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GulfInsider The Arabian Review

Issue 105


Bureaucracy; The ‘Bigger Picture’


The West’s Delusion

Saudi Arabia Market View

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October 2013 more inside...

Cover Story

18 When ‘Democracy’ can mean ‘Islamic Republic’


50. GulfInsider Car Review Volvo XC60




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Oil Prices “will rise regardless of Middle East unrest”

Admin & Finance Nikesh Pola

Oil investors have benefited from the rise of the price of a barrel of crude over the past several years. The price was in the mid-40s during the 2008 crisis, and has risen to around $110 per barrel today. That’s quite a move, and, if you listen to the mainstream press, you’ll get one explanation for the current high price. But Rick Rule, Chairman of Sprott U.S. Holdings Inc., offered a different perspective in a recent oil and gas commentary to clients. He argues that higher demands from governments for a share of the revenue from oil operations, especially in Venezuela and Mexico, led to lesser re-investment in these countries by oil companies. As a consequence, oil production in these countries is in decline. And this problem will only get worse. In fact, according to Rick, the only reason oil hasn’t spiked much higher is because of big production improvements made by Saudi Arabia, which has helped compensate for the loss from South America: “It is the Saudis who have protected us, ironically, from 130, 140, or 150 dollar oil, because of incredible upgrades undertaken by their oil industry over the past ten years.” He believes that oil will remain high, because the price is driven by long-term supply issues, not short-term disruptions in the Middle East.

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Issue 105


Bureaucracy; the ‘Bigger Picture’


The West’s Delusion

Saudi Arabia Market View

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GulfInsider The Arabian Review

Issue 104

Bahrain Economy


The UN-Revolution


Banned for Being Attractive

It’s the ‘Arabian Gulf’

I enjoy your magazine more than any other but in your edition 104 you displayed on the cover page a map of the Gulf region but I was surprised to see it named as the Persian Gulf instead of Arabian Gulf. Surely you must appreciate the sensitive nature of the name and I assume it was an error but would appreciate confirmation of this. Hamad

Editor’s reply - Thank you for your email and of course you are absolutely correct. It should have been referred to as the Arabian Gulf, and I must say how embarrassed I am that this slipped by without my realizing. If you go to our online site you will see that we immediately corrected this.

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Freedom From Economics

I love how your articles and stories are not just revolving around economics, business and finance despite Gulf Insider being a business magazine. It encourages all types of readers to open the mag. Good job with the covers too but then you guys have always been known for your quirky covers. All the best!

Issue 103


Signs of Real Estate Recovery


Expat Marriage Meltdown


Why Smarter Government Benefits All


Indian Ambassador to Bahrain Dr. Mohan Kumar


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

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Volatility -

Issue 102

Online Car Reviews

Last Word

Your car reviews have always been different – more suited to the lay person’s taste. Though I knew you had a website, I hadn’t really looked it up. Thanks to your announcement in Gulf Insider’s September issue, I checked out the site and loved the many car reviews up there. Keep up the good work!

Your last word column is fantastic! Though for the past two months you’ve been using a woman’s picture on the page; that’s a little sexist, no? Are you trying to, subtely perhaps suggest that women always want the parthanian shot in any argument or discussion?


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Gulf Insider October 2013


GulfInsider NEW’S ROUND-UP

Qatar remains most expensive Middle Eastern country to build in

Dubai real estate growth ‘unlike 2008 bubble’ Dubai’s housing market is growing on the back of improving fundamentals with low off-plan sales, according to a new report by Standard Chartered. It said the improvement in real estate prices - reportedly up by more than 30% for apartments over the past year - was not caused by speculators in the market. The bank’s report said this, alongside increasing real estate regulation, differentiated the price rally from the one in 2008. Factors enabling this improvement included Dubai’s growing economy, an increasing population, and the prospect of the city hosting the World Expo 2020, said the report, adding that these limited the possibility of a new real estate bubble. The report said in the past twelve months, residential prices in Dubai have increased by 38 percent for apartments and 24 percent for villas while rents have risen 20 percent and 17 percent respectively. “The key difference between the real estate market in 2008 and in 2013 is off-plan sales. Flipping of off-plan properties was the main reason behind the previous boom-and-bust cycle. Authorities are deploying efforts to ensure that off-plan sales are controlled,” the report said. It added that the market has particularly benefitted from the two new property-related laws drafted by the Dubai Land Department - the Investor Protection Law and the Code of Corporate Governance for Developers. Dubai’s housing market is comprised of 417,900 apartments and 62,000 villas. Residential supply has been growing at an average compound rate of around 8 percent. By the end of 2013, supply should increase by 19,400 apartments and 3,400 villas, assuming there are no delays in construction schedules,. Dubai’s property market was hit hard after the global financial crisis, with prices plummeting around 60 percent in 2009 and 2010. Recently, the IMF has warned that the Dubai property market is again starting to display early indications of another bubble. – CONSTRUCTION WEEK 8

Gulf Insider October 2013

Qatar remains the most expensive country to build in the Middle East, and the 15th most expensive globally, following the release of an EC Harris report. According to the 2013 International Construction Costs Reports, Qatar and the UAE remain in the top 20 most expensive locations to build, while the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia continues to move up the cost curve, with inflation running at approximately five percent per annum. “Qatar’s construction market is relatively small and historically has been associated with a steady rate of development, but all of this is about to change with a set of major programmes linked to the 2030 National Plan and the 2022 Qatar World Cup,” said Nick Smith, head of Cost and Commercial, Middle East at EC Harris. “This investment programme includes major elements of social infrastructure, transport and energy infrastructure to support population growth and economic diversification.” “In previous reports, we have warned of the risk of high rates of inflation resulting from a peak of workload in Qatar from 2016 onwards,” he added. “These programmes have got off to a slow start, so as yet there is little price escalation in the system. This could change as programme procurement accelerates unless steps are taken to further build industry capacity in local and regional markets.” The annual study, which benchmarks building costs in 47 countries, found that relative construction costs around the globe have been affected by substantial currency fluctuations throughout the year. However, with the Gulf currencies closely linked to the US dollar, the impact of these fluctuations remained fairly limited.

