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GulfInsider -The Arabian Review

Issue 79

Bahrain

Abu Dhabi

Qatar

Dubai

Gulf’s Property Market Qatar thrives as Dubai dives and all is not lost in Bahrain Bahrain BD2

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Inside this issue...

PROPERTY REVIEW

10. National Dialogue How are you affected?

14. Bahrain Economy

Interview with CEO of GPIC

18. Property - Bahrain

29. Property - Qatar

26. Property - Dubai

30. Property - Abu Dhabi

16. BAETC - Bahrain

38. Airlines

44. Luxury Living

36. Wealth Management

42. Travel

48. Arabs in London

Fly higher and higher - Nadia Algosaibi

Citibank’s innovative products

What’s on offer?

Thessaloniki, Greece

Masterpiece London 2011

Supercars in London


COMMENT

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The multi-award

An economist is an expert who will know tomorrow why the things he predicted yesterday didn’t happen today. - Laurence J. Peter

magazine winning Arabian

n Review -The Arabia

Issue 79

Bahrain

Abu Dhabi

Qatar

Dubai

Gulf’s Property Qatar thrives Bahrain BD2

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Market

and all is not as Dubai dives

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Qatar QR20

lost in Bahrain

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Is An Ancient Language Being Lost? A study by Qatar University students showed Bedouin mothers prefer to use urban Arabic in public places rather than their native dialect to avoid being left out in the Qatari society. The research, conducted by Jawaher Ahmad Al Mansouri and Yasmin Saleem, revealed that Bedouin mothers would rather speak urban Arabic to earn a better place in the society. A survey showed that 92 per cent of Qataris actually speak urban Arabic, stating that it was because “it is the dominating language and the language of formal education.” In general, the Bedouin dialect is only spoken inside homes of Bedouin families. The Bedouin are a part of the predominantly desertdwelling Arab ethnic group. The term ‘Bedouin’ in English

actually derives from one of the plural forms of the Arabic word badawi, which derives from the word bãdiyah, meaning semi-arid desert. The term therefore means “those who live in the desert.” The research was conducted through visits to modern Bedouin homes. Students recorded the conversations for half an hour, concentrating on the words the mothers spoke with other family members. This study is one among only a few that have confirmed the move from Bedouin to Arabic among Bedouin families. The two students that conducted the study concluded by recommending that it is important to research further into this linguistic phenomenon.

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your views

The multi-award winning Arabian magazine

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Issue 78

Send your views to

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Bahrain

Training expert engineers

Dubai

DXB vs LHR

The Great Roaming Rate Ripoff

Saudi Arabia

Women to sell lingerie

Have you ever received a giant bill for roaming on your mobile? Did you feel it was totally unjustified? Us too! We are doing some research into this ‘phenomenon’ and we want your feedback. Please email gulfinsider@ArabianMagazines.com and share your story. Help us get to the bottom of this.

Oman We discover a land rarely seen by tourists Bahrain BD2

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The multi-award winning Arabian magazine

Gulf Financial Insider

GulfInsider -The Arabian Review

Issue 77

Bahrain

LMRA faces a struggle

Bahrain

Top 50 tourist destinations

Dubai

10 years for British businessmen

Saucy Getting saucy GI? I did enjoy your small article on the sex scandal in Dubai last month. To be honest it is hard to feel sorry for the guy being in jail when he’d clearly had the time of his life with his ‘former lapdancer’ and ‘jealous Brazilian model ex-girlfriend’. On reading that article and seeing the girls’ photos, ‘Cry Me a River’ did flash through my mind I have to admit! Jealous British ex-nerd

Gulf Insider recently contacted the LMRA for an interview with the new CEO. We received a response informing us that both people we were trying to contact were on leave and that the CEO was busy with other priorities ! GI Team

Poignant I was really moved by your stories on Afghanistan being the world’s worst country for women and the other article on forced child marriage last month. It made me feel guilty to be honest. My friends, family and I complain about things but when you think of what we really have - we have absolutely no right to whinge in comparison to these poor women and children. It truly baffles me how the world can be so different in areas and segregated. It makes you wonder, how on earth this happened. Anyway ... bravo for bringing my attention to these crucial issues. Jen

I Want Luxury!

A Market for Bahrainis Hardworking, dedicated Bahrainis are already in the job market and employers are being encouraged to hire them Bahrain BD2

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The multi-award winning Arabian magazine

Gulf Financial Insider

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Issue 76

Bahrain

Travel banned and stuck

Bahrain

A battle for compensation

You had me drooling last month Gulf Insider, over that resort in Switzerland. Now that’s what I call luxury!! I’ve been to Switzerland a few times now and absolutely love it. 51° Spa Residences looks like exactly the right place to be when enjoying the beauty of the country. I would recommend heading to Switzerland to everyone and I’ll let you know how it is once I’ve been to this place ... although I’m pretty sure I already know. Lindt Lover

Dubai

Climbing the Burj Khalifa

Help for Bahrain’s Business Sector As SMEs struggle, the government generates solutions Bahrain BD2

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Gulf Insider August 2011

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Smothered in Red Tape After reading your LMRA article the other month GI I had to laugh.. I’ve been having such problems with them!! It just seems to be one thing after another, just like your story, again and again and again. Now this! Turns out they were incompetent after all. Let’s just hope this new guy has a clue eh? Fuming-Most-of-the-Time

Formula One MUST Return I completely agree with Sheikh Salman bin Rashid Al Khalifa - F1 MUST return. This is the highlight of the year for Bahrain. The island totally comes to life in spring each year and it was very sad to see it cancelled this year, although for good reason and I agreed with that move too. But to take F1 away from Bahrain would be a travesty indeed as everyone has gotten used to the annual excitement it creates. It really irritates me when people say Bahrain doesn’t deserve it as though the other countries that host the event are so much better. Better at hiding their corruption and negatives I say! F1 has become a beacon of hope on the Middle Eastern landscape - why on earth should that be taken away from any country? Irate Jane


Business Roundup

Encouraging Local Talent As part of its local employment strategy and commitment, on 2nd July, Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea & Spa held an employment open day to attract qualified Bahraini talents to join the hotel. “There are many benefits and advantages in joining Sofitel, the luxury hotels brand, to name a few; the multi-cultural

environment, dedicated training programmes, attractive salary and benefits, working with highly motivated team, and the brand’s firm commitment to careers development.” Bert Plas the General Manager of the Hotel commented. The day was a success for the HR department, as they have had a treasured back up of job applications to proceed with; and was an eye opener for the Bahraini young job seekers, getting introduced to a new world of luxury by Sofitel.

Cool Summer Deals with BUDGET BD 8.000 daily rate for Toyota Yaris, Mitsubishi Lancer, Nissan Sunny. BD 10.000 daily rate for Nissan Tiida, Mazda 2, Ford Focus HURRY UP, CALL!

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BUDGET LOCATIONS: Airport : +973 17321268 , Sitra: +973 17735900, Seef: +973 17564680, Sheraton Complex: +973 17534100, Web: www.budgetbahrain.com

Gulf Insider August 2011

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Business Roundup

Majaal Signs New Tenancy Agreement

First Bahrain sign with R Media First Bahrain, an innovative real estate developer, announced the signing of a new tenancy agreement for its flagship

project, Majaal. A leading marketing and advertising agency, R Media Co., has chosen the Majaal warehousing and

m2rglobal are coming to Bahrain Do you want to arrange an appointment with Managing Director Mr Munir Mamujee? Munir will be in Bahrain from the 18th September for a week before heading onto Saudi Arabia. Call or email NOW to arrange an appointment, either to discuss m2r’s very innovative and cost effective recruitment services or for career advice. Be quick as the diary gets full well in advance! For immediate assistance ring UK +447770865741 or email: munir@m2rglobal.com You can also reach Munir in Bahrain during his trip on 361 88782. What have you got to lose?

Chose m2r Ltd as your online recruitment advertising partner www.m2rglobal.com

info@m2rglobal.com

Any vacancy. Anywhere.

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Gulf Insider August 2011

logistics complex to house both its main office headquarters as well as its primary printing production centre. The Bahrain-based company offers marketing and advertising solutions in Bahrain and throughout the GCC, boasting a wide portfolio; including the management of two other subsidiary companies: Emirates House Publications and Prince Class Burger. Majaal, First Bahrain’s inaugural project, is located within the Salman Industrial City at the Bahrain Investment Wharf, providing easy access to Khalifa bin Salman Port and other major transport links in Bahrain. Majaal presently offers 130,000 square feet of secure, flexible and cost effective storage space which has been designed especially to facilitate the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) segment of the kingdom’s industrial sector. Space is available for lease from as little as 2,700 square feet to multiples of 10,700 square feet, and expansion plans are in the pipeline.

Mercedes-Benz Tops Customer Satisfaction Study Mercedes-Benz customers are the most satisfied. The proof comes with the results of the latest study undertaken in Germany by the world-renowned market research organisation J.D. Power and Associates into the satisfaction of car buyers. The Mercedes-Benz C-, Mercedes-Benz E- and MercedesBenz M-Class each scored the best marks in their respective segments. In the category Service Satisfaction, the threepointed star also once again secured first place among the premium brands. In addition, the E-Class has won silver in the editorial awards of more than 500 tests and pre-purchase consultations. The results are based on more than 500 tests and pre-purchase consultations as well as on almost two million driven kilometres, and add up to a well-founded guide for buyers. Launched recently across the Middle East, the new C-Class is a comprehensive modernisation. A total of more than 2,000 new components distinguish the latest generation of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class from its predecessor. It is the highestselling model series, and therefore of particular importance for Mercedes-Benz. In terms of drive and protection systems the new-generation C-Class sets completely new standards in its segment with respect to perceived value, safety, comfort and quality.


Business Roundup

Bahraini Named among Middle East’s 50 Most Powerful People in Media Akram Rashad Miknas, Chairman of the Middle East Communication Networks (MCN), has been named on Communicate magazine’s first ever list of most powerful people in the region’s media, marketing and advertising industry. Miknas was given the post of third most powerful person on the list, which was compiled by the magazine using a formula based on public facts and market intelligence about the top players in the industry and the companies they work with. Sheikh Walid Ibrahim Al Ibrahim, Chairman, MBC Group topped the list. Miknas, a citizen of Bahrain, has been chairman of MCN since 1968 and has, for over four decades, influenced the media, marketing and advertising industry. MCN, the holding company for several of the region’s leading communications firms, finds it roots in Fortune Promoseven, an advertising agency founded by Miknas in Lebanon in 1968. “Being named to Communicate’s Power List 2011 is not only a tremendous honour for me but also a validation of over 40 years of hard work and passion,” Miknas said. “When Fortune Promoseven first started 43 years ago, it was difficult to envisage the spectacular growth we have seen since. Today as one of the largest communications groups in the region, the MCN group can boast of having some of the world’s biggest brands in advertising, media buying and public relations. That is certainly something to be proud of by any measure.”

Mindshare Wins Three Golds at Cannes Mindshare, a global media and marketing services network, goes beyond media at Cannes, scooping a total of three gold, two silver and one bronze award across Cyber, Titanium and Integrated, Media and Outdoor categories at this year’s Cannes Advertising Festival. The accolades demonstrate both the agency’s quality and breadth of work. As Nike’s global media partner, Mindshare is part of the global communications team that picked up a Gold Lion for the ‘Write the Future’ campaign in the Titanium and Integrated Lion category. The collaboration, which includes Wieden + Kennedy Amsterdam, AKQA and Razorfish, also won a Gold Cyber Lion. The carefully synchronised global strategy and the power of the network led to the campaign being the most viral video on the planet in 2010. Mindshare Tunisia was credited for work on Brand Collective’s campaign ‘June 16th 2014’, the campaign picked up a Gold Media Lion. A Silver Lion went to Mindshare Turkey for its unique Koc Group campaign, seeing the agency break new ground with a live pitch on Turkey’s Got Talent final. As the credited media partner for LG Electronic’s ‘Washing Tunnel’ campaign, Mindshare South Africa also scooped a Silver Lion in the Media Lion category. Mindshare UK won its first Bronze Outdoor Lion for Lynx Angel Ambush by creating an augmented reality digital outdoor campaign to bring to life the seductive effect of Lynx Excite, the fragrance so tempting ‘even angels will fall’.

