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The multi-award winning Arabian magazine

Gulf Financial Insider

GulfInsider -The Arabian Review MADE IN BAHRAIN Monthly focus on Bahraini companies making a difference in the community.

This month featuring:


Issue 82


Equal Chances for Expat Business

Dubai and Abu Dhabi Make Gulf Roads Safer


The Arab Spring

Formula One Memories Rizwan Mumtaz is leaving his mark after project managing and ‘pioneering’ the Formula One race track … Bahrain BD2


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Inside this issue... Made In Bahrain

12. Libya

Colonel Gaddafi


World’s Slowest Internet

18. TAIB Bank Sohail Sultan

14. Bahrain

28. Pakistan

42. Cars

16. Bahrain

29. Dubai

44. Art

24. Iran

30. Dubai and Abu Dhabi

48. Fashion

Equal Chances for Expat Businesses

Formula One Pioneer

Lovers Driven To Suicide

Terrorism That’s Personal

Last Words of British Expat

Dangerous Driving

Aston Martin

A Metal Masterpiece

Men’s Fashion

COMMENT As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others. - Audrey Hepburn


r Gulf Financial Inside

The multi-award

magazine winning Arabian

n Review -The Arabia Bahrain MADE IN BAHRAIN

Issue 82

for Equal Chances Expat Business

anies on Bahraini comp Monthly focus nce in the community. making a differe

Dhabi Dubai and Abu s Safer


This month featu


Make Gulf Road


The Arab Spring


Formula One Me

managing rk after project is leaving his ma Rizwan Mumtaz Formula One race track … the and ‘pioneering’ Bahrain BD2


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Are People Really Becoming More Greedy? People blame greed for the current financial crisis. At some level, greed seems like a clear culprit, but a closer examination reveals some major problems with this theory. First of all, how does one measure greed? Not only is it impossible to measure, it’s nearly impossible to even observe. If it’s raining outside, one might not know the exact inches of rain falling, but one can make a good guess. If one had a cup, the measurement problem would

be solved entirely. But with greed, even observation is a problem. For example, was 1994 less greedy than 2003? What about 2009? Furthermore, are bubbles caused by sudden explosions of greed? In my opinion, that seems like an odd explanation. In my experience, greed seems to be constant. I can’t think of a time where people were more or less greedy than now. If you don’t believe me, get a history book and search any era.

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Gulf Financial Insider October 2008


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Issue 81

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Bahrain Travel ban hardship

Monthly focus on Bahraini companies making a difference in the community.

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Bahrain and Pakistan


Strengthening relations


Highest economic development

Distinguished Women The successful and inspirational women who are making a difference in Bahrain. Bahrain BD2


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HSBC - VIP Treatment No More

Spiraling Out of Control

I was disappointed to read that HSBC were taking away such an excellent free privilege for it’s corporate account holders. I have enjoyed the comfort of the airport lounge whenever I have travelled in the past and I wasn’t even aware the lounge would now cost an extra fee until I read the article. I feel very let down to be honest.

I can’t understand why residency renewals are being cancelled for travel ban victims when there is no law to say this can be done. How are you supposed to make it fair by hiring a lawyer to defend your case without any money because you are not allowed to take up employment? I read that the figure may have increased to around 4000 people with ten new cases per day? This problem needs to be sorted out, and fast.

Anonymous Corporate Account Holder

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Communication Matters

Fantastic news about Saudi women being granted the right to vote! It is quite shocking they were never previously given this right and there are obviously many more issues that need to be sorted out. Many take things for granted like being able to drive a car or freely leaving the country without having to be accompanied by a male, but women in this country still cannot do what we consider the simplest of things. The decision is a step in the right direction so let’s hope it is one of many gestures towards equality for women in Saudi Arabia.

Central Informatics Organisation and TRA President Dr Mohammed A. Al-Amer discusses Bahrain’s future plans.


-The Arabian Review

Issue 80


Saudi Arabia

Monthly focus on Bahraini companies making a difference in the community.

World’s biggest tower

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Euro Motors Fraser Suites

Expats quitting?

Somalia Pirates

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Issue 79


Abu Dhabi



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


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Different Kettle of Fish I must admit a few months ago I hadn’t a clue what a ‘travel ban victim’ was. Now that I have done my homework and read up I realise all of them have different stories to tell and it is impossible to put them into the same category. When I read of business owners who have not been paid for work undertaken and then they fall into debt, that is very different to some one overspending and being conscious of going bankrupt. Come on Bahrain, start listening to your residents and realise these people’s desperation. Not all travelbanned victims have the same story to tell!


The multi-award winning Arabian magazine


Go Saudi Women!


Gulf Insider November 2011

Mannequin Mayhem

Worried for Debt Victims

What is the dress code in shopping malls in Dubai then? There have been so many debates about what is considered ‘acceptable and appropriate’ I am finding it hard to follow. I think Annabel Kantaria makes a good point when she reminds people that the UAE needs its expats and holidaymakers. In 2010 British tourists spent more money there than any other nationality. Of course local people should be respected and people should not expose too much flesh to offend, that is obvious. But when the issue of ‘scantilly clad mannequins’ enters into the equation, this is where it starts to get completely ridiculous in my opinion.

Wonder-Women Your ‘Distinguished Women’ article really was a breath of fresh air Gulf Insider! The women had all chosen quite different career paths so it was great and inspirational to find out how they achieved individual success. It is all too often that we open magazines and read about a new CEO who is often, eight times out of ten a man. The great point was that usually the problem is women’s own perceptions of other women or themselves which is so true. If women have the right attitude and confidence there is no reason why they cannot achieve whatever a man can.

Howard Jacks

‘Girl-Power’ Sue

Business Roundup

Bahrain to Host Volvo European Tour Opener by 2014

Robots may Replace Low-Skilled Workers in Abu Dhabi Abu Dhabi has developed a life-size robot that could replace low-skilled human workers. The UAE capital is planning to open a factory late next year which will produce around a dozen of the robots per month. Barcelona-based company PAL Robotics, part of Abu Dhabi conglomerate the Royal Group, is a robotics company focusing on research, development and commercialisation of humanoid robots. Earlier this year it launched REEM, a 1.65m tall mobile humanoid robot which can move at 5km per hour. Trialed at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC), the robots proved so successful that ADNEC has placed an order for 20 robots and PAL plans to open a factory next year in the emirate to manufacture REEM humanoids. Classed as a humanoid robot, REEM is equipped with an autonomous navigation system, a touch screen, and PAL claims it is capable of roaming through any kind of surroundings, replacing traditionally employed low-skilled workers. It can be used as a guide or an entertainer and its functions include face tracking and recognition functions and a small platform, which can be used to transport luggage and other objects. The inbuilt lithium battery allows it to move around for up to eight hours without the need for cables. Once the robots go into production next year they are estimated to cost up to BD100,000 each, depending on demand.

The Volvo Golf Champions should be back in Bahrain by 2014, after the Gulf state was added to a three-way rota of countries to host golf’s seasonopening event. A new agreement will see the kingdom share hosting rights for the tournament with South Africa and South America, said Per Ericsson, president of Volvo Event Management Golf. This January’s flagship event, which sees a field entirely made up of European Tour winners, is now highly likely to take place in South Africa rather than South America, because the former fits in with the European Tour calendar. Before the Desert Swing, which will now kick off in Abu Dhabi, there are already two tournaments there – the Africa and Joberg Opens.

London Hotels Sold to Middle East Buyer for USD295m A Middle East investor is to buy two luxury London hotels in a deal worth BD111m, the US owner of the properties has confirmed. The Sanderson and St Martins Lane hotels will be sold to Capital Hill Hotels, said New York’s Morgans Hotel Group (MHG), the operator and 50 per cent owner of the joint venture that owns the London properties. The buyer was described as a Middle East investor with existing global hotel holdings, in a statement on MHG’s website. The sale is expected to be completed by the end of the year, and will see MHG remain as operator of the two properties. The news comes weeks after Qatar-based investment group Al Faisal Holding paid close to BD120m to acquire the W London Hotel in Leicester Square. The deal marked the latest in a series of investments in British assets by Qatari buyers. The Gulf state’s wealth fund counts luxury London department store Harrods and stakes in Barclays, retailer Sainsbury’s and the London Stock Exchange among its investments. The gas-rich emirate last month denied media reports it was close to a deal to take over the world-famous Silverstone racing circuit in the UK.


Gulf Insider November 2011

Business Roundup

BlackBerry Service Blues to Take Toll on Brand

Dubai Floating Island Homes Attract Qatar Interest The developers behind a floating island concept have said the design has already attracted interest from Qatari and Russian buyers. Dubai-based firms Palmerstone and Donald Starkey Designs, the joint venture behind the floating ‘Ome’ concept, said they also plan to target the Abu Dhabi market. The ‘Ome’, a floating home on a monocoque type structure, is designed to be manoeuvered between Dubai’s coast and The World islands. The two-deck design features five bedrooms, open-plan living areas and a central ten-metre-diameter seawater pool. Construction on the offshore plots almost ground to a virtual standstill in the wake of the economic downturn, which saw real estate prices in Dubai fall more than 60 per cent from their peak. Therefore, many buyers have failed to begin development on their islands. The joint venture hopes to use the facilities at Dubai Maritime City to build the ‘Omes’ and then float them into The World with a tug and construction is hoped to begin within six months time. The ‘Ome’, which launched at the Monaco Yacht Show in September, is designed to be self-sustainable, with power, water and waste management included in the structure. The floating home also includes photovoltaic cells on its roof, designed to allow the property to be completely self-powered. The Abu Dhabi market also offers strong prospects for the design, particularly within environmentally-sensitive islands such as the wildlife reserve of Sir Bani Yas.

Research in Motion (RIM), the Canadian maker of the BlackBerry smartphone, may face an uphill struggle to regain consumer confidence because of recent service disruptions. Twitter users across the Middle East, Europe, Africa, India and Latin America reported disruptions or complete outages of their email and BlackBerry Messenger services. RIM has blamed a core switch failure for causing a large backlog of data and shares in the Canadian handset maker have fallen 58 per cent this year amid a declining market share and increased competition from Apple’s iPhone. The firm’s overall market share declined four per cent to 12 per cent in the second quarter, according to research firm Gartner. Apple’s CEO Tim Cook, who last week unveiled the new iPhone 4S, said 93 per cent of Fortune 500 companies are currently testing its iPhone. RIM said its business in the Middle East had grown 140 per cent in the last twelve months and said it planned to expand its presence in Lebanon, Jordan and Pakistan. “We have grown 140 per cent Gitex to Gitex in the Middle East. We are really dominant in UAE, Saudi, Kuwait and Qatar and then we are expanding to Lebanon, Jordan and have just launched our services in Iraq, Bahrain, Oman and then we are looking at Pakistan,” said Managing Director for RIM Middle East Sandeep Saihgal.

Gulf Air Launches Live TV on Aircraft in World First Gulf Air, Bahrain’s state-owned carrier, took delivery of the world’s first aircraft to be fitted with communications and entertainment technology that allow passengers to watch live TV, receive text messages and access social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter. The airline’s ‘Sky Hub’ system cost millions of dinars, said Samer Majali, Gulf Air’s chief executive officer. He declined to be more specific. He explained aboard an A330-200, the first aircraft in the fleet to be outfitted with the technology, that investment will be recouped in four to five years through funds that come back through usage itself. Passengers will get the service for free in the first few weeks as the system is being tested. As other aircrafts are modified, payments will be introduced for the internet at a

cost of BD6 per hour of use and BD11 for 24 hours. Phone call charges will be the same as roaming charges and payments go through standard telephone bills. Live satellite TV featuring sports games, stock market updates and news will be free. Gulf Air, one of the Middle East’s oldest carriers, is in the midst of a three-year reorganisation to restore profit as it confronts newer rivals in the region such as Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways.

