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CALLIGRAPHY ISSUE NO. 27

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THE EMIRATES


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contents

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the emirates 20

Lawrence of Arabia

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A Desert Oasis

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A Collector’s Utopia

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Oud

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Sustainable Falconry

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F1 H2O

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The Magic of Arabia

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Traditional Dhow Racing

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Pins & Needles

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Psst Don’t Tell

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Start Your Engines

Grand Strategist & Agent Provocateur

Bab al Shams

The UAE Art Scene

Incense of the Ancients

Since Bedouins Roamed the Land

Full Throttle on the Water

One&Only Royal Mirage

In Dubai

Arabic Calligraphy

Family Fun on a Legendary Island

Abu Dhabi’s New F1 Racetrack


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marine 14 Princess 85

New in Cape Town

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Virtual Ocean Racing

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St Thomas

Online Sailing

The Reggae Regatta

motoring 24 200EX

The Rolls-Royce of Motor Cars

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Corvette 789 No Two Alike

lifestyle 18 Mythos

A Taste of the Med

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Artistic Optimism

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Cartier

Graham’s Fine Art Gallery

Three Times the Polo Champion

regulars 12 From The Helm 76 From the Galley 78 Live the Life 80 Making Waves 10

PRE S TI G e


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Issue 27

from the helm Once it was believed that the world was flat and that ships setting sail faced the danger of falling off the edge. Until, one day, this firmly-held belief was finally proven wrong through the journey of Magellan, whose circumnavigation of the globe in the early 1500s confirmed the scientific toil and vision of early Greek philosophers Pythagoras, Ptolemy and Aristotle. In his landmark 1962 book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, author Thomas S Kuhn explains how ideas and work cluster around a particular paradigm, a collectively held wisdom, until someone steps right out of the box and challenges that paradigm. We are living in the midst of such a shift in the way we view the world, courtesy of one good airline. For modern day travellers, England took centre stage Next Edition: on the world map for hundreds of years, and Heathrow That Ché Guevara Photo seemed like the obvious gateway from which to explore any part of the Earth. Until Emirates Air’s global hub-andspoke model drew our attention to how central to the African and global geography and history the Arabian Peninsula really is. And its significance to our own present and future socio-economic networks too. (In fact, had Ptolemy’s theories not survived and been translated in Arabia during the reign of the Dark and Middle Ages in Europe when scientific exploration was kept under the harsh thumb of the Church, we would have lost access to the basic foundations of a spherical map of the Earth forever.) Thousands of South Africans work and live in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Our youth and teachers needed at home have settled in this harsh desert climate; our engineers and entrepreneurs are helping shape the world’s most exciting metropolis; our European guests of yesterday have found a safe and entertaining haven much closer to their home; and the UAE has made the world’s most exciting events and its luxury brands, malls, and experiences more accessible to South Africans. In this special edition on the UAE, we dig deeper than the typical travel feature. Yes, the Dubai skyline is a sight to behold and one must tip one’s hat to their architectural and engineering ambition. But beneath all the contemporary wonder of this one city state, currently a bit in offseason with the world’s economic crisis (and a great time for bargain shopping), rests an old culture, with deep values and a genuinely admirable sense of aesthetics, underpinned by a long history of ingenuity for prospering in the harshest of climates with the scarcest of resources. The hospitality industry in the two emirates we recently visited, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, continue the tradition of welcoming you as if you were arriving at an oasis after a sandstorm, and the food is just to die for! The Dubai and Abu Dhabi Yacht Shows have become mainstays on the international yachting calendar, while we also honour the legacy of sailor-traders with a story on traditional dhow racing. The new Abu Dhabi Formula One track hosts its first Grand Prix in November; local mogul Sol Kerzner’s hotels on the Jumeirah Palm, Atlantis and One&Only are the talk of the town across the globe; and for those intrepid outdoorsy South Africans, there is both a desert and a peninsula to explore. The malls and souks of Dubai hold not only some of the world’s best art and luxury shopping, but also the craftsmanship and character of ancient cultures from this region. If a man gets tired of Dubai, well then…?

PUBLISHER: Tanya Goodman (PhD Yale) tanya@prestigemag.co.za Chapel Lane Media PO Box 13404, Hatfield, 0028 Tel: +27 82 671 2762 Fax: +27 866 78 6370 MANAGING EDITOR: Charl du Plessis (MBA Yale, PhD Darden) Tel: +27 82 452 8110 charl@prestigemag.co.za EDITOR: Toni Ackermann toni@prestigemag.co.za Lifestyle EDITOR: Claudia Henkel claudiahenkel@prestigemag.co.za ADVERTISING: Rui Barbosa Tel: +27 84 290 2070 rui@prestigemag.co.za Adie Pranger Tel: +27 83 601 2291 / +27 11 465 1572 adie@prestigemag.co.za Lodene Grobler Tel: +27 79 876 4130 lodene@prestigemag.co.za Claudia Henkel Tel: +27 82 443 6470 claudiahenkel@prestigemag.co.za DESIGN & LAY-OUT: Liesel van der Schyf VDS Design Studio Tel: +27 82 336 7537 liesel@vdsdesign.co.za SUBSCRIPTIONS: SMS the words SUBSCRIBE PRESTIGE, followed by your name and email address, to +27 82 452 8110. Alternatively, email your name, cell number and delivery address to mail@prestigemag.co.za. Print: CTP Cape Town DISTRIBUTION: Prestige is available at major news stand outlets and through subscription. Prestige is freely distributed on private charter fleets, in leading five-star hotels and airport lounges, as well as upscale coffee shops, wellness centres and spas, and waiting areas for private banking clients. Cover Images Credits: Main: Gallo Images / Getty Images Thumbnails: Charl du Plessis; Atlantis Palm Jumeirah; Rolls-Royce; Princess Yachts; Art Dubai

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THe BOLd NeO AfRiCA

FAST CARS ISSUE NO. 26

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PRESTIGE

LEGENDARY COCO CHANEL

Prestige magazine has grown from its roots as a luxury yachting magazine, to become the leading South African luxury lifestyle magazine for high net worth individuals, and those who aspire to that lifestyle. Prestige incorporates the latest on the sport of kings and the king of sports (yachting), luxury travel, exotic motoring, private aviation, style and design, food and décor, arts and architecture, collectibles, jewellery, fashion, property and holistic well-being. Working with a finely nuanced definition of luxury, namely “meaningful and successful lives beyond money, old or new,” it is a magazine for families with finesse and financial freedom who engage with the world across many interesting dimensions. With each edition, Prestige pursues a mix of luxury elements that include rarity, nostalgia, elegance, understatement, freedom, curiosity, generosity, intelligence, wit, aesthetics, 12 PRE S TI G e adventure and more. Simply holding and enjoying Prestige should already feel like a luxury in itself.

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All rights are reserved. The views expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of the publisher. PRESTIGE is published by Chapel Lane Media. Opinions expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of the publisher or any of its clients. Information has been included in good faith by the publisher and is believed to be correct at the time of going to print. No responsibility can be accepted for errors and omissions. While every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the information and reports in this magazine, the publisher does not accept any responsibility, whatsoever, for any errors, or omissions, or for any effects resulting there from. No part of this publication may be used, or reproduced in any form, without the written permission of the publisher. Copyright © 2009. All copyright for material appearing in this magazine belongs to Chapel Lane Media and/or the individual contributors. All rights reserved.


AVOID THE RUSH

ROLLS-ROYCE 200EX Arriving December 2009. Contact Marek on 082 560 1023 Rolls-Royce Sandton: Sandton Isle, Cnr Rivonia Road and Linden Road, Sandown,Telephone: +27 (11) 676 6655


N ew

princess 85 i n C a p e To w n Visitors to the V&A Waterfront during the Easter weekend were awed by the addition of one of the most glamorous luxury yachts yet to arrive in Cape Town. The R42 million, shining-new Princess 85 is now moored outside the Cape Grace for its proud new owners, adding to the already impressive number of large Princess yachts in local waters. Words: CHARL DU PLESSIS Images: © PRINCESS

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rincess, the UK manufacturer of multiple-award-winning yachts – now owned by the luxury brand group Louis Vuitton – is represented in South Africa by one of the pioneers of the local luxury yachting industry, David Abromowitz. His office is tucked in right next to the elegant Cape Grace hotel, and looks out over the marina where, amongst others, the equally impressive 25-metre Princess Emma is moored alongside the huge new Princess 85-foot Eve, as this latest arrival will be named. Many months of hard work have gone into the commissioning, shipping and preparation of Eve for her new owners. I had the chance to step onboard, on one of those glorious, balmy late summer afternoons, when the final touches before hand-over were going full blast.


FEATURE

Stepping onto the transom, we pass the access to the crew cabins at the back of the yacht and enter the main saloon and lounge area. The sense of space is palpable, mainly because the area is all on one level and surrounded by enormous windows that let in the play of the late afternoon’s soft light. At this size, with a permanent crew of three, the galley is enclosed to the front. The owners of these size yachts apparently entertain while others pour and prepare for their guests. The galley is equipped to the highest standards with granite surfaces and generous refrigeration, as well as ample storage space and access to the port-side deck. A separate dining table seats eight within a dedicated dining area amidships, while the saloon is fitted

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with a contemporary U-shaped seating area and an entertainment centre, incorporating an LCD TV with up and down movement stowing itself in the starboard sideboard. Heavy, triple sliding doors keep the weather outside. Forward to the helm, the captain has a wide view perched on a seat at a panel that would make racing drivers green. All the latest technological wizardry has been fitted, but I am mostly struck by the stylish leather trim of the companion nook adjacent to the captain’s seat. This yacht can cruise the distance, and I can imagine some family members with laptops and charts sharing this comfortable space with the captain while planning the day’s route. Or perhaps, with guests or kids busy

elsewhere on the yacht, a few minutes of quiet time for Eve, for whom the boat was named, curling up on the bench next to the captain, the two of them silently enjoying the approaching harbour lights after a good day’s cruise. Below decks almost make you wish for rainy days. The master stateroom is set in the middle, the widest part of the yacht, and feels like a good six-star hotel bedroom. I smell the new carpets and wood oils used on the panelling. Four portholes each side bring the water close and add light. The granite-finish bathroom en suite has a size bath that would be the envy of any tall NBA basketball player. Off to port side, a walk-in closet adds the final touches. The guest cabins to the fore all have a similar feel of elegance and plenty of storage space. This area comes standard with two more double cabins and one bunk cabin for the youngsters, yet owners can choose between a three or four cabin layout, all with en suite facilities. Crew quarters are located aft of the machinery space, allowing separation from the main guest owner accommodation. The large Caterpillar engines in this space ensure all the privacy one may need. The fun part is on the upstairs flybridge area. Not many local yachts are large enough for a jacuzzi, so how could one not notice this feature. The tender is neatly hidden to the back with its hydraulic crane discretely folded away, while to the fore,


there is plenty of room and seating to share the magnificent views from the top. Peeking forward, I notice the separate entertaining and sunbathing area on the foredeck coach roof. Amazing what extra luxuries you can introduce onboard when you have those extra few feet of space. The Princess 85 Motor Yacht is suited for long medium range cruising, thanks to a deep V hull and the draft-reducing propeller tunnels, ensuring easy handling. Ending our tour on the teak-laid flybridge, with its fully-equipped bar and generous seating and sunbed, Nicole van der Wall, David Abromowitz’s assistant, waxes lyrical about the new stabiliser systems that make cruising on the open sea almost undetectable as well as preventing roll while at anchor. Nicole stays on to have a sundowner with a tired crew, as I drag myself off to another meeting. What a life to own one of these yachts!  Contact David Abromowitz & Associates • Tel: +27 21 419 0722 • Email: info@yachtbrokers.co.za


