


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“We need the world’s richest to stand up and move beyond their old universities and into the real world if they want to leave it in a better place than how they found it”

HRH Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia shocked the world in 2015 with his single $32 billion donation to charitable causes

to maximise social benefits to the masses? Turns out there are plenty of such avenues. It can begin by using the money to address climate change where we need clean energy and investment in efficiencies within agriculture and farming. We need to find models and markets through which the world’s poorest can either create their own jobs in the informal economies, improve the outputs of their existing work in agriculture or find paths to stable employment. This will have an impact on health, education and indeed preservation of the species that live alongside these communities. We need to support the refugee families in crisis today, and we need to transform the way we think about education with regard to its links to meaningful employment and relevant local economies. We need to invest in creating stronger societies and help find a way for a smart-phone-addicted generation to become more physically active unless the West wants ‘sitting’ to become the new ‘smoking’. In each of these fields, there are incredible charities, research institutes, think tanks and social entrepreneurs working to create transformation. And yet this is not where the world’s wealthiest are investing their philanthropy. Instead they are investing it in scholarship funds and vanity projects at their old universities. Of the money that went directly to ‘doing good’ (as opposed to foundations for later distribution), more than half went to higher education institutions. Education excluding university (as in, the education that all people get as opposed to a disproportionately

privileged minority) got less than a billion in donations while higher education got more than ten times that amount. Only around $200 million was donated into the ‘international’ category, which covers development in the world’s poorest countries; and the issue of climate change and environmental preservation received only $450 million. Some of the money going into the university sector will pay for research into the causes that affect people beyond that sector and of course giving a scholarship to an individual is no bad thing. However, the complete lack of correlation between the challenges of our time and the activities of those we would hope to rely on to rise to those challenges should be a cause for real frustration. Philanthropy is independent, it is long term and it is unaccountable. It should be a shining light for transformation, innovation and bravery rather than the conservatism of scholarships. We need the world’s richest to stand up and move beyond their old universities and into the real world if they want to leave it in a better place than how they found it.

Jake Hayman is the founding CEO of Ten Years' Time. He co-founded the firm, following years working in New York with the foundation arm of the social-purpose business Peaceworks. Jake speaks regularly on panels and at conferences on the future of philanthropy and the need for more innovative grant-making.

2017 JAN / FEB 19


THE WIZARD OF SAINT-IMIER Roland Iten, the eponymous and eccentric creator of high-end mechanical objects for men, is stepping out into the big time


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wiss jeweller Roland Iten is well known only among the rarefied orbits of the extremely wealthy with an interest in bespoke mechanical creations. Those clients, or ‘friends’ as Iten prefers to call them, include Sylvester Stallone, Jackie Chan, and Romanian billionaire businessman and former Boris Becker manager Ion Toric, among others. These mechanical creations are as varied as watches and buckles to cuff links and spectacles. Everything is made by a small team of craftsmen helmed by Iten himself in the charming Swiss town of Saint-Imier. If you needed a sense of the pedigree involved in its operations, consider this: the current chief of the manufacture was the former manufacturing head at the venerable Harry Winston marque. I ask Iten how he got involved in the watch business, and he says with a little smirk: “It’s very simple. I’m actually Swiss. You either make chocolate or you are in the watch industry.” He adds, “I studied fine art and transportation design and I live in the French region of Switzerland where the watch industry is around you. Previously I worked in Italy, and then I got a project in Switzerland where I got involved in Carl F. Bucherer in 2000.” While the stint with Bucherer marked his formal entry into the world of mechanical creations, the spark was lit much earlier in life by a father, who in his own words, never had time for him. “I had a very busy father, an engineer, who did security systems for power plants. The only time I had with him is when I woke up at 5 o’clock in the morning and brushed his shoes and then built toy airplanes and cars. He told me how to plan constructing these from paper, including the flaps, wheels and moving parts, as we didn’t have Lego that could do those things back then. So as a 4-year-old I had all these plans on paper and that’s how it started.” Iten has created some of the world’s most expensive creations. These include the $6million R60 Diablo belt buckle that contains a 60.66 carat diamond and the Madrid Open trophy (commissioned by his Romanian friend Toric who owns the tournament) that was made using 28 kilos of gold and 32 diamonds making it the world’s most expensive tennis trophy. But Iten isn’t chasing records to create the most expensive objects – instead, he says what really drives him is the desire to create products of longevity. That again ties back to the influence his father left on him. “My father had a peculiar personality trait. He could not bear to have a product break. We changed mixers and toasters every six months. The moment his car went over 10,000 miles he would get a new one because in

his mind he just couldn’t bear the idea of something breaking. This was a very big inspiration to me, because everything I now do, I do for 1,000 years. Everything I create must last for one thousand years.” Iten is the chief designer and conceptualises all the product designs himself. It takes a minimum of 3-4 months for the objects to go from his sketchpad to a physical working model. Every year, there are no more than 100 items across all categories manufactured – most of them bespoke, one-off creations. The maximum number of products of a particular item that he will make is ten, meaning that the chances that you will see one on the person sitting next you in first class is slim. The starting price is roughly $20,000 that then rises as per the client’s specifications. They’re retailed out of a very few number of touch points across the world in a distribution model that Iten says is similar to that of Richard Mille and Greubel Forsey. In Dubai, you’ll find his creations at the Rivoli Prestige in the Burj Al Arab, in London at William & Son and at Cellini in New York. So it’s hardly surprising when he says his typical client is “someone who already has a watch collection and wants to have a further experience with mechanical objects.” The brand has already collaborated with industry giants like Bugatti (on another $84,000 buckle that he was wearing at the time of our interview) and also Greubel Forsey that are at present one of the most technically accomplished luxury watch brands in the world. As an independent marque (he lets slip that mega conglomerate Richemont’s owner, the billionaire Johann Rupert is one of his oldest clients), Roland Iten has no plans to align itself with a major group anytime soon. “As a group you have a lot of power, but also a lot of politics. You have things like a sixmonth forecast and product meetings that make you work as a machine, not an artist. But as an independent brand, I’m the creator, I’m the one sketching my ideas, I’m creating my patents.” It’s those patents that Iten says will be his legacy. “I don’t have a succession plan in place per se. I have about 30-40 patents filed already in my drawers and there are at least 100 more pending. When I die there will be this very rich box of patents that the group that takes over the management of the company can then innovate and build upon.” For the moment though, Iten’s not focusing on what’s going to happen in the next few years – he’s all about living in the moment. “For me what I’m doing is not work – I’m currently unemployed. I’m just running after my next dream.”

“Everything I create must last for one thousand years”

2017 JAN / FEB 21


FLIGHT MODE GC meets Rob DiCrasti, CEO of the region’s leading private jet operator, Royal Jet

oyal Jet’s new CEO, Rob DiCrasti, is a veteran of the private jet business so it seems only fitting that we meet at 30,000 feet on board the company’s brand new 34-seater Boeing Business Jet (BBJ). Before getting down to business, DiCrasti gives a tour of the new aircraft, which was kitted out by Lufthansa Technik. It includes a master bedroom with an en-suite bathroom, lie-flat seats, mood lighting, independent iPads for personalised entertainment, and gourmet food options. Basically everything ultra high net worth individuals who pay top dollar would expect. It costs anywhere between $10,000-14,000 an hour – a single hop to London from Abu Dhabi could cost $150,000. DiCrasti was first schooled in the aviation game when he joined Saudi private aviation company Nasjet in 1999 and went on to become their CFO and deputy CEO setting up their business in the kingdom. “I went over to the NetJets guys in the US and they taught me the business – everything from setting up fixed base operations (FBOs) to aircraft management and licensing.” But a few years into his stint, DiCrasti decided to move to

western Canada. However, the private aviation business wasn’t as ripe there, so he shifted career paths and dabbled in consulting, real estate and hospitality – fields that played on his strength as a B2C specialist. A few years later when CHC Helicopters offered him the chance to head up its Nigeria operations, DiCrasti knew it was his chance to re-enter a profession that he knew only too well. It was from there that he landed the job as the CEO of Royal Jet, jointly owned by Abu Dhabi Aviation and Presidential Flight, the UAE’s royal flight service. “When I was with Nas, I followed Royal Jet quite closely, not as a competitor but because they were an interesting organisation. I even almost came to join them a few times. So when the offer came up, I knew it was the right timing.” When DiCrasti left Saudi Arabia in 2007, he says there were about 350 private jets in the region. Today, that figure has climbed to nearly 700. “The number of private aircraft per capita for the number of people in the Middle East was the highest in the world back in 2007. The population has changed since, but the number of aircraft have also doubled. The population here is say 10 million in the UAE and there are about 250 private jets here – that’s huge. The US has 350

“The days of ordering aircraft and then filling them up are over”


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million people – that’s 35 times the UAE’s population – well, there aren’t 35 times the number of private jets in the US which is the world’s biggest market in terms of total aircraft.” DiCrasti though is a pragmatic voice and warns against reckless expansion. They now have eight BBJs – the single largest operator of BBJs in the world – two Bombardier Global 5000s, one Gulfstream 300 and two Lear 60s. “The days of ordering aircraft and then filling them up are over. You’ve got to have a sustainable business model. We had smaller aircraft in the fleet that weren’t sustainable, so now they’re parked and for sale.” DiCrasti is also combating the slowdown by a diversification

model that he says will help them to “get a bigger piece of a smaller pie.” By way of that model, Royal Jet has opened up an FBO in the Seychelles, as well as focusing more on medical evacuations and aircraft brokerage. They’ve also embraced new market trends and offer their aircraft for charter to private jet seat sharing companies like JetSmarter. If Royal Jet’s decision to expand with the induction of the latest two BBJs – one of which we found ourselves aboard – that joined the fleet after DiCrasti’s appointment is any indication, the business model isn’t just well grounded, it’s tooled to take flight.

Inside look: Royal Jet's newest BBJ

2017 JAN / FEB 23


THE FACTORY TIME FORGOT Montegrappa CEO Giuseppe Aquila is writing the second chapter of the independent storied Italian brand that has been returned to the family fold BY VARUN GODINHO

n the shores of the idyllic river Brenta in the city of Bassano del Grappa, an hour’s drive from Venice stands a factory where it’s been business as usual for over 100 years. One of the world’s most prestigious manufacturer’s of writing instruments, Montegrappa, has been making pens used by a range of celebrated individuals from novelists including Ernest Hemingway to Pope Benedict XVI. What’s made the success of this company remarkable is that within little over a century from when it was established in 1912 until now, it has survived world wars, economic depressions, and more recently a passing of ownership from family-owned to conglomerate-managed and back to a family-owned business – without showing signs of any stresses that such volatile activity would typically inflict. Instead, the brand is in rude health.


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The rise of Montegrappa from a niche Italian manufacturer to the global stage began in 1992, when Giuseppe Aquila, joined his family-owned business. The young Aquila had just started his own family, and was brimming with enthusiasm to shake up the status quo. “One of the first things I did was to ensure that Montegrappa really focuses on the luxury business. Luxury wasn’t a word that was used much at that time. We needed to make things that are high-end, things that are really exclusive.” Not only did he deftly reposition the marketing direction of Montegrappa, but he also unwittingly pulled off another coup – the cult of the limited–edition. “ Being a small company our capacity was limited. So the idea of limited edition didn’t come from the idea of making something exclusive to give it added value, but because we did not have the capacity to make more.


In 1992, to celebrate our 80th anniversary we made our first limited-edition pen. We saw that was a very good direction for the business and then we of course capitalised on it.” Today, estimates peg Montegrappa’s limited- collection to account for nearly half of all its sales, where the price for a single one such as the Ultimate Centennial Dragon can rocket up to a million dollars. Shortly into Aquila’s role at Montegrappa, Richemont – the mega watch and jewellery conglomerate – began to make offers to buy the business. “The Richemont group started approaching us since 1995, always making better offers. There were five members of the family involved in the Montegrappa business and they each had an equal – 20 per cent – share in the company. Not all the members of the family were equally involved in the business so when the offer became attractive in 2000, there was a majority that decided to sell the business – I wasn’t part of that majority.” Still, it was Aquila who had to stay on with the Montegrappa for the next two years under the Richemont management to complete the handover. His time there gave him a unique perspective on the pros and cons of running a family business as opposed to working as part of a multi-national behemoth. Post his stint at Richemont, Aquila didn’t exit the luxury pen business altogether – he and his father acquired and operated another storied independent Italian pen manufacturer called Tibaldi. It took the great financial shakeup of 2008-2009 for Montegrappa to fortuitously return to the Aquila family fold. “In 2008, I met with Norbert Platt, the then CEO of Richemont and former president of Montblanc, at a charity event. 2008-2009 was a difficult year, and at that time Montblanc was in charge of Montegrappa. Nobert said, ‘Why don’t you consider buying back Montegrappa as we want to concentrate on Montblanc.’ From there we started the process of negotiation and six months later my father and I bought back the company.” Among the investors in that effort to buy the company back were Hollywood’s Sylvester Stallone and ex-Ferrari F1 driver Jean Alesi.