Gulf Insider November 2011


Business Roundup

Citibank Bahrain Named Winner in Global Finance Magazine’s Awards for ‘Best Consumer Internet Bank’ Citi announced last month that it has won several awards in the first round of Global Finance magazine’s awards for the 2011 Best Internet Banks in the Middle East and Africa. Citibank Bahrain and Citibank Egypt won best Consumer Internet Bank Awards and winners were chosen among entries evaluated by a worldclass panel of judges at Infosys. Chief Executive Officer for the Middle East Division Atiq ur Rehman, said ,“We are delighted to receive these awards from Global Finance. This is a strong recognition of Citi’s capabilities and the service we provide to our clients in the region.”

Bahrain Cancels European Tour Golf Event Bahrain have cancelled its premier European Tour golf event, due to be held in January next year, in the wake of widespread political unrest. The move follows the cancellation of the Bahrain Grand Prix, which was scheduled for March this year. The Volvo Golf Champions event, which is part of the European Tour’s ‘Desert Swing’ in the Gulf states, was held for the first time this year. “We do not feel Bahrain can host a tournament of this magnitude while the international perception of Bahrain is as it is. It is with genuine regret that we are making this announcement after such a wonderful inaugural event in January,” said President of Volvo Event Management Golf, Per Ericsson.


Gulf Insider November 2011

Rolls-Royce Ghost Takes Top Honours at Regional Automotive Awards Rolls-Royce Motor Cars’ dynamic new model line, the Ghost has taken top honours at four regional automotive and luxury awards reinforcing its leading position in the ultra-luxury saloon segment. From October 2010 to date, the Rolls-Royce Ghost has claimed the top spot at the Middle East’s leading awards and the Ghost was named ‘Best Premium Luxury Car’ at the inaugural Middle East Motor Awards 2010; ‘Super Luxury Car of the Year’ at the 2010 Gulf Connoisseur Awards and ‘Luxury Car of the Year’ at the CAR Middle East 2010 Car of the Year Awards. Bahrain Expats Call For Fixed Wage, Citizenship Overhaul Bahrain expatriates called for the introduction of a minimum wage and an overhaul of citizenship rules in sessions of a national dialogue for reforms in the Gulf kingdom. Foreign workers used sessions to call for an overhaul of visa requirements and the creation of a minimum salary, and a system to allow wages to be paid directly into employees’ bank accounts. Expat workers also asked for a review of rules relating to citizenship, suggesting the children of longtime residents should receive residency automatically after the age of 18.

Bahrain’s Batelco Sees 14 per cent Fall in Net Profit Bahrain Telecommunications Company Batelco said that net profit for the nine months to the end of September fell 14 per cent. Net income dropped from BD66m ($175.1m) to BD56.5m, according to a company statement, adding that revenues were BD245.5m for the period. Batelco said its subscriber base had now surpassed 11 million, an increase of eight percent compared to Q2 and 41 percent year-on-year. It added that continued diversification of group revenues meant 37 per cent of revenue and 29 per cent of operating profit was now sourced from markets outside Bahrain. The Bahrain telecom said its balance sheet remained strong and the company was “free of debt” with substantial cash and bank balances of BD86.8m.

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Colonel Gaddafi: And to think we once found this ferocious tyrant funny How many of us wanted to remember the massacres and tortures when Gaddafi’s antics so added to the gaiety of life, asks Richard Spencer.


f anything positive has emerged from a decade of Middle Eastern wars, it ought to be this: that it has put paid to the glibness with which we had begun to hear news from abroad. It was easy to be cynical about the horrors when so many of their perpetrators were cartoon characters – Saddam in his homburg, Osama in his cave, Muammar in his tent. Gaddafi was the biggest clown of all, and when we sneer at Tony Blair for being taken in, with his “Dear Muammar” letters and world-leader bonhomie, we should perhaps look inside ourselves. How many of us wanted to remember the massacres and tortures when Gaddafi’s antics so added to the gaiety of life? I have spent more time in Tripoli this year than anywhere else and witnessed some of the horrors myself. Even so, I found it hard to ignore the humour in the topsy-turvy world of Gaddafi logic. I particularly remember Saif al-Islam Gaddafi ranting on about how the young men at his pro-Gaddafi rallies were


Gulf Insider November 2011

ordinary citizens and not “policemen and soldiers acting under orders as the western media says”.

I particularly remember Saif al-Islam Gaddafi ranting on about how the young men at his pro-Gaddafi rallies were ordinary citizens and not “policemen and soldiers acting under orders as the western media says”. After that, I would ask these men what they did for a living and the answer

was invariably that they were policemen and soldiers. It took the unexpected to feel for myself very little of the Libyan experience. Back in March, while Gaddafi had a full grip on Tripoli, I was detained by plain-clothes police for asking questions in the wrong place and locked in a cell with a pillowcase over my head. I was then interrogated for a couple of hours by a man who accused me of the usual things – being in MI6, or the CIA, and so on. The script was so absurdly like a comic-book version of evil dictatorship that I inadvertently laughed at him. I later discovered that the place I had been taken was the headquarters of the External Intelligence Bureau, and after the fall of Tripoli I found myself back there. Apart from the block where I had been held, every building in the large compound had been pulverised by Nato. Until then, I had thought myself as a hard-nosed reporter impervious to the sentiment of anything but the most pitiful human interest story. Instead, an

Libya unaccustomed surge of delight swept over me. How glad I was to see my prison bombed. It is not often that Britons can wander around streets ground to dust by the RAF and find residents thanking us for it. That is only half funny, really, and humour here is generally savage. It was a foreigner – an Israeli, of all people – who turned Gaddafi’s insane speech of February 22, in which he promised to hunt down the rats who opposed him house by house, alley by alley into a YouTube rap. A Libyan response to that speech, in which he also contemptuously asked his opponents “Who are you? Who are you?”, was written by an exiled poet, Abdul Jalil Saif al-Nasser, who sadly died last month.

I was then interrogated for a couple of hours by a man who accused me of the usual things – being in MI6, or the CIA, and so on. We are your grief. We made your blood run dry We are your pain Do you not know who we are? We drove you insane. We made your nightmare come true We bloodied your nose. Do you not know who we are? We are the cavaliers who crushed your cowardice We are the brave whom you dared not face Do you not know who we are? It is not pretty, but it is a powerful response to those who say Libya was all about oil. I never understood that, since Mr Blair had already won the oil contracts; but in any case most Libyans I have met would have traded all of their oil for an end to the dictatorship. Now that Gaddafi is dead, the question remains as to what the future now holds for Libya. GFI

Gulf Insider November 2011



Equal Chances For Expat Businesses Back in August it was announced that expatrun businesses are to be given equal treatment with those owned by Bahrainis and will be given access to the same facilities. Gulf Insider spoke to Bahrain Asian Traders Committee (BATC) Vice Chairman Bhagwan Asarpota about the future for expat businesses.


any expatriate businessmen have been in Bahrain for decades, for some many are the fifth or sixth generation of their families. As long term residents and investors of Bahrain they have been continually contributing to the economy of Bahrain. Tamkeen announced back in August that their initiatives, including training and financing, as well as other support activities that will help expand their businesses are now available to expatriates. Mr Asarpota confirmed that now the initiatives had been announced, Asian-owned businesses should take advantage of them straight away. BATC chairman Othman Sharif also said that the initiative, along with many others, confirmed the BCCI and Tamkeen’s commitment to businesses in Bahrain and ensured support was being provided to enable growth, stability and prosperity. How will the new initiative confirm the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) and Tamkeen’s


Gulf Insider November 2011

commitment to businesses in Bahrain and ensure support? There is an intention and message from BCCI and lately now from Tamkeen that they are willing to give equal chances to expatriate businesses. This gesture is very much appreciated and most of the businesses are happy that there will

Once all of the four irritants are removed, more funds will flow in from expatriate businessmen, locally based and new. not be any irritants. In case anything crops up, we, the expatriate businesses will pursue with the authorities, again and again. What questions and requests came in from foreign-owned business? What

Bhagwan Asarpota

typical complaints or questions do you receive on the subject of equal rights for expats? The main subject is to remove the four main irritants. These include the Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA). The new system introduced since the inception of LMRA unfairly categorises the ‘owners’ with the ‘workers’ leaving no distinction. It is the owners, who pay the LMRA charges for the employees and by charging the employer, it leaves no distinction between the two. We are thus forced to pay a BD10 fee per month for ourselves also, which is not at all justifiable. There also needs to be a restriction in activities by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce (MOIC), renewal of visas for dependents who are above 18 years of age and a restriction in the expansion of branches by the MOIC. Once all of the above irritants are removed, more funds will flow in from expatriate businessmen, locally based and new. These are all major hindrances for further investments in the country. And that in spite of our contribution, dedication and commitment to the


country, there is no equal chance meted out to expatriate businessmen.

of light for others to follow so that there are more investments.

Expat business are (going to be) considered on a par with locally owned companies and given access to the same facilities. What timelines will be worked on for this? The various authorities need to treat us at par, at least the larger investors and long-term residents. The timeline must be as soon as possible. All of the above grey areas need to be ironed out, to enable more investments to come in from the expatriate businesses.

What benefits are being offered? So far, only Tamkeen has offered assistance; all of the benefits were restricted to Bahraini companies only or to companies which have major Bahraini shareholders. We hope the other ministries will also follow suit soon.

How will the success of the project be judged and measured? Once all of the irritants are removed, the success of the project will be judged and measured by how many more foreign investors are willing to invest in the country. What challenges are there? The higher authorities or the decision makers’ mind-set and focus need to change. Tamkeen has already opened up, which we hope, will act as a beacon

All of the areas need to be ironed out, to enable more investments to come in from the expatriate businesses. How will Bahrainis ever be the employees of choice when there are ‘rights laws’ that naturally make them less competitive than those of other nationalities? We all recognise that Bahraini employees can actually contribute to the

economy of Bahrain as the salary they earn is spent in the country, whereas the expats’ earnings leave the country which is not at all beneficial. If more and more skillful Bahrainis are trained, we will be more than happy to employ Bahrainis, as their contribution to Bahrain will be more than that of an expat. Why has the initiative only recently come about, shouldn’t expat businesses enjoy the same rights if they share the same liabilities? Apparently, somebody from the higher authorities might have realised the need of extending support to the expatriate business. Yes, we admit that it has come very late. It is essential for the growth of Bahrain’s economy that foreign-owned businesses enjoy the same rights (and responsibilities) as locally owned ones. Inward investment is a key driver of economies all over the world and at this time of global financial uncertainty, any measure which can stimulate such investment and growth in Bahrain should be greatly welcomed. GFI

Gulf Insider November 2011



Fond Formula One Memories… Long-time resident of Bahrain, Rizwan Mumtaz is moving on to the UAE for a Project Director position. After residing in Bahrain for 17 years he is leaving his mark after project managing and ‘pioneering’ the Formula One race track …


ou had the prestigious role as Project Manager and Deputy Project Director to develop the Formula One circuit, designed by German company Tilke and Partners. How long did it take to build and what factors were taken into account? how did you make it challenging but safe at the same time? The track opened in 2004 after a 16month and BD75 million completion and it was a very challenging project to undertake. Some Formula One tracks are already partially built; we had to start completely from scratch and even had to conduct rock blasting to flatten the huge area. People were worried about sand blowing onto the track making it unsafe however organisers were able to spray an adhesive on the sand around the track to prevent this. The contractor was also given a financial incentive if he finished ahead of schedule, which was a great motivator. He finished two days early! I was very proud of the completion where schedules and budgets were stuck to and quality assurance and control safety procedures were monitored throughout by the Royal Body of Motor Sports. What were the challenges and positives when building the circuit and in your view what is the probability of


Gulf Insider November 2011

F1 returning to the kingdom next year, how important is it for tourism? During peak times there were around 4,000 people working on the circuit which was a big responsibility to be in charge of in my position. The introduction of Formula One in the country has placed Bahrain on the international map and has

It is so important not to hide anything and learn from and accept your mistakes. There should be no big ego’s in a profession. been a huge success, producing highly positive results for the Kingdom. It has been very important for tourism, bringing in hundreds of thousands of visitors and dinars each year. I really hope it will return to Bahrain next year as so many people were devastated about this year’s cancellation. It was deadly in terms of profits and tourism for Bahrain.