FEATURE

Mythos A Taste of the Med

Spreading Mediterranean warmth across the Design Quarter (Fourways), Bedford Square (Bedfordview) and Atholl Square (Sandton), Mythos' contemporary Greek restaurants capture the idyllic simplicity and hospitality of these distant islands and serve fare that will make even the most hardened gastronome weak at the knees. Words: MYTHOS Images: Š Mythos; ISTOCKPHOTO.COM

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t Mythos, the décor is light and elegant; chic, one could say. The tables are generously proportioned; the white chairs funky and comfortable. Outside, square umbrellas offer relief from the warm African sun, while inside, the bar beckons with its tall, dramatic display of coloured glass bottles. Mythos is a vibey spot to enjoy a light lunch or a lingering dinner, and captures the idyllic simplicity of the Greek Islands so well that it almost enthuses guests to visit this historic and beautiful place. The décor might indeed be marvellous, but the fare is without a doubt the main attraction. In our world of fast convenience

dishes collectively called “meze,” thoughtfully sorted into vegetarian and fish-meat categories. Falafel (deep-fried chick-pea balls); grilled haloumi cheese; dolmades (vine leaves stuffed with mince or herbed rice); spanakopita (phyllo pastry stuffed with spinach and a hint of feta); keftethes (traditional Greek meatballs spiced with onion, garlic and mint); grilled chicken livers with olive oil, onion, lemon and rosemary; squid heads and oysters. And that’s not forgetting the many tasty dips or the warm, toasted pita breads. Those are just the starters, the main dishes consist of Greek favourites such as Kleftiko, a tender, oven-roasted lamb shank served with potatoes; Mousakka, a layered mince, aubergine and potato bake; and

sparkling wine also on offer. The cocktail selection is enticing too. Besides, who can resist an icy strawberry daiquiri laced with rum? As if Mythos’ offerings weren’t yet enough, the dessert menu dazzles. Extrathick, homemade Greek yoghurt with honey and nuts, syrupy baklava ice-cream, grilled halva, cheesecake topped with black cherry sauce, and galaktobouriko – creamy custard wrapped in phyllo pastry and soaked in syrup – basically, a dieter’s nightmare. Mythos also has a superb, upstairs function room able to seat as many as 70 guests, making it a great venue for a private party. There is also a private dining facility that can accommodate up to 14 people, which also has conference amenities.

food, people sometimes forget that eating can be an experience capable of arousing the senses. Authentic cuisine and simple, tasty food has always been a wonderful expression of Greek culture, where sharing a meal is always a joyous occasion. Dining at Mythos is no exception. Using traditional, fresh ingredients and making everything on site, at Mythos eating becomes an adventure for the tastebuds. The menu, a splendid example of authentic cuisine, contains a varied selection of those scrumptious starter-type

Kota Dijon, chicken cooked in a creamy Dijon sauce and served with your choice of spaghetti or rice. Various steak, fish and shellfish options also grace the menu, while quick and easy lunch dishes include pitas and schwarmas stuffed with your choice of beef, Cypriot sausage, falafel, or haloumi cheese and filled to bursting with salads and tzatziki sauce. The wine list may be small but it contains a good selection, comprising both South African and Greek varietals. Various wines are available by the glass, with

Mythos is all about having a great experience – fine wine, great food, attentive staff and outstanding service (management has an excellent, hands-on presence too). Try it, you'll love it. Mythos is situated at the following locations: Design Quarter, corner William Nicol and Leslie Roads, Fourways (contact: +27 11 465 3468); Bedford Square, corner Van der Linde and Smith Streets (contact: +27 11 615 2271); Atholl Square, corner Katherine and Wierda Road East, Sandton (contact: +27 11 783 5615). 

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Lawrence of

ARABIA Grand Strategist & Agent Provocateur

A man of many names, he found enemies to fight from the air, from tanks, from a converted RollsRoyce in the desert, but mostly from using the stirrings that thrive in the hearts and minds of men of ambition. TE Lawrence, the illegitimate Welsh boy from a band of five brothers, helped shape the destiny of the Middle East as had few others to live forever in history as “Lawrence of Arabia.�


S PY

Words: CHARL DU PLESSIS Images: © GALLO IMAGES / GETTY IMAGES; ISTOCKPHOTO.COM

Lawrence joined the Arab forces of Arabian Sheik Feisal al Husayn, a man he would later describe in his book, The Seven Pillars, as “the man I had come to Arabia to seek – the leader who would bring the Arab Revolt to full glory.” Riding out on horseback in Arab garb, often reputed to go about barefoot despite the hot desert sand, Lawrence became the scourge of enemy forces. By some accounts, he was inspired by Lord Kitchener’s respect for the commando tactics of the Boers during the Anglo Boer War and many of these tactics were applied: railways were blown up under cover of night and small raids executed against key installations or supply lines. Lawrence also led the capture of the important port of Akaba in July 1917,

was discovered, he joined the Royal Tank Corps under the name of Thomas Edward Shaw. In 1925, he returned to the Air Force as Shaw, serving in England and in India for 10 years. He left the service in 1935 and moved to Moreton, Dorsetshire, where he bought a little cottage named Clouds Hill. “I imagine leaves must feel like this after

Riding out on horseback in Arab garb, often reputed to go about barefoot despite the hot desert sand, Lawrence became the scourge of enemy forces.

I

t was the cruellest of wars, and hundreds of thousands of young men lay dying in the muddy trenches and cordite-clouds of Europe. It was World War I, and the Central Powers, consisting of the German Empire, the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Bulgaria had set their sights on growing their sphere of influence. The Ottoman Empire, way past its zenith and reeling from recent declarations of independence by Algeria, Libya and Tunisia (following a long list of defections that started with Greece’s secession in 1829), still held formidable power. Now known as Turkey, this once-great power entered World War I to take part in the Middle Eastern theatre. The Turks, soon becoming known for their horrendous brutality in war, had several important early victories such as the Battle of Gallipoli and the Siege of Kut; but there were setbacks as well, such as the disastrous Caucasus Campaign against the Russians. In Cairo, tucked away in a cartography unit of the British Army, a young officer with a profound knowledge of the language and customs of the Middle East, acquired through his archaeological endeavours and studies in areas now known as Syria, Iraq, Palestine and Turkey, was assigned to British Intelligence in 1916. Having recently received the devastating news that one of his brothers had died in the trenches in France, the young Lawrence was chomping at the bit to make his life count for something. A cameo in the grand strategy for the Middle East offered him this opportunity. The political and military plan was to prime the Arab Revolt for further nationalistic and ethnic wars of independence against the Ottoman Empire, thereby weakening and diverting the Central Powers’ offensive efforts to the west in Europe and to the east against Russia. Lawrence was passionate about the idea of an Arab Revolt, for reasons beyond mere political expedience on the part of the British. His 1,100-kilometre hike through their land, his interaction with their people and his profound knowledge of their history and culture had made him a believer in their cause for independence. Fully conversant in Arabic, Lieutenant

distracting the Turks when the British army began its invasion of Palestine and Syria. Lawrence’s body was riddled with shrapnel and bullet wounds from the skirmishes, yet he took on an almost untouchable, mystical presence among British and Arab forces, and the enemy alike. His one major setback was in 1916, when he was captured and subjected to beatings and homosexual rape by the Turkish governor of Deraa. Though he escaped, Lawrence was shattered by the experience. “'I gave away the only possession we are born into the world with – our bodily integrity,” he later wrote. He described the governor in his later works as “an ardent pedarest,” (Lawrence’s term) without any irony, as rumours of Lawrence’s own friendships with young Arab boys followed him around for most of his life. Lawrence was present in France as adjutant to Feisal when the French and English carved up the Arabian world through the Sykes-Picot agreement, and he resigned his commission in disgust. He then enlisted with the Royal Air Force under the name of John Hume Ross. When his identity

they have fallen from their tree and until they die,” Lawrence wrote in a letter. In May 1935, Lawrence was killed in an accident near his home – he was out on his cherished George Brough motorcycle, the fastest in the UK at the time. Some speculated that, in fact, Lawrence had been assassinated by foreign agents or that the secret service had faked his death in order to provide cover for a special assignment in the Middle East. While most of these rumours were subsequently denied or disproved, it is testament to the fact that so many could not accept that a man as extraordinary as he could lose his life in such an ordinary way. 

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S M OOTH

200EX

Th e R o l l s - R o y c e o f M o t o r C a r s The 200EX is the latest experimental vehicle from Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, and explores a design direction for a dynamic, modern, four-door Rolls-Royce engineered for the 21st Century. Words & Images: © ROLLS-ROYCE MOTOR CARS

E

xperimental models have always played a significant role in the history of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, from the first – 1EX, built in 1919 – to the most recent – 101EX, built in 2006. Unlike a concept car, the experimental models developed by Rolls-Royce have always been fully-functioning vehicles, residing in a tangible world of wood, leather and metals rather than clay and foam. EX cars offer designers and engineers the opportunity for real-world innovation. Following on from the success of first the 100EX, an experimental car unveiled in 2003, and the 101EX, released two years

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later, the same group of designers and engineers created the 200EX, itself pointing the way to the RR4, a new Rolls-Royce model scheduled for production in 2010. The design brief for the 200EX centred on a modern, lithe and dynamic Rolls-Royce bearing all the hallmarks of the great cars that went before: effortless performance, unparalleled refinement, exquisite quality and confident design. The 200EX is noticeably less formal than previous models, with a distinct dynamic edge to its styling that broadens the appeal of the car, making it more appropriate for a wider range of circumstances. Says Chief Designer, Ian Cameron, “What you see is a

modern car that is immediately recognisable as a true Rolls-Royce. Design elements such as the elevated prow, long bonnet, short front overhang, sharply raked A-pillar and elegant tail give 200EX an air of informal presence – powerful but unobtrusive.” The exterior is dominated by large, uninterrupted surfaces, while finelysculptured horizontal lines add definition and geometric precision. In combination, the upward-sweeping sill line and low-cut roof create a powerful profile. The rear-hinged coach doors give the car a natural presence and sense of theatre. At the front, a pair of LED headlamps flank the latest evolution of the world’s most famous grille, while the


FEATURE

sides of the intake have been curved inwards and the vanes set back into the opening. The exterior is finished in Darkest Tungsten, which contrasts with the silver satin finish applied to the bonnet and A-pillar. Sevenspoke, 20-inch wheels complete the visual impact of the exterior. Inside, Interior Designer Alan Sheppard accomplished a contemporary feel, incorporating the Rolls-Royce Motor Cars' principles of fine materials and peerless comfort. The space is filled with natural light, bringing the outside inside, though substantial doors and a high shoulder line ensure that occupants feel cosseted and protected. The dashboard has been kept

deliberately clear; with a spacious and intuitive layout. The controls are neatly sculptured, with more important functions emphasised by accents of chrome. “As with any Rolls-Royce, detail is crucial,” says Sheppard. “We want the lasting impression for owners to be that their car was made just for them by someone skilled and caring.” Naturally, the finest materials have been used. Elegant, frosted lamps and chrome door handles feature prominently, while details include traditional violin key switches, eyeball air vents, opaque dials and refined instrumentation. The interior of the 200EX is finished in supple, natural grain Crème Light leather, with Cornsilk carpets

and cashmere blend headliner. The featured wood veneer is Santos Palissander, chosen for its contemporary look and striking grain. “200EX is a modern execution of timeless Rolls-Royce elegance, breaking with some areas of tradition but retaining the core values that make our marque unique,” says Chief Executive Officer Tom Purves. “We expect the more informal, agile design to broaden the appeal of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, attracting people who appreciate its fusion of refinement, new technology and contemporary style.” For more information, contact Marek on +27 82 560 1023. 