Taking Care of Sofitel’s Ambassadors

Akram Miknas

Sofitel Bahrain management believes that if they take care of their Ambassadors; the Ambassadors will take good care of the guests. So, every month, the management holds a stylish party for all the Ambassadors to entertain them, update them about the business situation and how the hotel is performing, and to award them for the excellent work during the month. The entertainment is prepared and performed by the talented young Ambassadors, and they get the chance to display and showcase their different abilities and capabilities in different areas away from work. Amongst the talents; people sing, dance, design, paint, and show photography - to name a few. The programme of the party last month was presented by the ‘Master of Ceremony’ Somaya Khauoja , while general manager Bert Plas and Pradeep Shinde the director of human resources were busy awarding and congratulating the winners of the month. They announced the nominated and elected Ambassadors of the month (front and back of the house), supervisor of the month, ‘Mr and Mrs Smiley’, ‘Mr and Mrs Magnifique’, and ‘Mr Cusu-main’. They all won cash prizes.

Gulf Insider August 2011

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BAHRAIN

THE SPECTRUM OF UNITY Bahrain’s National Dialogue not only focused on Bahrain’s actual nationals but also included the voices of expatriate communities. So... We asked, how will the talks affect you?

‘O

ur Bahrain. Our Unity’ is the slogan employed for the National Dialogue (ND), an initiative set up in light of recent political disturbances to encourage comprehensive discussions and promote, as stated, unity. A great sentiment which not only included Bahraini nationals but also extended to the various expatriate communities of Bahrain as they set up a coinciding ‘Expat Session’ which took place the day after the month-long ND was over. Considering that in February of this year, it was reported the total population of Bahrain was just over 1.2 million, 568,399 of which are expatriates, it certainly makes sense to see what they have to say. The ND Chief spokesperson, Isa Abdulrahman agreed, saying that it was vital for the talks to include an Expat Session; “We are aiming to have an inclusive dialogue in terms of participants. So we organised dedicated sessions for expats where any matters of concern they have can be addressed. We are not aiming to build consensus but a full airing of issues related to them, which will be monitored and incorporated

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Gulf Insider August 2011

into the reports that will be submitted to HM King Hamad for review.”

Key Issues

Taking place on 25th July, the expat session went very well according to all those involved. Three government

Suggestions focused on a wide range of topics from economic development and human rights to transparency in business. ministers - Justice, Islamic Affairs and Endowments Minister Shaikh Khalid bin Ali Al Khalifa, Acting Health Minister and Human Rights and Social Development Minister Dr Fatima Al Balooshi and Cabinet Affairs Minister Kamal Mohammed - attended and listened to

more than 30 key recommendations that were made by the 60 representatives from numerous expatriate communities. These suggestions focused on a wide range of topics from economic development and human rights to transparency in business. There was a call to improve foreign workers’ rights and for non-discrimination between Bahraini-born and naturalised citizens. It was brought to the Board’s attention that expatriate women and spouses should be entitled to the same rights as their Bahraini counterparts and that citizenship rules need to be reviewed. Various communities, while recognising their freedom for worship, raised concerns over the freedom to build and register places of worship. In particular the Indian, Pakistani and Filipino societies sought firm assurances of personal safety and security for their people in the wake of recent events where numerous innocent expatriates from their communities had been seriously injured and even killed. One suggestion outlined for the government to have an expat business liaison department that could assist


BAHRAIN

businesses accessing the decision makers. Further to this, a ‘one-stop-shop’ within the government to deal specifically with the expatriate community and its concerns was recommended. Mario Santiago, pastor and engineer, as well as representative of the Filipino community at the session, suggested establishing and creating a ‘worker’s town’ near to Manama. “A constant complaint of the municipality is that Manama town is turning into bachelors’ accommodation,” he told Gulf Insider after the session. “I recommended that they build a worker’s town which would be affordable and sustainable, yet raise the poor living standards which exist now. Obviously we understand that this would take a lot of capital expenditure on behalf of the government but it is a solution to a problem which exists in Manama. Plus, the government could employ a smalltime Bahraini contractor.” The President of the Indian Ladies Association, Asha Sriniva, attended the ND and recognised the session as a very good opportunity for them to voice their concerns. “We look forward to fruitful cooperation in the future,” she

told Gulf Insider. The concern she raised was in relation to ‘Sneha’, a ‘school’ for special needs children of any nationality. “We are not technically a school but we have permission to accept up to 20 to 22 children, and we do so free of charge. Yet we constantly receive requests from parents seeking admission for children with mental retardation. We do not have

I was confident during the session that there was a genuine concern for the role expatriates have in Bahrain. the facilities to accommodate them and when we forward them to local institutions they will not cater to them as they only accept Bahrainis.” Asha asked if they could be permitted to enter and if they could review the management of children with special needs and mental retardation. “Dr Fatima Balooshi

thankfully immediately addressed our issue and proposed a grant for Sneha.” Steve Sutton is a British Club Executive Committee Member and was a representative for the British community. He raised a number of key concerns including protection of investments in property schemes and a review of property ownership rules, development of new leisure facilities both for residents and the development of tourism, a review of existing Labour laws, better financial support for small businesses owned by expatriates, and the development of a Residents’ Advice Bureau for expatriates.

Travel Bans

Another concern which Steve brought attention to, and one which Gulf Insider has covered in the past, is the issue of travel bans. A huge number (exact statistics unknown) of people of different nationalities have had travel bans imposed upon them as soon as they have been fairly or unfairly accused of owing money to banks, institutions and/or individuals. In some cases this ban is not lifted for years (in one case, 25 years!) and the

Gulf Insider August 2011

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BAHRAIN

Foreign direct investment is important says economist

in the meantime they become illegal residents without the ability to work. Thus follows a downward spiral as they are unable to pay bills and in the worst cases they end up homeless, without a car and depending on others for their meals, and often, in jail. In his pre-session letter to the ND, Steve outlined this issue and listed a number of possible review recommendations: That the case be heard within 30 days of this placing of the travel ban and if not, the travel ban be lifted; impartial review of the circumstances by an independent assessment body; that professional bodies should be legally bound to build into agreements clear conditions, default protection and default liabilities; the prohibition of automatic detainment orders being imposed; that unlicensed or privately arranged agreements not have legal recognition; and, importantly, that if the details turn out to be trivial then the proposer should receive a fine for violating a person’s human rights. “I believe it went well and it was interesting to listen to and understand the different priorities and concerns that the different groups brought to the table,” Steve told Gulf Insider. “The presence of the Chairman of the Parliament and a

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number of Ministers also added weight to the value of the sessions as they were able to hear first-hand the experiences and the aspirations of the different communities. “This session of the dialogue was a little different from the others in as much as there was not a requirement

We must provide a very strong ground for foreign direct investment and have Bahrain not only as a place to work but as a place to live and feel safe and secure. to reach a consensus on the issues but all issues were noted and taken forward for inclusion. I was confident during the session that there was a genuine concern for the role expatriates have in Bahrain and that the issues raised would form an essential part of the overall dialogue.”

Benefits to the Economy

Dr Yousef Mashal is the Chairman and CEO of Mashal International Group as well as an economist, and was an integral part of the political and economic sessions of the ND throughout last month. While he was not directly involved in the Expat Session he did attend and admitted to us that this was “a new step for any country in the world; having expats talking about their problems and giving advice on how their lives can be better. It is an excellent step. “This will not only help Bahrain politically but economically too. There are two things an investor looks for in a country: safety of him and his family and the safety of his money. If the country provides this added value then investors will feel safe to come into Bahrain and put their money and their efforts in doing their business in Bahrain. We must provide a very strong ground for foreign direct investment and have Bahrain not only as a place to work but as a place to live and feel safe and secure.” Dr Mashal explains that often the fear in Bahrain is that it is too small. “But Bahrain is the fourth smallest country in the world geographically. The third is Singapore, a country with


BAHRAIN

Migrant workers’ rights under scrutiny

four and a half million people and one of strongest growing economies in the world. Singapore was built on foreign direct investment, with people coming in and feeling safe. Bahrain can do the same thing, but right now you will find an investor is the CEO of a company and he has to sign and apply for his own resident permit the same way he does for his own employees!”

Building Bahrain’s Reputation

Interestingly, one topic in which all communities agreed on was that each group represented should be able to help in restoring Bahrain’s international image. “We can do a lot to not only influence but also inform newspapers in our home country about what is really happening in Bahrain,” Mario Santiago explained. “This was a mutual sentiment as none of us think it is fair what the media has been saying about Bahrain. These views were mainly taken from people wanting to create trouble and make a bad image of Bahrain.” Nayla Ashghar Ali, PR chairperson for the Pakistan Women’s Association, amongst raising issues for her own community said: “What is very, very

important - not only focusing on the expatriate population, I also wanted the Chairman and government to tell us how we could help in restoring Bahrain’s international reputation. Expats represent about 50 per cent of the population and we can help re-establish Bahrain as a country of peace and harmony.” Isa Abdulrahman echoed these

Expats represent about 50 per cent of the population and we can help re-establish Bahrain as a country of peace and harmony. thoughts: “The main discussion was about delivering the promise of Bahrain. How to make living in Bahrain a much better experience and how they can help the development of the country in many aspects.”

Encouraging Unity

A number of suggestions, which demonstrate the expat communities’ plea for greater social integration with Bahraini nationals, focused on young foreign residents and their incorporation in Bahraini society through education and community interaction, including basic Arabic in all schools, cooperation between Bahraini and foreign universities and more student exchanges, alongside cultural and sporting activities. Overall, it can be said that the entire National Dialogue and the associated Expat Session truly aired any and all concerns of a wide variety of members of Bahrain’s society. Dr Yousef put it best when he said: “In chemical terms the ND is the catalyst of Bahrain. It has blended all the people together, softened hardships that occurred between people and helped them talk to each other more freely. I don’t think any sect, religion, colour, origin or tribe was not represented in the dialogue. So it is really all of Bahrain talking to each other away from sectarianism, tribalism and religion. It was all working under the umbrella of nationalism.” GFI

Gulf Insider August 2011

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BAHRAIN

MY VIEW: BAHRAIN’S ECONOMY Gulf Insider speaks to GPIC CEO, Mr Abdulrahman Jawahery, about the former success and recent downfall of Bahrain’s economy.

W

hich success stories stand out to you in terms of Bahrain’s economy? There are many success stories in Bahrain, thanks to the wise leadership that has given priority to the economy both as a means of improving standards of living for the Bahraini people and as a means of economic and political reform of the government, education, the healthcare sector, increasing privatisation and an overall enhancement of the quality of life in Bahrain. This drive clearly signals this nation’s aspirations for the development of a competitive global economy driven by a thriving private sector. The Bahrain Economic Vision 2030 also underscores the role of all Bahrainis in this drive and promises to raise incomes and quality of life for all societal segments. Which, in your opinion, is the most important sector on Bahrain’s economic landscape? The three main sectors of Bahrain’s economy are: oil and gas, finance, and manufacturing (Bahrain is the fifth largest aluminium producer in the world). Crude oil and natural gas still account for the biggest contribution to GDP, followed by Consolidated Financial Institutions, then manufacturing. The economy is highly dependent on financial services, which is the largest sector in real terms and whose contribution to growth fluctuates with regional performance. Oil is the main source of government and export revenue but compared to its regional peers in the GCC, Bahrain is the

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Gulf Insider August 2011

least oil-dependent nation. However, even then oil and gas contributed a substantial 23.1 per cent to the total GDP of the country in 2009. Notable growth sectors include insurance, transport, storage, communications, financial institutions, and the hospitality sector. The positive performance of most non-oil sectors was due mainly to the relative stability in the level of production of oil derivatives, and aluminium, in addition to the good results achieved by most service activities.