Rizwan Mumtaz

Did you take inspiration from any other Formula One circuits around the world when designing the Bahrain track or is it a unique style? Our main goal for the circuit was to make it as unique as possible. It would be unexciting and a waste of time if it was based on another country’s track. That is what makes every race exciting, every circuit should be unique so that the drivers are challenged and the spectators see something different. Many drivers love the challenge of racing on a new track. What other leading projects have you been involved with whilst working as Senior Project Manager at Ithmaar Development Company? I have been designing high rise projects for 18 months with public/ private partnerships. I have also been involved with the Alba plant project and the construction of two Bahrain schools and a number of housing developments for the Ministry of Housing. How did you get to where you are today and what advice would you give to someone wishing to follow in your footsteps? I got here through complete


dedication, it is so important not to hide anything and learn from and accept your mistakes. There should be no big egos in a profession. My advice is to have an open mind and work incredibly hard. A colleague once told me to remember that from the cradle to the grave, the learning process never stops. As a project manager of such prestigious events, what is your management philosophy and how do you handle the intense responsibility of your job? As a manager you should have transparency and openness, if not you will not get the maximum out of your team. I follow the basics of leadership qualities, strict and firm but also gentle. I motivated staff by teaching them to be positive when receiving criticism so they can improve, and I do not give out criticism just for the sake of it, only when definitely needed. While in Bahrain, how did you help the Pakistani community and what do

you enjoy doing in your free time? I felt honoured when I recently met with the Pakistan Ambassador who told me that my departure would be a great loss to the community. I helped to organise a charity event for the deadly earthquake in 2005 in Pakistan and managed to raise

think ‘I could and would have done that better and differently’? I have three decades of experience so a lot of the time yes, it becomes the case where you do think you could have done something better. I think we all do as human beings.

Every circuit should be unique so that the drivers are challenged and the spectators see something different.

You came here in 1994 and were meant to stay for only four months. 17 years later you are here with your family, what made you stay in Bahrain for so long? The warmth, sincerity and hospitality of the people for sure. I got used to the climate and settled in straight away and felt Bahrain was the perfect place to bring my wife and to raise our family. The quality of life is very good here and I enjoyed the fact that the commute to work was so much shorter than anywhere I had previously worked. If I wanted to go home for lunch I would have time and it was more relaxed than driving for hours. It was mainly the generosity of the people that I loved about this place. GFI

about BD30,000 for the charity cause. In my free time I am an international bridge player and have represented Bahrain all around the world. You obviously give a lot of attention to detail being a project manager, does this make you very critical of other people’s work and make you

Gulf Insider November 2011


Made In Bahrain Monthly focus on Bahraini companies making a difference in the community.

TAIB Bank Gulf Insider spoke to recently appointed CEO Sohail Sultan about driving growth, integration and geographical expansion.


ou have had over 20 years in banking and finance and have held senior executive positions within both Citibank and Barclays Capital. How will you drive growth with your wealth of experience in this field? My experience spans building asset and non asset-based finance businesses as well as structured capital markets capability across North America, Asia, the Far East and Europe, encompassing all aspects of structured finance, credit and risk management. This accumulated experience base will hopefully provide a sound base for the challenges we face at TAIB. TAIB’s new management team have embarked on wholesale restructuring of the bank. What challenges have you faced and how have you dealt with them? The past nine months have been a challenging period, as the new management team with the support of the Central Bank of Bahrain [CBB] and its principal shareholders have embarked on a major restructuring. The first main challenge was the stabilization of the bank after the financial crises, where we needed to restore liquidity and to stabilize our capital base. We conducted a financial and legal review of the bank identifying risks and issues and closing them off, while simultaneously reviewing and over hauling and where necessary redesigning processes, systems and operations. We also had to deal with cultural sensitivities in certain parts of the bank, we have staff from over a dozen different nationalities. People are our most important asset, so ensuring


Gulf Insider November 2011

clarity of communication, openness and transparency in our dealings has enabled us to manage expectations and ensure we have the right people in the right jobs with an understanding on both sides as what to expect. Ultimately, this process of change has been to ensure we have the right building blocks and foundations tto move forward. The bank is being repositioned for its future course and direction in order to return to sustainable profitability over the long term and to become a major intermediator of capital flows across the region. How will these initiatives be sustained? As we reposition, it is very important to sustain new initiatives so to move forward. We hope the new programme undertaken for our future course will be completed by the end of this year. We can then build from there, recruit the right people, focus on the right businesses and generate revenue in key areas. You said building on the bank’s geographic footprint is being focused on. What are TAIB’s expansion plans? We are currently restructuring our major overseas operating subsidiaries in Turkey, Kazakhstan, UAE, India and UK. Having largely completed the restructuring exercise the Bank is now being repositioned to pursue a regional mandate encompassing MENA, South Asia, Turkey/Central Asia, focusing on the areas of asset management, investment banking and wealth management. How is Bahrain’s economy recovering after the recent unrest? Any economy is driven by sentiment and banking is no different. Banks look

Sohail Sultan for safe, sustainable markets and with the troubled period at the end of the first quarter, investor confidence was dented. Fortunately around June time, confidence returned and has been restored relatively quickly. What do you find rewarding about being in your position? I have been lucky enough to have worked all over the world including Europe, the United States and Far East The cultural diversity afforded by my past and present assignments have been hugely rewarding. The intellectual challenge of building something that is unique if we manage to do it, is exciting. Working with individuals who challenge me on a daily basis is rewarding. Tell us more about what other initiatives you have in the pipeline? We will continue to hire and retain the best people possible on the product side as we look to build sector specialisation in the areas of power, energy, natural resources, transportation, food and agriculture, financial institutions, real estate and social investing. We will also build our capability in the full gambit of treasury and risk management both in rates, credit, commodity and equity linked product. This will be augmented as we look to strategically acquire businesses in the areas of asset management as well as equity and debt capital market. The plan is a five-year business build out which should see us building market positions in London and potentially in time the Far East focused around our regional footprint. We aim on being the principal intermediator of capital flows across the geographics we cover. GFI


Citibank Bahrain Launches Citialerts Service


itibank Bahrain have announced the launch of the ‘Citialerts’ service for customers, keeping them informed on transactions carried out on their credit card and accounts. With the launch of this initiative, Citibank will add state-of -the-art alert services where all customers are automatically enrolled and are given a welcome message once they have been added to the service. Customers can also customise how they receive their notifications, either on a daily, weekly or monthly basis by either mobile SMS message, email, or both. A host of features are available, such as notification of salary credits, account balances, cheque deposits and

withdrawals, as well as credit card statements. The service can be cancelled or temporarily discontinued by one quick visit to the dedicated Citialerts link on Citibank Bahrain’s website. Consumer Bank Head of Citibank Navneet Kampani said, “We are the market leaders with the launch of Citialerts, further reinforcing our position in the service and convenience landscape. The launch of this service is in line with our commitment to serving our clients with the best in class products and services.”

“We are moving in the right direction to win over our clients and establish ourselves as the ‘Best Place to Bank’ on the island. As we grow in Bahrain, we will continue to deliver innovative products and services that work around people’s busy working and social lives,” he added. GFI

Gulf Insider November 2011


Book review

SHERARD COWPER-COLES: THE UK’S FRUSTRATED AMBASSADOR IN AFGHANISTAN Charles Moore reviews ‘Cables from kabul’ By Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles


n the 1990s, when people thought that history had come to an end, the UK Foreign Office became obsessed with ‘diversity’. It wished to widen the pool of recruits – more black faces, more women, fewer old school ties. The apparently paradoxical result was more uniformity of mind. Once you launch a cultural attack upon yourself, you disable independent thinking. Diplomats became embarrassed about their role, and more inclined to watch their backs. The past, of which Britain’s foreign policy experience is uniquely deep, was forgotten. Sherard Cowper-Coles never succumbed to any of this. He sees British diplomacy in historical, even romantic terms. Being a classicist, he has studied the Roman imperium; having an old-fashioned English education, he compares that empire to our own and to the American one that succeeded it. He also has an adventurous spirit. So when the “end of history” itself ended in the ashes of the World Trade Center, Cowper-Coles’s time had come. Britain found itself with an active role in the world crisis. After serving as Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, he was translated, in 2007, to Afghanistan, where the embassy became the UK’s biggest in the East. He was playing the 21st-century version of the Great Game.


Gulf Insider November 2011

I stayed with Cowper-Coles while he was in Kabul, and I can testify to his excitement at the drama, his pleasure in the ridiculous and his engagement with the issues. I can also testify, however, to his sense of frustration. One morning, having arranged for us to call on President Karzai, he went first to a separate meeting with him. When we met Cowper-Coles at the presidential palace after it, he was looking dishevelled

He was translated, in 2007, to Afghanistan, where the embassy became the UK’s biggest in the East. with rage. Karzai had discovered that one of his warlord enemies was holed up in Kabul and had demanded that American and British forces help go in to capture or kill him. When CowperColes and the US Ambassador refused, the Afghan president had succumbed to paranoid ravings. This vivid book is chiefly an account of the author’s frustration, not only with

the mercurial Karzai, but with the entire Afghan situation. Because Afghanistan is a problem shared between many nations and international institutions, Kabul is infested with non-Afghans. And because the security situation is so dangerous, it is natural for those non-Afghans to spend most of their time being driven in bullet-proof vests and helmets to meetings over breakfast, dinner, lunch and tea. The place is stuffed with the multifarious operatives of the “postconflict stabilisation industry”. You could work there for years without having any real idea about what any real Afghans think. Besides, the conditions are so arduous that tours of duty are short and leave (the author is scathing about the effect of “breather-breaks”) generous. Before you have time to learn much, you go home. In these trying circumstances, those involved, particularly the military, try to sustain themselves with an optimism not necessarily supported by the facts. As Cowper-Coles says, the mantra is “We are making progress, but challenges remain”. He became more struck by the challenges than by the progress. What renders the diplomatic comings and goings even more absurd is that the only Western power which truly

Book review

Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles matters is the US. America spends about USD125 billion a year on Afghanistan. It loses more men than any of its allies. So Britain finds itself, in CowperColes’s phrase, “lashed to the American chariot”. It was far more important for our ambassador to cultivate the American one than to deal with Karzai. Eventually, Cowper-Coles became the British special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. The real purpose of the post was to try to keep up with the US equivalent, Richard Holbrooke. Some of the author’s best comic passages describe his efforts to engage Holbrooke’s attention when the great man is thinking of his dentist, his BlackBerry or his dinner. Cowper-Coles admires Holbrooke (who died last year) and dedicates the book to his memory. But one of his themes is that “Americans are just too democratic, and too nice, to be very good at ruling other people”. The Cowper-Coles thesis is that allied attempts to achieve an “Afghan lead” have not worked. He gives a striking example. One day, the then Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, asked a couple of Afghan ministers how long Afghan

government authorities would stay on in Helmand after Western forces left. The expected answer was “decades” or even “forever”. The actual answer was “Twenty-four hours”.

