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The multi-award winning Arabian magazine

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GulfInsider The Arabian Review

Issue 93


Real Estate Review

Saudi Arabia Market View

Government Tamkeen

40 Interview Page

Salvatore Romano Ramee Grand Hotel & Spa

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October 2012 more inside...


Cover Story

Powering the Travel Industry

Sabre Travel Network

Contents 12

Saudi Arabia Market Review

14 Bahrain

Real Estate Review


ME Context

The Great Global Infrastructure Opportunity

30. Cathay Pacific Boeing 777



A Luxury Tourist Hub


Government Tamkeen Success Story

40. Hospitality

Ramee Hotel and Spa

44. Cars

Porsche - Season in Bahrain

42 Cars

2013 Cadillac XTS

46. Art

Blending Genres

48. Technology 3D Deciphered

“Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action has arrived, stop thinking and go in.“ - Napoleon Bonaparte Gulf Financial Insider

GulfInsider Publishers Nicholas & Rebecca Cooksey Editor in Chief Nicholas Cooksey Editor Redia Castillo Assistant Editor Arlene O’Neill

Letter from the Editor... October is here and it’s time to get ready for the start of the winter season. We have compiled quite a selection of interesting stories in Gulf Insider for you this month. In this issue, we take a look at the growing market in Saudi Arabia , the slowing decline of Bahrain’s real estate sector due to last year’s crisis and the current status of each real estate sector in Bahrain. On the positive side, according to BCG, GCC countries are in a very good position in developing as a luxury tourist hub due to its importance of experiential luxury. We will also give you sneak peaks of the Boeing factory in the US, the new 2013 Cadillac XTS, and Sri Lanka’s Dutch Bay Resort VIP membership program. For business inspiration, read about the success story of Mr. Yahya Al-Ansari, a Bahraini entrepreneur who founded YNH Systems that specializes in electronics manufacturing and how his business benefited from Tamkeen’s scheme. We have also interviewed Mr. Salvatore Romano, Ramee Hotel and Spa’s General Manager in Bahrain. We hope that you’ll enjoy this issue and as always, your feedback is important to us. You may send your thoughts and comments to

Editorial Contributors Richard Cohinga Rohan Shanker Jill Boggis Neil D’Silva Layout Designs Dhanraj S Admin & Finance Nikesh Pola Business Development Manager Redia Castillo

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Ministry of Information approval no. TFI-431© Copyright 2009. Arabian Magazines is a division of CG Arabia WLL. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any manner without the written permission of the publisher. All Rights Reserved. Views expressed in this magazine are not necessarily those of the publisher.

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Charging Ahead!


The next big step for Islamic Banking



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Making The Move

In a day and age when you need a credit card to make online purchases, I have always been confused about Islamic Banking and a bit hesitant about sacrificing the convenience that regular banking affords. Even though I wanted to make the change, the concept of Shariah Banking was pretty confusing. Your feature on Islamic Banking was really helpful as I always knew deep down that I had to make the change. Muneera, Hidd



Smart Phone Woes

As a person who regularly laments the poor battery life of my smart phone, your technology feature “Charging Ahead” was a welcome read. The days of carrying my charger with me and frantically looking for a plug point are over as the Mycharge 6000 is the answer to my prayers. Here’s to hoping that it is available soon. Mahmoud, Saar


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The images created by Nicolas Chorier in your art feature “Kite-ography” were amazing. In an age where it is accepted that it has all been done before, these images show us that a new perspective is always lurking about in unexpected places. I especially loved the duality captured in the fencing match image taken in India. I’m not sure if I’ll be strapping my camera to my kids kite anytime soon though. Inspired, Riffa

The apprenticeship initiative by Y.K. Almoayyed & Sons is what we need here in Bahrain. Many Bahraini Nationals feel disempowered and this sort of scheme gives us hope that we have a bright future in the corporate environment. If more companies are willing to take a chance and invest in training Bahrainis, I’m sure they will see that we are more than able to do an amazing job. Noora, Riffa


Finally I have an excuse when I am unexpectedly caught napping at my desk! “Mammals are bi-phasic and we need more than one session of sleep in any 24 hour period” – The look on my manager’s face when I utter that line would be worth it. In my dreams I suppose… Sleepy, Hoora

Would you like to be a PUBLISHED Photographer? If your photos of Bahrain and the region are good enough, they could be published in Gulf Insider/Areej/Bahrain Confidential magazines. Each month we publish the most impressive images we receive and give full credit to the photographer. Images must be at least 1mb and can be e-mailed to with the subject ‘PHOTO’.


Gulf Insider October 2012

MP Bahrain | french cuisine Ad | Size Trim: H27.9cm x W21.6cm; size bleed: H28.5xW22.2cm | Color: CMYK

The Mövenpick Hotel Bahrain welcomes French Michelin Star chef Mr. Philippe Bardau from Orléans with a wealth of experience of over 30 years in the best Michelin restaurants in France. Chef Philippe with his traditional approach of Southern France cuisine using the best, natural products to enhance the flavour of his dishes and shares his secret recipes and cuisine here at the Mövenpick Hotel Bahrain. Showcasing his signature dishes every evening from the 14th to 17th October 2012 at the Silks restaurant, designing a 5 course menu at BD 35.000++ per person with exceptional surprising culinary conception. Fancy for some cooking classes? Book now for either the 15th and 16th of October 2012 to experience Michelin star cuisine.

Michelin star

french cuisine.

Business News To da y!

BIBF to Host International Expert Ron Kaufman Re gi st er

Bahrain Institute of Banking and Finance (BIBF) will be hosting International expert Ron Kaufman in an executive-level workshop Presenting on service leadership. BIBF expects the workshop, scheduled New York Times bestselling author of for the 7thof October 2012 at the Bahrain UPLIFTING SERVICE, and Founder of UP! Your Service. Crowne Plaza Hotel Convention Centre, to draw strongBuild interest from decision an uplifting service culture for makers competitive advantage. within the sustainable business community for its valuable insights on how to build an uplifting The service culture for aService sustainable competitive advantage. Leadership Participants will learn proven strategies, ™ Workshop best practices, case studies and techniques 7 October to build andSunday, reinforce a 2012, superior service Crowne Plaza Bahrain culture in 12 essential areas: World Class Fees: Service Education, Engaging Service BD 320 (individual) Vision, Service Staff Ticket Recruitment, New 1 Complimentary with every 5 participants. Staff Orientation, Service Communications, Service Rewards and Recognition, Voice of the Customer, Service Measures and Metrics, Service Process Improvement, Service Recovery and Guarantees, Service A senior levelService workshop Role Modelling.. Benchmarking and to align your team and

Ron Kaufman

commit for immediate action.

For further information please For more information contact: contact: Chris Carston, Tel: +973 178 15538 (+973) 1700 0301 / (+973) 3688 4748 email: Email: m

Gulf Air re-launches Al Najaf flight with impressive bookings Partner Gulf Strategic Air, the national carrier of the Kingdom of Bahrain re-launched flights to four prominent Iraqi destinationscommencing with the first Al Najaf flight in September 2012. Al Najaf is the first destination to reopen with 4 weekly flights (which will be increased to daily December). Event Organisers & PR from 1st Social Media Partners Gulf Air Deputy Chief Executive Officer Mr. Maher AlMusallam said: “We are pleased to be resuming flights to Iraq as it has been an important market for us over the years. Moreover, we have seen strong bookings since the announcement of the re-opening of our routes, Associate and Partner we are definitely starting off as we mean to go on.” Media Partners Flights to Baghdad, Erbil and Basra in Iraq will begin progressively between 21stSeptember and 29thOctober 2012. Baghdad will launch on 21stSeptember with 5 weekly flights while Erbil will launch effective from 23rd September with 4 weekly BIBF Corporate_Portrait Ad_Gulf Insider 20cm (W) x 26.5cm(H).indd 1 8/26/12 flights increasing to daily from 28thOctober and Basra will launch on 29th October with 3 weekly flights increasing to 4 from 1st December.

Gulf Air Deputy Chief Executive Officer Mr. Maher AlMusallam (third from the right) greets passengers boarding the Gulf Air flight to Al Najaf alongside Mr. Ahmed Abdulla Janahi, Director Ground Services, Gulf Air (extreme left). 8

Gulf Insider October 2012

Auto makers in final lap of MEMA The Middle East Motor Awards (MEMA), the biggest and the most coveted awards of the regional automotive Industry, has finalized the top three contenders for each of the 17 award categories after a sevenmonth-long voting and assessment process. The winners of the awards, including , ‘best supercar’, ‘best midsize sedan’, ‘best midsize SUV’, ‘best hatchback, ‘best luxury sedan’ and the much coveted ‘car of the year’ will be announced and presented on November 28, on the opening day of the International Automobile Show at Expo Centre Sharjah. “MEMA is the most prestigious award of its kind in the region. It is also the most credible award of its kind as it is judged by 17 independent jury members from 10 Middle Eastern countries, including Lebanon, Qatar, Jordon, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman and the UAE,” said Mr Saif Mohammed Al Midfa, DirectorGeneral, Expo Centre Sharjah. Under the patronage of Dr Mohammad Ben Sulayem, VicePresident of FIA Middle East and President of ATC UAE, the award nominations were based on various criteria such as performance, design, handling, driver satisfaction and value-for-money, among others, and were assessed by a jury consisting of independent automotive journalists. The jury members spent nearly seven 3:37 PM months nominating, short listing and assessing the entries.