The entrepreneurial and business chops of Aquila were once again proved when after wrestling back control of the company in 2009, he decided to take it down uncharted territory. The first was to diversify its product ranges from merely pens to much more. “We wanted to make Montegrappa a lifestyle brand – so we introduced watches, cufflinks, fragrances, leather good and ties.” The second was to make the brand truly global. “We started to open mono-brand boutiques in the world – today we have 13 boutiques globally. We have a very good presence in the Middle East, with as many as 40 shop-in-shops and it’s one of the main markets for us. We now export to 75 countries.” Part of the strategy since has also involved making Montegrappa a contemporary brand. It meant debuting pens like Chaos designed by Sylvester Stallone, making special edition pens for Naomi Campbell and Paulo Coelho as well as clever licensing deals by way of limitededitions in the ICON series that were a nod to Frank Sinatra, Bruce Lee and Muhammad Ali. Cobranding exercises included pens made in association with Bentley and Bugatti that used materials like carbon fibre, titanium, magnesium and even leather. The Montegrappa 2.0 phase hasn’t been without bumps. “The war in Ukraine had a substantial impact on business – at that time, Ukraine was our fourth biggest market and Russia was our second market. Together they represented about 30 per cent of our business. Overnight, the Ukraine market disappeared completely and it’s still not on the map. The Russia market was hit with the devaluation of the rouble. Recently though, he says, he’s seen “signs of a recovery.” The near-term plans are to expand the brand’s global footprint, the new boutique in The Atlantis in Dubai being a prime example. Long term though Aquila’s focused on what he terms as the ‘duty of a luxury brand’. “There’s a lot of craftsmanship involved in our business and you don’t easily find people with this know-how. It is the duty of luxury brands to guarantee continuity by training the new generation of craftsmen.” And a new generation of businessmen who can pick up the mantle like Aquila has may also be on order too.

“It is the duty of luxury brands to guarantee continuity by training the new generation of craftsmen”

2017 JAN / FEB 25

BOSTON STRONG Mark Wahlberg has teamed up with his long-time filmmaking collaborator, director Peter Berg for Patriots Day. Wahlberg portrays the horror of the 2013 Boston Marathon terrorist attack, but it’s the film’s underlying message of hope that trickles through the script as Bostonians come together in the aftermath, that is remarkable


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Suzy Maloy / The Interview People

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atriots Day gives an intense account of Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis's (played by John Goodman) actions in the lead up to the events of the Boston Marathon bombing that left three people dead and more than 250 injured and it’s aftermath, which sent Boston into a state of emergency as terrorists engaged in a massive shootout and police conducted a four-day citywide manhunt. Mark Wahlberg, who also co-producer, plays an amalgamation of two different Boston detectives through the film’s script. He has openly stated that both he and Berg went to great pains to research their characters to make sure they got the story right. Here, Wahlberg explains why he felt such a responsibility to his hometown of Boston and why hope will always trump terrorism. You’re producing and acting in this film. How did this make you feel? I had an overwhelming amount of responsibility and stress, but this is my hometown and I wanted to make sure that this movie was handled with respect and sensitivity, which it needed to be. It’s just hard …I get annoyed when people ask me, “What was the most difficult part?” Because it’s in comparison to what people went through, it’s nothing. The difficult part is that this still happened, and you know the outcome ultimately is positive

because people came together and were really strong in how they united and helped each other and I’m proud to be a Bostonian and see how they reacted, but it still just… Was this movie accurate? Because a lot of things we didn’t know about, the shooting, the gun fight with bombs in the streets of Boston…was it like that? Or did you take some licenses? Well, there are very few occasions where they took licenses, but for instance with the brothers, we never were really privy to have cameras and see what they were talking about when they were plotting this thing so there were liberties taken there, but other than that we tried to stay as accurate as possible. What does being a patriot mean to you? To me one part of patriotism is just to kind of appreciate the fact that this is the place that you want to be. As a New Yorker, being in New York and hearing about the Boston marathon, I mean the first thought was that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach where you go, “Oh my God! It’s happening again!” I think that again, with the city of Boston, you saw that same kind of unity. That same kind of watching-out-for-each-other’s backs. Again it could go the other way, it could separate people. Clearly from the film, that was not the effect.

Mark Wahlberg filming a scene for Patriots Day at the finish line of the 2016 Boston Marathon where more than 30,000 participants took part, the third largest field in the race history 2017 JAN / FEB 27


Through the movies you’ve acted in, you represent, in a way, America. Are you happy about the direction America is going? Well I’m certainly hoping that we’re going to go in the right direction. I’m praying every day. I’m a positive person, so I’m trying to remain optimistic. You’re very religious. Do you think religion plays a part in this hate between two parts of the world? No, I don’t think it does. I have a lot of Muslim friends. I have a lot of Jewish friends. They don’t preach or promote hatred. No, I don’t think it does at all. I think people may try to manipulate what is said, whether it be the Quran or the Bible, whatever it is, but no it’s not about religion. After September 11, it was difficult to even think about making a movie about real life terrorist attacks. Oliver Stone was the first to do it. Did you have the same feelings? Well we had that conversation-debate many times, and every time I turned on the news something else was happening somewhere else in the world, and also in our country. Police shootings, Orlando, San Bernardino, Brussels, Belgium, I mean everywhere. I just felt like, “You know what? It’s not soon enough to go out there and promote the message of love and

people coming together.” It needs to be out there immediately and everywhere, and this is a global issue. So yeah, it needs to be seen and heard by everybody as soon as possible. You’ve said that we are responding to these incidents with violence and hate and bombs and drones and invasions. Do you agree that if we responded with love and by sharing what we have, it would be easier to win this battle? Well I’m certainly for love, and even forgiveness and starting over. But obviously I don’t make those decisions, and we live in a very real world that’s very dangerous. In this movie there is a line of demarcation between good and evil. Do you think that that kind of idea that we are right and good and they are the evil will pay at the end? I didn’t feel that way. Look, I think certainly the character that I was playing had a lot of issues. He was by no means perfect, conflicted, and I think it’s understandable. We all make mistakes. At the end of the day, if you see somebody who’s hurt, are you going to ignore that person? Or are you the type of person who’s going to hurt that person? Or are you the person who’s going to go and help that person? I think ultimately that’s how you can define whether somebody has good intentions or bad intentions.

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From left: Mark Wahlberg, former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis and current Boston Police Commissioner Billy Evans at the Boston premiere of the movie 'Patriots Day' at the Boch Center Wang Theatre in Boston


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“I had an overwhelming amount of responsibility and stress, but this is my hometown and I wanted to make sure that this movie was handled with respect and sensitivity, which it needed to be”

Mark Wahlberg, founder of the Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation has helped raise millions of dollars for the boys and girls club in the US and Canada

If you had to look back and reflect on your life, what would be the big differences between then and now? Hopefully I’ve grown a little bit and matured a little bit. I’m a 45-year-old father and husband, father of four, very grateful for the journey that I’ve had, the experiences that I’ve had, and the knowledge that I’ve acquired along the way. Most of it again reverts back to my faith and kind of falls into this simplistic kind of life experience, growth that I’m grateful to have had. How did you explain to your kids the situation of the evil and the good and people like Trump saying, “All the Muslims have to go out!”? Well my kids are still young so they’ll figure it out when they are old enough and ready to have those particular conversations. Do you try to shade them from this type of thing? Yeah I mean while they’re in school they hear certain things, but you know I certainly try to protect them as much as possible from not only seeing things on the news, but also seeing certain movies and listening to certain music. I mean that’s my job, I’m trying to keep them as sheltered as possible until they need to know about those things and have those conversations. If you could choose how people would feel after they saw this movie, what would you like them to feel? Again, hope and optimism that we can come together and things will get better. If not what do you have? You just quit? You give up?


Wahlberg created his namesake foundation with his brother James in 2001, and is dedicated to helping inner city youth reach their full potential in life. Built off Wahlberg's belief that “it’s our turn to help,” the Foundation funds the same types of programs that helped Wahlberg overcome challenges during his youth. Despite overall progress when it comes to improving teen graduation rates in the United States, the sobering fact remains that three out of every 10 students in U.S. public schools still fail to finish high school with a diploma according to a 2009 EPE Research Center Study. The Foundation aspires to reach those children whose dreams and passions are limited due to financial circumstances and provide them with opportunities that allow them to see the value in their education and planning for their future.

Patriot’s day is in theatres on January 12th.

2017 JAN / FEB 29


A HEAD FOR GROWTH Emirati entrepreneur Mahmoud Adi is building the region’s first hi-tech, fully climatecontrolled greenhouse near Al Ain to secure the UAE’s food security for generations to come BY TRISKA HAMID

ahmoud Adi is one of the smartest Emiratis in the UAE – he has the grades to prove it. Back in 2004, he graduated from high school with the highest grades in the entire country and today, the 30 year-old serial entrepreneur is betting on tech to address the UAE’s food security issues. The impressive multi-tasker is not only an investor, but he’s also a senior associate at Mubadala and now he’s looking to revolutionise the way his country grows food by co-founding Pure Harvest, a ‘smart’ form of farming through hydroponics technology. Given the arid conditions of the GCC, the region’s governments are under pressure to ensure its food security for future generations. The UAE alone imports 90 per cent of its food while its agriculture sector contributes just two per cent to GDP.


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“The most notable strategies have been to invest abroad in farm lands in an effort to own the supply chain,” says Adi. “This is a good first step, but doesn't really address the food security entirely. Moving food supply and production to your own backyard is a game changer.” Pure Harvest is building one of the region’s first hi-tech, fully climate-controlled greenhouses near Al Ain in the UAE to grow high quality produce and sell directly to retailers. Rather than using soil, the crops are grown in a coconut shaving solution without the need for pesticides or fertilisers. Each plant is monitored by sensors which relays information back on how much water it requires and when. This enables more efficient use of water resources and cuts back on wastage. The company plans to start growing tomatoes this summer and introduce other crops like cucumbers and peppers, which they will supply directly to the local supermarkets. Growing


fruit and vegetables in the desert, however, was not how Adi soil, would work perfectly for the UAE,” says Adi. “I was ready imagined life would pan out. to jump on the opportunity when I found the right people.” The right person did come along and Adi decided to use his He graduated from the Petroleum Institute in Abu Dhabi family’s investment fund to invest $1 million in Pure Harvest. and began his career as a mechanical engineer. But rather than The company is currently in its second round of investment, staying in the oil and gas sector, Adi left to join Mubadala in looking to raise $4.5 million. This month though Adi will be 2009 and retrained to become a financial analyst. “When I joined, I was not very familiar with investment and enlisted in the UAE military to serve the now-compulsory business,” he says. “It was eye opening for me. From being a military service. technical person to having to think about things from a financial “This was one of the reasons why I came back, to do my perspective – it was very different.” duties and serve the country,” says Adi. Undoubtedly, his year Adi still works with Mubadala where he has been promoted of service will affect his work with Pure Harvest. “This was the to senior associate on the technology team biggest consideration I had – how can we make sure the business is not interrupted after completing an MBA at Stanford University in 2015. and investors are comfortable,” he says. “I had become very competent in the The solution was to hire the right talent “Hydroponic technology local context, but hadn’t challenged myself to grow the business and plan in advance – a method of growing in the global context,” says Adi, explaining by finishing their capital and fundhis decision to move to California to pursue raising before Adi’s military service. He plants without soil – his MBA. His time at Stanford provided the is confident that once he returns, Pure works perfectly personal and professional challenges Adi Harvest will be producing vegetables in sought and Adi soon built up an appetite to its hi-tech farm and taking a step to reduce for the UAE” invest. “I convinced my family to allocate the UAE’s reliance on food imports. Adi will also focus more on the family some capital for me to invest in a start up,” business, tilting its traditional investments he says. “I looked at more than 50 deals away from real estate to more entrepreneurial endeavours. “I and invested in five.” believe there are significant opportunities in this region. A lot His family, founders of the Shorooq group, gave him $250,000 of wealth has been created in the past decade and it has been and he invested in a range of tech start-ups including, Tank conventional – in real estate and oil and gas,” he says. “But it Utility, Luma Health, Ubicall, Echo Labs and Kibbit. Three out is becoming harder and harder to make money.” of the five are still doing well, although one went bust “which He believes that the emergence of an international services is very typical in early venture fields,” he says. When he eventually moved back to the UAE in March 2016, sector, of money management, hedge funds and private equity he met his current business partner, Sky Kurtz, through a mutual will flourish soon as an industry in the UAE and that’s where friend from Stanford and together, and they founded Pure opportunities will thrive. “These kinds of services will emerge Harvest. “I took a class in agriculture and realised that using and my long-term vision is to be in that sector of managing hydroponic technology – a method of growing plants without money,” he says.