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Oasis D ese r t B a b

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FEATURE

It was hot. Not by Arabian standards, but certainly for someone better attuned to the South African Highveld climate. The dunes were shimmering in the midday sun, and the last dust from an earlier sandstorm over Riyadh had left a fine grit between my teeth. It was time for refreshment. Words: CHARL DU PLESSIS Images: Š JUMEIRAH

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ow different must it have been for hundreds of generations of caravanserai to reach Bab al Shams? We had a tarred road; they traversed the desert sand. Our transport was an air-conditioned van, theirs was a few camels. I had plenty of chilled water at my disposal, and opened

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the windows to the hot desert air only to smoke the occasional Camel Filter. Theirs was the hope to reach the oasis for water before the hot desert sun smoked their camels. What we did have in common was the welcome face of the oasis. Out of the shimmering sand rose a few palm trees and the beautiful façade of the Jumeirah

Group’s five-star desert resort, Bab al Shams. Enter the world of rejuvenation. From the first minute I stepped into the cool, shady lobby with its friendly staff, through the next few days, I could feel not only the desert dust, but the sum of my worldly concerns being washed away. The resort is a maze of forms and secluded alcoves. You head up a set of stairs, duck through two doorways, pass a softly-lit sitting area with rich textured pillows, and get to a rooftop lounge where you can later stare at the sun setting over the desert. High walls with a cool sandstone finish, and ponds and pools wrench the heat of the day out of your bones. Here is shelter from the sun and the sand, and a fine pair of hands behind the scenes has made certain that you will not lack any of the creature comforts you may desire. After a long wade in the pool, I signed up for a few of the amazing activities on offer at Bab al Shams. My dark stallion rode the desert as if he did not know that horses could run on anything but sand. Later that day, I joined a wild 4x4 cruiser spin around the dunes, feeling like a veritable Lawrence of Arabia chasing down Turkish brigands. As the shadows grew longer, and after yet another dip in the tranquil pool, I ambled out with a few other guests to view the falcon and camel show. What a beautiful sight to see the swooping and swishing of


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this bird of prey, for one moment loyal and subdued on the glove of his handler, and the next moment airborne in his natural element. Nothing graceful about riding a camel, I should add, but they are colourful creatures – grunts, moans and smiles alike. Sunset in the desert – this is something to behold. As we loafed on the rooftop, with dancing flames emitted from exquisite little candelabras, an orange and pinkish hue spread overhead. The dust in the air

and the last of the heat waves were forging the sun’s dying rays into the most spectacular dusk sky I have ever seen. I could have sat in this serenity of the rooftop lounge all night, watching the sky and the first stars lurking, yet the day’s excitement and desert air had played their tricks on my appetite. Lunch at the intimidating Al Forsan restaurant buffet was somehow not enough to see me through, so I strolled out into the desert,

where, between old stone walls, I was about to dine under the Milky Way in a traditional Arabian oasis setting. Dining at the Al Hadheera Desert Restaurant is a feast in every sense of the word. Under open skies, with large pit fires and gentle lounge areas on soft pillows and rugs, one gets transported back in time. Traditional music livens up the air and I wished I had my twirling daughter there to witness the dervish dancer who kept going round and round and ever faster for all of an hour or more! The food stands groaned with the weight of choice – and as with every single meal I sat down for in the Emirates, I could hardly make a dent in the wonderful array of dishes on our table. The most dramatic sight of this whole trip soon ensued. Lights were dimmed, the music became melancholy, and the waiters drew back. Across the half-ring dune that rose outside the restaurant, horsemen wielding torches and swords atop powerful Arabian horses rushed along the arc of the dune, enacting a scene one could realistically imagine must have put definite fear into opposing tribesmen in a bygone era. And as soon as they came, they disappeared again, leaving only a few nomads with adorned camel saddles and their animals to shift along the sand on their way to who knows where. Another few days at the spa and the pool, the reading of a good book in yet another alcove, deep nights of sleep, and my growing awe for the tenacity and joyousness of ancient desert life, and I was perfectly happy never to leave again. Yet, all good things pass, and you would be remiss if ever visiting the United Arab Emirates if you did not book a night or two at Bab al Shams.  Contact Jumeirah Group Corporate Office: • Email: info@jumeirah.com • Visit: www.jumeirah.com

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S PAR K LE

a collector's

Utopia Th e

U A E

A r t

S c e n e

Over the last 10 years, Dubai has made international headlines mostly because of its largerthan-life developments and astounding growth rate. But Dubai is also creating a name for itself in the art world as the new place to do business and has the potential to be the most important art hub in the Middle East. Words: TONI ACKERMANN Images: © ART DUBAI

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here is truth in the oft-heard statement that the richest nations set the tone of the international art market. They establish the trends that artists will look to over the coming few years, they predict global tastes and, often, they decide who the next star will be. A recent survey of 60 international galleries

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revealed that many are turning to the Middle East to open up new opportunities in the contemporary art market, and it is a trend that is catching on fast: the contemporary art scene is booming, and Dubai is well positioned to capitalise on this. Despite the world’s current financial woes, several renowned art galleries around the world have recognised the awesome

potential of the Middle East. There is also growing interest from collectors, be they private, institutional or corporate. A few years back, pessimists in the industry shot down any notion of a Dubai art festival ever working in a city they deemed “bereft of arts and culture.” John Martin, Art Dubai founder and Director,


S PAR K LE

admits that there was indeed a degree of scepticism about whether the event would see much success. A defiant Dubai, however, proved everybody wrong, as the city recently saw the third instalment of its hugely successful annual art fair, Art Dubai. This contemporary art experience has blossomed over its short history to now include 68 galleries from around the world.

These include 13 from the Middle East, 27 from Europe, eight from the Americas, two from Russia and nine from Asia. Some 2,000 artworks by no less than 460 artists showed at this most recent event, as many as 350 international journalists reported on it, and 15,000 visitors of varying nationalities descended on it to get their creative fill. Says Claudia Cellini,

Co-Director of The Third Line art gallery, “Art Dubai is an excellent opportunity not only for international art to be exhibited in Dubai, but also for Middle Eastern artists to be seen throughout the region and on the world stage.� Dubai, the commercial heart of the Gulf region, is increasingly attracting contemporary artists, especially from

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neighbouring Iran and South Asia, largely because of ever-increasing exhibition space. Combined with zero import and export taxes for art, and a free flow of capital, the emirate has become a real rival to the eastern city of Hong Kong, the world's third most important art auction hub behind New York and London. International art fairs in Asia and the Middle East have also helped to fuel the demand for modern art. Says Benedict Floyd, co-founder of Art Dubai, “The idea of Dubai becoming a rival art centre to cities like London and New York is a pertinent question. We still have a lot of potential to tap here.” Floyd’s partner, John Martin, agrees, “Globally we are witnessing a highly significant cultural shift; it is an important moment for Dubai to develop its role as an art market centre and challenge the market dominance of New York and London.” The number of art galleries has indeed mushroomed in Dubai and a healthy competition has developed with Abu Dhabi, which is building five art and culture centres on Saadiyat Island. These centres will include a branch of the Louvre and the Guggenheim, with buildings designed by leading architects including Frank O Gehry.

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There is little doubt that Middle Eastern artists, buyers and collectors could emerge as the next big thing. When Christie's International opened in Dubai in 2005, its business plan projected $30 million in sales between 2006 and 2009. In just 18 months of auctions, however, Christie's raked in some $63 million – in part from the sale of jewellery and watches, but largely due to contemporary Arab, Indian, and Iranian works performing well above expectation. In fact, some players expect an even stronger market in the Middle East than in China. Many of the region’s art initiatives – to showcase the area’s artists as well as import Western art – have the direct backing of the government or royal families. Abu Dhabi is planning to spend $50 million to fill its Louvre, while Qatar’s Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani is on an extended spending spree to fill a quintet of museums planned for Doha, Qatar’s capital. The UAE is a natural target market: the people living here sit on more than 10 percent of all known oil reserves and have recently witnessed the world's largest construction boom. But, if the Middle East does indeed become an engine of the art market, artists, art sellers and art collectors will need to understand what traditions

influence Middle Eastern art and what styles the locals prefer. So what is the Dubai aesthetic? Most Middle Eastern artworks avoid animals and humans as subject matter, as these depictions can be perceived as condoning idol worship. Works that reference the area's history are popular, and those that are heavily patterned, geometric and richly coloured are commonplace too – partly because of the influence of Roman and Byzantine cultures. Of course, while galleries are increasingly showing Middle Eastern contemporary art, especially in London, it is still uncommon in Western collections. Also, most of the artists are unknown outside of the Middle East. But all this is changing fast. Martin says that the quality and strength of the applications made by galleries from Middle Eastern countries to Art Dubai is proof of the continued importance of the contemporary art market in the Gulf region. “We have witnessed a significant growth in this sector in the Middle East, which has happened simultaneously with other exciting cultural projects in the region,” he says. “The Middle East is an extremely exciting place to be at the moment, in terms of growth in the arts and culture sector.” 


FEATURE

Oud: Incense of the

Ancients It is said that the scent of Oud is like a small glimpse of Paradise. Deep and intense, Oud is crafted from a fragrant resin, harvested from the heart of an ancient tree. Richly complex and warm, the scent intensifies as the Oud matures, imparting a heady earthiness. And the cost of this rare incense can make your head spin – 1 kilogram can set you back a cool $30,000. Words: TANYA GOODMAN Image: © ISTOCKPHOTO.COM

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garwood, aloeswood, gaharu, eaglewood, jinkoh, aoud, oud, oudh are names for the world’s most valuable incense. This resinous material is produced by tropical rainforest trees and has been used for centuries as incense, in traditional medicine, and in religious rituals and ceremonies. Legend has it that when Adam was expelled from Heaven he took a leaf of the Aquilaria Thymelaeceae tree (also known as Agarwood) with him. As the leaf dried, it scattered throughout Southeast Asia, producing trees with a divine scent. In the Middle East, the tradition of Oud perfume is a multibillion-dollar industry. The international market is now catching on, especially in places like London and Paris, and Arabian perfume outlets are opening shops in these regions. Oud in its oil form is a considerable investment. The essence is sold and measured in 12 millilitre bottles called tola. Prices can range anywhere from 300 riyals ($80) to 8,000 riyals ($2,133) for one tola of oil. Oud can also be found in a raw, wood chip form for incense burning. Throughout the Kingdom of Arabia, this woodsy, spicy smell is associated with royalty, special occasions like weddings and births, and has become a traditional of both the holy month of Ramadan as well as