Business News

Cathay Pacific unveils new regional business class The new Regional Business Class seats are the result of an intensive passenger-led design process involving input from the airline’s Marco Polo Club members to refine comfort, versatility and function. Features in the seat include an extensive recline, extended leg rest and innovative cradle motion that ensure passengers can rest in comfort. The seat pitch has been increased to provide extra legroom for passengers. The seat has also been sculpted to maximize passenger living space. The seat features independent electronic controls for seat adjustment. Passenger comfort is further enhanced by a six-way movement headrest. Ample storage space is available for personal baggage and items. Each seat is equipped with a universal power supply outlet to keep electronic devices fully charged. A multi-port connector for USB ports and includes an USB port and an iPhone®/iPod®/iPad® connector that allows passengers to connect their own devices and watch video through the personal TV. Other new highlights include the StudioCX widescreen on-demand entertainment system, enlarged 12.1 inch, touch screen monitor, a large meal table and an extendable cocktail table. The new seats will be installed on all of Cathay Pacific’s regional Boeing 777-200/300 and A330-300 aircraft by the end of 2014, with the first Boeing 777 aircraft entering service in January 2013.

Cathay Pacific new appointment Mr. Brian Tsoi has been appointed as Cathay Pacific Airline’s Country Manager Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. He will be responsible for leading and managing the overall business and operational developments of Cathay Pacific in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. Prior to his current position, he has previously held a number of managerial positions in Cathay Pacific, including online and passenger sales, product development and in-flight services. Mr Tsoi also managed the airline’s offices in Surabaya and Denpasar, Indonesia. Cathay Pacific is expected to deliver industry-beating products and services to passengers here, including their award-winning World Best Business Class product and the new Premium Economy Class by the end of 2012.

UAE ranks in Top Ten importers of Swiss timepieces According to first half 2012 results released by the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry FH, the UAE ranks amongst the Top 10 countries importing Swiss watches, translating into a value of 488.8 million Swiss Francs for watch imports alone. The luxury timepiece retail sector within the UAE is going from strength to strength and is currently the only Middle Eastern country to be featured in the Top 10 round up, ahead of Saudi Arabia at number 14 and Qatar at number 21. Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons offer the largest portfolio of Swiss watches including, A. Lange & Söhne, Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, and Rolex and remains optimistic about the future of the Middle East’s consumer market. Encouraged by the appetite of patrons and growing consumer interest, they opened 8 new retail outlets in the first half of 2012 and currently operate 58 outlets across the UAE. “The UAE’s consumer market has witnessed a shift in buying patterns similar to the global market, but it is a positive sign that consumers from both the domestic and overseas market are once again interested in luxury Swiss timepieces. We have seen a steadying of demand and returning of consumer confidence,” commented Mr. Mohammed Abdulmagied Seddiqi, VP – Sales & Retail, Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons. “The results that have been shared by the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry FH are a testament to the popularity of Swiss watches in the UAE and we look forward to sharing our extensive range of timepieces with customers.”

Gulf Insider October 2012


News Business

Batelco Announces Startup Weekend Bahrain 2012 Supporting Young Entrepreneurs

Following the huge success of last year’s event, Batelco is organising Startup Weekend Bahrain 2012 to encourage young aspiring entrepreneurs and assist them on the road to establishing successful ICT and e-business enterprises. Startup Weekend Bahrain will take place on November 8, 9 and 10 at the Batelco Staff Centre in Hamala and form part of Global Entrepreneurship Week with a large number of StartUp Weekends taking place globally to mark the occasion. Startup Weekend is a non-profit operation based in Seattle, Washington, that organizes 54-hour events in cities around the world, all of which help educate, support, and empower people to become entrepreneurs. Batelco Group General Manager Media Relations Ahmed Al Janahi said that Batelco was delighted to once again bring Startup Weekend to Bahrain and provide a great opportunity for young people to receive valuable feedback from those with experience in a range of industries and also have the opportunity to benefit from practical and financial support from potential investors. A weekend-long, hands-on experience awaits entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs to find out if startup ideas are viable. Throughout the weekend Mentors who are entrepreneurs themselves and those who comes from leading local and global organisation will be on hand to give advice, support and answer questions to help the teams to develop their ideas into a viable business plan. The top three teams will walk away with cash prizes and follow up support to help them launch their new ventures. Additionally, Batelco Innovation Centre will select one team and provide them with the Startup Pack prize which consists of a Smartphone, Tablet, Personal Computer and high speed Broadband connection for one year. Young aspiring entrepreneurs of all nationalities may visit the Startup Weekend Bahrain web page ( to learn more about how Startup works and register to attend and participate. Interested parties may also keep up to date with details by following the progress on the Facebook page ( StartupWkndBH) and Twitter (@StartupWkndBH).

TRA Hosts a Workshop for Public Telecommunications Operators The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) hosted a workshop last 2nd of September 2012, for the public telecommunications operators. It aims to ensure effective implementation of the recently issued ministerial resolution concerning radio communications stations and networks.The workshop was attended by 20 representatives from the Kingdom’s public telecommunications operators. Engineer Adel Al Showaikh, TRA’s Access Network & Infrastructure Manager, presented the requirements of the ministerial resolution and the necessary requirements that the operators should adopt when planning, designing and deploying radio communications stations and networks.


Gulf Insider October 2012

KFH-Bahrain Further Expands its ATM Network Kuwait Finance House – Bahrain (KFH) has further increased its wide network of ATMs in Bahrain with the addition of 2 new modern ATMs in strategically located areas for the benefit of the Bank’s customers. One ATM is located in Muharraq adjacent to the new Jasmis restaurant and the other in Al Hidd. The addition of these two machines makes a total of 6 ATMs in Muharraq alone and 22 ATMs distributed across Bahrain. The Bank has opened two new ATMs in Muharraq earlier this year, one at AlKhour at Amwaj Islands and the other at Dohat Arad. The choice of locations for the ATMs is considered very carefully and it considers many factors such as their proximity to vital residential and commercial areas. The workshop focused on promoting the use of standardized policies and procedures for the deployment of radio communications stations and networks and the requirement to consult with the relevant authorities before deployment. During the workshop the necessity for wireless telecommunications service providers to deploy radio communications stations and networks in close proximity to users who wish to avail themselves of such services in order to deliver highquality wireless telecommunications services was also discussed.

Saudi Arabia Real Estate

Market view

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

 Despite 2.8% population growth, strong oil revenues in 2011 resulted in a further rise in GDP per capita, by 25% to USD20,344.  Largely due to Government spending on infrastructure, Saudi Arabia’s construction sector is forecast by Business Monitor International to grow by 5.4% in 2012.  S&P confirmed the strength of the Saudi economy through its latest sovereign credit rating for the Kingdom which is (AA-) with a stable outlook.  S&P also forecast strong economic growth of 6% in 2012.  Assuming an average oil price of around $100 per barrel in 2012, the current account surplus is expected to moderate slightly to around 23% of GDP and inflation is forecast to remain manageable at around 5% per annum.


Gulf Insider October 2012


Government policy through 2012 remains focused on infrastructure and social programmes. The 2012 budget has allocated USD45 billion for the education sector, USD23 billion for healthcare and USD9.4 billion for transport. Together with numerous other initiatives, Government spending on non-oil infrastructure is likely to be around 7% higher than in 2011. USD67 billion has been set aside for the construction of 500,000 housing units. These housing units, which are intended to meet the needs of the lower income sector, will be located around the Kingdom with the first of them currently being masterplanned on various sites totalling 32 square kilometres. In addition to a trans-Saudi Arabian railway line, the Council of Ministers agreed to implement a massive public transport system for all the major cities. The transport solutions will include both buses and trains and will be first implemented in Riyadh, where phase 1 completion is expected in 2017. Around 80% of the metro network will be underground and will be served by 34 stations.

Real Estate Saudi Arabia

push to develop domestic tourism. There has been renewed talk that there may be some movement on one or more of the long-awaited ‘mortgage laws’ that may, or may not, address the key issue of mortgage security and in particular repossession of properties for non-payment. There is no indication to date that this key issue has or will be resolved, instead talk has been focused on the potential for mortgage portfolios to be packaged up as derivative products that may be traded between banks. Reports indicate that the central bank of Saudi Arabia (SAMA) will publish the new rules on mortgage financing in order to receive feedback before implementation.

Office Sector

In an effort to tackle the persistent unemployment problem among Saudi Arabia’s young people, the government has embarked on massive infrastructure spending on both the education sector and the office sector, naturally hoping that, in time, one will satisfy the needs of the other.

Residential Sector

The capacity of Riyadh’s international airport is anticipated to triple to 25 million per annum by 2015 as part of the first phase of planned aviation sector expenditure totalling USD53 billion. Saudi Arabia currently has around 53,000 branded hotel rooms (about the same as Dubai), although 32,000 of these are in Makkah and Madinah. In 2011, the Kingdom hosted 15.4 million foreign visitors, of which 10.6 million were travelling as pilgrims. The number of new branded beds planned to enter the market is however significant, amounting to an increase of around 60% over the next few years according to STR Global. This is in part a response to the increased capacity of the religious centres in Makkah and Madinah, but also to the increased demand from business visitors and the

Although there has been much press comment on the new ‘mortgage law’ in recent months, it is not absolutely clear what progress has been made in reality. The Saudi Government’s cabinet revealed that it had approved new legislation on the topic, but has not yet divulged details as to what issues had been specifically addressed in its new regulations. The ongoing uncertainty over whether, or how, this will be addressed continues to affect the market with the result that a law intended ultimately to protect the population from unscrupulous lenders, is in fact preventing them from gaining access to mortgage finance and ultimately, buying their own home. Even if a law specifically addressing and ‘resolving’ this issue is constructed, it is likely to take some time before it is fully implemented and tested for real enforceability by the legal system. Indeed, it is quite possible that lenders will be extremely wary of testing a law that is potentially at odds with Sharia law. At present, mortgages comprise

around 2% of GDP compared to around 70% in the US or UK and this is likely to change little in the short term. In Egypt for example, where a similar situation existed and a ‘mortgage law’ addressing this point was passed over a decade ago, mortgages still only equate to less than 1% of GDP and according to recent USAID research, only 37% of adults in Egypt have heard of mortgage finance. Consequently, housing needs remain a pressing issue. The challenges faced by Dar Al Arkan for example, in selling price-sensitive accommodation at the Al Qasr project in Riyadh shows the contradictions between demand, the ability of Saudi nationals to purchase housing and the mismatch between expectations and reality in terms of scale and quality. This is partly driven by the absence of a secondary housing market which means that a Saudi national’s first purchased home is likely to be the only home they ever purchase. The issue of build quality is key in this issue, with traditional building techniques and quality leaving houses virtually obsolete over a 30 year period. Apartments are much less popular due to their limitations in terms of expansion, but also privacy, build quality, management and maintenance of common areas and a number of other core issues are central demotivators. Land price speculation that often takes place in Saudi Arabia typically means that villa or townhouse projects are unable to meet the critical price constraints of the market.