Cowper-Coles became the British special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. The real purpose of the post was to try to keep up with the US equivalent, Richard Holbrooke. The author advocates a “political solution”, a polite way of saying a deal with the Taliban. Although he does not state this directly, my memory is that he pushed hard for the new Obama

administration to reconsider America’s unconditional support for the unreliable Karzai, as part of this solution. Instead, along came General Petraeus’s surge – a bad example, in Cowper-Coles’s view, of the military dominating the political. In the end, Cowper-Coles’s frankness and impatience worked against him. Less adventurous colleagues secured the top jobs he wanted. He left the service earlier this year, a disappointed man. He will probably have the satisfaction, however, of seeing the policy he advocated put into practice. With bin Laden dead and US and British elections needing to be won, “moderate” Taliban will no doubt be unearthed soon and bound in to some deal. There are several morals drawn by the author from his story, all of them interesting; but the reader may add another one. If your son or daughter is a person of talent, courage and originality, don’t let them go into the Foreign Office. GFI

Cables from Kabul by Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles (Harper Press), available from

Gulf Insider November 2011



Libya and the Arab Spring By Peter Hitchens


he moment has come to admit that I loathe the Arab Spring and almost everything about it. It looks to me pretty much like a football crowd armed with AK-47s and bazookas, with the added ingredient of Islamic militancy. Why am I expected to like it? In the West we are all supposed to approve of it. Every media outlet, every politician, every church pulpit, treats it as an unmixed Good Thing. Not me. I look at these wild characters in baseball caps and tracksuit bottoms blasting ammunition into the sky (often killing or injuring innocents far away, but they don’t care) and I am mainly thankful that they are a long way off. I suppose it is possible that this lot will miraculously create a law-governed democracy with freedom of speech and conscience. But I somehow shan’t be surprised if they don’t. Just because existing regimes are bad, it does not follow that their replacements will be any better. The world has known this since the French Revolution of 1789, when bliss and joy turned to mass murder and dictatorship in a matter of months. The test of any revolution comes not


Gulf Insider November 2011

as the tyrant falls, but two or three years later, when the new rulers have shown us what they are really like. Power can be given (not often) or taken, and shared out in different ways. But it never ceases to exist. Egypt’s upheaval has already begun to go bad. Libya’s has been plastered

Libya’s rebels have been guilty of indiscriminate shooting into civilian areas and the brutal and arbitrary arrests of suspected opponents. with danger signs from the start. The anti-Gaddafi rebels are an incompetent and fractious mess. They have already murdered one of their own leaders. And – I think it very wrong that this aspect is played down so much – their victory would never have happened

without Nato providing them with an air force, as it did for the equally suspect Kosovo Liberation Army in the early days of Tony Blair. The West have given them the military gifts of cool self-discipline, long training and competence which it ought to reserve for its own countries and for protecting its own freedom and independence. If they don’t possess them, I don’t think they deserve to rule a country. The official pretext, that we are ‘intervening to protect civilians’, is lying hogwash and should be laughed at every time it is used. According to reliable reports – Libya’s rebels have been guilty of indiscriminate shooting into civilian areas and the brutal and arbitrary arrests of suspected opponents. It is false to claim, as some instantly will, that by saying this I am defending Colonel Gaddafi. I am not. He is indefensible. The questions are these: Will what follows be better? Will the burned, bandaged bodies, the crammed morgues and the hospital wards full of stench, screams and groans have been worthwhile? Were we right to take sides? GFI


English Language Teaching Conference Held In Bahrain For The First Time


he British Council in Bahrain in cooperation with the American Embassy, held the first English Language Teaching (ELT) conference in Bahrain last month at the Gulf Hotel. The theme of the conference was ‘ELT in the 21st Century: Issues and Challenges’ and was opened with a welcome speech from Network Chair Dr Hussain Dhaif followed by British Council Director Malcolm Jardine and English for the Future Director for MENA Nic Humphries. Also present were high officials from the British Council, the American Embassy and Educational

Organisations in Bahrain. The key speaker was Dr William Grabe from Northern Arizona University and 16 speakers from the USA, Bahrain and other GCC countries running 16 sessions. There were 200 teachers and educators in attendance who participated in the conference. The conference was the first ELT conference organised in Bahrain by English teachers supported by the English Project at the British Council and the Regional English Office at the American Embassy. It was aimed at providing the opportunity for English teachers in Bahrain to exchange experiences.

Presenters also discussed the different challenges facing both teachers and learners in teaching and learning English. Nic Humphries, who flew from Cairo to open the conference said, “Conferences like this are key to ensuring Bahraini teachers have a forum to share their best practice and to keep updated on developments in teaching English. It is encouraging to see the range of topics covered by local presenters and shows that teachers here have their fingers on the pulse of the new trends.” GFI

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Lovers in Iran driven to suicide Lovers driven to suicide by Iranian regime that threw them in jail for being friends with a human rights activist. - By Jessica Satherley days at Tehran’s infamous Evin prison – soon after being released they were both dead. Mr Ganji was a science student at Tehran University and lived with his close friend and human rights activist Koohyar Goudarzi, 26. Mr Goudarzi, a member of the Committee for Human Rights Reporters (CHRR) had been previously arrested in demonstrations following President Ahmadinejad’s re-election in 2009.

It’s a story of two young people who were not political, loved each other, and just wanted to get on with their lives, but all of a sudden end up in prison. Broken man: Behnam Ganji (left) was imprisoned for eight days at Evin Prison in Tehran, Nahal Sahabi (right) was in for three days, they both committed suicide afterwards


wo Iranian lovers have been described as the modern day Romeo and Juliet after being driven to suicide by their country’s regime. Nahal Sahabi, 28, and her boyfriend


Gulf Insider November 2011

Behnam Ganji, 22, who were both active bloggers, committed suicide four weeks apart after being imprisoned just for being friends with a human rights activist. Mr Ganji was detained for eight days, while Ms Sahabi was held for three

After spending a year in prison, he continued his activism, which led to him being banned from attending university and again sought after by authorities. On their hunt for Goudarzi, security agents thought to be from Iran’s ministry of intelligence, burst into the men’s flat and arrested both him and his flatmate Mr Ganji, The Times reported. They were both taken to Evin prison

Iran on July 31, followed by Ms Sahabi and Mr Goudarzi’s mother being arrested shortly after. Although it has been reported that Mr Ganji spent some of his imprisonment in solitary confinement, details of exactly what happened to him during his time in Evin have not been revealed. He is said to have come out ‘a broken man’ after the ordeal and would not talk to, see or take calls from anyone after being released. A friend of Ganji, named Amir, told The Times his friend was beaten by interrogators in the prison and forced him to falsely condemn Mr Goudarzi as a member of the MEK, a criminal opposition group. Amir believes his friend was tortured, while another friend, Farya Barlas, told the newspaper that Mr Ganji and Mr Goudarzi were apparently raped in front of each other by guards. The student is said to have become depressed and committed suicide in his

flat on 1st September with an overdose of prescription drugs. Mr Goudarzi however, has not been seen since his arrest and his lawyer told the Guardian by phone that he is still missing. Authorities at Evin prison deny that he is still there and claim to not know where he is. Ms Sahabi, a kindergarten teacher, was apparently not as traumatised as her boyfriend after being released by interrogators, but lived in constant fear of rape after guards threatened to ‘dishonour’ her. When she found out of her lover’s suicide, she was devastated and wrote on her blog: ‘Hey Behnam. Damn you, what am I supposed to do in your absence? ‘Maybe if you can understand someone loves you so much, you could return from death.’ On Thursday, 29th September, she was found dead in her room at her

parents’ house in Tehran after also taking an overdose. She wrote one last blog before her suicide, reading: ‘So it’s Thursday again. Come, Behnam. Let’s dance together on Thursday once more.’ Their mutual friend Amir said: ‘It’s a story of two young people who were not political, loved each other, and just wanted to get on with their lives, but all of a sudden end up in prison.’ ‘Everyone can identify with it. Everyone [in Iran] feels it could happen to them. No one is safe.’ Bloggers in Iran have voiced their views on the tragic tale, with one named Darius posting: ‘Nahal was a girl of love. Long live love. Long live life. Death to the dictator.’ Ali Zamani posted: ‘Do not despair that the black ravens live longer than the canaries. ‘It is the singing of the canaries that will live forever.’



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Gulf Insider November 2011



it is official - Lebanon has the world’s worst internet ! In March this year Lebanon was ranked bottom in the world for internet speed - placed 186th behind Zambia, Vanuatu and even war-ravaged countries like Iraq and Afghanistan. By Howard Johnson


he data revealing Lebanon’s sorry position as the world’s worst country for internet connectivity, published by, spurred the country’s online activists into action. Campaign groups like Ontornet (‘Ontor’ a play on the Arabic for ‘wait’) and Flip the Switch sprang up on Facebook, while Twitter became awash with real-time feedback on people’s web experiences. “A file that takes me 16 hrs to download in Lebanon is downloaded in 6 minutes in France!” wrote @Joanna_2983. Another, @Lebanese_facts, quipped: “Loading … loading ..l oading… *15 mins later* page failed to load.” And @Doreen_Khoury wrote: “If you live in Lebanon never go on vacation longer than a week; you get used to 24 hour electricity and fast internet.” Online protests have gained widespread support from household consumers all the way up to big businesses. Sensing growing unrest, the Telecoms Minister Nicolas Sehnaoui took action pushing through a decree in September committing to increase the country’s internet speeds by up to eight times


Gulf Insider November 2011

- while reducing costs by more than two-thirds. According to the government, this will be achieved by connecting to the high capacity fibre optic IndiaMiddle East-Western Europe (IMEWE) submarine cable. The IMEWE cable had been available for use from December 2010, but had

A file that takes me 16 hrs to download in Lebanon is downloaded in 6 minutes in France. not been switched on because of a dispute between the Telecoms Ministry and Ogero, the government-owned telecoms company responsible for the cable’s maintenance.