The farm in Al Ain that will sprout fruits and vegetables using hydroponic technology

2017 JAN / FEB 31


TOP BOY American teen innovator Jack Andraka believes he has discovered a pioneering new way to detect pancreatic cancer

ack Andraka says he has discovered a new way to detect pancreatic, ovarian and lung cancer that is 168 times faster, 126 times cheaper and 400 times more sensitive than other cancer detection methods. The teen hopes to soon partner with biotech companies with the resources to develop his sensor as a commercial product. However, the 19-year-old concedes that it will be at least 5-10 years until his device is on the market. While it’s normal for teenagers to experiment, rarely does their schoolboy endeavors result in a scientific breakthrough. Perhaps that’s because rather than being fuelled by a desire to act out or simply have fun, Andraka’s curiosity was born out of grief. When he was 13, he lost a close family friend to pancreatic cancer. “He was like an uncle to me so when the disease hit so close to home, I knew I needed to learn more,” he explained on the sidelines of a Dubai Innovation week conference where he was a guest speaker. What the teenager found out was that today’s current method of detecting the disease is outdated and expensive, “resulting in over 85 percent of all pancreatic cancers being diagnosed late, and leaving someone with less than a two percent chance of survival.” “It’s extremely expensive, costs 800 dollars per test, and it's grossly inaccurate, missing 30 per cent of all pancreatic cancers. Your doctor would have to be ridiculously suspicious that you have the cancer in order to give you this test. Learning this, I knew there had to be a better way.” Spurred by his relative’s death from the disease, Andraka


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started doing research online using simple sources like Wikipedia and Google and carried out experiments at his kitchen table at his home in Crownsville, Maryland. With his older brother Luke as his sidekick, he was soon shifted to his parent’s basement after he cultured dangerous E. coli bacteria on the kitchen stove amongst other things, but soon he outgrew that too. It was around the same time that he got his mother Jane, a hospital anesthetist placed on the FBI watch list. “My brother and I ordered some dynamite on the Internet for an experiment we were planning and before it got to us, my mother was contacted by the FBI,” he chuckles. He was banned from doing any further experiments at home. But like most teenagers, he fought back and came up with a new plan. “I contacted 200 professors from Universities all over the country and the National Institutes of Health.” To his dismay he only received one positive reply. Fortunately for him, it was from one of the US’s most prestigious universities, John Hopkins. “I had to go for an interview, which I didn’t really prepare all that well for but still I managed to impress them enough to let me use their lab.” With the resources and support he needed, Andraka invented a four-cent strip of paper that he claims is capable of detecting certain early-stage cancers using a nonintrusive test. His work received recognition for the first time in 2012, when the then 15-year-old entered and came first place in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, scooping the top prize of $75,000. Today, Andraka is still in talks with biotech companies to

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license his now patented device but he says, “ Hopefully within to forget that he is still a teenager. He rhymes off stats and the next 5-10 years we can do clinical trials and be on the breakdowns the mechanisms of a cell with the same glee as his peers talk about sports. “This is just something I do for fun,” market.” He hopes to retail the potentially live saving device he says of his research — indeed it has nothing to do with his for just $5 and plans to control the cost by stipulating it into degree at Stanford University where he is studying electrical the licensing agreement. “I’m hoping to be able to put in a cost engineering with a dual major in International Relations — parameter, stating that it can’t be more than $5, it’s economic although he reassures me he does ‘normal kid things’ too like reasoning because it only costs four cents to make so obviously kayaking, rock climbing and going to the movies with friends. you can get a giant profit of that.” While Andraka’s potentially groundbreaking discovery has Intrigued by why he is majoring in International Relations, I earned him a slew of international awards and cemented his gauge his interest in getting involved in politics and his response celebrity like status (he has appeared on popular American is as measured as ever. “Right now I’m advocating a lot on the legislative level for open access for research. Both in the state TV shows and speaks at conferences around the world about his research). He has faced fierce and national level, we’ve pushed criticism from scientists who to make all federally funded have downplayed his research research available to the public. saying that, “it falls far short of Obama issued an executive changing science and is only a order on this, however it still small step toward developing a has a long way to go before workable cancer diagnostic.” I it’s implemented, we believe a congressional bill in law would put it to Andraka that perhaps his initial enthusiasm caused be much stronger. I also do a lot him to release his research of lobbying for research funding prematurely? He concurs to a especially for pancreatic cancer degree but points out that he as its one of the most under was only in high school at the funded cancers.” Interestingly, time. “I realise that, like many he’s already shared the stage early stage medical technologies, with President Barack Obama there is still much work to be after the first lady Michelle Obama invited him as her done and that this biosensor will take longer than I initially personal guest to the 2013 State thought to reach the market. At of the Union Address. the time that I initially presented However, don’t expect to see this research I was 15 and had Andraka use his ‘celeb status’ to “When we do free up information and entered it into a science fair, pursue a cause he knows nothing anyone is able to innovate, that is when which was what I viewed as the about. “[Mark] Zuckerberg traditional route at the time.” tried to revolutionise the schools we will have these big breakthroughs” Andraka was also named in Newark and it was $100 one of National Geographic's million dollars down the drain Emerging Explorers in 2014, and the school system actually which is funding his current research project — developing became worse so I’m very cautious about people who don’t Nano Robots, which he says are “really small robots” that he actually know what there talking about getting into these policy programmes using DNA. “They will go into your blood stream decisions so I’d only try an influence policy when I know enough and learn how to treat your cancer and so over time they can about it,” he says. Right now he’s on a crusade to ensure his generation and personalise your cancer treatment, and also precisely genetically engineer certain cells that I want so I could cure diabetics or future generations to come have access to the Internet and knock down resistance to a drug if you’ve got cancer.” therefore don’t fall victim to knowledge poverty. “Right now He’s also been involved in projects in Tanzania where he was 85 per cent of the world’s population doesn’t have access to the able to track water polluters “using tiny strips of paper the size Internet which is a travesty, we are wasting so much human potential,” he says. of a postage stamp that can detect 28 different contaminants for He also points out that 90 per cent of scientific articles are less than one thousandth of a penny,” and trace where they are coming from, resulting in 100 polluters being held accountable. locked behind pay walls and are inaccessible to the general And he’s even tackled the deadly Ebola outbreak in his research, population. “When we do free up information and anyone outlining the need for accurate data and international statistics. is able to innovate then that is when we will have these big When listening to Andraka speak about his work, it’s easy breakthroughs.” I guess he needs some competition.

2017 JAN / FEB 33

SHIFTING GEARS Andy Palmer, CEO and President of Aston Martin, is creating one of the most ambitious road-cars we’ve seen in a decade. And he says he’s only getting started BY VARUN GODINHO

When I was 14 years old I had a poster of an Aston Martin V8 Vantage and Debbie Harry on my bedroom wall. I never got with Debbie Harry, but two years ago I did buy a V8 Vantage,” says Andy Palmer, CEO of Aston Martin, in a refreshingly candid conversation on the sidelines of the 2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Palmer, along with Aston Martin's design director Marek Reichman and Red Bull Racing F1 prodigy, 19-year-old Max Verstappen, unveiled the AM-RB 001 concept hypercar. Jointly developed between Aston Martin and Red Bull Racing’s CTO Adrian Newey, great things are expected from this machine: When the car is pressed into production by 2019, it is expected to be the fastest car in the world – perhaps as fast as an F1 car. Here, in an exclusive interview with GC, Palmer details his plan for the car, his company and the brand that’s as British as Bond himself. Why is the AM-RB 001 a big deal? It’s the car that will define this decade. The AM-RB 001 breaks so many boundaries and rules – it’s as fast as a race-trimmed F1 car around Silverstone and capable of 4g lateral forces. It’s redefined for me the many rules that I had designing motorcars in my career.


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How many will be made? There’s going to be 150 of them on the road – and they’re already all sold out. This car is four times oversubscribed. In addition, there’ll be 25 track cars, so a total of 175 will be built. It won’t though be the last exotic car we make. What are the vetting procedures to determine who gets one? I decide. There are criteria like how long you have been with brand, what kind of cars you have bought and then we have an algorithm that spits out a number. But we don’t follow it blindly. We also look at the passion of the individual, how the car is going to be used – will they simply sell it on or stick it in a museum? It’s a little like having 150 daughters and you’re trying to find the best husband for them – it’s not about who is the richest guy, but rather the treatment of our child. Tell us about the first batch of the Aston Martin DB 11 that are presently en-route to the Middle East. The Aston Martin DB11 is in production and should be arriving in Dubai shortly. The DB is the backbone of the company, it’s not the highest volume car – we don’t value volume as the


maximum number of cars we make in a year is 7,000 – but we expect this car to really revitalise our Middle East sales. We can already see a strong order bank in UAE, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Of the first 1,000 cars made this year, over 100 are on their way to the AMENA region. I conduct a 40-minute inspection on each of the first 1,000 cars manufactured and they will go with my name on the engine.

my dream [of becoming CEO] and I had just turned 50. At that point, Aston called me. It meant me basically going back to 5 miles away from where I went to school, really going back home. It was an independent British company in a little bit of trouble and I wanted to give something back to the British car industry. I’d spent my entire life – 37 years in the car business – training for this one moment and made the move.

Aston Martin has recently diversified its portfolio by building its first yacht and also announced the Aston Martin Residences in Miami. It’s all about recognising that we’re more about luxury rather than just an automotive company. We have that power to create lifestyle around what we do. Seventy-three per cent of our customers have an SUV in their garage, so we thought why not build an Aston Martin SUV. Then they have beautiful apartments, so why not build an apartment. They have boats, so why not build a boat. They’re often anglophiles who love British things, so why not put a British suit on them through Hackett. What we won’t do is theme parks, caps and cheap T-shirts. We may forego a portion of the market behind where we could earn some money, but we do that so that we could preserve this true allegiance to the love of the beautiful.

Looking back, what advice would you give yourself on the first day on the job in the car business? The 3rd of September 1979 was the day I started working. If you want to do well in the car business you have to be prepared to work really hard. The car business is a punishing mistress and sometimes those sacrifices are quite hard when it comes to time with your kids, divorce and that kind of thing. There have been times through my career that I didn’t always realise when I was hurting my family and probably if I was going back I’d say to myself, ‘When you are with the family – and it’s a limited amount of time – just make a little more effort.’ And I’m learning that now as my kids get older.

What made you leave Nissan and come to Aston Martin two years ago? I loved Nissan, I was there 23 years. But my frustration was that I was never going to be CEO. There was an incumbent in the job already and I wasn’t French nor was I Japanese. There was a degree of resignation at that point that I would have to sacrifice

AM-RB 001 prototype

Tell us about your six-year plan to turn around the company. We’re two years into my tenure and one-and-a-half into that plan. We will go into profitability before six years. The key is profitability and then creation of free cash flow so that you can fund your future, and then ultimately it’s about value creation. The way that it’s constructed with the shareholders is that they’ve given me everything that they need to give me, and the responsibility for execution is entirely with me.

