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Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s pro-democracy leader and Nobel Peace laureate, has come to symbolise the struggle of Myanmar’s people to be free. She has spent more than 15 years in detention, most of it under house arrest and was released from her current third period of detention in November.Like the South African leader Nelson Mandela, Aung San Suu Kyi has become an international symbol of peaceful resistance in the face of oppression. The 65-year-old has spent most of the last 20 years in some form of detention on because of her efforts to bring g democracyy to military-ruled militaryy-ruled Myanmar. Myyanmar. In 1991,, a year y r after her National League for Democracy won an overwhelming victory in an yea election the e junta ju unta later later nullified, nulli nulli llified fied, she she was awarded award award arded ed the Nobel Nobel Peace Peace Prize Prize. Suu Suu Kyi is th t ed daug aughte aug hterr of hte of the he country’s co independence hero, General Aung San. He was assassinated during the he e transition transititiion ion period perio riod i d in in July July l 1947, 1947 1947, just just six i months month hs befo ef re indepe i d ende ndence nce. Suu Suu Kyi was was only only two tw wo yearrs old at the t time. In 1960, she went to Delhi with her mother Daw Khin Kyi, who o had had been been appointed Burma’s ambass ambassado dorr to to India. Fou ur year yearss later t sh he wentt to to Oxfo Oxford Univer vers e ssit sityy in in tthe he U UK, K where whe she studied philosophy, politics and economics. There she he met met her her future husband, acade academic mic Michael M Ariss. Suu Kyi was soon propelled into leadin Ari ng the revo revolt aga gains in t the then-d n-dictator, General Ne Win. She was inspired by the non-violent -vio olent campaigns of US c civill rig rights leader der Martin M Luth ther er King King and India’ Ind dia’ ia’ss Mahatma Gan ndhi. M Mex exica ic n tyco ycoon, n Ca C rlo loss Slim m, 70, 7 has amassed a fortune of $53.5bn, beating Microsoft Mic crosoft founder Bill Ga ates to top the he list of the wo world’s ld’s richest people, according accord ding to a ran nking pu ublished ubl ed by b For Forbes magazzine in . His far f -flung business empire includes some off Mexico’s Mexic co’s best-kn best-known wn departme ent stores, its big biggest telecom operator, hotels, resta restaura staurantts, oil oil drri r lling, g bu b ild ding firms ms and d In I bursa sa bankk making it hard to spend a day in Mexico co w without itthout pay paying g him h some mo money. Outside M Mexico exico Slim has holdings in such prestigious prestigiious groups as retaile iler Saks ks and New e Yor York Time mes Co. His H defining foray occurred in 1990 when wh hen he he an and h his partners bo bought creaking ing g state telephone company Telmex for $1.7bn.. Turn Tu urnin ng it into o a cash sh-makin ing g jewe wel, he sp spun off ff Americ rica Movil and expanded it through gh a acqu cquisitio tions to becom me the world’s No 4 wireless operator. Slim first showed a talent forr bu busin ness e as a 10-yea ear-old kid k when en he fill filled hiss po p cke ets with pesos selling drinks and nd d sna acks cks to his famil mily i y. Ass a youn oungst g er he also gst also kept kept p accounting accou accounti nting ng g ledgers ledger led g s of ger of what what he earned earne earne ed and and ssp spent and d bough ht a gove vernment n saving ngs bond nd from m whi w ch he learned valuable e les esson es son sons ons abou bou out comp comp pou oun und d inte nteres t res restt. Th The 2010 2010 Nobel N bell Peace Nob Peace Prize Pea P ize was awarded Pri award ded d to to imprisoned imp imp pris riso i one on ned dC Chi hinese hum man righ hts activi vist Liu Xia X obo o “f “ or hiss long an and non-violent struggle truggle e fo f fu for fun nda da dam men en nta tall h human hu uma an rights an ri right i hts h s iin C Ch hina”. h ina”. i ” The Th laureate, l a little-known li l k fi figure inside i id China Chi due d to offi offfificial ial cens ce sorship, rship, is a veter veteran n of the h Tiana Tiananmen n Sq S uare e protests rotests of 1989, 9, and co co-au -au autho utho thor hor of of the the Cha Charte rterr 08 rte 08 mani mani anifes festo fes to for fo wh which ich ch h he he was was sent entenc e ed to 11 years in priison by en by Chine Chine Ch inese se aut se a horittiess on 25 Dec Decemb Decemb ember er 200 009 9. Liu 9. Liu u wa w s chos osen ove er a record numb be err off no ominati minati ation ons – mor ore e than 200 200 – to receive the he N No obel el awa aw ward arrd d. Liu is also the third d perso per errsso on to to b be e aw a arded th awa he N Nob be el Pe eac ce Prize ce Prize wh w ile i e iin prison or detention on, after G man German a y’ y s Ca y’s Carl rl von Os Ossssie ietzkyy (193 19 935)) and My Myan Mya anm nm mar’s Aung g San Suu Kyi (1991). Intellectuals and d politic cians from the interna ationa al comm mmuni unity ty p pra aise i d the is h decisi sion, altho hough th h Chi he Chinese se govvernmen mentt bitte erlyy attacked the de dec ec cis ision. Hea avvyy offific av cial censorship was applied on n the In nternet, on televvision and in the pri rint med dia a ins nsi side de Chi C na fo ollowing the a ounce anno ementt. Liu is th he fifirst Chin nese (exc cluding the 14th Dala ai Lama, a refugee) to be awarded the No obel Peace Prizze, and d the firrst to be e awarded ed a Nobe el Prize of any kin nd w ile ressiding in Ch whi hina. Stefan ni Joanne Ange elina Germanottta (borrn March 28, 1986), who perform ms und unde er the stage na ame La ady Ga aga, has become e a pop ic con o by co ombining g dance numbe da ers witth pe erforma ance art to create te something th hat app peals to teenagers and critics alikke. The 24-year-old d singe er, song gwriter an nd musician i from New Yorkk began her ca areer ass a so ongwrriter fo or some of pop mu music’s bigge est star tarss but her true true infl influen uence ce lie liess in in her ab bilitty to weave e fashion n, chorreograp aphy hy, visua uall art and a wide varriety of p based musica pop-b al style es into o one cohesive, comp mpelling performa an nce e. G Gaga aga’’s aga ’s infl i fluence influen ce on mod dern culture and so ociety ha as provo vo oked k d the the Univ nivers i ers er itityy of South h Carolina na into o offering a fu ull-time coursse title ed ‘L Ladyy Gaga and the Soc S iolo ogy of Fa Fame’ me in in the the obj obje j cti ctive tive off unr unrave avve ave ellllliling “the sociolo ogically re ele evant dime mensi nsions of o th t e fame of La ady Gaga a with re espe ect to her e mussic, ic viideos, fashion, and other artistic en end deavourrs”. She has been called d th the nexxt Madonna. na Thi Thiss year, she became e the first first artis tistt to hit the five million ma ark in d tal sing digit ng gles less sa sales les an and d the fifir firs rsst cele e bri rity ty to get mo ore tha ha an 10 mill milllion io on fans fans on Fac fa Fa e ebo b ok; her vid deos hav hav a e been ave been wa watch atch tched e online ne m mo ore r th tha han n on one ne bil billio lion lio n time times.U s US Firs s.US Firs irstt Lady Lad a M helle Oba Mich am ma a beat bea at out u h hea eadss off sta sta st ate, te ch chief executiv tives ess and ce cele ebrit eb ritiies ies to ra rank ank nk as as the world’s mo most po pow ow we erfu rfull wom wom oma ma an in n Forbes mag gazi azine’ ne s annu ann nu ual lisstin tin ng. Oba Obama b ma m has has b be een a ‘true changege-m make er’ si s nce comin m g to th he e Wh White House, said For Forb bes, citing her h hiigh gh approval ra rat attin in ng gs, her status as a rro ole e mo mod od del and d her camp ca a aig gn aga ainst child childhoo h d obes obes b ity be ty. T women on the bu The busin ness maga aga gazzzin ine’s ’ss list were e ‘shaping ‘ g many of the agenda-se set ettitin ng converrsati attiions of the day’. Thes esse wom w men have built comp panies and brandss, some etim t es b non-traditio by t nal me eans ans and they have e broken throu ugh gender barrie ers in areas of commerc ce, politics,, sports and medi edia an nd culttural zei zeitgeist.T Thiss ye ear Forbes changed the h w it ranked wome way men n, basing the list le ess on wealth and dp po ower and more on creative influen enc ce and n en ntre repreneurship. p. Forb bes said dO Oba ba b ma top pped th t e list this year becausse “sshe e has made e the o offi fffice off fifirrs rst lady dy he her own” while re ema ma ain ining po opu p pular la . Mich Michell elle e is is also efffe fective: In n rre res esspon p se po s to herr Le Let’s t’s Mo Move! vve! e! ca campa mpaiign mpa ig gn ag aga ain nst childh hood obesitty, comp panies like e Coca a-C Cola ola l , Kell ellogg el ga an nd General Millss ha avve e ple edge dg ge ed to to re educe ce the th calorie co con on nten te ent of thei hei eiir foods by 2015 15 5. St Stev teve JJobs ob , CEO, obs EO O Apple e, outdoess himself wiith e popping, paradig eye-po gm-shift gm shiftin ing g pro pro odu d du ucts c that ct at refuels the brand’ss unst nstopp toppabl able ble line lin iine e of highbrow ga ad dge dg ge etry t . In n 201 010 0 10 0, it was the iP Pad from Applle that wa wass in n the news, selling g1 m n units wiithin million n a mont onth of onth of its its rel r eas re ease e and n furthe herr cinche ed App ple e’s ’s gri grip ip on the the h te tech market. Steven n Pau aul a ul JJo obs (b (bo bo orrn n Feb F ruary 24 24, 1955), well known fo or being the co-found der a chief and i exec cutivve offific cer of App Apple le, e, p previ reviou ou o uslyy served as chief exxecutive of Pixxar An us Anim mation Stu Studio dioss. He bec ec cam ame me a mem mem embe b of th ber the board of The e Walt Dissney Co ompany in 20 006, fo ollowing g the acquisittion of Pixa ixar by D Disn ssn ney. e JJo obs bs’’ hi b h sto s ry in busine ess ha has ass co ontr ntrib t ibu ibuted ted d much h to to th the syym mb bolic imag age ge eo off th the e id dio iiosyn sy cratic, individua alisttic c Silic con Vallley entrepren neur, e emphasis sing the im mpo ortan ta ance ce of des design ign na an nd und nde derst rsstan rst and a nding the cru ucial ro role le aessth le hetic tic icss play layy in pu publi b c appeal. Ever bl ery ryy yye ear, the mercurial head d of th he tech hnolog ogy giant come es up w some te with tec chnolo log giic gic cal al inn nnovation. Jo obs is list stted d as a ei eitther e h prima he ima ary inven ntor or co-inventor in ov ove ve er 23 230 awarded pa ate tte ents or patent applica cations re ela ated d to a range from actual computer and nd dp porta o able devic v es to userr in nterfa fa ace ess ((iin ncl nc cludiing tou ouc ch-based)), spea peakkers,, keyboa ards d , power adapterss, stairc rca ases, clasps, sle leeves, la anyard ardss and packages. Prince W William Wi and nd d Kate Ka Miiddle eton wi will marryy at Wes est stminste s er Abbe b y in London on n Aprill 29 and an the day w wilill be markked by a publ ubliic ic holiday. Pr Prince William m Arthu ur Philip Louis off Wales, KG, FRS KG, S (born bo 21 June ne 1982), is th the he elde elder er son so of Ch ha arrles, Princ nc ce of Wa Wales, an nd D Diana, Prin nces ess of Wales, W and nd dg gran rand nd dson so of Qu Queen Elizabetth II and d Prince Philip,, Duke of E nburg Edinbu rg gh. He iss sec gh seco ond nd in the lin line ne off suc su uccession, behind his fa ath th her e to th er, the thro hron nes of 16 16 in nde dep pend endentt st sta ates. ates. ate s Sin Since ce their ir relationship be ega an, Cat an ath heri erine rine Eli El zab beth ‘Kate’ M Middlet ton (bo orrn n 9 Jan Januar Januar uaryy 1982 1982 982)) ha has as rec ceived widesp prre ead med ea dia attenti di ntion. ion on The offic ffific ce of the Priin nce nc ce off Wales Wales at Cl Wa Clarence Cla are Ho House announced d the e mar ma ria riage i ge g woul would tak take place on A April 29 9, 201 11,, at Westm tminster Abbey. Spain n won w their firrst ever Football World d Cu up in July l be eati ating ting g The Nethe Netherlands l 10 0- and ended their drought ht of winning major tournaments. O Other than Eu Euro champion onships in 1964 and 200 08, the t y rarely have been in n conte ent ntition on in in oth other ther er com competitions. At le least the Netherlands made e two t World Cup final als and also got to o the semifin nals in 1998 1998 998.. Seco Secondn ranked Spain started d th heir Wo he orld Cu Cup in the wo orst way, losing g to Swititzer zerlan land in the group matche hess. But B t it wo w n every game affte ter that, including g a 10- vic ctory r ove verr powe owerfu rfull Germ Germ erm er many a that was far more ore e on o e-side one-s ided than han the score ha e indicated. d. No oo otther nation has won the Worl orlld Cup up aft ftter los losing osing g itits opener. r. In the final againsst H land Hol d, itt was Andre dre ress Inie Inie n est ssta a wh ho brok r e free in th he pena nalltyy area to t col ollle lec ec ct a passs from Cesc esc sc c Fa Fabre brrega gas and take a right-foo oo ote ted ed d sh shot ot from from eig igh ght ya ard rd ds just j t past p the outstretch hed a ms of Dutc arm u h go oa alke al k per M kee Ma aarten nS Ste teke kelenb burg urg rg. Th The he G Ge erm rman an-bo -born rrn n Be Ben nedi ed e d ct XV VI who o suc uc eeded ucceed eed ded e John Paul as the Cath ath holi olic Church’s hu 265t 5th h pope o on n Ap A ril 19, 2005, has been in n the he news fo for or hi hiss no onon n-confor orrmis mist vie iew ews thatt h ha avve e alie alien enate ted d tth the de evo vottee ees but brough ughtt che hee eerr am among g the so-called no onn-b -b belie elieve vers. In an intervie vvie ew c con on o nduct nd u ed by Peter Se Seewald titled, ‘Lig ghtt of o the t W Wo orl rrld d’, Po Pop pe Ben nedict XVI’s VI s a ann nno noun unc nc ced ed that co on nd dom use may be b the best choice in some e ci circ cum mst stances. This statem ment iss considered a wa atershed, b because e itit is th he e firs fi st time tim me e th t at a th the pub blic c he hea eal alth has as en nte tered ter e d the Cath holliic Canon.. And it is also o a departure e ffro rom the Cat atholi ol c position, repeat ated edlyy endo ndors rrsse sed earlier by Benedict, th hat, since its it only ly leg le egiti itimat tima m e purp purp pose iss pr pro oc ocr creat eatiion io on n within marriage, th here is no o pos possib s le rol ole e fo or cond condoms or other fo orms of arti r ficial con ntra traceptio on. Car Card din nal Josep eph Ratzinger, w was elec who cted te after the the d deat eatth of the ea he pop p pular and long-serving Pope e JJo ohn Paul aul II, an and nd took the na ame Benedict XV VI, is a bookish ssc cholar with a stron ng tth heolo ological bent, and e experts predicted ed that he wo ould n ou no ot inspir ot in re the same sort of public ado oration n as his predecesssor. But he remained d in the news nevertheless as Bened dic ct’ss papacy went from crisis to crisis. Benedi edict fac ac ced ed acc ac ccusations us s that he and n direct subordina ates offten did not alert civvilian authorities or disscipli plin ne priests involved in se exual abuse. In 2006, Benedict e enraged many Muslims, s w wh hen he he quoted a Byza Byzantine em emper pe or who ca alle ed Issla am ‘evil and inhu uman’. In n January ry 20 2009 9 he sp spa arrked outrage acrosss Europ pe when he revoked the e excommunication of sc chis hisma mattic ic bishops who had denied central ral elem elem ments of the Holocaust.. On 5 August 2010, a cavee-in n occurred at the San n José copper-gold mine in the A Atacama Desert nea ea ar Copi op pia ap Chile. The apó, ap e accid c en ent nt left 33 men trapped d 700 700 metres (2,300 ft) be elow ground. The mine ers survvivved undergroun und d fo or a rec cord d 69 days. All 33 were re escued and bro roug ugh ghtt to the he surface on 13 13 Octobe er 2010. The 69 dayss tth er hey ey sp pent e before the resscue iss the longest anyyone ha as been e trapp apped und dergro ound and lived. Their story o survival cap of ptu tur ured ed glo glo lob bal attention. Som ome e 1,5 1,5 500 jo 50 ou u urrnalists were at the mine to report on the rescue operation, which h wa was as bro oa adca cast live aroun nd the e world, including dramatic livve imag ges es of of th the he miners hugg ugging ing g re essc cuers w cu wh ho tra tra avele av eled down the sha haf ha afft to their refuge de eep in the mine. But the e mai a h ain he ero r for the Ch hilile ean ean a miners trapped half a mile underg erg gro rou ou und byy 700,00 ,000 000 tonn tonn onnes es of roc rockk, is Luiss Urz rzua, 54, 5 wh 54 who o was as the e ssh hift commander at the he tim ime of the dis disast aster er. Urzua U ua au ussed da alll his wits ts a an nd his is le leadership skills to help his m n remain men main calm calm for for the the 17 har harrow rowin ing ng g days it too oo ok for o rresscue cuers rs to o make ma e tthei heirr first first co onta tact ct. t Rescu scue ers h ers had foun fo d the men nm miirac r ulo ra ul usl usly ly aliv alive e with a bore hole the width of a g efrui grapef ruitit. It served d as a lifeli eline line to to pas pass hydration gel els, s, wat water er and nd food, fo as well as bibles les, lett letters ers from from th theiir the ir fam families and soccerr vide vide ideos to kee keep eep their spirits up.The total cost of th he rescue operation was estimated at $20mn a third covered by private donations with the rest coming from state-owned mining corporation Codelco and the government


No 125

December 2010

EDITORIAL Editor-in-Chief HH Sayyid Tarik Bin Shabib Group Editor Mayank Singh Assistant Editor Visvas Paul D Karra Sub Editor Muhammed Nafie DESIGN Senior Art Director Sandesh S. Rangnekar Art Director Minaal G. Pednekar Senior Designer M. Balagopalan Senior Photographer Rajesh Burman Photographers Sathyadas C. Narayanan Motasim Abdulla Al Balushi

NEW FOUND PRIORITIES

T

he year 2010 proved to be a stable year for Oman’s economy. During the first half of the year, revenues surged by over 30 per cent to reach RO4.2bn versus RO3.23bn recorded in the first half of 2009, thanks to higher output and a jump in oil prices. At the same time expenditure levels rose by 8.8 per cent to RO3.52bn, achieving a budget surplus of RO702.8mn.