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the Eid Al-Fitr holiday. For those who can afford it, Oud is used to scent the home and the human body by burning the wooden chips over charcoal in a censer and allowing the smoke to waft through the room or through one’s clothes. The high price of Oud and its worth as a commodity is directly related to the difficult manner by which it is found and the many years it takes for the trees from which it is harvested to fully grow and develop. The unique aroma is due to a fungal infection of the heartwood, which causes the tree to secrete an aromatic protective resin, a process that takes decades to hundreds of years to form in the trunk. Only some of the Aquilaria trees are infected by this fungus, and traditionally, it has been the case that only once the tree was felled could one identify whether the fungus was present. These trees grow in some of the densest rainforests of Southeast Asia and are indigenous to India, Cambodia, Singapore, Laos Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand. Because of the extreme value of Oud, many of these forests have been over-exploited and certain species of the Aquilaria on the verge of becoming extinct. Scientists still do not know what triggers agarwood to form in certain old growth trees. Efforts by organisations such as The Rainforest Project Foundation and

international agreements such as CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) have helped to ensure that Aquilaria trees are now protected in most countries and the collection of agarwood from natural forests considered illegal. Professor Robert Blanchette at the University of Minnesota is currently spearheading efforts to perfect a process whereby agarwood can be artificially cultured, which will allow a sustainable yield of resin to be produced in relatively young trees. If you spend some time in any part of the UAE, you are likely to encounter this tantalising essence. You will know it when you smell it as Chandler Burr, author of The Emperor of Scent, describes when his protagonist first encounters the authentic aroma, “It knocks you over, clubs you like a falling stone. Its vast dimension is what astonishes: a huge smell, spatially immense and incredibly complex, a buttery layer as deep as a quarry, entirely animalic in impact, and yet the oudh itself is not actually an animalic, spicy without being a spice.” There are significant variations in the quality of Oud, so be prepared to pay heavily for the indulgence. We suggest you visit Abdul Samad Al Qurashi: The House of Aoud, Amber & Perfumes in Abu Dhabi or Dubai. For more information, call +966 2 539 55 44 or email info@abdulsamadalqurashi.com 


S OAR

Sustainable

FALCONRY

Since Bedouins Roamed the Land

Words: GAVIN PETTERSSON Images: Š GAVIN PETTERSSON; JUMEIRAH

The great ship of the desert, the camel, was the Bedouins’ steadfast and reliable companion in the harshness of the climate. Horses were revered for their nobility and dignity. But it was the falcon that provided relaxation and a sense of freedom for these nomads, when exercises of falconry set against the blue skies offered a brief respite from the tribulations of their everyday desert existence. 38

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thick leather glove covers the hands and lower part of the falconer’s arm to protect against the razor-sharp talons of his falcon when it comes in to land. The rope around the bird’s leg is quickly tied, and a leather mask goes over its head to close its eyes. Make no mistake; this is still a wild creature wired to take flight at a moment’s notice when instinct kicks in; she is simply using the convenience of the falconer’s trusted arm to rest and the tidbits of meat are a ready treat. A partnership of mutual convenience, this ritual has played out millions of times across the Arabian Peninsula, where falconry has long held a special place in the activity of hunting, and later, as a form of recreation. Lovers of this ancient sport of falconry (Qanass in the native tongue) believe it to be one of the finest examples of human interaction between man and nature. Falconry can be defined as: “The art of hunting wild quarry with a trained hawk.” It is considered an art as, in order to practice falconry, one needs a variety of skills and, even then, one must have passion, intuition and aptitude to achieve a measure of success. Falconry forms an important part of the Arabian cultural heritage in a land where Bedouins roamed the land for centuries, adapting and flourishing in its sometimes unforgiving heat and sand in partnership with their friends from nature. In fact, the UAE has applied to have this pursuit listed as a UNESCO International Non-Material Heritage Treasure. Like elsewhere, nature has been under pressure in this region from human development and exploitation, and it is for this reason that the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan married his love for hunting with a pioneering devotion to environmental protection. His foresight aimed at sustainable falconeering resulted in a successful bred-in-captivity programme for falcons and the cross-breeding of endangered species. More than 90 percent of falcons in the UAE now originate from these programmes, making the UAE the first country to fully rely on captive-bred birds for their sport. Visitors to the UAE might be able, at some resorts and events, to interact with falconers and their birds, but it is not an

easy sport to participate in at the drop of a hat, as skiing or wind-surfing would be. It is a patient process of bond building between bird and falconer. In South Africa, there are likely little more than 150 active falconers, all of whom had to follow a carefully-monitored apprenticeship with an SA Falconry Association member for at least one year before being allowed to keep their own bird. To become a fully-fledged falconer, one must join a local club, apply for the appropriate possession and hunting permits and then submit to a written and oral exam which tests whether the prospective falconer has the skill, equipment and facilities to take care of a bird of their own.

Falconers are then graded on their level of competence by their peers, with different levels matched to different birds they are allowed to fly. Although rigorous, this ensures that participants subscribe to the conservation ethos and a respect for the human-animal partnership that has underpinned the sport for so many years. To find out more about the art of falconry in South Africa, visit the Endangered Wildlife Trust’s Birds of Prey Working Group website at www.ewt.org.za. Alternatively, contact Dr Adrian Lombard, the Executive Secretary of the SA Falconry Association at lombarda@mweb.co.za to be directed to your provincial falconry club. 

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F1

H20

Full Throttle on the Water

The ability to go from 0 to 160 km/h in under five seconds, reach a top speed of 225km/h, and careen around a hairpin bend at high speed on water without flinching – this is Formula One (F1) Powerboat racing, the ultimate extreme sport. Described as driving an F1 race car at full speed across a ploughed field, this kind of racing is competitive, fascinating, challenging, risky, and of course, immensely entertaining. Words: TONI ACKERMANN Images: © F1BOAT PHOTOS SERVICE

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onsider this scene: 24 sleek and powerful, though decidedly lightweight, 16foot carbon fibre catamarans lined up at the start pontoon. Inside each cockpit, a lone driver squinting into the sun through a small windscreen, one hand on the steering wheel, the other poised above the start button of his craft, ready to fire up the V6 outboard engines. Then, the tension breaks and the boats roar to life – they boast an

awesome power-to-weight-ratio, weighing just 500 kilograms but with a 425hp, fully-tuned engine strapped to the transom. The fleet of craft screams towards the first corner, leaving a glistening fountain of white spray in its wake. Impressive as this is, consider this additional factor: drivers compete at the aforementioned speeds without the use of brakes or gears. Yes, F1 Powerboat racing has to be seen to be believed. Spectators who are new to this

spectacular water sport are more oft than not left spellbound when they first watch these catamarans defy all laws of gravity and literally lift into the air during highspeed manoeuvres. It is astonishing that these boats maintain their balance when taking hairpin turns at speeds of 150km/h. For said spectators, the usual question is: how on Earth do these boats stick to the water at such high speeds? The answer is simple: they don’t – quite the opposite actually. Working on the same principle

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as an aircraft wing, the twin hulls lift out of the water when power is applied and a cushion of air becomes trapped between the two hulls. The craft rides on this cushion. The rivalry between powerboat pilots often thrills the crowds with near-collision overtaking and daring acts as they blaze their boats across the water in high-octane velocity, with considerable dexterity and finely-tuned driving skills. Apparently, driving a powerboat is akin to piloting a fighter jet, and F1 pilots need split-second decision making abilities, not to mention nerves of steel. Once strapped into his fully-enclosed safety cell, the driver has only his talent and courage to achieve success on the circuit. Inaugurated in 1981, the F1 Powerboat World Championship is similar to Formula One motor racing and similar rules apply. Races are organised at selected locations around the world based on the water conditions (which play an important role), infrastructure, public access, local hotel

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amenities and telecommunication facilities. Every circuit is different in size, but generally about 2,000 metres in distance and with at least one long straight and several tight turns. Each race lasts between 30 and 45 minutes following a circuit marked out on a selected stretch of water, usually a lake, river, or sheltered bay. Qualifying periods decide the formation of the grid, and timing equipment records the performance of competitors to decide the final classification and all-important allocation of championship points. This year’s F1 Powerboat World Championship ushers in a new phase for the sport, as back-to-back Grands Prix will now run for each fixture. The start of the 2009 season took place in Portimão, Portugal, where the two dozen drivers from 12 different nations sat anxiously on the starting grid. Two new drivers – one veteran, at least, and one novice – were included in the line-up. Old hand Andy Elliott returned for the start of his first full-time season since 2006 and took his 134th start in his

Ace Racing Dragon boat from Great Britain, while Latvian driver Ugis Gross, a rookie coming from Formula Two, joined teammate Cappellini in the Zepter Team. Both days’ racing saw Team Abu Dhabi driver Thani Al Qamzi take first place. Al Qamzi now leads the Drivers’ Championship table with 29 points. In second place is his teammate, Ahmad Al Hameli, who is sitting on 20 points. Following closely and tied in third place on 15 points each are Jay Price, who drives for Team Qatar, and Francesco Cantando, who drives for Team Singha. This year’s fixtures include the Teams Championship, taking place in St Petersburg, Russia from 4 to 6 June; Pole Position, taking place in Lahti, Finland from 12 to 13 June; and five Slam Trophy fixtures across China, Qatar and the UAE in the months of October (3 to 4, Liuzhou, China; 17 to 18, Shenzhen, China), November ( 27 to 28, Doha, Qatar) and December (3 to 4, Abu Dhabi, UAE; 10 to 11, Sharjah, UAE ). For further information and specifics, visit www.f1boat.com. 


FEATURE

Virtual Ocean Racing

Online Sailing At some point or another, we’ve all wanted to live vicariously through the exploits of those more adventurous, talented, daring or younger than ourselves. For those captivated by the latest slew of round-the-world yacht racing, a monthly update in our favourite magazine might be sufficient. However, in the Volvo Ocean Race Virtual Game you can try it for yourself. Words: TANYA GOODMAN Images: © Gustav Morin/Ericsson 3; Dave Kneale for VOLVO OCEAN RACE

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his edition of the Volvo Ocean Race (VOR) has been the most technologically enhanced race to date. One of the most popular innovations has been the designated onboard media crew member, constantly shooting action footage in high definition. The mobile channel site has also been a brilliant idea and has been viewed, at some times, practically every second. But perhaps one of the greatest successes has been the Virtual Game. With nearly 200,000 players currently registered, the Virtual Game has been a runaway hit with both gamers and sailors from all around the globe. It is the biggest international sailing community in the world, with registered players in more than 180 countries. The virtual skippers compete on the exact same course and receive the same weather information as their real-world counterparts on the Volvo Open 70s, making it a true-tolife experience. Although the teams in both the Virtual Game and the Volvo Ocean Race are now more than halfway around the world, there

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is still plenty of action left. There are four full legs of the race remaining and plenty of sailing between now and the finish line in St Petersburg at the end of June. The overall prize – a Volvo C30 – is out of reach for new players. But there are great prizes still to be won. The winner of each leg is rewarded with a trip to the following stopover, where they can witness the action of the in-port race and meet some of the teams. There is also a second prize which, in the current Leg 6, is a custom-built RC Sailing Yacht from Challenger Model Yachts. Prizes in earlier legs for those finishing in the top 10 have included sailing watches, an official Tommy Hilfiger Team Delta Lloyd long sleeve zip up, and an Extreme40 T-shirt. The first female to arrive at the virtual end has consistently won a TNG Ladies Watch. You can customise your boat, name her, and tag friends who are also competing in the Virtual Game. An informative tutorial and somewhat humorous FAQ offer a number of tips on how to sail well: Q: How do Auto Sails work?