Andy Palmer, CEO and President of Aston Martin 2017 JAN / FEB 35


PHILANTHROPY’S FIRST LADY In a rare interview, Britain’s former first lady Cherie Blair opens up about her women’s foundation and being persecuted by the British media

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aving arrived to her husband's grand offices, a stone's throw from Oxford Street in London, Cherie Blair sits herself down in a button-back leather sofa. Britain's former first lady – an eminent barrister and Queen's Counsel – is giving a rare interview to Global Citizen to talk about the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, which was established in 2008, a year after husband Tony left Downing Street. It is part of what she describes as her “crusade”: promoting the economic empowerment of women, and “particularly how women entrepreneurs can be the drivers of development”. The three pillars of the charity are all personal. The first centres on enterprise; the 62-year-old says she sees herself as an entrepreneur, having set up several legal businesses.“I like to be an innovator,” she enthuses. Her Enterprise Development Programme aims to transform women's small businesses into thriving concerns by building what Blair calls the 'three Cs': capability, confidence and capital. The charity has so far reached 136,000 women across more than 90 countries from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. Its Promoting

Women Entrepreneurs in the UAE project concluded at the end of 2016, having provided participants with training in enterprise development and financial literacy. Studies have found that Lebanese women helped by the foundation increased their business skills by an average of 93 per cent. Eighty per cent of Israeli women showed increased confidence, while 65 per cent of Indian women had gone on to access new business networks. A Palestinian project has helped In’am al-Khaidr, from Nablus, who in 2014 set up a company buying, raising and selling calves (an industry dominated by men). She was helped to craft a business plan – as well as diversify. Al-Khaidr now also produces milk and cheese so she does not have to wait eight months (the time it takes to fatten and sell a calf) before generating a profit. Two years ago she had three calves. Now she has 15. The foundation's second arm tries to harness technology, specifically mobile phones. “We found that there was a $13 billion opportunity if the industry could reach the 300 million women who could be connected to the mobile phone but

Cherie Blair with her husband, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair

2017 JAN / FEB 37


weren't,” says Blair, who describes herself as a tech addict foundation,” she says.) The statistics are impressive. Surveys and spent her maternity leave learning how to use the new show more than three quarters of mentees reported an increase office computers. The mobile programme has provided more in revenue, while a third were able to prevent their businesses than 100,000 women in Nigeria, Tanzania and Indonesia from failing thanks to advice garnered through the programme. with business training via SMS message, and a further 10,000 Blair excitedly reels off case studies: “You can – for example with classroom-based education. It has trained 2,500 female – have an Australian who works for DHL in Prague supporting entrepreneurs in Nigeria to become a woman in Kenya who has a motorcycle 'branchless banking agents', who will dispatch business. We had a woman who in turn offer mobile financial services has a slate quarry in Zambia. We had an “I think we try to practise to 75,000 rural residents. And 1,500 internet tarot reading service – apparently what we preach, which is it's a big thing in India. I had no idea!” saleswomen in India have been supported in managing their agricultural supply chain Blair, who recently became a that if we're fortunate in through their mobiles. Instead of spending grandmother for the first time – “so we've life, we try and make sure got an investment in the next generation up to seven hours a day travelling to order new stock, they can simply tap in their as well there” – describes herself as an that we share that, to help orders on an app – an innovation that has eternal optimist. She certainly needs to other people” boosted profits by as much as three-fold. be, campaigning for women's emancipation Finally, her Global Mentoring at a time of increasingly rabid misogyny. Programme, which started in 2010, Talking of Clinton, and of women's rights has paired more than 2,000 women across the world with globally, how must she have felt during a US presidential election experienced entrepreneurs – both female and male – on a riddled with sexism, and that ended with her friend's electoral dedicated online platform. (As far as mentors go, Blair lucked oblivion? “Well, obviously, personally I was disappointed,” out. She counts Hillary Clinton as one of her key champions she says, adding “as a girl at 14, I wanted to be the first British – “a huge supporter and friend to me, and a big friend to our female prime minister.”

Blair in Kenya with the women's group that her foundation is sponsoring


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Images courtesy of Tamara Abdul Hadi


Left: Jameela Al-Azaa', owner of Needle and Thread embroidery in Bethlehem. Top right: Sana Hazboun, owner of Sana Sweets bakery in Bethlehem. Bottom right: Fathme Sa'adeh, owner of Em Samer Kitchen in Ramallah — each of the women's businesses have benefitted from the Cherie Blair foundation

There is something refreshing about Blair – notoriously outspoken and described by her husband as his “bolshie Scouser” (in reference to her Liverpool origins). A workingclass girl brought up by a single mother, after her father walked out on the family when she was eight, she studied law (coming top of her year), established herself as one of the UK's leading barristers, brought up four children and stood shoulder-toshoulder with the country's prime minister – all while being the only PM's wife in history to work full-time. And yet, in Britain at least, she has endured 20 years of abuse, much of it inherently sexist. “Gobby and vulgarian”, “too scary, too feminist and too clever” and “the Wicked Witch who has settled for a pot of gold and a vast property empire” are just three of the barbs. Blair is both warm and chatty, though acutely media savvy. She rattles off a barrage of detailed statistics, delivered from memory (“give a development dollar to a woman, 90 cents of that will be spent on people other than herself. And it's only 30 to 40 cents to the dollar in relation to men” or “the cost of gender inequality in sub-Saharan Africa $95 billion per year”). She is aware of her perception among the public for being money hungry and she deftly counters it — Blair, who was once caught selling her husband's autograph on eBay for $12, has been dubbed by the press as,“The richest multi-property owning former occupants of Number 10 in history,” with her

and her family listed as owners or co-owners on 37 properties worth an estimated $33 million, including several in central London. However, Blair is quick to point out that, “You only have to look at some of our predecessors and where they live and where we live to realise that that's just not true.” “Everyone thinks I must have been born rich. I don't claim that I'm poor now, but I absolutely have all the instincts of someone who was born poor to make sure that I save and I invest for the rainy day that may or may not ever come. It's what you do with your money,” she says, before cataloguing both her and her husband's charitable endeavours. I point out that Donald Trump, a billionaire, does not seem to have bothered himself with any kind of [genuine] philanthropy. “Well, I don't want to compare Tony to Trump,” she says. “But he's given now £8million to set up his institute,” referring to her husband’s new organisation, announced in December, “designed to build a new policy agenda for the centre ground”, and seen by many as his re-entry into politics. “I think we try to practise what we preach, which is that if we're fortunate in life, we try and make sure that we share that, to help other people.” Before I go, Blair removes an earring etched with the foundation's logo to show me the jewellery crafted by one of her charity's mentees, shakes my hand, and I'm ushered out into the relative calm of central London rush hour.

2017 JAN / FEB 39


A BOLD VISION Dr Andrew Bastawrous is a crusading ophthalmologist who is working to improve eye care in some of the world’s poorest places – with the end goal of eradicating preventable blindness BY AMANDA FISHER

working as an eye surgeon for the UK’s National Health Service. The ophthalmologist, whose parents moved to the UK from Egypt in the ’70s, has a grand vision: to eradicate preventable blindness. His PhD used Kenya as a base to estimate how many people were becoming blind over six years, but during the research phase it became clear how low-cost, transportable diagnostic tools were sorely needed in poorer, rural communities. Peek’s core tool is an adaptor that works in tandem with a smartphone app to give high quality images of the retina and make accurate diagnoses of visual problems. “The biggest prevalence of visual blindness and impairment is in Asia but they also have proportionally more doctors. The biggest gap in eye care need and eye care provision is in Sub-Saharan Africa.” Bastawrous, recognised as a 2016 Rolex Awards for Enterprise Laureate and previously named a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, has a hypothesis to explain why 80 per cent of visual impairment – that impacts almost 300 million people globally – is preventable. “The underlying reason that people are not seeing as well as they could is down to access and that is very much linked to poverty.” Peek, which has so far been funded by two main donors and

Images courtesy of Rolex

ntil age 12, Ted Talk fellow Andrew Bastawrous was an underperforming student whose teachers thought he had a short attention span. But, somewhat poetically for the ophthalmologist who is revolutionising the vision-impaired world, an eye test changed all of that. “It turned out I was extremely short-sighted. They were amazed I had managed to get along so well for so long at school.” Bastawrous, 36, describes the introduction of glasses as life changing. “I suddenly saw a lot of the world I hadn’t seen before. I vividly remember the walk out of the optician’s on the way home, noticing cracks in the road and leaves on trees and details on people’s faces that I had never seen. It was amazing.” The Brit says that one crucial test altered the course of his life; and without it he would have been lucky to make it through high school. Instead, the doctor embarked on a PhD at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (where he is now an Assistant Professor) in 2011 – and has been making waves in the optical world ever since. Bastawrous co-founded the world’s first unique diagnostic technology the Portable Eye Examination Kit – a number of smartphone-based visual assessment tools usually called by its cute acronym ‘Peek’ – after

Dr Andrew Bastawrous is a 2016 Rolex Awards for Enterprise Laureate 40

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a successful crowd-funding campaign, including just under “There isn’t an easy figure to put on it but I can guarantee it’s significantly less than what’s being lost.” $100,000 that Bastawrous received from the Rolex Awards for Enterprise Laureate, has teamed up with partners in Kenya, Bastawrous says solutions must focus on enhancing healthcare Botswana, Tanzania and India, and is conducting research in a systems and efficiency and delivery of services, such as ensuring further five African countries. So far, the app has been used in specialists are only dealing with specialist cases rather than more than 70 countries. general medical problems. The developing world is where the majority of the need is – a point not lost on Bastawrous, who Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness, but according to spent a lot of his childhood in his parents’ Bastawrous: “We’ve had for decades now native country. He says had he grown up a very good, low-cost quick operation that in a society with fewer health services and can resolve sight within a few minutes.” safety nets, his visual problem could have The cost of that operation can be as low as “If you asked everyone to gone undetected, as even he wasn’t $5 in countries with good infrastructure take off their glasses, where easily and plentiful medics, though can go up aware of his disability. “When you’re at to about $50, he says. “For me at least it’s the more moderate level it’s not obvious would we be?” the most cost-effective and life-changing to people you have a problem. [I felt] a procedure that can be done simply and deep sense of injustice that I was on the quickly. It’s such a simple thing for the very fortunate side where I was growing absolutely majority of people to be corrected that it still up with opportunities and simple interventions and in a society absolutely shocks me that it’s the single biggest disability in that was very supportive.” the world.” Bastawrous says visual problems can hinder education, careers Many people needlessly stay blind until they die, Bastawrous and even relationships – and addressing them could have huge says. He estimates that if basic correction was done for the untold ripple effects across the board. “How many people who about two billion people who could be seeing better around the are the biggest influencers in the world would not be where world, that would amount to an economic saving of $3 trillion they are if it were not for simple intervention? The world would a year in enhanced productivity. How does this compare with be a very different place. If you asked everyone to take off their glasses, where would we be?” the amount of money needed to perform such corrections? 2017 JAN / FEB 41



L-R Carla-Maria and Irma Khanjian

GC meets the Lebanese-Canadian sisters who bought a Swiss biotech company for a dollar in 2007, and have now turned it into a multi-million dollar business BY NATASHA TOURISH

dollar doesn’t go far these days, but Lebanese Canadian sisters Irma and Carla-Maria Khanjian managed to stretch it farther than most – the entrepreneurial duo were employees in a biotech company for five years, prior to buying it out from shareholders for the equivalent of just a dollar in 2007. Since then the sisters who both have a background in economics, have turned the pioneering biotechnology firm into a multi-million dollar company that is making waves in the cutthroat cosmeceuticals industry with their three-product antioxidant skincare line, aptly named La Peau, or skin in French. As CEO and president respectively, Carla Maria and Irma operate BeFutur Biotechnologies Suisse, out of Montreal and Geneva where they each live. Despite their global operation spanning two continents, they say they run a “lean business” with only themselves as full-time employees. “Our titles are merely formalities,” says Carla Maria because in reality, the sisters do everything from packaging, to wrapping to strategising and marketing their triad products, manufactured in Geneva under the guise of the all-important Swiss seal of approval.