 Villa prices have continued to rise strongly in both Riyadh and Jeddah as a result of intense demand and land price increases, despite the ongoing lack of mortgage finance.  Apartment prices have also risen, more a function of land price increases than demand, which remains weak in this segment.  Apartment rental rates have risen very strongly due to the strong demand for low and middle-income housing that exists in both the Saudi national and expatriate communities. GFI This report, was prepared by the CBRE Bahrain Research Team. For more information regarding this ViewPoint contact: e: Gulf Insider October 2012


Report Bahrain Real Estate

Real Estate Review

Kingdom of Bahrain S & P’s analysis of the Bahrain economy revealed GDP growth of 2.2% in 2011, and forecasts of 3.5% and 4.1% in 2012 and 2013.


oreign Direct Investment into Bahrain in 2011 amounted to around USD300 million despite the civil unrest. Despite global uncertainties in the banking sector and the socio-political unrest in the Kingdom, the number of financial services businesses in Bahrain rose from 401 to 414 during 2011. The air of cautious optimism with which Bahrain entered 2012 took something of a knock during the run up to the Kingdom’s Formula One event in April, as demonstrators took the opportunity to leverage the global spotlight for their own purposes. Since the event, the global press has moved its attention elsewhere in the region and it is hoped that practical steps to a peaceful resolution may be agreed through a negotiated process during the coming year. In an effort to overcome the impact of reduced Foreign Direct Investment into Bahrain which has been the result of the programme of unrest, the Government announced a stimulus package comprising USD300 million spending on infrastructure projects


Gulf Insider October 2012

FeatBahrain Real Estate Report

Photo Credit: Shareef Panhatt

Landlords are increasingly indicating that they would rather leave properties vacant than accept lower rental rates, although this behaviour is not consistent throughout the market.

and a USD550 million scheme to provide housing for the roughly 50,000 families on the Government housing waiting list. The development of Government housing is expected to be focused in key areas of the Kingdom including North Town, East Hidd and East Sitra but the distribution of units in terms of apartments and townhouses was not declared, and remains a contentious issue for low-income Bahrainis. The problems faced by Bahrain in the short term were reflected in comments made by Standard & Poor’s, which mentioned that although most sectors had not suffered materially from the unrest, growth in the short term was seen as being driven primarily by the hydrocarbon and infrastructure sectors. The BBB/A-3 ratings for the Central Bank of Bahrain were reaffirmed and although S&P stated that damage to the real economy had been limited, the relatively small tourism sector was highlighted as the most affected industry over the past year. The cruise ship industry in particular, was hit hard in 2011 and early 2012, as several ships decided not to dock in Bahrain based largely on ongoing security concerns and the increased insurance premiums necessary as a consequence. In March 2012 occupancy rates in Bahrain’s hotels rose to an average of 45%, significantly better than the same month in 2011 but well down from normal levels. Despite this, the Bahrain Bay project located off Manama’s northern coast, announced the development of a second major five star hotel project, with the 50-storey JW Marriott comprising 394 hotel rooms and residences joining the 263 room Four Seasons Hotel on which construction has already commenced. The major market sectors indicated on the rent cycle chart are all now in the same quadrant of slowing decline, indicating the perception that Bahrain’s real estate sector is at, or near, the ‘bottom of the market’. Landlords are increasingly indicating that they would rather leave properties vacant than accept lower rental rates, although this behaviour is not consistent throughout the market, and is largely dependent on whether properties are owned with or without leverage.

Office Sector

New demand for local Class A office space remains exceptionally weak in the face of growing supply. Much of the new supply is in the form of new office towers in Diplomatic Area and Seef District on which construction had commenced just as the Bahraini market entered a period of reducing demand driven by global market conditions and the programme of social unrest in the Kingdom. The new office space in Diplomatic Area in particular is likely to be most problematic given that the area is deeply unpopular with tenants who are unable to access the area, circulate or park. The failure of the planning system to organise or rationalise the way in which Diplomatic Area functions has been key to the area’s decline as the Kingdom’s Central Business District. Seef District may yet follow this path as built density to date is somewhat at variance from plans originally drawn up for the area. However, the market slowdown has saved this district in the short to medium term and development in Seef has now slowed to a trickle. Existing office buildings are functioning with moderate level occupancies and vacant land plots enabling most buildings to satisfy the majority of their staff and visitor parking requirements. The Class B office space, which previously comprised a mix of older properties, those in lower-profile locations or apartments in or close to prime office areas, has experienced mixed fortunes based on a range of factors. Older, poorly maintained properties are moving into Class C category rental rates, office buildings in less prominent locations are still broadly popular as they continue to serve their local market, while apartments used as office space are largely returning to residential use. They were always poor options in terms of space efficiency and parking ratios, and the sheer volume of available local Class A space that has either been fitted or part-fitted means that former apartment users are now able to move into much more efficient and practical spaces for roughly the same as they were paying previously. Traffic in general has eased in the main office districts although the  Gulf Insider October 2012


Report Bahrain Real Estate

The problems of high land prices, the lack of infrastructure in remote areas and high building costs mean that it remains difficult to meet the price-sensitivity of the market. programme of disruption employed by some demonstrators means that on occasion huge tailbacks occur on major highways during peak periods. This disruption is easy to achieve due to the high concentration of offices in specific locations. If the planning system in particular addressed this issue by encouraging a much wider distribution of office centres throughout the Kingdom, disruption would be less easy and would have a diminished impact.

Retail Sector

The retail mall sector in Bahrain has become somewhat polarised with huge variations in performance between those that are doing well and those that are not. At one end of the spectrum, City Centre and Seef Mall have high occupancy and strong rental rates, with Moda Mall following closely behind. Moda Mall is always difficult to ‘read’ in terms of performance as it relies on a combination of low footfall/high spend which means that it always appears to be somewhat underpopulated by shoppers and the ‘bag count’ is low. Moda Mall has also recently announced a USD13 million refurbishment programme. At the bottom of the performance scale we have Sitra Mall, the performance of which can only be described as ‘catastrophic’. Failure to locate the anchor tenants in locations that have any impact on the rest of the mall, poor access, social unrest in close proximity


Gulf Insider October 2012

to the mall and outlets that fail to meet the needs of the mostly low-income villages nearby are all factors in this mall’s sad decline.

Residential Sector

Although there has been much press speculation regarding the needs of the low-income sector, there has been very little movement from the private sector in addressing this issue. The problems of high land prices, the lack of infrastructure in remote areas and high building costs mean that it remains difficult to meet the price-sensitivity of the market. Low-income social housing for owneroccupation is essentially a problem to be addressed by the Government while the most successful private sector housing model at present remains low to middleincome apartment housing for rent. Relatively small apartment buildings of ground plus four to six floors are

emerging in various districts of Bahrain and are being let quickly, sometimes off-plan. The tenants are a mix of corporate entities who require worker accommodation or low to middle-income Bahraini couples usually starting their first home. Finishes are basic and rents for two bedroom properties can start as low as BD150 to BD180 per month, largely depending on location. These are effectively only a temporary solution to the pressing housing needs of this sector of Bahrain society, but a solution nevertheless. The realities of life, where on a global basis housing ownership is increasingly becoming an unattainable dream for those in their twenties, are starting to sink in. It should be remembered that even in relatively wealthy western economies such as the UK, the average first time property buyer is 37 years

FeatBahrain Real Estate Report

old. The Bahrain Government provides subsidised loans for Bahraini households earning up to BD1,200 per month but there is such a strong culture of personal debt in Bahrain that much of the population that falls into this category is unable to access such loans due to the high levels of debt already taken. Several middle-income housing projects (erroneously advertised as ‘affordable housing’) have been launched in Bahrain in the last three months and sales (reservations) have reportedly been brisk to date. However, analysis reveals that some of these projects are effectively being sold at a loss, or at best, cost price, in order to stimulate the market and raise the profile of the ongoing masterplanned projects of which they are merely a very early phase. In the context of current market conditions and the need to get the ball rolling on the larger projects, this approach

is entirely logical, albeit unsustainable. In the current socio-political climate, sales to expatriates have naturally dwindled to virtually nothing as employment risks and the long term future of Bahrain remain somewhat uncertain. Nevertheless, sales in projects or properties away from the more troubled areas are still taking place albeit at rates and prices well below those of four or five years ago.

Compound Market

The compound sector, continues to be affected by the downturn in economic conditions which has led to many highincome expatriates leaving the Kingdom altogether. This is particularly the case for expatriates formerly employed in the banking sector which has suffered a major rationalisation process over the last four years, although it should be pointed out that this is a global phenomenon, and

not restricted to Bahrain. Rental rates in the areas most affected by local unrest have dropped back to 2005 or 2006 levels while rates in emerging areas such as Hamala have continued to rise, albeit moderated by the sheer volume of new stock in this area. Occupancy levels are also extremely variable with some compounds in the Saar and Budaiya areas reaching as low as 30% occupancy, while Hamala compounds typically enjoy occupancy levels closer to 80% or 90%. In short, the compound market is undergoing a period of change as locational dynamics come to the fore and demand switches from one area to another. GFI

This report was prepared by the CBRE Bahrain Research Team, which forms part of CBRE Global Research and Consulting

Gulf Insider October 2012


Feature ME Context

The Great Middle East

Infrastructure Opportunity The global need to redevelop roads, bridges, energy and residential infrastructure is at an all-time high, as major urban areas around the world strain to adequately support rapidly growing populations.


or the world’s engineering and construction industry this is mostly a good news story, but not without its challenges. As resources are stretched and priorities determined many businesses are going to find their efficiency and risk management processes put to the test. According to a recent global KPMG


Gulf Insider October 2012

engineering and construction survey, companies are adapting quickly to meet the critical demand for new infrastructure. KPMG’s head of markets in Bahrain, Richard Kohinga, walks us through the survey’s key findings, how it’s been analyzed by industry experts and some of the local implications.