A: When you activate this option, the boat will automatically choose to use the jib or the spinnaker. It is useful if you can see that the wind direction will change and you can’t be at your computer. Q: Why has my boat stopped? A: You have chosen the wrong sail for the wind. You hit land. Q: Is the world flat? A: All yacht positions are calculated using spherical trigonometry formulas. So the world is round. If you are the least bit intrigued by the world of round-the-world racing and want to experience the thrill of the competition, albeit ensconced in your comfy armchair, you should definitely check out the Virtual Game at www.volvooceanracegame.org. On Leg 5, the virtual boats beat the real boats to Rio by days. Can you do the same this time? Follow the race online all day and all night, or choose your sails, set your auto pilot and catch some zzzzzs. You never know, if you’ve read the winds right, you may actually be ahead of the real boats by morning, wellrested and without chaffed hands and salt stinging your eyes. 


The Magic of

Arabia

One&Only Royal Mirage

The One&Only Royal Mirage in Dubai is a decidedly understated and remarkably elegant hotel. Considered Dubai’s most stylish resort, the Royal Mirage has created an ambience of Arabianinfluenced refinement and discreet majesty. Words: MICHAEL ANDERSON Images: Š ONE&ONLY

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S ERENITY

O

verlooking Palm Island Bay in Jumeirah, this One&Only property represents an oasis of tranquillity in the heart of bustling “new Dubai.” The resort offers exclusive charm with a kilometre of private coastline and 65 acres of lush, landscaped gardens. Royal Mirage actually consists of three equally distinctive properties – an impossible choice upon making a reservation as they are all quite special. The Palace conjures up the magic of Arabia. It is a generous property with meandering water features and abundant gardens (not just by arid UAE standards) and, as the largest of the three properties, offers 246 guest rooms and suites. Just off a private beach where towel

attendants offer cool water and smiles by the dozen, and with a water sports centre run by a bronzed Durban boy, sits an impressive temperature-controlled swimming pool, tennis courts, putting greens and a KidsOnly club. The essence of the place, however, was best captured for me in the image of a young foreign couple’s picnic blanket in the shade with their baby kicking chubby little legs in the air and cooing with laughter. It’s a place for calm, caring family time. On the extreme other side of the property resides the Arabian Court. I only had time for a short guided tour with hotel management, yet was immediately struck by its illusive and mysterious character. It appears as an ancient dwelling disguised

behind a sheltered oasis with carefully protected inner beauty. Cloaked in the spirit of the Orient, the Court unravels before your eyes upon entry: courtyards lead from water to stone; from granite to wood; and from palm trees to the sea. The unfamiliarity of the shapes, corners, nooks and crannies, stairways, doors and window frames initially unsettled my linear, Western sense of space and aesthetics, until these untrained senses started picking up on the real symmetry and profound beauty of what was newly presented to me. There is a harmony about this building that shouts “timeless serenity.” If I were twenty years younger, this would be my honeymoon destination. I saved the best for last, despite my own instant gratification tendencies. The third property, The Residence & Spa at Royal Mirage, was my gracious host. This sanctuary belongs to the prestigious Leading Small Hotels of the World association. A very dedicated, specially selected team of people recruited globally from Kerzner International’s best hotels envelop you with attentiveness and ease. Small and intimate, the Residence has only 18 suites and 32 prestige rooms; spacious and charming with private balconies and sun areas facing the sea. Pampering of the highest order is the motto. Dainty silver trays with date treats appear daily. Afternoon tea in the library offers segue from the day’s sun activities into dusk and evening indulgences. The spa provides world-class treatments, including an oriental hamam and personalised trainers at the fitness centre. The Residence & Spa is the most exclusive of the three properties at the Royal Mirage. Guests come here for rest and recuperation, and the genuine royal treatment. Says Olivier Louis, General Manager of One&Only Royal Mirage, “We strongly believe in providing an element of theatrical drama for our visitors and it is the enthusiastic response to our property and service that brings guests back, time and time again.” I cannot agree more, and have no doubt that on my next trip to Dubai, this will be my base. Pricing, reservations and more information are available at www.oneandonlyroyalmirage.com. 

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S PRINT

Dhow

Traditional

Racing in Dubai

Even before the crack of dawn, the men are at it, sipping tea, chanting folk songs and getting ready to meet the challenge of the day that lies ahead. As the fleet of almost 100 dhows, with their sails not yet unfurled, is being gently towed to the starting line of the much-awaited race at Sir Bu Naair off the coast of Dubai, the men and their sea appear to be in perfect harmony with each other. Words: Gulf News courtesy Dubai International Marine Club (DIMC) Images: © DIMC

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ven though there is no conflict between the stillness of the sea and the restlessness of the participants, the air is pregnant with a sense of competition. Then, the moment that everyone is waiting for finally arrives. The start is signalled by the release of two orange flares. As the smoke rises, there is sudden and frantic activity. The dhows hurriedly haul up their ropes, raise their white sails and make their manoeuvres, all to the rhythmic chanting of traditional sea songs as the Sardal, the leader, shouts out instructions. Winds that are strong allow the boats to go faster, but if they are too powerful then they can do more harm than good. If the sails pull in too much wind, the stress can snap the mast in two or cause the

dhow to topple over. If the winds are very favourable, for the next few hours the men will cruise along to the first check point at Moon Island. Five hours later, the first

Under the sail, you really feel one with the sea and the weather. It makes me realise what a tough job our forefathers did to make a living. – Sultan Saeed Hareb dhows will begin to return. If the weather is less amenable, it can take almost twice as long. The homecoming of the winning teams is itself a spectacle as they are greeted with much revelry and joy by the

traditional folk dance (rakas al shaabi). At the end of each edition of this event, now in its 19th year, the race may be over, but the tradition lives on. The Sir Bu Naair race reflects, in all its simplicity, the ancestral trading activities undertaken by the ancient pearl divers and their wooden trading vessels – a heritage that has gained renewed respect and interest. In the years gone by, at the end of the pearl diving season, which ran from September to May, pearl divers would pause at Sir Bu Naair on their way home from India, Arabia and East Africa, their last stop before heading for Dubai. Here, the divers would rest and clean and arrange their precious cargo ready to impress buyers once they arrived back in Dubai. Then, once the lead boat gave the signal, the dhows would sprint back. This journey, known as Al Qaffal (the

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journey home), is the inspiration behind the traditional race from Sir Bu Naair. The island, 54 nautical miles off Dubai, is now a protected area and military base. With oil taking over from pearl diving as the main industry in the UAE, the ancient race, after being an essential part of the pearl diving calendar for centuries, eventually died out. It was the idea of Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance & Industry, to restart the tradition. The modern incarnation of the race was first held in 1991 with 17 dhows participating. Today, more than 100 participants register for the annual event. "The younger generation is actively searching for newer ways to preserve the tradition of dhow building and racing, just

God bless her! wheresoe'er the breeze Her snowy wing shall fan, Aside the frozen Hebrides, Or sultry Hindostan! Where'er, in mart or on the main, With peaceful flag unfurled, She helps to wind the silken chain Of commerce round the world! Be hers the Prairie's golden grain, The Desert's golden sand, The clustered fruits of sunny Spain, The spice of Morning-land! Her pathway on the open main May blessings follow free, And glad hearts welcome back again Her white sails from the sea Excerpt from: John Greenleaf Whittier’s 1846 poem The Ship Builders

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using modern equipment," says Sultan Saeed Hareb, CEO of Mina Seyahi and Managing Director of Dubai International Marine Club (DIMC), the body that overlooks the traditional dhow races. "The first races in 1986 involved a few dhows that had survived from the old days," he remembers, "but from then on, we have encouraged owners to improve the standard of the dhows without affecting the basic design used by our forefathers." In order to maintain this standard, the DIMC inspects each racing boat to ensure that the specifications are met. "At first, it was the older generation that participated but now, more and more young people are taking part in this traditional race, keeping the heritage we have alive," points out Hareb. Sultan Saeed Hareb, owner of several dhows, both for racing and for trade, says the modern power racing boats are nothing compared to the traditional dhows, both in style and design. "I used to use racer power boats and would buy the biggest I could afford, but that doesn't compare to this," he says. "Under the sail, you really feel one with the sea and the weather. It makes me realise what a tough job our forefathers did to make a living." The folk songs that were sung while at sea are an integral part of this tradition. "Our forefathers travelled in those days without any entertainment, their only pastime was the songs they sang," explains Hareb. "The songs have come down from our ancestors and the younger generation does not understand them, even we do not at times. The lyrics were composed by the older people several years ago and there is no written record of their origin or the composer." What we do know is that the songs are in praise of God for the weather,

to thank Him for the good journey they have had, or to pray for a pleasant journey and the rhythm with which they are sung changes from time to time. Although much has been transformed since the pearling days – oil replaced pearls as the cornerstone of trade, affordable powerboats replaced the heavy sailing dhows, and Dubai and its youth strode boldly into the future – much remains the same. The dhows themselves, for example, are built the same way they have been for hundreds of years, down to the teak wood for the hull and the dimensions of the mainsail. The need for experience, expertise and an uncommon understanding of the sea also remains. Because traditional dhows do not use motors, they are entirely dependent on the elements – wind and water – for their progress. A robust wind and relatively calm sea are ideal conditions, but these, too, need to be properly harnessed for boats to reach their full potential. The nature of an open sea race makes the task that much more difficult – dhows at one end of the start line may face an entirely different draft from boats in the middle or at the other end. That is where technique and expertise come in – choosing where to position your boat, what route to take, and how to manipulate your boat to the changing winds and still come out ahead. If you’d like to witness the next running of this remarkable race, be sure to be at Mina Seyahi on 23 May 2009. The Sir Bu Nair Race is only one of a series of traditional dhow races and there has been some talk of allowing visitors or tourists to crew on one of the racing dhows, so visit www.minaseyahidubai.com for more information. 


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S OUPE D

CORVETTE

789


S OUPE D

To many car enthusiasts, the 1957 Chevrolet epitomises 1950s styling; the ’50s being an era when almost all cars were easily identifiable by their make, model and year. During these times, General Motors (GM) changed the total body design of their cars each year, in 1957, 1958 and 1959. By combining design elements from these three classic Chevy models, the 789 proves that you really can't have enough of a good thing. Words: TONI ACKERMANN Images: Š N2AMOTORS

No Two Alike


FEATURE

T

he 789 is a melding of the ’57, ’58 and ’59 Chevys. It features the front-end styling of the 1957 Chevy, the middle section of the 1958 model, and the distinctive rear styling of the 1959 version. Represented in the overall design of the 789 are the eyes, hood, front fenders and chrome grille of the ’57 Bel Air, the mid-section and tri-toned interior reminiscent of the ’58 Impala and the “bird in flight” rear tailfins of a ’59 Chevy. The process starts with the latest generation Corvette – the C6 – as a donor car. The body panels of this reliable and extremely performance-oriented Corvette are replaced with newly-designed carbon fibre body pieces specially sculpted for the 789. The result is a two-seater sports car with production restricted so that there are “no two alike” – hence the manufacturing company’s name, n2a Motors. According to n2a Motors, individualism is not an issue. With more than 10,000 exterior and interior colour combinations available and hundreds of wheel designs, your car really will be a one-of-a-kind ride. No two vehicles will sport duplicated body colours and combinations, adding to the distinctiveness of your 789. So unique will your car be that you will never find yourself parked next to yourself at the country club. If the performance of the C6 Corvette, which is capable of drive speeds up to 305km/h, has a fuel consumption of 9.4l/100 and sports a 400hp V8 engine,

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doesn't satisfy your needs, turbo charging or super charging options can be added to your individually-commissioned dream machine. A vast array of upgrades from performance intake and exhaust manifolds to extreme 1500hp enhancements are also on offer, as are brake packages (including