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Speaking from her office in Montreal, Carla-Maria who says she typically works 14-hour days with her only luxury being time out to enjoy a morning run or swim, quips that they accidentally stumbled into their entrepreneurial journey after the founder of the stem cell and tissue engineering company, BeFutur Suisse, where the two sisters held executive positions, was ousted. “I had just returned to Montreal, after three years in Shanghai – opening up the Chinese branch of a Canadian chemical company and Irma who was already living and working in Geneva at Befutur Suisse encouraged me to join them so when I was offered a position by the founder during a trip to North America, I accepted it. “It was at a time when all the hype was around stem cells and all that they could do to cure diseases,” says Khanjian. The sisters who immigrated from their hometown of Beirut first to Athens and then on to Montreal in 1989 with their parents to escape the Lebanese civil war, worked in research and development for the company alongside a prominent


Stanford university educated scientist who was in the process of developing a liquid to harvest cells which were void of any animal substances or hormones. “The idea was to commercialise this liquid by selling it on to pharmaceutical companies.” However, when the scientist noticed that skin cells were thriving using this medium (liquid), which was the food nutrient of the cells, he suggested that they should apply the formula to cosmetics. “Within six months, he had come up with a formula [that could be used in a face cream] that we sent out to independent laboratories across Europe to test,” recalls Khanjian, whose voice is remarkably elevated as she recounts the story. “To our surprise, they all came back to us months later and told us the same thing; that your anti-oxidant properties by far outweigh the leaders and you should consider starting your own line.” The sisters didn’t just take their word for it; they resent the formula to multiple labs for testing. They were so enthused by the outpouring of positive feedback, that the enterprising pair took the idea to the shareholders but at the time, the company had hit some internal financial troubles culminating in the ousting of the founder, but rather than drop the idea, they spun success by negotiating a deal that saw them buy out the 14 shareholders for just one Swiss Franc – on the premise that the shareholders would recoup 10 per cent of net profits after tax within a ceiling of $1 million. And overnight, La Peau, the touted revolutionary skin care brand was born. “We inherited the proprietary technology with the company and we became owners overnight but neither of us had any clue how to market this product.” And with no budget for advertising Irma and Carla Maria relied on their well-to -do network of friends from “the health club”, which included Swiss dermatologists and Beverly Hills plastic surgeons to spread the word. One of their early successes was convincing Dodi Kazanjian, Vogue Contributing Editor and director of Gallery Met at the Metropolitan Opera in New York to try their products. “A mutual friend told Irma that we should call Dodi so I did when I was in New York but she told me that she didn’t believe in skincare products. I convinced her to let me drop off our three products to her office. Two weeks later she called me when I was in LA and told me that we had converted her.” The brand now has a celebrity following including Eva Longoria who tried it after her publicist read about it in Cosmopolitan magazine. So what is so revolutionary about La Peau? “It’s our texture,” she answers simply. “It light and it’s not greasy so it doesn’t clog your pores and instead absorbs the vitamins. We have three products and they have more anti-oxidants in them than others – a day, night and eye cream, and it only takes a small amount of each to regenerate and heal the skin.” Sensing my hesitation, Khanjian adds, “We cannot sell a product that doesn’t work because we don’t have the millions in marketing. Others can maybe but we cannot.” La Peau’s key ingredient is BeCell, a non-irritating anti-aging complex that boosts the regeneration of the skin. “When we added SPF to our products it reduced the anti-oxidant/anti-aging properties by 99%, so we removed it because the product would not have

“Organic is sexy but you need science to act as a vehicle to penetrate the skin and we are a science based company”

worked anymore.” Khanjian who received the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award in Canada in 2007, is equally candid about their reasons for not being 100 per cent organic. “Organic is sexy but you need science to act as a vehicle to penetrate the skin and we are a science based company. You cannot do it organically.” Convinced that their secret to success has been their formula, which consists of one part cream and two parts gel, how do the forty-something sisters, who pride themselves on running a two-woman ship to keep costs low, protect themselves from industry heavy weights without having it patented? “As you know when something is patented you have to reveal the formula’s ingredients and we don’t want to do that. We work with several consultants and scientists who have all signed nondisclosure agreements but regardless the formula is unique to us and its made by our scientist in his lab and is then handed over to a different factory where they make the actual products but they’ve no idea what’s in the formula,” she says. Le Peau, which is one of the least expensive Swiss skincare brands on the market ($85 for the day cream), is stocked in pharmacies, medical spas and renowned plastic surgeon offices across the US, Switzerland, Japan and the Middle East including Lebanon and the UAE. Khanjian says the ultimate goal is to partner with larger distributors and enter flagship retail stores like Harrods in London. They are currently in talks to partner with the Chalhoub Group in Dubai, although no deal has been reached yet. “We are just two sisters, how much can we do on our own?” she asks. Well, if there negotiating skills are anything to go by, then a lot is the answer.

2017 JAN / FEB 43


Lina Sergie Attar, co-founder of the Karam Foundation

AFTER ALEPPO’S FALL The not-for-profit Karam Foundation has spent five years handing out vital aid in Syria. GC spoke to co-founder Lina Sergie Attar who is now equipping Syrians with the tools required to excel professionally and rebuild their country post the war atching as optimistic protests calling for democracy descended into the brutal tragedy of the Syrian Civil War, there was never any doubt in Lina Sergie Attar's mind that she had to act. “In 2011, truly it wasn’t a choice,” says the founder of the Karam Foundation, a notfor-profit organisation distributing vital aid on the front lines of the Syrian crisis. “The injustice, suffering and the need was so great, to stay on the sidelines was not an option.” During Attar's last visit to her home city Aleppo, in June 2011, she carefully photographed every surface of her grandmother's home, sensing the storm of violence to come. What the SyrianAmerican philanthropist could never have predicted is that more than five years later, a war would still be raging, with no solution to the world's largest humanitarian crisis since World War II in sight. As we talk [in mid-December], the evacuation of Aleppo is midway, and Karam's team are in the thick of the troubles, handing out vital food, blankets, mattresses and heaters to fleeing families who, like Attar, may never see their homes


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again. “It's really not an evacuation, but an eviction,” says the 42-year-old. “Evacuation means taking someone out of a place of danger and sending them to a safe place – this is not what's happening. This is people being forcibly displaced from their homes and sent to an unknown future and reality, joining the millions already displaced inside Syria. “It's very, very heartbreaking. I don't know if these people will become refugees – a return to Aleppo at this point looks impossible.” Born in New York to Syrian-American parents, at the age of 12 Attar's family returned to her father's hometown, where she finished school and studied architecture at the University of Aleppo. After graduating in 1998 she returned to the USA to pursue postgraduate studies at Rhode Island School of Design, and later Massachusetts Institute of Technology, before marrying and taking a teaching position in Chicago. In 2007 she cofounded the Karam Foundation, named after the Arabic term for generosity. Long before the Syrian tragedies would unfold, Karam's modest early goals were to raise awareness and funds


The Karam Foundation is helping displaced Syrians

for projects in Africa, India, Pakistan and Palestine, as well as local work in deprived Chicago communities, and helping Iraqi refugees resettle in Boston. “It was the opposite of what we do now,” admits Attar. “It was a volunteer mission, a way to give a few hours every week and feel good about ourselves.” But following the events of 2011, the entire organisation was dramatically recalibrated into “emergency mode” to provide immediate humanitarian aid to the raging crisis in Syria. Visiting refugee camps that summer inspired Attar to expand Karam's focus further onto sustainable development and educational initiatives for the growing generation of displaced Syrian children. The work has been fast. Entirely volunteer-led until 2015, Karam now employs 16 staff members based in both Syria and Turkey – as well as enlisting hundreds of volunteers – its $2 million annual costs almost entirely met by voluntary donations. Celebrities like Netflix chat show host Chelsea Handler urged her followers over Christmas on Instagram to support the Karam Foundation. This month [January] will see the opening of The Karam House, a healing, growth and educational “innovation centre” on the Turkish border town Reyhanli, offering cutting edge educational programmes in everything from 3D modelling and laser technology to entrepreneurship and journalism. “I only have one hope, and that is for the future generation,” says Attar. “That we give them the confidence that being a refugee doesn't have to define them, that they can still access their dreams and become whatever they want to be in life. Because building this next generation of Syrians is what will eventually build the country.” And this, says Attar, is one of the ways that concerned readers can help – by sharing their skills, stories and examples. Karam has welcomed more than 150 professionals – from dentists to artists – as mentors to young refugees, instilling hope and selfbelief in those who have every right to have lost both. Looking forward, Attar is brutally bleak about the prospects of a peaceful and harmonious Syria in the near future, a fact she struggles to explain to her two daughters, aged nine and 11, who last visited their ancestral home in 2010, instead growing up surrounded by images of bloodshed. The fall of Aleppo, says Attar, signals a “return to that place of utter silence and fear,” which initially sparked the revolution. “Now we're reverting back to an even deeper fear, after six years of war – six years of killing, destruction and torture – Syrians are very, very afraid, as they should be,” she adds. Under such circumstances, does Attar hold any dreams of returning to Aleppo, and seeing what remains of the home she grew up in? “Absolutely – even a few months ago, I didn't consider that a dream, I really believed it would happened,” she adds. “Now it's becoming more and more of a dream, and it's devastating. I hope my children will be able to see Aleppo, that I'll be able to see my grandmother's home again, but who knows?”

2017 JAN / FEB 45

Image courtesy of Getty Images



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NON-FICTION Hollywood superstar Samuel L. Jackson grew up in a segregated America, was a self-confessed addict and admittedly antiestablishment. Here’s how that explosive mix gave rise to superstardom BY RYAN YOUNG

People tell me I'm in every movie ever made,” laughs L. Jackson. “Somewhere, somehow, I'm a part of every movie made since I got to Hollywood.” The American actor may be playfully exaggerating, but Jackson's joke riffs on his reality as one of Hollywood's hardest working and most bankable stars. Jackson's films have grossed an incredible $4.6 billion – a figure only topped earlier this year by Harrison Ford – in large part because, even now aged 67, he simply never stops, clocking more than 150 roles in the past 30 years, a workrate of five movies a year. Few will be unfamiliar with Jackson's vintage roles in Pulp Fiction, Die Hard with a Vengeance, the Star Wars prequel trilogy and, most recently, across the Marvel franchise. But these blockbusters came well into Jackson's forties, his earlier cinematic CV littered with demeaning extra roles – credited variously as “Gang Member No.2”, “Black Guy”, “Hold-up Man” and even simply “Bum” – a list which says a great deal about the prospects for black actors in Hollywood of the 1970s and 1980s. Raised in segregated Tennessee by his grandparents and aunt, a performing arts teacher, Jackson was thrust onstage from an early age. After studying marine biology at Atlanta's Morehouse College – a liberal all-male arts institution famous for educating African American leaders including Martin Luther King Jr, Jackson moved to New York to work in theatre. As a member of the feted Negro Ensemble Company, he starred alongside Denzel Washington in the group's historic first production of Charles Fuller's A Soldier's Play, which won the 1982 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Caught in the middle of Broadway's black theatre boom, Jackson worked the stage alongside Morgan Freeman, Laurence Fishburne and Wesley Snipes, watching as his peers were “plucked off, one-by-one” to Hollywood fame. Yet Jackson's own early forays into film were disrupted by a crippling addiction to alcohol and drugs. “When I started, the theatre was one of those places where legendary actors were also legendary hellraisers – they were able to drink, use drugs and womanise and still do their jobs. And we all thought that was part of the acting tradition,” he remembers. When Jackson finally got clean in 1991 his first job, two weeks out of rehab, was in friend Spike Lee's movie Jungle Fever playing the role of destructive crack addict, Gator. “I was like, 'Gentlemen, I've already done the research,’ ” says Jackson, whose portrayal was awarded a one-off Supporting Actor honour at the Cannes Film Festival, specially invented

and never given before or since. “Jungle Fever was the first time I ever performed anything – play, movie, TV show – with no substance in my body,” continues Jackson. “By projecting me onto Hollywood, that role let me know that I had been in my own way – that if I picked up a drug or another drink, then everything I'd just achieved would just vanish as instantly as it showed up. It keeps me sober, and it fulfils my life.” Now clean and critically established, Jackson's commercial credentials were sealed three years later with Pulp Fiction, playing the iconic role of Jules, which director Quentin Tarantino wrote especially for Jackson. “That’s the film I can't run from – and I don't,” says Jackson, “I embrace it. At least

Samuel L. Jackson and DIFF Artistic Director Masoud Amralla Al Ali

2017 JAN / FEB 47


“I remember when America had apartheid – I was part of it, I was there, there were places I couldn't go, things I couldn't do – and they inform who I am”

once a day someone says to me 'Do the quarter pounder with cheese' [catchphrase].” Jackson's household fame was built with a plethora of diverse starring roles, from crime drama A Time to Kill to sports biopic Coach Carter and tongue-in-cheek thriller Snakes on a Plane. Meanwhile his continuing collaborative relationship with Tarantino has spawned much of Jackson's most meaty, memorable work, with starring roles in modern classics Jackie Brown, Django Unchained and The Hateful Eight – three films which each offer a biting commentary on American race relations echoing Jackson's own social activism. Born in 1948, 16 years before the landmark Civil Rights Act, Jackson experienced the injustice of a segregated upbringing. In 1968 he was an usher at Martin Luther King Jr's funeral, and in the early 1970s he flirted with the Black Power movement. “I remember when America had apartheid – I was part of it,

Top: Samuel L. Jackson who stars in Kong: Skull Island due for release in March 2017 48

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I was there, there were places I couldn't go, things I couldn't do – and they inform who I am,” he says. Since finding fame, Jackson has used his public profile to pursue similar causes, most recently speaking out against the proliferation of gun violence in America's black communities, an issue tackled head-on with his starring role in Lee's 2015 satirical musical drama Chi-Raq. This year Jackson narrated I Am Not Your Negro, a documentary based on the writings of African American activist James Baldwin. “My politics are my politics,” adds Jackson. “I use my voice. People tell me 'You're a role model because you're a movie star'. I'm a role model because I'm a husband, a father, a college graduate – because I've never been arrested and never been to jail. All I can do is be the best person I can be, and do what I can to point out injustice where I see it.”