Business News

Construction the most corrupt industry in Arab countries

Istanbul’s new airport ‘has advantage over Gulf’ Turkey’s giant airport under construction in Istanbul could outdo similar sized new and expanded airports in the Gulf in a race to be the regional hub for air traffic, according to leading aviation analysts CAPA. Dubai Airport Corporation is spending about $10bn on increasing Dubai International Airport’s capacity to 90 million passengers, as well as building the new Al Maktoum airport at Dubai World Central, with an eventual capacity of 150m passengers. Qatar also is expected to open its new Hamad International Airport by the end of the year, and Abu Dhabi is adding a massive midfield terminal. However, Turkey also is building a $5bn new airport in its capital with six runways and a total capacity of 150mn when it is completed. The first stage will provide a capacity of 90mn in 2017. Istanbul has said it aims to attract international travellers in transit to Europe, Africa and Asia – putting it in direct rivalry with GCC airports. And with a larger population than Qatar and the UAE combined – 13.85mn compared to less than 10mn – the city could be in a leading position, according to CAPA. The centre says the competition could come down to transit traffic versus ‘origin and destination’ (O&D) passengers – those originating in a country or finishing their journey there. “[The Gulf] airports are basing traffic, and therefore seat capacity, projections largely on transfer traffic; there is still a comparatively small amount of O&D traffic at Dubai or the other two Gulf hubs.” CAPA said in a blog post this week. “That isn’t the case in Turkey though ... Turkey does have the advantage of having a sizeable population and it attracts swathes of tourists from across Europe and beyond. “That O&D base must give it an advantage in the long term over the Gulf airports, which do not really have such indigenous traffic.” Both Dubai and Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport moved up three places in a ranking of largest airports by seat capacity during the first half of the year. Dubai is the fastest growing airport, now at number five, overtaking Chicago, Los Angeles and Frankfurt, while Istanbul is 17th, according to CAPA.- ARABIAN TRAVEL NEWS

A recent study by the International Federation of Consulting Engineers (FDIC) has found that the construction sector is the most corrupt industry in Arab countries. The study found that judicial bodies in Arab countries issued rulings against more than 60,000 people over the last five years on various charges of corruption. The problem is so widespread, it has hampered development efforts, wasted resources, created environmental crises and threatened the safety of people, the study added. The violations involved developments on unsuitable land, favoritism in awarding public tenders, procurement of substandard construction material, unlawfully subcontracted projects, neglecting inspection operations and bribery of officials and employees.– BIG PROJECT

London accounts for 50% of Mideast real estate investments in Europe Global commercial real estate services firm, CBRE Group Inc. has said London was the destination for almost 50% of Middle East investment in European commercial property in the first half, as political stability and growth prospects attracted buyers, Bloomberg has reported. The Middle East accounted for 9% of all commercial real estate bought in Europe during the period, up from 6% a year earlier. Almost half of the Middle East investment in Europe comes from the region’s sovereign wealth funds, according to the report. “London remains the destination of choice for foreign investors due to its solid growth potential and its status as a global financial hub, alongside its stable political environment and a transparent legal system,” Nick Maclean, Middle East managing director at CBRE, wrote in the report. - AMEINFO.COM

Gulf Insider October 2013


News Business

Abu Dhabi named world’s fourth best city Abu Dhabi has been named fourth in a survey of the world’s top cities, edging out other major capitals such as Sydney, Zurich and Tokyo. The Ipsos Top Cities Index surveyed people in 24 countries in February on their views for the best cities in which to work, rest and play. As well as an overall result, an analysis was also done of how respondents in each of the 24 countries ranked their top three. According to results of the online poll, Abu Dhabi emerged fourth overall behind New York, London and Paris with a top cities index score of 47. In the business category the UAE capital performed better with a ranking of number two, behind New York. For respondents in Belgium, Italy, Spain and Saudi Arabia it was ranked first. And while Abu Dhabi ranked sixth overall as the best place visit, and seventh as the best place to work, respondents in Saudi endorsed it as first in both categories. Overall, Zurich was ranked first as a place to live, with Sydney second and London third. The survey asked respondents to rank cities “based on what you have seen yourself, or heard from others”. In the least-popular cities, the bottom six were Budapest, Casablanca, Warsaw, Tehran and Karachi – across the 24 countries covered Karachi gets nil points, with Tehran... and Warsaw barely troubling the scorer. – ARABIAN TRAVEL NEWS

Saudi labour crackdown hits construction projects More than a third of construction projects in Saudi Arabia have been cancelled following a recent crackdown on overseas workers in the kingdom, it was reported. Of the 250,000 construction contracts that were ongoing before the start of a grace period for illegal foreign labourers to rectify their visa status, 90,000 have since been scrapped according to the National Committee in Saudi Chambers (NCSC). The kingdom announced the amnesty, which ends in November, as part of its push to weed out illegal workers as it tackles high unemployment among locals. It is estimated there are about 12m expats in the kingdom, of which about 4m have corrected their status. It is not clear how many labourers have left the country during the amnesty, although it is thought to be more than 1m. More than 575,000 visa corrections had been carried out by the construction sector, 220,172 by the trade sector, at least 60,000 in the food sector, 60,100 in downstream industries and 55,100 in the workshops and maintenance sector. A total of 42,836 workers transferred their registered jobs to the contracting, cleaning and maintenance sector, 26,566 to individual sponsors, 24,506 to the transport sector, 19,659 to the social services sector and 15,675 to the agricultural and fishing sector. – ARAB NEWS 10

Gulf Insider October 2013

GCC likely to implement single tourist visa from 2014 The GCC has said the sixmember bloc is currently working on setting up an automatic system for exchanging information online, to facilitate enforcing a single tourist visa system. “The issue had been discussed at the joint meeting between the Tourist Cooperation Committee in the AGCC and the GCC Tourist counterpart in the AGCC Chambers of commerce and industry, which was held in Fujairah last year,” said assistant undersecretary at the GCC for economic affairs, Abdullah Al Shobaili. – Khaleej Times

Bahrain awards $37bn worth of tenders in Q2 2013 Bahrain’s Tender Board released 17 tenders for the second quarter of 2013, of which 16 have already been awarded and are worth a combined BD14m ($37bn). The figures were released by Esam Khalafm, the Minister for Works after the cabinet session at the Qudaibiya Palace. Khalafm said tenders awarded were for infrastructure projects - including roads in Isa Town, Bab Al Bahrain - the Tubli Bay project, sanitation network projects in Sitra, construction projects in the various parts of Bahrain and the work on bridges.- BAHRAIN NEWS AGENCY

Business News

Workers ‘less satisfied in open plan offices’