Compared to its regional peers in the GCC, Bahrain is the least oildependent nation. On the back of current financial turmoil in the global and GCC markets, among the non-oil sectors real estate and construction were the worst hit. Nonetheless, we see increasing importance of these two sectors in the overall GDP composition in the long term, keeping note of the increasing number of projects in the pipeline. Will the recent unrest ultimately have a detrimental effect on Bahrain’s economy? Without a doubt the consequences of what happened in Bahrain had an impact on the economic situation, especially

with respect to the central market and food sector. We have to start thinking and acting beyond the crisis, particularly after the decline in the business classification of Bahrain. We should focus on financial institutions, which constitute some 28 per cent of the GDP of Bahrain through almost 400 financial institutions, wherein banks’ assets are nearing USD200 billion, while the GDP of Bahrain has risen to about USD22 billion. It is difficult to return financial conditions to where they were before the crisis in such a short period. As Bahrain is a small country it cannot support these institutions in the absence of lasting stability. It takes resolve and much time to change many things to eradicate such difficulties. We in Bahrain must now move beyond the stage of assessing mistakes, or becoming involved in the politicisation of issues, and instead we have to think about economic stability, which will be the key to solving many of the needs and demands of Bahraini society. This requires economic reforms based on equal opportunities and fair competition between individuals. Our wise leadership has already made great strides toward these goals and was no doubt grateful for the assistance of the Peninsular Shield in helping to re-establish security and safety as a precondition for such progress. What, to you, makes Bahrain’s economy stand out from others? The Bahrain Government’s aspirations place a focus on developing high quality policies. The public sector is becoming


BAHRAIN more accountable for delivering better quality services via organisations and operations. There is a predictable, transparent and fairly-enforced regulatory system which facilitates economic growth. The sustainability of government finances is strengthened by reducing dependence on oil revenues to fund current expenditure. Furthermore, a world-class infrastructure will link Bahrain to the global economy. These steps are all measured by regulatory bodies around the world. The Bahrain Government lists its economic aspirations as follows: Firstly, robust growth benefitting the people (measured in terms of real GDP per capita, foreign direct investment, productivity rate, Bahraini workforce participation rate, and the number of medium-to-high wage jobs held by Bahrainis); secondly, to diversify and build the economy by focusing on existing high-potential sectors (measured by real GDP growth

We in Bahrain must now think about economic stability, which will be the key to solving many of the needs and demands of Bahraini society.

Mr Abdulrahman Jawahery

and job contribution of high potential sectors); thirdly, to transform the economy in the long-term by capturing emerging opportunities (measured by real GDP and job contribution of new emerging sectors). Social aspirations include the high standards of social assistance available, giving all Bahrainis an equal start (measured by share of household earning above the national minimum income). Moreover, all Bahraini nationals and residents have access to quality healthcare (measured by life expectancy and improvements in provider performance according to health care regulatory standards). Moreover, there is a first-rate education system enabling all Bahrainis to fulfill their ambitions (measured by improvement of the educational institutions in independent quality reviews and national examinations). GFI

Gulf Insider August 2011

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BAETC

Fly Higher and Higher At the helm of keeping BAETC at the forefront of excellence and high-quality standards, is a woman who is quite a force to be reckoned with. Gulf Insider talks exclusively with Nadia Algosaibi. She tells of how proud she is of her Gulf heritage – seeing how local people from the region are now obtaining one of the highest aviation qualifications recognised on a global scale.

D

on’t let her diminutive frame fool you. She packs a punch so to speak – but not in the boxing sense of the word – but in mindnumbing engineering terms. Head of Examinations at the Bahrain Airport Services Aircraft Engineering Training Centre or BAETC, Nadia Algosaibi is chiefly responsible for reviewing, evaluating and making sure that the Centre’s examinations process are maintained and kept to the stringent requirements and standards of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), who audits the Centre’s procedures twice annually. Put simply, it’s her job to make sure that the Centre’s examination questions are correct, that they comply with syllabus requirements and that they are pitched at the right level. Additionally, she also identifies training needs and develops individual training programmes based on the performance, strengths and weaknesses of trainees.

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Gulf Insider August 2011

Professionally, Nadia says her job is satisfying “because as a Centre, BAETC was the second centre outside the European Union, and the first in the Middle East and Asia, to receive EASA certification for conducting these

There can be no tolerance for mistakes... Our students are trained to understand that lives depend on every aspect of their training. courses.” The combination of the latest training methods, equipment and an established history of high maintenance standards have earned BAETC this unique honour, and Nadia is at the forefront of maintaining those standards.

Nadia joined the Centre three years ago as an aircraft engineering instructor, preparing all training materials for courses and examinations for all basic license and type training. With her steely determination and remarkable drive, she was subsequently promoted as Head of Examinations, a position she has held for over a year now. Rigid training and strict adherence to standards is nothing new for Nadia. She studied Aerospace Engineering in the UK, and went on to join Rolls Royce PLC in Bristol, UK for nine years. Whilst there, Nadia narrates: “I realise that when I was with Rolls Royce, I received a very high standard of training. Throughout my time there, every aspect of the experience was a learning experience. Engineers are encouraged to absorb as much as they can from the knowledge and experience of their colleagues. l’ve inherited so much from them, so I strive to bring the same high level of standards to everything that we do here at BAETC.”


BAETC This next statement may come as a shock to you – when Nadia emphasises that in the aviation industry: “There can be no tolerance for mistakes.” Whereas this would otherwise have been tolerable in other fields of practice. She explains why: “Our students are trained to understand that lives depend on every aspect of their training - whether they’re learning to make routine checks like looking out for tyre cracks or testing some complex instrumentation.” Being Saudi-born and bred, Nadia beams: “Personally, I enjoy my job because as someone who comes from this part of the world, I am proud to play a part in the development of local people and helping them gain internationally recognised qualifications. In addition to that, people from the region and abroad, travel to Bahrain to come to the Centre to improve their qualifications.” Another reason why she keeps doing what she does Nadia tells us is, “The moment when the students come

One must always strive to get the highest and best qualification they can possibly get. and tell me, ‘Nadia, I got my license.’” “Suddenly they understand why I pushed them so hard to keep studying and pass the exams,” she says with a smile, “in order to get a license they have had to work in the real world and they now understand the need to maintain high standards.” Apart from her role at BAETC, she is currently taking her Masters Degree in Air Safety Management at the City University London in the UK. “I strongly believe in personal development. That one must always strive to get the highest and best qualification they can possibly get,” she enthused. “My goal is to continue my studies as I intend to continue working in the aviation industry and develop my skills in training and development. Meantime, I will strive and continue to help those in the industry for them to get the best qualification they can achieve.” GFI

Nadia Algosaibi Gulf Insider August 2011

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THE MARKET VIEW IN Q2 The Government’s budgets for 2011 and 2012 have been agreed and suggest a vigorous programme of investment intended to reinvigorate a difficult domestic economic climate. CB Richard Ellis investigates what effect this will have on the current market.

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n 2011, Government income is forecast to be BD2.29 billion with expenditure forecast at BD3.12 billion – a deficit of BD836 million. In 2012, Government income is forecast to be BD2.35 billion with expenditure forecast at BD3.07 billion – a deficit of a further BD726 million. The balance of funds required to support the Government’s projected spending over the next two years will be met by loans from the Arab Islamic Fund and other financial institutions. Despite this affirmative action by the Bahrain Government, analysts polled by Reuters cut growth forecasts for 2011 to 2.7 per cent from 3.4 per cent. The Central Bank of Bahrain placed the annual growth forecast at three per cent. Standard & Poor have publicly stated that it believes that ‘Bahrain remains a key financial centre for the region’, further stating: “We think Bahrain was seen for a very long time as the centre for wholesale banking in the Gulf, with a good infrastructure, good regulation and track record.”

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The Central Bank has issued another eight licenses for financial institutions setting up in the kingdom in 2011. To date, there is little evidence that banks or businesses are leaving Bahrain although there is no doubt that international

We think Bahrain was seen for a very long time as the centre for wholesale banking in the Gulf, with a good infrastructure, good regulation and track record. businesses with a presence in the kingdom are maintaining a ‘watching brief’ on the situation.

On June 1st, the ‘State of National Safety’ was lifted and the curfew hours which applied to specified areas of Bahrain including the main commercial district of Seef, were removed. The number of visitors crossing the causeway from Saudi Arabia has risen steadily during May and June and the malls are reporting an increase in business. The two Kempinski hotel towers adjoining Bahrain City Centre mall are due to open in September, shortly after the conclusion of Ramadan. The Diamond Tower and Pearl Tower will offer almost 400 rooms between them and were originally due to open for the Formula One event in March this year but were delayed due to its cancellation.

Office Market

Despite the best efforts of Dubai and Qatar to attract the banking sector from Bahrain when the recent political turmoil took hold, the industry has proved that it is not merely driven by the availability of new, quality office space. The fundamentals borne of more than 430


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financial institutions, strong track record, well regarded regulatory environment and the presence of the largest market in the Middle East just across the causeway (Saudi Arabia) remain key. Local reports record that four financial institutions have left Bahrain in 2011, although it seems two of these had long planned a move away and the other two were merely functions from within banks (that are still in Bahrain), that have moved to Singapore. Nevertheless, plans to expand or invest in Bahrain have no doubt been affected by the events of the first half of 2011 and the recovery in investment and business development that was forecast to take place through 2011 has been somewhat subdued as a result. This naturally translates into a reduction in demand for office space, and the requests for new space are once again typically for smaller units of 100 to 150 square metres or for serviced offices. Some businesses that find themselves struggling as a result of the global and local economic environment are

rationalising their requirements, cutting staff and making cost savings by moving into less expensive, less prestigious accommodation.

Unfortunately, the general sluggishness in demand is being met by a significant increase in quality office supply, with absorption of new space likely to be a problem for at least a couple of years. On the upside, the vigorous programme of development taking place to exploit Bahrain’s oil and gas resources has generated several notable

requirements for substantially sized head office properties for international oil companies. Unfortunately, the general sluggishness in demand is being met by a significant increase in quality office supply, with absorption of new space likely to be a problem for at least a couple of years. Consequently, there is likely to be some repositioning in the market, some clearance of bottom-end properties ripe for redevelopment and refurbishment programmes. Landlord incentives have always existed in Bahrain, however the incentives offered have not altered significantly this year. Larger spatial requirements will inevitably induce longer rent free fit-out periods but the landlords’ perceptions of the level to which they need to bow to tenant demands is to date, well out of line with tenant expectations.

Residential Sector

Bahrain is a relatively complex market to summarise due to the vast array of housing requirements, by nationality,

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income, tenure and location all within a relatively small geographic area. Upper-income compound rentals have been under downward pressure for some time now but prices appear to be levelling out as landlords have reached a point where, in some cases, they would rather leave the properties empty or undertake a refurbishment programme rather then reduce the rent further. In this sector in particular there has been some ‘flight to quality’, although most commonly this was a ‘flight to modernity’ i.e., newer villas, rather than better or bigger homes. This is borne of the frustration that many tenants experience with lack of maintenance programmes or other necessary expenditure by landlords. Middle income apartment areas such as Juffair have also experienced a sharp fall in rental rates but there has been very little movement at the bottom end of the apartment rental market in areas such as central Manama, which is largely dominated by the Asian expatriate community. Bahrainis tend to prefer to buy rather

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than rent and owning their own villa remains the prime ambition of most of the indigenous population. Where renting is seen as expedient in the short term, this usually takes place in the form of apartment rental in and around semi-rural villages. The dynamics of this

The sheer volume of luxury apartments built in Bahrain over the last three years has been too much for the market to absorb in terms of sales alone. type of accommodation have changed little over the past two years as steady development is met by steady demand with no significant mismatch either way. The sales market is more problematic,

but the situation is being unwound by developers who are adjusting buildings to accommodate serviced apartments, hotels or office space. The sheer volume of luxury apartments built in Bahrain over the last three years has been too much for the market to absorb in terms of sales alone, hence the adjustments that are taking place in terms of use and tenure. Sales prices are still ‘spotty’, developers are not very active in the market as they are still selling at pre-global economic crisis prices, while sellers in many projects are selling at a variety of prices more driven by the price they originally paid rather than by a consensual price established in the market. Prices are unlikely to become consistent until the supply of properties held by investors/ speculators is exhausted. GFI

CB Richard Ellis is a commercial firm offering a full range of services for property owners, occupiers and investors; based in Los Angeles with over 250 locations worldwide. For more information visit www.cbre.bh or contact Tel. +973 1655 6600.


