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Need for Dialogue

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Gulf Financial Insider

GulfInsider

November 2013 more inside...

Cover Story

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Bahrain ‌ BREAKING NEWS

Contents SUSPENDING DIALOGUE PARTICIPATION IS

Bad for Bahrain

22 Bahrain

Suspending Dialogue

54. Car Review Rolls Royce

32 GCC

Luxury Brands

28

36

52. Hotel Review

Call to Naturalize

Forgotten Hostages

46. Profile

UAE

Somali

The Domain Hotel

Marianne Pasmans Eric Boss

30

44

50. Bahrain

Dwindling Profits

Iran and Putin

Your Favourite Luxury Brands

Telecom

Iran

Restaurant Review

61. Lifestyle


GulfInsider

Comment...

The Arabian Review Publisher & Editor in Chief Nick Cooksey

Dangerous arrogance March 18, 1996. It was the height of the dot-com boom years. And gracing the cover of Fortune magazine was a photo of a rather smug looking Alan Greenspan, then Chairman of the US Federal Reserve. The headline across the top-- “It’s HIS economy, stupid”.The inside story was entitled “In Greenspan We Trust”.The article went on to suggest that, no matter who won the US presidential election that year, Greenspan would still be running the economy. And handily. This is a major testament to the state of the world’s financial system. A tiny banking elite enjoy nearly totalitarian control over the world’s money supply and economies. We’re just supposed to trust that they’re good guys. Competent guys. That they know what they’re doing. Fast forward almost two decades and the current global financial crisis. Now, this seemingly interminable series of emergencies is by no means the consequence of a single individual. But it’s clear that Greenspan (and his counterparts) have had, by the very definition of their positions, tremendous influence in getting us to this point. Yet Greenspan’s new book, The Map and the Territory, explains why he never saw any of this coming. Greenspan’s explanation is as infuriating as it is arrogant. He stops far short of accepting any responsibility, and melts his culpability away into the great masses of other economists, brashly stating that “virtually every economist and policymaker” completely missed the warning signs. Yet as irritating as Greenspan’s confession may be, there is no surer condemnation of this faux-science of economics than a former maestro himself pillorying its deficiencies. Let’s put it more bluntly. The guy who used to be in charge of the US, and by extension the world’s economy, openly admits that the ‘science’ they rely on to make decisions is fundamentally flawed. Greenspan tells us that they’re completely ill-equipped to be making these decisions. Nor do they realize how severe the consequences will be. The multi-award winning Arabian magazine

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Need for Dialogue

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The multi-award winning Arabian magazine

GulfInsider The Arabian Review

Issue 105

Bahrain

Bureaucracy; The ‘Bigger Picture’

Iran

The West’s Delusion

Saudi Arabia Market View

Swimwear Sexim

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‘…denied the official record because her outfit showed her ‘feminine features’’ Really now! You can’t wear loose clothes while you swim and that is common sense, not religion. For that matter most men who enter swimming competitions wear what shows their ‘masculine features’. I think this whole issue of wanting women to cover up is actually a way for these chauvinistic officials to ‘cover up’ for their own shortcomings. Learn to set records before you set rules, Mr Official!

Wake Me Up When September Ends – this song kept playing in my head as I ran from pillar to post at the LMRA office earlier this year. Why you ask? I think the article on Bureaucracy, by Nicholas Cortes, in your October issue sums it up well. Bureaucratic delays are such a pain; and as if that isn’t frustrating enough you have these lazy government officials who get paid to annoy lay people with their laid back attitudes. Bahrain has such a promising future if only more people valued quick decision making and hardwork. Sameer

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Yemen

The UN-Revolution

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Banned for Being Attractive

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Issue 103

Muslim Miss World

I read your article on Muslim Miss World and am not too happy about this competition. It’s just going to further encourage men to make women follow their rules under the pretext of religion while they sit back and call the shots. Spirituality is a very personal thing and so judging a group of young ladies on their knowledge and understanding of religion is not correct. Mariam

Bahrain

Signs of Real Estate Recovery

Dubai

Flight To Mars

1259 Gulf residents seeking a one-way ticket to planet Mars – that’s something! Well, I’ve not applied but just wondering how life on Mars would be different from that on Earth. Will women still have to face in equality? After all it’s the men who are from Mars, no? On a lighter note I really hope they sell the yummy Sharwarmas up there, Shawar’mars’ rather! Ali

Expat Marriage Meltdown

Bahrain

Why Smarter Government Benefits All

Interview

Would you like to be a PUBLISHED Photographer?

Indian Ambassador to Bahrain Dr. Mohan Kumar

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.

Indian Business in Bahrain Indian expatriates’ role in the trade history of Bahrain

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GulfInsider NEW’S ROUND-UP

Turkey revealed Israeli spy ring to Iran

“People are greedy” says Emaar’s Mohamed Alabbar In a media interview, Alabbar said: “I think we are fine but people like to trade, people are greedy and so mistakes do happen. But as long as we minimise our mistakes, and we learn from our past mistakes – we go a little safer.” Residential house prices in Dubai are increasing at an unsustainable rate and may see correction over the next 12 months, a report by property consultancy Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) said last month. House prices in the emirate have climbed more than 22 percent over the past year – higher than any major global market – as billions of dollars of government real estate projects triggered a buying binge and stock market bull run that has caused concern at the International Monetary Fund. “The rate of increases seen over the past year is indeed unsustainable…while residential prices and rents will continue to increase over the next 12 months, the rate of increase will decline somewhat,” the JLL report said. The surge has largely been driven by speculative buying, JLL said, noting: “Such rates of increase cannot be supported by the fundamentals alone.” Nevertheless, Alabbar said he was confident that tighter regulations meant a repeat of the property crash in 2009 was not on the cards. “Banks are tight on lending, the central bank is tight on lending, government regulations are being modified and monitored.” - Gulf Business.

Turkey deliberately blew the cover of an Israeli spy ring working inside Iran in early 2012 and dealt a significant blow to Israeli intelligence gathering, according to a report in the Washington Post. Once-strong relations between Turkey and Israel hit the rocks in 2010 after Israeli commandos killed nine Turkish activists who were seeking to break Israel’s long-standing naval blockade of the Gaza Strip. Washington Post columnist David Ignatius said Israel apparently used to run part of its Iranian spy network out of Turkey, giving Turkish secret services the opportunity to monitor their movements. The paper quoted U.S. officials as saying Israel believed that the Turks would never turn on the Jewish state after years of cooperation. However, it said that in early 2012 Erdogan disclosed to Tehran the identities of 10 Iranians who had travelled to Turkey to meet Israeli spies. In April 2012, Iran announced that it had broken up a large Israeli spy network and arrested 15 suspects. It was not clear if this was connected to the alleged Turkish leak. The United States tried to broker a reconciliation between its allies Turkey and Israel in March, persuading Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to apologize for the 2010 killings. However, Israeli officials said subsequent attempts to build bridges by agreeing on a deal to compensate families of those killed in the Israeli naval raid had floundered.- REUTERS

Take-off aborted as Saudi passenger forgets mother A Saudi Airlines pilot aborted a commercial plane takeoff after a passenger informed him that he had forgotten his mother at the airport. The plane was scheduled to fly from King Abdullah Airport in Jizan in the southern part of the kingdom to King Khalid Airport in the capital Riyadh.

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Gulf Insider November 2013

The carrier was getting ready for takeoff when the passenger, a Saudi national, informed the crew that he left his mother at the departure hall and wanted to go back to her, local news site Sabq reported on Thursday. The pilot aborted the takeoff and waited until the airport staff helped the mother board the plane. Comments by bloggers were highly appreciative of the pilot for his “compassionate and graceful behaviour” and harshly critical of the passenger for his “lack of responsibility and shocking absent-mindedness.” “People may forget a suitcase, a bag, but never ever their mothers,” one blogger posted. – GULF NEWS


Business News

Dubai headed for another slump within 18mths says Abu Dhabi chief The head of an Abu Dhabi real estate firm backed by the Mubadala Group has predicted Dubai’s property sector will hit another slump in 18 to 24 months, saying the change was inevitable in an emerging market. Speaking on a debate panel on the first day of Cityscape Global, Faris Mansour, director of Mubadala Pramerica Real Estate Investors, which is 50:50 joint venture between the Abu Dhabi investment vehicle and Pramerica Real Estate Investors, said “there’s no reason why as an emerging market we should expect there to be 10-year real estate cycles”. He said emerging markets, moved in short, sharp cycles, reflecting the movement of capital, as proven over the years around the world. “We should expect that to happen here as well,” he said. “And that’s not to say it will fall necessarily as it did before. But it will fall, it will correct and this is something we should all expect to happen and I expect it to happen in the next 18 to 24 months… as capital becomes more expensive globally.” Mansour said real estate was linked closely to the pricing of capital, which had been at its cheapest rates for about 10 years globally. “We expect that that will change at some point,” he said. “The massive use of capital at emerging markets will eventually raise the cost of capital over time. That cost of capital will have a direct effect on real estate.” He said investment in the Dubai property market as a result of the Arab spring was also temporary. As seen previously, as soon as the issue of liquidity emerges, that capital would move on to other markets, he said. Bahrain Bay CEO Robert Lee, who was speaking on the same panel debate, said higher property price increases were happening in markets such as Sydney, Hong Kong and Shanghai and Dubai was “benefiting from a global phenomenon”. He said Dubai was entering a precipice where “the economics of reality and the prices don’t jive anymore”. “This is where we are and I think in the next year or two we’ll see a definite correction in prices,” he said. “Real estate, with all due respect, is a cycle business.” Jammal Hammoud, CEO Milestone Capital US, said the price increases of the past 12 months were not sustainable and were the result of a “glitch” in supply over the past four years. “For the past four years there has been no growth,” he said. He also said geopolitical issues had seen investment in Dubai. “This is unsustainable; the situation here is going to change.” – ITP.NET

Family of Arab honoured for saving a Jew from Nazis rejects prize because they hate Israel The family of the first ever Arab honoured for saving a Jew from the Nazi Holocaust and helping others with medical treatment have rejected the accolade because of their hatred for Israel. Egyptian doctor Mohamed Helmy was honored posthumously last month by Israel’s Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem for hiding a Jew in Berlin during wartime. The ‘Righteous Among the Nations’ award is the highest Israel can bestow upon non-Jews in recognition for helping people to survive the genocide. But the family of the heroic doctor - the first Muslim ever to be recognised for his bravery in such a way - say they want nothing to do with it. ‘If any other country offered to honor Helmy, we would have been happy with it,’ said Mervat Hassan, the wife of Helmy’s great-nephew. ‘But not from Israel. – DAILY MAIL

Home construction lifts Saudi property sector in Q2 Real estate contracts accounted for 39% of all new construction deals in Saudi Arabia in the second quarter - a very high figure compared to previous quarter. “Furthermore, the real estate sector accounted for 30% of the value of awarded contracts during the first half of 2013,” said NCB Capital in its latest report on construction activity in the kingdom. The recent rush in real estate activity is also driven by a new royal decree that allows the Ministry of Housing to grant developed lands and interest-free home loans to Saudi nationals. During the quarter, the ministry awarded at least five contracts as it worked its way through its target of 500,000 affordable housing units. All the projects commissioned in the quarter are set to be completed by 2015 as the ministry pushes the construction industry hard. – CONSTRUCTION WEEK Gulf Insider November 2013

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News Business

US collects millions of e-mail address books globally America’s National Security Agency (NSA) is harvesting hundreds of millions of contact lists from personal e-mail and instant messaging accounts around the world according to senior intelligence officials and top-secret documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. The collection program, which has not been disclosed before, intercepts e-mail address books and “buddy lists” from instant messaging services as they move across global data links. Online services often transmit those contacts when a user logs on, composes a message, or synchronizes a computer or mobile device with information stored on remote servers. Rather than targeting individual users, the NSA is gathering contact lists in large numbers that amount to a sizable fraction of the world’s e-mail and instant messaging accounts. Analysis of that data enables the agency to search for hidden connections and to map relationships within a much smaller universe of foreign intelligence targets. During a single day last year, the NSA’s Special Source Operations branch collected 444,743 e-mail address books from Yahoo, 105,068 from Hotmail, 82,857 from Facebook, 33,697 from Gmail and 22,881 from unspecified other providers, according to an internal NSA PowerPoint presentation. Those figures, described as a typical daily intake in the document, correspond to a rate of more than 250 million a year. Each day, the presentation said, the NSA collects contacts from an estimated 500,000 buddy lists on live-chat services as well as from the inbox displays of Web-based e-mail accounts.