UAE is 14th happiest country in the world The World Happiness report 2013, released Monday, is the second to be produced following a 2011 resolution by the UN General Assembly that encouraged further analysis by member countries into happiness in order to better inform public policy. Covering 150 countries, it measured areas such as social support, freedom to make life choices, generosity, perceptions of corruption, life expectancy and GDP per capita, looking at both people’s emotions and how they rated their lives as a whole. The latest findings, which are based on data collated between 2010-12, showed the UAE had climbed 0.41 points up the ranking table since 2005-07. According to the report, areas in which the UAE improved most included social support, or having someone to count on, as well as perceived levels of corruption and perceived freedom to make life choices. In other GCC results, Oman was ranked 23 happiest country, Qatar 27, Kuwait 32, Saudi 33 and Bahrain 79. The top rankings were dominated by European nations, with Denmark 1st, followed by Norway, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Sweden. Canada, Finland, Austria, Iceland and Australia rounded out the top 10. The least happy countries, according to the report, were poorer nations such as Rwanda, Burundi, Central African Republic, Benin and Togo. “There is now a rising worldwide demand that policy be more closely aligned with what really matters to people as they themselves characterize their well-being,” said report co-author Professor Jeffery Sachs. “More and more world leaders are talking about the importance of wellbeing as a guide for their nations and the world,” he added. “The World Happiness Report 2013 offers rich evidence that the systematic measurement and analysis of happiness can teach us a lot about ways to improve the world’s well-being and sustainable development.” Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, welcomed the result, saying it was a credit to the approach of the founding fathers of the UAE. “Our goal is to achieve the happiness of our people, and their satisfaction is the gauge of our success,” he said. “All development plans that we approved, all initiatives that we launched and all the government policies and laws, have one common goal - achieving the happiness of our people.” Sheikh Mohammed government teams had been directed during the recent Government Summit to “make their decisions and policies based on one goal, which is making society happy”. “No doubt happiness and satisfaction is something psychological for individuals, but the government’s mission is to provide dignified living and welfare for its citizens, to make life easy for them as well as to create opportunities for them to achieve happiness for themselves and for their families,” he said.

Open plan offices leave workers far less satisfied than private offices and do not boost teamwork or interaction among colleagues, a study has found. But the Australian study of tens of thousands of workers across hundreds of buildings around the world found that there was one gripe that workers in all office types share: the temperature. The study found that more than a fifth of workers were unhappy with the office temperature, irrespective of the type of office. The study, published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, found that most open-plan workers believe the lack of privacy and extra noise outweighs the benefits of increased interaction. “Our results categorically contradict the industry-accepted wisdom that open-plan layout enhances communication between colleagues and improves occupants’ overall work environmental satisfaction,” it found. The study, by the University of Sydney, was based on more than 40,000 worker surveys in 303 office buildings in the US, Finland, Australia and Canada. The study found that more than half of the workers in open-plan offices were dissatisfied with the lack of sound privacy. Workers in enclosed private offices were the most satisfied with their work space followed by those in shared offices, followed by those in open-plan offices (either partitioned cubicles or completely open-plan). “Even though occupants are satisfied with interactions in open-plan layout, their overall workspace satisfaction will eventually decrease unless a certain level of privacy and acoustical quality are provided.” – DAILY TELEGRAPH

Gulf Insider October 2013


News Business

‘Affordable housing doesn’t make money’: Gulf developer

1,259 Gulf residents apply to live on Mars A total of 1,259 Gulf residents have applied to join a program that is aiming to establish the first human settlement on the planet Mars by 2023, with the majority coming from Saudi Arabia. The Mars One Astronaut Selection Program received more than 202,586 applications from people around the world seeking to be among the first to obtain a one-way ticket to live on the Red Planet. Organisers said applicants come from over 140 countries, with the largest coming from the US (47,654), India (20,747), China (13,176), Brazil (10,289) and Great Britain (8,497). A spokesperson for Mars One told Arabian Business a total of 1,259 residents from the six GCC countries applied to join the program. With 477 applications, the majority of would-be Gulf astronauts seeking to blast into space came from Saudi Arabia. Bahrain registered 421 applicants, followed by Kuwait with 142 and Qatar with 122. Just 52 UAE-based residents applied, and only 45 were willing to swop Oman for the Red Planet. The deadline has now closed for applications and all 202,586 applicants will go forward to the Mars One Selection Committee, which will select prospective Martian settlers in three additional rounds spread across two years. The project was launched in April by Stichting Mars One, a Dutch non-for-profit foundation. In the coming years, a demonstration mission, communication satellites, two rovers and several cargo missions will be sent to Mars. These missions will set up the outpost where the human crew will live and work and it is planned to have a human settlement on the Martian surface by 2023. – ARABIAN BUSINESS 12

Gulf Insider October 2013

Affordable housing will continue to be a dream in many parts of the Gulf because it does not make financial sense for developers, an experienced master developer said. “Unfortunately, affordable housing doesn’t add up when you do the numbers,” said Bahrain Bay CEO Robert Lee, who is managing Manama’s massive 43 hectare reclamation project and has previously worked on major Dubai developments Dubai Marina, Palm Jumeirah and Emirates Living. “That is the fundamental problem, that land prices in most jurisdictions are too high to actually make affordable housing. “If you want real affordable housing you actually have to be gifted land from the government with infrastructure to the plot line, then you can actually utilise the construction cost to basically equate the affordable housing level and that’s probably the bare minimum because the cost of construction has gone so high that you can no longer add the land price or anything else. “This is going to be a fundamental issue in many of the regions, especially in Dubai.” The real estate industry and governments are increasingly stating that markets need more affordable housing instead of dramatic apartment towers. Rents in Dubai have risen an average 9 percent since the start of the year. Outlying areas and new developments are particularly experiencing growth in demand as escalating rents push residents to more affordable areas. In Saudi Arabia, the government is attempting to build 500,000 homes across the kingdom, majority of which would be for low-income families. However, construction companies revealed the ambitious goal was under threat because the intense demand was putting pressure on their ability to import sufficient building materials and causing wages to rise. Overall construction costs had risen 20 percent, contractors told Arab News.

Business News

Bentley introduces the New Flying Spur to the Middle East

Luxury automotive manufacturer Bentley Motors last month unveiled the much anticipated New Flying Spur to VIP customers and media at the prestigious five star JW Marriott Marquis in Dubai, UAE.

Continuity Middle East Seminar – 18th Sept 2013, InterContinental Regency Bahrain Keypoint has successfully conducted a seminar endorsed by Business Continuity Institute (BCI) providing business continuity Management practitioners across the region a platform to discuss some of the evolving trends with experts in the BCMS field. Continuity Middle East Seminar has welcomed participants across industries such as Government, Banking, Telecommunications, IT, Real Estate, Finance. The seminar covered presentation from leading BCMS experts on topics such as Making BCMS a strategic advantage, Practical application of ISO 22301,ISO 22301 certification process, Setting up a cost effective BCM facility, Overview of BCMS solutions, BCM Games, Use of cloud computing to enhance BCMS,BCM jobs and opportunities in the Middle East, UAE BCM standards.