Towards the end of last year, KPMG conducted face-to-face interviews with 161 senior leaders – many of them chief executive officers – from leading engineering and construction companies in 27 countries around the world (including Bahrain). Fifty-two per cent of respondents were from Europe, the Middle East or Africa.

ME Context Feature

The results were published last month in KPMG International’s Global Construction Survey 2012, The Great Global Infrastructure Opportunity. The report provides some valuable insights on the big issues and where the opportunities lie. The survey revealed that many industry players are global in reach, operate in multiple geographies and are working on projects mammoth in scale. Geno Armstrong, KPMG’s International Sector

Risk management a major concern With projects anticipated to become more complex, maintaining margins and mitigating risk are major concerns for most respondents. Globally, 45 per cent of respondents say that quantifying risks is the chief concern and nearly 50 per cent want to understand the link between strategy and risk.

Creating efficiencies to manage complexity and meet demand

To mitigate risk, manage project complexity and effectively meet the anticipated increase in demand, companies are seeking solutions to address efficiencies in their procurement /supply chain. Nearly 60 per cent of survey respondents say improvement

Globally, 45 per cent of respondents say that quantifying risks is the chief concern and nearly 50 per cent want to understand the link between strategy and risk.

Leader, Engineering and Construction noted the implications of such complex operating environments. “With increased scale comes increased complexity as global industry players navigate a tough political, commercial, regulatory and governance environment,” Mr Armstrong said, “This will test their risk management ability to the maximum extent.”

“Despite considerable investment, risk management still comes up a bit short,” Mr Armstrong said, “Our survey revealed that nearly 54 per cent of respondents said they failed to identify upfront issues that later caused margin erosion and only 36 per cent believe that their project review processes are very efficient.”

in this area will improve profits and enhance cash flows. Almost 40 per cent of respondents say the primary cause of inefficiencies in their supply chains were disparate processes and systems. Cost cutting, however, still remains a challenge for companies, with organizational culture seen to be the main culprit for implementing the cuts for 61 per cent of respondents and a surprising 17 per cent of respondents globally said that cost reduction was not a priority at all. Survey respondents acknowledge that IT optimization is critical to improving efficiencies, yet 50 per cent say that overhauling IT systems takes too long and costs dearly. Others (30 per cent) say that there are not enough available ERP packages available that are tailored to the construction sector. “IT investment doesn’t come cheap,” said Douglas Gates, Principle, KPMG in the United States, Advisory practice. “Nevertheless those brave enough to fund major IT enhancements are now reaping the rewards of great centralization and transparency across their supply chains.”

Gulf Insider October 2012


Feature ME Context

40 per cent of respondents globally anticipate that the energy sector offers the greatest opportunity for revenue in the next 12 months.

Energy sector driving growth

Just over 40 per cent of respondents globally anticipate that the energy sector offers the greatest opportunity for revenue in the next 12 months. Second behind energy were roads/bridges tied with residential at 24 per cent, followed by rail and mining. Respondents from Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) see energy as their biggest revenue producers, while rail ranked second. “The demand for firms and individuals with sector-specific engineering and construction skills will rise as [power] projects proliferate around the globe,” said Peter Kiss, KPMG’s Global Head of Power and Utilities. “This should prove to be a major source of income for the industry as a whole.” While 49 per cent of respondents expect their backlogs will grow from 5 per cent to over 15 per cent in the next year, 71 per cent of respondents cite economic uncertainty as their biggest ongoing concern followed by a skills shortage (31 per cent) and thirdly, government deficits (30 per cent).


Gulf Insider October 2012

Sixty-two per cent said that they expect margins on current bids to remain unchanged from their current backlog. Fifty-seven per cent said their revenues in 2011 increased from 2010, with the Asia Pacific region seeing the greatest growth (72 per cent) followed by EMEA (53 per cent) and then, the Americas (41 per cent).

Barriers to Investment

What respondents say may be the primary barriers to public-private partnerships in infrastructure investment is a perceived lack of policies, leadership and investment by the public sector as well as a lack of initiative in the private sector. Less than half (47 per cent) of respondents believe government policies will have a positive impact on investment, which is roughly equal across all three regions, with Asia Pacific being the most positive (49 per cent) followed by EMEA (47 per cent) and the Americas (41 per cent). Moreover, respondents showed concern about the public sector’s ability to drive infrastructure investment with 80 per cent of respondents globally

saying that lack of leadership will hamper investment. And while respondents globally anticipate that energy (34 per cent) followed by transportation (33 per cent) will likely attract the most private sector investment for their companies, twothirds see a lack of private sector initiative as another barrier to investment. Fiftysix per cent of the America respondents see transportation as having the biggest appeal for investment. “With austerity policies in many countries constraining the scope for public sector spending, it is vital to create an environment that encourages private sector investment,” Mr. Armstrong said. Commenting further on infrastructure investment, Nick Chism, KPMG Global Head of Infrastructure said: “As governments around the world seek to create 21st century infrastructure, they need to create an environment that encourages private sector investment. This means addressing regulatory and legislative barriers and showing the kind of long-term will that transcends immediate political popularity.” GFI

Richard Kohinga is the director and head of markets, for KPMG in Bahrain.

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GCC Luxury Tourist Hub

GCC ‘yet to realize its full potential’ as

A Luxury Tourist Hub The shift from owning a luxury to experiencing a luxury is accelerating - and many providers of high-end goods such as watches and handbags may soon miss out on a huge growth opportunity if they don’t get smart about their customers’ new inclinations. 22

Gulf Insider October 2012

Luxury Tourist Hub GCC

Four trends are driving the move toward experiential luxury: The dictates of 1.

demographics. In developed economies such as the U.S., Japan, and Europe, consumers who drove the luxury boom in the 1990s are now beginning to retire. They have reached a stage in life when they no longer need nor want to own new “things - so they are primary customers for experiential-luxury offerings.

2. Changes in consumption

patterns. When middleclass consumers in rapidly developing markets become more affluent and first buy into luxury, they are drawn to long-lasting goods with reputable brands. But over time, they tend to move from accumulating material goods to buying new experiences and this is reflected in recent growth rates for experientialluxury spending.

3. Generation Y does things

differently. Members of Generation Y - today’s late teens and twenty-somethings - tend to define themselves more by what they have done and experienced than by what they own. They are drawn to instant pleasure and lavish experiences - helicopter snowboarding in Alaska or a weekend shopping spree in Paris, for example.


Quest for lasting satisfaction. Consumers indicate that they are seeking a greater sense of purpose and satisfaction, and luxury experiences often fulfill those wishes more strongly than do purchases of luxury things.


hat’s one of the key findings in Luxe Redux: Raising the Bar for Selling of Luxuries, the latest report on global luxury markets from The Boston Consulting Group (BCG.) The research behind the report shows that experiential luxury now makes up almost 55 per cent of total luxury spending worldwide and, year on year, has grown 50 per cent faster than sales of luxury goods. Even in brand-obsessed China, where personal luxury goods serve as a strong badge of status and success - with sales surging 22 per cent annually - experiential luxury dominates, growing at 28 per cent each year. “More and more luxury shoppers tell us they love experiences that make them feel pampered,” said Klaus Kessler, Senior Partner and Managing Director at BCG’s offices in the Middle East. “But if luxury-goods players are to capitalize on the ‘experience’ trend, they have to move quickly and forcefully. To date, very few have been successful in adding experiential elements to their offerings, websites, or in-store execution. While the lack of such elements may not yet be hurting the providers’ financials, it is a missed opportunity to boost performance.” In a survey of approximately 1,000 affluent people in eight developed markets (France, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Spain, the U.K., and the U.S.) and the four emerging BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China), BCG, working with Ipsos, a research specialist, and the International Luxury Business

The global trend towards experiential luxury is of significant relevance to GCC service providers. Association, found that aggregate annual spending on what those consumers described as luxuries now tops USD1.4 trillion. This includes more than USD770 billion on luxury experiences, close to USD350 billion on luxury cars, and the rest on personal luxury goods such as watches, handbags, and shoes. The business of luxury experiences is by no means limited to exclusive art, safaris, and spas. Some hospitals offer deluxe accommodations - with butlers, specialty chefs, and marble baths - while some airlines are starting to offer private suites, and some luxury high-rise apartment buildings are featuring movie-screening rooms and virtual-golf facilities. “All over the world, luxury shoppers tell us they’d rather spend more on experiences than on clothes and jewelry. They’ve gone from ‘all my friends and I wear Cartier’ to ‘I cherish spa days with my friends,’ said Aldous Mitchell, Principal at BCG Middle East said. “Although experiences are more intangible than an item, consumers consider them more memorable.” 

Leading providers of luxury goods are starting to catch on - albeit cautiously. Examples include: LVMH, one of the world’s largest luxury companies, is developing its Cheval Blanc hotel franchise; there is already one Cheval Blanc hotel in Courchevel, a French ski resort, and another in the Maldives, and LVMH plans to open locations in Oman and Egypt in 2012. BMW, the German automaker, was one of the first high-end carmakers to turn the experience of waiting for delivery of a new car from frustrating ordeal into fun-filled activity: buyers of BMW’s Mini Cooper cars receive new-owner updates about the assembly of their car and its journey from the factory. IWC, the Swiss watchmaker, which has a watch museum at its headquarters, promotes its Pilot’s watches in its flagship store in Hong Kong by offering customers a “ride” in a flight simulator with an extra-large screen and surround sound.