The Political Stability Index (2009), published by the Economic Intelligence Unit, ranked the Sultanate No. 1 among the GCC and Arab countries and 17 among 165 other countries. Similarly, the Global Competitiveness Report 2008/2009 showed a remarkable improvement in the country’s classification as its ranking improved from 42nd to 38th among 134 countries.

Production Manager Govindaraj Ramesh

According to HE Ahmed bin Abdulnabi Macki, Minister of National Economy and Deputy Chairman of the Financial Affairs and Energy Resources Council, these reports indicate the stability and strength of the Omani economy. As part of the diversification strategy, the Al Duqm area is being developed as a modern administrative, industrial, trade and tourist centre. The first stage of the project includes a port, a dry dock, an airport, power and water desalination plants, roads, tourism utilities and infrastructure projects.

MARKETING Business Head Jacob George Senior Advertising Manager Avi Titus Advertising Manager Arif Abdul Assistant Advertising Manager Jinu Mathew Varghese

Moreover, the government plans to build a railway line. Muscat and Salalah airports are being upgraded, the construction of a new domestic airport is underway and infrastructure projects are being undertaken across the length and breadth of the country. These include the development of information communication technology (ICT) and tourism sectors.

Cover concept Sandesh S. Rangnekar

CORPORATE Chief Executive Sandeep Sehgal Executive Vice President Alpana Roy Vice President Ravi Raman Senior Business Support Executive Radha Kumar Business Support Executive Zuwaina Said Al-Rashdi Distribution United Media Services LLC OER Presentations

Published by United Press & Publishing LLC PO Box 3305, Ruwi, Postal Code - 112 Muscat, Sultanate of Oman Tel: (968) 24700896, Fax: (968) 24707939 Email: publish@umsoman.com Website: www.umsoman.com All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the publisher. The publisher does not accept responsibility for any loss occasioned to any person or organisation acting or refraining as a result of material in this publication. OER accepts no responsibility for advertising content.

The government is focussing on diversifying the economy and developing non-oil sectors, expanding the manufacturing base and promoting high value added products with an eye on exports. Priority has been accorded to attracting more foreign direct investment. The government has amended investment-related laws by allowing foreigners 100 per cent freehold rights and reducing the income tax from 30 per cent to 12 per cent. The 8th five-year development plan (2011-2015) focuses on accelerating the relative contribution of the non-oil sectors to the GDP and increasing skills and capabilities of Omanis. The plan also aims at turning the Sultanate into a digital society by developing ICT and implementing research and development strategies. It will enhance and strengthen industrial fields in different regions, develop small and medium enterprises (SMEs), maintain a strong economic framework by strengthening financial, monetary and economic institutions to face unexpected upheavals like the global financial crisis. As the Sultanate steps into the new decade with confidence, I would like to wish all our readers a very happy New Year.

Mayank Singh

Copyright © 2010 United Press & Publishing LLC Printed by Oman Printers Correspondence should be sent to: Oman Economic Review United Media Services PO Box 3305, Ruwi 112, Sultanate of Oman Fax: (968)24707939 Email: editor@oeronline.com Website: www.oeronline.com

OER -magazine

To read, click on link at: www.oeronline.com


PUBLICATION

UPP UNVEILS 2010 EDITION OF OMAN - A NATION ON THE MOVE

U

beginning of Renaissance and emergence of Oman as a developed nation – in addition to looking at the key features of Vision 2020. The book gives a special tribute to the prominent businessmen who responded positively to HM’s call of creating the modern Oman in 1970 and played their role as the nation builders with aplomb. It also features analyses by domain experts and messages from the senior ministry officials apart from showcasing the major achievements in prominent sectors including Manufacturing, Trade & Commerce, Oil & Gas, Banking & Finance, Insurance, Capital Market, Healthcare, Education, Power & Water, Telecom, IT, Retail, Agriculture, etc.

nited Press and Publishing (UPP) has released OMAN – A NATION ON THE MOVE 1970-2010, a bi-lingual annual publication that commemorates the 40th National Day of the Sultanate under the wise and visionary leadership of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said. The sixth edition of this exclusive book is dedicated to His Majesty’s vision to create a modern country with state-ofthe-art technology and infrastructure to take Oman further ahead on the road to prosperity. OMAN – A NATION ON THE MOVE 1970-2010 focuses on the economic and social development of the Sultanate in the last four decades. The most authentic and comprehensive economic report marked by unique content addresses how the policy of liberalisation and modernisation is paying rich dividends in the economic and social well-being and development of the Sultanate.

It presents the progress of the nation stage-by-stage – pre Renaissance era, dawn of the modern age with the

and expatriates have been living in peace and harmony. We salute our great leader for his wise leadership and the progressive path that he has chalked-out over the last four decades. Sathyaraj, Ruwi

GREAT TRANSFORMATION

ENLIGHTENING Your cover story “Oman at 40” was truly enlightening. The country has made tremendous progress under the wise leadership of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said. The economy has been growing steadily, infrastructure is comparable to developed countries, and Omani citizens 4

December 2010

OER’s National Day special cover story was a rich tribute to the phenomenal journey of the Sultanate from a traditional state isolated from the rest of the world before 40 years to a fastgrowing economic powerhouse. It was enlightening and highly informative to read a cross section of people comparing Oman before and after 1970. Akshay Singh, Al Khuwair

Write to us with your comments/feedback at: editor@oeronline.com

It gives details of how the far-sighted economic plans and policies have shaped the destiny of this nation to transform it into a vibrant nation, which values developmental goals on par with its rich tradition and cultural heritage.

CORRIGENDUM In the November 2010 issue of OER, the photo used with the article ‘NBO marks Omani Women’s Day’ (Billboard, page 95) was incorrect. We are reproducing the actual picture of the news item. The error is regretted. – Editor


INSIDE C O V E R

83

S T O R Y

INTERVIEW

Defining new paradigm

Dr Marilyn Atkinson, Founder and President of Erickson Coaching International, highlights the necessity of expanding key technologies for human development and leadership

90

28 People who mattered

BEYOND BOARDROOMS

Privileged leisure

Country Club India sees a lot of promises in Oman’s hospitality sector, says Varun Reddy, CEO of the company

34 Lasting Impact 40 It is all about money honey 42 International newsmakers 48 Quotable quotes 50 People who will be missed 52 Notable reads 56 No biz as show biz

91

66 Outstanding automobiles 74 Touchstones of excellence

ART & CULTURE

A fascinating ‘journey’

‘The Journey,’ a unique photo exhibition of HH Sayyid Tarik bin Shabib al Said

6

December 2010


INSIDE

10 78 84

ECONOMY WATCH

Capitalising on the downturn Some corporate banks are successfully shifting their focus from damage control to capitalising on the dynamics created by the downturn

CONSTRUCTION

Cost consultancy – a vital service Cost consultancy is an integral part of the construction industry and clients should take advantage of these services

ENVIRONMENT

Eco friendly alternative Khimji’s Mart’s ‘Fill Jute Bags…Not Plastic & Go green’ initiative could spread the concept of eco friendly bags

CARTOON CORNER By Kannan Murali

8

December 2010

22 80 85

EVENT

A grand success The fourth edition of the annual Al Mar’a Festival elicited a tremendous response with women being treated to a day of fun, frolic and high fashion

CLOSE UP

On a growth trajectory Qatar is emerging as an international player to be reckoned with, especially with regards to outward and inward investments into the future

GOLF UPDATE

The wait is over The 7th edition of OER CEO Golf will tee off at the Muscat Hills Golf & Country Club on February 3, 2011

24 82

PERISCOPE

Hard currency choice for Gulf investor The British pound, the Indian rupee and the Singapore dollar are strong currency picks for 2011

REAL ESTATE

On a sound footing Since Omani economy has grown steadily even after the financial crisis, there has been no “crash” in the real estate sector in the country

Editorial

2

Publication

4

Business Briefs

12

Executive Movements

18

In the News

20

Auto News

86

Billboard

88


NUMBERS Capitalising on the downturn According to Boston Consultancy Group’s Crisis as Opportunity: Global Corporate Banking 2010 report, although some corporate banks are still reeling from the global financial crisis, others are successfully shifting their focus from damage control to capitalising on the dynamics created by the downturn. The study also shows that between 2007 and the first half of 2010, corporate banking units in the GCC were ahead of their global counterparts in terms of revenue growth but compared less favourably when it came to growth in profits largely due to higher loan loss provisions.

BCG Performance Index 2010 – Corporate Banking Revenue 160

Index: 2007 = 100

140

156

155

135

130

139

132

132

136 127

125

124 120 100

100

Saudi Arabia 2007

UAE

2008

100

100

78

78

80 0

100

100

100

100

Bahrain

Oman

Kuwait

Qatar

GCC

2009

BCG Performance Index 2010 –Corporate Profit 140

Index: 2007 = 100 119

120 100

139 131

125

119 100

100

100

126

100

100

117 100 91

87 76

80

66 52

60 0

Saudi Arabia 2007

2008

UAE

Bahrain

Oman

Kuwait

GCC

2009 Source: BCG

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December 2010


Japan water treatment pilot plant launched OMAN CONSTRUCTION SUMMIT A strong lineup of speakers consisting of ministry officials, the top officials of leading companies and prominent industry professionals will be making presentations at the upcoming Oman Construction Summit, which will be held on Jan 30 – Feb 2, 2011 at the Grand Hyatt Muscat. The event organisers – Global Exhibitions & Conferences (GEC) and the US-based International Quality and Productivity Centre (IQPC) – recently announced the full list of speakers at what is shaping up to be the biggest-ever conference focusing on Oman’s construction industry.

JET STARTS 46 NEW FLIGHTS Jet Airways and Jet Airways Konnect has introduced 46 new flights across India as part of its winter schedule. In addition to the launch of new flights on existing sectors, the airline has introduced services on nine additional sectors across India, with immediate effect.

A BUMPER EID SEASON FOR OMAN MOBILE Oman Mobile has successfully managed a record breaking number of calls and SMS during the Eid Al Adha holidays and on the 40th National Day on November 18. The biggest growth has been in local voice calls that jumped by 20 per cent compared to Eid Al Adha last year. Meanwhile the number of SMS messages grew by 8.5 per cent. Thousands of customers took advantage of the special 40 per cent discount that the company offered to all of its mobile and fixed line customers when making calls on November 18.

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A produced water treatment pilot plant for Petroleum Development Oman (PDO), designed and built in Japan with the backing of Japan Cooperation Centre Petroleum (JCCP), in cooperation with Sultan Qaboos University (SQU), was officially launched at a ceremony under the auspices of HE Dr Mohammed bin Hamad al Rumhy, Minister of Oil and Gas. HE Seiji Morimoto, Japan’s Ambassador to Oman, HE Dr Ali al Bemani, vice chancellor of SQU and PDO Managing Director Raoul Restucci were present on the occasion. The pilot

plant, which was designed and manufactured in Japan, is a result of a long technical cooperation project between SQU and JCCP. The project was initiated to address

PDO’s produced water treatment challenges, and is being executed by the SQU College of Engineering and Shimizu Corporation Institute of Technology from Japan.

BankMuscat raises largest Omani fund BankMuscat has successfully raised the largest fixed income fund in the country. The RO105mn Oman Fixed Income (OMFI) Fund is the first-of-its-kind fund in Oman and offers subordinated financing to investee companies. OMFI has received a total investment commitment of RO105mn from local as well as regional investors, including coinvestment. With a seven-

year maturity, OMFI is a closed-ended fund listed on the third market of Muscat Securities Market (MSM). The

drawdown and distribution mechanism of the fund is akin to that of a private equity fund. The fund management board of OMFI comprises of Sulaiman bin Mohamed bin Hamed Al Yahyai (Chairman), Rashad Khamis Al Battashi (Vice Chariman), Salem bin Mohammed Al Mashaikhi, Hatham Mohammed Al Maskery, Sunder George, Ahmed Al Abri and K Gopakumar.

Lufthansa upgrades to daily services Lufthansa has increased its service from Muscat to Frankfurt from the current six flights to seven weekly. With this further enhancement of the flight schedule, travelers from Muscat will have a daily departure to Lufthansa’s Frankfurt gateway, with connections to some 200

destinations worldwide. With the offer of daily flights from Muscat to Frankfurt Lufthansa passengers benefit from even greater flexibility on their travels to Frankfurt and some 200 destinations world wide. With the daily late night flight LH619 travelers arrive at Frankfurt just in time for the early morning

departures to well over 100 European destinations. This allows Lufthansa customers to reach most European cities before 10am. Peter Pollak, Director of Lufthansa for Middle East and Pakistan says, “I am pleased to announce a further enhancement of our service from Muscat to Frankfurt.”


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NBO bags corporate governance award National Bank of Oman (NBO) was awarded the 2010 Distinguished Corporate Governance Award by the Institute of Corporate Governance (Hawkamah) and the Union of Arab Banks (UAB), for the third year in a row. Launched in 2007 by Hawkamah and UAB, the Regional Bank Corporate Governance Awards, seeks to identify and honour banks across the Middle East and North Africa that show leadership and initiative in enhancing good corporate governance. The award was presented at a ceremony held in Muscat. Salaam Said Al Shaksy, NBO’s CEO, received the award on behalf of the bank.

MTS LAUNCHES EITNS Majan Technical Services (MTS) has recently launched Enterprise Information Technology and Network Services (EITNS). MTS has extensive experience in executing fiber optic cabling, using single mode and multimode cables. MTS’s EITNS functional takes a new approach. It works from an IT Services Management methodology rather than simply changing out the technology or overlaying new tools and processes on existing architectures and staffing structures.

ICS’S IT TRAINING WORKSHOPS The Innovation and Support Centre (ISC) of the Information Technology Authority (ITA) continues to facilitate training workshops programmes for IT professionals of the ministries and government organisations. The programme is expected to benefit more than 400 civil servants up to the end of June 2011. It includes workshops on server operating systems, equipment management systems, automated correspondence systems, software protection and other miscellaneous systems.

JET POSTS HIGHEST ON TIME PERFORMANCE Jet Airways has announced its 12th straight month of an impressive jump in international passenger revenues with an over 18 per cent rise carrying 3.82 lakh passengers across the globe for the month of October 2010, versus 3.23 lakh in the same period last year, maintaining the top spot with a strong market share of 26.2 per cent and a record On Time Performance. The growth in international passenger traffic was due to the onset of the festive holiday season.

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Mustafa Sultan launches ‘SBI – NEFT’ Mustafa Sultan Exchange Co. launched the new electronic remittance service named ‘SBI NEFT’ developed by State Bank of India, enabling credit to customers’ accounts within 4 to 24 hours. The facility presently covers more than 70,000 branches of over 115 banks in India through the NEFT platform. The service is now available

at all 13 branches of the company spread across the Sultanate. ‘SBI NEFT’ is one of the best remittance packages that enable processing remittances with minimal manual intervention to ensure greater accuracy and speed. The confirmation of credit through SMS to both beneficiary as well as the remitter is the unique value

addition of the service being offered by Mustafa Sultan Exchange Company. The SMS confirmation is provided free of cost. Akber Mustafa Sultan, MD, Mustafa Sultan Enterprises inaugurated the formal launch of “SBI NEFT” in presence of Shabbir Mustafa Sultan, director, Minoo Saher, group CEO and Sudhir Naik, Group CFO.

Prosper launches ICF accredited programme Prosper Management Consultancy has launched the first International Coach Federation (ICF) accredited programme in the GCC region in affiliation with the leading global coaching academy Erickson International. A four-day comprehensive executive training workshop ‘The Art and Science of Coaching: Leadership through Coaching’ was delivered by Dr Marilyn Atkinson, Founder and President of Erickson Coaching International, at Shangri-La’s Barr al Jissah resort. Speaking at the inaugural session, Khalfan al-Esry, managing director,

Prosper, and Eyhab al-Hajj, commercial director, Prosper, stressed the necessity of capitalising on undiscovered talent and directing it towards personal development and national growth. The workshop aimed at helping executives develop and implement applied psychology

to positively impact their company’s bottom line. It was attended by delegates from Nawras, Omantel, PDO, Bank Muscat, National Bank of Oman, Public Authority for Social Insurance, Royal Court of Affairs, Sohar Aluminium, Oman Oil Marketing Company and Capital Market Authority.


Omran hands over Beach Games site Omran formally handed over the site of Muscat Asian Beach Games to the Muscat Asian Beach Games Organising Committee (MABGOC) at a ceremony held under the auspices of HE Sheikh Saif bin Mohammed al Shabibi, Minister of Housing recently. Started in June 2008, the project was completed in less than 900 days. Over 2,500 workers spent more than 12 million man hours – all without a lost-time accident – to finish the job. Based around Oman’s first marina hotel development, the project includes all facilities required for the Games, including pitches and arenas, grandstands, the marina, a Games Command Centre, an athletes’ village and a media centre.