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Gulf Insider October 2013


Feature Bureaucracy


looking at the ‘bigger picture’ By Nicholas Cortes 14

Gulf Insider October 2013

Bureaucracy Feature


veryone’s time is precious and we don’t want to be kept waiting, doing nothing, when often we know exactly what needs to be done but can’t do it because it takes an official stamp … and that has to be provided by a bureaucrat, who is on a coffee break, out of the office, or off attending a training course on how to be more customer friendly! Oh, how much better if instead of being in the European Union, or India or China, we were in a small state where everything must be better by the simple fact that small has to be more efficient. Fewer barriers, fewer bureaucrats, more direct lines of communication, speedier decision making – well so the theory goes. Why look at Singapore – swift decision making processes, smart applications, efficient systems and bureaucrats and the result is wealth and opulence. Why everyone wants to be like Singapore don’t they? Delegations come from all countries like those people of ancient times who were seeking the equally illusionary, ‘secret of youth.’ Alas, delegations leave disenchanted when they find the answer is a simple “hard work, faith in order, honesty in business, the application of the rule of law for everyone and most of all, a topdown-bottom-up commitment to the country and its success. Hmmm … all too hard, it will never work here! What critics of the large state lethargy probably admire in their idealized small state is the informal network which allows problems to be solved in an instance instead of waiting days or weeks, or sometimes years for the issue, let alone the outcome, to be addressed. A word in the right ear and as the ‘old boy network’ in Northern climes would say, “Bob’s your uncle.” Wheels move, problem solved, the informal network has worked yet again. In another career in a distant year, on a small isle, I once had a requirement to see the Prime Minister, but a formal call was proving surprisingly difficult when there was a politically vexatious issue and no-one wants to be the purveyor of bad

news. Staff find all manner of excuses to protect their man from moments of discomfort or confronting policies. And then a contact told me the PM always went shopping in the Saturday morning fruit and vegetable market, as he had done all his life. So now, by ‘curious happenstance’ I bumped into him there, without his usual phalanx of oleaginous advisers, protectors and hangers-on. He had a reputation for brusqueness but in the relaxed setting he was warm and charming and invited me to share a coffee so that we could address our “common problem.” Which we did, in a candid and helpful manner. I got a useful message for my ‘boss’, his counterpart, and he was appraised of my country’s position, and not through

So in many instances, the informal network is far stronger than the formal network, based as it is on positions and appointments. the ‘softening filter’ so often used by ‘Advisers.’ We knew definitively, where both countries stood. A problem if not resolved, was now mutually understood. I was quick to let the officials know they had been circumvented. Nothing brings an invisible tear to the bureaucratic face like a note that states, “The PM and I yesterday agreed …” and they weren’t there when it happened! Oh yes, the smaller the State, the more jealously the weapon of ‘access’ is guarded for in the face of centralized or hierarchical decision making. The Arab ‘leader’s majlis’ is therefore, a hugely democratic institution which gives citizens direct access to their rulers in a way that citizens in other democratic countries and communities seldom have

access to their leaders. In Bahrain, for example, the regular ‘majlis,’ allows all citizens to raise their concerns directly with the Head of State, or Government. As with all societies, the ‘old boy’ network functions at many different levels. In small states however, because the elite is of itself small (the political, economic and cultural leaders are likely to be the same people so they see each other frequently and often know each other well through family ties). So in many instances, the informal network is far stronger than the formal network, based as it is on positions and appointments. And given the many sheikhs in the system, it is much easier than in other places to bring an authority to bear, especially over bureaucrats. Many an expat, whose sponsorship often rests with a sheikh, is want to seek their advice on how to circumvent bureaucratic drag and get someone to address their problem and help them with a solution. This is not an option to all, of course. In many societies where there is a strongly hierarchical system of authority, bureaucrats of various levels, who are often on abysmally low wages, indicate that with a little ‘encouragement,’ usually in the form ‘cup of coffee’ inducements, will magically move the all important official stamp to the currently ‘stuck in the system’ document. But such low-level corruption generally exists where pernickety ‘decisions’ rest with generally low level bureaucrats or authorities and Bahrain is largely free from that. While there have been frequent discussions of an end to a sponsorship system which many consider iniquitous, the dispensation of visa granting entitlements is structurally and financially important to many in the society. Again, it provides a basis for which the informal network is enormously advantageous, especially as many investments require the existence of a suitable local partner. And invariably the partner’s informal network and access to decision makers is a most sought after commodity. But it also means – and here is the rub – that there are often many fingers in many pies. And in the absence or

Gulf Insider October 2013


Feature Bureaucracy

the bendy nature of ‘rules,’ and with no access to a knot-slicer, a person can well find themselves more curtailed than Kafka, bedeviled by bureaucracy, lurching in between a lack of laws or a raft of regulations. Furthermore in many small states, the hierarchical structure also means that power usually flows down which means that there is much micro management and decisions often need to be referred ‘up the line’ – which can take time, both on the way up, and on the way down as well as everyone on the conveyer line wants to assure ‘clients’ that “their input” was vital to the process! Small states can often cut away the underbrush and push aside the bureaucratic boulders, but unless they combine all the facets of state-craft in a manner like Singapore, the practicing punter should know that there is a downside too, if their informal ties break down. Bahrain once billed itself as “Business Friendly,” a sentiment that those doing 16

Gulf Insider October 2013

The bureaucracy needs to meet the changing ways of the world and keep Bahrain at the cutting edge of the developments that are so necessary in such a highly competitive region. business with the country, welcomed greatly. And yet each week we read and experience tales of red tape and continuing administrative woe. It has taken, for example, five years to resolve the trucking border crisis, and the jury is still out on whether the current measures will permanently resolve the issue. The forward thinking leadership in Bahrain under Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa, was the first to recognize that there should be changes made to grow the economy in the era after oil, and to encourage the wider expansion of the economic base.

The bureaucracy needs to meet the changing ways of the world and keep Bahrain at the cutting edge of the developments that are so necessary in such a highly competitive region. That “Singapore edge,” if you like!