Investor fear

Imad Taraby is the chairman and chief executive of the data service provider Cedarcom, a company that buys internet

bandwidth from the Telecoms Ministry and then sells it onto consumers. He says preferential treatment of government-owned suppliers is the real cause of Lebanon’s slow internet. “Investors fear investing into this sector,” says Mr Taraby. “Why? Because we have one-year licences and competition is unfair. We pay so much high taxes up to 59% while government operators don’t pay any tax and that doesn’t allow [us] to compete fairly, by default, sooner or later and I’m talking within three to six months there’s a very high risk that private operators exit the market and that will instate more and more monopoly. “You need a private sector. All the innovation comes from the private sector.” So in a country that aspires to be the ‘Silicon Valley’ of the Middle East, how does Lebanon’s slow internet affect techbased businesses? Mark Daou works in advertising and PR, and also runs the Fast Lebanon Facebook campaign group. “Basically it’s waiting, waiting, waiting and if you’re still not bored you wait a


little bit more,” he says. “We’ve got large files that we upload to offices outside of Lebanon. We usually do that on Saturday nights and on Sundays during the day because that is the time when the least people are using the internet.” “It’s the best way to make sure you don’t get cut off when you are uploading a 200MB file and have to start over again.” For Mr Daou, the decree doesn’t go far enough. “There’s still a cap on the amount of internet usage you can use and it’s ridiculously low. What we’re looking for is a big master plan. Something that would really say Lebanon sees the internet as a human right for every individual in Lebanon to stay educated, to stay up to date, to be able to progress and to have a fair chance in this life.” However, for other businesses the internet’s biggest drawback is its cost. Samer Karam is the director of Seeqnce, a start-up accelerator which helps small web companies by sharing knowledge and aggregating office facilities.

“From what I’ve seen the creative industry, in its creativity, hasn’t been stifled,” says Mr Karam. “However, due to the very high prices they have been unable to produce content at the speed and capacity that they are capable of and publish it online and even if they were able to, their consumers wouldn’t be able to consume it. “So, effectively a place like Seeqnce, where there is a lot of creativity, we end up paying roughly USD1,200 a month for a one megabit connection which is absurd. “It’s roughly 100 times more than what you would pay in a developed country.” But Mr Karam is optimistic about the future. “What we anticipate to happen, if this industry were to be opened up and the connections were to get bigger, is we could potentially return to our former glory as the Paris of the Middle East. “The East would meet the West halfway in Beirut, and the cultures of the East could take a step closer to the West.” Since the issuing of the government’s decree, social media sites have been

abuzz with speculation about when the internet will speed up. Speaking shortly after the decree’s passing, Firas Abi-Nassif, the adviser to the telecoms minister, explained what the public could expect. “It’s still obviously not at par with modern or developed countries’ types of internet speeds,” he said. “This is just the first step before we get to much faster, much more powerful internet through the fibre network which, as we speak, is being deployed in the country.” Last month the country’s The Daily Star newspaper published research that found that of 550 people surveyed, 68% said their internet connection was “slow and nothing had changed” since the beginning of October, the month the government said that faster speeds would be passed onto consumers. According to Mr Abi-Nassif speeds will pick up as the country moves toward a full 3G wireless internet service by early this month. Something to celebrate perhaps, were it not for the fact that Japan introduced the same technology a decade ago. GFI

Gulf Insider November 2011



Irum Saeed, 30, poses for a photograph at her office at the Urdu University of Islamabad, Pakistan. Irum was burned on her face, back and shoulders twelve years ago when a boy whom she rejected for marriage threw acid on her in the middle of the street. She has undergone plastic surgery 25 times to try to recover from her scars.

Terrorism that’s personal We typically think of terrorism as a political act. But sometimes it’s very personal. Saira Liaqat, 26, poses for the camera as she holds a portrait of herself before being burned, at her home in Lahore, Pakistan. When she was fifteen, Saira was married to a relative who would later attack her with acid after insistently demanding her to live with him, although the families had agreed she wouldn’t join him until she finished school. Saira has undergone plastic surgery 9 times to try to recover from her scars.


Gulf Insider November 2011


t wasn’t a government or a guerrilla insurgency that threw acid on this woman’s face in Pakistan. It was a young man whom she had rejected for marriage. It is wise to understand both the political and the personal, that the very ignorance and illiteracy and misogyny that create the climate for these acid attacks can and does bleed over into the political realm. Nicholas Kristof, the New York Times op-ed columnist who traveled to Pakistan last year to write about acid attacks, put it this way in an essay at the time: “I’ve been investigating such acid attacks, which are commonly used to terrorise and subjugate women and girls in a swath of Asia from Afghanistan through Cambodia (men are almost never attacked with acid). Because women usually don’t matter in this part of the world, their attackers are rarely prosecuted and acid sales are usually not controlled. It’s a kind of terrorism that becomes accepted as part of the background noise in the region. “Bangladesh has imposed controls on acid sales to curb such attacks, but otherwise it is fairly easy in Asia to walk into a shop and buy sulfuric or hydrochloric acid suitable for destroying a human face. Acid attacks and wife burnings are

common in parts of Asia because the victims are the most voiceless in these societies: They are poor and female. The first step is simply for the world to take note, to give voice to these women.” Since 1994, a Pakistani activist who founded the Progressive Women’s Association to help such women “has documented 7,800 cases of women who were deliberately burned, scalded or subjected to acid attacks, just in the Islamabad area. In only two per cent of those cases was anyone convicted.” The geopolitical question is already hard enough: Should the United States commit more troops to Afghanistan and for what specific purpose? As American policymakers mull the options, here is a frame of reference that puts the tough choices in even starker relief: Are acid attacks a sign of just how little the United States can do to solve intractable problems there - therefore, we should pull out? Or having declared war on terrorism, must the United States stay out of moral duty, to try to protect women such as these - and the schoolgirls whom the Taliban in Afghanistan sprayed with acid simply for going to class who have suffered a very personal terrorist attack? GFI


British expat’s leap of death ‘I’m going’: Last words of British expat during row with girlfriend before he leapt from 32nd floor balcony of Dubai apartment.


geologist told his girlfriend ‘I’m going’ before leaping 300 feet to his death from the balcony of his high-rise apartment in Dubai after a row, an inquest heard. Ryan Guest, 24, jumped on a table, tried to close the patio doors behind him and leapt from the 32nd floor of the luxury flat at the Jumeirah Beach Resort. His partner, Louise Botham, 30, had thrown gifts from him off the balcony and said she was going to leave him after their argument turned violent. Giving evidence at the hearing in Kendal, in the UK, Ms Botham said she did not think he meant to kill himself and that alcohol had been a ‘primary factor’. The inquest also heard Mr Guest was under stress from a heavy workload at the oil rig where he was employed and endured a disrupted sleep pattern. Ms Botham said: ‘He was working in a high pressure job and he was on a rig in a room on his own for a month at a time. ‘He was working constantly, there was a lot of pressure on him to find oil, as oil is running out in Dubai.’ The solicitor had recently flown out to move in with him after the couple first met in North Wales. She said he did not have a drink problem but was a ‘typical binge drinker’ who used alcohol as a ‘massive stress relief’.

Tragedy: Ryan Guest jumped on a table, tried to close the patio doors behind him and leapt from the 32nd floor of the luxury flat On the night of his death he had just finished another long stint at the rig where he worked on a month on/month off basis and had not slept before they went out for dinner. He had already had a number of ‘strong

cocktails’ before he went on to drink double rum and cokes at a hotel bar. ‘Ryan had already drank quite a lot by that time,’ she said. ‘The people we had just met had only started drinking. He was already worse for wear.’ GFI

Gulf Insider November 2011



What will it take to make the roads of the Gulf safer? By Annabel Kantaria


his month, Dubai Police revealed a sobering fact: That last month’s three-day outage of BlackBerry services correlated directly with a 20 per cent reduction in road accidents in Dubai, and a 40 per cent reduction in Abu Dhabi. It’s a link that finally appears to have caught the attention of the region’s younger drivers, who were already shocked by the death three weeks ago of popular UAE football star Theyab Amana. Amana was reported to have been using his BlackBerry seconds before he was


Gulf Insider November 2011

killed in a high-speed car crash near Abu Dhabi. By releasing these two pieces of information, Dubai Police might finally be making some headway in the uphill battle to make our roads safer. This is a region, after all, where speeding, tailgating, using mobile phones, not wearing a seatbelt and letting your children ride unrestrained in the car are common everyday occurrences. For as long as I’ve lived in the Gulf, police have been battling to change the public attitude towards road safety.

In 2008, Bernadette Bhacker, a Dubaibased road-safety campaigner told The National that Gulf countries were in effect repeating the pattern experienced by rapidly motorising high-income countries in the 1970s. Western countries, she said, have 35 years of road-safety training behind them, while countries in the Gulf – despite their smooth roads and fast cars – do not. Public safety campaigns to date in the UAE, though, have been lame by Western standards. Last month, BMW Group Middle East upped the ante when it launched a series of “hard-hitting” ads to encourage people to buckle up. The pictures show items such as a teddy bear or a graduation cap belonging to passenger who died because he or she didn’t wear a seatbelt but, while they’re ground-breaking for the region, they fall far short of the shock tactics common in the UK’s successful road safety campaigns. According to Bhacker, the trend towards fatal accidents in the West “was reversed only when people, including media, victims and public personalities, began to react and to speak out against passive acceptance of the carnage.” Could the tragic death ofTheyab Amana, along with last month’s link between the BlackBerry outage and the consequent reduction in accidents, be enough to kickstart the change of attitude here that’s so desperately needed?


Foggy driving

Unless you’ve experienced it, you probably don’t know that, for a few days each year, the sun disappears entirely under a thick blanket of early-morning fog. It forms on autumn and spring mornings due to high humidity, clear skies and contrasting day and night temperatures. Without fail, it results in displays of jaw-droppingly bad driving. This month in Dubai has been particularly bad. According to police, early morning visibility ranged in places from zero to 10 metres. And the result? 418 traffic-related emergency calls between 5am and 8am on Tuesday, and a 36-car pile-up that left two vehicles burnt out. That’s nothing, though, compared to March 2008, when 350 people were injured and three killed in a fiery 60-car pile-up in fog on the Abu Dhabi to Dubai highway. In April this year, 60 people were injured and one person died in a 127-vehicle accident on the same road. Police estimated that most cars involved were travelling at 120kph despite visibility of less than 50 metres. Apart from speeding and not leaving enough stopping distance, which are obviously the underlying causes of all these accidents, a big problem is driver mentality. Many of

Dubai’s expatriate residents come from countries unfamiliar with high-speed driving, let alone with fog. Many labour under the illusion that turning on the car’s hazard lights activates a magical force field around the vehicle, allowing the driver to tailgate down the highway at 140kph in dense fog without use of fog lights. For those of you who haven’t seen this chilling sight, believe me, I’m not joking. Every year, newspapers and online forums are swamped with arguments about the use of hazard lights in fog. The prevailing belief is that fog is a hazard, ergo hazard lights need to be used, never mind that people then are then unable to tell if a vehicle is indicating or, worse, has come to a standstill in front of you. “Why should we not use hazard lights in fog?” a Gulf News reader called Obaydah wrote on the paper’s website. “I’ve just received my driving license and, when I face fog I turn the hazard lights on in order to warn fellow drivers.” (Um, thanks.) The argument has been going on for longer than I’ve been in the Gulf but, until residents are properly educated on how to drive in fog, or until the police simply close the roads when it’s foggy, accidents will continue. GFI