Kanter Concepts is the designer of the 789 and they do it the old-fashioned way: the design team sketches by hand before clay modellers sculpt by hand too – that's the only way to get sensuous curves and sexy features, after all. ceramic, carbon fibre or other highperformance systems) and custom-made exhaust packages. Each car includes a Borla exhaust system and high-performance antisway bars too. Inside each 789, the interior is tri-toned just like the 1958 Impala that inspired it, with the option to choose from virtually any commercially-available fabric or leather combination. Sound system upgrades and interior features designed to surprise, such as lighted door panels that glow in different colours in sync with the music, add a certain twist to your vehicle, while special

embroidery on the seats can be done to further personalise it. From their modern facility in Santa Ana, California, n2a Motors’ concept car has now reached the production stage. To date, they have produced 20 fullycustomised 789s. Kanter Concepts is the designer of the 789 and they do it the oldfashioned way: the design team sketches by hand before clay modellers sculpt by hand too – that's the only way to get sensuous curves and sexy features, after all. The entire project will come in at $135,000 including the Corvette. Supply your own car and merely pay $75,000 for the new plastic surgery. Included in the price is a $2,000 allowance for your choice of specific wheel designs and tyre combinations. The idea of re-bodied Corvettes or putting classic “muscle car” bodies on modern running gear is a great trend and far removed from the perfect restorations that seem so quickly to become more museum piece than car. Individuality doesn’t come cheap, obviously, workmanship of this sort never does, but a high-performance custom that turns heads and makes you smile... can you really put a price tag on that?  For more information: • Visit www.n2amotors.com • Call: +1 714 480 0404 • Fax: +1 714 480 0505 • Email: sales@n2amotors.com


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Despite the continuation of trepidation and volatility in the global economy, the art market, both locally and internationally, has not been subjected to as large a blow as one might have believed. While the first quarter of 2009 may have seen a moderate decline in art investment, the industry remains considerably buoyant during this period of fiscal unease.

Stern, Irma (1894 – 1966) “Still Life with Coral Tree Flowers” Gouache on Paper 77 x 48cm Signed: “Irma Stern” (Lower/Right) Dated: 1935

artistic optimism Local Art Market Stands Firm

Words & Images: © GRAHAM’S FINE ART GALLERY

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S TRO K E S Stern, Irma (1894 – 1966) “Zanzibar Woman” Oil on Canvas 59 x 49.5cm Signed: “Irma Stern” (Upper/Left) Dated: 1939

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he emerging markets, including the group known as the BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India and China) established themselves as pivotal characters in the global economy leading up to the third and fourth quarters of last year. These emerging markets were driven by impressive gains and vigorous market capitalisation growth. A substantial increase of high net worth individuals contributed to this increasing wealth, as stated in the 2008 World Wealth Report. Though some nations have felt much pressure due to the world’s agitated economy, emerging markets have not experienced as much of a crisis. The economic position of China, India, Brazil and South Africa, among others, has been described by financial institutions as stable and, at present, relatively secure. The arts and cultural spheres of these emerging market countries have been invested in both monetarily and emotionally, especially in the BRIC nations, where art is developing into a recognised prestigious and progressive area of interest and investment. The South African art market continues to move forward so as to align with these emerging economies, and reached a significant watershed with the Bonham’s South African Fine Art Sale. The Sale took place in London on 9 and 10 September last year, and achieved extraordinary results, which cemented South African historical art in an international market. The considerable success of the developing South African art market internationally has led to the appreciation of our top historical masters, which include JH Pierneef, Maggie Laubser, Gerard Sekoto and Alexis Preller. One of South Africa’s most prolific historical masters, Irma Stern, ranked 85 in a list of the world’s top 500 artists’ rating at auction in 2007 and 2008, as seen in Artprice’s “2008 Art Market Trends.” In short, this sees a South African artist valued higher in comparison to artists such as George Braque, the legendary cubist, and other major artists such as Gustav Klimt, David Hockney and Amedeo Modigliani. The price of South African pieces confirms that we are seeing a maturing market; one that also received a very positive response from non-South African investors. Artprice, a major art market information firm, has created an index based on both consumer and industry

opinions of the current state of the global art market, compiling these opinions from over 1.3 million members of their online website. This Art Market Confidence Index illustrates strong support for prospective artwork acquisitions and reflects an optimistic view on the forthcoming months. Considering art as an alternative form of investment has always been a favourable and stable option, and is indeed a smart store of wealth. Art is a Rand hedge and a finite asset class that has an appreciating and intrinsic core value. This worth is visibly reflected in the results of both local and international auction houses, as well as in the private domain. Graham Britz, Director of Graham’s Fine Art Gallery, affirms this, “In terms of fine art investment and a buying criterion, quality guarantees returns

on a work; never compromise on quality. You must buy the best work that you can afford and not a marginal artwork in order to see relevant returns on your investment. Works of quality cost more, but in the long run these are the pieces that will always hold their value.” South Africa can proudly boast a prestigious line of important and relevant artists spanning as far back as the 18th Century. Many of our current contemporary artists, such as William Kentridge and Marlene Dumas, have earned significant international recognition. The rise in interest internationally in South African fine art has created not only a stable platform for investment in South African art, but also a pure appreciation and support for this important area of our cultural background.

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Footballers Exhibition The Footballers series forms part of the 2010 Fine Art Collection. These exceptional and rather extraordinary bronzes have been recognised as the Official Licensed Products of the FIFA Confederations Cup 2009 and 2010 FIFA World Cup™. The series of 11 pieces was created by South African sculptor, Keith Calder, and will be launched at a private VIP event to be held at Graham’s Fine Art Gallery in Broadacres, Johannesburg. The launch and exhibition will correspond with the start of the FIFA Confederations Cup 2009™. The bronzes are part of a limited edition and only a few fortunate collectors will have the chance to acquire one of these valuable figures. “These are quite possibly the finest collectibles to have ever been attached to a FIFA World Cup™,” says Craig Mark, Managing Director of 2010 Fine Art. “They are already attracting strong interest from collectors, marketing affiliates and soccer enthusiasts both locally and abroad,” says Graham Britz, Managing Director of Graham’s Fine Art Gallery. "We are proud to have been selected as a partner gallery for the 2010 Fine Art Collection, and are excited to be contributing towards the excitement of the 2010 FIFA World Cup™.” While attendance at the launch is by invitation only, the exhibition will be open to the public from 12 June 2009 to 18 July 2009. For more information, contact Graham’s Fine Art Gallery on +27 11 465 9192.

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Worldwide Delivery w w w. b a k o s b ro t h e r s . c o m The Regal


Ti m e l e s s

Q u a l i t y


FEATURE

The Reggae

Regatta The fourth weekend of March is now etched into every sailor’s calendar as the time when the "Crown Jewel" of Caribbean racing takes place – where sailors can enjoy reliable breezes, warm azure waters and world-renowned island hospitality while families and friends enjoy a wealth of options for vacation fun, including day-tripping to the other nearby US Virgin Islands of St John and St Croix.

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ow in its 36th edition, the three-day International Rolex Regatta is held each spring in St Thomas, part of the US Virgin Islands (USVI), and indulges hardcore competitors racing everything from beach catamarans to 80 footers. “What makes the regatta stand apart is the physical location of the club,” said long-time competitor Tony Sanpere

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(St Croix), who cited both the energy in the harbour and easy access to race courses on Pillsbury Sound and Cowpet Bay as “conducive to having more fun.” Speaking of fun, participants and fans alike can count on casual, island-style beach parties and nightly entertainment at St Thomas Yacht Club throughout the event, but can also break away to downtown Charlotte Amalie for an up-town celebration on the Saturday night at Yacht

Haven Grande. This luxury megayacht marina includes 48 slips for yachts up to 450 foot, complemented by dozens of boutiques and restaurants. This year, the St Thomas Yacht Club welcomed over 60 local and visiting teams from the US and Europe. The weather played along, though on opening day, while the strength of the wind was typical, the direction was atypical when it blew 12-18 knots out of the east-northeast. The


S T THO M A S

Words: TANYA GOODMAN Images: © ST THOMAS YACHT CLUB/INGRID ABERY

schedule was switched with Sunday’s, knowing that courses set on the south side of St Thomas would better favour the breeze. The Race Committee was spot-on with their decision, but that was no surprise since this regatta prides itself on offering professional race management as well as a Caribbean experience bursting with scenic beauty and island-style fun. After hard racing on Saturday, participants enjoyed a reggae music concert and a food fest, then hit the water the next day for a final showdown in one of the most spectacular sailing arenas in the Caribbean. Sunday’s races – magnificently threading their ways through and around cuts, cays and islands off the east end of St Thomas – finalised winners in six classes: one for IRC, three for CSA (Spinnaker Racing, Spinnaker Racing/Cruising and Non-Spinnaker Racing) and one each for One-Design IC 24s and Beach Cats. In the IRC class, Jim Mitchell's (SUI) RP52 Vincitore turned in a seemingly effortless victory. “We won totally because

of the crew,” said Mitchell. “It's the coolest thing that we had three generations of Mitchells aboard, including my 77-year-old father. That's what it's all about. It was just an awesome time.” Dave West (Tortola, BVI), who steered his Melges 32 Jurakan to victory in the CSA Spinnaker Racing Class, said it was fantastic to win a Rolex watch, especially after three previous attempts to win this regatta in the same boat. “But the nicest part,” he said, “was sailing as well as we did, because the boat has been managing us for two years and now we are managing it.” Intense practice helped the crew to control the feisty sport boat – described by crew man Anthony Kotoun as “ripping fast” – in the regatta's equally feisty winds. “I mean, when the hull is 32 feet long and the mast is 55 feet high, that's just not normal,” said Kotoun with a chuckle. The International Rolex Regatta in St Thomas is the longest running regatta in Rolex’s global portfolio of sailing events. It coincides with two other sailing events in

the region – the British Virgin Island (BVI) Sailing Festival and the BVI Spring Regatta – making for a combined 10 days of festivities, now called Virgin Islands Race Week. Once off the water, many people choose to extend their stay in the Virgin Islands to include a leisurely family holiday as there is a wide range of accommodation from private islands, to hotels, intimate inns and villas. The US Virgin Islands include St Thomas, St Croix, and St John, while the British Virgin Islands consist of more than 60 islands, most of which are uninhabited, and of which Tortola is most well known. These islets and cays provide some of the best cruising waters in the world. And with pristine beaches, lush tropical forests, breathtaking scenery, and Caribbean island charm you have the perfect ingredients for a vacation paradise and an outstanding venue for a regatta. For information about the British Virgin Islands visit www.bvitourism.com; for the US Virgin Islands, visit www.usvitourism.vi. 

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FEATURE

&

Pins

Needles

Arabic Calligraphy

The Guinness Book of Records rejected his achievement on the grounds that if a record cannot be broken, it cannot be entered. Amir Hussain Golshani, trying to revive the ancient Arabic art of calligraphy through combining it with engraving and jewellery design, would not let this backhanded compliment break his speed. Words: CHARL DU PLESSIS Images: © CHARL DU PLESSIS; ISTOCKPHOTO.COM; WAFI

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n ancient times, rulers sometimes guarded against their reliance upon messengers by disguising a secret microscopic stamp on their dispatches, allowing the recipient to validate the authenticity and origin of such missives. Now, in the era of encrypted bits and bytes, Golshani has dedicated his life to this traditional art form.