Gulf Insider October 2012


GCC Luxury Tourist Hub

GCC Insights

According to BCG, the GCC is yet to realize its full potential as a luxury tourist hub. Dr. Klaus Kessler, Senior Partner and Managing Director at BCG’s offices in the Middle East said: “The ever increasing importance of experiential luxury puts the GCC countries in a very good position, especially in terms of their actively developing tourism offerings. Leveraging the uniqueness of recent 5-star-plus hotel developments, luxury spas, luxury malls and upcoming cultural heritage assets will allow the GCC countries to compete successfully in these market segments. Therefore the global trend towards experiential luxury is of significant relevance to GCC service providers. In addition, local units of international luxury brands can expect continuing growth in sales of physical luxury goods to inbound luxury travelers. Dubai’s luxury tourist flow from Russia, China and Western Europe during the winter months is a strong example of this influx.”

Rixos Royal Spa, Rixos The Palm Dubai 24

Gulf Insider October 2012

Some other GCC insights include: • Innovation is required within the store

Retailers need to bring back curiosity and excitement amongst savvy local luxury customers who are frequently inundated with marketing messages. Patek Phillipe’s mobile museum at Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai, last year is good example of this. Conversely, other retailers are bringing the store to the VIP customer, for instance, with private fashion viewings, to further personalize haute couture.

• Local service providers can benefit more from GCC residents’ luxury trips abroad Service providers, such as luxury concierge providers, have not yet met the demand from local GCC travelers for premium services when they head out to locations such as London, Paris and the South of France, especially during the summer months. This is an untapped segment. • The region enjoys customisation more than any other From cars to wrist watches, customisation is a significant trend in the GCC region and one that is likely to continue in the future. • Branding can afford to be more aggressive and traditional in the region, for now While experiential luxury gains momentum around the world and the GCC, traditional branding will also remain strong in the region owing to its unique socio-economic standing and the type of inbound tourism it attracts. Aldous Mitchell, Principal at BCG Middle East said: “For instance, the region draws a large number of Russian and Chinese tourists who are typically much more inclined towards product luxury than some of the more mature markets. In addition, conspicuous consumption is much more acceptable in the GCC, as compared to Europe and the US, where economic troubles have attached a certain degree of stigma to extravagance.” GFI A copy of the report can be downloaded at

Tamkeen Government

Tamkeen Success Story M r. Yahya Al-Ansari is a Bahraini entrepreneur who founded YNH Systems, a pioneering Bahraini company that specializes in electronics manufacturing, a first of its kind in the Bahraini market and the Gulf region. The company’s business activities include the manufacturing of electronic circles and printed electronic boards, as well as catering to private residences and factories with products such as security electronics. This leading enterprise has benefited from a number of Tamkeen’s programmes to advance its operations, namely the many schemes Tamkeen offered under the umbrella of its Enterprise Development Support Programme such as “Tarweej” and “Techania”. Mr. Al-Ansari considers himself to be one of the earliest beneficiaries of Tamkeen. “I heard about Tamkeen’s programmes through promotional campaigns, but what really grabbed my attention was a seminar organised by Bahrain Development Bank and UNIDO, which contained a segment on Tamkeen’s support schemes for Small and Medium Enterprises like mine. This made me curious to find out more about Tamkeen and about the requirements that I would normally need to join one of the programmes and benefit from it.” “The “Tarweej” scheme was one of the programmes which we benefited from. This scheme enabled us to participate in a number of leading exhibitions such as the Gulf Industry Fair, allowing us exposure to a wider customer base to promote our company’s products domestically and abroad,” Mr. Al-Ansari added. “Another programme which greatly benefited us was the “Techania” scheme. This scheme was immensely valuable because it enabled us to buy sophisticated machinery needed for our manufacturing processes which

enhanced our business tremendously,” he continued. The schemes under Tamkeen’s Enterprise Development Support Programme have helped over 3,650 enterprises to date with an allocated budget of BD74 million. These schemes enable companies to benefit from professional consultation services, acquire equipment, and participate in leading exhibitions, which help develop the company and make it more sustainable. Companies can benefit up to BD15,000 for small enterprises and BD20,000 for medium and large enterprises. Looking to the future, Mr. AlAnsari said, “Based on the success we achieved through Tamkeen’s support, we are currently looking into how else we can benefit from Tamkeen to bring us closer to the company’s vision which is to fully cover domestic markets within Bahrain and expand into neighbouring markets.” In conclusion, Mr. Al-Ansari said, “I advise everyone who wishes to expand their business, especially young entrepreneurs, to benefit fromTamkeen’s programmes. Those include financial, technical, and consultative support that will put enterprises on the fast track to success.” GFI

More information about Tamkeen is available through the following channels Tel: 17383 326 / 1738 3327 e-Mail:

Full Name: Yahya Al-Ansari Company Name: YNH Systems Position: Company Founder and Owner Gulf Insider October 2012


Feature Sabre Travels

Powering the Travel Industry Gulf Insider caught up with Sabre’s Middle East chief executive– Daniel Naoumovitch – to talk about his company’s latest technological innovations making waves in the MENA region, and the world. By Rohan Shanker Android, Apple, Blackberry, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn – the list goes on. Everyone is familiar with these names and the travel industry has recognized their potential for customer service. Bahrain-headquartered Sabre Travel Network Middle East (Sabre), a subsidiary of US-based US$2.9 billion revenue generating travel technology company is already equipping their travel agency customers with the necessary tools in this fast-paced race to serve the traveller. 26

Gulf Insider October 2012


ith 21 offices in 11 countries in the MENA region, Sabre Travel Network operates the Sabre GDS (Global Distribution System), the world’s largest travel marketplace. More than US$ 100 billion worth of travel is sold through the Sabre GDS each year connecting more than 350,000 travel professionals to more than 400 airlines, 100,000 hotels, 25 car rental brands, 50 rail providers, 13 cruise lines and other global travel suppliers. More than 300 million people purchase their airline tickets annually through this channel. Sabre also provides products

and services to travel professionals helping them facilitate their back office functions, customer experience management, and revenue enhancing and generation products. Sabre is a ‘one-stop shop’ for a travel agency wanting to augment its profitability. Daniel Naoumovitch’s 33 years in the travel industry includes various stints within Sabre in the Middle East and the UK. Prior to joining Sabre, Daniel held senior positions with Qatar Airways and American Airlines. In his current position, he has overseen significant investments to expand Sabre’s market position in the Middle East including the expansion of Sabre’s workforce to include the best and most talented

Sabre Travels Feature

Sabre Web Booking Engine

“Many years ago the Internet was considered a threat to the survival of the travel industry. Today, online travel accounts for around one fifth of all travel bookings in EMEA, and is forecast to grow to a quarter of all bookings in the next four to five years. With over 77 million Internet users in the Middle East, the growth potential for this new business segment is exponential. Travel agencies who want to increase their revenue need to have a clear online strategy and the technology to convert online shoppers into bookers. Here at Sabre we’ve done the hard work and developed the Sabre Web Booking Engine

Group Chairman Yusuf Bin Ahmed Kanoo

“After an exhaustive bidding process involving numerous international suppliers, we were pleased to choose Sabre as a valued partner. We have consistently been on the forefront of offering the very best of travel services and keeping with the latest technology helps us achieve this for our customers,”

Mubarak Kanoo

individuals throughout the company. “We have had a great 2012 so far,” said Mr Naoumovitch. “And despite the economic uncertainty we have all witnessed and sometimes unpredictable nature of our region, I am proud to say that we continued our expansion strategy throughout. We opened a new office in Kuwait, a second office in Egypt (in Alexandria) and we expanded our head office in Bahrain. This is a firm endorsement of our rock solid stability as a regional company and the critical role we play in the travel industry in this key region.” “We have also renewed agreements with some of the biggest names in the travel industry including Kanoo, Alshamel, Fursan and Dnata. And against an environment full of uncertainty, we continue to invest significantly in new products to fuel our customers’ growth and success and we’ve continued to do what we do best – provide the best customer service in the industry,” said Mr Naoumovitch. Sabre’s customers expect them to be at the forefront in providing the technology they need, not only for today, but also anticipating what they will need down the road – in many cases, before the market is broadly discussing those future opportunities. That is the job of an innovative technology provider. Taking about latest innovations, Mr Naoumovitch also talked about Sabre’s latest product, the Sabre Web Booking Engine, a first of its kind online booking engine especially designed for travel agencies.

with Arabic language support specifically for Middle East agencies, highlighting our commitment to serve this important region,” said Mr Naoumovitch. Sabre devotes thousands of man hours and combined skills of experts around the world to bring their customers the best technology in the industry customized specifically for the MENA region. The direct impact of the hundreds of millions of dollars spent in product development can be felt by the consumer. “When you book with travel agents who use Sabre tools you know that they have access to the latest and most advanced technology along with the widest range of cost saving options.” Mr Naoumovitch also talked about the dramatic and dynamic change in the way travel management companies (TMCs) are interacting with their customers, the general public, than a

few years back. He also spoke about the tools Sabre provides to make the transition towards a ‘social media’ savvy TMC. “For more than half a century, travel technology companies have invested billions of dollars in technology to help travel agencies, corporations and travellers shop and book travel. For decades the agent has played a significant role in planning, shopping and delivering a trip to the traveller. With the explosion of smart phones, tablets and social media platforms, the traveller today has the ability to make those decisions himself. The traditional agentcustomer relationship is changing,” said Mr Naoumovitch.

Impact on travel agent community

Sabre has invested millions and millions of dollars in research to introduce new and upgraded products for their customers. One such example is the Sabre Red Workspace, software that enables travel agents to shop, book and manage travel for their corporate and individual clients. Built on an opensource platform – the same technology used by NASA to command the Mars Rovers mission –it provides easy access to the data and tools an agent needs to make a sale. “Travel agents must embrace the opportunities brought by mobile technology and social media in order to survive. What is consistent about recent trends is that travellers want their business and personal agendas in the same place. They want to book a flight, car or hotel from their smartphone, but expect to make these decisions using tools that normally sit outside of the GDS,” adds Mr Naoumovitch.