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Gulf Insider November 2011



Why aren’t Gulf expats saving any money? By Annabel Kantaria


don’t know what it is that happens to certain expats when they arrive but, somewhere between accepting the big job with the tax-free salary and actually receiving the first pay cheque, their financial sense appears to fly out of the window. While most people accept a job in the Gulf hoping to be able to save a nest egg for the future, last month’s MENA Saving and Spending Trends poll found that, despite not paying income tax, just 18.3 per cent of professionals in the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) region manage to save between one and 10 per cent of their household income while 40.9 per cent of respondents were “unable to save anything” from their household income. Nearly half of the people polled admitted they were “not investment-savvy”. But are Gulf expats failing to save because they’re living beyond their means, or because salaries aren’t keeping up with inflation? Some expats simply get distracted by the trappings of the good life in the UAE. It takes an iron will to resist the temptation of buying the type of luxury car you’d never be able to afford back home, or renting a luxurious home with a private pool, taking out a beach club membership, joining the golf club, hiring


Gulf Insider November 2011

live-in domestic staff and keeping up with the Joneses at the eternal round of Friday brunches. Mohammed Qasim Al Ali, CEO of Dubai’s National Bonds Corporation says: “People have a short-term view about their financial health because they are locked into a certain living standard”. And it’s not just expats who are burying their heads in the desert sand - 84 per cent of UAE nationals fear that they haven’t

The current costs of living exceed the salaries received by most professionals in the MENA region. saved enough money for their future. Al Ali describes the lack of savings culture as a “national crisis”. On the other hand, Amer Zureikat, VP Sales at thinks that MENA residents spent only on essentials in the first half of 2011. According to the Bayt. com poll, nearly 35 per cent of expats spend more than 40 per cent of their salary on rent or a mortgage and utility

bills. Food takes another 40 per cent and, after school fees, clothes, transport and travel, not much is left for saving. “This suggests that the current costs of living exceed the salaries received by most professionals in the MENA region,” he said. Even for those who do have a little extra money to save, the outlook’s not particularly encouraging right now. Lloyds TSB forecasts that the UK base interest rate will be held at its historically low level of 0.5 per cent until the third quarter of 2012. Things are no better for those saving in Europe, where no growth is predicted before August 2012. So what are the options for expats looking to save in a climate of low interest rates? I don’t know the answer but you can be sure the professionals have cottoned on to our financial ignorance: Insight Discovery reported last month that international financial services firms are “ramping up their investment in the Gulf”, with the a growing number of international and local asset managers and life companies expected to set up in the Middle East in the next 12 months. So, if you have money and don’t know what to do with it, there’ll soon be a host of professionals here falling over themselves to offer advice. GFI


Euro crisis proves the proposed GCC single currency is not such a great idea As the euro crisis has intensified, so the previously unthinkable has become the subject of widespread discussion. People have woken up to the idea that the euro could break up. - By Roger Bootle


here is no provision in any European Treaty for a country to leave the Eurozone. That was deliberate. It was intended to make it clear that the eurozone was forever – like the Soviet Union and the Holy Roman Empire. But in fact you cannot legislate for changing economic conditions or changes in peoples’ attitudes. Countries have left monetary unions before. When the Soviet Union broke up in 1991, several new currencies had to be invented out of nowhere. Yes, there was chaos – and there would surely be chaos for a time in the eurozone. But it could be done. When it comes to the crunch, what is and is not in the European Treaties will become irrelevant. Economics will trump law. There is, though, a critical problem. For an exit from the euro by a single member country, or the split of the euro into two or more parts, not to be extremely messy, you need planning and careful forethought, requiring discussion and the exploration of possibilities. Yet, to avoid precipitating a banking collapse, never mind other sorts of economic dislocation, you need absolute secrecy and surprise. After all, if people thought that such a change was coming they would try to withdraw money from vulnerable countries’ banks and this could prompt a banking collapse and a serious economic crisis. How are the requirements for secrecy and forethought to be reconciled?

Economists working for the vulnerable countries’ governments and/or central banks would have to beaver away in secret, preparing Plan B, which would have to be kept in the metaphorical equivalent of a locked drawer, until the moment came. But the chances of keeping such work secret are pretty slim. Even so, the notion that such difficulties will prevent a country from leaving or the euro from breaking up is absurd. What has to happen will happen. If a country decided to leave, its government would announce that domestic contracts expressed in euros would now be converted to the new domestic currency. I presume that the authorities would announce some official conversion rate for all contracts and initially this would be the basis for the re-denomination of prices – and wages. The result would be a legal and contractual nightmare. But the new currency would almost certainly fall below the conversion rate on the exchanges and that’s where so much of the advantage would lie. At a stroke, it would be possible to lower the country’s price level compared with the rest of the eurozone and to the outside world. Admittedly, this could still lead to disaster. If the exiting country’s wages and prices rose fully to compensate then nothing would have been gained. And in fact the position would be worse, because now the country would be

saddled with a higher inflation rate, with all the costs and distortions that this normally brings – including much higher nominal interest rates. But if prices went up by much less than the devaluation then this result could be avoided, opening up the possibility of escape through economic growth driven by net exports. That is was what happened in the UK after the major falls in sterling in 1931 and 1992, and in umpteen other examples around the world. In practice, because euro break-up seems so politically unpalatable, I doubt that much, if any, pre-planning is going on across the eurozone. The European policy elites are still in denial. If the euro splits, it will probably happen in a panic, when a decision is forced within a narrow time frame, just as happened with the pound’s departure from the Gold Standard in 1931, its exit from the ERM in 1992 and the collapse of Lehmans in 2008. Incidentally, these all happened in September. And the 1929 stock market collapse happened in October – as did the crash of 1987. Fasten your seatbelts: we could be in for an interesting few weeks. GFI

Roger Bootle is managing director of Capital Economics and economic adviser to Deloitte.

Gulf Insider November 2011



Gulf roundup By Annabel Kantaria

Mystery Riders Make Dubai’s Taxis Safer

Dubai’s taxi drivers often get a bad rap. While there are definitely good ones around, there are also those who drive dangerously, take phone calls or text while driving, don’t know where they’re going, speed like they’re qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, refuse to give you change, only pick up wealthy-looking fares and refuse to take passengers somewhere that’s too close. The more forgiving among us overlook all but the most dangerous of these charges: Dubai’s mainly Pakistani taxi drivers work 12 to 14 hours a day for a salary of approximately AED 2,200 a month. Their business is being squeezed by the city’s growing public transport system. They’re abused by rude passengers and treated like idiots, yet still have to smile politely at the drunken ramblings of those returning home after a big night out. Stories of taxi drivers in Dubai returning valuables to passengers are common here, whether it’s a camera, a wallet, a passport, an envelope stuffed with cash, a set of diamond jewellery or even gold: In January this year, a Pakistani taxi driver was commended for returning 14kg of gold to a forgetful passenger. Early last month, the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) and the Dubai Taxi Corporation (DTC) decided to build upon the positive image of the honest taxi driver by running a drivers’ education campaign clumsily called Vehicles with no lost items”. For a period of three days, carefully selected “mystery riders” left their belongings, including a mobile phone, in taxis after taking a trip. A customer service official then called the misplaced mobile phone so it rang in the back of the cab; shortly after that, the driver was told that someone had left their belongings in his taxi and the driver’s movements were then monitored to see whether he tried to hide or run away with the valuables. The campaign led to just one driver being sacked from breach of trust as he tried to take a ‘lost’ item planted by a mystery rider.


Gulf Insider November 2011

Why Don’t Saudi Women Want Moroccan Maids?

Finding the right live-in domestic helper for your family is not an easy job. Not only does she have to be competent at daily household tasks, but she also has to have a connection with your children, speak whatever language your family speaks, have a pleasant disposition and plenty of common sense as well as be honest, trustworthy and responsible. The last thing any “madam” wants is the maid making a little extra money with male clients under your roof, or giving birth to an illegitimate baby in the bathroom (it happens). Saudi women, though, last month, added other criteria to the list: A potential housemaid must not be Moroccan. The issue came to light when the Saudi government mooted plans to bring in Moroccan women to work as housemaids following a government ban on the recruitment of Filipina housemaids. Many Saudi women were so upset about the potential recruitment of Moroccans that they “deluged” parliament with demands that it put an end to the plan at once, while others, cited in Arab News, threatened to quit their jobs to stay home rather than hire a Moroccan maid. What’s the problem, you may wonder? According to Saudi’s Sharq daily newspaper quoted in Emirates 24/7, Saudi women think Moroccan women are “too beautiful” and that they’re “good at magic and sorcery and that this could enable them to lure their husbands.” It’s not unusual for Saudi housewives to go to great lengths to hang onto their husbands – in July, Arab News reported on a growing trend of Saudi women using mobile phones, emails, Facebook and even hidden cameras to trap unfaithful husbands. So the problem, perhaps, is not so much the Moroccan maids, but the husbands themselves. As marriage counsellor Hany Al-Ghamdi points out to Arab News, “If a man has no respect for his family, nothing will stop him from having an affair… any concerns about nationality are invalid.” As it happens, the worried Saudi women are out of luck. Talal Al Bakri, a member of Saudi’s Shoura council, said last month that their demands were “irrational”, that “women are women wherever they come from” and that the government would therefore not be banning Moroccan maids.


The UAE’s “Parliamentary Experiment”

How Long Will Maradona Last in Dubai?

Let me begin by saying I don’t follow football. Still, you don’t need to be a football fan to recognise the name – and even the face – of Diego Maradona. And now the flamboyant Argentinian has rocked up in Dubai, where last month he took up residence as head coach of Dubai’s Al Wasl football team. It was an interesting appointment given that doubts had already been cast as to his ability to coach a team. It was Maradona, after all, who coached the Argentinian team to defeat in the 2010 World Cup quarter finals. But I doubt it’ll be his coaching skills that will ultimately spell the end of Maradona’s tenure at Al Wasl. While he’s already made an impact on the city of Dubai, where he’s “followed 24/7 by a jostling pack of fans, journalists and paparazzi,” Rolling Stone ME magazine pointed out last June several reasons why Maradona-plus-Dubai was not a match made in heaven. There was the well-documented cocaine problem; there were his socialist views; his dislike of the US; his mafia connections; his support for Iran; and, of course, his “rampant egomania”. The chances of him simply “saying the wrong thing to the wrong person at the wrong time” was, according to the magazine, “too great”. For me, though, it’s not about any of that. It’s about respect. Last month, despite his team winning its first match under his watch, Maradona made headlines for the wrong reason when, during a photo call before the match, he kicked an irritating fan’s hand out of the way. Last July, UAE national footballer Theyab Awana, who last month was tragically killed in a car accident, faced disciplinary action for backheeling the ball into the goal, the point being that the “show-boating” move made a mockery of the other team. In an environment such as this, the coach kicking a fan’s hand, however annoying that fan was, will not go down well. Culturally, Maradona has earned a yellow card. But how many yellows will he get before Dubai shows him the red card?