The author is a former senior diplomat and political adviser with extensive international experience in strategic and parliamentary affairs, and is currently working in Bahrain

Bahrain Citizens

When ‘democracy’ can mean ‘Islamic republic’


ime and again, we find Islamist movements across the Middle East hiding their real agendas in order to gain or hold onto power. In Tunisia and Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood’s English-speaking spokesmen always go out of their way to play down any kind of intolerant social agenda for disempowering women, marginalising non-Muslim minorities and Islamicising society. However, we frequently come across them saying precisely the opposite in Arabic to their grassroots supporters. In Egypt, Muslim Brotherhood leaders have again and again stressed to the Western media the peaceful nature of their protests. For example, senior Brotherhood leader Mohammed Al Beltagi wrote in The Guardian


Gulf Insider October 2013

newspaper: “We believe that our peacefulness is a more powerful weapon than all the killing machines employed by the army or the police”. At the same time Al Beltagi was urging crowds to follow the example of Algerian Islamists who “offered a million martyrs”. “You will sacrifice your soul to defend [deposed president] Mohammed Mursi’s legitimacy,” he instructed them. A succession of speakers told Muslim Brotherhood supporters that those opposing Mursi should be “crushed” and Islamist cleric Safwat Al Hijazi declared on Al Arabiya TV that “I will spray blood upon those who spray water at Mursi”. We have seen a similar trend among Islamist protesters in Bahrain, where

English language spokespersons have always emphasised peaceful protest, democracy and human rights. Meanwhile, leaders of the protest movement have stirred up their Arabicspeaking supporters by encouraging them to riot, burn tyres, block roads and attack the police. The “Declaration of an Islamic Republic of Bahrain” from February 2011 by leaders of the protest movement like Hassan Mushaima was never translated into English. On one occasion, Ayatollah Shaikh Isa Qassim urged thousands of followers to “crush” the police - a somewhat different approach to what the opposition has taken when talking to the New York Times and the British Broadcasting Corporation! Attitudes of these Islamist

Citizens Bahrain

Leaders of the protest movement have stirred up their Arabicspeaking supporters by encouraging them to riot, burn tyres, block roads and attack the police.

movements towards the US and the West have also been interesting. On one level, these movements know they need to engage America and European nations, so they have gone out of their way to sound moderate and conciliatory. Yet, at the same time these movements have a long history of opposing US policies - resulting in some very mixed messages. When there were protests against US embassies across the region in 2012, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Khairat Al Shatir tweeted to the US Embassy that he was “relieved none of @ USembassycairo staff was hurt”.The US Embassy responded: “Thanks. By the way, have you checked out your own Arabic feeds? I hope you know we read those too” - in reference to copious

Brotherhood tweets inciting protests against the same embassy! Similarly in Bahrain during 2012, observers noted instances when protesters were chanting slogans opposed to US involvement in the region on exactly the same day as opposition mouthpieces were appearing in the US media urging greater American support for the aims of protesters. The confusion in these Arabic and English messages comes from some basic underlying contradictions in these Islamist movements. At root they have an agenda which is profoundly anti-democratic. Because their politics are based on religious principles, the views of people of other faiths and sects are rejected, including the views of those who believe in the

separation of politics and religion. At the same time these movements often need to use the democratic process and parliament to find their way to power; or they want to subvert democratic shortcomings to undermine existing governments and capture power for themselves. Mursi was the first democratically elected president in Egypt, but his behaviour once in power was highly undemocratic in consolidating and strengthening his own powers - a strategy which ultimately backfired on him. Likewise, in Bahrain, the opposition’s English-language propaganda never stops talking about democracy. However the clerics and Ayatollahs who lead the protest movement in no way resemble advocates of democracy, and we shouldn’t expect them to. This all explains how Western nations got the events of the so-called Arab Spring so badly wrong. Not all those acting in the name of democracy wanted democracy, and the Islamist groups seeking to capitalize on these disturbances sought to gain from democratic innovations, while themselves remaining highly undemocratic. Everybody heard what they wanted to hear - and then scratched their heads and wondered why the resulting situation on the ground seemed so puzzling. GFI

This article is by Citizens for Bahrain. For more information about this organisation visit Gulf Insider October 2013


Saudi Arabia Market View

Saudi Arabia Marketview


audi Arabia’s annual Gross Domestic Product (adjusted for inflation) slowed to 2.1% in the first quarter of 2013. This represents a significant drop from 6.5% at the same point in 2012 and is largely the result of falling oil prices and a slowing non-oil private sector. Analysts polled by Reuters in April, forecast GDP growth would slow to 4.1% in 2013 from 6.8% in 2012. Inflation has started to moderate and after a long period of rises, the four months to end June 2013 all showed small declines, with the result that annualised inflation now stands at around 3.5% per annum. The major driver for rising inflation has historically been food prices and these are expected to increase significantly during Ramadan, with the result that inflation is expected to resume growth in July 2013. Despite these indicators, sovereign ratings moved slightly upwards and now stand as follows: S&P AA- (Positive), Moody’s Aa3 (Stable) and Fitch AA(Positive).


Gulf Insider October 2013

A significant structural change to the Saudi economy was announced in June when the weekend was shifted from Thursday/Friday to Friday/ Saturday. This will have a significant impact for those firms wishing to trade outside the Kingdom, both with the rest of the GCC states and the wider global business community. This is especially true of the banking sector which previously only overlapped with the major financial centres for three days in every seven. First quarter data released in June 2013 by SAMA (Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency) revealed a 5% contraction in lending to the construction sector which is in contrast to the strong pace of consumer lending growth. A separate report issued by Samba revealed that by year end 2012, consumer lending grew by an average of 5.5% each quarter during the year. Mortgage lending has become an increasingly important component of this sector but with the ongoing lack of legislation covering mortgage security, banks continue to avoid the low-income

A report issued by Samba revealed that by year end 2012, consumer lending grew by an average of 5.5% each quarter during the year. sector and are focused on providing mortgages for the middle and upper income sectors only. In the absence of a formal regulatory structure for the mortgage sector, SAMA is reportedly considering regulations to unify mortgage rates although this is likely to be widely resisted by the commercial banks. GFI

This information has been compiled by CBRE. To read this marketview in its entirety visit

IFC Report Dubai

Dubai as an International Financial Centre New report identifies challenges for Dubai as an International Financial Centre.


ass Business School, part of City University London, have published a report entitled Dubai as an International Financial Centre: Threats and Opportunities. The report aims to contribute to the body of knowledge on Dubai as an IFC and to lay out a road map for what steps need to be taken in order for Dubai to continue developing towards this goal. Professor of Finance, Steve Thomas said: “Dubai is becoming increasingly important as a financial and trading entrepôt for the Middle East and Whole of Africa (MEWA), with its strong recovery from the financial crisis testimony to its energy and creativity. The continuing strengthening of institutions and markets is key to securing ongoing progress at a turbulent time for both the region and the global economy.” The report outlines the advantages of Dubai’s world class infrastructure, which has already attracted a diverse set of financial services companies. However, it also identifies areas where further work is needed, such

as to improve the maturity of its equity and debt markets and its financial infrastructure. The research outlines some additional steps that could help to attract further listings to the exchange and to encourage more foreign investors and financial firms to participate in Dubai’s financial markets. For example, conducting a self-assessment based on the CPSS-IOSCO Principles of Financial Market Infrastructures is an important step to ensure that Dubai’s financial infrastructure adheres to industry best practices. Alain Raes, Chief Executive, EMEA & APAC, SWIFT, said: “This report is important because it offers timely insights into Dubai’s competitors in the region and how it compares to international financial centres around the world. The report also identifies what Dubai needs to do to achieve its ambitions.” GFI

The report outlines the advantages of Dubai’s world class infrastructure, which has already attracted a diverse set of financial services companies.