Eng. Wael bin Ahmed al Lawati, CEO of Omran, described the project as a testament to the single-minded dedication of the Omran team and many partners in the project. “In less than 900 days, we have created a venue which will make all of Oman proud while hosting the Asian continent,” he says.

Oman Air launches ‘40 Young Ambassadors Programme’ Forty students from across the Sultanate have been selected to deliver forty messages of solidarity to leading academic institutions in Oman Air’s forty destinations across the globe as part of the national carrier’s hallmark National Day initiative. The unprecedented “40 Young Ambassadors Programme” was launched to celebrate the Sultanate’s forty years of progress and historic achievements under the reign and pioneering leadership of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said.

Oman Air, with the support and coordination of the Ministry of Education, selected the forty finalists from a pool of hundreds of candidates between the ages of 14 and 17 who were required to submit a creative writing essay on the Airline’s role in bolstering tourism and Oman’s social and economic transformation over the last four decades. Entries were assessed and evaluated based on proficiency in language, conceptualisation, quality and fluency of expression, ingenuity and originality.


Oman-L&T MFY dedicates Sohar facility to nation ABRAAJ CAPITAL, ENDEAVOUR FOR STRATEGIC ALLIANCE Abraaj Capital and Endeavor announced a strategic alliance to combine the expertise of the region’s largest private equity firm with Endeavor, a non-profit organisation that transforms emerging markets by establishing high-impact entrepreneurship as the leading force for economic development. The joint venture will include the founding of an Endeavor regional hub for the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia (MENASA) region, which will be hosted by Abraaj Capital and headquartered in Dubai.

CANON, EMAX FOR GREEN TECHNOLOGY Genetco, Canon Middle East’s authorised distributor in Oman, has launched the ‘Go Green’ campaign to mark the launch of its eco friendly range of calculators exclusively at Emax. The new range aimed at helping corporations and individuals reduce their environmental footprint reiterates Canon’s commitment to the environment.

WAVE PIONEERS HOSPITALITY SCHOLARSHIPS The Wave, Muscat has selected four outstanding students out of a pool of more than four hundred talented Omani high school graduates as part of the 40/40 Scholarship Fund in partnership with The British Scholarships for Oman (BSO) and the National Hospitality Institute (NHI). A tribute to the Sultanate’s 40th National Day, the initiative aims to build a legacy for world-class hospitality training and unmatched employment opportunities in Oman.

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L&T Modular Fabrication Yard (L&T MFY), a joint venture between Larsen & Toubro (L&T) and Zubair Corporation of Oman, has dedicated its state of the art fabrication facility to the Sultanate. The dedication ceremony to mark the Sultanate’s 40 National Day was attended by HE Ahmed bin Abdulnabi Macki,

Minister of National Economy, A.M. Naik, chairman and managing director of L&T, Rashad bin Mohammad al Zubair, chairman of Zubair Corporation and several other dignitaries. L&T MFY pledged to use its expertise and experience in the service of the economy and the people of Oman.

L&T MFY is a world class venture that sets regional benchmarks in terms of size, scale and sophistication. It is the first facility in Oman geared to build very large structures for the upstream oil & gas industry. It will build structures that have never been built before in the region.

NTS launches Huawei fashion phones National Telephone Services (NTS) has recently introduced the affordable yet fashionable mobile phones for the tech-savvy customers in the sultanate. Four high-powered Huawei mobile devices – U8110, U9120, G2200 and G6600 – were showcased to match the specific requirement of different segments of customers. Through its WiFi and Bluetooth facility, users can easily access the Internet and transmit data to each other. U9120 3G/3.5G has a 3.2 mega pixel camera, GPS and SD card with upto 8GB memory. The G2200 comes with FM and has a dust proof keypad, MP3 ring

tones and hands free speaker. The G6600 is ideal for social networking, and comes with a 2- mega pixel camera, FM, FM recording, MP3/MP4 player and supports external SD up to 16GB. A leader in providing nextgeneration telecommunications network solutions for operators around the world, Huawei has a presence in over 100 countries.. The launch was attended by James Wu,country manager, Oman; Rishi Bhalla, regional director, Huawei Device; Rajiv Dhar, executive director, Omzest and Khursheed Ashraf, general manager, Waleed Associates.


Osram-Traxon LED Road Show 2010 OIB HOLDS TRAINING COURSES Oman International Bank (OIB) in association with College of Banking and Financial Studies recently organised a training programme on retail credit risk management at the staff training centre in Ruwi. The event was attended by branch managers and customer service representatives from different operating branches in the country. A number of topics related to risk management in credit retails came up for discussion. The bank plans to hold several training courses for the development of the bank’s Omani employees. OIB runs seven centres for training its officers in Salalah, Ibra, Barka, Sohar, Nizwa, Sur and Buraimi in addition to a main training centre at Ruwi.

Al Hassan Electricals Lighting Division in association with OSRAM and Traxon presented the latest information and developments in LED lighting solutions at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. The event was attended by high profile lighting designers, architects, interior designers, consultants and representatives of media. The event in Muscat is part of OSRAM’s regional LED roadshow which is covering the most important business hubs in the Gulf Region including Riyadh, Doha, Kuwait, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Muscat. The event was attended by Hassan bin Ali Salman, chairman – Al Hassan Group, Maqbool Ali Salman, MD, Al Hassan Group and Eng. Talal Al

Park Inn Muscat has appointed Abdullah Al Dughaishi as the sales manager of its 175 room hotel. A young enthusiastic Omani armed with a Bachelor of Tourism degree from Sultan Qaboos University, Abdullah’s career in hospitality appears bright. Joining under the wing of experienced hotelier Fahad Al Wahaibi, director of sales and marketing, Abdullah is looking forward to learning the ropes and applying his skills to the job. “We are pleased to have acquired Abdullah for our sales team. He has a dynamic personality combined with a great background and most importantly the right attitude for the job,” says Francois Galoisy, general manager at the Park Inn. “Abdullah has a promising career ahead of him. The hospitality industry requires a combination of good people skills and commitment to the job at hand. It is encouraging to witness more and more of our fellow Omanis being hired at high opening levels within the industry,” reiterates Wahaibi. 18

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Assaad, CEO-Manufacturing & Trading SBUs, Al Hassan Group. Osram was led by Dr Billy Hartmut, LED Technical Expert from Germany, Tobias Metsch, sales director Middle

East, Patrick Kriegeskorte, marketing manager, Mohammed Mossad, Middle East technical manager and Oliveiro Rodrigues, Traxon technical manager.

Muriya Tourism Development has appointed Daniel Fanselow as general manager of its very own property ‘Sifawy Boutique Hotel’. Daniel who has studied hospitality management in the Netherlands began his career with Hyatt, spending four years at their landmark property in Egypt, Grand Hyatt Cairo. Most recently, Daniel worked in El Gouna, Orascom’s signature project on the Red Sea, managing one of the five marina hotels. “Daniel is a leader who will bring quality management skills that will enhance guest service in line with the high standards set by Orascom and Muriya hospitality,” says Tamer Shendidy, Muriya’s vice-president development and marketing. The construction of Sifawy, Oman’s first boutique hotel at Jebel Sifah designed as an intimate property offering personalised service to its guests, is nearing completion.


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IN THE NEWS

Beat Diabetes Walkathon evokes good response The Landmark Group’s initiative to raise awareness about diabetes attracted an overwhelming participation of people from all walks of life

A

strong crowd of 3,000 people assembled at Centrepoint Ruwi and participated in 2.1-km ‘Beat Diabetes Walkathon’, which was organised by the Landmark Group under the auspices of the Ministry of Health on November 12, 2010. Dr Jawad bin Ahmed al Lawati, Director, Prevention of NonCommunicable Diseases Department at the Ministry of Health, kicked off the walkathon by cutting the ribbon in the presence of Clive Freeman, Territory Head of Landmark Group, Dr Sulaiman al Sherqi, Dr Khulood Mufargi and a large number of participants.

physical activities; most of the people have cars and other modes of transport. There is very little involvement of physical work even at the workplace. Such events certainly play a role in developing awareness about keeping fit,” he adds. Many participants received free blood sugar and blood pressure tests at the venue. To highlight the importance of fitness in fighting diabetes, a fun filled fitness demonstration was conducted prior to the walk. To add to the excitement drummers were stationed along the route to cheer the walking crowd.

Commenting on the importance of the walkathon, Al Lawati says, “I am impressed with the crowd. It shows that more and more people are aware of the problem. The walkathon is successful in sending the message that with some lifestyle changes the menace of diabetes can be defeated. I thank the organisers for coming up with a wonderful idea and developing awareness about the disease.”

As per Kims Oman Hospital, which had put up sugar check-up stalls, about 2,500 people went through sugar and blood pressure check-ups. The doctors found three per cent cases in the higher range mainly among senior citizens and the 40 plus age group. The participants started turning up from 7 am and in no time the venue had a carnival look with people wearing blue T-shirt and caps and kids holding balloons with their faces painted with blue and white colour.

“Our lifestyle gives very little scope for

Freeman of Landmark Group thanked

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the people of Oman for making the event a grand success. “I am confident that this campaign will grow much larger in the coming years as we plan to make ‘Beat Diabetes Walkathon’ an annual event in Oman’s calendar”. He also appreciated the guidance and support provided by the Ministry of Health, Royal Oman Police, Muscat Municipality and the sponsors.

Celebrity show The walk saw celebrity Ekta Chowdhry, winner of Femina Miss India Universe 2009, taking to the streets along with achievers from Oman like Saleh al Jabri, captain of Jewel of Muscat, Hiba al Rahbi from Royal Cavalry, Nizar al Shanfari, rally driver and Sara al Balushi, rising tennis star of Oman, pledging their support for spreading awareness about diabetes. Says Chowdhry, “My mother suffers from diabetes and I know as to how deadly a disease like this can be. It is important to spread awareness about Diabetes and if someone can make a video of today’s event and put it on YouTube, it would really help.”


EVENT

A grand success The fourth edition of the annual Al Mar’a Festival elicited a tremendous response with women being treated to a day of fun, frolic and high fashion

T

The Al Mar’a Festival 2010 was daringly different this year as it was held only for one day. The Souq area allowed visitors to see the various stalls exhibiting stuff ranging from accessories, skincare products, handicrafts, jewellery, etc.

The event was graced by many wellknown dignitaries and attracted the ‘who’s who’ of Muscat. The guest of honour was HH Sayyidah Hujaija bint Jaifer bin Saif Al Said.

What made this year’s Al Mar’a Festival special was the Al Mar’a Design Dreams contest. The response to the competition was overwhelming with over 107 women submitting their creative sketches, out of which six finalists were chosen. The designs of the six finalists were presented at a special fashion show choreographed

he Al Mar’a Festival 2010 was a day for women to enjoy themselves and feel truly special. Conceptualised for the woman of today, the Festival held at Al Bustan Palace InterContinental Muscat brought women from all walks of life together, at one venue, in a spirit of fun and camaraderie.

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by Karen Green. The final two winners were Shifaa Al Siyabiyah for the best abaya and Amnah Al Habsiyah for the best jalabiya. Another highlight of the evening was a scintillating fashion show that showcased the latest collections of eminent designers who were invited specially for the Al Mar’a Festival. Top models from Dubai walked the ramp to a lot of applause and cheers from the audience. The event had a number of sponsors associated with it like BankMuscat, Max Factor, Café Barbera, Times of Oman and Al Shabiba.


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BY MATEIN KHALID

Hard currency choice for Gulf investor The British pound, the Indian rupee and the Singapore dollar are strong currency picks for 2011

The author is a renowned investment banker based in Dubai

T

he G-20 conclave in Seoul, to put it bluntly, was a failure. It is imperative that investors in the GCC protect their wealth by investing in currencies that have the potential to move higher in 2011. The Euro can no longer play the role of a liquid, anti-dollar reserve currency because the Irish, Greek and Portuguese sovereign debt crisis could well end up in a restructuring that will shred the credibility of the ECB and the EU. My ‘strong currency’ picks for 2011 are the British pound, the Indian rupee and the Singapore dollar. Why? Sterling’s value in the currency markets is determined by two divergent macro forces. While it is cheap on purchasing power criteria to the Euro, Chancellor Osborne’s most draconian austerity budget since the Thatcher era at a time when the Bank of England’s near zero base rate guarantees easy money is not exactly a formula for a stronger pound. However, it is now clear that Governor King and his merry knights on the central bank’s Monetary Policy Council (MPC) have grossly underestimated

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TRENDS „ Sterling is expected to rise to 1.85 against the dollar next year while Euro-sterling may fall to as low as 0.78 „ Singapore dollar can rise to 1.20 against the US dollar in 2011 „ A rising rupee may possibly rise to as high as 42 against the US dollar both economic growth and inflation, which is at least a full point above the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street’s 2 per cent target. UK economic growth could well surprise on the upside in 2011, to as high as 2.5 per cent, as the latest UK services PMI suggests to VAT, the spiral in food and energy prices, higher priced High Street goods and the epic sterling devaluation of 2008, which even exceeded the free fall after the Black Wednesday – ERM crisis in September 1992. This means an expansion of the Bank of England’s existing 200bn pound quant easing programming is unthinkable.

In fact, I strongly believe that the Bank of England will be the first major Western central bank to begin hiking its 0.5 per cent base rate, possibly as early as in summer 2011, even though governor King is reluctant to tighten prematurely given the magnitude of government spending cuts. A major sterling move against the Euro is inevitable as UK growth eclipses Eurozone growth while the risk of a Irish, Portuguese and Greek sovereign debt restructuring where private investors take a painful cash haircut is inevitable. In any case, I see a rise in sterling to 1.85 against the dollar next year and a fall in Euro-sterling from the current 0.85 to as low as 0.78. LOOK EAST Asian currencies have appreciated strongly in 2010, thanks to the Fed’s money printing spree, strong capital flows from the West, persistent trade surpluses and increasingly hawkish local central banks who must now combat a resurgence of inflation. Take India, for instance. Sensex 20,000 has attracted as a magnet for 1.2 trillion rupees


PERISCOPE

in offshore hot money, a tidal wave of foreign speculative capital that has never been seen in the history of South Asia. A positive monsoon, robust consumption/ industrial production and strong bank credit growth all suggest that Indian GDP growth will hover at the 8.5 per cent level in 2011. This means wholesale inflation will continue to rise, particularly since the world commodity markets are white hot and crude oil has flirted near $90. It is now inevitable that wholesale price inflation could rise to as high as 12 per cent next year and governor D Subbarao will have no choice but to accelerate the pace

of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) monetary tightening in order to preempt a 1970 style inflation spiral. I would not be surprised to see the RBI tighten policy rates by 100 basis points by summer 2011 after a pause in December. This tightening will coincide with a reduction in the fiscal deficit as tax collections, 3G auction windfalls and the Congress’s divestment programme gaining traction. So while risk aversion in markets can weaken the Indian rupee temporarily as FII inflows reverse, I doubt if it will weaken much below 46. The central theme for 2011 is a rising rupee, possibly to as high as 42 against the US dollar.

SINGAPORE STORY Singapore’s GDP growth rate has been a phenomenal 15 per cent, the highest since the Lion City achieved independence from the Malayan Federation in August 1965. Singapore’s high tech electronics exports, role as the private banking hub of Southeast Asia, the phenomenal success of the two new casinos and stellar financial magnet have made the Singapore dollar the ideal safe haven currency for Asia’s multitude of affluent investors. The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has made it clear that it favours a higher Singapore dollar to combat a rise in domestic inflation and to act as a proxy for a rising Chinese yuan.

The MAS wants to hedge the inflation risk Singapore faces due to the Federal Reserve’s ultra-loose monetary policies with a wider, higher trading band for the Singapore dollar. Singapore will also attract huge FDI now that it has signed Free Trade Agreements with China and ASEAN. Like the Swiss franc in the 1980s, the Singapore dollar is all set to become the world’s safe haven currency at a time when the Big Three central banks (Fed, ECB, Bank of Japan) are all determined to manipulate their currencies. I believe the Singapore dollar can rise to as high as 1.20 against the dollar in 2011 from the current 1.29 rate.


NEWSMAKERS

PEOPLE WHO MATTERED Public-private partnership has been acknowledged as the way forward for the country. As with any achievement or success, it is the leaders of organisations who successfuly lead from the front. We have drawn up a list of 10 business leaders who have been in the news*

Dr Amer Al Rawas CEO, Omantel Omantel and Oman Mobile, which operated as two separate entities for fixed and mobile services respectively were merged to operate as a unified structure. The new operating model brought both company brands under a single umbrella without losing the brand equity of either Omantel or Oman Mobile. Omantel CEO Dr Amer Al Rawas, said the new tagline “Together”, is not just a visual symbol, it illustrates the wider change within the company. This signals our entry into a new era. The new stage will focus on improving customer experience. Omantel also introduced a slew of packages to Mada post-paid service as well its Hayyak pre-paid service. The Hayyak off-peak rates have been lowered from 45 to 39 bzs a minute and it announced the introduction of a new daily off-peak time between 8 pm and 6 am. Dr Amer said: “Omantel will represent our corporate identity as well as our fixed business. We will maintain Oman Mobile as the product brand for our mobile portfolio. These will complement each other while working more closely.” * The list is in alphabetical order

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Ahmed Essa Al Zedjali CEO, Muscat Press and Publishing House In a fast changing world where developments occur rapidly making every new technology obsolete in days, change is unavoidable and a rudimentary necessity, especially in the print media. Recognising this trend, Ahmed Essa Al Zedjali, CEO, Muscat Press and Publishing House, embarked upon changing the face of the two dailies published by the company – Times of Oman and Al Shabiba. Today, both the newspapers have a stunning new look with a complete facelift both in terms of design and editorial; size of the papers; as well as contemporary masthead logos. The new size followed by Times of Oman and Al Shabiba is used by most wellknown dailies like USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Times of India etc. Ahmed has also been responsible for technological innovations like introducing WAP newspaper as well iPad version of the dailies.