The Red App Centre

Catering to the market needs and keeping ahead of the competition, Sabre launched the Red App Centre, the first business-to-business online marketplace to connect travel buyers with third party application providers from around the world. Today, the Red App Centre offers more than 75 different apps with 24 new ones on the way. Recently,  Gulf Insider October 2012


Feature Sabre Travels

Daniel with Sabre’s Harald Eisenacher, Senior Vice President EMEA and Dean Bibb, Vice President EMEA at the Bahrain office opening

Opening a new office in Alexandria, Egypt with Nemat Salem

“WTS and Sabre have worked together for many years now and our decision to use Sabre exclusively is a testament to the level of confidence we have in their ability to enhance our business. Sabre’s proven low-fare search capabilities; travel security and mobile solutions have helped us retain our customers.”


Gulf Insider October 2012

The man of the hour – accepting the World Travel Awards in Doha

Deputy Director General for Kuwait Air Transport Affairs and Civil Aviation, Nabil A Al Zamel, inaugurates Sabre’s latest Kuwait office

At the deal signing with Khalid Aldoseri, President, Albader Travels

InformationWeek, recognized Sabre as one of the top technology innovators in the US and Sabre’s signature Red App Centre was heralded as one of InformationWeek’s “Top 20 Great Ideas” of the year. “In the technological race there is no finish line. Frontrunner developers have demonstrated over the years that evolution is perpetually enduring and everlasting. Sabre will continue to invest in product development to specially cater to the unique needs of the Middle East region and to stay in the forefront,” said Mr Naoumovitch.

What’s next for Sabre? Jamil Wafa

Founder and Executive Chairman World Travel Services

The Middle East will continue to be a key market for Sabre. And as the current market leader in many of the MENA countries and the only GDS provider with local headquarter in the region, Sabre is committed and will continue expanding its reach throughout the Middle East. “It is a privilege to work alongside the talent we have at Sabre – every day is exciting because of what we are doing to constantly improve how our industry uses technology to meet ever changing customer needs. Sabre is the travel technology partner next door – bringing the best of industry leading travel technology to our customer’s doorstep. This will continue to be our ethos well into 2013,” concluded Naoumovitch. GFI

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Feature Cathay Pacific

Cathay Pacific’s

New Boeing 777 Nick Cooksey visited the Boeing factory in Seattle to collect Cathay’s newest airliner.


erhaps the thing I most love about what I do is that I get invited to do all sorts of exciting things that I otherwise would never have the opportunity to experience. Last month I received a phone call from my friends at Cathay Pacific asking if I would like to go with them to the Boeing factory in Seattle, via Hong Kong and San Francisco, to collect a brand new 777-300ER. Well of course my answer was… “YES”! The journey was an experience in itself for many reasons including flying Cathay’s wonderful Business Class with its rather clever ‘fishbone’ seat layout. This enables passengers to enjoy maximum stretch out room and privacy. Also worth mentioning was the excellent food and famed Cathay Pacific in-flight service which began by our attendants personally introducing themselves, 30

Gulf Insider October 2012

addressing us by name, before flying. Landing at Hong Kong’s impressive new international airport needs to be seen to be believed. The place is just awesome. Everything is state of the art; it is huge, with a mechanized transit system connecting each terminal. While at the airport I was also able to enjoy Cathay Pacific’s luxurious First Class business lounge with private rooms and shower facilities, and of a course a superb restaurant serving all sorts of delicious Chinese and international cuisine. From Hong Kong we took a Cathay Pacific flight to San Francisco. It was a pleasure to arrive there and be free from the oppressive summer of the Gulf for a few days and enjoy long walks along the Northern California shoreline. Then it was on to Seattle, home of Starbucks Coffee,, and of course Boeing! I think most of us take modern airliners for granted. We see them,

travel in them, know they are big, safe, fast, very expensive, and enable us the freedom to often inexpensively travel the world. But, to have the opportunity to visit the factory where they are made is enlightening. The Boeing factory in Seattle is the largest building in the world by volume according to The Guinness Book of Records and you could fit an entire town inside it. Actually there is a town of sorts within its wall with many different shops, cafes and restaurants for staff. These beasts of the skies are built on long, slow moving productions lines by teams of dedicated professionals who take immense pride in the quality of their work. Each 777 takes several months to complete and is made up of over six million parts – from standard sized screws to huge component pieces requiring special machinery to lift into place. These modern aircraft are not only

Cathay Pacific Feature

The Boeing factory in Seattle is the largest building in the world by volume according to The Guinness Book of Records and you could fit an entire town inside it. quieter but they use twenty percent less fuel than the models they replace which makes for substantial cost savings over time. The handover ceremony was another fascinating experience. We were treated to a delicious champagne lunch. Then a check for US$540 Million was signed by the CEO of Cathay Pacific payable to Boeing. We all applauded, toasted the event, and then music from The Beach Boys began playing as the curtains opened to reveal a brand new Boeing 777 – 300ER standing outside in Cathay Pacific livery. We walked outside and admired this huge airliner, walking around it, under it, touching it, we were even allowed to climb up and stand in the jet engines that we shortly going to be powering us across the Pacific. We then climbed aboard, walking a red carpet, and flew out of the factory, which has its own runway, and back across the North West Pacific to Hong Kong. The atmosphere on board was wonderfully relaxed. We were free to walk around the plane, including sitting in the cockpit with the pilots, and chatted with Cathay Pacific CEO John Slosser. We joked about the ‘new plane smell’ and perhaps for the first time, many of us were rightfully awed by the tremendous amount of advanced technology and resources that went into the making of such an amazing vehicle. The Boeing factory is operating at full capacity and any airline wishing to purchase a brand new 777 must accept being placed on a long waiting list. If you are ever in Seattle and have the opportunity to visit the Boeing factory – take it! GFI Gulf Insider October 2012


Bahrain Social Business

Social Business sociable Bahrain A match made in heaven


amily Bank together with the Ministry of Social Affairs, EDB, Tamkeen, BDB, BCCI and UOB wants to inspire Bahrainis to learn about social business. I could not believe my eyes when I saw that Muhammad Yunus was coming to Bahrain. Yippee! What might be possible in Bahrain from this approach? What an inspiring idea to unite people by thinking about business (I know Bahrainis love to do this). The structure of the week took an applied approach; people learn the concept by trying it out. There were a number of Grameen Creative Lab workshops throughout the week. Professor Yunus opened the week at Bait Al Tijar and introduced us to his


Gulf Insider October 2012

By Jill Boggiss, Founder, Inside Change consultancy

colleague Hans Reitz from Grameen Creative Lab. Mr Reitz runs these labs around the world in order to inspire people to set up their own social business. He outlined his hopes for the week and said: “Bahrain has the opportunity to lead the region in using social business models to solve social issues. There is a strong tradition of trade, excellence and the capacity to evolve.” He talked about the power that technology offers and the fact that young people operate and think differently about the world, they have interest and reason to solve the pressing social and economic issues as well as a need to create sustainable employment for their future prosperity.

So far so good. Atef Elshabrawy, CEO of Family Bank explained that Family Bank had been set up to support small businesses saying, “This is not just with finance but also with the skills to manage a business – we have followed Grameen’s example and help people to change their mindset with very practical training and support so that our loans get repaid and they are successful” But how does this work? So what is a social business? This is my understanding; a social business is like a traditional business, it has the same commercial drivers and a need to satisfy customers at a profit. The main difference is that the reason to exist is to solve a social issue. The business

Social Business Bahrain

is managed in a way that is congruent with its vision, and any profit made over and above the costs of running it is reinvested into the business. There are no dividends paid to investors – this means that investment money generates more profit and the business gradually becomes self-sustained.

So let’s consider an example for Bahrain

Let’s say the social purpose is ‘the need to have healthier food’. Let’s say a business rears ‘organic’ chickens (and eggs – which came first??). Currently these are imported and very expensive. The social issue is producing healthy food, improving diet and being healthy – as well as providing employment in a sustainable form of farming. The commercial opportunity is to meet the growing demand for ‘health’ foods. An additional social benefit is the creation of a local farming cooperative that offers employment to local and expatriate workers and offers training in new skills and modern techniques. Who might consider a joint venture

for this? I can imagine a company like Kraft, Sage & Sirloin to have an interest in connecting their brands to a responsible project.

decisions. Bahrain could ‘seed’ this development for MENA and become a hub for social business development”

Grameen Creative Labs- so what happened? We were given a structure to follow so we could surface the issues, brainstorm business ideas and work on ideas that were presented. This was lively, noisy, frustrating and ultimately, surprisingly

What do you want to come out of this first Social Business Week? “I want Bahrain to use this idea to reconnect to nature in some way – the Island seems to have lost its balance from an eco point of view. I would love to come back to find a Social Business ‘City’ for there to be a chair of social

productive. The issues were consistent. Issues like youth unemployment, lack of youth activities, education, sustainable farming… Bahrain Urban Farmers…. and the ideas were pretty good.

business at the Polytechnic or University. I want to see young people fired up and choosing to become entrepreneurs, they are smart enough and motivated by contribution.”

After the workshops I asked Hans Reitz for an interview to give me his view of the experience overall. He said… “The people here are open minded, they like to have ideas –Bahrain has been a pathfinder in the region for education and strong businesses and this will support a vibrant social business community.” “Take the lead in the region. There are people here who can drive quick

I also had a quick chat with Atef Elshabrawy, CEO of Family Bank, who said… “This week was inspired through Mrs Fatima Al Baloushi attending the Global Social Business conference earlier and returning with a belief that this concept will work here in Bahrain. “ “The Social Business Week 2012 marks an important step towards promoting social entrepreneurship; focus more on the development of solutions to facing

Gulf Insider October 2012


Bahrain Social Business

our social and economic challenges in the region. As a leader in Islamic microfinance, Family Bank represents the ideal partner to organize this event, and to discussing social businesses opportunities in the Kingdom with businessmen, youth, officials, bankers, accademic and nongovernmental organizations, in order to support ongoing economic development of the country.� GFI

To finish off, here are some of Professor Yunus’ principles that I heard on the first day: 1) Be of use to another person and make your business about the ‘other’ 2) Start small – he started Grameen with loans to 20 Bangladeshi ladies 3) Demonstrate it and then grow it. 4) Do it with joy, do it with conviction.