The collection depends on secret arrangements with foreign telecommunications companies or allied intelligence services in control of facilities that direct traffic along the Internet’s main data routes. Contact lists stored online provide the NSA with far richer sources of data than call records alone. Address books commonly include not only names and e-mail addresses, but also telephone numbers, street addresses, and business and family information. Inbox listings of e-mail accounts stored in the “cloud” sometimes contain content, such as the first few lines of a message. – WASHINGTON POST

IMF says Kuwait needs to strengthen non-oil income Kuwait must rein in public spending, especially on wages, and find new sources of income if it wants to keep its fiscal position strong, the International Monetary Fund said. The OPEC member should also push ahead with its 30 billion dinar ($106 billion) development plan to diversify its heavily oilreliant economy, boost foreign investment and create jobs, it said. Kuwait has so far enacted little of the plan. Kuwait’s budget surplus is forecast to drop to a still robust 27.4 per cent of gross domestic product in the fiscal year that began in April from 33.4 per cent in 2012/13, the IMF said in a statement following regular consultations in Kuwait. But in view of recent sharp rises in current spending and relatively small non-oil revenues, government expenditure is

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Gulf Insider November 2013

set to exceed oil revenues by 2017/18, raising the risk from any sustained drop in oil prices, it said based on its projections. “The mission underlines the need to contain current spending, especially in the public wage bill, to provide fiscal buffers in the case of an oil price shock, and to continue to save for intergenerational equity,” the Fund said. Kuwait’s fiscal buffers were large even before the oil price needed to balance its budget rose to $70 per barrel in 2013/14, the IMF said. Brent crude is forecast to hover around $107.5 this year in Reuters’ September poll. “In the medium term, fiscal restraint of about 8 per cent of GDP through lower current spending growth and higher non-oil revenues is required to reduce the non-oil deficit gradually,” the Fund said in the statement posted on its website. The state subsidy system for wages, which boosts the salaries of Kuwaitis working in the private sector, has become open-ended and expensive, though it was supposed to be a temporary measure. Kuwait has lagged peers like the United Arab Emirates and Qatar in competitiveness and foreign investment. It has the most open political system in the Gulf Arab region but infighting and bureaucracy have slowed the development plan, announced in 2010, which includes plans for a new oil refinery, airport, highways and hospitals. – REUTERS


Business News

Barclays shuts down UAE bank accounts Barclays has started closing the accounts of some of its retail customers in the UAE, just weeks after the lender announced that it was selling off its local retail arm. Business and personal banking customers said that they had been telephoned by the lender on Tuesday morning, and informed that their accounts were being frozen. “I was asked by the bank to come into the Emaar Square headquarters this morning,” one of the customers, a British expatriate, who preferred not to be named, said. “They told me my account was being closed, but refused to give me a reason why. “When I asked my relationship manager how many other accounts would be affected, he said hundreds, if not thousands - both personal and business. “I felt like I was being treated like a criminal.” Another customer, who runs a medium-sized business, said that his debit card stopped working at 2pm on Monday, and his online account was frozen shortly afterwards. “Barclays claimed they sent a letter. Now they are refusing to give me my money - they said they sent me a manager’s cheque for the outstanding balance, which I have not received”. In September, Barclays announced it will sell its retail bank in the UAE, highlighting the challenges foreign banks face in the Gulf competing against cash-rich local rivals who are finding it easier to meet stricter rules on risk. “Barclays has decided to re-focus its efforts in the UAE on its key strengths in corporate and investment banking and wealth and investment management,” the bank said in a statement last month. – ARABIAN BUSINESS

Middle East to overtake China’s skyline Four out of ten of the world’s tallest buildings are currently located in China, but three of the world’s four tallest buildings are to be built in Dubai alongside the current tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa. Though the 2014 opening of China’s Sky City will be taller than the Burj, its crown will be taken by the 1000m Kingdom Tower in Saudi Arabia due for completion in 2019. Terry Tommason, Head of Property, Middle East at EC Harris, said: “There is an undeniable correlation between economic growth, confidence and power and the rise of the ‘megatall’ building. “North America signalled its economic dominance by building tall but its mantle was over taken by Asian economies, particularly China, when the economic balance of power moved east. “Now, the Middle East, with its booming economy, is set to shift the balance once again.” Economic power is not the only force driving the ‘megatall’ trend. Markets in the West are restricted by planning governance which impacts building heights. In contrast, a relaxed planning regime in the Middle East allows developers to build taller. – CONSTRUCTION WEEK

Dubai property prices rise again Average sales prices for apartments and villas are still 42% lower than in 2008, with rentals lagging 38% and 31% for apartments and villas. John Stevens, managing director, Asteco Property Management said: “Sales prices for villas and apartments recorded year-onyear growth of 26% and 42% respectively. While we have seen numerous project launches and increased interest in buying off-plan properties, projects with favourable payment plans in good locations saw the bulk of demand.” The report takes into consideration political stability, trade links, the economy, regulatory infrastructure and the tax environment in the Dubai market which have all contributed towards the transactional activity over the past 12 months. The best performing areas for apartment sales prices over the past year were Discovery Gardens, up 75% and Jumeirah Lakes Towers up 46%. In terms of 2008-2013 performance, Jumeirah Beach Residences and The Greens are 32% and 33% respectively below their 2008 peaks. “Recovery is well underway with a year-on-year average rental growth of 23% for apartments and 19% for villas. We expect rental growth to continue as economic improvements fuel internal demand as well as result in new arrivals,” Stevens added. – CONSTRUCTION WEEK

Gulf Insider November 2013

11


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Bahrain Bahrain and US

Bahrain ...BREAKING NEWS The internet and the growth of ‘blogs,’ has pushed open the doors for the release of un-substantiated or fabricated news ever wider, with the accent on speed to the reader, rather than in careful journalism in checking the array of assertions which are often presented as ‘facts.’

S

coop is an old word that every journalist coveted, and still does, although now they call it “Breaking News.” The chance to be the first to reveal a big story ahead of all the others who might be chasing it as well, and supported by wise News Editors insisting on pesky things like sources, corroboration, authentication and most of all, asking the company lawyers, “will it hold up in court.” As we have seen in Bahrain, much of that is now in the past, as the nightly ‘news’ hits from U-Tube to a global audience show the burning of tyres and rioting, all within nano-seconds of the first flicker of a flame. So too, the ‘news items’ from the Opposition groups, principally Al Wefaq, making all manner of obtuse and condemnatory 14

Gulf Insider November 2013

claims, most defying any measure of objectivity or verification, the usual ‘bum burbles’ about repression and calls for a ‘democracy’ they already have and exercise freely. Followed of course by the lumbering ‘official response,’ shutting the stable door while the so-called news horse has not only bolted, but is running loose, everywhere. It is a media fight which Bahrain is hardly winning and which sees the apparent majority of international opinion formers still choosing to believe that “peaceful demonstrators” are being besieged, albeit ignoring that they are armed with Molotov cocktails, weapons and bombs, and continuing to claim the “poor oppressed” are being “brutalized and tortured by an repressive government that doesn’t

care about human rights, despite all sorts of transparent measures to the contrary. There is frustration by the authorities, at being unable to get their message to be understood by an apparently blinkered international media, despite spending a fortune on PR agencies (as though somehow believing PR and news-making are synonymous) Yet they are being outmaneuvered by a poorly led rabble, who continue to elicit widespread ‘support’ for their plight. Consequently they are now in the process of overhauling the whole local media environment with lots of new gizmos and studios to see if that improves the way that the international media see Bahrain. Hopefully there will also be more working closely


Bahrain and US Bahrain

It is a media fight which Bahrain is hardly winning and which sees the apparent majority of international opinion formers still choosing to believe that “peaceful demonstrators” are being besieged.

with international editors, to try and get better balanced coverage to events in Bahrain. In terms of ‘news manufacture’ it turned out recently that a claim attributed to the former US Chief of the Joint Staff, General Hugh Sheldon that the US had colluded to destabilize Bahrain and Egypt, was a fabrication. It raised no ripples internationally, but it immediately found kudos in Bahrain where the US Ambassador is seen as a shadowy figure in an ‘unhealthy association’ with the Al Wefaq Islamic Society, to such an extent that there is a public petition circulating to be sent to President Obama, demanding the fellow’s immediate recall. It was a wild plot, but it ran for a day or two till it was denied by the Ambassador (who was hastily summonsed to the

Parliament) and a senior officer at the US Naval Facility in Bahrain who quoted an ‘absolute denial’ by the General. It was claimed that within the US there was somehow support for the Shia in Bahrain to “destabilize or overthrow of the Al Khalifa regime and unsettle the Saudis so that “big oil” could take over the supply and distribution of oil supplies in the Gulf”. It was claimed the US would forsake its long and loyal ally. It was only, so the plot went, “King Hamad’s call to the Saudis to send troops to Bahrain” which had foiled the plotters. It made absolutely no sense in a strategic, economic or political sense, but it had long legs and ran hard till it was pole-axed by denials. What was significant is that so many in Bahrain were willing to believe it and shows to some measure how perceptions of the

bilateral relationship have cooled. What was infinitely more significant, and concerning however, were the comments by the former US Ambassador to Bahrain, Adam Ereli, who recently made a return visit to the region. He said that there were widespread perceptions that US relations with the region had deteriorated, adding, “the US neglects its allies at its peril,” and that it needed to “reverse this troubling trend.” He praised the “depth of friendship,” with Bahrain and that the “role of an ally had been constant” at a time when many (US) citizens were concerned about the growth of Islamic bodies such as the Muslim Brotherhood as well as immigration and the increasing numbers of Muslims in the US, heightening antiMuslim attitudes. This was precisely the time that the US had to look to the moderate forces in the Gulf. Then he got to the kernel of the issue, one which had apparently become more pronounced among US politicians, administrators and fellow diplomats. There was, he said, “a general feeling that it was time to leave the ruling families of the Gulf behind” and embrace democratic calls for ‘freedom’ by those wanting elected instead of appointed governments. (Presumably these waverers mean the flamers and throwers in Bahrain, the Islamists like the men of Al Wefaq, who still refuse to regard women as the equal of men, who take their instructions from ayatollahs Gulf Insider November 2013

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Bahrain Bahrain and US

abroad, whose Malthusian advocacy of “one man, one vote” would in theory see Bahrain become another Islamic state ruled by the religious proclivities directed from Iraq and Iran.) It simply doesn’t make sense and Ereli was quick to point that out. His comments are worth repeating. The GCC countries harbour 30% of the world’s oil and their major clients are Japan and South Korea, who are major competitors to the US and are currently strengthening their ties with the region, as is China. The GCC sovereign wealth funds total $1.6 Trillion and Saudi Arabia is a major investor in low yield US bonds

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Gulf Insider November 2013

(They could be getting better returns elsewhere!) Direct foreign Investment in the GCC was $23.5 Billion in 2010, US services and international trade with Saudi Arabia was worth $48 Billion (2010) and the GCC was the US’ 12th largest trading partner. The GCC has a combined GDP of 1.3 Trillion, which is roughly the same as that of India. The US would indeed neglect such a bloc at its peril. The US was still seen as the ‘World’s Policemen’ with a capacity for protection and intervention that no other country can currently match. It is a country that has traditionally valued friendship and

long-standing alliances, and helped as a ‘force multiplier’ to maintain stability in a volatile region. As President Calvin Coolidge once said, “The business of America is business.” The US armaments industry continues to be a major beneficiary of Middle Eastern defence spending while GCC investment into the US is also of highly significant proportions across a wide spectrum, from education, real estate, commerce and property, to medicine, manufacturing and tourism. Lobbies not as well coordinated or as politically organized as by the Israelis and the Jewish lobby, who are never


Bahrain and US Bahrain

shy of promoting their importance to the US, but nevertheless providing investment funds and jobs. The oil shocks of the 1970s burned deeply into the US psyche and the dangers of depending on oil supplies from a volatile Middle East, particularly after the Iranian Revolution, or from states like Venezuela under Chavez, has been a matter of continuing concern. But in recent years, the discovery of an abundance of oil in its mid-Western states and by exploiting better means of extracting vast supplies of shale oil, the US now finds itself less dependent on Middle Eastern oil. That has made a few in the Think Tanks and politico-military circles well, rather mulish, particularly given the rise of China and the much heralded coming of the Asian century. And that means re-positioning ‘assets’ and re-assessing ‘current assets.’ What better way to please some of the ‘folks at home’ who noisily claim a Gulf region full of “dictatorial practices and human rights violations,” by casting loose loyal friends and cuddling up to those who claim that all they want is “democracy.” Never mind that it is naivety personified, the advocacy of policies that are inimical to the US’ own political interests. So yes, Gulf States like Bahrain, feel that cold shoulder from friends who were once firm friends and still ‘feign’ that warmth with patronizing visits to the country and pats on the back that, “You are doing the right things.” Yet uncritically, their media and their leaders, gobble up opposition claims without proper scrutiny, nor do they defend Bahrain’s evolving democracy with its constitutionally guaranteed freedoms, only faintly praising progressive Rulers who rule in favour of all their people as though Yankee style democracy is the only blend there is! Rulers moreover, who have opened themselves up to transparent international inquiry in a manner that few other countries would dare. Maybe the importance of the issues that Ambassador Ereli raised will only bring about a ‘Hang on a minute’ moment, if the region as a whole opts to buy Airbus or Bombardier equipment and tell Boeing, “thanks, but no thanks.”

No, Bahrain may never have a full on style US ‘democracy,’ but it will certainly have key aspects of it, aspects that create opportunities for all Bahrainis in a non-discriminatory manner. And come on back down you guys flogging the Raphale or the Sukoi, we might be able to do some business after all. And some of those investments currently made into the US might more properly move to Asia … All that protest that would follow in the US about the job losses might help clear the vision. Maybe then, some might get the message that loyalty is a two way street, that countries like Bahrain are engaged in democratic practice as an ongoing, evolutionary process. No, Bahrain may never have a full on style US ‘democracy,’ but it will certainly have key aspects of it, aspects that create opportunities for all Bahrainis in a non-discriminatory manner and provide them with universal education and health care. Besides, who would want a system of governance in which a democratic structure denies universal healthcare to all its people, and is prepared to hold the country, and the global financial system, to ransom? Or believes that owning a gun is a more important ‘democratic freedom,’ than the protection of its citizens? The curmudgeonly American wordsmith, short-story writer and essayist, Ambrose Bierce, wrote in the mid 1880s wrote about America, as “a great broad blackness with two or three small points of light, struggling and flickering in the universal blank of ignorance, bigotry, crudity, conceit … unmannerly manners and barbarity.” Some things take a while to change. A bit like democracy, really. GFI Gulf Insider November 2013

17


Iran Arab World

IRAN’S PRESIDENT ROHANI, AND The Arab World

N

ot too many years ago, one of the major concerns of the Arab Gulf nations was that Iran and America would sign some kind of strategic agreement over their heads which would not take account of Arab interests, and which could allow Iran to dominate the Middle East region and consolidate its military and perhaps nuclear power. Nowadays, many Arab Governments would probably welcome such an IranUS deal – but a lot has changed in the meantime. To begin with we have a new

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Gulf Insider November 2013

and very different Iranian President who appears to have a mandate to reach such a deal with the US. As President Rohani travels to New York for the UN General Assembly he has taken pains to signal to the American media that he wants to reach an agreement on the nuclear issue and that he has the authority to do so. Perhaps one of the reasons why the Supreme Leader reigned in the former president’s powers was that President Ahmedinejad had a tendency to say whatever came into his head and wasn’t known for his common sense.