Dr Brian Buckley GM & CEO, Oman LNG Activities are underway for celebrating Oman LNG’s 10 years of operations in the Sultanate and partnership with the government to achieve His Majesty’s 2020 goals of sustainable economic growth and diversification. Dr Brian Buckley, GM & CEO believes that gas has been the game-changer of the last decade for Oman as gas has become the largest single revenue generator for Oman after oil and the greatest catalyst for the diversification of Oman’s economic base. Oman LNG stands as a major contributor to the Sultanate’s revenue stream and has attracted many laurels within only a decade as an active player in the global LNG industry. In 2002, only two years into operations, the company achieved its first nine million manhours without Lost Time Injury (LTI). At present the company contributes around 10 per cent to Oman’s GDP.

Jamal T Aziz CEO, Freezone Sohar Freezone Sohar (FzS), an ambitious free zone venture taking shape alongside the Port of Sohar, has been attracting the eyes of international investors. Authorities have drawn up investor-friendly regulatory policies and a range of fiscal incentives under a freezone law to be promulgated soon. Freezone Sohar is being developed by Sohar International Development Company (SIDC), a 50:50 joint venture between the Government of Oman and Port of Rotterdam, and SKIL Infrastructure Limited of India. Freezone Sohar, says Aziz, has an enormous investment appeal given its proximity to a world-class port; the planned establishment of an international airport and rail network, and other transport infrastructure in the Batinah region. The freezone aims to attract downstream investments that add value to base industries, chiefly petrochemicals and metals, currently in operation at the Sohar Port. December 2010 29


NEWSMAKERS John Malcolm Former General Manager, PDO John Malcolm, former managing director of Petroleum Development Oman (PDO), in September, was conferred “Oman Civil Order” Third Class by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said in appreciation of his good efforts in promoting the Omani oil sector. Malcolm had spearheaded the 60 per cent government owned PDO since November 2002 with his single point agenda being to enhance the oil production of the company. For a country which relies heavily on oil production to generate its national income, Malcolm’s role was to find ways and means to reverse the falling oil production of the company. He led a three-pronged EOR effort using thermal, chemical (mainly polymer injection) and miscible gas. Malcolm said the share of PDO’s liquids produced by EOR will rise to 36 per cent in 2018 from 3 per cent in 2008.

Kris Babicci CEO, Bank Dhofar BankDhofar, has racked up several awards in its remarkable journey to the top of the banking sector. Taking top honours in prestigious awards, surveys and rankings, emerging as the ‘Best Bank of Oman’ across several stringent parameters in the first six months of 2010. The bank was ranked as the Top bank of the Sultanate by Oman Economic Review, Best Bank in Oman by Euromoney and the top performing company in Oman by Alam Aliktisaad Wala’mal. In a rare distinction, this year, BankDhofar, debuted in the prestigious ‘The Banker — Top 1,000 World Bank Rankings’ for 2010; rankings for which are the benchmark bank rankings for the world’s financial community. The bank has been recognised as one exceptional performance in a difficult year. This year the bank stood at no 764th worldwide. Kris Babicci, CEO, BankDhofar, says these awards are a recognition of the hard work that his team has put in.

Peter Hill CEO, Oman Air Oman Air celebrated the first anniversary of the launch of its fleet of Airbus A330 aircraft at this year’s World Travel Market (WTM) in London. The airline is also marking the success of the first six months of its pioneering inflight mobile phone and wi-fi connectivity package. The national carrier of the Sultanate of Oman has been making a powerful impression in the last few years. The most recent highlight was the launch of the 40th destination of Oman Air to Kathmandu. Peter Hill, CEO of Oman Air, says, that despite extremely challenging economic conditions, over the last year Oman Air has continued to increase the number of passengers carried, including a rise of over 200 per cent on its daily direct Muscat to London route. Hill has been instrumental in acquisition of new aircrafts, introduction of new routes as well as fleet and route optimisation. 30

December 2010


NEWSMAKERS Qais bin Mohammed Al Yousef Chairman, Voltamp Energy Voltamp Energy is setting up one of the biggest transformers manufacturing companies in the region at Sohar. The unit is expected to commence production in the first quarter of 2011. The manufacturing unit will produce large transformers up to 315 mVA in 132 KV class in technical collaboration with Tatung of Taiwan. The unit will have a capacity of 4,500 mVA per year. The construction of the plant has been underway since April 2010 and it has been going on in full swing. It is likely to be completed in record time of just nine months. “With improvement in global economic situation and increase in commodity prices, it is expected that the unit prices will also rise. The new power transformer factory at Sohar is expected to commence production in first quarter of 2011,” says Qais.

Rashad Al Zubair Chairman, The Zubair Corporation When HE Mohammad Al Zubair, Advisor to His Majesty The Sultan for Economic Planning Affairs, founder of The Zubair Corporation, announced organisational changes, it came as no surprise that Rashad Al Zubair, the son of HE Zubair was named a the Chairman of the organisation. The Zubair Corporation was formed in 1967 under the name Muscat Trading Company. Rashad is the current Chairman of Oman Arab Bank and has been the Deputy Chairman of Ominvest since 1996. “We are proud as the next generation of the Zubair family to assume the mantle of leadership in a nation that continues to mature as a vibrant economy. The Zubair Corporation will continue to play its role in the economic, social and cultural development of Oman into the future,” says Rashad.

Sheikh Saad Suhail Bahwan Chairman, OTE Group Hyundai car sales in the Sultanate recorded an impressive 57 per cent increase till September 2010 compared to the corresponding period of 2009 and OTE has considerably contributed to the Hyundai Motor Corporation’s achievement under the leadership of Sheikh Saad Suhail Bahwan. Hyundai’s global success can be attributed to the emphasis on improving product quality, he said. In a short span of time, Hyundai has become the auto industry’s quality leader. “Thanks to the exceptional support from Hyundai Motor Company and in particular, the Middle East Headquarters under the leadership of BT Shin, I would like to say that Hyundai in Oman has had huge increase in sales this year and has recorded one of the largest market share growths in the country,” says Sheikh Saad. 32

December 2010


“THE POWER OF FOCUS� Over 25 years of hard work, Al Madina focused on providing innovative high quality solutions to all clients in various business sectors. This long experience enabled Al Madina to implement a range of leading IT projects and various applications in the areas of Internet banking, Telecommunications, e-Commerce and e-Government. In addition, Al Madina is proud of having a Specialized Printing Press that is unique in the region to manufacture various banking and government security documents such as banking cards and cheques, electronic passports, identity cards and visas.

AL MADINA DEVELOPMENT & SUPPLY L.L.C.

P.O. Box 1181, Postal Code 112 Ruwi, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman Tel: (+968) 24602771 y Fax: (+968) 24603243 e-mail: almadina@almadinagroup.net y website: www.almadinagroup.net


BUSINESS DECISIONS

LASTING IMPACT

The year saw several royal decrees, policy measures and private sector moves. A look at some of the major initiatives CENSUS 2010

Database for development According to HE Shaikh Said bin Muhammad Al Shabibi, Minister of Housing, the census is the main information database from which development plans in the Sultanate emerge. The census serves the economic, social, health and educational aspects to mention only a few in the light of the insights it provides on population, houses, and establishments as well as the various other characteristics. In this regard the 2010 Census of Population, Housing, and Establishments will be the best assistance to realise the above mentioned objectives. Knowing the size of the population in any country and its distribution as citizens and expatriates is extremely important. Disaggregated and quality data for the population size, structure and distribution is needed for planning and implementing socio-economic development or any administrative activity or scientific research. In December 1993, The Government of the Sultanate of Oman carried out the first general census of population, housing and establishments.

MEGA POWER PLANTS

Energising the nation The demand for electricity in the Sultanate of Oman is expected to increase at a rate of around eight per cent a year due to its expanding economy in the next five to 10 years. The demand is being fuelled by not only population growth but also by huge 34

December 2010

MUSCAT AND SALALAH AIRPORTS DEVELOPMENT

Spurring economic growth Contracts worth more than $2bn have been awarded this year by the Oman government to upgrade the country’s two main airports – Muscat and Salalah – in a bid to cater to the burgeoning air traffic in the country. The upgradation works for the two airports are besides the five new airports at Sohar, Ras Al Hadd, Duqm, Adam and Shaleem. The much-awaited RO294mn-Salalah airport expansion project was bagged by a consortium led by India’s engineering conglomerate Larsen & Toubro (L&T). The local partner in the consortium is Galfar Engineering and Contracting Company. The scope of work for Salalah airport include design and building of a new terminal, a 4 km-long runway, air traffic control tower, new fuel farm and fuel network, new rescue and fire fighting station, new aircraft parking hangar, air side works and other facilities. The airport will be able to handle one million passengers per year after the expansion. This can be scaled up to two million. The RO706mn contract for building the Muscat airport passenger terminal building

was bagged by a consortium of USbased Bechtel, Bahwan Engineering Company and Turkey’s INCA. The airport terminal, which will be completed within 38 months, will be designed to handle 12 million passengers annually. The airport is designed in such a way to scale up the terminal passenger handling capacity to 24 million at a later stage. The Muscat International Airport, which is designed to accommodate large Airbus 380 planes, will have 29 aircraft contact stands and 10 to 30 remote parking stands, depending on phasing options. Once operational, the airport will also have 60 departure check-in counters for economy class and another 24 counters for passengers of other class, which is in addition to several kiosks for easy checkin. The departure section will also have 29 boarding gates for different destinations, and another 15 boarding gates for remote aircraft stands.


investments in tourism, industrial and real estate projects. Projections made by Oman Power and Water Procurement Company (OPWP), which oversees procurement of new power and related water capacity, envisions a requirement of between 2,900 MW and 4,100 MW of additional power generation resources within the Main Interconnected System (MIS) of Oman. An estimated half a million customers are served by the MIS, in areas encompassing the Governorates of Muscat and Buraimi, most of South Batinah, Dakhiliyah, Sharqiyah, North Batinah and Dhahirah regions. The aggressive development of the power sector is being marked by investments in truly world-scale greenfield power generation projects. OPWP awarded mandates to a consortium led by France’s GDF Suez Group for the development of a pair of Independent Power Projects (IPPs) at Barka and Sohar. Barka 3 and Sohar 2, as the IPPs are called, with a total investment of around $1.7bn for both projects. In Salalah, the foundation stone for a RO385mn power and water desalination plant in Al Shur plain in the wilayat of Mirbat, was laid. The Salalah IWPP will consist of a gas-fired power plant which will have a net capacity of 445 megawatts and a seawater desalination plant which will employ reverse osmosis technology to produce 15 million imperial gallons per day of water.

MASIRAH BRIDGE

A link to the mainstream A 35-km long bridge connecting Masirah island to the mainland has been envisaged by the ministry of finance, under the royal directive of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said. Once it is ready in 2013, the Masirah bridge will boost trade and tourism to the isle. The Masirah Island, located off the

NEW BANK

Increasing competition Oman’s banking regulatory authority, The Central Bank of Oman (CBO), gave the nod for setting up Al Izz International Bank, a commercial bank. Al Izz International Bank will be the seventh locally incorporated bank after BankMuscat, the National Bank of Oman, Bank Dhofar, Bank Sohar, Oman International Bank, Oman Arab Bank and Ahlibank. The decision, to give the green signal to new bank was taken at a meeting of the CBO Board of Governors, which met under the chairmanship of Dr Ali Bin Mohammad Bin Mousa, deputy chairman of the CBO Board of Governors and chairman of the Tender Board. Al Izz International Bank plans to launch an initial public offering (IPO) in the third-quarter of 2011. The new financial institution will have a capital of RO100mn and expects to begin operations after an IPO issue, which will raise 40 per cent of the capital while the rest will come from the promoters of the bank. The minimum capital required for a new bank, as per

southeast coast of Oman in the Arabian Sea, has a base of Royal Oman Air Force, is sparsely populated, and would have remained a recluse had it not been for the government which undertook a drive to popularise the tourist attractions of the island, namely the turtle nesting areas as well as other flora and fauna. But the only way for citizens and tourists to and from the island was an hour long ride in the ferry boat which used to be rendered useless during natural calamities like cyclones. Masirah has a population of around 12,000, about 20 per cent of them are expatriates employed by the air force and civil work contractors, according to Manpower Ministry statistics.

CBO regulations, is RO100mn, while the minimum capital requirement of new branches of foreign banks is RO20mn. Meanwhile, a second proposal for establishing yet another bank, the Nizwa Bank is awaiting the nod from CBO.

Despite having white sandy beaches, clear water for snorkelling and being home to rare turtles, the number of tourists visiting the island is about two to three thousand a year, out of a million tourists Oman receives a year. All that will change once the bridge is laid.

TRAFFIC SAFETY SYMPOSIUM

Reining in the scourge His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said approved a 20-point recommendation mooted by the Traffic Safety Symposium (TSS) held under the theme ‘Yes to Limiting Traffic Accidents’ with an order for immediately implementing them. December 2010 35


BUSINESS DECISIONS PLANTING OF 100,000 COCONUT TREES

Sustainable food security Following closely on the heels of a royal directive to plant one million date palms in 2009, His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said, issued a fresh order to grow 100,000 coconut trees in the southern Dhofar governorate. The Royal Orders to plant the coconut trees come within the framework of the Royal attention of His Majesty to the agricultural sector in the Sultanate and care for it all over the country, stated Sayyid Ali bin Hamoud Al Busaidi, minister of the Diwan of Royal Court. Shaikh Salim bin Hilal al Khalili, Minister of Agriculture, also expressed his gratitude for the Royal grant issued by His Majesty to plant the 100,000 coconut trees. The Royal orders embody His Majesty’s wisdom and farsighted vision to develop the agriculture sector and benefit from the Sultanate’s climatic diversity. The aim is to reach a balanced agricultural development that covers all regions of the Sultanate and is a means of achieving food security for the people of Oman. A landmark symposium on ‘Sustainable development of agricultural sector’ was held in 2009 at the Royal Camp at Saih Al Masarat in Ibri to discuss agricultural issues. During this visit, His Majesty the Sultan issued Royal Directives to plant one million date palm trees in view of the fact that these trees had been the backbone of food security in Oman alongside other plantations, animal wealth and fisheries, which are among the great wealth resources for the country.

Lt Gen Malik bin Sulaiman al Maamari, Inspector General of Police and Customs, affirmed that all respective government departments will implement these recommendations and soon there will be a number of procedures to activate them. Among the new initiatives, October 18 was agreed upon as annual Traffic Safety Day. Additionally, the setting up of a national centre for road traffic statistics and information were agreed upon.

orchestrating harmonious functioning of all departments and organisations, both governmental and non-governmental.

OMAN TRADE & INVESTMENT FORUM, UK

Highlighting opportunities

The 20 recommendations made by the Traffic Safety Symposium came after five days of brainstorming sessions in which national and international experts participated to find solutions to limit traffic accidents in the Sultanate. The 20-point strategy is to fight the scourge bedeviling the country in the form of alarming number of road accidents, maiming and killing citizens. His Majesty had last year termed road accidents as a tax on the public.

Over 300 delegates, including around 60 senior Omani government and business executives, attended the Oman Trade & Investment Forum which was held at London’s prestigious Mansion House on the occasion of the 40th National Day of Oman. The Omani delegation was led by HE Maqbool bin Ali Sultan, Minister of Commerce and Industry and Chairman of OCIPED, and included HE Khalil Abdullah al Khonji, Chairman of Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI), and Dr Salem ben Nasser al Ismaily, CEO, OCIPED.

The National Committee for Road Safety, the apex body for overseeing the 10-year plan from 2011 to 2020, has an onerous task on its head in setting targets, prioritising focus areas and

UK has the largest number of investments in the Sultanate of Oman and it was only imperative that more British private sector investment in the country takes place to sustain the

36

December 2010

strategic relationship between the two countries. The UK is a strong trading partner for Oman with bilateral trade being worth over £450m last year . In the first Quarter of 2010 exports had increased by a further 40 per cent. HE Maqbool encouraged British companies to look at Oman as a strategic location using it as a hub for trade with other Middle Eastern countries, East Africa and further afield, benefiting from Oman’s political and economic stability, its excellent relations with neighbouring countries and its friendly and flexible laws which welcome foreign investments. The forum examined business opportunities for partnership in key areas including project finance; financial and legal services; power, water and renewable energy; Salalah and Sohar Free Trade Zones; education and skills development; and tourism and hospitality. The forum also provided a framework to discuss partnership opportunities between Oman and the UK, building on the existing strong bilateral relations and to establish new business ties to raise the profile of Oman in the UK.


BUSINESS DECISIONS THE PUBLIC AUTHORITY FOR RADIO AND TELEVISION

Transforming the media The establishment of The Public Authority for Radio and Television by Royal Decree No 108/2010 in October is a major landmark for the media sector in Oman. The authority will have its juristic personality, public authorities, financial and administrative independence. The Authority, according to the royal decree, shall have the authority to manage its funds and take actions towards them. It shall be under the supervision of the Information Minister and shall carry out its activities as per the commercial rules. The Authority shall be based in Muscat Governorate and it may establish branches inside the Sultanate and foreign offices as well, as per the dictates of public interest and according to a decision by its board of directors. The royal decree will give a boost to the broadcasting sector, as it is expected to come out with more programmes on education, science, sports, light entertainment and general knowledge. The electronic and print media in the Sultanate have played a pivotal role in reflecting the development and progress of the Sultanate. During the year, the first privately owned FM station in the Sultanate heralded a new era in broadcasting, bringing to an end more than three decades of dominance by the state-owned electronic media. Hala 102.7 FM, the first privately owned FM station in the Sultanate, was pioneered by the OHI Group, a leading Omani business house. Sabco Media launched its Al Wisal Arabic FM radio channel, with the motto ‘talk less, play more (music)’.