For more information about loans available contact Fatima Al Anssary at Family Bank or the web site: Visit, Jill Boggiss, Tel. +973 3604 4100

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Technology Internet Threat

ATM and Internet threats in

The Middle East


aladion Networks, the Risk Management provider, last month released its latest Threat Intelligence Report with a special focus on the Middle East. The report is based on research over the year 2011. According to Rajat Mohanty, CEO, Paladion Networks: “Our conclusions are based on first-hand experience of working in the Middle East with local and multi-national companies from various industry sectors. As revealed in the report, the InfoSecurity threat landscape within enterprises is shifting with changing times and the measures to deal with them are expanding. Overall, while threats are getting more financially motivated and targeted on applications, organizations have lower level of monitoring and higher vulnerabilities on application level which also stay open for much longer compared to network level.” Firosh Ummer, Executive Director, Paladion Networks (UAE) further added: “Phishing as an attack form has gone down in the region last year. On an average, a bank would have faced around 400-500 phishing incidents last year and the average victim per attack was around 10-15 end consumers. While monetary losses from phishing can be absorbed by the banks, the impact on reputation and customer trust is higher.” As for the external attacks in the Middle East region, data shows that on an average, larger organizations face 50 intrusion attempts per month from 36

Gulf Insider October 2012

outside the organization. Interestingly the current threat scenario as seen in the report proves the importance of Application monitoring in future. However, today enterprises are

more focused on monitoring the network periphery compared to Applications. And the need of the hour certainly demands a change in the focus towards the way security is managed at present. GFI

The key findings from this report are as below. • Threats- be it attacks or phishing- are not random, affecting all organizations equally but are targeted more at bigger organizations.

• External attacks are clearly focused on breaching business applications and while

overall the external attacks (both application and network level) did not raise much during the year, they rose substantially on the business applications. • In contrast, the security monitoring effort of organization is focused on perimeter devices and monitoring of threats on applications level is very limited. • On the other hand, there was a clear decrease in phishing attacks on financial institutions in the region. The average return for phishers is also reducing due to faster takedown and lower victims per site. Phishers still continue to target business days and business hours while increasing the attacks during slack period of vacations or festivals. • Most of the external attacks in India and the Middle East region are getting routed through China and US. • Phishing attacks however predominantly come through US and hardly any phishing attack was seen routed from China. • On the internal front, more than attacks or malware, it is the policy violations and unauthorized changes that dominate the internal risks. • Security monitoring is therefore more focused on operational issues such as configuration changes, user account activity and policy violations. • On the security management side, organizations have improved their network vulnerability management with average vulnerability discovered per assessment being 0.7 per asset. However the application level vulnerabilities are high with average being vulnerability per application per assessment. •  Organizations are facing challenges in managing closure of detected vulnerabilities. While it is better on network level with half-life of vulnerabilities being 1-2 months (half the detected vulnerabilities are closed by this time), on the application front the half-life is 3-4 months.

Travel Dutch Bay Resorts


“EXCLUSIVE VIP CLUB MEMBERSHIP” PROGRAM Selected Signature VILLAS in the Natural Surrounds of Kalptiya Peninsula, Northwest Coast of Ceylon, Dutch Bay Island.


he Island is already famous for its hideaway Ayurvedic Spa/ Detoxing treatments. However, the “Exclusive VIP Club” membership in Sri Lanka is a new concept, which will be managed to a 5- 6 star standard. Once Phase-one is operational in December 2012, the resort will be of the highest standards, similar to famous tourist destinations such as: Thailand, Indonesia, Seychelles, Bali and Mauritius. DBR’s Exclusive VIP club is similar to the fastest growing vacation home and timeshare industry. The objective is to create a channel that will be trusted, used and eventually managed on behalf of Villa owners. The Exclusive VIP Club is a hassle free concept for accessible luxury in carefully selected rich geographical destinations. Designed for high net worth individuals who desire less financial exposure and


Gulf Insider October 2012

minimal risk factors, the most attractive features are fixed rates for 10 years, including additional discounts on F&B, spa treatments, leisure activities, and up to 65% discount on room’s rates and Signature villas. DBR aims to deliver and make it possible for clients to experience luxury lifestyle, at a fraction of the cost. Members will have a luxurious vacation home in a premier location at their disposal. Typical amenities included in the DB development are: 24/7 Butler Services, 24/7 F&B Services, 24/7 Medical Care, Discounted rates for F&B, Laundry, Spa, Water Sports, Leisure activities such as Horseback Riding, Wilpattu Wild Life Safari Adventure, historical tours, nature walks and much more. Clients will also be eligible to become a member of Dutch Bay Foundation. They will acquire multiple re-entry visas to Sri Lanka under “My Dream Home

package” proposed by the Passport and Immigration Department of Sri Lanka, travel discounts The Exclusive VIP Club Member (an individual or a corporate membership) is entitled to stay any number of nights. Bookings must be made three months in advance. GFI

Clients will also be eligible to become a member of Dutch Bay Foundation. They will acquire multiple reentry visas to Sri Lanka under “My Dream Home package”.

Hospitality Ramee Grand Hotel

Scaling new heights The first 5 star from Ramee Group - Ramee Grand Hotel & Spa. Redia Castillo from Gulf Insider recently interviewed Salvatore Romano, General Manager, Ramee Grand Hotel and Spa where he shared with her his journey from being a Food & Beverage Manager to a General Manager and what makes Ramee Grand Hotel unique in Bahrain.


alvatore lived in the US and Europe but has been in Bahrain for seven years now. Bahrain is a country close to his heart as this is where his career took off as a Food & Beverage assistant to his current appointment as General Manager with Ramee Grand Hotel & Spa. It is the first 5-star hotel of the Ramee group. He has previously worked with international hotel chains, the Accor, Mรถvenpick, IHG and luxury hotels such as former Banyan Tree Bahrain, Hotel Sacher, Salzburg and more. Salvatore has seen and experienced how business grows in Europe or western countries where the hospitality industry is already established. He has acquired 25 years of work experience in Europe. Here, he has been able to bring skills from his tenure


Gulf Insider October 2012

Ramee Grand Hotel Hospitality

seven restaurant outlets, eight meeting rooms and a function hall, Ramee is one stop destination for relaxation, business and luxury. Ramee also has the most spacious accommodation available to customers here, with room sizes of average 46 square meters. Ruka, Ramee’s exclusive Japanese fusion restaurant on the 24th floor provides the guests a magnificent view of the sea as well as the cityscape of Seef and Manama. A perfect spot for a relaxing meal. Salvatore believes that the most vital factor for a hotel’s success and making this a reality at Ramee is by looking after the needs of the customers and making them feel at home, especially the guests who are on a business journey. A warm welcome to the guests is not created only through amenities but also by providing the best food (different cuisines) and an elegant environment. Ramee Grand Hotel & Spa will open in December 2012. GFI

Only at Ramee Grand Hotel & Spa

The most vital factor for a hotel’s success and making this a reality at Ramee is by looking after the needs of the customers and making them feel at home.

in the West to the Middle East. During his career, Salvatore’s favourite job was as a food and beverage manager. He was intrigued by food and how it is targeted to be different from their competition’s, how to attract customers to food products and ensure they enjoy it too. His new targets and main principles as a General Manager with Ramee are somewhat similar. The aim is to provide fantastic hotel standards and services, cater to their guests’ needs through teamwork and achieve these targets better than other hotels. He believes Ramee is set apart from other hotels by its simplicity and elegance, luxury, modern interiors and functionality. Most importantly they are focused on training their team to provide impressive service to their customers. Ramee Grand Hotel & Spa, located opposite Seef Mall, is more than 24 storey tower, making it one of the tallest hotels in the vicinity. With a spa, club,

• First Five Star Hotel for Ramee Group. • Tallest Five Star hotel in Seef District. • Guest Rooms sizes are the biggest in Bahrain • Meeting Rooms equipped with High tech facility. • Banquet facility that caters 500 guests and more. • Exclusive Floor for SPA, GYM, Outdoor Swimming Pool, Pool Bar, Ladies Salon. • 3 fine dining restaurants Italian, Intercontinental, and Indian. • Club, Sports Lounge, Ruka, Japanese fusion restaurant on the 24th floor

Gulf Insider October 2012


Cars Cadillac XTS

2013 Cadillac XTS Sorry readers, but I FAILED to properly put the XTS through its paces in Dubai, By Nick Cooksey


he XTS is the largest of Cadillac’s three vehicle classes, coming in above the mid-sized CTS and compact ATS. It is a five-passenger four-door sedan that is available with advanced all-wheel drive. My first impressions of the Cadillac are that the design has definitely evolved. The trademark fins of the 50’s are long gone and the car sports a wholly more ‘European’ design. It has an attractive exterior. Inside, it is luxurious in a noticeably different way to the German luxury brands which tend to have a more austere feel. There is a distinctive American feel to the design with soft leather throughout 42