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n 2015, when Angela Merkel triumphantly declared “Wir schaffen dass” or “We will manage”, it was intended to be a war cry to unite her fellow countrymen to accept her proposal to host close to a million refugees in a single year. Equally, as leader of Europe’s most powerful economy, it was a call to action to the leaders of her fellow EU member states to follow suit. Since then Merkel has come under intense pressure from the far-right in her own country in the aftermath of terrorist attacks on German soil and across Europe and as a result, a year on, her pleas have been silenced even though the refugee’s plight worsens. However, there are a handful of powerful academic voices that are talking above the cacophony. Chief among them is Alexander Betts, a professor at Oxford University and Director of the Refugees Studies Centre at the university. Betts who has studied the economics and politics of refugee crisis’ in Africa, Middle East and more recently in Europe, is quick to point out the dichotomy in the way the West preaches about human rights and the way it actually deals with situations like migration. “For a long time, there has been an organised hypocrisy in the way the West responds to refugees. On the one hand, states have signed up to refugee conventions and made commitments to respect the human rights of all migrants. On the other, they’re engaged in a competition to deter and avoid responsibility for taking in refugees.” This has been magnified in the on-going


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refugee crisis that began in 2015 in Europe he notes, before explaining that, “what has been framed as a crisis of numbers is much more a crisis of politics,” To reinforce his point as to how Europe has bundled the handling of the crisis, he cites the example of countries like Turkey that at present host 2.6 million refugees – more than any country in the world – and Lebanon who are hosting hundreds of thousands of refugees. In comparison, the far richer European Union comprising of 28 states were required to absorb a million asylum seekers, but failed. What makes Betts voice louder than others who have waved the hypocrisy flag in the past is that he isn’t making his pitch merely on humanitarian grounds — he’s instead showing that host nations stand to significantly benefit their own economies by giving asylum to refugee seekers, which goes hand-in hand with socio-economic freedom. He refers to Kampala in Uganda, the subject of his new book, Refugee Economies: Forced Displacement and Development, where 21 per cent of refugees run a business that employs at least one other person. Interestingly, of those that are employed, 40 per cent are Ugandan nationals. In this scenario, refugees are creating employment opportunities right within their host countries. In the light of BBC Panaroma report on child refugees being exploited by big-name labels in Turkey, Betts acknowledges that are cases where economic exploitation by host countries

Image courtesy of Bret Hartman / Ted' for the Ted talk photo

Forget humanitarian aid— and instead show how host countries can benefit economically by providing asylum to refugees, an Oxford university professor tells GC


occurs. “Economic exploitation takes place in many developing countries around the world. It is a reality of global capitalism. But it is not a reason not to create jobs for refugees. It is a reason to ensure that employment is available in the regulated, formal sector, rather than the unregulated, informal sector.” Apart from the economic benefits of hosting refugees, Brett focuses on the political ramifications of the refugee crisis¬ – appealing to the political rationale of enabling environments where refugees are allowed to thrive, and who will then inevitably affect political change in the countries from where they originate. “We looked at the Zimbabwean and Rwandan diaspora over a 15 year period to show how political opposition mobilises when it can’t due to the existence of an authoritarian government. This has implications for Syria, North Korea and Russia where if we want to create political transformation, how we respond to the diaspora abroad can make all the difference.” Betts adds that about 54 per cent of the world’s 21.3 million refugees have been in exile for at least five years, a few for upto 20 years. “We shouldn’t only be supporting people in camps – we should be providing them with opportunities to flourish, empower them with jobs, education, access to capital and the Internet as well as grant them the ability to move freely. Those things aren’t being provided by the current system.” The current system that Betts alludes to is the political framework that needs to be fixed. “I think the system is broken. One key lesson that comes from the election of Trump and Brexit is that we need transformative leadership from the centre

“What has been framed as a crisis of numbers is much more a crisis of politics. And it’s very much a European crisis rather than a global crisis”

to the electricity and road grid, but lacked labour and capital infusion. Bett was part of the team that successfully pitched that the refugees be allowed to work alongside Jordanians in that SEZ and be granted access to vocational training too. “The pilot project kicked off in the second half of last year and received support from the government. The World Bank are providing concessionary loans to further bolster the infrastructure, the EU are providing trade opportunities in the garment sector, and there’s been funding from the British government as well as support from the UN and NGOs. Multi-national corporations like Asda, Walmart and IKEA have committed to build supply chain structures within the economic zone, while other organisations are providing training in areas like coding to refugees.” Ask Betts about that one human story that has summed up his conviction to work in this field, and he will tell you the story of a man whose nickname is “Wuli”. “Wuli lived in the Ali-Addeh camp in Djibouti near the border with Somaliland where he arrived in 1988 at the age of 18. He was teaching young refugees from Somalia and Somaliland English and Maths in the hope that they would get resettlement opportunities and that they would have opportunities that weren’t available to him. When I met him, the middle aged man said to me ‘Man doesn’t live on food and water alone, but on hope. My hope is gone, but I pass it on to the next generation.’ ” In many ways, Betts research and work on the ground is attempting to give refugees what they need more than blankets and a warm meal – hope.

Alex Betts and Paul Collier in Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan

ground of politics – from liberal, progressive voices. Until then, populist nationalism will continue to have its appeal. The only source of leadership and direction in politics that is being offered at the moment is by the far right who are able to articulate the tension between globalisation and democracy in a way that resonates with the public.” But Bett’s outlook for the refugee crisis isn’t all doom-andgloom. He has been brainstorming on a radical project in Jordan’s Zaatri Refugee Camp. Last year, he along with his colleague, economist Paul Collier, visited the camp that’s home to 83,000 Syrian refugees. They noticed that just 15 minutes away was the King Hussein Bin Talal Development Area, a special economic zone (SEZ) on which the government had spent over a hundred million dollars to construct and connect

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SHORELINE BUSINESS Saint Lucia’s citizenship by investment program is amongst the best in the world and is helping build up the nation’s economy

aint Lucia is the kind of island that adventurous voyagers dream about – a small, lush tropical gem that is still relatively unknown. Located midway down the Eastern Caribbean chain, in the midst of Martinique, St. Vincent and Barbados, Saint Lucia is set to stun anyone who embarks on its calm Caribbean shores. The island is only 27 miles long and 14 miles wide, with a shape that is said to resemble either a mango or an avocado, depending on one’s taste. Almost a year ago, the picturesque island joined the Citizenship by Investment industry announcing the launch of its Program during the Global Citizen Forum in Monaco. Since then, Saint Lucia has attracted a number of international


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investors who seized the opportunity to own a piece of paradise. However, she is not just a pretty face. The country offers one of the most competitive and well-crafted citizenship by investment programs not only in the region, but also worldwide. The government is committed to establishing Saint Lucia as a prime destination for investors and the recent announcement of a series of improvements to the Program, is testament to that commitment. Even though Saint Lucia has been part of the Commonwealth since the British secured the island in 1814, historically it has relied heavily on tourism for its economic development. As a result of the global financial crisis of 2008, the country was forced


to look for alternative ways to fund its economic development. It was then when the local administration started exploring global citizenship as a sustainable channel for Foreign Direct Investment. As a result, applicants can now obtain Saint Lucian citizenship by making a donation to a National Economic Fund, which supports government projects of strategic social and economic importance. As of January 2017, there has been a significant reduction in the contribution thresholds, which is an indication that the country is emphasising this investment option and its potential for impact. Through its citizenship program, Saint Lucia has been able to prove that besides its white sandy beaches and bath-warm waters, it is open for business and has a lot to offer. The international jetset community now view the country not only as a popular holiday destination, but also as a place where they can invest their money. The fact that investors are not required to travel to the country in order to qualify for citizenship, makes the program ever more desirable. The Saint Lucian passport secures visa free travel to the UK and the entire Schengen area.


Donation (single applicant)

$ 100,000

Time to Citizenship:

90 days

Countries visa-free:


Passport Index Rank:



“The country offers one of the most competitive and well-crafted citizenship by investment programs not only in the region, but also worldwide�

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All prices approximate

The famous German automaker turned 100 last year and has laid out a plan of several concepts that it hopes to create in the next 100 years. The most radical is this motorcycle that you simply cannot crash. It’ll also have zero emissions, rider assistance, self-balancing capability and embedded camera technology to ensure that this is perhaps the safest, cleanest most energy efficient bike in the world. It almost makes you want to wish you were around for another century just to see this come into production someday.


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The Italian supercar manufacturer’s latest creation isn’t another two-door fire-breathing monster, but instead a $24,000 speaker that you can park right within your living room. The 600watts EsaVox Ixoost speaker uses the actual Aventador exhaust system and plenty of carbon fibre in its construction. An additional 200 watts powers the 15-inch subwoofer. There’s a shock absorber system for each of the ceramic speakers that’ll come in handy when you crank up the volume to the max. $24,000;


Yes, Shinola is the same Detroit-based watchmaker whose store Obama visited and picked up a watch from a year ago. Now they’ve entered the audio business by setting up a new division called Shinola Audio. Fresh off the press is this two-speed beltdriven turntable with an in-built phono preamplifier. The limited edition old-school cool player is limited to just 500 pieces. Vinyl never went out of style, did it? $2,500;


Swiss watchmaker Ulysse Nardin sponsors the prestigious America’s Cup that sees sailing yachts go bow-tobow to claim victory. UN is also the official sponsor of the Artemis Racing team, whose catamaran has served as the inspiration for this 35-cm dual time-zone table clock. Made from carbon fibre with a body that recalls the hull of a racing yacht, the manual winding Caliber UN-910 movement with a 8-day power reserve can be wound up by turning those propellers (that can also be used to set the time). $200,000; 2017 JAN / FEB 55


TURKISH DELIGHT Mazu Yachts debuted its first super-yacht tender

urkish boutique yacht designer and builder Mazu Yachts debuted the all-new Mazu 38, a super-yacht tender, at the 2016 Monaco Yacht Show. The company has been designing, producing and marketing luxury ‘hard-top and open’ motor yachts since 2011 but this is its first foray into the superyacht tender space. Though designed to accompany a super-yacht through its travels, the Mazu 38 suits the role of day boat, too. Dynamically designed, the interior and exterior spaces provide ample comfort for guests. The deck and interior layouts are fully customisable as per the owner's demands. The unit on display at the Monaco Yacht Show had an open plan layout with dining space “al-fresco” on the aft deck, an en-suite bathroom with separate full standing shower and additional crew cabin.


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To maximise guests’ comfort, the boat is appointed with two galleys for dining indoors or outdoors. Both contain Gaggenau appliances and are equipped with a cooker, grill, microwave and oven, sink, fridge, deep freezer and ample storage for crockery and provisions. After dining, swimmers trying to work off calories can climb back aboard via a ladder and rinse off on the Mazu 38’s swim platform, with the pull-out shower head. The builder’s bigger boats follow cold-moulded construction practices, the tender uses carbon fibre for her hull. The lighter weight assists speed, which is said to be 30 knots at cruise and 45 knots maximum. Those speeds come from twin 300-hp Volvo Penta IPS 400s, though IPS 500s and IPS 600s are also available. And if all this luxury is making one uneasy, rest assured that IPS is proven to emit lower emissions and consume less fuel.