38

December 2010

NAWRAS IPO

Big achievement in short span Nawras, which broke the monopoly of state-controlled Omantel in 2006, put up 260 million shares priced between 702 to 902 baisas in Oman’s first IPO sale through a book building process. Nawras, is now trading on the Muscat Securities Market (MSM) under the ticker symbol, ‘nwrs’. Following the IPO, 40 per cent of the shares are in free float with the Qtel subsidiary retaining 55 per cent of the company and 5 per cent held by the original Omani pension funds. Nawras grew rapidly to serve nearly two million customers, and counting, representing 45 per cent of the Omani mobile market at the end of June 2010. Retail and institutional investors were be able to participate in the offering, which was the first IPO of 2010 in Oman and the first since the Sohar Power Company IPO in July 2008. The Nawras IPO, raised a total of RO182mn. Based on the listing price of 702 bzs the initial market capitalisation of Nawras was RO456mn, positioning Nawras amongst top five Omani companies by market capitalisation. Omani Qatari Telecommunications Company SAOG was founded and registered in the Sultanate of Oman in December 2004. It launched its service in March 2005 as the second mobile operator in Oman operating under the name “Nawras” and by June 2010 was serving nearly two million customers across the Sultanate. In 2009, Nawras was awarded the second fixed licence in Oman and it launched its service in mid-2010.


RICHEST PEOPLE

IT IS ALL ABOUT MONEY HONEY A list of the Top 10 wealth creators across the globe Age

Net Worth ($bn)

Mexico

70

53.5

Mexico

WILLIAM GATES III

United States

54

53.0

United States

3

WARREN BUFFETT

United States

79

47.0

United States

4

MUKESH AMBANI

India

52

29.0

India

5

LAKSHMI MITTAL

India

59

28.7

United Kingdom

6

LAWRENCE ELLISON

United States

65

28.0

United States

7

BERNARD ARNAULT

France

61

27.5

France

8

EIKE BATISTA

Brazil

53

27.0

Brazil

9

AMANCIO ORTEGA

Spain

74

25.0

Spain

10

KARL ALBRECHT

Germany

90

23.5

Germany

Rank

Name

1

CARLOS SLIM HELU & FAMILY

2

Citizenship

Residence

CARLOS SLIM HELU

WILLIAM GATES III

WARREN BUFFETT

MUKESH AMBANI

LAKSHMI MITTAL

LAWRENCE ELLISON

BERNARD ARNAULT

EIKE BATISTA

AMANCIO ORTEGA

KARL ALBRECHT

40

December 2010


PERSONALITIES

INTERNATIONAL NEWSMAKERS From democracy advocates to techonological proponents and lifestyle gurus, the world has seen numerous people coming into the limelight victory in an election the junta later nullified, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Aung Suu Kyi for being released from detention Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s prodemocracy leader and Nobel Peace laureate, has come to symbolise the struggle of Myanmar’s people to be free. She has spent more than 15 years in detention, most of it under house arrest and was released from her current third period of detention in November. Like the South African leader Nelson Mandela, Aung San Suu Kyi has become an international symbol of peaceful resistance in the face of oppression. The 65-year-old has spent most of the last 20 years in some form of detention because of her efforts to bring democracy to military-ruled Myanmar. In 1991, a year after her National League for Democracy won an overwhelming 42

December 2010

Suu Kyi is the daughter of the country’s independence hero, General Aung San. He was assassinated during the transition period in July 1947, just six months before independence. Suu Kyi was only two years old at the time. In 1960, she went to Delhi with her mother Daw Khin Kyi, who had been appointed Burma’s ambassador to India. Four years later she went to Oxford University in the UK, where she studied philosophy, politics and economics. There she met her future husband, academic Michael Aris. Suu Kyi was soon propelled into leading the revolt against the thendictator, General Ne Win. She was inspired by the non-violent campaigns of US civil rights leader Martin Luther King and India’s Mahatma Gandhi.

named as the world’s richest man

making it hard to spend a day in Mexico without paying him some money. Outside Mexico Slim has holdings in such prestigious groups as retailer Saks and New York Times Co. His defining foray occurred in 1990 when he and his partners bought creaking state telephone company Telmex for $1.7bn. Turning it into a cash-making jewel, he spun off America Movil and expanded it through acquisitions to become the world’s No 4 wireless operator.

Mexican tycoon, Carlos Slim, 70, has amassed a fortune of $53.5bn, beating Microsoft founder Bill Gates to top the list of the world’s richest people, according to a ranking published by Forbes magazine. His far-flung business empire includes some of Mexico’s bestknown department stores, its biggest telecom operator, hotels, restaurants, oil drilling, building firms and Inbursa bank

Slim first showed a talent for business as a 10-year-old kid when he filled his pockets with pesos selling drinks and snacks to his family. As a youngster he also kept accounting ledgers of what he earned and spent and bought a government savings bond from which he learned valuable lessons about compound interest.

Carlos Slim for being


PERSONALITIES Lady Gaga for her influence on modern culture Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta (born March 28, 1986), who performs under the stage name Lady Gaga, has become a pop icon by combining dance numbers with performance art to create something that appeals to teenagers and critics alike.

Liu Xiaobo for winning the Noble Peace Prize The 2010 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to imprisoned Chinese human rights activist Liu Xiaobo “for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China”. The laureate, a little-known figure inside China due to official censorship, is a veteran of the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, and co-author of the Charter 08 manifesto for which he was sentenced to 11 years in prison by Chinese authorities on 25 December 2009. Liu was chosen over a record number of nominations – more than 200 – to receive the Nobel award. Liu is also the third person to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize while in prison or detention, after Germany’s Carl von Ossietzky (1935) and Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi (1991). Intellectuals and politicians from the international community praised the decision, although the Chinese government bitterly attacked the decision. Heavy official censorship was applied on the Internet, on television and in the print media inside China following the announcement. Liu is the first Chinese (excluding the 14th Dalai Lama, a refugee) to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and the first to be awarded a Nobel Prize of any kind while residing in China. 44

December 2010

The 24-year-old singer, songwriter and musician from New York began her career as a songwriter for some of pop music’s biggest stars but her true influence lies in her ability to weave fashion, choreography, visual art and a wide variety of pop-based musical styles into one cohesive, compelling performance. Gaga’s influence on modern culture and society has provoked the University of South Carolina into offering a fulltime course titled ‘Lady Gaga and the

Sociology of Fame’ in the objective of unravelling “the sociologically relevant dimensions of the fame of Lady Gaga with respect to her music, videos, fashion, and other artistic endeavours”. She has been called the next Madonna. This year, she became the first artist to hit the five million mark in digital singles sales and the first celebrity to get more than 10 million fans on Facebook; her videos have been watched online more than one billion times.

Michelle Obama for or her rank k as the s most powerful woman by Forbes US First Lady Michelle Obama beat out heads of o state, chief executives and celebrities to o rank as the world’s w most powerful woman in Forbess magazine’s annual annual listing. Obama has been a ‘true change-maker’ since s coming to the White House, said d Forbes, citing her high approval ratings, her status as a role model and d her campaign against childhood obesity. sity. The women womeen on the business magazine’s list were ‘shaping haping many of the agenda-setting conversations of the day’. Thesee women have built companies and nd brands, sometimes by non-traditional means and they have broken through gender barriers rriers in areas of commerce, politics, sports and nd media and cultural zeitgeist. This year Forbes changed the way ay it ranked women, basing the list less on wealth ealth and power and more on creative influence uence and entrepreneurship. Forbes said Obama bama topped the list this year because “she has as made the office of first lady her own” whilee remaining popular. Michelle is also effective: e: In response to her Let’s Move! campaign against ainst childhood obesity, companies like Coca-Cola, la, Kellogg and General Mills have pledged to reduce the calorie content of their foods by 2015.


Prince William for announcing his marriage

Steve Jobs CEO, Apple for iPad Steve Jobs, CEO, Apple, outdoes himself with eye-popping, paradigm-shifting products that refuels the brand’s unstoppable line of highbrow gadgetry. In 2010, it was the iPad from Apple that was in the news, selling 1 million units within a month of its release and further cinched Apple’s grip on the tech market. Steven Paul Jobs (born February 24, 1955), well known for being the cofounder and chief executive officer of Apple, previously served as chief executive of Pixar Animation Studios. He became a member of the board of The Walt Disney Company in 2006, following the acquisition of Pixar by Disney. Jobs’ history in business has contributed much to the symbolic image of the idiosyncratic, individualistic Silicon Valley entrepreneur, emphasising the importance of design and understanding the crucial role aesthetics play in public appeal. Every year, the mercurial head of the technology giant comes up with some technological innovation. Jobs is listed as either primary inventor or co-inventor in over 230 awarded patents or patent applications related to a range from actual computer and portable devices to user interfaces (including touch-based), speakers, keyboards, power adapters, staircases, clasps, sleeves, lanyards and packages.

Prince William and Kate Middleton will marry at Westminster Abbey in London on April 29 and the day will be marked by a public holiday. Prince William Arthur Philip Louis of Wales, KG, FRS (born June 21, 1982), is the elder son of Charles, Prince of Wales, and Diana, Princess of Wales, and grandson of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. He is second in the line of succession, behind his father, to the thrones of 16 independent states. Since their relationship began, Catherine Elizabeth ‘Kate’ Middleton (born January 9, 1982) has received widespread media attention. The office of the Prince of Wales at Clarence House announced the marriage would take place on April 29, 2011, at Westminster Abbey.

Andres Iniesta for enabling Spain to net their first ever World Cup Spain won their first ever Football World Cup in July beating The Netherlands 1-0 and ended their drought of winning major tournaments. Other than Euro championships in 1964 and 2008, they rarely have been in contention in other competitions. At least the Netherlands made two World Cup finals and also got to the semifinals in 1998. Second-ranked Spain started their World Cup in the worst way, losing to Switzerland in the group matches. But it

won every game after that, including a 1-0 victory over powerful Germany that was far more one-sided than the score indicated. No other nation has won the World Cup after losing its opener. In the final against Holland, it was Andres Iniesta who broke free in the penalty area to collect a pass from Cesc Fabregas and take a right-footed shot from eight yards just past the outstretched arms of Dutch goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg.

December 2010 45


PERSONALITIES Pope Benedict XVI for his radical views The German-born Benedict XVI who succeeded John Paul as the Catholic Church’s 265th pope on April 19, 2005, has been in the news for his nonconformist views that have alienated the devotees but brought cheer among the so-called non-believers. In an interview conducted by Peter Seewald titled, ‘Light of the World’, Pope Benedict XVI’s announced that condom use may be the best choice in some circumstances. This statement is considered a watershed, because it is the first time that the public health has entered the Catholic Canon. And it is also a departure from the Catholic position, repeatedly endorsed earlier by Benedict, that, there is no possible role for condoms or other forms of artificial contraception since the legitimate purpose of the act of procreation within marriage was to produce children.

theological bent, and experts predicted that he would not inspire the same sort of public adoration as his predecessor.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who was elected after the death of the popular and long-serving Pope John Paul II, and took the name Benedict XVI, is a bookish scholar with a strong

But he remained in the news nevertheless as Benedict’s papacy went from crisis to crisis. Benedict faced accusations that he and direct subordinates often did not alert civilian

by 700,000 tonnes of rock, is Luis Urzua, 54, who was the shift commander at the time of the disaster. Urzua used all his wits and his leadership skills to help his men remain calm for the 17 harrowing days it took for rescuers to make their first contact.

Luis Urzua for leading 32 Chilean miners to stay alive On 5 August 2010, a cave-in occurred at the San José copper-gold mine in the Atacama Desert near Copiapó, Chile. The accident left 33 men trapped 700 metres (2,300 ft) below ground. The miners survived underground for a record 69 days. All 33 were rescued and brought to the surface on 13 October 2010.

Rescuers had found the men miraculously alive with a bore hole the width of a grapefruit. It served as a lifeline to pass hydration gels, water and food, as well as bibles, letters from their families and soccer videos to keep their spirits up.

The 69 days they spent before the rescue is the longest anyone has been trapped underground and lived. Their story of survival captured global attention. Some 1,500 journalists were at the mine to report on the rescue operation, which was broadcast live around the world, including dramatic live images of the miners hugging 46

December 2010

authorities or discipline priests involved in sexual abuse. In 2006, Benedict enraged many Muslims, when he quoted a Byzantine emperor who called Islam ‘evil and inhuman’. In January 2009 he sparked outrage across Europe when he revoked the excommunication of schismatic bishops who had denied central elements of the Holocaust.

rescuers who traveled down the shaft to their refuge deep in the mine. But the main hero for the Chilean miners trapped half a mile underground

The total cost of the rescue operation was estimated at $20mn, a third covered by private donations with the rest coming from state-owned mining corporation Codelco and the government itself.


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QUOTABLE QUOTES

“I, like most of the American people, don’t begrudge dge eepeople’s success or wealth. That is part of the freemarket system. There are some baseball players who are making more than that and don’t get to the World Series either, so I am shocked by that as well.” US President Obama on bankers’ s’ bonuses

“Can you imagine? I arrive in front of other guests, and I leave with cash? This is slander.” Nicolas Sarkozy, French President, defends himself against allegations of illegal campaign financing stemming from meals at estate of Liliane Bettencourt, heir to the L’Oréal fortune

“After a long and necessary time away from the game, I feel like I’m ready to start my season at Augusta.” Tiger Woods on his plan to return to golf at the US Masters on April 8, after having admitted extramarital affairs in December

“My farewell was shit. Four years ago, we were heroes. Today, we are bastards. We are shamed. It is a debacle.”

“I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn’t turn out very well for the Native Americans.” Stephen Hawking, British physicist, on consequences of aliens visiting Earth

“We are now, I fear, in the early stages of a third depression. The cost to the world economy and, above all, to the millions of lives blighted by the absence of jobs, will be immense.” Paul Krugman, Nobel prizewinning economist

“I was with God and I was with the devil. They fought over me but God won. I think I had extraordinary luck.” Mario Sepulveda, one of 33 Chilean miners rescued after being trapped 2,000 feet below ground for 69 days 48

December 2010

Italy’s Gennaro Gattuso after their exit from the soccer World Cup

“I had a sickening feeling every time I thought about it. I still do.” George W. Bush, writing in his new memoir, Decision Point, that he still feels bad no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq

“If geek means you’re willing to study things, and if you think science and engineering matter, I plead guilty. If your culture doesn’t like geeks, you are in real trouble.”

“When I was young, everybody on screen was gorgeous. I think show business has lost a lot of its magic in that way. I have to say, there aren’t that many good-looking actresses around today. I mean, there’s Angelina Jolie and there’s… Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Aniston is cute but I wouldn’t call her beautiful. She’s no Ava, Lana or Audrey.” Joan Collins, actress

Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft


TRIBUTE

PEOPLE WHO WILL BE MISSED IN THE COMING YEARS In death there is no remembrance, they say. But it is only appropriate we pay our last respects to them His Highness Sayyid Thuwaini bin Shihab al Said was the personal representative of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said. A committed and illustrious civil servant, Thuwaini played an important role in the development of Scouts and Guides in the Sultanate. As the first governor of the capital after the Renaissance, he played a major role in the development of Muscat as a modern city. After becoming the special representative of His Majesty, he represented him at a number of international forums. Sayyid Thuwainy was awarded several honours including the Major Renaissance Medal by His Majesty and the Sun Medal by Japanese Emperor Akihito.

Howard Zinn was a historian, playwright, intellectual and political activist noted for presenting American and world history from the perspectives of ordinary people. He was a professor of Political Science at Boston University from 1964 to 1988. He wrote more than 20 books, which included his best-selling and influential A People’s History of the United States. Zinn wrote extensively about the civil rights, civil liberties and anti-war movements. His memoir, You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train, was also the title of a 2004 documentary about Zinn’s life and work. 50

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Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was the President of Nigeria and the 13th head of state. He served as governor of Katsina State in northern Nigeria from May 29, 1999 to May 28, 2007. He was declared the winner of the controversial Nigerian presidential election held on April 21, 2007, and was sworn in on May 29, 2007. He was a member of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP). In 2009, Yar’Adua left for Saudi Arabia to receive treatment for pericarditis. He returned to Nigeria in 2010, where he died on May 5.

Girija Prasad Koirala, commonly known as G.P. Koirala, was a Nepalese politician and the President of the Nepali Congress, a major political party. He was prime minister of Nepal for four times, serving from 1991 to 1994, 1998 to 1999, 2000 to 2001, and from 2006 to 2008; he was also acting head of State from January 2007 to July 2008. Koirala, who was active in politics for over sixty years, was a pioneer of the Nepalese labour movement, having started a workers’ movement in the Jute mills of his hometown, Biratnagar. In 1991 he became the first democratically elected prime minister since 1959.


the head of Egypt’s most prestigious seat of Islamic learning Al Azhar. From 1986 to 1996, he was the grand Mufti of Egypt. In 1996, president Hosni Mubarak appointed him as the Grand Imam of al-Azhar Mosque and Grand Sheikh of al-Azhar University, a position he retained until his death in 2010. He also served as the Dean of the Faculty of Ausol Aldeen at the prestigious Alexandria Religious Institute. Tantawi was a moderate and progressive voice at the apex of Islamic scholarship.

Gary Wayne Coleman was an American actor, known for his childhood role as Arnold Jackson in the American sitcom Diff’rent Strokes (1978–1986) and for his small stature as an adult. He was described in the 1980s as “one of television’s most promising stars”. After a successful childhood acting career, Coleman struggled financially later in life. Because of his chronic illness, combined with the corticosteroids and other medications used to treat it, his growth was limited to 4 ft 8 in (1.42 m), and his face retained a childlike appearance well into adulthood.

influential Islamic scholar in Egypt, was

Thomas Edward “Tom” Bosley was an American actor, best known for portraying Howard Cunningham on the long-running ABC sitcom Happy Days. Additionally, he appeared on the series Murder, She Wrote and Father Dowling Mysteries, and originated the title role of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Broadway musical Fiorello!, earning the 1960 Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a musical.