Perhaps Khamenei was thinking: ‘Give Ahmedinejad authority over the nuclear file at breakfast time, and there could be world war three by dinner!’ During Khatami’s presidency when he tried to reach out to the West, we were always very conscious of the power struggle and difference of ideology between the Presidency , the Supreme Leader and other Iranian centres of power. With President Rohani, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has taken pains to stress that Rohani has his support and the full mandate to address


Arab World Iran

Arab countries will always be slightly suspicious of both the US and Iranian political agendas, so it would be wrong to say that any American-Iran detent will be received with uncritical relief.

the nuclear issue – something which has surprised everyone (perhaps Rohani most of all!) Secondly, it is assumed that in order to reach an understanding with the US, Iran would need to reduce its entanglement in Syria – which President Rohani has indicated that he indeed wants to do, while also signaling his readiness to see a different leadership in Damascus. Over the past decade, many of Iran’s most blatant interferences in the region seem to have been designed to counter fears of the US and Israeli threat:

Empowering Hezbollah in Lebanon; taking measures against US allies in the Gulf; and supporting terrorist plots and assassinations around the globe. While none of us are naïve enough to believe that a US-Iran deal will halt Iranian meddling around the region, such an agreement may deter Iranian interference and put a halt to direct Iranian threats against US allies like Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain. Reaching an accord with the US and the West and the drawing-down of antiIran sanctions could also be compatible with Iran repairing its relations with many neighbouring states throughout the Arab and Muslim world. US and UN sanctions have been a major obstacle to trade between Iran and its neighbours and Iranian businesses will be desperate to normalize economic dealings with countries like the UAE, Bahrain and Oman. Arab countries will always be slightly suspicious of both the US and Iranian political agendas, so it would be wrong to say that any American-Iran detent will be received with uncritical relief. However, over the last few years this growing confrontation and the likelihood of this turning into a military struggle has greatly contributed to tensions across this region. This has been a factor in the worrying growth of Shia-Sunni sectarian tensions. So such a regional deal could make a big difference to the political climate in several countries – particularly Syria – and be a starting point for reconciliation and a calming of social tensions – undoubtedly a good thing. For all these reasons, the new Iranian President’s first visit to the United States is an important event. We know that America won’t be cancelling its Iran sanctions overnight, and any kind of settling of the decades-long conflict

between these two traditional enemies is likely to be plagued by set-backs and misunderstandings, so this process could take months and eventual failure is a possibility. However, all of us have been impressed by the pace of initiatives and overtures by President Rohani: Letters to, and a phone conversation with, Obama; interviews with the US media; promises about never developing a nuclear bomb; confirmation of his mandate to reach a nuclear deal…. The list goes on. In GCC states recent Iranian interference has been very tangible and very blunt; cyber-attacks in Saudi Arabia; sectarian incitement through Iran’s Arabic media outlets; proven Iranian involvement in a whole string of terrorist plots; political attacks against the sovereignty of Gulf states; spy networks; and many more very dangerous and unacceptable measures. Therefore, it is in all of our interests to see a strong, moderate Iranian president reigning in the military and the hardliners and building bridges with the Arab world and the West. We all hope that he succeeds and that once again Iran can become a great nation; not through trying to attack and humiliate its neighbours; but through solidarity, consensus and strong ties with the rest of the Muslim world. Iran historically has always been at its best as the exporter of enlightened culture – poetry, sciences and philosophy; not the bullying pariah as it has been caricatured in recent years. If this be the case, then let’s all hope to see a return to Persia’s former greatness. GFI

This article is by Citizens for Bahrain. For more information visit www.citizensforbahrain.com

Gulf Insider November 2013

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Feature Advertorial

THE ELITE GROUP November Promotions & Offers Elite Resort & Spa Paelleras Night

Add some Spanish zing to your week with the best selection of paellas, made from the freshest ingredients and most fragrant rice. The atmosphere is completed by the live entertainment and warm hospitality. When: Every Wednesday from 7.30 pm onwards Where: Poolside Price: BD15 net per person.

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Feast on a meat bazaar with marinades and toppings of your choice cooked by our chefs at the seaside with a large choice of sauces and pasta. When: Every Thursday at 7.30pm Where: Waikiki Price: BD12 per person

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Gulf Insider November 2013

begins; enjoy soothing music and barbecue all evening long at the poolside. When: Every Saturday at 7.30pm Where: Waikiki

Aqua Fiesta Friday

Enjoy a hearty Arabic buffet with your family and kids. Starting with a broad selection of mezzes, we move on to live grills, traditional main courses, and finally delectable desserts. The spread also features international favourites. Walk around the poolside, get traditional henna designs, have a Bassara (fortune teller) unravel the mysteries of your future or take a turn at holding a falco; your kids can enjoy special games while live singers keep the mood upbeat as you relax with a cup of tea and perhaps a second helping of dessert. Price: BD 12 for adults and BD6 for kids under the age of 11.

For reservations & further information call on Tel. +973 1731 3333

Elite Grande Hotel Hot Grill night

Come and enjoy a succulent array of meats including lamb chops, steaks, chicken wings, shishtaook, makanek and many more items grilled to your taste. When: Every Thursday Where: H2O Price: BD10 net inclusive of Shisha

Catch of the Day

Enjoy the freshest sea food; select your fish and tell the chef how you like it cooked; you just cannot miss the all-youcan-eat-buffet When: Every Saturday Where: H2O Price: BD10 net inclusive of Shisha GFI

For reservations & further information call on Tel. +973 1756 5888


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Bahrain National Dialogue

SUSPENDING DIALOGUE PARTICIPATION IS

Bad for Bahrain

L

et’s be very clear, there is only one satisfactory way of emerging from the ongoing unrest in Bahrain and that is through the National Dialogue process. It is our only means of shaping a shared political vision that benefits all Bahrainis. From that standpoint, Bahrain enters very dangerous territory when various significant groups start boycotting the process. 22

Gulf Insider November 2013

A number of different parties have been guilty of this – both Sunni loyalist groups which temporarily withdrew in response to rioting earlier in the year; as well as opposition groups which have withdrawn on numerous occasions, seeking to impose frequent preconditions on continuing the talks. In the short term, these constant withdrawals destroy any kind of continuity or progress in the discussions – making

We need greater commitment from both loyalist and opposition parties than we have seen to date.


National National Dialogue Bahrain

it very difficult for the participants to reach consensus on the key issues. In the long term, this lack of progress or non-participation by key parties ruins the credibility of the talks and gives extra momentum to extremists and militants on both sides; ultimately making Bahrain a more polarized and divided place. We shouldn’t play down how difficult the Dialogue process is for both sides: For the Government this means being ready to make some very difficult concessions – For the opposition it takes courage and patience to sit down and talk, at a time when more radical elements are calling for violent revolution. Therefore, the easy road for both sides is to delay the talks, walk out of the sessions and undermine the dialogue – but manifestly, this will yield devastating results for Bahrain. Therefore, even when opposition groups like Al-Wefaq Islamic Society believe they have good justification for suspending their participation in the National Dialogue, they must think very carefully of the consequences of their actions; they should put the national Bahraini interest above partisan interests. The Government also has a moral responsibility not to take measures that put the success of the National Dialogue at risk; and should not create a climate where other sides feel compelled to withdraw. Prominent Al-Wefaq figure Khalil Marzouq has certainly been using increasingly provocative language, which aims to undermine the rule of law and condone violence. Despite the official Al-Wefaq position of distancing itself from violent acts, at a rally in Saar we witnessed Marzouq waving the flag of the 14 February Coalition, an illegal militant group which has claimed responsibility for numerous terrorist bombings and attacks on police. In such circumstances, few people will be surprised that action was taken against Marzouq, and his 30-day detention while various allegations were investigated. However, some figures have pointed out that his temporary detention put Al-Wefaq in a position where – after numerous temporary boycotts of the Dialogue on flimsy pretexts – they finally had a justifiable reason for their boycott.

The National Dialogue is our best and only means of reaching a political vision that secures a peaceful and united future for Bahrain. One could argue that there is a certain amount of blame on both sides for the talks once again being derailed – although you won’t hear anyone else publically acknowledging this: Any loyalist will tell you that Al-Wefaq don’t want Dialogue and all along they have been looking for excuses to revert to “violent and terrorist methods” to further their “extremist revolutionary Islamist” agenda. Meanwhile, opposition supporters will argue that they have no choice and their withdrawal was an inevitable response to continued “repressive measures” by the “regime”. Needless to say, this argument will go round and round in circles endlessly, as it has for the past two years. Playing the blame game and exploiting our opponents’ errors to justify our own inaction does not serve Bahrain’s best interests. All sides need to behave courageously in standing their ground in the National Dialogue, even when matters seem to be going against them. We need greater commitment from both loyalist and opposition parties than we have seen to date. Ultimately, the National Dialogue is our best and only means of reaching a political vision that secures a peaceful and united future for Bahrain. The participants, whether loyalist or opposition, must possess the determination and perseverance to follow through despite the frustrations, setbacks and hardships created by their opponents. We hope that political figures on all sides are up to the challenge. GFI

This article is by Citizens for Bahrain. For more information visit www.citizensforbahrain.com

Gulf Insider November 2013

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Feature Reviews

IRAN LAWMAKERS PASS BILL ALLOWING MEN TO

Marry Adopted Daughters

Human rights activists say approved bill, making girls vulnerable to the ruling from age 13, ‘legalises paedophilia’, by Saeed Kamali Dehghan.

P

arliamentarians in Iran have passed a bill that allows a man to marry his adopted daughter and while she is as young as 13 years. Iran’s Guardian Council, a body of clerics and jurists which vets all parliamentary bills before the constitution and the Islamic law, has yet to issue its verdict on the controversial legislation. To the dismay of rights campaigners, girls in the Islamic republic can marry as young as 13 provided they have the permission of their father. Boys can marry after the age of 15. In Iran, a girl under the age of 13 can still marry, but needs the permission of a judge. At present, however, marrying stepchildren is forbidden under any circumstances. As many as 42,000 children aged between 10 and 14 were married in 2010, according to the Iranian news website Tabnak. At least 75 children under the age of 10 were wed in Tehran alone. Shadi Sadr, a human rights lawyer with the London-based group Justice for Iran, told the Guardian; “This bill is legalising paedophilia, it’s not part of the Iranian culture to marry your adopted child. Obviously incest exists in Iran more or less as it happens in other countries across the world, but this bill is legalising paedophilia and is endangering our children and normalising this crime in our culture.” According to Sadr, officials in Iran have tried to play down the sexual part of such marriages, saying it is in the bill to solve the issue of hijab [head scarf] complications when a child is adopted. An adopted daughter is expected to wear the hijab in front of her father, and a mother should wear it in front of her adopted son if he is old enough, Sadr said. An initial draft of the bill, which had completely banned marriage with adopted children, was not approved by the council and it is feared that MPs introduced the condition for marriage to satisfy the jurists and clergymen. This is why Sadr fears it can pass the council this time. The bill has prompted backlash in Iran with the reformist newspaper, Shargh, publishing an article warning about its consequences. “How can someone be looking after you and at the same time be your husband?” the article asked. GFI 24

Gulf Insider November 2013

CONSUMER SATISFACTION SURVEY Awareness levels of financial services offered in the GCC. Key findings:  Bank accounts are common place across the surveyed GCC population (low cost blue collar labour excluded) – Only about 10% state that they currently do not have a bank account. Another 10% have more than one account.  Satisfaction with current bank relations is apparently very high – Approx. 60% of interviewees would clearly recommend their primary bank to family and friends and only a low percentage plans to definitely switch.  Share of people holding an online account already looks promising – Between 16-60% of the surveyed population in the different countries state that they have online as a banking channel.  However, only 50% of online account holders declare higher usage frequency of online compared to branch visits – KSA and UAE with higer and Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait with comparably lower stated figures.  Around 40% of online banking non-users declare to be not aware of online banking – For those being aware “security concerns” and “no value added” are the key reasons for not using it.  Only around 10% of current non-users state clear intention to adopt online banking within next six months – Intenders are young and have a strong needs profile in terms of <Quality>, <Protech>, <Simplicity> and <Status>.  Key is to understand different use-cases of different user types to establish clear value proposition – At the same time creation of awareness and building trust require marketing/PR and system related activities and investments. GFI Information provided by Roland Berger Turkey, Middle East & Africa , Almoayyed Tower, 22nd Floor, P.O. Box 18259, Manama - Kingdom of Bahrain. Phone +973 1756 7971 Email: dorit.posdorf@rolandberger.com


Feature Banking

ISLAMIC FINANCE DEVELOPMENT Indicator announces initial findings.

T

homson Reuters last month announced the initial findings from its collaboration with the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD), the private sector development arm of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB). Earlier this year, Thomson Reuters and ICD announced the creation of the ICD-Thomson Reuters Islamic Finance Development Indicator (IFDI), a numerical measure representing the overall health and growth of the Islamic finance industry worldwide. The IFDI, which will be officially launched at the Global Islamic Economy Summit, aims to expand the scope of Thomson Reuters’ universe of Islamic finance content, research and news analysis and to develop an unbiased multi-dimensional barometer for the development of the Islamic finance industry. The indicator measures five key components -

quantitative development, governance, social responsibility, knowledge and awareness. Based on its analysis, the IFDI has found that the UK is the global leader in Islamic finance education with over 60 institutions offering Islamic finance courses and 22 universities offering degree programs specializing in Islamic finance. Malaysia and the UAE, both established global Islamic finance hubs, followed the UK in terms of a comprehensive Islamic finance education infrastructure. Malaysia has 50 course providers and 18 universities offering degree programs, whilst the UAE has 31 course providers and 9 universities offering degree programs. Pakistan was placed fourth, with 22 course providers and 9 universities offering degree programs. The IFDI recorded 420 institutions offering courses in Islamic finance and

EUROMONEY QATAR CONFERENCE 2013 Major Conference to Outline Directions for Qatar’s Economy, with Focus on Strategy and Regulatory Changes.