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A FRAGILE MARKET UNDER SCRUTINY A return in political stability is good news for Bahrain as the country seeks to reverse adverse effects on the economy. However, international investors are still cautious, emphasises this Cluttons report on Bahrain’s current property market.

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ith relative stability returned to the island, the Economic Development Board (EDB) has taken a leading role in the aim of generating growth of inward investment to the island. This policy ties in with Government commitments to support projects and initiatives as set out in the National Strategy 2011 – 2014. In the wake of the recent political unrest, the EDB are due to release a report identifying those sectors that were adversely affected along with remedial measures. Of prime importance will be the strategy for utilising the USD10 billion GCC loan which will form part of the ten-year Gulf Development Program. This comes after the international rating agency, Moody’s, reported another cut in Bahrain’s credit rating by assigning a BAA1 rating in May. Moody’s, who have taken a negative stance on the nation’s outlook, cite political tension and its potential effect on growth rates, especially in service sectors such as tourism, trade and finance, as the reasoning behind their move. However, HSBC’s chief economist said that this would not affect

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the bank’s outlook on Bahrain but rather reflects the headwinds that Bahrain is currently facing. In response, the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) has described this latest cut as being an overreaction to the present situation and a decision that solely took into consideration the political

Estimates put the cost of losing the Grand Prix at USD700 million which represents a modest uplift on the reported revenue that last year’s event generated. climate rather than the economic state of the nation. To this end, the CBB have announced that they intend to meet with the rating agencies to discuss Bahrain’s economic fundamentals.

With revenue from tourism suffering as a result of the imposed emergency rule throughout the last quarter, the news that Bahrain has not regained the right to host the Grand Prix this year will be a large setback for the domestic economy. Estimates put the cost of losing the Grand Prix at USD700 million which represents a modest uplift on the reported revenue that last year’s event generated. This latest news will undoubtedly have a negative effect on the hotel industry and indeed the airline industry which has reported poor sales throughout 2011. If the current political stability ensues, a great deal of confidence will return to the Bahraini economy. The challenges to the economy that still remain are the efficient provision of affordable housing stock for Bahrainis and the high exposure of the banking industry to real estate assets which look set to reduce further in value over the coming quarter. However, with a large proportion of the GCC fund allocated to the housing sector, Government policy is reacting to the demand for housing for Bahraini nationals.


BAHRAIN

Office Sector

As per 2011 Q1, the recent unrest in the country has led to a period of stagnation as tenants and landlords wait to see what the effect of the political uncertainty will be. In addition to these events, high levels of Grade A and B office pipeline supply continue the trend of falling rental values. In addition the market looks set to slow down over the summer months and throughout Ramadan as people take annual leave. Due to the large supply of Grade A and B commercial stock, the performance of the market in Q2 2011 has remained similar to that of Q1. Rental values have continued to come under downward pressure as the demand side of the market remains weak. Occupancy in the existing office stock varies considerably from building to building but we estimate that average occupancy continues to stand at 60% to 70% leaving approximately 300,000 square metres of built stock vacant and approximately 200,000 square metres of lettable space under construction. Asking rates for shell and core space within

prime buildings remain at around BD10 per square metre, per month, a level that has seen little trading activity and is unlikely to do so in the short to medium term. We are however aware of deals in Sanabis that have transacted at BD5 per square metre, per month and Seef at BD7 per square metre, per month. In

Rental values have continued to come under downward pressure as the demand side of the market remains weak. addition to this there have been a small number of deals done for small units in fitted out condition. If the current stock in the market is to be taken up, landlords must look to what occupier demand there is. To this

end, flexible floor plates, good parking provisions and ease of access and egress remain paramount to all new commercial developments. To this end, large floor plates will need to be carefully sub divided and fitted out to a good specification if landlords wish to lease their space quickly. If not they will have to be content to wait for larger companies, of which there is a reducing number, to lease their space.

Residential Sector

The recent unrest greatly affected the residential market across Bahrain. There has been a shift in demand in the leasehold market, which has caused rent reductions of up to 30% in certain areas forcing landlords to offer incentives to tenants in a bid to maintain occupancy levels. In the short term it seems as though the market will remain tenant friendly as rents look set to stabilise at current rates.

Market Becomes Two Tiered

Over the past three months the residential market has shown signs of

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stabilising. To this end Amwaj has been the best performing area of the island, predominantly due to the security as well as good quality development concepts. Amwaj has seen a steady increase in population as a number of expatriates have moved across the island. Rents have reduced during the economic downturn but have remained stable over the last three months. Rents for flats and villas currently range between BD500 for a one bedroom flat to BD2,300 for a five bedroom villa. In addition, there have been a number of sales transactions across Amwaj recently. Historically, units on Amwaj were purchased by expatriates to live in or by Bahrainis to let or use as weekend getaways. This dynamic has changed recently as expatriates are putting purchases on hold until the political situation is clearer. In contrast more Bahrainis are looking to purchase units to live in, thus benefiting from the lifestyle and security on offer. Sales rates remain consistent at BD800 per square metre for bigger units and BD1,000 per square metre for smaller ones. Another development which has seen

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a pick-up in enquiries is Riffa Views. Tenants have relocated to this area for security reasons, but also because rents have fallen during the economic downturn making it more affordable. Saar and Budaiya areas were badly affected during the unrest. Landlords have thus been forced to reduce their

Amwaj has seen a steady increase in population as a number of expatriates have moved across the island. rents by up to 50% as well as providing incentives such as rent free periods in an attempt to attract and retain tenants as they move to Amwaj or Riffa Views. In terms of apartments, the market has continued to be dominated by an

oversupply of top end units. Abraj Al Lulu has been badly hit by the sheer number of apartments on offer. This coupled with the recent events has put pressure on occupancy as tenants look to relocate to newer towers in safer locations for similar or lower rents. In the short to medium term we believe that supply will continue to outstrip demand, allowing tenants the opportunity to benefit from rent free periods and increased services. The market will become increasingly twotiered as occupiers look to lifestyle developments such as Amwaj and Riffa Views.

Retail

Following the recent unrest, the retail market has been hit by a reduction in tourist spending coupled with a reluctance on the part of retailers to progress with expansion plans. As supply continues to come online, the main challenges facing landlords remain attracting and retaining tenants. To this end landlords have been forced to offer increased incentives to existing and potential tenants.


BAHRAIN

Occupier Markets Remain Weak

Retail spend has reduced dramatically following the recent civil unrest which has resulted in the number of tourist visits from Saudi Arabia falling to historically low levels over the past quarter. This has hit an already weak retail market and has resulted in cash flow problems for a large number of tenants. To this end Seef Properties recently announced a BD1 million aid package for the tenants of Seef Mall which took the form of a month rent free. This comes in the wake of the general trend which has seen the retail market become increasingly tenant friendly as large amounts of space come to the market. With approximately 450,000 square metres of additional retail space planned to come on line by 2015, the Bahrain retail market looks set to suffer from a continued supply / demand imbalance in the short to medium term. The majority of this supply pipeline will be situated in large master planned developments such as Amwaj Islands, Reef Island, Bahrain Bay and Durrat Al Bahrain while the remaining stock comprises stand alone schemes in areas such as Riffa,

Saar and Budaiya. As a result of the continued oversupply in the market, coupled with poor trading conditions, landlords have been forced to offer incentives to both existing tenants and potential tenants in order to let their

Retail spend has reduced dramatically following the recent civil unrest which has resulted in the number of tourist visits from Saudi Arabia falling to historically low levels. properties. This reflects the growing awareness of landlords regarding the benefits of a fully let property with a lower rental income than a development with low occupancy. However, given the

weakness in occupier markets where tenants are not in a position to take new space even with incentives, the market risks are becoming stagnant. The recent stability that has been witnessed in Bahrain will be good for the retail market as the number of visitors crossing the causeway from Saudi Arabia increases. With effective retail rents continuing to come under downward pressure as a result of the large increase in stock that has come to the market over the past two years, retailers are delaying any potential expansion plans until it is clear that the recent stability will continue. GFI

Cluttons is a limited liability partnership of chartered surveyors and property consultants with a strong presence in the Middle East. Their expertise cover major landmark buildings, shopping malls (regional and neighbourhood), prominent office towers, apartment complexes, villa compounds, and hotel leisure complexes. For more information visit www.cluttons.com/bahrain or Tel. +973 1756 2860.

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EVALUATING THE MARKET Dubai’s economy may be looking more positive this year but the problems are not over yet, particularly in the real estate and construction sectors. CB Richard Ellis reports on Dubai’s market in this year’s Q2.

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ubai’s economy is expected to perform positively during 2011 with the IMF now predicting annual growth of 3.5%. The trade, tourism and logistics sectors in particular are all anticipated to expand significantly after posting impressive numbers during 2010. The Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry released encouraging data during the quarter, indicating a 17.6% rise in export and re-export figures for the first five months of 2011. Total volumes reached AED100 billion as compared to AED85 billion for the same period last year. However, recovery in the real estate and construction sectors, which had emerged as principal drivers of the economy in recent years, will remain muted due to ongoing demand and supply imbalances and a slowdown in new development activity. Despite the emergence of more attractive investment conditions, the number of transactions has actually fallen in comparison to the same period last year. The overall sales value, however,

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was registered as higher, indicating that investors are now more focused on high end properties. This growth is the result of rising activity from within established prime

Despite the emergence of more attractive investment conditions, the number of transactions has actually fallen in comparison to the same period last year. community locations, such as Dubai Marina, Burj Dubai, Palm Jumeirah and Emirates Living. Fifty-eight per cent of total transactions were found to be registered in these developments.

The Federal Government decision to increase the visa validity granted to property investors from six months to three years should have a positive long term effect on the market. However, at this stage the threat of significant new supply, cost of finance, and expectations of further pricing downside continue to inhibit property purchases.

Office Sector

Despite quite a positive first quarter performance, leasing activity during Q2 has proved to be rather weak. A number of major commercial requirements failed to evolve into completed deals, whilst other previously active office searches were either shelved or delayed for up to twelve months. The corporate market continues to face financial constraints amidst global economic uncertainties. This has led to a noticeable tightening of capital expenditure locally, which in turn is delaying the decision making process for major office moves. Transaction timescales have lengthened with larger deals now typically taking over six months


dubai

to complete, despite attractive rates and an abundance of available space. Total office stock in Dubai by the end of the second quarter reached 6.03 million square metres, with the majority of new space emerging in the Business Bay and Jumeirah Lakes Towers developments. A total of 1.15 million square metres of new office stock could enter the market during the course of 2011 based on completions and current construction status. However, in consideration of historic trends in delivery timings, we could reasonably assume that only around 70 to 80% of this supply would actually be completed. Around 450,000 square metres (40% of 2011 new supply) has already entered the market during the first six months of 2011. The completion of additional supply during the second half of the year will continue to exert pressure on rental rates and landlords already battling rising vacancy rates. The current marketwide vacancy rate is now up to around 45%, largely due to the huge influx of unattractive fractional ownership space and weak demand.