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His most amazing feat has been to make an un-commissioned stamp in an ode to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. To this end, Golshani managed to engrave (not write) the words “Mohammed Bin Rashid” on the tip of a stamp that measures a mere 0.87 percent of

1 millimetre. When you press this stamp onto paper, as the artist demonstrated to me, you see nothing. Yet, when you look through a magnifying loupe, the words appear microscopically. It is this achievement that The Guinness Book of Records cannot recognise as they are convinced no other craftsman could ever break this record.


FEATURE

Golshani, a remarkably generous, spiritual and passionate man plies his craft from The Golden Pen shop that opened last year in the Khan Murjan Souk at Wafi Mall in Dubai. About half an hour after we said goodbye, he found me having a lavish lunch in the souk’s courtyard, to bring me a gift. He had used my business card to engrave my first name onto a beautiful piece of deep green polished shell. On the one side it was in English, on the other side in the most flowing of Arabic calligraphy, and he wanted me to have it as a gift. He refused a cup of coffee, or anything else for that matter, because he maintains an almost ascetic regimen to keep his hands steady and to be able to focus his mind when he does the “blind engraving” required for his painstaking work. His only request was that should we write anything about him, we should mention that he saw his skill as a God-given talent. The specificity of his craftsmanship is inspiring. To make the stamp for Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid, he had to spend months crafting his own tools, which I was

allowed to see, yet not to photograph. Then, it took him 160 attempts, working blind and drilling as perfectly vertical as he could in order not to break his specially crafted bits before he produced a stamp to his own exacting specifications – leaving the tiny words perfectly indented in the piece of paper it was pressed upon. To him, it was a spiritual experience; a transcendental journey from the mundane world to achieve what he set out to do. Golshani’s shop has a large clientele who come in for their usual engraving of luxury items such as silver and golden pens, watches, and rings. He also offers inspirational excerpts from the Koran engraved on shells or penned onto leather swatches. And all of this is done in the most aesthetically-pleasing calligraphy. Originally from Iran, Golshani became interested in calligraphy at the age of eight, and it has taken him 25 years to attain the level of mastery he has so far achieved. No wonder he started teaching his own two young daughters, ages eight and 10, their heritage at this early age. 

Wafi Mall If there is that one special person for whom you would like to bring back something with a very personal touch, I would strongly recommend you drop by The Golden Pen when in Dubai. The Wafi Mall itself is a worthwhile shopping trip for all your top-end brand purchases. The Khan Murjan Souk section below the Mall, where Golshani is based, is an amalgamation of four ancient market cultures – Moroccan, Syrian, Turkish and Arabian – and has plenty to see, smell and feel, and to take home with you, of course.

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S PUR

Every year Cartier hosts three impressive polo tournaments: a traditional day of sport and festivities at Guards Polo Club in Windsor, the more

Cartier Three Times the Polo Champion

T

his year Cartier celebrates 25 years of sponsorship of the world-renowned event, Cartier International Polo. Held annually at Guards Polo Club, Windsor Great Park, the 2009 spectacle will take place on 26 July, and is watched by some 30,000 spectators. The main highlight of the day is, of course, the afternoon match for the Coronation Cup. This year, the England squad face a hugely talented team from the home of polo – Argentina. The South Americans have not played in this competition since 2000 and with the world's greatest player, Adolfo Cambiaso, heading up the team, this is sure to be the definitive game of the year. Action on the field will not be confined to just the afternoon. The extensive England squad will take to the field at 11:00am to play for the Golden Jubilee Trophy. As the standard of polo is now so high in the UK, this game is the perfect opening for the England International later in the day. Cartier will celebrate its Silver Jubilee by hosting a gourmet lunch, prepared by Anton Mosimann, for some 600 guests, including many stars of the stage, screen and sports field. Visitors to Guards Polo Club can also call at the extensive Retail

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Village, where everything from a chilled glass of expensive bubbly to a luxury dog bed, a beautiful polo painting or the very latest Audi will be available to admire or purchase. After the day’s fixtures, attention will shift to the Chinawhite and Smyle marquees, where celebrations will continue long into the night. The Cartier International Polo event is the pinnacle of glamour and prestige and remains the climax of the British social season. At the end of January each year in St Moritz, Switzerland, the Cartier Polo World Cup on Snow is where the noble sport of polo meets curious terrain. Here, strength, elegance, speed, and pride take centre stage, as the powerful and agile polo ponies give their full concentration to persevere on the icy earth, ridden by the world’s best polo players from Argentina, Chile, England, and Australia, among others. The unusual, wintry conditions coupled with the remarkable location some 1,800 metres above sea level are taxing on both the players and the animals, but their efforts endure. In this tournament, four high-goal teams with handicaps from 20 to 22 goals fight on the frozen surface of the lake for the coveted Cartier Trophy. The Cartier International Dubai Polo Challenge took place on 27 March this year, at the Desert Palm hotel, under the

challenging St Moritz event, which is played on a frozen lake, and the exceptional desert polo match in Dubai.

Words: INGRID KENMUIR Images: © CARTIER

patronage and attendance of HRH Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, Wife of HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, VicePresident and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. Since its inception, this event has attracted leading polo players from around the world as well as royalty, celebrities and admirers of this highlifestyle sport. The 2009 match was, without a doubt, the year’s most prestigious and celebrated desert polo tournament, and Cartier used this opportunity to inaugurate its largest boutique in the Middle East. Situated in the prominent and lavish Dubai Mall, occupying a space of over 700 square metres, this boutique ranks among the top five largest flagship boutiques in the world. 


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tel: +27 (21) 443 4400 | fax: +27 (21) 443 4444 | website: www.rbsolutions.co.za | fap: 4903 Contact Singeon Green for expert cover and advice on +27 (083) 459 6989 or e-mail singeon@rbsolutions.co.za


PSST –

Don't Tell Family Fun on a Legendary Island

Only time will tell which island will endure in human memory best: the mythically lost Atlantis of the ancient world, or the modern man-made Palm Jumeirah Island of Dubai, visible from space on Google Earth. At the end of the Palm rises the modern Atlantis hotel, a challenge by Sol Kerzner to his designers to capture something of the essence of the lost civilisation. Words: CHARL DU PLESSIS Images: Š ATLANTIS PALM JUMEIRAH

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here is this little getaway spot I want to share with you, but just you. So, first promise not to let anyone else into this secret. It is on this faraway man-made island that you might find if you look from space. It is shaped like a palm – the plant, not the hand. Turn right a short distance out of Dubai, and with a bit of luck you might find it. Don’t bother asking locals for directions. At the end of this little island, quietly tucked away between a few palms and

with white sand imported from Nigeria, nestles one of the world’s best kept secrets – quaint Atlantis. Unlike really large family resorts, it covers a mere 46 acres, hosts only 65,000 marine animals, and totally in tune with the general understatement of all of Dubai, caters small with 1,539 guestrooms and 17 restaurants. It hosts small conventions in its modest 5,600 square metre function area. We almost missed the turn ourselves. Good thing our Lama Tours driver has been there once or twice before.

Once checked in through the almost homely 19-metre-high lobby, where a discrete 10-metre-tall Dale Chihuly glass sculpture along with really subtle murals of Spanish master Albino Gonzales welcome you, it’s just another lazy day ahead. People bring kids. Not sure how they manage to keep them busy – maybe some time at the kid’s club, letting them swim with real dolphins and gaze at the 11-million-litre water tank and the hundreds of species of marine life behind the three-story high windows of the Ambassador Lagoon’s

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FEATURE

aquarium? I thought I saw some families wander off to explore the wonders of the Lost Chambers where they could experience the myth of Atlantis through a maze of underground tunnels with underwater views of the ruins. Now, if I were them, I would have packed the kids off to go play on the raked beaches, swim in the little pool outside the hotel, or just tried to keep them busy in the Aquaventure water playground with its 18 million litres of water and the 30-metre-high Ziggurat Temple slide, which catapults those who try it through shark-infested waters. A bit like our holidays back in the good old days, at the caravan park in Margate with grandma. My wife and I used our time at Atlantis, which we now fondly think of as “our other home,” to get the figures in check. It’s a great workout traversing any one of the breakfast buffet areas with the map my wife made on the back of a serviette on morning two. Running shoes, lycra and a sweatband, and we were off looking for the scrambled eggs between isle after isle of what the whole of the world’s nations need to have the perfect breakfast. By my third chocolate croissant run, I could finally feel as if I had worked off the little bite I had last night at two Michelin Star chef,

Dining at Atlantis Atlantis is a culinary journey of variety and contrast, where several international celebrity chefs have a hand in its 17 restaurants. The world-renowned Nobu offers a fusion of Asian flavours and is a destination restaurant of celebrity status. Chef Santi Santamaria runs his signature seafood restaurant Ossiao. In partnership with noted French chef Michael Rostang, The French Brasserie offers contemporary Parisian dishes in a welcoming and relaxed setting. Seafire is a sumptuous steakhouse and grill with open fire and terracotta hues in a theatrical Levantine setting. Ronda Lucatelli’s is a fashionably fun Italian restaurant designed around a huge central oven and circular family tables. Arrive hungry!

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Michael Rostang’s French Brasserie. The previous night we sampled the lettuce and grapes and some more at Nobu, part owned by Robert de Niro. For our next trip, we are leaving the kids behind. We have booked one of the two Lost Chamber Suites to celebrate our 25th anniversary and the fact that grandma’s birthday dates finally came up in the lottery Saturday night. At a mere $30,000 per night we will be sleeping with the fish in either the Neptune or Poseidon Suite, each no bigger than our stockbroker neighbour’s house in Joburg, and overlooking the Ambassador Lagoon through full-size glass walls. The butler idea sounds good – you know how hard it is to find good help these days. But, I suppose someone has to feed all those fish? If you knew what happened to our koi... Ok, so as South Africans, we were spoiled closer to home a long time ago already with Sol Kerzner’s ambitious ideas. He has made fantasy part of our hospitality fibre, which the rest of the world is only just starting to experience in places like the Bahamas and Dubai. All I can say is: go! Take the kids and have a blast. This is Kerzner’s very best fantasy world yet, and evidently just the most awesome place for a fun family holiday. 


LIFE PASSION ADVENTURE

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LIFE PASSION ADVENTURE


FEATURE

MOVE

Start Your

Engines

Abu Dhabi’s New F1 Racetrack

The 2009 season of Formula One will see its last race happening in November in Abu Dhabi, also the first time we will see F1 in this Middle Eastern city. The event will take place on the Yas Marina Circuit, which is being built on Yas Island and which was designed by famous F1 track designer, Hermann Tilke.