T

he Euromoney Qatar 2013 Conference, a key meeting of the world’s leading players and thinkers in finance, will be held under the patronage of H.E. Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Prime Minister, State of Qatar, who will open the event with a major address on Qatar’s economic vision. Co-hosted by Qatar Central Bank, Euromoney Qatar Conference 2013 will take place at a crucial stage in the ongoing success story of Qatar, as the country embarks on a new wave of regulatory changes and enhancements to manage the evolution of its financial sector and support its plans for economic development. Overhauling the national regulatory

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Gulf Insider November 2013

framework will play a major role in defining the future direction of the economy, and also support the government’s plans for diversification. Qatar’s real GDP expanded at a robust six percent pace (year-on-year) in Q3 2013, according to QNB Group – with double-digit growth in construction, transport, communication, financial, real estate, and business services – and the country is working hard to ensure this growth is fully sustainable. Qatar is executing its master-plan to harmonise the existing national regulatory authorities - Qatar Central Bank, the Qatar Financial Centre regulator, and Qatar Financial Markets Authority, and the conference will be an opportunity for international

over 113 universities offering Islamic finance degrees. Malaysia also led in terms of research published on Islamic finance in the last three years, with 169 research papers, of which 101 were peer reviewed. The UK and USA followed with 111 research papers (56 peer reviewed) and 73 research papers (39 peer reviewed) respectively. A total of 655 research papers were issued globally on Islamic finance in the last three years, of which 354 were peer reviewed. GFI

The Global Islamic Economy Summit, organised by Thomson Reuters and the Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry, will take place on 25th & 26th November 2013 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. For more information and to register for the event, visit www.globalislamiceconomy.com

organisations to understand how the planned changes will impact them. Financial authorities are also creating a new framework for the regulation of Islamic Banking, under the Central Bank Law, Law No. 13 of 2012. The CBL clarifies the activities that can be undertaken by Islamic Financial Institution and defines the crucial role of a Sharia’a Supervisory Authority within each organisation. Both these subjects will be the topic of intense, informed debate at the conference. Other major Qatari financiers and policy-makers speaking at the event include H.E. Ali Shareef Al-Emadi, Minister of Finance, State of Qatar, H.E. Sheikh Abdullah Bin Saud AlThani, Governor, Qatar Central Bank, and Khaled Al-Aboodi, Chief Executive Officer, Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD). GFI For more information visit www.euromoneyconferences.com/qatar.


Oil Feature

OIL SUPPLY WILL NOT FALTER IN THE LONG RUN …but low prices are a thing of the past

R

oland Berger Strategy Consultants have examined the current status of the global oil market, providing insights into both, the demand and supply drivers that will impact oil price over the medium to long term. From a supply perspective, key aspects such as technological advancements in oil recovery techniques, the boom in US shale oil production, political stability in oil producing nations and the implications of sustained high oil prices on the dynamics of the supply market were assessed to determine marginal costs and future production limitations. From a demand perspective, key aspects such as economic growth, the rise of electric vehicles and other oil demand inhibitors, as well as the price elasticity of oil were assessed to forecast the long term demand for oil. The culmination of this analysis touches upon the expected long term trend in oil prices given the dynamics in both supply and demand.

Why the world will not run out of oil

One of the most discussed topics in the energy sector is “Will the world run short of oil?”. This question, often in the form of ‘peak oil’, is a driver of key decisions made not only in the oil industry, but across the energy sector and wider economy. “Given our research, this is very unlikely to occur in the medium term, and improbable in the long term”, said Jaap Kalkman, Senior Partner at Roland Berger Strategy Consultants Middle East. “Total accessible reserves are increasing every year thanks to increased explorations for

both conventional and unconventional oil and improved technology such as horizontal wells. Political instability, while still a factor, is not expected to have a huge impact on the future of oil supply. Furthermore, rising oil prices are making production from unconventional sources viable leading to an even more diverse source of supply. Non-OPEC countries and unconventional sources of oil are expected to continue driving growth in total oil supply in the future”, he added.

Demand is expected to continue growing

Given this promising outlook in oil supply, the question is what will happen to demand, specifically: “Will demand stay flat in the long run?” Once again, research indicates that this is highly unlikely to happen in the next 10 – 15 years. Demand has been growing at an annual rate of 1.3% over the last decade. Rapid GDP growth after the financial crisis, low regulation in emerging economies and challenges faced by alternative energy sources mean that demand is expected to continue growing. Non-OECD countries are expected to account for a larger share or even all of demand growth in the future, given lower economic growth and higher oil efficiency in OECD countries.

Oil prices will not drop below USD 70 per barrel

The final question answered is “Will oil prices drop below USD 70 per barrel?” Apart from daily or weekly fluctuations, once again the answer is no. Increasing demand and supply along with the rising

Expensive unconventional oil production will drive price increases and stability in the future. marginal cost of production, thanks to expensive tertiary extraction processes means oil prices are expected to continue rising in the future. Expensive unconventional oil production will drive price increases and stability in the future. While these are expected outcomes, black swan events which change the dynamics of an industry may occur. Therefore, we also analyzed potential game changers which might prove one or all of our predictions wrong. For example, technological innovations such as a biofuel revolution triggered by algae based feedstock, cheaper and accessible renewable energy and a more consumer friendly electric car industry are real threats to oil consumption in the long run, which may lead to lower demand and therefore lower prices. Ultimately, we hope that an understanding of the trends and risks associated with the oil industry will enable producers, businesses and governments alike to develop effective and sustainable strategies that can withstand these black swan events while delivering maximum results. GFI

For further information on Roland Berger Strategy Consultants visit www.rolandberger.com Gulf Insider November 2013

27


UAE Call to Naturalise

Call to Naturalise

SOME EXPATS STIRS ANXIETY IN UAE A call for the UAE to consider allowing expatriates to apply for citizenship has sparked a debate about national identity, where foreigners outnumber the local population by more than five to one.

S

ultan Sooud al-Qassemi, a member of one of the UAE’s ruling families, is one of the federation’s pre-eminent commentators and also one of the most well-known Twitter users in the Middle East, with more than 250,000 followers. Qassemi’s op-ed in a Dubai daily, suggesting that citizenship could be opened to long-time foreign residents who have contributed greatly to society, argued that Emirati society was ready for change. “Perhaps it is time to consider a path to citizenship…that will open the door to entrepreneurs, scientists, academics and other hardworking individuals who have come to support and care for the country as though it was their own,” he wrote in the Gulf News in September. The subsequent outcry suggested that many of his compatriots feel otherwise. A Twitter hashtag in Arabic, “this writer doesn’t represent me”, quickly grew to dozens of outraged tweets. “Don’t cosy up to foreigners at our country’s expense,” wrote one Twitter user under the name Saif Alneyadi. Many were bothered that Qassemi had written the article in English – with an eye presumably on a foreign audience – rather than to the Emirati people in Arabic. UAE political scientist Abdulkhaleq Abdulla was a rare voice in support of Qassemi for bringing up the subject. 28

Gulf Insider November 2013

“I like a person who doesn’t hesitate to take up the podium to speak up bravely on social and political issues, Sultan al Qassemi being a model,” he wrote, to much Twitter abuse. The objections ranged from worries about the added expense – the UAE spends tens of billions of dollars each year on free education, healthcare, housing loans and grants for its estimated 1.4 million citizens – to whether naturalised citizens could ever become true Emiratis. But perhaps the biggest concern was what impact foreigners could have on the UAE’s dynastic political system and conservative culture – based on deeprooted tribal values that are already considered under threat. Although Qassemi’s suggestion has no chance of being implemented anytime soon, the reactions it stirred revealed a deep apprehension in a society that depends on foreigners as workers and for tourism but also tries to shield itself from becoming like them. “Even without naturalising people, the state of our national identity is already in a very bad shape,” said businessman Abdullah al-Muhairi, 35.

Young Nation

The UAE is barely 40 years old, having come together in 1972 after living under British mandate for decades. Abu Dhabi, the largest of the seven emirates and seat of the capital, funds much of the federal budget from huge

oil revenues and regularly finances infrastructure and welfare projects in poorer emirates such as Ras alKhaimah. Dubai generates much of its wealth from trade, tourism and financial services. Before oil was discovered in 1950s, the mainly Sunni Muslim population lived in the desert or in small coastal towns, living off pearling and trade. Only a few relics of that past remain among the ultra-modern skyscrapers and upscale malls, including the house of the Dubai ruler’s grandfather, spice markets and wooden dhows which still sail with goods to Iran and Somalia. The foreign population ranges from low-paid construction labourers, mostly from south Asia, living in camps on the outskirts of major cities, to top executives who receive generous tax-free salaries. Tourism brings in 10 million more every year to Dubai alone. Foreigners are allowed to drink


Call to Naturalise UAE

The UAE already views the imbalance between the local and foreign populations as a threat to national security and has taken steps to tackle the issue.

alcohol in hotels and wear bikinis on public beaches, but their attitudes and dress are a sharp contrast to locals who are abstemious and usually clad in traditional monochrome robes. They are often accused of offending the country’s values and occasionally prosecuted for breaking decency laws. In a recent case last November, a British woman and Irish man accused of engaging in sexual activities in a Dubai taxi were sentenced to three months in prison and then deportation.

No Politics, No Problem

In addition to the cultural differences, many UAE citizens find it hard to believe foreigners would be willing to accept the country’s political structure. Political power in the UAE passes from father to son or brother to brother within ruling families, some of whom are related. The Federal National Council

(FNC), half of which is elected and half appointed, has limited parliamentary powers. “After being granted citizenship, would political rights be the next step forward?” social commentator Jalal bin Thaneya wrote in a response to Qassemi in the Gulf News. Muhairi, who ran unsuccessfully for an FNC seat from Ras al-Khaimah, said naturalised foreigners were not likely to share Emiratis’ belief in the importance of stability above all else. “We have no political parties, no political problems,” he said. “We have political stability … How do you guarantee that naturalization will maintain stability?” The UAE already views the imbalance between the local and foreign populations as a threat to national security and has taken steps to tackle the issue, including financing marriage funds, investing in fertility clinics.

As of 2011, the country allows thousands of children born to foreign fathers and Emirati mothers to apply for citizenship. FNC member Musabah al-Qetbi said granting citizenship to others could skew the country’s population even more. He also questioned the newcomers’ allegiances. “How can new citizens be loyal to the country? Love of the homeland has very deep roots in every citizen,” he said. Qassemi told Reuters his purpose was only to ask that a process for citizenship be introduced, not open the door wide open to foreigners. He said he believed assimilating more people would enrich the UAE’s culture and identity, not damage it. “Some of the critics seem to be so insecure that they are worried that in 1,000 years their identity will be eroded.” GFI

Gulf Insider November 2013

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Feature Telecome

WHAT GCC TELECOMS CAN DO TO COUNTERACT Dwindling Profits

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recent paper from Kinetic BPO, a specialist business process outsourcing company, revealed that companies are largely failing to align services with customer expectations. Key expectations from customers in the GCC include telecom operators’ ability to fix problems within a 24hour time period, a personalised service and to feel valued for their business. A misalignment between customer expectations and service currently exists due to companies not implementing correct metrics to measure ‘customer satisfaction’. Key areas include contact centres not measuring how fast calls are answered or how well issues are resolved; poorly trained frontline staff; and an overreliance on retail outlets for customer service. “A number of studies show a direct correlation between enhanced customer experience and profitability. Those who fail to invest in the ‘customer experience’ and align their services with customer expectations will lose market share and reduce profitability,” said Joe Tawfik, a telecommunications expert and CEO, Kinetic BPO. Many of the telecom companies

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in the GCC are beginning to address the challenges faced with increasing market competition, lower voice revenues and shifting customer needs. Companies like Batelco in Bahrain have looked to grow through international acquisitions such as the Monaco & Islands Division purchase from Cable and Wireless this year. At the same time, they are working towards streamlining their domestic operation to address the competition from VIVA and Zain. “With increased competition from other providers, mobile number portability and the fast pace of new digital technologies, customer engagement is now, more than ever, key for GCC telecom companies,” added Tawfik. Speed and agility have become central themes for many of the telecom companies in the region, as they look to evolve their operating models so they can become sustainable in this new market environment. “Whilst telecom groups are working towards streamlining their domestic operations to address the new market realities and to better prepare themselves for sustained growth... many of the operators currently have

few loyal customers. This makes these customers likely to churn if a better offer comes along. We believe there is a significant opportunity to convert neutral customers into brand advocates,” said Tawfik. Recent research from Gartner, cited that Middle East spending on consumerbased technology and on subscriptionbased services for mobile voice and data is higher than the global average. “There is a real appetite for the latest smartphone, newest app and innovative content from Middle East customers. This creates real opportunities for operators in the region and also dictates that speed is critical to capitalise on the opportunities,” concluded Tawfik.


Telecome Feature

UN RELEASES COUNTRY-BY-COUNTRY DATA ON STATE OF BROADBAND ACCESS WORLDWIDE Qatar is only MENA Country in Top 10 for Internet Connnection.

M Telecom groups are working towards streamlining their domestic operations to address the new market realities and to better prepare themselves for sustained growth...

obile broadband is the fastestgrowing technology in human history, according to the 2013 edition of the State of BroadbandReport. In terms of Internet use, there are now more than 70 countries where over 50% of the population is online. The top ten countries for Internet use are all located in Europe, with the exception of New Zealand (8th) and Qatar (10th). The report reveals that mobile broadband subscriptions, which allow users to access the web via smartphones, tablets and WiFi-connected laptops, are growing at a rate of 30% per year. By the end of 2013 there will be more than three times as many mobile broadband connections as there are conventional fixed broadband subscriptions. The State of Broadband is a unique global snapshot of broadband network access and affordability, with countryby country data measuring broadband access against the four key targets set by the 60 members of the Broadband Commission in 2011. South Korea continues to have the world’s highest household broadband penetration at over 97%. Switzerland leads the world in fixed broadband subscriptions per capita, at over 40%. By comparison, the US ranks 24th in terms of household broadband penetration,

and 20th in the world for fixed broadband subscriptions per capita, just behind Finland and ahead of Japan. ITU figures confirm that, worldwide, women are less likely to have access to technology than their male counterparts. While the gap is relatively small in the developed world, it widens enormously as average income levels fall. H.E. Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohammed Bin Saud Al Thani, Chairman, Ooredoo, said: “Broadband access continues to have a major impact on enriching people’s lives and connecting people with new ideas and new opportunities. It is a source of pride for Ooredoo that our home market of Qatar is the only nationfrom the MENA region in the top ten countries for Internet use, and one of only two non-European countries. Our challenge now is to ensure this level of productive access becomes the norm across our regional footprint, and that developing economies enjoy the same levels of access and opportunitity.” The State of Broadband 2013 is the second edition of the Commission’s annual report. Released every year in September in New York, it is the only report that features country-bycountry rankings based on access and affordability for over 160 economies worldwide. GFI Gulf Insider November 2013

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Feature Consumer Survey

LUXURY BRANDS IN THE GCC Data compiled by Roland Berger Strategy Consultants

Summary Points

• Luxury products are common place in GCC and luxury customers are the bigger shopping enthusiasts compared to other consumers – “Going shopping” and “Spending money” are much appreciated activities • The typical GCC luxury customer is driven by emotional appeal and progressive values amended by an emphasis on social and environmental consideration − While being comparably less cost conscious • “The brand” counts more than “The product”– Close to half of all luxury customers strongly agree that the brand is more important than the product itself making visibility of logos, omnipresence and high-profile recognition a must • Yet there is an evolving trend towards “personal product fit”– Around 60% of luxury customers think it is important that the actual product suits them well • Majority decides on the brand and product beforehand − Need to have product ambassadors and “must have items” that draw the consumers’ attention at early stages of the buying consideration journey •  Increasingly, consumers shift towards experiential luxury − Possibility to leverage experience trend for differentiation • More localization would enable luxury brands to create more attachment and loyalty − However a good localization and individualization strategy requires deep understanding of the consumers’ attitudes and affinities and a clear vision for the way forward GFI 32

Gulf Insider November 2013


Consumer Survey Feature

Shopping for luxury products is a common place across GCC - Over 1/3 of the people bought a â&#x20AC;&#x153;luxury productsâ&#x20AC;? within last 3 months.