As an expat, it’s interesting to observe the development of the UAE’s fledgling political scene. For a start, with a lack of political parties (they are outlawed), what matters as much as who’s elected is how many of the nearly 130,000 Emiratis eligible to vote actually turn out to do so. But first let’s recap. The Federal National Council (FNC) is the UAE’s legislative body and it’s made up of 40 members from the seven emirates. Until 2006, all 40 were appointed by the rulers of the various emirates but, since the first ever FNC elections in 2006, half of the FNC is appointed by the rulers and holds all the political power, while the other half has only an advisory role. It’s this half that’s now elected by a group of UAE nationals known as the Electoral College, the members of which are selected by the rulers of the seven emirates. In 2006, the UAE’s Electoral College consisted of just 6,689 UAE nationals. This year, that number has been expanded to 129,274, in a move designed to strengthen ties between the people and the government and to encourage political participation among UAE nationals, which is seen as an integral part of the country’s future development. The 486 candidates, including 85 women, who contested the 20 elected posts last month had been on the campaign trail from 4th September. To keep the fight clean, guidelines for the campaigns included rules such as not engaging in negative propaganda; refraining from “excessive use of money”; maintaining the values and principles of society; not provoking religious, sectarian, tribal or racial divisions; and not tarnishing or harming the reputation of other candidates. Much of the campaigning was done via print and television advertising, social media, posters and billboards. Some of the campaigns have seemed amateurish, offering only a poster with a name and phone number printed over a nice picture, while other candidates have been giving potential voters “goody bags” and luxury “gifts” after meetings. One female candidate even joked that campaigning “could be the best way to meet my future husband”. “Let us be honest,” Dr Suaad Al Oraimi, an Emirati sociologist who followed Barack Obama during his 2008 presidential campaign, told The National, “the Government provides its citizens with everything. All the basic needs like education, health, housing and jobs are provided. So what can the candidates promise that the voters don’t already have?”

Gulf Insider November 2011



London property bubble ‘about to burst’

The London property bubble could be about to burst, with the number of “distressed” sellers in the capital rising for the first time, according to one property company. - By Emma Simon


PR Estates said it had seen rising number of inquiries from property owners in London looking for a quick sale below the current market price. It said rising unemployment, an increase in the number of company liquidations and a collapse in buyer interest – particularly in areas hit by the recent riots – were to blame. Nick Hopkinson, the director of PPR Estates, said that over the past few years there had been a rising number of ‘distressed’ sellers in other parts of the country, but London had appeared to be immune as prices continued to rise. This has changed though within the past three months, with the company now reporting a jump in the number of inquiries from both residential and commercial property owners in the capital who need to access the equity in their home quickly. “Two very different property markets have emerged in London and across the rest of the UK in the last year,” Mr Hopkinson said. “London has been the one area of the UK to buck the downward house price trend. Prime London prices, limited supply and cash-rich international buyers have masked the real state of


Gulf Insider November 2011

the housing market by propping up the national statistics. “And our company has had relatively few distressed inquiries from London sellers as a result of the unique dynamics in the capital.” But he said this sentiment had changed over the past few months, a

International buyers pulling back from investment purchases as a result of a loss of confidence in the ‘safe haven’ investing benefits of London. trend particularly noticeable in areas hit by the recent riots – such as Lewisham, Croydon, Walthamstow and Tottenham. “In the areas we have seen buyers withdrawing. We are also aware of international buyers pulling back from investment purchases as a result of a

loss of confidence in the ‘safe haven’ investing benefits of London. As we move through autumn I fear this may prove to be the catalyst that bursts the unsustainable property bubble that built up over the last few years.” According to the latest data from the Land Registry, in July house prices in London showed increased by 1.3 per cent over the year. In every other region in England and Wales house prices fell. The biggest falls were in the North East, where prices fell by 8.8pc; in Yorkshire and Humber they declined by 4.5 per cent while in Wales they fell by 3.4 per cent. In the South East and South West price falls were not as dramatic, but property prices fell by 1.1 per cent and 1.9 per cent respectively over this period. PPR Estates said that in the regions negative equity was a growing problem for many home owners. A year ago it was able to help more than 15 per cent of the “distressed” sellers outside London who contacted the company. Now it was able to help less than ten per cent because they market price of their property was less than the value of their mortgage. GFI


What School Fights Taught Me about International Foreign Policy By David Gallant


s a kid I tried to keep out of as many fights as possible. However, in school one can’t avoid them all. And one night, I got into a fight with another kid. I didn’t start it and wasn’t looking for trouble. I was clearly in the right, and he was in the wrong. Unfortunately for him, I gave him quite a whoopin’. Justice served, right? He was in the wrong and got a beating. Well maybe; but unfortunately, right or wrong doesn’t really matter when it comes to fighting. Three months later, I’m at a house party and see this same guy and his friends eyeballing me and whispering. There are three of them. As the party went on, I caught the drift from overhearing a few words here and there: They are planning to jump me at some point. I figured my chances of avoiding a fight were pretty slim, so I walked up to the guy and said, “I heard that you guys want to beat me up. Look, we already fought, but I really have nothing against you. In fact, I’ve got a sixpack of some good beer. If you and your friends would like to have one, that’d be fine by me.” They didn’t see my reaction coming at all and had no clue how to respond. Then they took the offered beers, and we talked

for a few minutes and came to peaceful terms. We weren’t great buddies or anything afterward, but the situation was defused. I had friends in school who took the complete opposite route - they constantly got into fights. And the more fights they entered, the bigger their problems became. Many of them would win almost every single fight, but it nearly got to the

The more people the US knock out; the more people come looking for revenge. point where they couldn’t attend any social gathering without a situation like the one I faced. Someone somewhere was always looking to beat them up. It created an endless cycle of more fights and more enemies. In my opinion, that’s where the US is right now. Sure, the US bombed the hell out of Iraq, Afghanistan, and other countries. There’s no doubt that @$$ has

been kicked, but at what price? Within the US, people now have to constantly watch their backs, as they’re monitored nearly everywhere, from scanners at airports to wiretaps on phone calls to sifting through email looking for ‘suspicious’ words and phrases. This didn’t happen because the US is necessarily wrong - that’s just the way fights work. If you beat the living hell out of someone, that person will likely come back wanting revenge at some point down the road. It doesn’t matter if you were in the right. When a young man loses his parents or sister to an accidental US bomb, he won’t say, “Well, the US is right to be in Iraq, so I’ll forgive them. And by the way, thank you for freeing me from Saddam Hussein”. No, that person will likely look for revenge at an opportune moment in the future. The more people the US knock out; the more people come looking for revenge. Continuing these wars isn’t the answer, as it perpetuates a cycle of hatred toward the US. However, the big question is how to pull out after giving about a dozen really mean guys a black eye. Unfortunately, unlike in my case, it’ll take a lot more than a few beers to solve this problem. GFI

Gulf Insider November 2011





here are myriad reasons why we procrastinate. And there are often telltale signs that we are indeed procrastinating even when we think we are being truly productive. • Do you stay busy doing low priority tasks despite the high-level, strategic work that remains undone? • Are you checking and re-checking your email without acting on them? • Do certain items keep getting ‘carried over’ to another day on your To-Do list? • Are you perpetually waiting for a ‘good time’ to tackle certain tasks? If you answered ‘Yes’ to any of these questions, you may be struggling with this issue. While there are many underlying causes, here are seven that are particularly common and easily identified: 1. You are feeling overwhelmed by a particular task 2. You are afraid that you will fail 3. You feel unwilling or unable to make a decision 4. You are overworked or too tired 5. You just don’t want to do it 6. You are too disorganised and distracted to effectively budget the time


Gulf Insider November 2011

7. You don’t want to commit to starting a task unless you know it will be perfect Deferring some tasks, especially low-level or unimportant tasks, is not necessarily procrastinating. Part of the art of self-management is being able to prioritizs and, where possible, delegate. It might also be a good strategy to intentionally hold off on high-level or critical tasks if you are not able to focus

Create a realistic To-Do list each day with only three priority tasks. Put the least inviting one on top. effectively due to fatigue or unavoidable distractions. But that should be the exception, not the excuse. Many people have developed the habit over the years of putting off unpleasant tasks simply because they don’t want to do them. But that won’t make them go away. They just collect in the background. For some people, the greatest enemy to getting important things done is

perfectionism. If it can’t be perfect, it can’t be done. Okay, so stop that. It’s not going to happen. Nothing is perfect and striving for perfection is just another way of putting things off indefinitely. Sometimes, ‘good enough’ is good enough. Leave room for improvement and innovation – but give yourself something to start with! The old cliché about planning your work and working your plan is a powerful maxim. Getting effectively organised and developing effective time management practices will not happen overnight. But today is a great day to start! Confronting your own particular procrastination demons will not be comfortable or pleasant. So be it – today’s a great day to begin! Create a realistic To-Do list each day with only three priority tasks. Put the least inviting one on top. Begin. Experience the pleasure of getting something you’d avoided off your list. It’s a monkey off your back! Move on to the next. It gets easier with each little success, and over time you will gain control over your time, and your life, by gaining control of yourself. Persevere with the above, and you WILL succeed! GFI


High-Tech Driver’s Dream Euro Motors have launced the new BMW6 series Coupe which is set to really impress car enthusiasts with the irresistible design and driving dynamics.


he new BMW 6 Series Coupe model has extra length compared to its predecessor model andcombined with it’s new lower height it produces a strikingly low-set, sleek andpowerful design. The traditional BMW Coupé‘s proportions have been updated featuringmore curves,complemented by a classy and eye-catching design. The exterior paintwork can be ordered in a choice of eight metallic and two non-metallic shades for customers to choose from. The cockpit layout and a dynamic forward-surging movement define the interior design and the centre section of the instrument panel including the central air vent and climate control is very driveroriented as it is angled slightly towards the driver. The new Coupé’s innovative features are emphasised with numerous BMW ‘Connected Drive’ optional driver assistance technology features for enhanced comfort and safety. Thehightech features of the car include a rear view camera, surround view, night vision with pedestrian recognition and even a park assistant. The eight-cylinder, 4.4-litre engine produces a maximum output of 407 hp. The engine is unique with the turbochargers positioned in a V-shaped


Gulf Insider November 2011

area between the cylinder banks, as well as its TwinPower turbo, producing an instantaneous wave of power. The BMW 640i Coupé is powered by a six-cylinder in-line engine in which the TwinPower turbo technology brings both direct injection and valvetronic fully variable valve control to the table. This combination optimises both the responsiveness and efficiency of the 3.0-

litre, generating a 235 kW/320 hp at its peak torque of (332 lb-ft) on tap 4,500 rpm. GFI

maximum output of 5,800 rpm and puts 450 Newton metres between 1,300 and

For more information, visit the Euro Motors showroom in Sitra or Tel. +973 177 507 50.


The Ultimate in Go-Kart Feeling The new Mini Coupé has brought out its sportiest model yet displaying outstanding versatility in day-to-day driving.


ahrain has launched the firstever Mini Coupé expanding its product family with the launch of the model to bring back the fun into driving. It indulges the driver with a level of agility along with a unique body and interior concept and is the first twoseater in its line-up. The brand’s innovative design comes into play with its flat silhouette is flat and ‘helmet roof’, showing off the brands innovative and unique designs. The coupé is made to feel sporty and in addition to the integral roof spoiler, an active rear spoiler optimises airflow at higher speeds. Even though the car looks small and neat, the Mini actually boasts a large luggage area and displays outstanding versatility in day-to-day driving. The Coupe also has a range of eight exterior paint finishes that the buyer may choose from with the roof painted as standard in a contrasting colour, giving it a youthful look. The Mini Coupé is the brand’s first model to adopt a three-box body structure with a strikingly stepped rear end. The car’s distinctive lines are expressed in the customary design language and are combined with unmistakable styling features giving it an aesthetic edge.The

Electric Power Steering (EPS) is very precise along with the standard-fitted DSC stability control system. The car features powerful brakes and measures designed specifically to optimise rigidity to ensure the driver can enjoy the ultimate in the go-kart feeling. The mini may be small but the power engine delivers impressive acceleration and races from 0- t100 km/h (62 mph) mark in just 9seconds. Its top speed stands at 204 km/h (127 mph). This performance contrasts with average fuel consumption in the EU test cycle of 5.4 litres per 100 km (52.3 mpg imp)

and CO2 emissions of 127 grams per kilometre making it high in energy but low in carbon dioxide emissions. The new design can be ordered with different engine powers and provide models ranging from the 122 hp of the Mini Cooper Coupé, to Mini Cooper S Coupé (184 hp) and all the way up to the Mini John Cooper Works Coupé, producing 211 hp. GFI For more information, visit the Euro Motors showroom in Sitra or Tel. +973 177 507 50.