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We test-drive the all-new Ferrari GTC4Lusso and find out why it's the perfect companion BY VARUN GODINHO


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here is a school of supercar thought that subscribes to the notion that sportscars need necessarily be rabid machines. Fantastically ferocious cars that bark, gnarl and howl while doing the exact opposite of what its driver wants it to do. And although there are plenty of Italian, German and British marques that will readily pander to this clientele, I’m not a fan. Yes, I love my supercar fast and throaty, but when it becomes rambunctious and rowdy is when I’m ready to politely step away from it. Which is why on a recent drive to Ras Al-Khaimah in the UAE, I am only too happy to get behind the wheel of the all-new Ferrari GTC4Lusso unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show last year – a car that’s not only desirable and fast, but something I could live with everyday. The GTC4Lusso is a successor to the Ferrari FF, with plenty of cosmetic (a new diffuser and spoiler) and mechanical changes (more power). That 4 within its name stands for a 4-wheel drive and a 4-seater car. Before I step in, I take a moment to look at its side profile – it’s an estate-meets-coupe-meets-supercar design that doesn’t look one bit confused. The shark fins along the side are just what is needed to cut the slick exterior and give it a bit of bite. Inside, there are plenty of go-faster bits including a flat-bottomed steering wheel and bright coloured knobs and buttons, carbonfibre trims and bucket seats placed down low. As we set out from the Burj Al Arab towards the Ritz Carlton Al Wadi (we would be the first guests at the hotel after it changed hands from Banyan Tree to Ritz Carlton), we take the car out onto Emirates Road. Expectedly, the Ferrari is fast and responsive in a straight line

– the naturally aspirated 6.3-litre V12 is good for 680 prancing horses and capable of a top speed of 335kph. It was later that afternoon though, when we drove to the nearby Jebel Jais, the tallest mountain in the UAE, with delightful switchbacks where it becomes evident just why Ferrari has a hit on its hands with this car. The steering is intuitively responsive and the car feels like it's was designed to make the driver feel subhuman – I always feel like I’m in control, although I know that there are millions of algorithms running parallel in that superbrain of its engine to deftly compensate for my rookie driver errors without allowing the car to turn in too early, or letting the rear kick out more than it should when cornering at high speeds. I keep it in Sports mode and try and open up the 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox (there are two of them – one in the rear and the other in the front to evenly distribute the car’s weight – which also explains why the car feels so planted at high speeds) as much as I can without driving off the cliff. It works up a speed very quickly (0100kph in 3.4seconds), but is able to scrub it off as rapidly too thanks to those carbon ceramic brakes. It really does feel quite spectacular. What sealed it for me is that this here is an immensely driveable car that gives you the speed, style and practicality in a package that you could drive to the office one day, to the supermarket the next and then even to the track to have some fun when the mood strikes. There are very few supercars that allow you to shift between your different alter egos seamlessly. Think of the Lusso as your wingman.

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PATIENCE IS PERFECTION Third generation Italian shoemaker Bontoni is appealing to Silicon Valley CEOs with their time-honored traditions BY IVAN CARVALHO

et amid the gentle rolling hills of Italy’s Marche region sits the medieval town of Montegranaro. This quiet settlement of 13,000 souls has long been considered the epicentre of fine shoemaking for men. A five-minute drive from its historic centre sits the factory of luxury group Tod’s, famous for its iconic driving shoe with rubber pebble outsole. Since the 1950s the area has been a buzz of activity as shoe companies and suppliers emerged to serve major fashion houses. Today, startups have emerged, tapping into the accumulated know-how of quality shoemaking among the town’s craftsmen. One standout name is Bontoni. Launched in 2004 by Franco Gazzani, a Montegranaro native who returned to his cobbler roots after a stint in management consulting in Milan, the brand’s workshop sits inside what was once the family’s garage. Together with his father, Manfredo, and their uncle Bruno – the two combined have nearly a century’s worth of experience in the trade – they produce a limited number of bespoke and ready-towear lace-ups and loafers each year. The label boasts a select clientele that includes A-list Hollywood actors, NBA legend Magic Johnson as well as tech CEO’s including Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom and Jeff Bezos of Amazon. What attracts customers is the precise fit of Bontoni’s footwear and the tasteful designs sketched by the hand of Manfredo. “Comfort is important. Our goal is for the shoe to slip on like a glove,” says Franco. There are hundreds of models to tempt clients, including double monk strap formal shoes and rugged derby models that can be paired with a chunky Vibram sole. For a made-to-measure model, Bruno, who keeps up the timehonoured skill of making the shoe last, will spend days sanding a

wood mould to millimetre precision to reflect the measurements taken by Franco when he first meets a client. Care is taken to notice every nuance on the foot, from a wearer’s unusual toe joints to bone spurs. “Shoe last making is a work of art,” explains Franco, who drives home his point by giving a tour of Bruno’s atelier where his uncle spends his downtime making violins by hand. From start to finish, a pair of Bontoni shoes takes approximately three months to complete. Insoles, outsoles and the upper are cut and sewn together by hand. Once the leather is fitted around the last, it is left to rest on it for several weeks. Then the upper is put over an open flame and hammered repeatedly to shape its final form. Another important stage is colouring. Franco uses supple natural leather and concocts all the dyes such as vinaccio, a dark cherry hue, from scratch. Shoes get several coats and then are polished repeatedly – the process takes two weeks to ensure models have a rich patina. As upper and sole are united, Bontoni inserts Poron, a foam engineered at NASA, to serve as a cushion. “It’s a 21st-century twist to an age-old craft,” adds a smiling Franco while showing a cutaway model that reveals their secret padding. Attention to detail knows no bounds. The brand assembles its own shoemaking twine, painstakingly combining slender strands and sealing them together with wax to ensure stitching is up to the task for models that sport a Norwegian construction. Adds Franco, “this pursuit of perfection, and commitment to honouring the tradition here in Montegranaro, is what sets us apart.” Bontoni is available at Level Shoes, The Dubai Mall

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Dubai’s latest restaurants highlight the best of world cuisines

AJÍ True to its name, Ají (meaning chili in Spanish and taste in Japanese) packs a punch above the rest at the new Club Vista Mare dining complex on Palm Jumeirah. Ají takes diners on a gastronomic journey to discover the intertwining Japanese and Peruvian flavours that define Nikkei cuisine. For an appetizer try the soft shell crab causa with fluffy whipped potato and escabechado sauce. While the eatery is new, the concept has been around for


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some time, famed Japanese chef Nobu has been a purveyor of the fusion cuisine since the late 1980s. Expect a casual vibe with interiors flanked by Peruvian prints and graffiti, cherry blossom trees, oriental-style birdcages and luxe green leather seats in the lounge, which is ramped up with a live DJ every evening. Club Vista Mare, Palm Jumeirah +971 4 552 0244


FISH BEACH TAVERNA Fish Dubai is everything a seafood restaurant should be, it’s charming, quaint, has no-fuss interiors and the sound of the ocean for company. Whilst the design leans towards the Greek islands with hues of whites and blues, the food is authentic Turkish with fresh fish from the Aegean Sea flown in daily. The dining theatrics are traditional with waiters bringing trays of cold starters, including cacik, yogurt mixed with cucumber, garlic and mint and pancar, a fermented beetroot dish with mustard, honey, green apple and olive oil, to the table. Hot starters are made to order but the highlight of this beachfront restaurant is the open-fire grill. Whole red mullet and juicy tiger prawns are seared to perfection over the flame and seasoned simply with only salt and a squeeze of fresh lemon. For the cooler weather, the hearty casserole dishes are a good choice; try the pan-fried sea bass cooked in a celery root spiked saffron sauce. Le Meridien Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina +971 4- 511 7139

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LA MÔME Located on the 49th floor of the Nassima Royal Hotel, La Môme is a homegrown French restaurant and bar inspired by the nickname of iconic French singer Edith Piaf. It ticks all of the boxes for the perfect date-night spot; cityscape views, white table cloths, candles and red roses, yet La Môme manages to exude fine dining without being stuffy or overly fancy. Perhaps, this has something to do with the owners being on-site and unafraid to get their hands dirty, which is a rarity in Dubai. The focus is on seasonal, fresh


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ingredients cooked with a generous dollop of butter resulting in rich, classic French dishes. Entrées include foie gras on brioche and escargots dressed with parsley butter, while beef bourguignon and the classic steak tartare are on offer for mains. The whole lemon sole, deboned tableside, has an unctuous texture served along with creamy garlic potato gratin and sautéed green beans. Nassima Royal Hotel, Sheikh Zayed Road, +971 4 308 0470


RÜYA When the F&B group that has brought culinary gems like Coya, Zuma and Nurset to Dubai opens up another station in the city, you know you’re in for something special. Rüya, a Turkish restaurant, has recently opened up in Grosvenor House and is the latest concept from the Dogus Restaurant Entertainment and Management Group. The chic interiors of the restaurant include dark wooden flooring, a large clay oven in the middle of the room, a buffet style set up to one corner, a well-stocked bar at the other, flanked by a row

of tables near the edge of the terrace that offers stunning marina views. Commandeering the kitchen is none other than globetrotting Chef Colin Clague who has worked at Pollen in Singapore, Zuma in London and Jean-Georges in Dubai. Highlights here include crispy pides and lamb cutlets along with Turkish mussels stuffed with rice and breadcrumbs – traditional Anatolian cuisine with a global twist. Lobby level, Grosvenor House, Dubai +971 4 399 9123

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OFF THE BEATEN SKI PATH This Winter, make a unique holiday in these boutique ski hotels

THE LITTLE NELL ASPEN, COLORADO, UNITED STATES It’s hard to get closer to powder than this hotel, which sits at the base of Aspen Mountain. It is ideal for ski junkies as the on-site Ski Concierge team can secure everything from lift tickets, ski rentals, and equipment storage. They’ll even warm your boots and tune up your gear once you return from a day out or procure a puppy jet-lag kit for the pooch with delicate sensibilities. The hotel has two in-house restaurants Element 47 serving locally sourced New

American fare and Ajax, a French bistro with a buzzing après-ski scene. The gastronomic experiences here are truly world-class. The spacious guest rooms are layered with sumptuous fabrics, walnut tables, wide leather chairs, velvet banquettes, and stoneclad gas-burning fireplaces. Rooms from $575 per night,

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ROCKSRESORT LAAX, SWITZERLAND Finished in rough-hewn stone, the exterior of this hotel succeeds at blending in with the environment but at the same time, making a bold design statement. The seven stone cubes, like monoliths leftover from the Stone-Age, are situated at the base station in Laax and are filled with holiday apartments, shops, and restaurants. In contrast to the austere exterior, the bedrooms are cosy oak capsules, a modern version of the cattle barns up on the mountain.


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The stone bathrooms can double as steam rooms for post-skiing relaxation. The brasserie features a 'dine-around' package with menus and themes changing every evening. The resort also boasts ski in and out accent, plenty of greenery, and off-season biking and hiking paths that are perfect for families. Doubles from $512 per night,

WASHINGTON SCHOOL HOUSE PARK CITY, UTAH, UNITED STATES This exclusive downtown Park City boutique hotel was built as a school in 1889 for the children of the miners extracting copper and silver wealth from the surrounding mountains. It has since had several lives – as a dance hall for the Veterans of Foreign Wars and a bed-and-breakfast—but was transformed into its current iteration in 2011. The stunning 12-suite luxury ski property boasts historic living spaces with 16ft ceilings, roaring fireplaces, and a

chic ski lounge. The heated pool is terraced into the hillside, for those brave enough to take a dip in frigid temperatures. Service is warm and personalised. The hotel is just a short walk from the Park City Mountain Resort’s Town Lift and even closer to the town’s best museums and most charming restaurants and bars. Double from $380 per night,

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MAKING HIS MARK Russian graffiti artist Pokras Lampas is bringing the art of calligraphy to his trade BY NAUSHEEN NOOR

okras Lampas first became fascinated with street-art as a child growing up in Korolyov, Russia, a small town outside of Moscow. He began experimenting with graffiti styles as a teenager and, soon after, was deeply influenced by the work of Niels "Shoe" Meulman, the legendary Dutch graffiti artist. Lampas has since developed his own style of graffiti art that he calls, “calligrafuturism,” a term derived from years of learning different typographical scripts and how letters can be manipulated to mirror another language. For example, his work may contain Cyrillic letters with Arabic shapes or Roman letters with Korean shapes. To be fully versed in a language can, of course, take years. But what Lampas does is glean the essential character of each script by studying it. “When I look at the typography of a certain language, I look at the composition, what kind of shape it creates, and then what kind of rules they use to write it. Even if I can’t understand the words, I can understand how it’s done, how it’s painted, what kind of movement of hand, stroke and brush angle you need for a nice result. After that, I just try to think how I feel about it. What can I rethink? How can it be done in my own vision of these letters.” This visual adaptation of lettering is reflective of Lampas’ personal experiences ­— the young artist was born in 1991, just as the Cold War ended, and grew up in the era of globalisation and multiculturalism. Though graffiti and street art typically contain political messages, Lampas avoids being too didactic with his work. “For me, it’s really important to communicate naturally about politics,” he explains. “I believe the art of calligraphy is to inspire people, but sometimes people shift from the artwork to the message. I like to use my art to reach new worlds.”