Source:Company website; presss research

For full survey visit rolandberger.com Gulf Insider November 2013

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GCC Rail Network

GCC GEARS UP FOR

Regional Rail Network By 2030 almost every major city in the GCC will have some form of metro or rail network.

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he recently awarded multibillion dollar contracts for two of the Gulf’s biggest rail schemes signals a turn of fortune for the planned GCC rail network that hopes to address mounting urban mobility issues confronting the region. Qatar Railways Company awarded design and build contracts worth $8.2 billion for phase-one of its Doha Metro project, while Saudi Arabia’s Arriyadh Development Authority (ADA) signed more than $22bn of contracts for the delivery of the Riyadh Metro. According to MEED, these rail developments represent two of the region’s biggest metro schemes. In Riyadh, contractors will build 176 kilometres of metro lines within five years – an undertaking that even

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seasoned metro builders say has never been taken on before. The Doha Metro also involves the construction of multiple tracks. Both schemes face a multitude of challenges ranging from land acquisition to traffic management and manpower to financing. With these domestic projects now moving forward from concept to execution, experts say the GCC rail network is closer to forging ahead. Once completed, it will not only help address road congestion but also from a macro-economic perspective, boost economic growth, diversify economies, boost inter-regional trade and enhance the possibility of major Gulf cities becoming international trade hubs. With such far reaching implications, the region’s rail network aspiration

has become a priority development goal for GCC member countries and a matter of keen interest for international stakeholders. An assessment of the planned regional rail’s progress to date and the way forward will be made by Dr. Ramiz Al-Assar PhD, World Bank Resident Adviser, Gulf Cooperation Council - Secretariat General, Riyadh (KSA); Ibrahim Al Sabti, Director of Transportation Department, The Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf-General Secretariat (KSA) at the forthcoming MENA Rail and Metro Summit, organised by MEED Events, and scheduled to take place on October 29-30, 2013 at the Beach Rotana Hotel, Abu Dhabi, UAE. Earlier this year, Dr. Al-Assar


Rail Network GCC

stated that the regional network could be operational as early as 2018; he also expects the approvals for the regional authority that will govern the development and management of the railway – including agreements on customs and immigration policies as well as ticketing and profitsharing mechanisms – will be given in 2014. Ulrich Koegler, vice-president, at USbased Booz & Co in the UAE said, “I see political will to make it [the GCC Rail Network] happen. I see inter-operability standards are set or being developed and national networks are being pushed forward. The GCC is committed to a 2018 launch of the network. However, financial concerns could potentially slow progress on the project.” Other experts say an operational GCCwide network might take a few more years beyond 2018; chances of it becoming a reality are better as most GCC countries are striving ahead with implementing the domestic

rail infrastructure needed to form the backbone of the integrated GCC rail network. Dr. Amjad Bangash, Managing Director, Rail, Bechtel Ltd (UK), who will be speaking at the summit, says operability and standardisation will be a critical issue in the realization of the GCC rail network. “Standards for track capacity and operating practices across countries should be established, and a solution to revenue-sharing challenges must be put forward. These are some of the challenges confronting a project of this magnitude; but also one that can be managed,” he added. A feasibility study into the GCC rail project was concluded in 2009 and the scheme is expected to involve the construction of 2,177 kilometres of track and cost at least $15.5 billion to $20 billion. If all of the metropolitan rail schemes currently planned go ahead, then by 2030, almost every major city in the GCC will have some form of metro or light-rail network. GFI

Most GCC countries are striving ahead with implementing the domestic rail infrastructure needed to form the backbone of the integrated GCC rail network.

Gulf Insider November 2013

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Somali Pirates

THE FORGOTTEN HOSTAGES Not all Somali hostage situations end as happily as the one depicted in the new film Captain Phillips – and some don’t end at all. Meet the British colonel trying to help. By Colin Freeman

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itting in his makeshift office in a spare bedroom of his home in Nairobi, Colonel John Steed has an unusual strategy for dealing with the Somali pirates who he speaks to by phone every day. He has no money to offer in ransom payments, and no navy with which to make threats. Instead, he has a polite, friendly manner, and asks if they might just release their hostages for free. “I make it clear I’ve got nothing in my pocket to bargain with,” says Britain’s former military attaché to Kenya, who has set up a new mission to free Somalia’s “forgotten” hostages. “Instead 36

Gulf Insider November 2013

I ask them to release their captives for humanitarian reasons.” Appealing to a pirate’s better nature may sound like an exercise in hopelessness, especially if you know the story of someone like Captain Richard Phillips, the American seaman played by Tom Hanks in the nerve-shredding thriller Captain Phillips, out later this month. However, the hijacks that Col Steed is seeking to resolve are mostly hopeless situations already. While Somali piracy has by-and-large disappeared from the news headlines recently, thanks to a crackdown by shipping companies who have improved their on-board security, Col Steed’s

caseload is the rump of nearly 100 sailors who still languish in captivity. They are crew members from Third World nations, whose own governments often show little interest in their fate, and whose families lack the financial or political clout to bring their case to the attention of the wider world. Many have simply been abandoned by their shipping companies, who prefer to leave them to the pirates’ mercy rather than pay a ransom. Some have spent up to three years as hostages. “It is disgraceful behaviour to send sailors into a high-risk area like the Indian Ocean without looking after them, but


Pirates Somali

it does happen,” says Col Steed. “A lot of the crews are from Third World countries where the owners think they can get away with short cuts – they don’t even pay the sailors’ wages to their families while they’re kept hostage.” One such case on his books is the Albedo, a Malaysian-flagged container ship captured in November 2010 with a crew of more than 20 from Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Rather than pay the $8 million ransom demanded by the pirates, the ship’s Iranian owners, who are thought to have been uninsured,

have simply gone to ground, said Col Steed. The Pakistani crew members were freed after a Pakistani businessman raised a $1.2 million ransom payment, but their fellow crew members have enjoyed no such philanthropy. Nor has the international antipiracy force sent special forces to the rescue. The risk of casualties in such operations is so high that they are only carried out if hostages’ lives are in imminent danger. Three months ago, the Albedo sank in a storm, with five of the crew drowning along with five pirates as they abandoned ship. The rest have since been transferred to the Somali mainland, where they are now being held near the flyblows pirate port of Hobo. The Albedo, says Col Steed, is typical of Somalia’s “forgotten” hostage cases. With no negotiators or diplomats in contact with the pirates, the hostages’ families often go for months or even years without hearing news of their loved ones. So how does he persuade the pirates to hand over their hostages without a ransom? “With great difficulty,” comes the answer. Most pirate gangs, he points out, are themselves in debt to clan chiefs who have funded their missions, and are reluctant to accept that they have picked one of the few boats whose owners cannot pay a ransom. In previous cases, though, they have been persuaded to accept a cut-and-run payment for their “expenses”, which can sometimes be arranged via a whip-round in the shipping industry. Another key part of Col Steed’s job, though, is simply establishing a rapport with the pirates. Last month, he brokered safe passage for a medical team out to visit the crew of the Albedo, for whom prolonged captivity has been a challenge to both body and soul. On another of his outstanding cases, the Thai-owned fishing trawler Prantalay 12, five sailors are already believed to have died from ill health. Originally hijacked in April 2010, they now have the dubious distinction of being the longest-serving hostages in modern pirate history. When such crews will finally be freed remains to be seen, although Col Steed at least appears to be making some impression on their pirate captors, as

Many have simply been abandoned by their shipping companies, who prefer to leave them to the pirates’ mercy rather than pay a ransom. he discovered recently when he spent a week in hospital. “I got several ‘get well soon’ messages from middlemen acting on the pirates’ behalf,” he said.

Somalia’s Toughest Hostage Situations 1. The Iceberg 1

The Iceberg 1 cargo ship set sail from the port of Aden in Yemen in the spring of 2010, and was hijacked by Somali pirates barely 10 miles out to sea. The ship’s Dubai-based owner, who shipping industry sources believe was not insured, refused to pay the $10 million ransom demanded by the pirates and simply went to ground. Even pleas for help from the hostages’ families were ignored. Meanwhile, the multinational antipiracy force that patrols the Indian Ocean was unwilling to mount a rescue attempt, knowing that close quarters combat would carry a high risk of casualties. The crew’s multinational make-up – typical of modern commercial seafaring – complicated the picture further. With six different nationalities on board – six Indians, nine Yemenis, four Ghanaians, two Sudanese, two Pakistanis and one Filipino – no one government was under pressure to take the responsibility for getting the sailors freed. Instead, the crew were left alone to face one of the worst ordeals in modern seafaring history. Confined most of the time at gunpoint to a cramped, dark room in the ship’s hold, they lived on a diet of one bowl of rice per day, leaving many suffering sickness and malnutrition. As the pirates grew ever more Gulf Insider November 2013

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Somali Pirates

Scourge of the seas: a masked Somali pirate stands near a hijacked Taiwanese fishing vessel n the once-bustling pirate den of Hobyo, Somalia. Photo: AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh

impatient, they began torturing the crew, whipping them with electrical cables and tying them upside down. Driven to the brink of madness, one officer committed suicide. Another who tried to drown himself was locked in a room alone for five months as punishment. Eventually, they were rescued – not by the multinational piracy fleet, with its warships, special forces, and hi-tech weaponry – but by a ramshackle force from Somalia’s newly-reconstituted coastguard. After an armed siege that lasted for two whole weeks and saw heavy exchanges of gunfire, the pirates finally surrendered, three of their number dead. “We didn’t think we were ever going to get out of there,” said Jewel Ahiable, 33, the ship’s Ghanian electrical engineer, in an interview with The Sunday Telegraph after being freed just before Christmas last year. “Now we feel like we have been reborn.”

2. The Albedo

The Malaysian-flagged container vessel was hijacked in November 2010 as it sailed through the Gulf of Aden bound

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for Kenya. Its Iranian owners are thought to be uninsured and have refused to pay a ransom, despite its crew of 23 enduring torture at the hands of their captors. Early on, the pirates even killed one young Indian crewman in a bid to raise the pressure. Fellow crewmen have been beaten with gun butts, locked in containers, and had the skin of their palms torn with pliers. At one point, the entire crew were packed into an empty swimming pool without food or water for three days. The ship’s captain, Jawad Khan, bore the brunt of the hijackers’ anger as he tried to keep them calm. On one occasion, he was tied up and lowered into the sea as pirates sprayed bullets around him. In August 2012, Capt Khan and the other seven Pakistani crew members were freed after a $1.2 million ransom was paid by a Pakistani philanthropist. But the pirates have refused to release the remaining 15 sailors − seven Bangladeshis, six Sri Lankans, an Indian and an Iranian − unless more cash is handed over. In July, the ship itself sank during heavy storms, with four of the sailors

As the pirates grew ever more impatient, they began torturing the crew, whipping them with electrical cables and tying them upside down. believed to have drowned along with a number of pirates. The rest have since been transferred to a pirate port on the Somali mainland. So far, there is little sign of progress in their case, despite a desperate SOS letter that the remaining hostages gave to Capt Khan when he was released, pleading with the outside world to help. GFI

‘Captain Phillips’ is now showing in GCC cinemas.


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China Gold Investment

HOW CHINA IS TAKING OVER THE WORLD, One Gold Bar at a Time By Jan Skoyles

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he year 2013 in the gold investment market will be remembered as the year of China, so we’ve produced a stunning infographic detailing China’s great golden rise to power. In just a few months the world’s largest country will overtake India as the biggest consumer of gold and its gold market continues to break records. A country that already mines over 400 tonnes of gold a year, China still demands more physical gold no matter the price. Between January and July this year the Shanghai Gold Exchange delivered more than 1,333 tonnes to gold investors. In the last 100 years China’s gold mine productivity has climbed from just 4 tons of gold in 1949 to an expected 440 tons

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this year, none of which is exported. Hong Kong imports have been over 600 tonnes this year alone, but still more gold is demanded. Whilst it may appear that China has exploded onto the gold scene this is by no means the case. China’s ancient monetary history is well documented. They are the world’s oldest scientists when it comes to different forms of money, having being the first to experiment with paper money and different metallic standards. Therefore during an international financial crisis one would imagine that the country with the longest and most diverse monetary history would be the place to turn to for direction.

Global domination in less than a century?