Gulf Insider November 2011



: ASTON MARTIN aston Martin has always been considered a highly prestigious brand. Now it also claims to be the “coolest”. Gulf Insider went to visit the aston Martin HQ to find out more. - By Nick Cooksey


hat man would turn down the chance to spend the day driving luxurious supercars on a racetrack at high speeds? I did just that last month when I visited the headquarters of Aston Martin at Gaydon in Warwickshire, UK to test drive some of the world’s fastest and most expensive cars. The Aston Martin is such a beautiful and classy car; in fact the brand has been named the “UK’s coolest brand” four times running. The cars are all now constructed at the company’s ultra-modern factory at Gaydon, where technology, design excellence and timeless craft skills are seamlessly combined. The past decade has seen Aston Martin transformed from a smallscale manufacturer of specialist sports cars..Formerly a luxury British brand sold only to UK customers, it has now become a major international force in both road and racing cars. The year 2000 was the beginning of a new era for the brand and the start of huge investment in development and production technology. At the state-of-the-art headquarters, I had the pleasure of speaking to CEO


Gulf Insider November 2011

and Chief Designer of Aston Martin, Dr Ulrich Bez and Design Director Marek Reichman. During the tour I was surprised to learn that in 97 years of production, Aston Martin have only made 55,000 cars. To put this into perspective, exclusive luxury car-maker Bentley, produce roughly this much in one year.

The Aston Martin is such a beautiful and classy car and whilst driving, you get a real sense of British tradition. The big news on everyone’s lips in Gaydon at the moment is the launch of what they are calling ‘the ultimate sports car’, the One-77. To explain the name, only 77 models are being produced in a specially-made standalone manufacturing space within the Gaydon grounds and to buy one you will have to hurry – there are only ten left for sale - and come up with the asking price of GBP1.2 million

(nearly US$2 million). Inside the facility the production space looks almost like a laboratory, with designers and mechanics working meticulously on the new designs.. Design Director Marek Reichman is now at the Gaydon Headquarters permanently. He has not only designed the One-77 but also the new generation of Range Rover and the latest Rolls Royce Phantom. He explained that one client asked for his car to be made “to look like the sunset”. As a self-proclaimed artist, he maintains that he thrives working this way. Dr Ulrich Bez describes the One-77 as the world’s most desirable art form and the “the ultimate expression of Aston Martin.” The hand-built carbon fibre and aluminium sports car is powered by a radically reworked 7.3 litre V12 to create the fastest Aston Martin ever made. Every car produced will be unique, each specified to the customer’s exact demands and the buyer has the opportunity to visit a special One-77 suite at the Gaydon design studio where a huge selection of colours, trim and materials are on display. The One-77 is only made when ordered by a buyer.


The finished product really is off the scale. It is the most expensive production car ever made. 67 have already been sold to people around the world, 6 to the UK, 2 to the USA , 2 to Australia, 20 to Europe, 5 to China, several to the Middle East, and surprisingly 15 to Switzerland. Now, let’s get down to the real driving. Though I wasn’t able to drive a One-77 (no one is other than actual buyers – yes it’s that excusive!!!) I had the pleasure of experiencing a few of the iconic models including the DBS, Rapide and V12 Vantage where I reached a top speed of an exhilarating 163mph/261kph. Apart from the One-77, the Vantage is Aston Martin’s most powerful model, reaching 0- 100kph in just 4.2 seconds with a top speed of 190mph/305kph There is typically a six-month waiting list for all Aston Martin models. The whole process of buying your dream car is turned into an experience where buyers can visit the factory to see their car being manufactured and are given a free drive at Millbrook test drive track to help improve their driving skills. Once the car production process has been completed including many

meticulous safety checks, the very last process is for the iconic Aston Martin flying wings badge to be fitted to the front and back of the car. There has been a long association between James Bond 007 and the prestigious brand, which some may argue has dramatically helped Aston

Martin to become an international brand. Different models have appeared in eight James Bond films including the most recent, ‘Casino Royale’. Let’s face it, the Aston Martin oozes cool and if it is good enough for Mr Bond, then it’s good enough for the rest of us. GFI

At the Aston Martin headquarters with Design Director Marek Reichman and Nick Cooksey with the One-77

Gulf Insider November 2011



Why Get a Degree? By David Gallant


n the past, I’ve often bashed the university degree, but doesn’t that seem a bit hypocritical? After all, I’m very close to finishing my MS degree in finance, have spent almost two years on a PhD program, and possess a BBA in economics. Shouldn’t I be the last person in the world to bash university degrees? Well, yes and no. Perhaps university classes gave me a foundation, but I spent countless hours reading additional economics books after class. This extra reading is what I feel really made me knowledgeable on the subject. Nonetheless, I can’t say university was a complete waste of time; so I wanted to make a list of circumstances when it makes sense to go:

1.   The subject can’t be realistically learned alone. In Economics, for example, if one wants to study Hayek, Mises and Rothbard, one can do it on his own as they are quite clear and straightfoward. There is no reason to have someone else explain them to you. However, for Keynesian economics, well I could never teach myself this stuff. It is full of math models, boring papers, and downright erroneous ideas. If you’re the type of person who can teach yourself advanced calculus, then this doesn’t apply to you. But for the rest of us, some subjects


Gulf Insider November 2011

are too tedious or technical to be learned alone.

2. A degree is the established way

to signal knowledge of a subject. For the sake of argument, suppose I’m some sort of genius, and I learn the equivalent of a PhD in engineering by myself. After high school, I never once step into a classroom. How do I prove

Perhaps university classes gave me a foundation, but I spent countless hours reading additional economics books after class. my knowledge to an employer? There’s nothing to put on the resume. Getting a good job would be difficult. The opposite end of the spectrum here is English, music or arts degrees. Sometimes these degrees don’t signal anything - signaling is easy in this field.

3. Looking back, my most valuable time

spent in college was visiting professors during office hours. I was amazed that almost no one takes advantage of office hours. The professors have certain set times where they essentially have to talk with students. It’s one thing to study economics yourself and form ideas; it’s another thing to be able to discuss those ideas one-on-one with a professor holding 30 or 40 years of experience. By the end of my undergraduate days, I was visiting professors at Loyola University such as Walter Block, Bill Barnett, Nick Capaldi, and John Levendis almost every single day.

4. In my college experience, I probably

learned one-third of my knowledge in class, one-third in office hours and onethird reading books off the syllabus. In conclusion, if the job market for the profession realistically requires attending college, then go to college. If something can’t be easily learned on your own, then get the degree. And if one is bursting with intellectual curiosity, being surrounded by professors is a great environment. But if the plan is to sit in class like a sack of potatoes earning a degree that doesn’t even signal a special skill to an employer, then please save some cash and don’t go. GFI

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A METAL MASTERPIECE Albareh Art Gallery in collaboration with Saks Fifth Avenue presents a solo exhibition of Safaa Alset’s work with the exhibition entitled, ‘Shoe’. Safaa often incorporates metal in her art works and with this particular concept, she challenges the common perception of metal from being spiritless, and hard to handle.


orn in 1974, Syrian artist Safaa Alset studied at the Faculty of Fine Arts at Damascus University and graduated in 1997. She worked as a multimedia graphic designer, before deciding to start her own artistic career. She started working with metal, iron and copper as a means to create original art pieces. Her works stand out for their rough texture and design. Safaa’s sculptures reveal the connection to femininity, to nature, to fashion and to social status. This exhibition is about the endless hidden stories of women and their aspirations, about their backgrounds and societies and what their shoes can tell us about them. GFI

The exhibition started on 25th October and will run until 8th November at Saks Fifth Avenue, Bahrain City Centre.


Gulf Insider November 2011


Gulf Insider November 2011





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Gulf Insider November 2011

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Gulf Insider November 2011


Last word Personal observation and comment - This month by Tony - a member of the financial services industry

Tribute to Mr Jobs

With the passing of Steve Jobs, I’m truly saddened, and not in the shallow way of hearing about another celebrity death in the news. Often, a former leader or big name passes away and the event is unfortunate, but it doesn’t really touch one on a personal level. With Steve Jobs, I truly feel the world is worse off. Jobs told us all that the secret to success was essentially to “find something that you love to do”. Now, I’ve heard this plenty of times from many successful people. However, there’s something different about Steve Jobs. There’s nothing apparently fun about his chosen profession - at least in my opinion. Computer science isn’t the easiest or the most exciting field for most people. You can’t just make connections and schmooze your way to the top, it’s about actually knowing something ... something difficult and complex.

Why I Like Rap Music

Two types of music seem to draw the most animosity - country and rap. Pretty much everyone hates either rap or country music. The lyrics in country music are usually wholesome, with good values and often a decent message. On the opposite spectrum, rap music often celebrates sloth, indecency, and criminal behaviour. However, after some deep thought, there’s something much better about rap than country. It’s not the actual songs or even the lyrics - it’s the realism. Many people aren’t comfortable with the truth; hence, that’s why there’s so much hatred of the music. And for that reason, I have come to appreciate the crude, depressing, and even angering aspects of rap music.


Gulf Insider November 2011

Why Greece?

Why have the European banks put so much money into buying Greek bonds and not some other country’s bonds? What’s the difference between Greece and any other shaky country? In my opinion, there are two big risks to consider while investing anywhere. If the country starts regulating the market to death and spending like crazy, clearly that’s a problem. The second big risk is the central bank. If the currency goes out of control, those bonds won’t be worth much. But with a European monetary union, investors didn’t have to worry about Greece’s central bank. As a result, one major risk was completely off the table. Furthermore, the banks understood that being a part of the eurozone meant an implied bailout and assistance for the country. Of course, they were correct. As a result, the European banks loaded up on Greek debt. These factors all encouraged investment into dodgy, weaker nations. If Greece was independent of the Eurozone’s implied bailouts, had its own central bank, and its own currency, European banks would never have put that much money into the country to the level where default could mean a worldwide financial crisis.

The Weakness of Fund Managers

This is a rather foolish article in the FT this month in which the author complains that there are no fund managers who can consistently beat the market anymore. The real question is: ‘Were there ever?’ - except for Warren Buffett. In my opinion, fund managers can only consistently shine when market sentiment smiles upon them. The market is necessarily vast, and every manager can’t be a specialist at everything. Unfortunately for any fund manager, the market is always changing. For a few years, tech might be really hot, and a tech-focused fund manager could make a pile of money; but I wouldn’t expect that same fund manager to perform well in a bear market where suddenly mining stocks and gold become the new craze. In fact, the manager’s former experience may hold him back from taking advantage of a new boom. The same goes for the author’s criticism of Paulson. Sure, he saw the crisis coming, but why should this give him special skills in picking value stocks near the bottom? It’s a completely different sort of business. Even the author’s praise of Buffett doesn’t fit his assertion; Berkshire has stuck to a strategy of buy and hold forever. They have mostly stayed away from market timing.

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Gulf Insider November 2011 Issue

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