The full report can be downloaded at: sites/default/files/article-attachments/ Dubai-international-financial-centre.pdf

Gulf Insider October 2013


Feature Recruiting Senior Talent

How companies hire their

senior executives There are more senior applicants today than ever before. Since 2011, there has been a 70% increase in applicants for management positions.


his study by Cazar took into account 619 senior hires made across more than 30 medium and large companies in Asia Pacific and the Middle East, operating within a wide selection of sectors including retail, construction, banking, transport and telecommunications. The period of hire included a 15-month period during 2012/2013. The vacancies ranged from senior roles such as Director of Marketing, Financial Controller and Head of IT, to executive management positions such as Chief Executive Officer and Chief Operating Officer. A total of 350,174 candidates applied for those 619 positions. Past studies show that quality candidates prefer to apply through an employer’s career site¹, and it seems that applicants for management positions have an even stronger preference to do so: a staggering 65% of applications for senior vacancies came through the companies’ dedicated career websites. Senior managers probably have a better sense of where they would like to work and are more selective about where they send their CV. Naturally, they prefer to build a direct relationship with these employers rather than going through a third party. Job boards produced 29% of applicants for senior roles, which is normal given the large volumes of job seeker traffic they receive. However, the overall quality


Gulf Insider October 2013

of candidates they produce is particularly low when it comes to managerial jobs. In other words, job boards must produce vast amounts of applications in order to yield a small quantity of quality ones. Linkedin was the third biggest source of senior applicants (3%). All other application channels, including agencies and employee referrals, produced very small numbers (<1%). In fact, some mediums such as Facebook didn’t register at all. Yet, despite their low applicant volumes we found these sources can’t all be dismissed, as some of them have produced many high quality profiles that ended in hires.

The most efficient channels

We observed that certain channels had a high probability of producing new senior recruits. For instance, 37% of applicants resulting from professional networking got recruited for a senior position. Employee referrals were also very successful: 27% of candidates that came through an employee referral got hired. When it came to internal applicants, 3% of them got the job. Job boards however, were much less effective: only 0.026% of job board applicants made it to the hire stage. This could be partly due to the very wide audience these websites tend to have.

For example, generalist job sites are known to attract a lot of middle executives, who may apply to senior jobs they are not qualified for.


There is absolutely no reason why an employer should struggle to find candidates for senior roles, as there are more applicants today than ever before. The key is to tap into the right sources with the right tools. Based on this study a dedicated career website is an essential tool for employers who want to hire quality candidates for senior roles. Our focus companies hired 38% of their new senior recruits in this manner. Without

Recruiting Senior Talent Feature

only 2% of the senior hires in this study required the involvement of an executive search firm.

career websites these hires would have cost the companies substantially more. Having a talent pool allows employers to create a pipeline of top candidates for future vacancies. It is the simplest, fastest and most cost-effective recruitment method. It also helps prevent poor hiring decisions resulting from lack of time and a shortage of employee skills. To be efficient and yield results, talent pools need to be actively managed, while being easy to search and organise. Engaging in relationships with candidates who are known to a company – whether through previous interviews, an employee or a professional contact – truly helps recruiters to quickly identify

quality profiles for senior roles. According to this study, companies with a well organised recruitment function produce 98% of their senior hires independently. Candidates for these roles are all online today, making them easier to reach. In addition HR/ Recruitment departments have become well-versed in online recruitment and are now using sophisticated recruitment systems and marketing tools like career websites to engage with candidates. As a result, only 2% of the senior hires in this study required the involvement of an executive search firm. Not only did the focus companies save millions of dollars; they were also able to recruit their top

candidates in 35 days on average as opposed to the 70-day cycle brought on by agency hires. GFI

To download the full report, visit http:// About Cazar: Cazar’s Sniperhire platform has a cloud-based enterprise recruitment solution in the Middle East & Asia. Clients include Qatar Airways, DP World, Al Futtaim, Jumeirah Group, Sky News Arabia, ADNOC Distribution, Commercial Bank of Dubai, Qatar National Bank, Viva, Zain Telecom, TDIC and Qatar Foundation.

Gulf Insider October 2013


Business Crisis Management

Managing business during crisis â&#x20AC;&#x201C; DNA of a resilient organization


e live in turbulent times. Challenges faced by businesses vary from health issues, epidemics, natural disasters (earthquakes, cyclone, tsunami, cloudburst/floodsetc.), wars, terrorism, civil unrest, security breaches including hacking and other electronic attacks, power outages to name a fewâ&#x20AC;Ś.Most of these challenges to business are external to the organization and very difficult to control. How to


Gulf Insider October 2013

manage the business successfully through the crisis is a question that tops the list of challenges for a business leader, strategy consultants, customers, regulators, partners, key vendors, governments and in some cases the international community.

Why have Business Continuity Management Systems (BCMS)

Businesses are known to plan for the future. These plans assist the

An efficient process that will assist organizations plan for and manage its business during crisis situations.

Crisis Management Business

organization to prepare for and benefit from opportunities in the future. The frequency and kind of disruptive events to which a business is exposed to have significantly increased over the last decade. Business Plans are not designed to assist organizations to deal with emergencies. Hence, there was a need for an efficient process that will assist organizations plan for and manage its business during crisis situations. BCMS provides fulfills this requirement and assist organizations build resilience. An efficient BCMS can assist organizations recover from disaster events, minimizing losses and providing organizations ability to operate key functions during the disaster period. This protects its business and provides long term value to the stakeholders.