Gulf Insider October 2012

Cadillac XTS Cars

and large comfortable seats, all with high quality finishings. At night a pale blue interior highlighting effect around the cockpit and passenger seating makes for a very relaxing and ambient atmosphere. At 18 cubic feet, the XTS also boasts the largest boot in its class. The engine is a 3.6-liter V6-cylinder providing 304 hp and 264 ft lb of torque (the previous and far heavier STS model had a V8 yet only 270 hp).The transmission is a smooth shifting six-speed automatic and it supports advanced all wheel drive with magnetic suspension for a more comfortable ride. As the car is very light, the power available is plentiful – so it doesn’t really need a V8 version. One of the many features that impressed me was the inclusion of ‘safety alert seats.’ This system utilizes the cars 360 degrees radar to scan for obstacles or danger scenarios. If something is picked up, the seat vibrates on that side, intuitively alerting you to the danger. I realise that this could seem like a gimmick, akin to massage chairs and heated steering wheels, but actually this is a really valuable feature. The Cadillac team has done their research, looking into the human response to warning and

psychological reactions. The technology throughout the car is state of the art, and I cannot think of another vehicle more advanced in this respect. Another draw of the Cadillac is that it comes with an iPad on purchase. A pre-loaded app takes you through the cars driving systems and operations, showing you exactly how to get the best out of your car. I am a great believer that one should not need to read a manual to drive a car, but this is somehow different and despite the complexity of the technology, Cadillac have simplified it for the end user, making it as intuitive as they possibly can unlike the systems of some other car makers So, the car looks great on the outside, looks and feels great on the inside, uses superb technology, and is beautifully put together. Though I have no actual criticisms of the car which appears to be everything it is supposed to be, unfortunately – and due to no-one’s fault, I did not have the time or the chance to really test out the car. To be honest, I didn’t feel like I was able to get out of city driving mode, which meant that I was unable to really grasp how the vehicle handled at speed, cornering or

The technology throughout the car is state of the art, and I cannot think of another vehicle more advanced in this respect. on long drives. From what I experienced (30 mostly town driving in traffic at low speeds) it handled competently, but I think I will have to organise a proper test drive in the future and really put it through its paces. So watch this space for a more detailed report, or arrange your own test drive. GFI

The Cadillac XTS will be available in Bahrain on the 7th December, the price is yet to be confirmed, but will be in the region of BD27,000. For more information visit or Phone National Motor Company on +973 1745 7212 .

is car…us Why I liuskeanth ve d ry spacio

  Luxurio interior e art in car  State of th mes t system – co entertainmen ad iP l na with instructio em = spension syst  Magnetic su e rid le ultra comfortab t seats er al ty fe Sa   ot in class  Biggest bo Gulf Insider October 2012


Cars Porsche

Porsche pilots set sights on second win of

season in Bahrain


he World Endurance Championship showcases the world’s fastest sports cars in the Gulf region on 29 September. At round six of the new long distance championship in Bahrain, the Porsche works drivers Marc Lieb (Germany) and Richard Lietz (Austria) are keen to score their second win of the season with their Felbermayr-Proton Porsche 911 GT3 RSR.

The race

The six hour race is contested on the Bahrain International Circuit close to Sakhir. On the 5.407 kilometre track, two Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup races are held each year as support to the Bahrain Grand Prix.

The Porsche drivers

Marc Lieb and Richard Lietz, the winners of the race in SpaFrancorchamps, share the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR in the hotlycontested GTE Pro class against strong opposition from Ferrari and Aston Martin. Christian Ried (Germany) and his Italian teammates Gianluca Roda and Paolo Ruberti, the winners of the season-opener in Sebring, contest the GTE Am class aboard the 2011 model year Porsche fielded by Felbermayr-Proton.

The vehicle

The Porsche 911 GT3 RSR is the top model of Porsche Motorsport’s customer racing vehicles. For the 2012 racing season, the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR received extensive modifications. Additionally, the race car was fitted with a new front splitter and an adapted rear wing after Le Mans.

The schedule

The six hour race starts on Saturday, 29 September, at 16.00 hrs local time (17.00 CEST).


Gulf Insider October 2012

Quotes before the race

Hartmut Kristen, Head of Porsche Motorsport: “Motorsport fans in Bahrain already know and love the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup from the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup and the GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East. At the World Endurance Championship, we are now looking forward to showing them some racing action with the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR - our top model of customer racing vehicles - and to win them over with its performance.” Marc Lieb: “The track is very flowing and huge fun. The decisive factor will be how well we can set-up the car for the track and the very high temperatures. Our performance in Sao Paulo was very good in the second half of the race. In Bahrain we now have to try to maintain that pace over the entire distance.” Richard Lietz: “I competed on this circuit in 2006 with the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup. It suits our car very well. In the many fast corners our aerodynamics could turn out to be a decisive advantage. I think we have the speed to win. Our minimum goal is to finish on the podium.”

The World Endurance Championship

Sports prototypes and GT vehicles race in four different classes in the World Endurance Championship: LMGTE Pro, LMGTE Am, LMP1 and the LMP2. They start together but are classified separately. GFI

Art Blending Genres

Blending Genres


rtist Mourad Boutros showcased his art at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre [ADNEC], as part of the Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition 2012. The exhibition was organised under the auspices of the Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival, which was held under the patronage of HH Sheikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The patronage of HH Sheikh Hamdan reinforced his commitment to preserve the horse racing heritage, legacy and value besides adding a cultural dimension to the festival. Boutros’ artworks at the exhibition were developed in cooperation with leading artists, including the renowned Emmanuel Guiragossian. In these exclusive pieces, Boutros came up with exquisite Arabic calligraphy which blended perfectly with the beautiful visual background developed by the painter. The calligraphy, being the main focus of the painting, brought out the beauty of the artworks. The artworks presented by Boutros this year, focused on a wide array of themes, including horses, falcons, maxim and Al


Gulf Insider October 2012

Blending Genres Art

Mahabba which perfectly blended the paintings with calligraphy. This was first time Boutros has showcased the beauty and flexibility of Arabic calligraphy with the artworks of famous painters. Together with Arlette Boutros, Mourad heads up Boutros International which has led the field of Arabic creativity, typography, calligraphy and design for more than 40 years. Since 1966, Boutros International has focused on meeting the latest technological requirements and the creative needs of the Arabic speaking world. Its designers and technical experts are consistently at the forefront of new developments GFI

For further information, please contact or log into

Gulf Insider October 2012


Technology 3D Deciphered

Tech picKs 3D Deciphered

Move over HD, the new buzzword in technology is 3D. Here are a few gadgets that will keep you on the cutting edge of 3D technology…

Panasonic HDC-TM90K Camera Panasonic VIERA Active Shutter 3D Eyewear

Since glass-less 3D is still the holy grail of the 3D experience, the Panasonic 3D is an essential component to your 3D viewing. It is lightweight and comfortable to wear. They last for 30 hours after a small 30 minute charge and glasses are conveniently USB rechargeable. The only thing that takes some getting used to is the idea of wearing these glasses indoors – something you will soon forget once your 3D experience is underway.

The cost involved in getting 3D camcorders can be quite high. The Panasonic HDC-TM90K 3D Compatible Camcorder allows you to record in 3D when you purchase the 3D lens. If you buy the 3D lens, do remember that you will also need a 3D compatible TV to watch the videos in 3D.

HTC Evo 3D

A phone that sees the world like you do, in 3D. Now your photos can have as much depth as the moment itself. HTC EVO 3D captures your photos and videos in 3D, plus you can view them without the glasses. The phone offers a smooth, fast interface that is both user-friendly and visually stunning. As with most smart phones, battery life is a problem especially once you’re entranced by the 3D features.


Gulf Insider October 2012

Panasonic Viera 55” 3D Plasma TV

Naturally you will need the best TV to view all your 3D content. This Plasma TV will give you the very best picture quality with extremely deep blacks and a wealth of picture settings. The web options and the user interface are easy to navigate. The 3D feature is superb with no ghosting or crossover problems that usually give that dreaded 3D headache. With its slick good looks and value, the 3D experience is now a lot more accessible.

Last Word

Humour - Managing To Have Fun


oted business author Paul Hawken said it best, “We lead by being human. We do not lead by being corporate, by being professional or by being institutional.” Perhaps that’s why many leaders are embracing one of our most undervalued human resources they have at their disposal – their sense of humor. Putting humour to work isn’t about employees standing around the water cooler exchanging one liners. Having a sense of humour is about having a sense of perspective and using the ability to find the humour in situations to manage stress and creatively problem solve. Adding humour is about celebrating work, not trivializing it. Here are a few “guiding lights” to help you manage to have more fun in your organisation.

Take Yourself Lightly

Too many of us fall victim to the dreadful disease “acute professionalism”. The symptoms include a furrowed forehead, high levels of stress and blocked creativity. The cure is simple learn to take yourself lightly, while still taking your job seriously. When you laugh at yourself, you demonstrate your humanity and encourage others to do likewise. As an added bonus, you take away anyone’s ability to laugh at you.

Be Sincere

Dogs know when we’re not sincere, so there’s a good chance our employees will too. If you show up Monday


Gulf Insider October 2012

morning with a transplanted Robin Williams persona, staff may be cynical about your new found attempts to lighten the office mood. So be yourself. Practice sharing your own unique brand of humour and only do what feels comfortable for you.

Think Small and Simple

The biggest factors that contribute to employee morale don’t cost a lot of money or take a lot of energy; it’s the small things done on a consistent basis that matter. So look for easy opportunities to introduce a little humour - put up a humour bulletin board, create a humour room, include humourous quotes in correspondence and practice spontaneous humour.

Practice Relevant Humour

The more you celebrate humour specific to your office, the more meaningful the humour is. Relevant, work-related humour becomes part of the corporate history and helps teams

to bond around shared experiences. Start collecting a humour file of quotes, cartoons, funny customer questions and anecdotes that relate to your organization.

Practice Safe Humour

Humour can break down barriers as easily as it can build walls, so make sure the style of humour you practice is “safe”. Non-sexist, nonracist, nonreligious humour is the order of the day. Also be aware of times when humour may not be appropriate. The safest form of humour? Laughing at yourself.

Give Yourself and Your Employees Permission to Play . . . and then get out of the way.

Remember, as a leader, people look to you to set the tone for the office. You have the power to decide whether you’re going to be a roadblock on the inspiration highway or a catalyst for creativity and positive energy. GFI

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October 2012 Issue