Less than 100 years ago the Shanghai Gold Business Exchange was one of the biggest gold centres in the Far East. Since then gold has gone from being an almost illegal investment to a market that has become increasingly open in modern China. Whilst the Western world works to keep the paper system upright, China’s experience with fiat money and its concomitant phenomena of debasement and inflation may mean that they are looking to diversify their monetary system. Their recent history certainly suggests as much, as they have been gradually opening themselves up to the


Gold Investment China

world’s most precious marketplace. Between 1950 and 1995 small changes in China’s gold market were made, a gold jewellery retail market was opened and the Gold Panda was launched. But the first indication that the government was looking to develop the gold market came in 1993. At this point the State changed the price-fixing method for gold from a state-determined price to a floating one. Between 2000 and 2002 key measures were taken that would provide the foundations for the country’s power in the gold market. In 2000 the Chinese government included the establishment of an open gold market in its five year economic plan, indicating gold is a strategic market. Shortly after the PBOC abolished the monopoly of the gold market and announced a planning and management system to see it forward. Just 18 months after the new weekly quotation system for the gold price was launched (opening up the gold price to international markets) the Shanghai Gold Exchange officially opened in 2002. It is this exchange that has grabbed the attention of the Western media this year. The State has also worked hard in the last decade to encourage institutions to participate in the gold market. In 2010 the paper “Guiding opinions on promoting the development of the gold market” was

co-authored by several senior figures in the gold market. Amongst other targets commercial banks were asked to be actively engaged in developing China’s national gold market. Bullion producers were targeted for strategic assistance, with banks instructed to offer finance for overseas gold mine purchases and innovation.

China gets modern with her gold investment market

Since 2004 China’s State Council has continued to push and encourage individual gold ownership. Just this week the PBOC announced that individuals could import seven ounces of gold tax free and without reporting to customs. Elsewhere gold savings accounts are offered in the majority of banks and have proved to be exceptionally popular. Between 2010 and 2011 ICBC , China and the world’s largest bank, saw over 1 million gold savings accounts open. Just five years after it became legal to invest in gold and silver China’s Central Television began running news items encouraging citizens to invest in precious metals. At industry level, senior members of the gold market are almost of celebrity status. In 2011 Sun Zhaoxue, President of China National Gold Corporation and the China Gold Association, received the

In the last 100 years China’s gold mine productivity has climbed from just 4 tons of gold in 1949 to an expected 440 tons this year. award for Economic Person of the Year on state television. Over the coming weeks The Real Asset Company and @KoosJansen of In Gold We Trust will be producing a series of reports that will provide a window into China’s gold market. The history of China and gold goes back thousands of years, but right now we have little doubt that we are seeing historical moves in both the gold and international monetary system. Stay tuned – China is taking over the world, one gold bar at a time. GFI

Jan Skoyles is Head of Research at The Real Asset Company. Her work and views are now featured on a range of sites including Kitco, GATA, lewrockwell. com and The Telegraph. You can keep up with Jan’s commentary by subscribing to our RSS feed Gold Investment News.

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Feature Property

SKI CHALETS ARE BACK IN FASHION Increasing number of buyers in the Alps come from overseas with a growing number form the Gulf.

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ollowing four years of price corrections or, at best, stable prices, the Alps are firmly back on the radar of second home buyers and investors. Savills and Alpine Homes experienced a doubling of transaction levels in Austria in the first half of 2013 compared to the same period in 2012 and a corresponding 57% increase in the Swiss Alps. Out of the 27 resorts surveyed, all resorts have either stable or increasing prices. 55% of resorts have witnessed price increases of more than 5% in the last 12 months. This is in contrast to 2012 when 28% of resorts surveyed were still witnessing price falls of more than 5%. This can be attributed to a returning level of confidence, cash rich buyers, low interest rates and a flight to traditional, mature markets. An increasing number of buyers in the Alps come from overseas with a growing number form the Gulf. Russian buyers are also particularly active at the top end of the market. Savills Research found that different countries attract different buyers to their markets and have seen different price levels and trajectories as a result.

This echoes an annual house price increase of 12.4% in the rest of Austria during 2012. Austria boasts one of the fastest growing tourism markets, with a 5% increase in international arrivals last year, compared to an average of 3% across the rest of Europe. A relaxation of buying restrictions to non-EU citizens in 2012 is likely to add further competition in second home buying and create upward price pressure.

Austria - Average prices paid are up by 10% on average since 2012.

Switzerland experienced house price growth of 2.1% in the 12 months to

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France - From March 2012 to March 2013, there was a 19% decline in house sales in France. Lack of vendor and buyer confidence caused by negative growth outlook, downgraded credit ratings, increased wealth tax, and proposals to increase corporation tax were some of the influencing factors. This has rubbed off in the second home markets. In the Savoy region (Courchevel, Meribel, Val d’Isere, La Plagne and Megeve,) foreign buyers fell to 13% of all buyers in 2012 (compared to 20% of the total in 2007). With lower prices, recovery prospects and still low interest rates, the fundamentals now exist for a pick up in demand.

September 2013, buoyed by economic expansion, low interest rates, growth in real wages and immigration and investment in the residential sector. Savills and Alpine Homes witnessed a 57% increase in transactional volumes to June 2013 (year on year) for second homes in the Swiss Alps. Despite the continued strength of the Swiss franc, buyers are motivated by the fiscal environment and financial stability, underwritten by lifestyle and exclusivity factors. New legislation restricting the construction of second homes to no more than 20% of the total (Lex Webber) is beginning to limit the supply of newly built properties. Yolande Barnes, director of World Research at Savills sums up the outlook for Alpine residential real estate. “The increasing number of High Net Worth Individuals globally is increasing demand for real estate in many jurisdictions. With average prices up by an average of around 5% across the Alps since 2012 and a growing diversity of buyers, ski property is again increasing in popularity, particularly among wealthier, cash rich buyers. Savills thinks it is likely that alpine resorts will see similar growth in 2013 – 2014 as in 2012 – 2013. GFI


Book Review Feature

THE OCTOBER 1973 WAR Politics, Diplomacy, Legacy

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he October War of 1973 (also known as the ‘Yom Kippur War’) was a watershed moment in the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict and the modern Middle East more broadly. It marked the beginning of a US-led peace process between Israel and her Arab neighbours; it introduced oil diplomacy as a new means of leverage in international politics; and it affected irreversibly the development of the European Community and the Palestinian struggle for independence. Moreover, the regional order which emerged at the end of the war remained largely unchallenged for nearly four decades, until the recent wave of democratic

Edited by Asaf Siniver revolutions in the Arab world. The fortieth anniversary of the October War provides a timely opportunity to reassess the major themes that emerged during the war and in its aftermath, and the contributors to this book provide the first comprehensive account of the domestic and international factors which informed the policies of Israel, Egypt, Syria and Jordan, as well as external actors before, during and after the war. In addition to chapters on the superpowers, the EU and the Palestinians, the book also deals with the strategic themes of intelligence and political economy, as well as the socio-political legacy of the war on Israeli and Arab societies. GFI

‘An important and authoritative reconstruction by one of the most talented stables of historians and experts ever assembled. “The Yom Kippur War” is highly relevant today, as the world faces a new era of upheaval with the potential for war in the Middle East. This comprehensive volume will help a new generation of readers — scholarly and otherwise — puzzle through the lessons learned from the region’s most violent clash between Arabs and Israelis.’ — Patrick Tyler, author of A World of Trouble: The White House and the Middle East from the Cold War to the War on Terror.

10 ACTIONS FOR EFFECTIVE PLANNING

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othing helps move things along better than a good plan. It helps the people who have to work under the plan. It leads to better use of resources. It gets things done faster. It helps anticipate problems before they occur. It is one of the aspects of managing others that universally receives a positive response. A good plan leaves more time to do other things secure in the knowledge that things are on track and proceeding as planned. Here are ten actions for effective planning:

1.  Lay out tasks and work. Most successful projects begin with a good plan.  What do I need to accomplish?  What are the goals?  What’s the time line?  Lay out the work sequence from A to Z.

2. Set the plan. Buy a flow charting and/or project planning software. Become an expert in its use. Use the output of the software to communicate your plans to others. 3. Set goals and measures. Nothing keeps projects on time and on budget like a goal, a plan and a measure. Set measures so you and others can track progress against the goals. 4. Manage multiple plans or aspects of big plans. Have a master plan. Good planning decreases the chances you will lose control by spreading yourself too thin. 5. Manage efficiently. Plan the budget and manage it. Spend carefully. Set up a funding time line. 6. Match people and tasks. People are different. Give people tasks that match their capacities.

7. Visualise the plan in process. What could go wrong? Run scenarios in your head. Pay attention to the weakest links which are usually groups or elements you have the least interface with or control over. 8. Monitor progress against the plan. How would you know if the plan is on time? Could you estimate time to completion or per cent finished at any time? Give people involved in implementation feedback. 9. Find a mentor. How would they go about matters? 10. Get others to help. Share your ideas about the project with others. If you’re a manager, delegate creating the plan to the people who will be responsible for acting on it. You provide the goals and what needs to be done, and let others create the detailed plan. GFI

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Iran Petropolitics

IRAN AND PUTIN

Debunking the “Law of Petropolitics”

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ew York Times columnist Thomas Friedman once stated in his column that when the price of oil goes down, the amount of freedom in oilexporting countries goes up. He called it “The First Law of Petropolitics.” To an unbiased observer this might make sense at first glance. After all, would Iran have the time and resources to censor the press and rig the elections if the price of oil were $20 per barrel, or would their leaders be struggling to write the paycheck for the secret police that keeps them in power? If the price of oil were $200 per barrel instead, wouldn’t those oil-rich countries and their supreme leaders, flush with cash, subject their populations to more surveillance and oppression? Unfortunately for him, Friedman’s “First Law of Petropolitics” has long been debunked by reality.

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According to the “law,” with oil prices over US$100, Iran should be at the height of its arrogance and thumbing its nose at the hubbub about its alleged nuclear weapons program. Yet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has just publicly stated that he wants to reach a deal on Tehran’s uranium enrichment program as soon as possible. Does this mean the United States has won? Did Iran back down in the face of international sanctions? Not so fast. Rather than claiming a resounding victory, the United States needs to be careful not to fall into the trap of the Russian mastermind—President Vladimir Putin. Compared to just a few months ago, Putin’s image worldwide has improved significantly. According to a Huffington Post poll, 49% of the surveyed picked him as the most effective world leader

during the Syrian chemical weapons crisis, with Obama receiving just 25% of the votes. After the Syrian crisis, Putin has established himself as a potential peacemaker in the Middle East. His diplomatic solution was in clear contrast to the “blow ‘em all up and ask questions later” attitude adopted by Obama. Imagine if Putin were to emerge as a mediator for Iran during the upcoming talks—which would make sense, as Putin is one of Iran’s staunchest allies. From there, he could easily move one step further and even bring a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. With an impressive résumé like that, he could easily win a Nobel Peace Prize, and it would be much more deserved than Obama’s. But awards are not what Putin is after. In fact, he’s after the same thing the US is: oil.


Petropolitics Iran

By making friends all across the Middle East and both sides of the Sunni-Shi’a split, Russia would have unlimited access to all those oil fields in the Arabian Gulf. By making friends all across the Middle East and both sides of the Sunni-Shi’a split, Russia would have unlimited access to all those oil fields in the Arabian Gulf. Combine that with the massive oil deposits Russia has within its own borders, and Putin would be controlling a huge chunk of the global oil supply. Which he would use to leverage every possible political advantage for himself. Europeans already have more experience with “Putinization” than anyone could ever want. Most European countries are wholly dependent on Russia for their oil and gas supplies, and not happy about it. How perilous this “balance of power” really is became obvious in 2009, when Putin cut off the natural-gas spigot to Ukraine. Deprived of their delivery system, millions of Europeans were left without heat in the middle of winter.

WILL RUSSIA LOSE ITS OILY GRIP ON EUROPE? Vladimir Putin is on a roll. Ever since the Russian president-turned-primeminister-turned-president got into office 13 years ago, he’s been deftly maneuvering Russia back into the ranks of global heavyweights. These days, he’s averting cruise missiles from Syria before breakfast. For a strategy to return Russia to superpower status, Putin had to look no farther than his own doctoral thesis, Mineral Natural Resources in the Development Strategy for the Russian Economy. To say that Russia is rich in natural resources would be an understatement. In 2009, the former heart of the Soviet Union surpassed Saudi Arabia as the world’s top oil producer—largely because Putin put reviving Russia’s aging, neglected oil industry at the top of his priorities list. In just 16 years, they have risen by more than 30 billion barrels—which may still be too low, because it’s not yet clear how much of the 90-odd billion barrels of undiscovered oil in the Arctic is actually recoverable. And in addition to new discoveries, the rising price of oil has made many formerly uneconomical deposits worth a second look. As a result, about half of the more than 10 million barrels of oil per day (bopd) that Russia produces are exported… only to return as cash and, increasingly, a fistful of clout. With Putin’s monster deposits being the closest and most conveniently

accessible, many European nations rely heavily on oil and gas imports from Russia and the former Soviet states: In a world where “he who has the energy wields the power,” Russia’s European customers find themselves in a very uncomfortable situation. How fragile their position is became clear in January 2009, when Putin, enraged over a price and debt dispute with Ukraine, shut off the natural-gas spigot, leaving customers in 18 European countries literally out in the cold. Now the Russian vise grip on Europe is about to tighten even more as new energy markets are opening up to Moscow. In January of this year, Russia’s pipeline company, Transneft, completed the $25 billion, 4,700-kilometer-long East Siberia-Pacific Ocean (ESPO) pipeline, and in June, Putin signed one of the world’s biggest oil deals ever. For the next 25 years, Rosneft, Russia’s state-controlled oil company, will deliver about 300,000 barrels per day to China—raising Russian oil exports to the Chinese by 75%. Besides China, the pipeline is also conveniently located for Japan, South Korea, and even the US West Coast. This advantageous situation allows Putin to play hardball with Europe: If its customers there don’t ante up what Moscow wants in price or pound of flesh, its income from ESPO customers could enable the country to twist the EU’s taps closed. GFI Gulf Insider November 2013

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Feature Profile

GulfInsider PROFILE

Dutch artist Marianne Pasmans, for who Bahrain has been home for 20 years.