Developing an effective BCMS

For a very long period, organization’s BCMS were shaped by the regulatory environment. BCMS however is required by all business and the size and nature of the plan can vary depending on the business. So how does an organization move beyond regulatory compliance and develop an effective BCMS that is driven by business requirements?

related risks, assessing the risk and identifying steps to mitigate the risks is an important pre requisite for developing an efficient BCMS. Step 3: Develop BCM policy and strategy Based on the understanding of the business and results of the risk assessment exercise, organizations should document the BCM policy anda strategy to implement BCMS. Organizations today have options like outsourcing BCMS, use of automated BCMS solutions, agreement with another entity to operate during disaster periods, distributed processing and developing redundant facilities. Organizations should also identify the various “teams” that will be involved in recovery and operations of business

culture of the organization Any system is as good as the people who use it. To ensure that BCMS is effective, organizations should incorporate it into the culture of the organization. This is done through regular testing of the plan, conducting awareness about BCMS across all stakeholders and maintaining the plans on a periodic basis to ensure that the plans continue to be aligned to the business of the organization.

Enhancing BCMS

ISO 22301 : Societal security, Business Continuity Management System, a global standard on business continuity published by International Standards Organization (ISO) assists organizations prepare crisis & business continuity plans that are effective and aligned to international practices. Adopting ISO22301 standardwill assist organizations to demonstrate compliance with key BCM requirements to all stakeholders and also assists in benchmarking the organization’s Business Continuity Management System (BCMS) to industry standards.

An efficient BCMS can assist organizations recover from disaster events, minimizing losses and providing organizations ability to operate key functions during the disaster period.

Step 1: Understanding the business. The first step in developing an effective BCMS will be to obtain a good understanding of the business. Business Impact Analysis (BIA) study assists organizations in understanding the business and identifying critical processes and resources required to operate during crisis situations. BIA involves structured breakdown of the business into key processes, mapping resources required to perform the processes and identifying criticality of the processes/resources. Step 2: Risk assessment: Having understood the business, the next step will be to understand the continuity related risks to which the business is exposed to. Identifying the continuity

during crisis scenario. Another factor that is very important for a successful BCMS is identifying key contacts and creating a “call tree” for reaching out to appropriate persons during a disaster scenario. Step 4: Implement BCMS: Implementing BCMS is a complex organization wide task. Effective planning and project management is critical for successful implementation of BCMS. Implementing BCMS involves developing detailed BCM documentation and setting up facilities to support operations during disaster periods. A well documented plan that is supported by the required facilities and well trained people can assist an organization to recover from a disaster efficiently. Step






BCMS can be a strategic advantage for organizations. Would a person like to subscribe to telephone services from a company whose network is frequently down or with a company that has a reliable network that is operational even during disaster periods? Would a person bank with an institution whose systems are not functioning during crisis or with a bank that can assure customers access to their cash at all times? For most people, the choice would be to subscribe to services of a resilient organization. We also see BCMS as a necessity for all businesses during turbulent times. Resilience could be one of the key factors for the success of an organization, more so during the current times. GFI

This article is written by Ranjith Kumar, Head of Keypoint Technologies. Keypoint provides BCMS services to clients in Bahrain. Ranjith can be contacted on his email

Gulf Insider October 2013


In stores now, only BD2/ Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture offers relief from chronic pain

Dr. Lucy Liu

Qualified practitioner in traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture

Also now available chiropractic and medical massage

Dr. Liu and her team offer specialist treatment for conditions such as: • Diabetes. Weight Loss. Migraine. Insomnia. • Strokes & Paralysis. Infertility. Impotence. Prostatis. • Stress/Nervous System problems. • Poor circulation. Rheumatism. Arthritis. Varicose Veins. Gout. • Joints, Neck, Shoulder & Lower Back problems • General pain relief. For appointments & consultations please contact:

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Under the medical supervision of Bahrain Medical Group

Real Estate Dubai

Summer 2013: Dubai Prime Residential Review

• Prime residential prices have risen since the beginning of 2012. In 2013 the luxury price of luxury villas has increased by 11.4% and prime apartments have risen 15.1% in value. • The year-on-year increase from June 2012 to June 2013 for prime residential property stands at 21.4%. The price of luxury villas picked up post January 2012, whilst the price of top-end apartments gained momentum from September 2012 onwards. • Rents across the prime sector have seen a 15% rise year-on-year to June 2013, with an increasing number of corporate tenants entering the markets. • The proposed mortgage cap announced in December 2012 has caused a flurry of activity amongst owneroccupiers, keen to purchase their homes in Dubai before legislation is enforced. • Select new off plan development launches, in the more popular areas, are selling out on release. GFI Information provided by Knight Frank

Abu Dhabi maid who beat a baby girl to death before returning her body to a cot out of hatred for her nanny is sentenced to death


housemaid who killed her employer’s baby girl to spite a colleague has been sentenced to death. The maid, whose name has not been released, was handed the sentence at Abu Dhabi Criminal Court in the United Arab Emirates. The Indonesian woman was found guilty after the court heard she picked up four-month-old baby Malak from her cot, threw her to the floor and hit her head against a wall repeatedly before putting her back. It was said she carried out the extraordinary attack on Malak - whose name means ‘angel’ - to get at a colleague, according to The National. The child’s nanny, a Filipino woman, was in the shower at the time and came

back to the sight of the injured baby struggling to breathe. She was rushed to the Sheikh Khalifa Hospital in the city, where doctors disagnosed her with a fractured skull and sever brain damage. She died on 28 April this year - two weeks after the attack. In an attempt to frame her, the maid initially blamed Malak’s nanny, for the death, but admitted her guilt when she was presented with video footage of her actions. Prosecutors said that she resented her colleague because it was her job to care for Malak and her brother, while the convicted woman had to care for a sick grandmother. In a previous hearing the nanny said she did not realise how much the maid hated her.