Current lease rates in the CBD range between AED1,080 to AED1,940/sq m/ annum all inclusive. This is lower than rates prevailing back in 2005. On average, lease rates have fallen by 18% year on year, and 75% from the peak in 2008. Privately managed buildings within

Even as more stability is found, many landlords are still struggling to maintain adequate rental yields in the face of high service charges. DIFC are now starting to feel the pressure of new supply and the knock-on effect of a transparent pricing structure within the DIFC managed buildings. Direct lease rates for DIFC ‘strata’ offices currently range from AED1,750 to 2,150/sqm. This compares with AED 2,690 to 2,960/sqm

in the same quarter last year, representing a 30% fall in just 12 months.

Residential Market

The residential market continues to outperform the office sector with lease rates recording a marginal fall of 1% during the quarter. However, increased supply within secondary locations and low levels of occupier demand, could still pose a threat of further downside as the year progresses. Even as more stability is found, many landlords are still struggling to maintain adequate rental yields in the face of high service charges. Despite the significant decline in lease rates since 2008, service fees have remained largely constant, undermining yields on buy-to-let investments and also acting as a barrier to new investment. Average lease rates have fallen 19% on a year on year basis but only 5% during the first six months of 2011, indicating that the market is starting to firm-up a little. However, this is not to say we will not see further price falls within secondary locations, particularly as large

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volumes of new units are completed. Villa assets within well established community developments, such as the Palm Jumeirah, remain very popular as regional investment capital flows towards prime products. However, apartment units are generally viewed with somewhat less enthusiasm, largely as a result of significant existing and available supply and a massive future pipeline of properties. Average villa lease rates have fallen just 10% over the past year, with a quarterly decline of 2%. The biggest drop was identified in the two bedroom villa category which has slipped 23% year on year as new units have emerged in developments such as Jumeirah Village.

Outlook

Greater stability has been found within some of the more established community locations, but new development areas will continue to suffer as excess supply enters the market. A substantial number of residential properties are set for

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completion up to 2013 and this will make further rental depreciation likely for residential units in Dubailand, Business Bay and Jumeirah Lake Towers. It appears at this stage that corporate

Greater stability has been found within some of the more established community locations, but new development areas will continue to suffer as excess supply enters the market. activity will be somewhat stifled during 2011, with too much uncertainty prevailing in the global marketplace for major corporates to commit to significant

new capital expenditure and growth in a region that has recently been shaken by major political uncertainty. This is likely to result in lower than expected take-up levels being achieved in Dubai for the year in progress. The real estate market is likely to remain subdued during the third quarter of the year with the confluence of summer and the Holy Month of Ramadan. A strong Q4 is anticipated as Dubai and the region generally emerges from a difficult couple of years, although it remains to be seen whether this will be sufficient to turn around another challenging year in the local real estate sector. GFI

CB Richard Ellis is a commercial firm offering a full range of services for property owners, occupiers and investors; based in Los Angeles with over 250 locations worldwide. For more information visit www.cbre.bh or contact Tel. +973 1655 6600.


QATAR

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REAL ESTATE IS STILL POPULAR A recent study by Barclays Wealth revealed that investing in real estate in Qatar over the next year is a safe option according to 100 per cent of Qatari HNWIs.

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he recent study by Barclays Wealth, entitled ‘Risk and Rules: The Role of Control in Financial Decision Making’, found that 100% of Qatari HNWIs (high-net-worth individuals) indicated that they are currently invested in the real estate sector. Qatari respondents who participated in the survey expressed a positive outlook for the real estate sector with another 100% stating that real estate would be a safe investment over the next twelve months. The report is based on a global survey of more than 2,000 HNWIs and provides an in-depth examination of wealthy investors from a behavioural finance perspective. In addition to considering the different financial personality traits that exist amongst wealthy investors, the report shows their views on nine main asset groups: real estate; cash; alternative strategies (long/short funds, arbitrage etc); equities from both developed and emerging markets; bonds from developed governments, blue-chip corporations and high yield/emerging markets; and commodities. Forty three percent (43%) of Qatari investors believe that investment in cash is risky, while 24% see cash as safe. Less than a third (32%) of those surveyed currently hold cash investments. Qatari HNWIs also demonstrated ambiguous sentiments towards investment in alternative strategies. Nearly half (42%) believe they are neither risky nor safe, 15.7% perceive them to be risky while 37% take the complete opposite view and think they are safe. Regardless of

their views on the safety or riskiness of this asset class, alternative strategies were not particularly popular with Qatari HNWIs and only 16% have such investments in their portfolio. Equities further highlight mixed investment opinions among Qatari investors - 39% of respondents find investments in emerging market equities risky, yet almost exactly the same proportion (35%) find them safe. There is however a greater difference when it comes to developed market equities, as

Forty-three per cent of investors have commodities in their portfolio, making them the second most popular asset class after real estate. a clear majority (62.7%) of respondents considers them a safe investment option for their portfolio. Investments in developed government bonds are considered safe by over half of the investors (55%). Corporate and investment grade bonds are also considered safe by 53% of those surveyed, while only 10% view them as risky. High yield and emerging market bonds are considered safe by a much lower proportion of investors (33%).

Khurram Jafree, Head of Investment Advisory, Barclays Wealth MENA.

With no respondents viewing commodities as very risky and less than 14% of them seeing this asset class as quite risky, Qatari investors show more confidence in commodities than any other markets in the world. Qatari investors do not see commodities as particularly riskier than the average risk carried by all asset classes. Forty-three per cent of investors have commodities in their portfolio, making them the second most popular asset class after real estate, the country’s favoured investment. Khurram Jafree, Head of Investment Advisory, Barclays Wealth MENA, says: “Qatari investors distinguish themselves among their peers by their enthusiasm for investments in real estate. This strategy must have rewarded them as they show the greatest contentment with their financial situation. As the report clearly illustrates, there are considerable differences among wealthy investors in Qatar and between Qatari investors and their counterparts in the region and the world. This is a timely reminder, if one was needed, that the wealth management industry needs to tailor its services at the individual level and that one-size fits-all approaches do not work. The considerable amount of data and insights in the report will allow Barclays Wealth to remain at the forefront of the wealth management sector and further capitalise on our extensive experience in dealing with high net worth individuals, in Qatar, in the Middle East and the world.” GFI

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Ab

Abu Dhabi ranked most expensive city in GCC for expats

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he trend of falling accommodation costs continues across the Middle East region, driving the cities down the global cost of living ranking and, particularly in the case of politically stable markets such as the UAE, making them potentially more attractive places for expatriates to live. Mercer’s 2011 Cost of Living Survey released in last month shows that Abu Dhabi is ranked the most expensive city in UAE for expats. Dubai, now ranked 81 globally, has dropped 26 places compared to last year. Other cities across the GCC were ranked as follows: Riyadh, KSA (135); Manama, Bahrain (157); Kuwait City, Kuwait (159); Doha, Qatar (164), Muscat, Oman (184) and Jeddah, KSA (185). The Mercer Cost of Living Survey data is the most comprehensive in the world and is used by firms and governments to help determine remuneration for expats being relocated to cities across the globe. Callum Burns-Green who heads

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Gulf Insider August 2011

Mercer’s Dubai office says, “Dubai in particular has witnessed a reduction in accommodation costs since 2009 as the strong supply of property coming on to the rental market has reduced the shortage that existed in the several

Mercer’s 2011 Cost of Living Survey released in last month shows that Abu Dhabi is ranked the most expensive city in UAE for expats. years prior to 2008. The Government has also announced plans to control inflation in other key areas such as the cost of food.” Luanda in Angola is the world’s most

expensive city for expatriates for the second year running, largely due to the high costs associated with security and safe accommodation, according to Mercer’s 2011 Cost of Living Survey. Tokyo remains in second position and Ndjamena in Chad in third place. Moscow follows in fourth position with Geneva in fifth and Osaka in sixth. Zurich jumps one position to rank seventh, while Hong Kong drops down to ninth. The survey covers 214 cities across five continents and measures the comparative cost of over 200 items in each location, including housing, transport, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment. It is the world’s most comprehensive cost of living survey and is designed to help multinational companies and governments determine compensation allowances for their expatriate employees. New York is used as the base city and all cities are compared against New York. Currency movements are measured against the US dollar. The cost of housing - often


Abu Dhabi

the biggest expense for expats - plays an important part in determining where cities are ranked. New entries in the top 10 list of the costliest cities in the world are Singapore (8), up from 11, and Sao Paolo (10), which has jumped 11 places since the 2010 ranking. Karachi (214) is ranked as the world’s least expensive city, and the survey found that Luanda, in top place, is more than three times as costly as Karachi. Recent world events, including natural disasters and political upheavals, have impacted the rankings for many regions through currency fluctuations, cost inflation for goods and services and volatility in accommodation prices. “Multinational companies have long understood the competitive advantage of a globally mobile workforce, though the enduring challenge is to balance the cost of their expatriate programmes. Currency fluctuations, inflation, political instability and natural disasters are all factors that influence the cost and quality of living for expats. It is essential that

employers understand their impact, for cost-containment purposes but also to ensure they retain talented employees by offering competitive compensation

The resulting currency fluctuations and the impact of inflation on goods and services petrol in particular - have impacted the changes to the cost of living ranking of many cities. packages that are tailored to the needs of the expatriate on the ground,” says Callum Burns-Green added “During the

period of data-collection for this year’s survey the world has witnessed an incredible number of natural disasters and political upheavals that have all affected the lives of expatriate employees to some extent. The resulting currency fluctuations and the impact of inflation on goods and services - petrol in particular have impacted the changes to the cost of living ranking of many cities. Overall, cities in the Middle East have moved down the table reflecting a reduction in cost relative to other regions. Where the depreciation has been accompanied by political stability and good levels of security, such as in the UAE, all other things being equal, we would generally expect a favourable impact on those cities from an economic perspective as expatriates and their employers see a reduced cost of living and doing business there,” Callum added. Mercer produces individual cost of living and rental accommodation cost reports for each city surveyed. GFI

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roundup

GULF ROUNDUP

What can we expect from The Ivy Dubai? As far as bars in Dubai go, it seems like only yesterday that Scarlett’s in Jumeirah Emirates Towers was one of the trendiest places to see and be seen. Opened in 2000, the American-style bar had a unique USP: Located in the heart of an indoor shopping boulevard, it was the first place in Dubai where you could have an alcoholic drink just steps away from the shops, and it quickly became known for its weekly ladies’ nights, on which the height of your heels dictated how many free drinks you were given. But Scarlett’s – since usurped by much more fashionable newcomers – closed last year and, in November 2010, Caprice Holdings and Jumeirah announced that its footprint was to be filled with a much classier joint: Dubai’s very own version of London celebrity haunt The Ivy. After seven months of feverish anticipation from Dubai’s foodies, The Ivy Dubai – offering “empire food at its best” – served its first ever shepherd’s pie to the public and, although it’s too early for official restaurant reviews to be out, Dubai’s premier food blogger, FooDiva, was lucky enough to taste a few dishes pre-opening. Impressed with the “massive” menu, her picks are the

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Will Gulf airlines ever consider a ‘fat tax’? By Annabel Kantaria

pan-fried and seared foie gras served on a galette of apple and white raisin juice, and the steak tartare for starters, and the Thai baked sea bass with fragrant rice for mains. There’s no question that the food’s going to be exquisite but the question on everyone’s lips is: ‘Does it live up to its London namesake? Is it as good?’ Well, it definitely ticks the boxes in terms of décor, service and menu. “It’s a really nice restaurant,” says a friend who dined frequently in The Ivy in London and tried The Ivy Dubai on Friday. “They’ve managed to recreate the look of the London restaurant, with the oak panelling and layout. The food’s also very similar to London and the staff are well trained, especially the bar staff. But it’s the clientele as much as the food that makes an establishment such as The Ivy stand out from the plethora of excellent restaurants in Dubai. Can that be recreated in Dubai? “It’s a really nice restaurant with good food,” she says. “But without the chance of seeing Brad Pitt, I don’t know. I’ll probably take visiting guests there for the novelty factor.” She looks around furtively. “But, if I had to choose between The Ivy Dubai and sister restaurant Rivington Grill with its fabulous view of Dubai Fountain, I’d probably choose the Riv. Sshh!”