George Michael Steinbrenner III was the principal owner and managing partner of Major League Baseball’s New York Yankees. During Steinbrenner’s 37-year ownership from 1973 to his death in July 2010, the longest in club history, the Yankees earned 7 World Series titles and 11 pennants. His outspokenness and role in driving up player salaries made him one of the sport’s most controversial figures. Steinbrenner was also involved in the Great Lakes shipping industry. Known as a hands-on baseball executive, he earned the nickname “The Boss.”

Muhammad Sayyid Tantawy, an

for Type O Negative, Steele was known for his vampiric looks, rich bass-baritone vocals and a dark, often self-deprecating sense of humour. His lyrics were often intensely personal, dealing with subjects including love, loss, and addiction. Steele credited Black Sabbath and The Beatles as his key musical inspirations.

Petrus T Ratajczyk, better known by his stage name Peter Steele, was the lead singer, bassist, and composer for the gothic metal band Type O Negative. Before joining Type O Negative, he played for the metal group Fallout and the thrash band Carnivore. As the frontman

Alexander Meigs Haig, Jr was a US Army general who served as the US Secretary of State under President Ronald Reagan and White House Chief of Staff under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. He also served as vice chief of staff of the army, the secondhighest ranking officer in the army and as Supreme Allied Commander Europe commanding all US and NATO forces in Europe. A veteran of the Korean War and Vietnam War, Haig was a recipient of the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star with oak leaf cluster, and the Purple Heart. December 2010 51


BOOKS

NOTABLE READS While books may be a subjective choice, we draw up list of the 10 favourite books of 2010

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks By Rebecca Skloot A fascinating and moving story of medicine and family, of how life is sustained in laboratories and in memory. The book portrays the true story of Henrietta Lacks, a poor African American migrant from the tobacco farms of Virginia, who died from a cruelly aggressive cancer at the age of 30 in 1951. A detective story that’s at once mythically large and painfully intimate, the book encompasses science, ethics, and the story of a family which was terribly wronged in the pursuit of scientific research. 52

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Faithful Place: A novel By Tana French A compelling and cutting mystery with the hardscrabble, savage Mackey clan at its heart. This emotionally searing novel of the Dublin murder squad has a wonderful way of juxtaposing the present culture of Dublin with arts, culture, and events of other cities and times.

Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War By Karl Marlantes A marvellous, living and breathing book with Lieutenant Waino Mellas and the men of Bravo Company at its raw and battered heart. Karl Marlantes doesn’t introduce you to Vietnam in his brilliant war epic--he unceremoniously drops you into the jungle, disoriented and dripping with leeches, with only the newbie lieutenant as your guide.

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption By Laura Hillenbrand The inspiring true story of a man who lived through a series of catastrophes almost too incredible to be believed. In evocative, immediate descriptions, Hillenbrand unfurls the story of Louie Zamperini--a juvenile delinquent-turned-Olympic runner-turned-army hero.


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BOOKS

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration By Isabel Wilkerson A fascinating and sweeping book on one of the biggest underreported story of the twentieth century-the “Great Migration” of sharecroppers and others from the Cotton Belt to the Big Cities: New York, Chicago, Detroit, LA etc. in the period between the World Wars.

Freedom: A Novel By Jonathan Franzen Franzen pits his excavation of the cracks in the nuclear family’s facade against a backdrop of all-American faults and fissures, but where the book stands apart is that, no longer content merely to record the breakdown, Franzen tries to account for his often stridently unlikable characters and find where they (and we) went wrong, arriving at – incredibly – genuine hope.

The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine By Michael Lewis Written from the perspective of a financial insider for more than 20 years, the book is a capable guide into the world of CDOs, subprime mortgages, head-in-the-sand investments, inflated egos-and the big short. The book combines an incendiary, timely topic with the author’s solid, insightful, and witty investigative reporting. 54

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The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest By Stieg Larsson As the exhilarating finale to Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy, the book is an incredibly worthy successor to the previous two books. Lisbeth Salander, the brilliant computer hacker who was shot in the head in the final pages of Fire, is seen alive, though still the prime suspect in three murders in Stockholm.

To the End of the Land By David Grossman A book of mourning for those not dead, a mother’s lament for life during a wartime that has no end in sight. At the same time, it’s joyously and almost painfully alive, full to the point of rupture with the emotions and the endless quotidian details of a few deeply imagined lives.

Just Kids By Patti Smith Patti Smith’s memoir of her and Robert Mapplethorpe’s time on the edge- two kids who found each other on streets of New York and were determined to become artists. It doesn’t inundate the reader with biographical details about Mapplethorpe or too many of Smith, it’s not a diarist’s memoir but more of an impressionistic one.

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BOX OFFICE HITS

NO BIZ AS SHOW BIZ Animation films and sequels struck gold at the box office this year. Here is a list of the Top 10 films that left cash registers jingling

Toy Story 3 Theatrical release: June 8 Box office: $414.68mn Starring: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack Don Rickles, Estelle Harris Director: Lee Unkrich Toy Story 3 was released worldwide from June through October in Disney Digital 3D, RealD and IMAX 3D. The feature broke the record of Shrek the Third as the biggest opening day North American gross for an animated film. The film was produced by Pixar Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures. Toy Story 3 was also the first of only two films to be released theatrically with 7.1 surround sound, the second being Step Up 3D. In early August, the film became Pixar’s highestgrossing film worldwide and surpassed Shrek 2 as the highestgrossing animated film of all-time worldwide; in late August, Toy Story 3 became the first ever Pixar film and animated film m $1bn in history to make over $1b n worldwide. It is currently the fifth highest-grossing film m worldwide of all time.

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Alice in Wonderland Theatrical release: March 5 Box office: $334.19mn Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway Director: Tim Burton Based on the 1865 fantasy novel Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland is an American fantasy adventure film in which Mia Wasikowska plays 19-yearold Alice, who returns to ‘Underland’, after her first to the place 13 years ago. She is told that she is the only one who can slay the Jabberwocky, a dragon-like creature controlled by the Red Queen who terrorises Underland’s inhabitants. The film uses a combination of live action and 3D animation in a story that can neither be described as a sequel nor as a re-imagining. Tim Burton developed the story because he never felt an emotional connection to the original book, with its series of events about a girl wandering from one weird character to another.

Iron Man 2 Theatrical release: May 7 Box office: $312.12mn Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Don Cheadle, Scarlett Johansson Director: Jon Favreau Iron Man 2 is a 2010 American superhero film featuring the Marvel Comics character Iron Man, produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Paramount Pictures. It is the sequel to 2008’s Iron Man, the second film in a planned trilogy and is a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Directed by Jon Favreau, the film stars Robert Downey Jr, who reprises his role as Tony Stark. In cinematic canon, it takes place six months after Iron Man, and directly before The Incredible Hulk. In the movie Stark reveals his identity as Iron Man and resists calls by the US government to hand over the technology. Ivan Vanko duplicates the technology and builds weapons of his own, creating new challenges for Stark. December 2010 57


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BOX OFFICE HITS The Twilight Saga: Eclipse Theatrical release: June 30 Box office: $300.53mn Director: David Slade Starring: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, commonly referred to as Eclipse, is a 2010 American romantic vampire film based on Stephenie Meyer’s 2007 novel, Eclipse. It is the third installment of The Twilight Saga film series, following 2008’s Twilight and 2009’s New Moon. Summit Entertainment greenlit the film in February 2009. Directed by David Slade, the film stars Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and Taylor Lautner, reprising their roles as Bella Swan, Edward Cullen, and Jacob Black, respectively. Melissa Rosenberg, who penned the scripts for both Twilight and New Moon, returns as screenwriter. It sets a new record for biggest midnight opening in the US and Canada in box office history, grossing an estimated $30mn in over 4,000 theaters.

Inception Theatrical release: July 8 Box office: $291.91mn Director: Christopher Nolan Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Ken Watanabe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt Inception is a 2010 American science fiction film written, produced and directed by Christopher Nolan. The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Ken Watanabe, Joseph GordonLevitt, Marion Cotillard, Ellen Page, Cillian Murphy, Tom Hardy, Dileep Rao, Tom Berenger and Michael Caine. DiCaprio plays Dom Cobb, a thief who extracts information from the unconscious mind of his victims while they dream. Unable to visit his children, Cobb is offered a chance to regain his old life in exchange for one last job: performing inception, the planting of an idea into the mind of his client’s competitor. Inception was officially budgeted at $160mn, a cost that was split between Warner Bros and Legendary Pictures. 60

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BOX OFFICE HITS How to Train Your Dragon

Despicable Me Theatrical release: July 9 Box office: $248.90mn Director: Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud Starring: Steve Carell, Jason Segel, Russell Brand, Julie Andrews Despicable Me is a 2010 American computer-animated 3D comedy film from Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment. The film stars Steve Carell, Jason Segel, Russell Brand, Julie Andrews, Will Arnett, Kristen Wiig and Miranda Cosgrove. It is the first CGI feature produced by Universal, in association with its Illumination Entertainment division. The movie was entirely animated in the French studio Mac Guff in Paris, France. The story is of a super villain named Gru who plans to use three orphan girls as pawns for a grand scheme, only to find that their innocent love

Shrek Forever After Theatrical release: May 20 Box office: $238.39mn Director: Mike Mitchell Starring: Mike Meyers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy

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Theatrical release: March 26 Box office: $217.58mn Director: Dean DeBlois Starring: Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson

is profoundly changing him. The film earned positive reviews from critics, and grossed more than $248mn in North America, against a budget of $69mn.

Shrek Forever After, taglined as Shrek: The Final Chapter, is an animated fantasy-comedy film, and the fourth and final installment in the Shrek film series. The film was released by DreamWorks Animation and distributed by Paramount Pictures. Although the film received mixed to positive reviews from critics and opened lower than expectations, it remained as the No. 1 film in the US and Canada for three consecutive weeks. Additionally, the film is DreamWorks Animation’s highest-grossing film at the foreign box office. Like the first three Shrek films, the film is based on fairy tale themes.

How to Train Your Dragon is a computer-animated fantasy film by DreamWorks Animation. The movie is loosely based on the 2003 book of the same title. The story takes place in a mythical Viking world where a young teenager named Hiccup aspires to follow his tribe’s tradition of becoming a dragon slayer. After finally capturing his first dragon, and posed with a chance to finally gain the tribe’s acceptance, he finds that he no longer has the desire to kill it and instead befriends it. The film overcame a disappointing opening weekend at the box office to gross just under half a billion dollars and become DreamWorks Animation’s fifth most successful film in the US and Canada (behind the Shrek film series).


BOX OFFICE HITS The Karate Kid Theatrical release: June 11 Box office: $176.59mn Director: Harald Zwart Starring: Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith The Karate Kid, known as The Kung Fu Dream in China and Best Kid in Japan and South Korea, is a 2010 Chinese-American martial arts remake of the 1984 film of the same name, the film is also a reboot of the aforementioned film series. Directed by Harald Zwart, produced by Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, the remake stars Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith. Principal photography for the film took place in Beijing, China; filming began around July 2009 and ended on October 16, 2009. The Karate Kid was released theatrically in the US on June 11, 2010 and Singapore a day earlier on June 10, 2010. The plot concerns a 12-year-old boy from Detroit who moves to China with his mother and runs afoul of the neighbourhood bully. He makes an unlikely ally in the form of his aging maintenance man, Mr Han, a kung fu master who teaches him the secrets to self-defence.

Clash of the Titans Theatrical release: April 2 Box office: $163.21mn Director: Louis Leterrier Starring: Sam Worthington Clash of the Titans is a 2010 fantasy film and remake of the 1981 film of the same name. (the rights to which were acquired by Warner Bros. in 1996). As with the 1981 film, the story is loosely based upon the Greek myth of Perseus. Directed by Louis Leterrier and starring Sam Worthington, the film was originally set for standard release on March 26, 2010. However, it was later announced that the film would be converted to 3D and was released on April 2, 2010 64

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DESIRABLE CARS

OUTSTANDING AUTOMOBILES Notwithstanding the dent created by the recall of thousands of cars by leading automakers, the demand for outstanding cars has not diminished

Audi S4 Enter the 2010 Audi S4. It’s actually sporty, a real hoot to drive. Though less powerful than its predecessor, this slick-looking 4-door is faster and produces a relentless wave of torque that completely contradicts the manufacturer’s ratings. Plus, it costs less and is 20 percent more fuel efficient. The all-new S4 lost a couple of cylinders but

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packs a silky, 333-hp supercharged V-6 (it makes just seven fewer horses than the old V-8 did) and might be the most controversial car on this year’s list. Practicality is also on the S4’s side. Exceptional ergonomics, good comfort (especially in the rear seat), and class-leading styling round out its winning package.


Cadillac CTS / CTS-V Cadillac CTS offers the CTS-V, a 556-hp supercharged beast that brawls eagerly with the very best sports sedans from Germany. Many consider the CTS-V to be the best American car ever made. Put that assertion aside, and the CTS-V is still a bargain alternative to the supersedans from Germany. Its interior is gorgeous, with a truly expensive feel. Outside, the CTS combines uniform shapes and sharp angles that borrow from nobody. But the way the CTS drives is what we keep falling for year after year – its moves are as crisp as its exterior lines. The CTS manages to blend refinement, driving dynamics, comfort, and performance in a refreshing, even exhilarating, way that satisfies enthusiast drivers and luxury seekers simultaneously.

Ford Fusion Hybrid It’s an unlikely claim, but the Ford Fusion hybrid is in fact the most advanced car on this list. Through the body of this unpretentious family sedan runs the sturdiest bridge between the tech of the 20th century and that of the 21st. The Fusion’s hybrid powertrain is so refined and compact that it’s almost not there, but the driver-selectable, power-tracking gauge display gives the game away: It is Donkey Kong addictive, challenging its driver to run on electric power all the way up to a possible 47 mph. This is a boon to both car guys and the unafflicted – you can drive it for fun (a hybrid first) or for mileage (a class-leading 41 city/36 highway), which is also fun.

Honda Fit It’s the car that suits everyone’s needs – big fun, and as cheap to own and operate as a hamster. Despite the Fit’s microbial footprint, it takes truly Sasquatchian dimensions to be discomforted inside, and all that space is surrounded by quality materials and thoughtful design unmatched in many vehicles costing much more. While the 1.5-litre’s 117 horsepower won’t much squish the seatback foam, keeping the four-pot revving can make for an engaging game with either of its two available transmissions. With short shifts and direct, mechanical movement, the base five-speed manual should be studied by the world’s finer sportscar makers. Pairing the automatic with the Sport model nets an obedient paddle-shifted slushbox that does the cheapest F1 impression on the market.

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DESIRABLE CARS Mazda 3 / Mazdaspeed 3 The latest Mazda 3 arrives with more than just a shiny new wrapper. It’s more refined, too. In both 148-hp i and 167-hp s versions, the basic Mazda 3 feels more like a genuine car than most of the econoboxes it competes with on price – a bare-bones i starts at $16,045, and the s begins at $19,790 (US prices). Material quality, ride quality, and chassis control are all a class above. If there are beancounters at Mazda, they don’t get anywhere near the suspension. Getting behind the wheel of the Mazda 3 is a comforting reminder that there is a fun-todrive car for every economic stratum.

Porsche Boxster/Cayman There are a lot of words beginning with the letter “P” that can describe the mechanically identical Boxster and Cayman – poised and profitable leap to mind – but the most appropriate one is perfect, when the Boxster offers a driving experience so sublime and so tactile that it’s really only rivaled by the Cayman’s. Every spin of the steering wheel, every push of a pedal, every fat blat from the flat-six engines, they’re all calibrated to deliver one thing: unparalleled automotive pleasure. In fact, the pair proves even more rewarding than the iconic – and much pricier – 911. They’re livable and luxurious, with good cargo room from their two trunks as well as supportive seats and leather everywhere (including on the coat hooks and vent slats).

Volkswagen GTI The latest GTI is the sixth iteration since VW invented the pocket rocket (or “hot hatch” in Euro-speak) back in 1976. And while the GTI has grown larger and more powerful, it keeps its original spirit. It’s relatively inexpensive and supremely practical yet is an immensely entertaining vehicle that’s as happy meandering around mall parking lots as it is being flogged along a great back road. The 200-hp, turbocharged inline four-cylinder is smooth and responsive, although it doesn’t imbue the GTI with the kind of startling acceleration that the brawnier Mazdaspeed 3 possesses. 70

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DESIRABLE CARS BMW 3-series / M3 It has a cohesive fluidity that’s unmatched by any of its competitors. But then, the 3 feels similarly sublime on any other stretch of road, too. From the 230-hp 328i that can achieve 30-plus mpg on the highway to the even thriftier and uncharacteristically responsive diesel to the unforgettable bawl of the M3’s screaming 414-hp V-8 at 8400 rpm that gets the 0-to-60-mph job done in just over four seconds, the 3-series range is extremely broad. Body styles consist of coupe, sedan – including the resurrection of a four-door M3 – wagon, and folding-hardtop convertible. The 3-series has earned a long list of comparison-test victories because of the instant confidence that it imparts to the driver.

Lexus LS 460L If you are looking for a luxurious seating and comfortable driving experience, the Lexus LS 460L is one of the best cars to choose from. The 4.6 litre V8 engine of this Lexus car generates 380 hp power and produces a torque of 360 lb-feet. The specifications of power and torque for the all-wheel drive model are 357 hp and 344 lb-feet respectively. The Lexus LS 460L takes no more than 6 seconds to reach the speed of 60 mph. The looks are enhanced by a thick D-pillar and curve given to the roofline. One of the notable features of this car is the air purifier system. Electric shades on the back portion and rear doors block the sun light. The air suspension system allows for a smooth ride. To make the ingress and egress easy, the electric seat slightly moves back. Steering wheel is telescoping and slightly tilted.