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His work has been met with much commercial success. Past collaborations with brands have included Ford, Panasonic, Pirelli and Mercedes-Benz, among others. He is also an official Nike International Creative Vendor since 2015. In September 2015, Lampas reached another milestone by creating the world’s largest calligraphy. The artwork, spread across a 1625 square metre rooftop of an old chocolate factory in Moscow, could be viewed from space. “It was the most unique experience I’ve ever had,” recalls Lampas. “I was not prepared to work on that large a scale. It was difficult to keep the composition, a good theme and maintain quality. It was a tough project, but I’m proud of it.” This year, he worked with Dries Van Noten on his SS17 menswear collection, adding calligraphy details to Van Noten’s patchwork denim clothing. And though he has been able to create a name for himself, it is evident that Lampas is still very much finding his own voice. “Before this year, I used quotes from famous artists who inspired me like Salvador Dali or Van Gogh. Now I’ve tried to write my own thoughts or ideas. One of my favourite texts is to write “Never be the same…” repeating it, but each time, I write it in a new style…” Ever evolving, next year, the artist plans to incorporate technology into his work. “I think graffiti art has a lot of potential to be performance art. You can make it move and dance with unique strokes. Virtual reality gives you the freedom to make that possible.” He will also be unveiling a piece of public art in Dubai. “Most of my projects always have a connection to the streets. I cannot say what the Dubai project is yet, but it’s going to be huge.” Pokras Lampas’ work is available from Opera Gallery, Dubai


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LITTLE BLACK BOOK BEIRUT Karim Jaber is Managing Partner of the Addmind group, the company behind a slew of bars, restaurants and lounges including hotspots White and Iris, both in Dubai and Beirut. The consummate man about town, here he shows us around his hometown, Beirut

Bookworm Librairie Antoine is one of the oldest bookstores in Beirut and it has some of the best selections of books, comic books and DVDs included. You can also find your choices in multiple languages all under one room, in Arabic, English or French which is also very helpful.

Jump Start In the heart of Gemmeyze you can find our secret breakfast, Urbanista. It’s the perfect breakfast spot with a varied flavoursome menu. My wife and I take our magazines and just enjoy spending some time catching up on what’s going on in the world.

Secret Dining Bar du Port which is a French fusion restaurant in Port Area in Beirut is one the city’s best kept secrets. It has opened recently and the food is honestly some of the best I have ever had.


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Taking a Stroll Zaitunay Bay is amazing for a leisurely walk – the views are always stunning and there is a great selection of outlets to chill out at. In the summer, the boardwalk really comes to life with everyone out and about enjoying the weather.

Steeped in history Beirut is a beautiful city and each corner of it is filled with history. The two areas I love in particular are the Byblos area and Jeita Grottos. Both locations are beyond stunning, sights I love visiting whenever I am able to.

Shopping Spree Beirut Souks is the hub of shopping in Beirut city. You can find an eclectic selection of both women and men’s brands. A unique shopping outdoor experience, all the boutiques are located in one quarter making shopping easily accessible.

There is really no other place in the world that gives you the warmth you feel when you land in your own city. Whether you want to be up in the mountains surrounded by snow, or at the beach having a cocktail, Beirut has something for everyone and that is the real beauty of the city

Where to Rest The Byblos Sur Mer is a phenomenal hotel. From the décor to the rooms to location and the way the property overlooks the sea, everything is so superbly planned out. The hotel is a short walk away from the Byblos Castle and the Old Souk which is super convenient and the selection of food, presentations of dishes and the cocktail menu is really outstanding.

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ENCHANTING VIETNAM A train journey through Vietnam reveals splendours of the past

Images courtesy of Getty Images


ietnam conjures up so many emotions. The romance and mystery of the ancient tales and temples, the sorrow and loss of the Vietnam War and the evident pride as this modern country becomes a thriving tourist destination all swirl together like the swarms of scooters that congregate around every intersection in the cities of Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi. These two cities top and tail a vertical route between the old South and North sections of the country. Most tourists fly into one and out of another, taking in some of Vietnam’s stunning, rice paddy dotted coastline or ancient mountain towns along the way. Starting in the south, Ho Chi Minh is a metropolis that never sleeps. From the Parisian Notre Dame Basilica and the modernist looking Independence Palace to the bustling back alleys, where tiny restaurants pop up and pack down in moments, red stools populate the pavement and entire families gather to eat on the go, the city is an assault on all your senses. Dive into the local cuisine with a street food tour on the back of a motorbike with XO tours and discover the pancakes and Banh Mi stands that make this city tick. It might be slow but the only way to travel in Vietnam is by train. From the old Communist carriages the landscape becomes more verdant as you chug north. Stop for a beach break at Nha Trang or Mui Ne, both are cosmopolitan resort towns where you can do as much or as little as you want. When you’ve recovered, take the train to Danang, the closest town to Hoi An, Vietnam’s piece de resistance. This well preserved medieval trading port gives you a glimpse into Vietnam’s beautiful past, Hoi An was

considered to be the trading heart of all of Asia. Hire a bike and explore the cobbled streets, humpback bridges and lush paddy fields at your own pace. Further north from Danang sits Hue, Vietnam’s former capital. A huge 19th-century citadel stands tall with distilled importance, and embraces the Imperial City – once home to the Emperor and the royal court. Cycle along the Perfume river early in the morning to explore historic Hue, before trying some of the locally renowned Bun Bo Hue (a comforting noodle soup like Pho). Hue is the perfect place to stop to explore rural Vietnam. By the coast, there are lagoons like Tam Giang, flower farms and pretty villages, to the west you’ll find mountains and temples – either way, life doesn’t seem to have changed for centuries and agriculture still rules the ebb and flow of daily life. Take a day tour to try your hand at fishing or steering a sampan boat on the lagoon as well as getting to visit rural communities. Vietnam really is a country of two halves in so many different ways, but one of the most evident is the difference between the countryside and the cities. Finally end your trip in Vietnam’s modern capital, Hanoi. French Indochina was ruled from here but it has been a city for one thousand years. Today it’s a heaving, hustling sort of place with tiny pockets of calm. One such pocket is the Imperial University and temple of Confucius, which was built in 1070AD and taught scholars from all over the country to strict and exacting standards. Today its various courtyards radiate peace and prosperity and act as an ornate balance to the austere façade of Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum.

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If you plan ahead, try and get a ticket for Hang Son Dong in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, otherwise know as the largest cave in the world. A tiny percentage of visitors are allowed inside to drink in this amazing site that was only discovered less than 20 years ago. Stretching over 5.5 kilometres, the cave roof sits 200 metres above the ground and it has its own river, beach, weather and eco-system.

Images courtesy of Getty Images

This tiny island, an hour’s flight from Ho Chi Minh, shouldn’t be discounted just because it’s where the country makes all of its ubiquitous ingredient, fish sauce. A local best kept secret, this is the place to explore deserted beaches, load up on fresh grilled seafood at the lively night market or dive the An Thoi islands, a group of 15 islands just off the south coast of Cambodia. And best of all, it’s a spot of relief from the scooter-crazed cities.

Stop at Da Nang and veer off the tourist ping pong route between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh for one of the most interesting Hindu temple complexes at My Son. While much was bombed during the Vietnam war, there’s enough left to revel in what once was a glorious shrine to Shiva, constructed over 1,000 years from 4th century AD. Unlike Angkor Wat or similar, there’s enough space to take decent photos and explore this majestic crumbling ruin at your own pace.


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You can’t not go to Halong Bay should you step foot in Vietnam. Named ‘descending dragon bay’ legend goes that a Mother Dragon dropped emeralds from the sky to help ward off an invasion when Vietnam was young, these have turned into the 2,000 limestone islets and islands. Most of them are uninhabited but the stunning bay is home to four floating fishing villages, as well as a couple of hotels on the bigger islands. The best way to see it is on an overnight traditional boat trip.



Ho Chi Minh has never looked so good as from one of the magnificently glitzy suites of The Reverie. Start or end your Vietnam trip with the country’s most decadent skyscraper stay, a testament to the luxury travellers the Communist country is attracting. Try their new Haute Ho Chi Minh package, which combines a three hour personal shopping experience with a journey in the white marble spa, hailed by CNN recently as one of the best in the world., from $270


Halfway up the coast of Vietnam at Nha Trang veer off over the sea to discover the organic paradise of Six Senses Ninh Van Bay. Secluded villas inspired by traditional Vietnamese design are strung along a half moon crescent of perfect golden sand. Dive into the still waters while forested rock formations stick out of the East Vietnam Sea like a quieter Ha Long Bay. Sit back at sunset on the wooden decks built into the hills and let the natural beauty of Vietnam overtake you., from $675


Asian spa brand Anantara has a laid back outpost in the UNESCO heritage city of Hoi An, arguably Vietnam’s prettiest city. French culture is fused to ancient temples and tiny streets house hundreds of tailors willing to knock up a new wardrobe in a matter of days. Sat riverside, Anantara Hoi An evokes a minimal colonial style in keeping with the historic town standing on the banks of the River Thu Bon with open walkways, and tropical gardens that flank the river., from $280

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This season’s fashion can easily take you straight from the slopes to après ski

Ski helmut, Anon, $130

Cashmere trimmed leather gloves, Thom Browne, $395

Leather backpack, Berluti, $3,050

Raf Simons, A/W 2016/2017

Shearling lined leather boots, Santoni, $1,350


JAN / FEB 2017

Mirrored ski goggles, Anon, $240

Quilted gilet, Tom Ford, $2,890

All prices approximate

Image courtesy of Getty Images

Cashmere scarf, Valentino, $945


Wool and cashmere mid-layer, Bogner, $550

Leather boots, Pal Zilieri, $550

Gore-tex ski jacket, Peak Performance, $765

Snowboard, Burton, $600

Camouflage ski jacket, Moncler, $2,065

Sneakers, Purple for Santoni, $560

Quilted Jacket, Bogner, $1,490

2017 JAN / FEB 79



The world’s most prestigious luxury watch fair, Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie, returns to Geneva this month. These are the timepieces on our radar A. LANGE & SÖHNE LANGE 1 MOONPHASE The Saxonian watchmaker has added a moonphase complication with a day/night indicator into their in-house manual winding movement. The moonphase requires no adjustment for the next 122 years – well after you’ve passed it on to your (lucky) heir. $42,000 IWC DA VINCI PERPETUAL CALENDAR CHRONOGRAPH Sporting a new in-house movement, the Schaffhausen watchmaker has packed in a complete perpetual calendar into this ticker – the day of the week, the date of the month, the month, the year and the moonphase are all visible at a single glance on the elegant dial with raised numerals framed by an 18-carat rose gold case. $43,000

ROGER DUBUIS EXCALIBUR QUATUOR MICROMELT This is the world’s only watch with four balance springs – visible along the circumference of the dial – for maximum chronometric precision. This year’s iteration has a case made from a super tough alloy that can weather everything you throw its way – including the kitchen sink. POA

All prices approximate

VACHERON CONSTANTIN TRADITIONNELLE MINUTE REPEATER TOURBILLON This watch demonstrates just why Vacheron sits comfortably at the apex of the pecking order of the world’s finest luxury watches. The hand-applied guilloche motif on the dial, a tough-to-master tourbillion and a Geneva Seal that certifies its technical and aesthetic chops explain why it costs serious money. $546,000


JAN / FEB 2017


JAN / FEB 2017


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2017 JAN / FEB 81

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