Last month, one in three respondents to a poll posted on Emirates 24/7 voted in favour of imposing a ‘fat tax’ on overweight airline passengers. Last year, travel website Skyscanner found that the figure in favour amongst its users was as high as 76 per cent. While the issue has rumbled around for years, it’s particularly pertinent to expats, many of whom use aeroplanes like others use trains, commuting to and from different countries for work, flying to and fro to attend to family commitments abroad, and often needing to cram their whole life into a 20kg suitcase. The arguments for and against a fat tax are obvious, but airlines have so far resisted charging large customers who can still squeeze into an economy class seat extra because they don’t want to be seen discriminating against those who can’t help being overweight. Many airlines already operate a policy that requires those who can’t fit into one seat to buy an extra seat at a discounted price, but nothing’s been done to address the issue that it costs more to fly heavier people. However, I suspect we’re drawing ever-closer to the reality of some sort of a surcharge for heavier customers as struggling airlines become increasingly desperate to shave costs. Three years ago Emirates Airlines did away with the footrests and in-flight magazines in economy class in order to save weight – will the Gulf’s carriers, I wonder, soon be considering a supplement for chubby passengers? The answer could be a “price per kilo” rate, whereby passengers pay for the total weight of themselves and their luggage. It’s a diplomatic way to even out the cost of flying, and it also gives passengers a way to reduce their ticket price (take less luggage) on a scheduled airline. You never know, it could even be the motivator that many people need to shed their excess kilos.


roundup

There’s something about Modhesh

One of the anti-Modhesh images posted on the Death to Modhesh Facebook page He’s yellow, he’s coiled like a spring, he’s got Mickey Mouse’s hands, he’s beaming like he’s just done something illicit – and he’s climbing a lamp-post near you. He is, for many, Dubai’s public enemy number one: Modhesh, the mascot of the annual Dubai Summer Surprises (DSS) festival. Quite how Modhesh, conceived to represent the values of “fun, excitement and adventure” and to position Dubai as a top destination for family holidays, became so hated, I’m not sure. While the DSS is now in its 14th year, Modhesh has been around for over ten years. For me, the dislike started with the massive overexposure and incessant television ads eight or nine years ago. Modhesh’s irritating nasal voice interrupted every re-run of The Bold & The Beautiful and I had many near-misses while driving as his inflatable yellow face, feet or backside appeared wrapped around every lamp post on my morning commute over Garhoud Bridge.

Will the UAE cap foreign workers? While I personally don’t feel the UAE is at much risk of being swept up in the “Arab spring” revolutions, it’s with heightened interest that the UAE’s expats are watching what’s going on in the region and wondering how certain issues will pan out over here. A key issue of concern for expats throughout the Middle East is the focus that’s currently on “redressing the population imbalance” in countries such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. As with the UAE, these countries rely heavily on foreign labour, skewing the natural demographics in favour of expats – a situation that, understandably, doesn’t sit well with the nationals. While expats make up 69 per cent of the population in Kuwait, the figure is reported to be as high as 87 per cent in the UAE. The problem is particularly pertinent in Saudi Arabia, where half a million Saudi nationals are unemployed while eight million expats “drain” the economy by sending their salaries back home. In response, the Saudi government’s launched a policy called Nitaqat, which limits expats to a maximum of six years in the country. From September, Nitaqat will also limit the

While newcomers to Dubai probably don’t understand the hatred of Modhesh, there are still many old-timers out there who shudder when they see anything in “that” shade of yellow. Newspaper articles have been written about Modhesh’s unpopularity; he’s been likened to a baby tape worm, a glow worm, a termite and called “evil”, and people post amusing if violent pictures of how they’d like to kill him on a dedicated Facebook page called “Death to Modhesh”, which has nearly 1,000 members. The DSS, on the other hand, is more popular than its mascot, at least with tourists from the GCC, who flood in to shop. Over five weeks (the festival has been cut from the usual 10 weeks due to Ramadan), shoppers in Dubai are treated to shows, concerts, exhibitions and fashion shows, store discounts and a chance to exchange shopping receipts for a raffle ticket to win a BMW. I have some sympathy for the organisers of the Dubai Shopping Festival, who are responsible for the yellow demon. It can’t be easy coming up with ways to tempt tourists to Dubai in the summer, when temperatures hover around the upper 40s and the humidity feels like a slap in the face from a boiled fish, yet the DSS is said to increase mall footfall by up to 20 per cent. Modhesh was conceived (some say as the result of a love-fest between a banana and a slinky) to persuade people that Dubai was more than just a shopping destination – namely, the perfect place to bring the family. Modhesh is, you see, designed to appeal to children, not adults. I’m loathe to admit it, but my six-year-old daughter enjoys seeing his distinctive yellow smile around town and she’s not alone: the annual 37,000m² Modhesh World indoor edu-tainment expo is incredibly popular with families. It seems, though, that, over time, the hatred of Modhesh has turned into a marketing coup: While he’s quite possibly the most unpopular mascot ever to have graced the billboards and roadsides of Dubai, Modhesh has now gained cult status. You can even follow him on Twitter (@modhesh). number of expats any given company is permitted to employ. Kuwait is also said to be planning to introduce residency caps of six to 12 years on expats in an attempt to bring the number of foreigners down to 45 per cent. So, what we all want to know is: What’s going to happen in the UAE? The government here treads a fine line between appeasing its nationals and needing to attract foreign business. The UAE, after all, is and always was – before the bling and the beach holidays – a successful trade hub. Last month, Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, Minister of Economy, emphasised that “the UAE is not thinking of capping the residence of foreign workers in the UAE.” Given that expats here can own property, to insist they leave after a fixed term would be to open a Pandora’s Box. The UAE has, however, for some years been pursuing an active policy of Emiratisation in the private sector and is insisting that companies achieve a specific target of “cultural diversity” by the end of the year. The Federal National Council is also looking carefully at the country’s demographic structure amid concerns that the large number of expats not only dilutes the national culture and identity but also costs the government up to Dhs 55 billion per year in terms of infrastructure, subsidised

Gulf Insider August 2011

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roundup utilities and health care. The deeper concern is also that longterm expats may start demanding political rights. On the other hand, the World Bank this week advised the Dubai government to offer expats pensions, along with other benefits, in order to “encourage workers to stay longer in the country”. Expats currently receive a gratuity as end of service benefit in lieu of any pension provisions, although, since the mass redundancies of the economic slowdown, many have found their companies unable to make the payment. While I doubt a pension fund will be introduced any time soon (the topic has been discussed since 2008), it would be a way for the government to guarantee workers their end-ofservice benefits while sending a message that it’s happy for expats to stay in the UAE for longer than a few years. It’s a positive sign that it’s even being considered.

Haven’t I heard this all before? “Once upon a time, the Mediterranean was in Europe... It’s now in Bangalore” – presenting Sobha City, a mere four kilometres away from Hebbal Ring Road.” Am I the only one who shuddered as I read about some of the projects exhibited by Indian property developers at last month’s Indian Property Show in Dubai? As I read about branded “lifestyle cities” with “Olympic-standard fitness facilities”, “eminent architecture”, “embroidered water bodies”, “acres of greenery dotted with fountains”, and “architecturally inspired buildings rising majestically to form new landmarks and define a new skyline” I couldn’t help but remember the last time I heard that sort of rhetoric bandied about. And, forgive me for sounding jaded, but last time I heard it, circa 2007 in Dubai, I hardly need point out: It didn’t end too well. So what’s going on in India? What’s with this sudden predilection towards building “lifestyle cities” in up-andcoming towns such as Bangalore, Pune and Chennai? And what made 50 Indian property developers think it’d be a good idea to come to Dubai to flog “luxury townships” with names such as “Citi of Joy” and “International City” to Dubai’s recently burned expats? Do we really have such short memories? Well, according to Indian real estate experts at the show, non-resident Indians (NRIs) living in Dubai have become all too accustomed to the luxuries of expat life in the UAE. And, according to the property developers, now they’ve got

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used to having a state-of-the-art gym, tennis courts, a 50-metre swimming pool and a golf course on tap, NRIs looking to buy property back home are no longer willing to settle for a traditional flat in downtown Mumbai. Instead, they’re seeking homes with the sort of built-in sports facilities to which they’ve become accustomed, causing an outbreak of lifestyle-driven residential projects with ever more impressive facilities. Alok Anchan, a senior sales executive for Nirmal Lifestyle told 7 Days newspaper: “In Dubai definitely [an Indian’s] lifestyle is a little different. He is so used to clean roads, a good lifestyle, good security… and all of that is being absorbed by the Indian market now.” And, if the customer wants it, the developers offer it – many of the property developers at the show were

selling gimmicky off-plan developments reminiscent of Dubai’s pre-crash projects. Nirmal Lifestyle’s “US Open apartments” in the “Citi of Joy”, for example, are India’s first “branded sports lifestyle apartments” built around fitness facilities including US-Openbranded tennis courts, a state-of-theart fitness centre, jogging and cycling tracks, baseball and badminton courts and a swimming pool. You can even buy a “Center Court” apartment overlooking the sacred blue court. But, while I understand the NRIs’ eagerness to get a foot on India’s booming property ladder before they’re priced out by an economy that’s predicted to grow by 8.2 per cent in the next year, having lived through Dubai’s off-plan propertybuying frenzy, I can’t help think of two little words: Buyer and beware.


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AIRLINES

UP, UP AND AWAY Gulf Insider checked in with the airlines that cater to our beloved island to see what they have on offer this season.

Cathay Pacific Airways In terms of tourism and travel to Bahrain and the GCC, how does this year compare to last? Due to the unrest, the travel and tourism industry is among the most affected one. Last year was exceptionally good and the business bounced back well after the financial turmoil.

Ethiopian Airlines

What do you offer that is special for passengers based in Bahrain (and the GCC)? There are different offers in different seasons of the year which are exclusive for Bahrain. In the beginning of the year we had promotion of ‘Buy 1 Get 1 Free in Business Class’ followed by ‘Double Asiamiles’ (loyalty programme for Cathay Pacific)and special promotional fares.

What do you offer that is special for passengers based in Bahrain (and the GCC)? We often have special packages and our options for the summer will be publicised soon.

What are the most popular destinations for travellers from Bahrain and the GCC this year? From Bahrain, the biggest number are to the Philippines, followed by Hong Kong, Auckland and China. Do you have any upcoming offers throughout Ramadan and Eid? We are coming up with ‘Splendid South East Asia’ for Ramadan in which the passenger will get a free hotel during transit stay in Hong Kong, plus free transportation (airport/ hotel) and a free one-day unlimited Hong Kong Disneyland pass.

For more information Tel. +973 1722 6226.

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Gulf Insider August 2011

In terms of tourism and travel to Bahrain and the GCC, how does this year compare to last? As compared to last year, it was lower due to the situation in Bahrain.

What are the most popular destinations for travellers from Bahrain and the GCC this year? For Ethiopian Airlines, Addis Ababa was the most popular destination followed by Nairobi and Johannesburg. Do you have any upcoming offers throughout Ramadan and Eid? Ethiopia in general and Addis Ababa in particular is a home to many Muslims. The beliefs and practices of the Muslims in Ethiopia are basically the same as much of the rest of the Islamic world. The most important Islamic religious practices, such as the daily ritual prayers (Salat) and fasting during the holy month of Ramadan are observed in many urban centres. We offer Addis Ababa as our destination to those who would like to go there and have this wonderful time with their Ethiopian fellow Muslims.

For more information contact Tel. +973 1721 5022.