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hat’s you latest work? I was commissioned to provide the art for the newly opened The Domain Hotel. I produced a total of 10 large paintings but reproduced in 238 square meters, and these have been reproduced as prints that hang in all rooms as well as in communal areas. You used to be a in Finance, why did you choose that career? Guilty. I was in Finance for 13 years. Believe it or not I enjoy mathematics and my role in finance involved this. I love numbers. I especially love big numbers (laughing) You have travelled all over the world. So what’s you favorite city? Sydney, Australia – it has everything you could possibly want in a city. If not an artist, what other career would you love doing? I trained as a ballerina which I loved and was good at, but being as tall as I am (6 feet) meant few male dancers were strong enough to handle me, so no matter how good I was, my opportunities as a dancer were very limited.

reproduce and publish some of her art very soon in Gulf Insider) Do you paint when you are in a particular state of mind? Yes. I only paint when I feel positive and then I empty my mind. What are you currently working on? I am working on a future duo exhibition that will be something very special, a combination between my paintings and sculptures. I’m also finishing a book of photography focusing on B a h r a i n’s plantations which has taken me

some years to complete. There are a lot fewer plantations in Bahrain than there used to be which is a shame. They have a unique beauty worth capturing and preserving. What are the most valuable lessons in life you have learned? To be patient and committed, to embrace life and people, to never give up and always believe in you. Through discipline, application, determination and commitment one finds true freedom and liberation. I “dream” an awful lot too, and having kept diaries over years and years, I suppose with a vivid imagination and sheer will one can achieve anything despite any severe setbacks! How do you relax? Sharing time with friends and getting inspired by the little things in life, my Weimaraners [dogs] Blue and Zepl; the walks and time spent just you with animals and nature, reflecting on life, and having the opportunity to take time off, to just be. GFI

How would you describe your art? Well, I prefer to let it speak for itself (editor’s note – it’s big, beautiful, vibrant in colour, and we intend to

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Gulf Insider November 2013


Advertorial Car

FORD EXPLORER

Almoayyed Motors gives even more irresistible reasons to buy a Ford now.

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lmoayyed Motors, the exclusive distributor of Ford and Lincoln vehicles has launched its Value Deals Campaign that will be running until the end of 2013. The exciting promotion offers customers discounts of up to BD 1,500 on selected SUVs and Sedans. “Ford is equipped with fascinating technologies and boasts sleek designs and powerful performances,” said Sandeep Mathur, General Manager at Almoayyed Motors. “The available technologies include various features that improve the driving performance and the driver’s comfort, such as SYNC® with MyFord® Touch that keeps your eyes on the road yet connected to the world through a voice activated system for your phone, music AC temperatures and even for turn-by-turn directions.” “Other features include the Active Park Assist which measures the distance to the curb and between parked cars, and the MyKey® system that allows for the controlled use of the car through a key –the top speed and even volume of the radio can be pre-determined and controlled,” further elaborated Mathur. “Our Value campaign illustrates these features that have made Ford a leading brand in the market today, and provides our customers with the opportunity to experience its thrills from now until December 31, 2013.” Amongst the sedans available at exclusive prices is the Focus with a 1.6L and 100 HP engine. Crisp and agile, it

is a popular choice for young drivers looking for a stylish car with state of the art performance technologies, like Ford’s signature Active Park Assist and SYNC®. It is also equipped with an ABS braking system and dual zone automatic ACs. Also available is the Taurus that comes with a newly bold design that matches its roaring 3.5L V6 263 HP engine. It utilizes the signature MyKey®, SYNC® and MyFord® Touch along with BLIS® (Blind Spot Information System), a system which warns you of any cars approaching you, making it the ultimate innovative sedan. Although smaller, the Figo takes pride in its enigmatic kinetic design and intelligent features that make it the smartest choice for your daily use. With a 1.6L 101 HP engine, front and passenger seat air bags and an ABS braking system, the Figo stands for strength and safety. For those looking for bigger cars that can accommodate more passengers and more cargo, Almoayyed Motors’ campaign is also extended to its wide array of SUVs, including the Escape, Explorer and Edge. The Escape takes capability up to entirely new level with its 2.5L iVCT I-4 engine and 168 HP. It also represents advanced engineering that utilizes a 6-speed SelectShift Automatic® Transmission, along with the latest technologies, including SYNC® system with MyFord Touch® and the iconic MyKey® feature. The Edge offers a bold aerodynamic

The biggest in the range of SUVs available at amazing prices is the Ford Explorer. exterior consisting of fluid shapes and a smooth roof, giving it a fearless look. But besides its great looks, it comes with a V6, 3.5L engine and 286 HP, making it an impressive performer. The Edge also provides the driver with technology at their fingertips, including SYNC® with MyFord® Touch and MyKey® features. The biggest in the range of SUVs available at amazing prices is the Ford Explorer. Adventurous and powerful, it has a V6 3.5L, 290 HP engine and is spacious enough to seat up to seven passengers comfortably. It also allows you to select the terrain settings to maximize performance and adapt to your preference, including normal, sand and mud with its Terrain Management® System feature. With its MyFord® Touch and MyKey® systems, the Explorer is the ideal choice for bigger families. GFI

To experience the powers of Ford’s sedans and SUVs, visit Almoayyed Motors in Sitra or call 17 737373 to book your test drive today.

Gulf Insider November 2013

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Feature Profile

GulfInsider PROFILE

French entrepreneur Eric Boss owner of Red Scarf Agency, has been filling a niche market in Bahrain by organizing and providing models and hostesses for shows and events.

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hat projects are you working on? I’m doing lots of things; I am organising a fashion show for Saks Fifth Avenue, I recently helped putt together a campaign for the EDB involving over a hundred people, a UN event at the BIC involving 80 people. The project I am working on now are photo-shoots for different advertising agencies, I will organize the timeout awards for the 20th November, and I’m doing promotions for Samsung and Bahrain City Center. What do you most like about your work? I love the fact that I never know what my next day is going to be like. I believe that if you enjoy what you do, you will always do it better; and I love what I do.

weren’t the CEO of Red Scarf? I love the sea, and I’m sure I would have been in a career that somehow involved being near it. When I was 24 I took a couple of months to spend sailing. I sailed across the Atlantic, starting from the South of France to Ibiza, through the Strait of Gibraltar, and across the Atlantic Ocean to the Caribbean. My ideal vacation

involves going sailing with my wife and very close friends. Any new plans? I am busy setting up a new company, Caurica International, a private jet concierge security service. It is essentially a flying ambulance; we will provide emergency medical evacuation throughout the GCC and MENA regions on board an aircraft fully equipped with medical equipment and staffed by trained medical personnel. Do you have a favourite quote? “The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing” Henri Ford. GFI

What is your least favourite aspect of your work? My schedule swings from being extremely busy to too quiet. I would have liked it to be more evenly spaced out, but that is just the nature of the business. What is the biggest challenge you have faced? 2011 was a very difficult year because of the troubles in Bahrain. I lost 95 per cent of my business because all my clients cancelled their events. The only thing I could do was hang on and wait for things to get better, and they have. What do you do to relax? I like to read. My favourite author is Ken Follett, and I also enjoy French history. What would you be doing if you

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Eric Boss


Advertorial Feature

TOURISTANBUL Take time to Discover Istanbul. Why book a hotel when you can get a free tour of the city!

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nyone who flies through Istanbul and has a waiting time of at least 6 hours is welcome to Touristanbul. After you arrive at Istanbul Atatürk Airport, you will be picked up. Then you will be taken to the historical places and beautiful restaurants. You will enjoy Istanbul’s historical and natural beauty rather than wasting your time waiting at the airport. After a marvelous tour, you will be taken to the Atatürk Airport. During the tour, you will be able to see the most significant historical sights of a city that has hosted the major civilisations of the world. You will be a privileged visitor of the many magnificent traces that each of them has left in history. If the waiting time between your connecting flights in Istanbul allows, you shouldn’t miss this experience.

Terms & Conditions  You need to have an international

transit flight through Istanbul with Turkish Airlines.  Your layover must be atleast 6 hours (maximum 24 hours) between 09:00 and 18:00  Just proceed to the hotel desk in the International Arrival Hall at Atatürk Airport half an hour before the tour starts.

Tour Scheduled  Departure from Istanbul Atatürk Airport

 Delicious Breakfast  Visit Blue Mosque  Visit Hippodrome  Visit German Fountain  Visit Serpentine Column

 Visit Obelisk of Thedosius  Visit Topkapı Palace  Sumptuous Lunch  Visit Basilica Cistern  Return to Istanbul Atatürk Airport GFI For more information email touristanbul@thy.com or visit www.istanbulinhours.com

If the waiting time between your connecting flights in Istanbul allows, you shouldn’t miss this experience.

The Blue Mosque

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Bahrain Restaurants

BAHRAIN RESTAURANT NEWS Maki introduces new healthy option

Maki, a fine contemporary fusion Japanese cuisine restaurant located in the World Trade Centre Manama, is collaborating with Alia Almoayed, a nutritional therapist and health speaker, to add a series of health-conscious options to its menu. After carefully selecting the ingredients, the “AliaApproved” Maki is the first maki delicately made of brown rice and comes wrapped with Mame paper (Soybean paper), fresh local grilled Hammour, with fresh Cucumber peels, fresh Avocado, and sprinkled with Wasabi flakes.

For more information about Maki, visit www.olivermaki.com

Plums - new menu for meet lovers

Plums, which has recently unveiled a new menu, is a delight for meat lovers. Situated in the five-star Ritz-Carlton Hotel, it is elegant and displays dramatic pieces of art in black, white, and orange. The new menu features specialties such as Chateaubriand, New York Strip, and Cowboy Steak, carved at the guest’s table, and Wagyu Short Rib Smoked, which is served smoking under a striking glass dome. Among the appetisers, the grilled lamb leg skewer with olives is recommended. Meat is smoked in-house, which gives it a delicious burnt-wood fragrance reminiscent of an Alpine skiing holiday. Chef Guy Gateau assures us that Plums serves only the finest cuts of meat, from the top 2% of the range. The beef is Certified Angus, imported from the USA, and all the lamb comes from Aveyron in France. A meal here is expensive, and for people who appreciate fine quality.

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Meisei - update

Meisei is situated in the trendy block 338 in Adliya. A soothing water feature greets guests when they enter, and there are interesting decorative elements all around, such as a bamboo-forest-inspired light fixture. A sushi station takes centre stage, indicating to those in the know that the quality of the raw fish is carefully maintained. Attentive staff make the dining experience comfortable and pleasant. The food is a delight. Chef Michael claims that his cuisine is such a departure from the norm that the master chefs who trained him would probably disown him if they saw his menu. He experiments with unusual combinations like black rice sushi, papaya kimchi, and Wagyu beef rolls. The giant futo lobster maki deserves a special mention, as does the fact that vegans are also catered for here. The dessert menu features delights with whimsical names such as “Snowball” and “Cloud in the Sky”. If you are feeling more adventurous still, head up to the first floor where the chef’s creative talents are allowed a free rein to come up with some truly exciting fusions such as Japanese pizza and Japanese tacos. The Chef’s touch is apparent everywhere, from small details on the menu to the selection of artwork. One more floor up is a trendy rooftop lounge where the resident DJ creates some inspired musical fusions in the evenings. They also carry Bahrain’s most extensive sake menu.


Restaurants Bahrain

Kempinski introduces new business lunch

The Kempinski’s Saveur restaurant have just started offering a 3 course business lunch between 12.30 – 3.30 pm Sunday to Thursday, featuring a different menu every day of the week. Dishes include cheese ravioli in basil cream sauce, sautéed mushrooms and pine nuts with beef medallion, complimented by potato puree, rosemary jus and parsley foam, minced lamb arayas with steamed sea bass, grilled baby vegetables and confit potatoes. Gulf Insider enjoyed a delicious tomato soup starter with tasty croutons – poured at the table, followed by King Fish. The overall presentation and service was excellent – as was the taste of the food. The lunch was rounded off with tasty homemade ice cream and fresh fruits from the dessert buffet. We were also tempted by the delicious looking pastries. All dishes are made using fresh ingredients; many of the vegetables and herbs are sourced locally. Price: BD 10 NET, inclusive of one soft drink.

GFI

For reservations: (+973) 1717 1000 or restaurants. bahrain@kempinski.com

In stores now, only BD2/www.Bahrain-Confidential.com Gulf Insider November 2013

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Feature Hotel Review

THE DOMAIN HOTEL, BAHRAIN Situated in Bahrain’s Diplomatic Area, jostling for space among busy office towers, this is not exactly where one would expect to find such a five-star hotel.

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owever, once we make our way through the confusing tangle of one-way streets and hand over our keys to the valet, a grownup playground awaits. There is a small information desk in the lobby, so typical of boutique hotels, and smiling staff welcome us as we pass an enormous display of glass and mirrors which lights up at night. The flattering gold-tinted mirrors theme continues throughout the hotel, making it a delight for narcissists and Instagrammers. The carpets are a funky swirl of purple and yellow, and there are even colourful images on the ceilings. All in all, it has a

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glitzy, retro charm all of its own. And of course, the gorgeous views from every window cannot be emphasised enough. The room interiors are much more neutral, featuring crisp whites, creams, and dark woods. The welcome fruit plate contains, to our pleasant surprise, peaches rather than the usual apples. A butler acquaints us with the in-room smart tablet, which controls the curtains, the lights, and the Do Not Disturb sign outside the door. Even as we are impressed with the device, we have to wonder why it doesn’t also control the television, why the room service menu isn’t on it instead of in a binder, and

why it doesn’t come pre-loaded with a gigabyte of music to help put us to sleep or to start a party, as the mood may be. The walls are adorned with large prints by Marian Pasmans, the Bahrain based Dutch artist, which help create an uplifting mood. An espresso machine placed in the room means you do not have to make do with a terrible cup of instant coffee in the morning. The bathroom is clean and modern, and thoughtfully equipped with essentials like dental and shaving kits, which some hotels neglect to do unless you ask for them. It also has one of the nicest showers we’ve ever experienced. There


Hotel Review Feature

The Domain is aiming to straddle the space between hotel and social club – Stay, work and Play being its oft repeated motto. is a large floor to ceiling glass wall and it is quite something to soap yourself up as you look over the Manama skyline and contemplate existence. The Domain is Bahrain’s newest luxury hotel brand and is still a work in progress, with the gym and spa yet to be opened. Once complete, the facilities will spread out over two floors and offer quick spa and day spa options to those in need of some rejuvenation. The rooftop pool area’s sleek white design and electric blue lighting makes it feel like you are swimming in a space-age futuristic bubble. The rooftop bar, Txoko, is sophisticated without being overly formal, and the glittering city lights make for a gorgeous backdrop. It attracts an interesting mix of people, quite different from the crowds normally seen to frequent Bahrain’s nightspots. The highlight of our stay, however, was the Friday brunch, which is a nokids-allowed, classy affair. Served on the 34th floor, with views of the city and the Muharraq bay all around, it is a real treat. There is an extensive buffet of hors d’oevres and desserts, but the mains are à la carte. Meals are served still in the pan. To our delight, they also served the biggest jumbo prawns we have ever seen. The Domain is aiming to straddle the space between hotel and social club – Stay, work and Play being its oft repeated motto. If it succeeds in this aim, only time will tell, as while it is undoubtedly an attractive property, its real value will need to come from the myriad ways in which guests can engage with it. GFI

For reservations visit TheDomainHotels.com Gulf Insider November 2013

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Car Rolls Royce

GulfInsider CAR REVIEW

ROLLS ROYCE PHANTOM II Nick Cooksey enjoys the rare luxury of the majestic Rolls Royce Phantom II Drophead Coupe.