Mercedes-Benz E350 Mercedes mid-level E-Class is not only their best-selling model in the US but also one of the favourite luxury cars. The all-new E-Class sedan is available in sixcylinder (E350) and eight-cylinder (E550) form, along with the diesel-powered E350 BlueTEC. New features include night vision high beams that automatically adjust to avoid blinding oncoming traffic. The 2010 E is also home to a host of new gadgets, including attention assist, which senses if the driver is getting drowsy and sounds an alarm. Options include a night vision camera that highlights pedestrians and a parking assist system that tells you when to turn the steering wheel. 72

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GADGETS

TOUCHSTONES OF EXCELLENCE Technological upgrades and customer convenience win hands down in this year’s list of best gadgets

Samsung LED HDTV Samsung 3D technology makes images leap off the screen while Samsung’s innovative Precision Dimming Technology delivers a great range of dynamic contrast and rich, bright colour. Other top features include 240 hz, Internet Apps, 8,000,000 to 1 contrast ratio, energy saving LED technology, and 4 HDMI ports. Samsung LED HDTVs combine breakthrough picture quality and advanced connectivity options that keep the viewer entertained 24/7. This UN55C8000 LED HDTV also makes it easy to be green, as it is Energy Star compliant.

Apple iPhone 4G The Retina display on iPhone 4 is the sharpest, most vibrant, highest-resolution phone screen ever. The detailed design is arguably the best phone design yet. Other new and upgraded features are: faster A4 processor, 5 MP camera with LED flash, longer battery life, HD video recording, multitasking, facetime, two cameras, and additional built-in three-axis gyroscope.

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HTC EVO The HTC EVO is the world’s first 3G/4G Android handset, offering simultaneous voice and data connectivity and download speeds up to 10 times faster than 3G. Other features include a 8-MP camera with 720p HD video capture, 4.3-inch screen, HDMI output, Wi-Fi, Android 2.1, 1GHz Snapdragon processor, GPS, Built-in mobile hotspot functionality allows up to eight WiFi enabled. The HTC EVO 4G’s 4.3-inch screen is perfect for watching video on the go. Packed full of powerful mobile communication and multimedia features, the HTC EVO 4G has a large, vibrant 4.3 inch display and a built-in kickstand for easy viewing of videos--from Sprint TV programming to HD movies captured on the 8-megapixel auto-focus camera.

Acer Aspire TimelineX Taking portability and performance to the next level, the Acer Aspire TimelineX AS1830T-3721 Notebook is powered by a Intel Core i5-430UM Processor, Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit), 11.6-inch HD Widescreen CineCrystal LED-backlit Display, 4GB DDR3 Memory, 500GB Hard Drive, HDMI port, Multi-in-1 Digital Media Card Reader, 802.11b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth. The TimelineX 1830 provides up to eight hours of battery life thanks to a combination of Intel’s Core processing technology and the LEDbacklit display, which enables a 22.2 percent power savings compared with other notebook displays.

Apple iPad 64GB The revolutionary Apple iPad is here. Surf the web, read books, download apps, play YouTube video, play games, and more. Featuring a 9.7-inch LED-backlit glossy widescreen Multi-Touch display with IPS technology, 1GHz Apple A4 processor, built-in speakers, microphone, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, 3G, and more.

Garmin nüvi 1390T GPS Navigator The Garmin 1390T bundle includes lifetime map updates and features a widescreen, ultra-slim design (approximately 25 per cent thinner than previous models), enhanced user interface, ecoRoute, public transit mode, and text-to-speech on all models. The nüvi 1300 series are the first nüvi devices to offer pedestrian navigation capability enabled through optional CityXplorer maps, which are available for select tourist destinations in North America and Europe and can easily be downloaded directly to the nüvi. Garmin’s new public transit mode allows you to navigate using buses, tramway, metro, and suburban rail systems. December 2010 75


GADGETS

Apple iPod touch The fourth gen Apple iPod comes with FaceTime, Retina display, HD video recording, Apple A4 chip, a three-axis gyro, iOS 4.1, 40 hour battery life, and Game Center. You can see your friends while you talk to them with FaceTime. It enables one to shoot, edit, and share stunning HD video. You can play games against friends, or unknown foes, with the new Game Center. And all this can be done on the Retina display--the highest-resolution screen on any mobile device which makes graphics and text look even more amazing. The new iPod touch is state-of-the-art fun.

Apple MacBook Pro Updated with Intel’s Core i7 processor and next-generation NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M graphics, the 15-inch Apple MacBook Pro is faster than ever and will keep you working longer away from power cords with an enhanced battery life of up to nine hours of battery life. As with previous models, the new MacBook Pro features a precision unibody enclosure craft. The new MacBook Pro sets all-new benchmarks for Mac notebooks. This 15-inch MacBook Pro features an Intel Core i7 processor and next-generation NVIDIA graphics that bring high performance to everything from 3D games to photos and videos.

Canon EOS Rebel With some of the most advanced features of any digital SLR, it’s simply the best Rebel, Canon has ever created. Its features include a 18.0-megapixel, DIGIC 4 image processor, video recording up to 1920 x 1080 (Full HD), ISO 100-6400 (expandable to 12800) for shooting from bright to dim light, and an enhanced 63-zone dual-layer metering system and 9-poi.

Apple iPod nano Redesigned for music and multi-Touch, iPod nano is smaller and lighter than ever. You can clip it to your sleeve, jacket, or running shorts and keep your favourite songs at your fingertips – along with the Genius feature, a builtin FM radio, pedometer, 24-hour battery life, and more. And the anodised aluminum finish in six bright colours makes this new design even more vibrant. Redesigned for music and Multi-Touch, iPod nano is smaller and lighter than ever. The best things in life have a soundtrack, and that’s where iPod nano shines. The Multi-Touch display lets you experience your music in a new way. Tap to play anything you want to hear.

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CONSTRUCTION

COST CONSULTANCY – A VITAL SERVICE Cost consultancy is an integral part of the construction industry and clients should take advantage of these services, says Millan De Silva, CEO, Milcris Pvt Ltd

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ven as the Sultanate witnesses new infrastructure developments like roads, railways, airports and enhanced tourism projects, it is becoming prominently visible that the immense benefits of having project cost consultants are not yet being adequately harnessed,” says Millan De Silva, CEO, Milcris, a Chartered Quantity Surveying, Cost Consultancy and Project Management company. Cost consultancy, which comes under the purview of Quantity Surveyors (QS), covers a wide range of contract and commercial management services, which immensely assist the client to plan out development and execute projects in keeping with budgets. The designation ‘Quantity Surveyors’ is somewhat misleading when compared with the scope of services that are being performed by these professionals who are also referred to as commercial managers of a project. Their activities range from feasibility report stage to completion of the project and agreeing of the final account and address procurement strategy, tender management, contract documentation and interpretations, change and claim management, dispute resolution amongst a host of other important roles. “The most effective contribution to the client will be when the cost consultant enjoys direct access and dialogue with the client, and then the impact of their advice will be fully understood by the client. Some government organisations such as Royal Estates, Ministry of Defence and the Muscat Municipality have understood the importance of this aspect. 78

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Nevertheless, a very large volume of work is handled by clients who act contrary to this, thus depriving themselves of the desired benefit,” adds De Silva.

Cost implications “From the point of the Master Plan, the QS provide advice to the client and the design team on cost implications of the design and its changes and also the contractual implication that may arise with any changes in the project. The major risk to any development project is the possibility of a budget over-run and hence the importance of cost management as against cost reporting,” says De Silva. Milcris are the cost consultants to the prestigious multi-billion dollar landmark development of the Muscat and Salalah International Airport projects in the Sultanate, which incidentally, is the

largest investment currently in the Sultanate. “Today the world is rapidly changing to specialisation just like one seeks a specialist doctor instead of a general practitioner and hopefully going away from the age old approach where the client initially appoints the designer for the project who in turn appoints the cost consultant as a sub consultant,” says De Silva. The QS profession is enriched by the strict codes of conduct, best practices, standards and ethics of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, UK which is an impartial professional body. “Our staffs comprise of 11 chartered members amongst 60 QS and we are committed to provide best services to our clients in keeping with the RICS best practices and ISO 9001.2008 quality procedures,” concludes De Silva.


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DR JASIM HUSAIN ALI

On a growth trajectory Qatar is emerging as an international player to be reckoned with, especially with regards to outward and inward investments

The author is an eminent economist and Member of Parliament, Bahrain (jasim.husain@gmail.com)

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atar continues to grab international attention making bold acquisitions and becoming a global leader in per capita income. Qatar Holding acquired a 5 per cent stake at Banco Santander Brazil at the cost of $2.7bn, in October this year. There is something special about Qatar Holding, being a fully-owned affiliate of Qatar Petroleum, a major state-owned entity. Qatar Petroleum serves as a leader in the country’s economic development partly by turning Qatar into the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG). At the same time, this very investment serves the interest of the Brazilian bank by virtue of connecting it to one of the fastest growing economies in the world. The IMF predicts nominal growth rate of 18.5 per cent for Qatari economy in 2010 on the back of firm energy prices. The investment at Banco Santander Brazil is a rewarding development for Brazil by virtue of coming only months after the visit of Qatari Emir Shaikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani to the country as part of a regional tour.

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HARRODS AND PORSCHE Also in 2010, Qatar captured the global attention through purchase of London’s department store of Harrods at $2.3bn from the Egyptianborn tycoon Mohammed Al Fayed. In 2009, Qatar made another exceptional venture acquiring a 17 per cent stake of the integrated Volkswagen and Porsche firm following merger of the two concerns. The deal included Porsche establishing a research and development and testing facility in Doha. Porsche and Qatar Holding agreed to explore other areas of co-operation in the fields of research and development, technical service and support in Qatar. ATTRACTING FDI Foreign direct investment (FDI) is not a one-way street. Recently published statistics put Qatar as the second largest recipient of FDI among the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. This was put on display at the World Investment Report 2010 of the World Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad) which traces movements of FDI around the world. In particular, Qatar managed to more than double inward FDI from $4.1bn in 2008 to $8.8bn in 2009. The credit partly

relates to sustained progress of the country’s energy sector, notably gas. Qatar is the largest exporter of LNG in the world, a position that it overtook from Indonesia several years ago. The country continues to expand its gas industry with annual LNG output amounting to 54 million tonnes, up from 38 million tonnes only three years ago. Still, the plan calls for reaching an output level of 77 million tonnes a year by 2012. Conversely, the Unctad report points to a general drop in inward investments in GCC in 2009, partially due to the global financial crisis. For instance, Saudi Arabia, the largest regional recipient of FDI, saw the value of inward investments dropping from $38.1bn in 2009 to $35.5bn in 2008. Undoubtedly, FDI is a sort of international voice of confidence in different economies. More than 200 countries attempt to attract foreign investments to help them address economic challenges. FDI helps spurring growth in the local economy and serves as a means of providing employment opportunities. Qatar is proving that FDI is a two-way street, by attracting more foreign investments and concurrently investing abroad.


CLOSE UP

FIRM BUDGETARY SPENDING Chances are that Qatar would be able to entice more FDI in the years to come on the back of stronger spending on infrastructure, as evidenced in the budget of fiscal year 2010-11, which commenced at the start of April. Total governmental expenditures are put at around $32.4bn compared to $26bn in fiscal year 2009-10. Undoubtedly, this is a sizable growth in a single year. The authorities appropriated nearly $12bn or 37 per cent of total spending on development projects. Among others, the allocations cover infrastructure projects including the New Doha International Airport, New Doha Seaport plus road network, sewage systems, land reclamations and

MILESTONES „ Qatar Holding acquires 5 per cent stake at Banco Santander Brazil „ IMF predicts a growth rate of 18.5 per cent for Qatari economy in 2010 „ Qatar purchases London’s department store of Harrods from Mohammed Al Fayed „ Qatari authorities appropriate nearly 37 per cent of total spending for development projects „ Qatar’s GDP per capita income on PPP basis at $79,426 per annum, ranked the second highest result in the world only after Liechtenstein „ Qatar government allocates 7.2 per cent and 6.3 per cent of expenses for health and education, respectively

expansion of electricity and water capacities. On another positive note, the government allocated 7.2 per cent and 6.3

per cent of expenses for health and education, respectively. In turn, this kind of investment will strengthen Qatar’s position

on the Human Development Index (HDI), which relies on three variables, namely life expectancy at birth, education and income on purchasing power parity basis (PPP). PER CAPITA INCOME Against this backdrop, Qatar clinched the number 38 ranking, the second best in the GCC after the UAE, in 2010 Human Development Report (HDR), published by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The same report put Qatar’s gross domestic product (GDP) per capita income on PPP basis at $79,426 per annum, ranked the second highest result in the world only after Liechtenstein. This years’ issue of HDI focuses on people, the real and sustained wealth of any nation.


REAL ESTATE

On a sound footing Since Omani economy has grown steadily even after the financial crisis, there has been no “crash” in the real estate sector in the country By Sudhakar Reddy

The author is General Manager, Al Habib & Co.

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eal estate prices depend on a number of factors such as incomes, interest rates, zoning regulations, restricting supply etc. Therefore, one wonders why, at times, real estate prices move away from fundamentals. There are several reasons. The first is that the relatively small part of the total stock is actually bought and sold in a given period of time and the prices at which this small quantity changes hands determine prices of the whole stock. A second reason is that, unlike equities, real estate cannot be “shorted”. Therefore, a market participant cannot take advantage of prices rising beyond what the fundamentals dictate and short the market. A third reason is that the owners see their equity in their homes rise and use it to move into even better houses, thereby pushing up the prices for these too. A fourth reason is that rise in housing prices can be self reinforcing as

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buyers believe that they will rise further. Yet another reason is that central banks keep interest rates at ultra low levels to spur growth and employment and this actually leads a lot of money going into assets and resulting in asset price bubbles. Each asset price bubble follows rapid credit growth. The great depression was preceded by enormous growth of credit to margin money lending against stocks. Similarly the “great recession” of the present day, was preceded by rapid growth of credit especially to the housing sector in the developed economies. PRUDENT POLICY In the GCC countries and especially in Oman, government spending is the main driver of the economy and this depends to a large extent on oil prices. Thus even after the asset bubble burst, the Omani economy has not been affected since oil prices are still high by historical standards and the government is able to finance its spending. Of course, the government has

been very wise in saving when oil prices were high. Thus government spending has not followed the wild fluctuation in oil prices and has been growing steadily. The Oman economy has therefore been growing steadily even post the financial crisis. Therefore, although real estate in Oman have corrected, there has been no “crash” as in some of Oman’s neighbours. STABILITY The big question is whether the present real estate prices in Oman reflect fundamentals of incomes and interest rates hence demand and supply. We think they largely do. The per capita nominal GDP has almost tripled compared to what it was some years back and we therefore can no longer expect prices to go back to what they were before the boom. In addition, inflation in cost of construction material has pushed up cost of construction costs by about 50 to 60 per cent compared to the pre boom period. Thus there is cost push inflation as well as demand pull inflation in real estate prices.


INTERVIEW

DEFINING NEW PARADIGM

Dr Marilyn Atkinson, Founder and President of Erickson Coaching International, was in Muscat to attend a four-day comprehensive executive training programme organised by Prosper Management Consultancy. In an interview to Muhammed Nafie, she highlights the necessity of expanding key technologies for human development and leadership no blame. What the managers and leaders can do is to move to a blamefree type of management. We have to focus less on what is wrong and more on what we can learn from it and how to do it in a different and effective way in the future. That will become much more inspirational for the groups of people working together.

You have been developing corporate and specialised training programmes for the past ten years. How do you see the evolution of corporate coaching during this period? As you know, the issues in the 21st century are very different from those in the 20th century. As industry developed, the systems needed simpler methods. Since the 80s, technology has developed fast necessitating a different kind of working mind in our offices and work places. We also need different kinds of training and abilities focused on the future. The 21st century is the time when we are handling something which we had never dealt with before. The amount of change is phenomenal in the last ten years. When we consider twenty five major industries in the world from manufacturing to textiles to building and construction their requirement for technological change is very much in evidence. So our managers need to be cautious about the incredible stress. They have to learn how to manage

this new technology. They also need to be able to stay relaxed, in touch with people and enjoy their job. Corporate coaching leaders need to follow an integrated coaching model developed for creating positive culture change. You have been a dedicated student of Milton Erickson for years and gave his name to the college you founded. How ideal and effective is Ericksonian Communication for leaders and managers? It is based on the assumption that people are essentially all right. It does not matter how rigid or difficult the system they are into. They can be trained in all aspects of it. It takes three weeks for human beings to regain their balance and their flexibility. Once people understand this they relax about themselves and start to treat themselves with more kindness. They can become better leaders. They will start leading other people. So, firstly people are all right. And secondly they have a lot of resources so they deserve

According to you what are the major leadership challenges of the 21st century? There are huge challenges we are facing today. There are stresses coming from everywhere, from our political system, family system, religious system, environmental system, educational system etc. People feel they are not allowed to explore creative solutions. But we need creative solutions. Coaching is an effective way to assist people to overcome these challenges and create a more productive working system. Can you elaborate on the importance of Emotional Intelligence in coaching? Emotional Intelligence (EI) relates to flexibility, planning, communication and relationship skills that are necessary to influence and energise people. EI can be developed through the skillful redesign of internal dialogue habit. It works out when we can assist people to relax effectively and to communicate and visualise together. People will think effectively when they link their emotional awareness with the ability to act.

OER and AIWA were the partners of this event. December 2010 83


ENVIRONMENT

ECO FRIENDLY ALTERNATIVE Khimji’s Mart’s ‘Fill Jute Bags…Not Plastic & Go green’ initiative has been successful in spreading the concept of eco friendly bags amongst a large chunk of consumers

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ill Jute Bags…Not Plastic & Go green’ is an eco awareness programme initiated by Khimji’s Mart – the retail division of Khimji Ramdas Group – to spread the concept of eco friendly bags amongst Oman’s consumers. Aimed at educating the public about the importance of being eco friendly and highlighting the consequences of excessive consumption of plastic bags, this eco-friendly programme began with the launch of Khimji’s own signature shopping bag, made of jute natural fibre, in all its supermarkets across the country. Shoppers at Khimji’s Mart were encouraged to use these environmentfriendly reusable bags as a substitute to plastic bags. Taking its cue from the project initiated by the Environment Society of Oman (ESO), Khimji’s Mart has set an example by being the first supermarket in Oman to launch such a programme. The initiative was launched at the Khimji’s Madinat Qaboos outlet under the auspices of Her Highness Sayyida Tania bint Shabib Al Said, chairperson of the Environment Society of Oman. In the first phase of

having similar interest such as Art of Living Muscat Chapter, Haliburton etc. Oman Oil produced 10,000 Jute bags during the Khareef festival in Salalah and Darsait School issued the text books to the students in the jute bags supplied by Khimji’s Mart at a very subsidised rate.