AIRLINES

Kuwait Airways In terms of tourism and travel to Bahrain and the GCC, how does this year compare to last? Travel and tourism to Bahrain have dropped comparing to last year. What do you offer that is special for passengers based in Bahrain (and the GCC)? We offer special promotional fares for passengers based in Bahrain to Kuwait, the Indian sub-continent and Far East. What are the most popular destinations for travellers from Bahrain and the GCC this year? The most popular destinations for travellers from Bahrain this year are Kuwait, Thailand and Malaysia. Do you have any upcoming offers throughout Ramadan and Eid? Yes, we do have special offers throughout Ramadan and Eid to Kuwait, Indian sub-continent and Far East.

For more information contact Tel. +973 1722 3300.

Gulf Air In terms of tourism and travel to Bahrain and the GCC, how does this year compare to last? Bahrain saw 4,405,174 visitors during the first seven months of 2010. Following the reduction in tourists’ arrivals between March and May, the arrivals have picked up and are now growing steadily. An indication of this is that visitors to the kingdom grew from 130,000 during the third week of May this year, to nearly 150,000 during the first week of June. What do you offer that is special for passengers based in Bahrain (and the GCC)? Gulf Air has recently launched several innovative products, packages and

incentives for passengers from the GCC including the recently launched summer bonanza campaign, combining flight and hotel starting at just BD99 for the GCC residents visiting Bahrain. For families, the airline will be introducing ‘Family First’ - a series of competitively priced packages for customers travelling with their spouses and kids. For the corporate business segment, Gulf Air will be introducing Falcon Corporate Plus which offers a basket of exclusive privileges and benefits ranging from exclusive price discounts to free upgrades, free lounge access and both free parking and chauffeur service to and from Bahrain International Airport. Gulf Air’s popular Frequent Flyer programme will also undergo a makeover. What are the most popular destinations for travellers from Bahrain and the GCC this year? Most of the Gulf Air destinations are popular among its customers from Bahrain and the GCC as they cater to a wide range of travellers. Do

you

have

any

upcoming

offers throughout Ramadan and Eid? For customers travelling with their spouse and children, the airline has developed a ’Family Package’ whereby two adults travelling on a full fare ticket with two kids need to pay just one Bahraini dinar per child. For ‘Couples’ (or two friends) travelling together, Gulf Air has created a ‘Half Price’ offer whereby passengers purchasing one full fare ticket will receive a 50 per cent discount on their companion’s ticket. For ‘Weekend Shoppers’ from Bahrain, Dammam and the MENA region, Gulf Air is offering a 25 per cent discount to travel to any of Gulf Air’s GCC destinations and Bangkok. For ‘Early Birds’ - those who plan their travel two weeks in advance - Gulf Air is offering passengers a 20 per cent discount on the published fares. As a further incentive for its most loyal flyers, the airline has developed a 50 per cent redemption offer for its frequent flyer members (FFP) during Ramadan.

For more information contact Tel. +973 1733 5777.

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AIRLINES

Turkish Airlines In terms of tourism and travel to Bahrain and the GCC, how does this year compare to last? Last year was an important year of continued growth for Turkish Airlines as we charted routes to exciting cities on our network. Although the backlash of the financial crisis affected all companies the world over, Turkish Airlines survived. This year has been witness to unfortunate events that shook the fabric of local society and affected everyone connected with Bahrain. Turkish Airlines stood firm in our policy to continue operations and offered a much needed service into and from Bahrain on critical dates. What do you offer that is special for passengers based in Bahrain (and the GCC)? We offer the most competitive rates and reliable, friendly service to over 180 destinations. We have a great network and you can get from here to there and anywhere with our fleet and our code-share partners at unbeatable prices. With daily flights, award-winning cuisine, warm hospitality and an ever growing network, we offer you great prices combined with friendly, safe and reliable service. Our prestigious and advantageous Miles&Smiles loyalty programme is another reason our passengers value us as a Star Alliance partner. What are the most popular destinations for travellers from Bahrain and the GCC this year? The most popular this year are Minsk, Barcelona, Valencia, Bologna, Malaga, Amsterdam, London, Dublin, Tunis, Casablanca, Kayseri, Istanbul, Bodrum, Hatay, Antalya, Paris, Zurich, Napoli, Genoa, Sofia, Prague, Kiev, Odessam, Manchester and Venice. Do you have any upcoming offers throughout Ramadan and Eid? We have a range of unbeatable and special fares on offer to numerous destinations throughout our entire network.

For more information contact Tel. +973 1751 6100.

Emirates In terms of tourism and travel to Bahrain and the GCC, how does this year compare to last? Emirates has not seen a marked drop in travel across the region when compared to last year and looking ahead, our forward bookings remain positive. What do you offer that is special for passengers based in Bahrain (and the GCC)? Emirates currently operates a total of 21 flights per week from Bahrain, with three flights per day. Our international network of 114 destinations and convenient connection times make Emirates the preferred choice of many travellers in Bahrain. In addition, we also offer our passengers one of the world’s youngest fleets with our multi-award winning in-flight entertainment system, ‘ice’. What are the most popular destinations for travellers from Bahrain and the GCC this year? Some of the key destinations for passengers travelling from Bahrain include Dubai, London, New York, Sydney, Brisbane, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Istanbul, Casablanca, Pakistan, Bangladesh and all points in India. Do you have any upcoming offers throughout Ramadan and Eid? Firstly, we are offering first class and business class passengers, flying to and via Dubai, complimentary hotel stays and 96-hour transfer visas in cooperation with a number of Dubai hotels. We also have the ‘Summer Smiles’ campaign which runs until 30th September and coincides with Dubai’s ‘Global Kids Go Free in Dubai’ campaign and Dubai Summer Surprises. This means up to two children under age twelve, travelling with an accompanying adult, are eligible to receive complimentary accommodation (minimum three nights stay), meals in participating hotels, plus airfare discounted 50 per cent off the adult fare. Families will have a choice of over 50 hotels and apartments in Dubai, ranging from two to five-star, with city or beach locations, to meet every family’s need. Also included are Meet and Assist service, airport transfers, free entry to a wide range of attractions, hotel room taxes and service charges. In addition, Emirates will provide complimentary 96-hour visas for up to two children under the age of twelve.

For more information contact Tel. +973 1758 8700.

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AIRLINES

Lufthansa

Qatar Airways In terms of tourism and travel to Bahrain and the GCC, how does this year compare to last? In the financial year 2009/10, which ended last March, the airline exceeded 14 million passengers. During the 2010/11 financial year, the airline carried over 16 million passengers worldwide. What do you offer that is special for passengers based in Bahrain (and the GCC)? From Qatar Airways’ hub in Doha the airline has developed a global network of over 100 destinations, covering Europe, Middle East, Africa, South Asia, Asia Pacific, North America and South America. The airline operates the world’s only dedicated commercial passenger terminal exclusively for its First and Business Class passengers at Doha International Airport. Moreover, Qatar Airways is proud to have been named Airline of the Year 2011 in the annual Skytrax World Airline Awards. Over 18 million travellers worldwide cast their votes in the survey by the leading global airline industry audit.

In terms of tourism and travel to Bahrain and the GCC, how does this year compare to last? Overall we experienced an increase in travel demand to the GCC region. Bahrain, however, witnessed a decrease, due to the recent political situation, but demand is picking up again. What do you offer that is special for passengers based in Bahrain (and the GCC)? Lufthansa offers special programmes for individuals and Corporate travellers. An interesting one is the Lufthansa Miles and More Family programme which is an FFP (Frequent Flyer programme) where all members of one family can collect their Miles on one single account making it very easy to reach enough miles to redeem free flights or upgrades on Lufthansa and the other 28 partner airlines. Furthermore, we offer a so-called Family Assistance Services at our Frankfurt hub. The service can be booked in a wide range of languages, including Arabic. We also have the corporate bonus programme called Partner Plus Benefit which enables companies to save on their travel budgets. What are the most popular destinations for travellers from Bahrain and the GCC this year? Both Europe and the Americas are strong in demand this year. We are also seeing a considerable increase in demand to Spain (especially Malaga and Barcelona) and Austria (Salzburg and Vienna) as well as Munich in Southern Germany. Do you have any upcoming offers throughout Ramadan and Eid? We just started a new promotion for travel from Bahrain to 34 destinations in Europe, valid for travel until the end of September.

For more information contact Tel. +973 1782 8762.

What are the most popular destinations for travellers from Bahrain and the GCC this year? This summer Qatar Airways has begun launching routes that have already proved very popular, just weeks into their inauguration: Montreal, Venice, Kolkata. Upcoming destinations include: Sofia in September, Oslo in October, and Entebbe, Tbilisi and Baku in November. Do you have any upcoming offers throughout Ramadan and Eid? We have a number of special promotions on offer throughout the summer and Ramadan. All you need to do is log onto www.qatarairways.com/ global/en/holidays-overview.html and www.qatarairways.com/ramadan to find out more.

For more information contact Tel. +973 1721 2202.

Gulf Insider August 2011

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TRAVEL

GREAT ESCAPES WITH TURKISH AIRLINES This summer take a trip to Greece’s hippest and most cultural city - Thessaloniki.

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s the second largest city in Greece, Thessaloniki certainly comes first in terms of sights, sounds and entertainment. The city has given Greece some of its greatest musicians, artists, poets and thinkers so is steeped in culture, but it also has the most beautiful beaches and a bustling nightlife scene. It is also worldrenowned for its events and festivals and is known to many as a gourmet city. Now - what more can you ask for? The first thing you must do on arrival is take a walk along the enormous seafront promenade (about 12 km altogether) and then visit Upper Town for its traditional old houses, small cobbled streets, churches and a famous fort. There are Roman excavations to see and Turkish baths to experience, and no one should miss trailing through the UNESCO World Heritage Site listed Byzantine churches which date back to between the 5th and 14th century ACE. One of them, the Rotunda, started life as a Roman temple of Zeus, built by Caesar Galerius, and is almost as old as the Pantheon in Rome. After all that walking you’ll be peckish. Grab a bite at Aristotelis Square - the biggest in the city - or the promenade with their plethora of cafes and restaurants.

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In terms of cuisine, Thessaloniki is one of the finest particularly for excellent local specialities and the cheap-but-cheerful ouzo taverns. Visit Gounari street to take in a tasty snack at one of the crepe shops which have been patronised by the student population here.

In terms of cuisine, Thessaloniki is one of the finest particularly for excellent local specialities and the cheap-but-cheerful ouzo taverns. A journey to the traditional central food market - between Aristotelis Square and Venizelou street- with its hundreds of stalls selling meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, cheap clothing, flowers, herbs and spices, is an absolute must. And let’s not forget, in northern Greece’s cultural and educational centre, the countless museums and galleries there are to see. Head to the award-winning Museum of


TRAVEL

Byzantine Culture or the Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art, or one could take in the Museum of Science and then move on to the Thessaloniki Museum of Photography; there are so many to choose from, everyone is sure to find one to suit their tastes and interests. If romance is what you’re looking for, then you will certainly find it here in the quaint eateries, ouzeries and fantastic beaches. Many people do the Volta (evening stroll) along the harbour from Aristotelis Square all the way beyond the White Tower where it gets quieter and more romantic. We think you will find however, that your romance will begin and end here with the city itself as you slowly fall in love with a place which offers a bit of everything to everyone without sacrificing its authenticity and sense of spirit.

For more information call Turkish Airlines on +973 1751 6100, visit www.thy.com or go to their office at the lobby of The Diplomat Radisson Blu Hotel.

What You Need To Know Ticket prices: Fares start from BD120 plus taxes (until 31st August). After 1st September fares will be BD150 plus taxes (a special fare for GI readers!). Flight timings: Bahrain to Istanbul departs at 2.25am and arrives at 6.45am. Istanbul to Bahrain departs at 9.30pm and arrives 1.25am. Istanbul to Thessaloniki runs four days a week on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays and departs from Istanbul at 10am, arriving in Thessaloniki at 11.25am. Thessaloniki to Istanbul runs on the same days, departing at 12.25pm and arriving in Istanbul at 2pm. Flying time: Bahrain to Istanbul - 4 hours and 20 minutes Istanbul to Los Angeles - 1 hour and 25 minutes. Optimum stay period: One week Car hire: Around BD18 a day but the city’s bus company, called OASTH runs a total of 80 different bus lines. One journey ticket costs 400 fils, two journeys cost 500 fils and a 24-hour ticket costs approximately BD2. Hotel prices: For a night and breakfast, hotel rates are roughly; four-star double room, BD85-95 and five-star double room, BD110-175. GFI

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LUXURY

THE MASTERPIECE OF MASTERPIECES For the second year running, Masterpiece London showcased the rarest, the finest and most beautiful items the world can offer.