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f I had to sum up the Rolls Royce Phantom II in one word, it would be “opulence”. Yes, this car is the very definition of automotive opulence, and the flagship of the Rolls Royce brand. No expense has been spared, no detail has escaped a craftsman or engineer’s attention, and nothing but the best of everything has come together to make this car. I drove the Drophead (convertible) Coupe, but it’s also available as a Sedan or Coupe. And as you’d expect, this car is a very comfortable place to be, whether sitting in the front or the back. The 2014 Phantom II enjoys subtle

changes over the previous model, including new rectangular LED headlamps and softer curves. Rolls Royce draws on a long tradition and history, and clearly prefers not to tamper too much with appearances unless

absolutely necessary. It’s classicallystyled and has an unmistakable identity perhaps best symbolized by its huge grille and iconic Spirit of Ecstasy lady. Its traditional appearance, however, is only a clever disguise. Underneath is hidden cutting-edge technology. The Phantom II has received shiny new electronics, with a Harman Kardon stereo, a satnav system complete with a massive 8.8 inch screen and a 360-degree camera system to help guide it into the CEOs parking space. It is a massive car, but it is not unwieldy as you would expect from something of this size.

The author of this article, Nick Cooksey, In addition to being publisher of Arabian Magazines is a jury panel member of the Middle East Motor Awards.

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Rolls Royce Car

The 2014 Phantom II enjoys subtle changes over the previous model, including new rectangular LED headlamps and softer curves.

The interiors are generous and fantastically spacious, and I simply sink into the huge and soft leather seats. If you so desire, the headrests can be embroidered with your initials or family crest, which is only one of the many, many details that can be customised to the buyer’s exact specifications. In fact just about anything not included can be added on request, for a fee, of course – you are only limited by your imagination... and wealth. I am the kind of person who loves cars and something I often do during a test drive is to turn off the radio or music system so I can better hear and enjoy the engine. Well, when driving the Phantom, the engine seems to make no sound at all. I even turned off the air conditioning to hear better, but there is still nothing to hear. It’s bizarre. The 6.8-litre V12 engine, certainly from inside the car, seems

silent. Nor am I able to feel any vibration. Yet this huge multi-ton monster can elegantly move you from 0 to 100 km/h in under 6 seconds. The Rolls Royce Phantom II is a car designed for royalty and VVVIPs, and it was entertaining to notice how other cars on the road deferred to mw when driving it. I am a considerate driver, but decided to conduct an experiment and immediately discovered that I could cut in front of others and no one dared honk or get upset, and despite much heavy traffic driving, nobody – not even once, attempted to cut in front of me. For the short time I had the Rolls, I experienced far more polite driver behaviour on the roads of Bahrain. GFI

Car supplied by EuroMotors, visit www.rolls-roycemotorcars-bahrain.bh

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Feature Sailing Arabia

SAILING ARABIA The Tour starts 9th February 2014 in Bahrain

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FG International, the leading global private banking group has announced its return in 2014 as title sponsor for the fourth edition of the prestigious Sailing Arabia – The Tour, the Gulf region’s only annual long distance offshore sailing event organized by Oman Sail. The event will again be known as “EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour ” and with the dates set for 9 to 24 February 2014, the classic 15 day, 760 nautical mile Gulf coast challenge is officially on. Contested in identical Farr 30 onedesign keelboats, it will feature calls

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at eight world class marinas in four nations, from Bahrain to Qatar and the United Arab Emirates with the finish in Oman’s beautiful capital city, Muscat. All indications are that the EFG Sailing Arabia - The Tour will build on the huge successes of 2013 with 12 GCC and international teams expected to enter the event. Last year Team AISM, skippered by Bertrand Pacé, eight time winner of the Tour de France à la Voile and helm of two America’s Cup challenges, were crowned 2013 champions. The 2013 edition hosted top echelon international skippers who rated the


Sailing Arabia Feature

The 2013 edition hosted top echelon international skippers who rated the regatta among the best in the world. regatta among the best in the world. They included Olympian and winning Volvo Ocean Race skipper Sidney Gavignet who was at the helm of the sponsorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s campaign entry EFG Bank (Monaco); British yachtswoman Dee Caffari, the first woman to sail single-handed and non-stop around the world in both directions as skipper of the all women entry Al-Thuyara Bank Muscat; Omani Mohsin Al Busaidi, the first Arab to sail non-stop around the world and rising star and skipper of Team Abu Dhabi, Adil Khaled, who competed in the 2008 Olympic Games, the 2011/12 Volvo Ocean race. HH Sheikh Khalid bin Zayed bin Saqr Al Nahyan, Chairman UAE Sailing and Rowing Federation said EFG Sailing Arabia â&#x20AC;&#x201C; The Tour had become an eagerly awaited annual event in the region and a great platform to reflect the amazing talent and skills of local sailors. GFI

For more information on the race visit: www.sailingarabiathetour.com

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Feature Superyacht

THE SUPERYACHT OF THE FUTURE Stunning ship with a skeletal structure that’s set to be on every billionaire’s shopping list. Family of yachts: The fleet will feature a larger ‘mothership’ and five other smaller yachts

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ith its sleek weave of intertwining curves and its spacecraft-like design, this is the superyacht of the future, likely to become the latest plaything for the uber-rich and the envy of everyone else who will be unable to afford it. This is the first yacht designed by award-winning architect Dame Zaha Hadid. The Iraqi-born British-based architect designed a family of the futuristic superyachts for German shipbuilders Blohm+Voss. The upper mesh structure - which has been compared to a skeleton - of the stunning design connects the different decks of the 90m vessels. Dwarfing the five ‘smaller’ yachts is a design for a 128m ‘mothership’. The first of the smaller designs, which will be known as the Jazz, has been transformed into a fully workable design. It combines a sharp torpedo-like prow with a more open back. The rest of the fleet will be customised according to their owner’s desires. She told Dezeen: ‘As a dynamic object that moves in dynamic environments, the design of a yacht must incorporate additional parameters beyond those for architecture – which all become much more extreme on water. ‘Each yacht is an engineered platform that integrates specific hydrodynamic 58

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Dame Zaha Hadid


Superyacht Feature

Images: Moka for Zaha Hadid & Blohm+Voss

and structural demands together with the highest levels of comfort, spatial quality and safety.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; The 2004 Pritzer Architecture Prize winner has previously won worldwide acclaim for some of her iconic buildings. She famously designed the Aquatic Centre for the London 2012 Olympic Games and the futuristic Riverside Museum in Glasgow. Among some of her other more famous works are the Roca London Gallery, the BMW Central Building in Leipzig, Germany, and the MAXXI National Museum of 21st Century Arts in Rome. GFI

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Technology Gadgets

Acer Aspire ZC-605 Aspire ZC-605 by Acer looks stylish with a 19.5-inch display encased in a thick black bezel. The capsule-shaped speaker and port bay add to the aesthetics of the gadget which is fitted with hooks to hold cables in place. The ZC-605 can support an Intel Pentium 2117U processor, an Intel Celeron 1007U processor or an Intel HM70 Express Chipset. Users can spec up to 16 GB of DDR3 1600 MHz SDRAM, and up to 1 TB for storage, which comes in the form of a 7200 rpm, 3.5-inch SATA 3 GB/s hard disk drive. Graphics are dealt with by Intel HD Graphics. Aspire comes preloaded with Windows 8 and Acer Cloud.

TECH PICKS

Vine App On Nokia Lumia Smartphones Vine App, the video-sharing platform will make its way to Windows Phone smartphones later this year. The app on Nokia Lumia phones will have special abilities, such as full integration with the device’s camera. With the Android and iOS version, the camera functions within social apps often lack all the abilities of the device’s built-in camera app. With Lumia smartphones, users will be able to snap or record images directly within the app itself, with all the abilities of the built-in camera app.

Your Ultimate Gadget Guide Google Motorola Moto X

A little bird tells us that the Google-Motorola partnership is about to release its first device – a Google inspired and Motorola created Moto X Phone. Its camera will have a bigger lens and high pixel levels and be powered by a dual-core processor at 1.7Ghz with RAM at 2Gb and internal storage at 16Gb. The screen’s resolution will be at 720p and the device will be smartly designed with sleek curves and a back possibly made of carbon-fiber.

HP Slate 2 This gadget offers you all your tablet needs without burning a hole into your pocket. It is 4.75-inches wide and has fantastic pixel resolutions and sound quality. 60

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Feature Lifestyle Luxury

LIFESTYLE

Aigner Pen

Turn some eyeballs, across the table in your meeting room when you sign that contract worth a fortune!

Your favourite luxury brands bring you the best in fashion.

Aigner Cufflinks

Adding the finishing touches to your wardrobe, this is luxury redefined.

Bottega Veneta Intrecciato Leather Hold-all Bag @mrporter.com Your arm-swag for the season doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t just look great but is also the most convenient accessory you can carry when youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re on-the-go.

FTC Grenson Two-tone Leather Boots @mrporter.com These ankle boots are sure to make a fashion statement are a great for the season!

George Cleverley Suede Loafers @mrporter.com

These loafers bring out the fun in fashion; team them up with your causal or semi formal look of the day.

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Art Photography

Lebanese photographer Rania Matar’s picture of a young girl looking out of her window in Beirut

By Shirin Neshat

SHE WHO TELLS A STORY Exhibition features 12 Middle Eastern female photographers.

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he She Who Tells A Story exhibit at the Boston Museum of Fine Art in the US aims to show what life in the Middle East is like from behind the veil. The powerful pictures explore gender identity, war and peace, society and politics and features the work of a dozen prominent female photographers from the Middle East. Exhibition curator Kristen Gresh began exploring the photography of Middle Eastern women while living in Egypt in 2008. She said: ‘This exhibition is an opportunity to discover very poignant and powerful art work coming from the Middle East today which touches on issues of social and political issues but directly from the point of view of the artist and not from the point of view of the media.’ Iranian artist Shirin Neshat’s work challenges differing perceptions of religious customs by the western world and the Middle East. For example, one of her pictures juxtaposes a westerner’s distaste at the idea of a veiled woman with a

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This unusual image by Rula Halawani features a woman stood in a house destroyed by war


Photography Art

Moroccan-born Lalla Assia Essaydi’s work attempts to subvert traditional feminine concepts such as the harem and the veil fundamentalists’ disgust at the idea of being exposed. Morrocan photographer Lalla Essaydi’s work attempts to subvert traditional Middle Eastern gender symbols such as the veil and the harem. She often covers her models with a form of script that combines calligraphy and the traditional feminine ritual of henna tattoos. GFI

She Who Tells a Story: Women Photographers from Iran and the Arab World features work from Jananne Al-Ani, Boushra Almutawakel, Gohar Dashti, Rana El Nemr, Lalla Essaydi, Shadi Ghadirian, Tanya Habjouqa, Rula Halawani, Nermine Hammam, Rania Matar, Shirin Neshat, and Newsha Tavakolian. It runs until January 12 at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

Shirin Neshat often covers her models with a form of text that is a mix of calligraphy and henna tattoos

I am Eve by Newsha Tavakolian Gulf Insider November 2013

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Art Photography

By Iranian artist Gohar Dashti

Iranian Gohar Dashti shows a woman hooking towels on barbed wire

The Break by Nermine Hammam shows two militia eating against a beautiful backdrop

Two very different pictures by Shadi Ghadirian taken ten years apart 64

Gulf Insider November 2013


Photography Art

Iranian Newsha Tavakolianâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s work entitled Dont Forget This Is Not You (for Sahar Lotfi)

This picture by Tanya Habjouqa shows a young family sat behind their car on the beach

The Mother, Daughter, Doll series by Yemeni photographer Boushra Almutawake

Rana El Nemrâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s picture of two burka-clad women riding on a subway train Gulf Insider November 2013

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Feature Last Word

MODERN ART: AN ARTFUL SWINDLE Modern art proves the public will accept whatever you tell them to accept.

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alk into any ‘modern art’ gallery to see what kind of mindless, indefinable childishness this results in - piles of garbage, people standing in animal suits… pretty much anything other than, ironically, actual art. Random splatters of paint and childish nonsense are now the preferred modes of intellectual art culture. If something appears to have no point should one dig deeper until a

If something appears to have no point should one dig deeper until a point manifests? Does it not remain ultimately pointless?

An extreme example of minimalism

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Gulf Insider November 2013

Modern art pales before the superiority of that which came before it. There is a reason that during the Renaissance you didn’t have celebrated artists making random splatters of paint on a canvas because it is stupid. Because a child really could do it. point manifests? Does it not remain ultimately pointless? Modern art pales before the superiority of that which came before it. There is a reason that during the Renaissance you didn’t have celebrated artists making random splatters of paint on a canvas - because it is stupid. Because a child really could do it. Turner or Rembrandt did not have to compete with a Tracy Emin type character arranging unmade beds and claiming it to be art because it’s ‘pushing

boundaries’. It takes a society existing at a sustained level of luxurious stupidity to even imagine philosophizing such obvious lies. Few people care about art anymore because it’s so nonsensical. We have grown accustomed and actually expect art galleries to be awful and pointless. The galleries will never again discover genius like Leonardo so long as they contain trouts nailed to walls and televisions playing static. GFI


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