Innovative strategies

the campaign, Khimji’s Mart introduced 25,000 jute bags, which were placed at the entrance/cash tills of the supermarkets.

A great success The campaign has been a great success as it could attract a large number of customers and it took only five months to clear the total number of jute bags planned for a year. The initiative could also reduce plastic bag consumption at Khimji stores by 10 per cent. Moreover, the campaign could highlight the necessity of effective eco friendly initiative among other organisations

MB HOLDING COMPANY LLC

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The campaign was implemented in association with leading business institutions across the country such as Oman Oil Marketing Company, Oman LNG, Ali Abdul Karim Group, Al Khan Foods etc. These partnerships have been greatly helpful in distributing the jute bag at an affordable subsidißed rate without putting extra liability on customers. Besides, the message of the initiative was conveyed to the public through continuous advertisements in different newspapers and magazines and various in-store activities were organised in all Khimji’s outlets across the country. With its strong presence in the interiors of the country like Nizwa, Sur, Salalah, Sohar, Sumail and many more areas, Khimji’s Mart’s initiative could spread the concept of eco friendly bags amongst a large number of consumers.


GOLFUPDATE

THE WAIT IS OVER

The 7th edition of OER CEO Golf will tee off at the Muscat Hills Golf & Country Club on February 3, 2011

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t’s the biggest corporate networking event of the year, a CEO’s day out, an exclusive club, a serious club and ball sport, an evening of gaiety and more – while everyone may have their own take on it, what finds consensus is the power and glory of the event. No prizes for guessing what we are talking about– Yes! it’s OER CEO Golf 2011. The 7th edition of OER CEO Golf will take place at Muscat Hills Golf & Country Club, Oman’s leading golf course on February 3, 2011. Presented by Nawras Business Solutions, the event promises to be bigger, better and grander this time around. So if your clubs and golf balls have been lying idle it’s time to get onto the greens and tee off, practice your drives and putts, negotiate the fairway and other hazards. On D-day it’s going to be each CEO for himself, a time when business partners turn adversaries and friends vie with each other for top honours on the golf course. And all this bloodletting will happen in an atmosphere of conviviality, revelry and fun. The grand finale in the evening is a climax befitting this by-invitationonly event for the who’s who of Oman’s corporate community. It is, as always, a glittering affair with high profile entertainment, a sumptuous dinner spread, and more! OER CEO Golf is a unique opportunity for the leaders of Oman’s corporate community to link up over an 18-hole game of golf at the country’s finest, and one of the Middle East’s most exciting PGA-standard courses. For those new to the game it is a good chance to get acquainted with the CEO sport. Golfersto-be will get an opportunity to get a

quick induction to the game with tips and tricks from an expert, followed by a trial game over a few holes.

A trailblazer

timekeeper of the event. OER CEO Golf is an annual event organised by Oman Economic Review, the Sultanate’s premier business magazine.

The previous edition’s of OER CEO Golf have been a resounding success in terms of the profile of the attendees, engaging activities, sophisticated ambience and the strong partnerships forged during the day. The event has broken new ground every year with formats, activities and entertainment. OER CEO Golf’s previous editions have introduced the game to golfers-to-be, the first high profile 18 hole tournament on the greens was played in 2010 with spouses joining their husbands for a game of water golf. The event is drawing keen interest from a number of sponsors. Key category sponsors for OER CEO Golf include Times of Oman and Al Shabiba (Publicity); Hi, Al Youm Al Sab’e and Faces (Media); Signature (Luxury). Rolex is the official December 2010 85


Wiesmann comes to Oman

High-tech Audi A8 L Audi introduced its flagship model ‘A8 L quattro’ in the Sultanate with a long wheelbase. The new Audi sets, new standards of luxury, dynamism and efficiency in the top automobile manufacturing league. The Audi A8 L will be launched as a 372 hp 4.2 litre V8 with eight-speed tiptronic and quattro four-wheel drive, but will be available with further engines in 2011. “The Audi A8 L is the most important model for Audi in

the Middle East and Oman for the next five or six years. It will be one of our top sellers. We are aiming to gain significant market share in the German premium D-segment and are expecting four digit annual sales figures for the Middle East region,” says Audi Oman general manager, James Oliver.

Fairtrade Automotive Services has partnered with the German manufacturer Wiesmann GmbH to bring its exclusive handmade sport cars to the sultanate. These totally unique creations will now be available to the motoring connoisseurs of Oman. “Oman has its fair share of customers who appreciate luxury automotive brands. Wiesmann is one such name that can elevate stylish and sporty driving to a lifestyle,” says Murtadha Hassan Ali, chairman, Fairtrade Group Holding.

All variants of Wiesmann models from the GT to the Roadster will be available in Muscat. Of these, the GT MF4S and GT MF-4S Roadster are available for test drive for discerning customers. Each of the Wiesmann’s crafted vehicles is a pleasure to drive and is coupled with each model’s distinct personality. A leading manufacturer of puristic sports cars with extensive experience in design and car development, Wiesmann is recognised for its combination of strength, elegance and speed.

The new A8 is a concentrated high-tech package that confirms the Audi claim to technical leadership – “Vorsprung durch Technik”.

New Altima records amazing sales

Since launching in the GCC market, Nissan’s Altima has smashed sales records and it has once again redefined the automotive landscape. The new Altima is immensely popular and sales of the model have really taken off. The new model is equipped with an array of advanced features that leave all competitors in its class trailing. With its natural sporty edge, quality interiors and smooth performance, the Altima has something for everyone. The Nissan Altima has confirmed its status as Oman’s favourite family car; demonstrated by its winning of numerous worldwide awards such as the Best Mid-Priced Sedan, Best Mid-size Sedan and a lot more. Altima’s distinctive, aggressive exterior design defies convention once again. Its sweeping character lines, dual exhaust with single chrometip finishers, and jet fighter-inspired taillights make it a standout in a sea of banal sedan design.

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Bentley’s new Continental GT

Mitsubishi offers end of year deals Bentley Motors hosted the international media drive of the new Continental GT coupé in Oman. Journalists from all around the world have experienced the new Bentley against the Sultanate’s unique backdrop of dramatic scenic beauty, colourful history, world class hotels and superb, new driving roads. The original and highly successful Continental GT introduced in 2003 represented the first step in Bentley’s renaissance and defined a whole new market segment. It was a luxury GT that remained

true to the Bentley grand touring spirit, achieving major worldwide sales success. Since its introduction in the Middle East, the Continental GT has become one of the most coveted models among the region’s automotive connoisseurs. The new four-seat Continental GT builds on the success of its predecessor, capturing that GT spirit, but with even higher standards of design, engineering, luxury, craftsmanship, refinement, everyday practicality and dynamic performance.

Mitsubishi Oman offers a series of great deals for a two-month promotion that gives customers the chance to snap up some of its most popular models until the end of 2010. Leading the way is one of the nation’s most popular and trusted SUVs – the Mitsubishi Pajero GLX with its 3.8 or 3.5 litre engine– designed to handle both the roughest off-road terrain in the Sultanate and cruise in comfort across the nation’s highways. During the two month

Zippy hatchback drives into Oman

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promotional period, the Pajero GLX will be available from only RO10,500 with a host of other benefits including free servicing up to 30,000km or two years. The new sleek, sporty looks of the 2010 Outlander GLX can now be bought from only RO8,700. Besides, two of Mitsubishi’s most popular sedans – the entry level Lancer GL and the more powerful high performance sports sedan are both included in the two month promotion that is currently underway.

Young discerning drivers can now look forward to the newest Renault hatchback, the Sandero, which is now available across all sales centres of Suhail Bahwan Automobiles in Oman. The new Renault Sandero is an eye-catching, ‘cool’ 5-door hatchback that exudes modern design, dynamic performance and robust reliability with an attractive prices. The Renault Sandero is a small, inexpensive, compact city car aimed at the entrylevel segment of the high-volume AB hatchback category. The car has had phenomenal success overseas eagerly embraced by the South American and European markets which led to the launch of this new compact hatch across the region. Before being launched in Oman, the Sandero was put through vigorous testing in the region to ensure the car is suited and well adapted to local driving conditions. December 2010 87


Majan-Time Travels combo win Oman Air Cup

Ahlibank holds workshop on LHC As part of its Responsible Banking initiatives, ahlibank recently held a two-day innovative workshop at Grand Hyatt on Leader’s Health Challenge (LHC), a pioneering offering for the corporate clients of the bank. The programme was conducted in association with McGannon Institute of Proactive Health, France, and was attended by the leaders of the Sultanate’s corporate world. The Leader’s Health Challenge (LHC) is the newest, most evolved leadership health module and is

an educational and motivational programme designed to provide the corporate senior executives with the opportunity to reflect and take stock of their most important asset – health. It is a comprehensive, effective and proactive approach to reinforcing the critical link between professional performance and personal well-being. Staffed by a highly competent and experienced group of health professionals, LHC stresses the development of self mastery for the management team and is full of tips for creating momentum in their fitness quest.

BankDhofar announces Al Heson lucky winner With over 100 fans cheering the ten hour-long knockout cricket tournament, Majan-Time Travels combo were crowned champions of the first Oman Air Cup at the Rusayl Football Stadium. Presided over by Oman Air country manager and chief guest, Maitha Al Mahrouqi, the final match witnessed MajanTime Travels take the reign against

Marmul. During the prize giving ceremony, Al Mahrouqi says, “The friendly competition brought together a multicultural and diverse community that not only lives the passion for the sport of cricket, but shares our vision of making Oman Air the airline of choice and promoting the Sultanate as a unique tourist destination.

Polyglot, Omantel hold training Omantel, in collaboration with Polyglot Institute Oman, recently organised a four-day intensive customised training programme on “Time Management” and “Problem Solving and Decision Making Skills”. The programme, overseen by two experienced trainers, provided an overview of planning, reviewing goals, knowing prime time, setting correct priorities, reducing paper work, scheduling for maximum productivity, problem-solving techniques, re-engineering decision 88

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making processes and creative problem-solving techniques etc. Participants were exposed to a variety of activities and exercises, including brainstorming sessions, group games and role-plays. Everyone remained energetic and enthusiastic throughout the four days of training. Polyglot Institute Oman organises numerous soft skills programmes for its large client base all over Oman.

A customer of BankDhofar’s AlKhoud branch has won the bank’s Al Heson savings scheme worth RO40,000. The draw was held at the bank’s Suwaiq branch under the auspices of HE Hamed bin Khamis Al Jadidi, Shura Council member. The Al Heson savings scheme offers customers a chance to win RO40,000 weekly prizes for every RO100 saved for those with a minimum balance account of RO100 to RO999, for every multiple of RO50 for those with a balance account of

RO1000 to RO9,999 and a chance to win for every RO20 saved for those who maintain a minimum balance account of RO10,000 and onwards. “Time and again, BankDhofar has proven the remarkable appeal of its savings scheme. Al Heson is a unique scheme which not only encourages a strong savings habit but also rewards loyal customers for the trust reposed in the bank.” says Faisal Hamad Al Wahaibi, assistant general manager, Retail Banking.


Legendary Girard-Perregaux

The distributor of global brands in Oman, Khimji’s Watches unveiled as many as five Girard-Perregaux (GP) watches at its showroom in Shatti al Qurum. The GP Manufacture is one of the jewels in the crown of Swiss Haute Horlogerie. Known for its high-end watches and craftsmanship, GP has succeeded in preserving and developing its unique expertise over a period of more than two centuries. It has distinguished itself with remarkable creations, including its legendary Tourbillon

with three gold Bridges. It has some of the most innovative designs and movements first created by Constant GirardPerregaux in the 19th century, like the Tourbillon with three gold Bridges. Pankaj Khimji, director, Khimji Ramdas says, “We are happy to add to our exclusive collection of watches, a new range of watches from Swiss watchmaker Girard-Perregaux. Though the Oman market is small for luxury watches, GP watches will appeal to our discerning customers.”

VLCC launches anti-obesity drive VLCC, the Middle East’s premier wellness, scientific slimming and preventive healthcare brand, has launched a 34-day long antiobesity drive from November 14 to December 17. This year, the anti-obesity drive is marked under the theme, ‘Fight Obesity, Live Life’. Over the years, the drive has been successfully launched at all VLCC centres worldwide. “Obesity

is manageable and if treated early, can lead to better health outcomes,” says Prafull Dwivedi, business head, VLCC International. VLCC has designated November 26 as the Anti Obesity Day, and observes it every year in India, Nepal, the UAE, Oman and Bahrain. Special pogrammes such as dietary recommendations, fitness camps, workshops and talk shows are held on the occasion.

NHI introduces Hotex Slim National Heaters Industries (NHI), the largest manufacturer and seller of water heaters in Oman, has introduced Oman’s first range of slim water heaters – ‘Hotex Slim’. This exciting new water heater is specially designed to fit above the false ceiling of bathroom and kitchen, and once installed, it works just as well as any other Hotex Water Heater. The Hotex Slim Water Heater comes in two capacities – 35 ltr and 50 ltr. It

has a unique dual mounting option (wall or ceiling); comes with ‘DHM’ (diagonal heating mechanism) technology for higher performance, an extended indicator, thick PUF insulation and double safety thermal cut-out protection. The Hotex Slim Water Heater is part of the Hotex family, the brand enjoyed by millions of customers in the country over the past 25 years.

Al Mazyona contest winners announced BankMuscat has announced al Mazyona online contest winners. The first-of-its-kind initiative aimed at encouraging prudent savings and spending habits, the exercise generated nation-wide response from prospective al Mazyona jackpot winners on what they will do for society in the event of winning the big prize. The five winners selected for the best entries on wisely utilising the prize money are

Abdullah Sulaiman Mabrook Al Talai, Devan Padmanabhan, Dr Navneet Saini, Khaleeque Ahmed Saiyed and Lovely Jospeh. Their commitment to society included producing cheap, easy to make portable solar water recycling systems; setting up nonprofit organisations for the welfare of village people; genetic test and counseling centre for pre-marital counseling to rule out genetic disorders etc.

Jet Ski team shine in World Finals Oman’s first National Jet Ski team, sponsored by Zubair Automotive Group, attended their first US World Championships where they competed against contestants from 34 countries. Zubair Automotive Group sponsored the team by providing them with the very latest Sea Doo Jet Skis and water sports equipment

allowing each member of the team to showcase their skills using some of the best equipment available in today’s market. The team secured 30th place in the overall tournament. In individual category, Tall al Busaidi won fifth place in Open Slalom and 10th place in Novice Runabout tournament. December 2010 89


BEYONDBOARDROOMS to stay with their family and move from one city to another, by simply paying the differential memberships. Our member in Oman can visit our property in an Indian city with family and our member from Mumbai can stay with his family in Dubai. We are employing the best technology to integrate our members, facilities and employees. We have a fullfledged IT team for this.

Privileged leisure Country Club India sees a lot of promises in Oman’s hospitality sector, says Varun Reddy, CEO of the company. Excerpts from an interview

Can you give us a brief on Country Club India, its operations and properties? Country Club is very dominant in India with a history of more than two decades in the industry. We offer 225 properties of which 55 are owned properties and our expansion plans are crossing borders with Dubai, Sri Lanka and Oman emerging as the favourite destinations for all the members. We have also affiliations with various clubs and properties world wide. All these international destinations are known for their individual specialties that attract travelers from all over the world. We could bring different people from different communities to one place. We have enchanted tourists from all over the world. In Dubai we have our own properties. Though we do

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not have our own properties in Oman, our second branch in the Middle East, we have made tie-ups with a bunch of partners including health clubs, restaurants, hotels etc. to provide the maximum experience to the customers. What are the facilities the County Club offers? Our state-of –the art facilities include health clubs, lawn tennis, squash, multicuisine restaurants, business centres, swimming pool, festive celebrations, beauty pageants and interesting entertainment facilities. We are offering a lot of discounts to customers. We offer a choice of holidays at exquisite destinations from among our 225 properties. We have different membership packages. We offer a unique opportunity to our members

A word about your recently launched Privilege Programme in the Sultanate? The privilege programme entitles members to a host of privileges at various outlets across Oman. The card enables members to avail fabulous discounts and offers locally at partner outlets. The Privilege Programme Directory, exclusively for the Privilege Card holders, takes them to various outlets including favourite brands, day-to-day necessities, luxury and lifestyle etc. What are your expectations from Oman’s market? A lot of people are comfortable with Country club in India and Dubai. A huge community from here is also looking for entertainment. We will be adding a lot of value to the Omani tourism market and we see immense potential for tourism in the entire region. Being one of the most dynamic countries in the world, Oman is a melting pot of different cultures. The hospitality sector in Oman shows a lot of promise. What will be your next destination in the Gulf? We are planning to set up our facilities in Abu Dhabi, Bahrain and Kuwait in the future.


ART & CULTURE

A fascinating ‘journey’ ‘The Journey,’ a unique photo exhibition of HH Sayyid Tarik bin Shabib al Said was recently opened under the auspices of HH Sayyid Shabib bin Taimour al Said at Bait Muzna Gallery. As many as 30 photos of Sayyid Tarik from various parts of the world were on display in the exhibition which was organised by the Environment Society of Oman (ESO) and Bait Muzna Gallery.

RAPA NUI, Easter Island, 7/10

SCROLLING ROOT, Vanuatu 3/08

BRONCHIAL TREE, Grey Lake, Torres Del Paine National Park, Patagonia, Chile 7/10 December 2010 91


OER - December 2010  

OER - December 2010

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