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eander your way through intricately designed booths which display some of the rarest masterpieces there are, as you sip the finest champagne and network with millionaires and billionaires alike. Discuss antiques and art with experts in their field, attend fascinating lectures on various aspects of the history of luxury and art, then indulge in gourmet cuisines at Harry’s Bar, La Caprice or The Mount Street Deli. Masterpiece London is really the highlight of the year for international high net worth individuals who are looking to invest in beauty. This year it took place between 30th June and 5th July, displaying a wide range of extraordinary and unusual collections. Each incomparable item has a story to tell; a book signed by Horatio Nelson, a pair of monumental 18th century sculptures by Giovanni Battista Foggini (price £1.75m the pair), even a WWII Spitfire. This year 30 more exhibitors than the previous, inaugural, year and huge numbers of visitors attended the fair. Among them were some of the world’s most important collectors, members of royal families and Hollywood stars. Major sales took place throughout the week, many fetching six-figure sums. A one-of-a-kind bespoke Rolls Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe in Mazarine Blue created exclusively for Masterpiece London 2011

Sir Elton John with Theo Fennell

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MT818 - built in 1944 - an original two-seater Spitfire which is the only Spitfire prototype surviving, in any condition, in the world


LUXURY

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars sold its bespoke Phantom Drophead Coupé in Mazarine Blue for a sum in the region of £400,000. The one-of-akind motor car exclusively created for Masterpiece London 2011 comes with custom-made leather luggage and a one-off Asprey jewellery box fitted into the glove compartment.

went from just over £400,000 while a Symbolic & Chase Koch opal, enamel and diamond choker went for £250,000. Ronald Phillips owned by Simon Phillips, co-founder of Masterpiece London, sold a Regency brass and polychrome Japanned copper twenty four chandelier for approximately £500,000. Alan Cristea Gallery sold two significant pieces by leading potter and ceramic artist, Edmund de Waal including a unique piece entitled, ‘Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror, 2011’ for £60,000. On the ‘cheaper’ end, a Viscount Linley - a grandson of Queen Elizabeth II who makes high quality furnishings - desk was snapped up by some mogul for just £3,500 and

was delivered to his yacht straight after the show. Gulf Insider spoke to founder and chairman of Masterpiece London, Thomas Woodham-Smith, on the sidelines of the event and he told us

I was just speaking to a dealer who has been buying items because he knows he can later on sell for a profit.

that at this fair everything is vetted and evaluated beforehand. “Only the most reputable dealers display here. Our attention to detail is immaculate and I believe many of the visitors this year are astounded by the calibre of exhibits to the design and presentation.” We asked if there was a bargain to be had; “In fact I was just speaking to a dealer who has been buying items because he knows he can later on sell for a profit.” It isn’t just the visitor who appreciates the eclecticism and extraordinary nature of the show however. Harry Fane of the iconic fine jewellery line, Verdura, said: “This is the first time we’ve ever participated in an art fair but we are encouraged by a constant flow of people and consistently good business. We love the show and consider it an annual fixture on London’s social calendar.” Lewis Smith of Koopman Rare Art London - who specialise in antique silver micromosaics and gold boxes commented: “A lot of the top clients who have been in London at this time have visited the fair demonstrating just

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LUXURY

Tom Ford with Tim Jeffries of Hamiltons

Symbolic & Chase, specialists in fine jewellery, sold a fancy yellow diamond pin circa 1938 with the centre stone weighing 47 carats, for over £1m.

Ronald Phillips owned by Simon Phillips, co-founder of Masterpiece London, sold a Regency brass and polychrome Japanned copper twenty four chandelier for approximately £500,000. The piece is in the manner of Henry Holland and dates from circa 1825. how important Masterpiece London has already become.” Echoing this sentiment, Martin Travis of Symbolic & Chase, who notably provide rare and unique objet d’art, jewellery, rare gemstones and watches, said that they had been

Our Middle Eastern and Russian clients made it to the fair. This just demonstrates how it has grown in reputation and stature. Hazlitt Holland-Hibbert owned by longestablished St James’s art dealers Hazlitt Gooden and Fox and James HollandHibbert, sold a Lucian Freud for a sixfigure sum entitled, “Christian Bérard, 1948” - a Conte crayon on paper laid down on card.

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delighted with the fair this year “not least because all of our Middle Eastern and Russian clients made it to the fair. This just demonstrates how it has grown in reputation and stature.” But Serves Porcelain, British studio

ceramics and glass dealer Adrian Sassoon put it best when he said: “Variety on this scale has really excited people. There is nothing worse than turning a corner and knowing what you will find. Here, you turn a corner and are met with wonderful surprise after surprise, after surprise.” Never a truer word said. From towering sculptures, fine art and rare jewellery pieces to bespoke vehicles, high quality furnishings and exquisite chandeliers - there is truly something to be found by any serious collector or even novice novelty seeker. GFI

Held at the grounds of Royal Hospital Chelsea, the Masterpiece London fair is accessible via a shuttle service from various positions in London, making it simple for the traveller to reach. Masterpiece London 2012 will run from 28th June - 3rd July with a preview on 27th June. For further information visit www.masterpiecefair.com


Abu Dhabi

Making a sand: A satellite image from space shows the enormous letters of the name ‘HAMAD’ carved into the sand on Al Futaysi island in Abu Dhabi

The biggest name in the desert: Abu Dhabi sheikh carves two-mile-long name in sand until it’s visible from SPACE Hamad Bin Hamdan Al Ahyan

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very child has written their names on the beach at some point. But whereas most people’s ‘sandwriting’ is washed away, a UAE sheikh has ensured that his doodles will last a little longer. Hamad Bin Hamdan Al Ahyan, 63, has scrawled his name in sand on an island he owns with letters so big they can be seen from space. The word ‘HAMAD’ measures 1,000 metres high and is a staggering 3.2km long from the ‘H’ to the ‘D’ on the Al Futaisi island. And rather than allow the writing to be washed away by the ocean, the letters actually form waterways that absorb the encroaching tide.The name is even visible on Google’s map service. Hamad dreamed up the idea and had his workmen toil for weeks to craft the enormous piece of sand graffiti. It is not known how much it cost to make. Hamad, also known as the ‘Rainbow Sheikh’, is a member of the Abu Dhabi Ruling Family. He is understood to have some 200

Beach life: The sea runs into the H, A and part of the M in the name of 63-year-old UAE sheikh Hamad Bin Hamdan Al Ahyan

cars including seven Mercedes 500 SELs painted in different colours of the rainbow which he stores in a giant pyramid. The sheikh has a taste for doing things on a large scale. He built the world’s largest truck - eight times the size of the Dodge Power Wagon, with four bedrooms inside the cabin. Hamad constructed a motor home

in the shape of a giant globe which is exactly 1 millionth the size of the actual earth. Alongside his lavish displays of wealth he has become a well-known philanthropist in medicine and supplied a complete kidney stone operating theatre to a public hospital in Morocco where he continues to fund its staff. GFI

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supercars

Middle Eastern playboys dazzle London with their supercars

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ozens of mega-rich Middle Eastern playboys have arrived in central London in their customised supercars - all painted a dazzling WHITE. The multi-millionaires descended for a stay at the Dorchester Hotel as they start a summer tour of Europe’s most fashionable destinations. Figures show white has overtaken black as the most popular colour for new cars. And it seems that supercars are no exception - with the wealthy boy racers cruising Chelsea and Knightsbridge in their souped-up white motors. Cars spotted already this year include a £1m Koenigsegg Agera R, a £1.2m Bugatti Veyron, £600,000 Maybach Xenatec and a £300,000 Mercedes SLS customised by FAB Design. Dhiaa al-Essa, from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, flew TWO cars across to Europe for the summer including a white Mercedes SLS ‘Gullwing’. The engineering graduate, 22, said: ‘White is simply the colour to have this year.’ It is ‘The Season’, when dozens of wealthy Arabs escape the blistering heat in their home countries for a tour of the most exclusive holiday destinations in Europe. They start in London, before visiting Paris, Monaco, Milan, Rome and Geneva before returning to the England to fly off to the USA. GFI

White gold: From left to right, a £600k Maybach Xenatec, a £200k Ferrari 599 and a £1.2m Bugatti Veyron parked in the portico of the Dorchester Hotel on London’s Park Lane.

Landmark: A £175,000 Lamborghini Gallardo parked at the kerbside in London’s West End

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supercars

Runabout: A ÂŁ350k Rolls Royce Phantom Coupe in white and chrome with UAE plates outside Harrods

White goods: A Mercedes SLS AMG Gullwing outside the Bulgari luxury accessories store in central London

Top down: A ÂŁ1m Koenigsegg Agera R cruises Knightsbridge as its wealthy owner scouts the shops for bargains

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Last word Personal observation and comment - This month by Katy Gillett Traffic ‘Security’ I love Bahrain hotels’ security efforts. At least they upgraded it though. As you drive in you are stopped by two men who inspect the bottom and boot of your car. You know it’s serious when they whip out the bottom trawler. On less important days however, they just check the boot and this has been the policy for years. Next time I’m smuggling through my liquid in the glove box.

Getting your car approved by Traffic is a pain in the neck at the best of times but when they decide not to pass it for whatever reason, now that’s when the steam starts pouring out of your ears. This time they decided not to stamp my paper because of a scratch (made trying to park in my apartment’s ridiculous car park - but that’s another story) which if

we’re perfectly honest is certainly not and will not be harming anyone. Since when do all our cars have to be perfect I ask you? And if anyone tries to argue I would like them to take a look around at all the scratched up, beaten down jalopies speeding on the highways with their tyres about to fly into your windscreen. Now leave my scratch alone.

It’s A Love-Hate Relationship

Lush Landscape

That’s how I feel about Bahrain. When you’re here it drives you island-crazy. But when you’re gone, you can’t live without it - the Bahrain lifestyle; laid back, easy going and friendly. You may hate the heat and humidity, the terrible driving (particularly on the weekends), or the wolf whistles at women when they reveal the tiniest bit of flesh (we’re talking an elbow here) but in my case, when the alternative is the north of England, these factors beat the freezing cold, being tormented by monster nineyear-olds for having a ‘posh’ accent or listening to every individual you come across whinge about the government. And then there’s the government ...

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I love how the government of Bahrain has obviously been putting some effort in to making their landscape greener but I would just like to point out the areas of green along the highway. I’m talking about the loops from one highway onto the other; most of them are lush green but then you turn the corner and a few are brown and have very blatantly been neglected. I understood, when they first started doing it, why all the grass died but now there’s one side full of life and the other dead as a doornail - I’m just a bit confused.

Sharing Food

A recent conversation got me thinking. It was with an Italian about how Sardinia has a lot in common with Bahrain, particularly in the way that food brings friends and family together. This is very true when I think about it. I love how Arabs order a dish (or two or three) each, making sure they don’t get the same as anyone else at the table so when it all comes everyone digs in to each and every option. Us English folk on the other hand get their dish and they stick to that dish. The only comparison I could draw was the family favourite Sunday roast where serving dishes are put on the table and we share those but don’t you dare touch my parsnip. On another note however, it really is amazing how much of our social lives revolve around food and drink. It is only very noticeable when you’re either on a diet or have to cut out a food for some medical reason. What a nightmare! Particularly as everyone else around you becomes convinced, and makes it their mission to convince you, that by eating that chocolate pudding your life will be infinitely better.



Gulf Insider