Words: TONI ACKERMANN Images: © Abu Dhabi Motorsports Management

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he Yas Marina Circuit is speculated to have taken some of its inspiration from the Monaco race track. Indeed 2.7 kilometres of the track will be through the city roads along the marina. The length of Abu Dhabi’s new F1 circuit is 5.55 kilometres, though it can be split into smaller tracks of 3.1 kilometres and 2.4 kilometres each, able to operate simultaneously if desired. The track comprises 20 turns and, as seen in other tracks designed by Tilke, this one will have the same signature lengthy straight, leading into a speed killer hairpin bend. The initial site of the Circuit was a flat tract of land not ideal for an F1 track, and thus, Tilke created several man-made hills to give the races gravitational acceleration and deceleration. It is proposed that races on Yas Marina Circuit comprise 56 laps, with a lap time estimated at 1 minute 38 seconds. The cars would attain a top speed of 320km/h but should maintain an average speed of 200km/h. Approximately 50,000 spectators can view the action on the Circuit from the

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comfort of permanent, covered grandstands and VIP facilities – Yas Marina is the only motorsports venue in the world where all of the grandstands will be covered. Patrons enjoying the spectacular view from the west grandstand will be part of another world-first: the run-off for cars that fail to negotiate the tight turn at the end of the long straight passes directly beneath this grandstand. Spectators in the north grandstand will enjoy an arena atmosphere at the hairpin, while those in the south grandstand will have one of the greatest panoramas in motorsport, looking out over the marina, the Yacht Club and the fivestar, 500-room Yas Marina Hotel, which actually straddles the track. The seating on top of the support pit building will allow spectators to see this aspect of the race action up close as well as take in a broad sweep of the Circuit including critical turns around the marina. The Yas Marina Circuit has met with great acclaim from management and drivers of Formula One. Former World Champion, Kimi Raikkonen, was given a tour of the site and is excited about the

prospect of racing on the new track. Former Red Bull driver, David Coulthard, saw the circuit model at the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai and exclaimed, “Wow! I wish I wasn’t retiring.” The President and CEO of Formula One Group, Bernie Ecclestone said, “From the start of this project we were in no doubt that F1 in Abu Dhabi would be something different, something special. The original plans have evolved almost beyond recognition, and we are very pleased with the results.” Along with the F1 track, a Ferrari theme park is also coming to Yas Island. The park will consist of hotels, malls, residential apartments and bungalows to name but a few attractions, all of which will facilitate the F1 fraternity and fans during the race. According to Ecclestone, Yas Marina Circuit is expected to be Tilke’s finest work. There’s little doubt that the Yas Marina Circuit will be an exceptional one. With easy access by land, air and sea, the track is sure to offer spectators, sponsors, F1 and other event partners an incomparable experience. For more information, visit www.yasmarinacircuit.com 


S AV OUR

LIGHTLY SMOKED

DUCK BREAST with Apple Chutney, Braised Baby Leeks, Carrot Purée, and Sherry Foam

Words and Images: © GRANDE PROVENCE

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S AV OUR

Ingredients For the Duck Breast • 4 duck breasts, scored on the skin, seasoned with salt and black pepper • 1cup rice • 80g sugar • 4 rooibos teabags, tea leaves only For the Apple Chutney • 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced • 20g sugar • 20g glucose • 20ml water • 1 star anise • 2 juniper berries • 1 clove • 20ml sherry vinegar For the Braised Leeks • 16 baby leeks • 5 sprigs of thyme • 100ml pale dry sherry • 100ml water • salt to taste For the Carrot Purée • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced • ½ onion, sliced • 30g butter • 100ml cream For the Sherry Foam • braising liquid from leeks • 80ml cream • 1 egg yolk • 50ml water Method Prepare the duck: Mix rice, sugar and rooibos tea leaves together and transfer to a square of aluminium foil. Fold up tight and flat, leaving no gaps in the foil. Using a fork, poke a few holes in the top part of the parcel and place in a pot on medium heat. Cover with a lid. Once this has started smoking, place the duck breasts onto a perforated oven tray small enough to fit into the pot. Controlling the heat so

that it’s just smoky and not hot, smoke the duck for 4 minutes; remove and set aside. Make the chutney: Place all ingredients except the vinegar and apple in a small saucepan. Heat until caramelised before removing spices with a slotted spoon. Add the vinegar and then the apples, together with a pinch of salt. Cook until brown, stirring to avoid the chutney sticking to the pan. Allow to cool. Braise the leeks: Wash off the leeks under cold running water to ensure they are properly clean. Brown the leeks in a saucepan before deglazing the pan with sherry. Reduce by half and add the water, salt and thyme. Cover with a lid and cook until soft. Make the carrot purée: On medium heat, melt butter in a saucepan. Add onion and soften but don’t brown. Add carrots and a pinch of salt. Cover with a lid and cook until carrots are soft, being careful not to brown. Add cream and bring to the boil. Liquidise until smooth. Prepare the sherry foam: Reduce braising liquid and cream until sauce thickens; season to taste. In a mixing bowl, place egg yolk and water, and whisk over heat until fluffy. Fold a ladle of foam into the sauce to form the sherry foam. Cook the duck breasts: Place duck skin-side down in a cold pan. Bring pan to medium heat to render fat. Once the skin is crispy, turn each piece and brown off the other side before transferring to a pre-heated oven of 180 ºC to bake for 6 minutes. To serve: Warm 4 plates. Place 4 leeks in the centre of each plate and spoon 2 dollops of purée onto opposite sides of each plate. Carve each duck breast into thin slices and place on top of leeks. Using two spoons, shape chutney into quenelles and lay on top of duck. Drizzle foam around the duck, garnish with chervil or a sprig of thyme and enjoy. Serves 4.

Perfect Pairing: The Grande Provence Enjoy your smoked duck breast with a glass of red wine – we recommend The Grande Provence. This 2005 vintage, origin Franschhoek, combines 60 percent Cabernet Sauvignon with 40 percent Merlot. It is a multi-dimensional, wellbalanced, full-bodied red wine with intricate complexities, with the nose and palate comprising layers of aromas and flavours of plums, mint, dark chocolate, spices, white pepper and cigar box. The mouth feel is soft and rounded; the finish lingering and elegant. To enjoy at its best, this wine should be decanted for at least one hour before drinking.

About Grande Provence Founded in 1694 by French Huguenot settlers, Grande Provence Heritage Wine Estate lies in the lush and bountiful beauty of the Franschhoek Valley, an easy one-hour drive from Cape Town. Award-winning gourmet cuisine and fine wines, exclusive accommodation and one of South Africa’s leading art galleries all contribute to Grande Provence’s reputation as an exciting travel destination. Dining is available for both lunch and dinner at The Restaurant – recently named “Best Restaurant in Cape Town” at the inaugural Annual Good Hope FM Best of Cape Town Awards. The cuisine at The Restaurant has a classic French influence with a contemporary twist – as exemplified in the style of Executive Chef, Jacques de Jager. Using the finest quality and freshest of local produce, the flavours are well defined and the presentation of the dishes exquisite. The Estate is home to the award-winning Grande Provence wines, which represent a tradition of many years of passion, expertise and great winemaking. Grande Provence wines complement all menus at The Restaurant, while The Tasting Room provides a sublime venue to discover your own favourite vintages. For more information visit www.grandeprovence.co.za, email enquiries@grandeprovence.co.za or contact +27 21 876 8600.

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livethelife Jackie O So Gorgeous

Suitcases with a

Safari Feel

New on the travel scene is the Linea Safari Plus, a hardside trolley with a polycarbonate body, printed crocodile effect and special surface finish that looks and feels like suede. These elegant, sophisticated trolleys are a must-have for the well-heeled. They come in three different models: a cabin and two larger trolleys with garment bag, all equipped with four wheels for ease of motion, a jacquard lining and rainproof zippers. The trolleys are available in tobacco, black and beige with dark brown trimmings. To complete your set, the trolleys can be combined with suitcase, holdalls, vanities and toiletry cases from the Safari softside range, made of the same material and colours. For more information or to find a distributor, visit www.brics.it or email info@brics.it.

Jackie O inspired a lot in the world of fashion, and her influence continues still – Gucci has launched the New Jackie, a fresh reinterpretation of the House’s most iconic handbag design, the Jackie. First created in the 1950s, this bag became the preferred accessory for Jacqueline Onassis, who, throughout the 1960s, was photographed toting numerous versions of it. The New Jackie captures the universal appeal of the hugely popular original and remains connected to its forebear by way of its rounded edge shape and signature detail, though it has been spruced up with contemporary touches such as its deconstructed ultra-soft body and long leather tassels enriched with bamboo details. The fresh colour palette includes shades of violet, emerald, and cloud white, as well as traditional muted leather tones. The bags are exquisitely constructed from precious skins such as crocodile, python, ostrich, and a very soft New Zealand calf. Every detail has been tended to with attention, with each bag requiring between 7 and 13 hours – depending on the leather used – to make. The Gucci Jackie Bag Collection 2009 is available exclusively at Gucci stores. For more info contact Gucci on +27 21 421 8800 or +27 11 784 2597, or visit their site at www.gucci.com.

Tell the Time

Four trendy Ways De Grisogono, Franck Muller, Hublot and Ulysse Nardin – these are the four new brands available from Christoff Fine Jewellery. Christoff, which has been open for nearly a year in the V&A Waterfront’s new fashion link mall, is a proudly South African establishment, but associated with an international sense of style and luxury. Their collection of elegant jewellery is augmented by a wide selection of handmade Swiss watch brands, all of which are exclusive to Christoff and which have never before been available in South Africa. The long-awaited brands include the famous De Grisogono fine jewellery and watch brand; Hublot, which is the official timekeeper for the 2010 FIFA World Cup; Franck Muller, the ultimate in Haute Horlogerie; and Ulysse Nardin, the master of complicated mechanical watches. For more information, call Christoff Fine Jewellery on +27 21 421 0184 or visit www.christoff.co.za.

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makingwaves

Pershing

in South Africa

Pershing Yachts, arguably the world’s most exciting range of award-winning power yachts, recently announced its entry into the South African market. The first 46-foot beauty is moored at the Cape Grace in the V&A marina area, and brings all the pizzazz of Italian style with a yacht that is equally suited to a day of high speed on the water as it is to a two-week cruise with guests. On a test run out in Table Bay, the Pershing 46 powered through the waves with ease at 35 knots, and held completely stable turning around without dropping a single knot. With comfortable entertainment areas on deck and classy accommodation finishes below, the R12-million invested gets ample reward. Aegir Performance Yachts, the official dealer for Southern Africa, will be bringing in Pershings of larger sizes over the next few months, and will offer fractional shareholding in Pershings moored between the Cape and the Mediterranean. Contact John Makelberge at info@aegirperformanceyachts.co.za, call +27 21 557 5351 or +27 72 683 2660.

Cape Town Makes

Frommer’s List Cape Town has been named in the influential Frommer's list of the Top Destinations for 2009. Published by Frommer, US authors of bestselling travel guides, this annual list offers travellers advice on what destinations they should be considering in the months ahead. The 2009 list features just 12 destinations, and the Mother City is one of them. Frommer editors describe Cape Town as one of the most beautiful cities on Earth, largely because of its impressive landscape. Other destinations featured in the 2009 list include Cartagena (Columbia), Belfast (Northern Island), Saqqara (Egypt) and Waiheke Island (New Zealand). To see the complete list or for more info visit www.frommers.com.

Launching: The New Dinghy 33 The Dinghy 33, an open almost 10 meters in length and built by Morgan Yachts, inaugurates a new range of yachts. Traditionally, the dinghy is used as a support vessel for sailing and motor megayachts and addresses the needs of the boat owner and his guests to move quickly with a roomy but agile boat. The Dinghy 33 proposes itself not only as a duty boat, but also as an elegant and dynamic day cruiser and easily combines the concept of classic taste with seafaring, technology and high performance. On the one hand, the combined use of the best essences of wood and the most precious fabrics render it unmistakable; while on the other, the design of the hull, planned to guarantee maximum stability and smooth sailing over the waves even in moderate seas, offers the guests unequalled cruising comfort. When equipped with two 190hp, Z-drive motors, the Dinghy 33 reaches a cruising speed of 32 knots and a maximum speed of 38 knots. For fishing lovers, a Sport Fishing Kit is available to transform the boat for such use, without losing any of its unmistakable elegance. For more information, visit www.morganyachts.it.

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Prestige Magazine  

May issue of Prestige Magazine

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