Prosecutors said: ‘The maid was caught on camera as she lifted the baby from her bed, threw her on the floor and hit her head against a wall repeatedly’. They have been aggressive in their calls for the death penalty to be given, and rejected offers of blood money - which in the Emirati legal system can allow people to receive reduced sentences in return for a payment. The maid’s defence lawyer Ali Al Abadi told the court in a previous hearing that his client was suffering from psychological problems that caused her to attack the child. All death sentences in the UAE are subject to two rounds of appeals, but if these fail the maid will be killed by a firing squad. GFI

Gulf Insider October 2013


Feature Middle East

The West is deluded about the Middle East -

just look at Iran


et again the Western world gazes baffled and powerless at the ever more tragic mess unfolding across the Middle East. The wishful-thinking euphoria that greeted the “Arab Spring” two years ago seems a million miles away as Egypt plunges into bloody chaos; an even greater catastrophe continues to engulf Syria; violence returns to Lebanon with a huge bomb attack on Assad’s Hizbollah allies; thousands die in the sectarian strife that is the West’s legacy to “liberated” Iraq; and yet more “peace talks” brokered by the US between Israel and the Palestinians look more forlorn than ever. Yet nowhere is the West’s inability to grasp the realities of Middle Eastern politics more obvious than in its self-deceiving attitude to the most powerful and menacing regime of all, the theocratic dictatorship that rules over Iran. Quite apart from its ruthless oppression of its own people, the Tehran regime has a finger in pretty well every nasty pie in the region – as chief backer of the Assad regime in Syria and Palestinian terror groups such as Hizbollah; as the shadowy presence behind the corrupt al-Maliki regime in Iraq; and even supposedly as an ally of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Yet again, recently we saw the West’s endless gullibility over Iran in the response of politicians and media to the election as president of Hassan Rouhani, hailed as a “moderate” and a “reformer” who might open the door to better relations between Iran and the West, not least over the ever-vexed issue of Iran’s ambition to become a nuclear power.


Gulf Insider October 2013

What so many in the West seem unable to grasp is that Rouhani, like his predecessor Ahmadinejad, is just a creature of the real power in Iran, centred in the country’s “Supreme Leader”, the Ayatollah Khamenei. Rouhani may have been one of eight candidates (out of an original 800) allowed to stand in a horrendously rigged election by the Supreme Leader, but for more than 20 years he has been a key apparatchik of the regime, serving at the heart of its military, security and intelligence system. As far back as the 1980s Rouhani was deputy commander-in-chief of Iran’s armed forces, before serving for 16 years as secretary of its Supreme National Security Council. In 1999 he led the ruthless suppression of a major student uprising, in obedience, as he said, to a “revolutionary order to crush mercilessly and monumentally any move of these dissidents”. Between 2003 and 2005 he led those famous and futile nuclear negotiations, boasting (as was revealed by The Sunday Telegraph in 2006) of how he had fooled the West by “taking advantage of talks with Britain, Germany and France to forge ahead with the secret atomic programme”. No sooner was he elected in June than he made clear that there is no way Iran will halt its nuclear programme. He has equally made clear that Iran will continue to give every support to Assad’s murderous efforts to stamp out the Syrian uprising. His new defence minister, Hossein Dehghan, was a founder member of the Revolutionary Guard, Iran’s equivalent of the Soviet KGB, responsible through its Qods

By Christopher Booker Force for spreading terror across the Middle East, and he was one of those responsible in 1979 for the US embassy siege and the seizure of 44 hostages. His justice minister Mostafa Pourmohammadi played a key role in the 1980s in the massacre of 30,000 political prisoners, most of them members of the People’s Mujahideen of Iran, part of the country’s largest dissident movement, the National Council for Resistance in Iran (NCRI). Since Rouhani’s election, thousands more Iranians have been imprisoned and scores hanged, many publicly, as a warning to any other potential dissidents. Yet this is the man we are told is a “moderate” and a “reformer”. As the head of the NCRI, Mrs Maryam Rajavi, in June, told a rally of 100,000 Iranian exiles in Paris that their country cannot be described as moving towards “moderation” until its people have been given freedom of speech and the right to form political parties, all political prisoners are freed, it stops its “war-mongering meddling in Syria and Iraq” and abandons its wish to become a nuclear power. But the mullahs cannot allow any of this to happen, she went on, because it would bring their downfall. So the most dangerous and evil regime in the Middle East floats on, spreading terror at home and abroad, but misrepresented in the West as a “moderate” new government with which it can hope to do business – not least over those plans to acquire its own nuclear weapons, about which Rouhani has already deceived once and doubtless has every intention of continuing to do so. GFI

Business Feature

How to have fewer, better meetings By Karim Shariff

Senior leaders and managers typically spend more than half their time in meetings. In one survey, a whopping 85% of executives said they were dissatisfied with the efficiency and effectiveness of meetings at their companies.


eetings are essential to effective decision making and execution and thus to business results. But the companies that are best at decisions have learned to manage meetings as carefully as they manage any other part of their businesses. It’s a three-step program:

1. Zero-base your meetings

Some meetings focus on decisions. Others don’t, and you can get rid of them. The key the scalpel that lets you separate the important from the unimportant is a good understanding of your group’s critical decisions. The list should include both big one-off decisions, such as major investments, and more-routine decisions that add up to significant value over time. If a meeting doesn’t bear on one of these decisions, give it the ax. Zero-basing your meetings in this fashion lets you phase out all the working groups that have outlived their usefulness. A wellknown European retailer, for example, reorganized its governance system, subsuming many of its numerous committees into a single program board and clarifying the roles of each surviving committee. The reorganization

eliminated nearly 70% of committees and many unnecessary meetings.

2. Make meetings effective

The fact that a meeting is supposed to focus on a key decision doesn’t mean that it will. A major natural-resources company, for example, noticed that its meetings were often going off track. So the company developed several tools to keep everyone attentive to the matters at hand: Leaders began insisting on a clear purpose for every meeting. They established exacting requirements for meeting preparation, including templates, standardized pre-read protocols and deadlines. They designed each meeting’s agenda around what they wanted to accomplish. They also changed the conduct of the meeting, with key decisions highlighted on the agenda and a recap summarizing the points reached by the group. Another useful tool is a formal decision log. By capturing their group’s actions in such a log, executives of a large entertainment company were able to increase the pace of decisions significantly and dramatically improve the group’s follow-through and execution.

3. Ensure that the right people and only the right people attend

The only people who should attend a meeting are those with a role in the decisions at hand. Because meetings are so common, many people rely on them to organize their work-lives. They gauge their relative status by the number of invitations they get. So not everyone will be happy if companies reduce the number of meetings and invitees. To smooth the transition, it helps to convey the idea that everybody will soon be attending fewer meetings and that the remaining meetings will be more productive than in the past. Leaders should attend only those meetings where they play a decision role. Every meeting leader can adopt new techniques, such as a moment at the beginning asking, “Does everyone have to be here?” Peers and superiors can recognize and praise such behaviors. Like other organizational changes, reining in meetings can be difficult at first. But you should soon find that your time is freed up, that your remaining meetings are far more productive than before, and that your decisions are better and faster. GFI

Gulf Insider October 2013


Feature Iranian Swimmer

Iranian woman denied swimming record because her outfit ‘showed her feminine features’.

Iranian woman Swimmer


n Iranian woman who swam 20km wearing a hijab has been denied the official record because her outfit showed her ‘feminine features’. Elham Asghari designed a special ‘Islamic’ bathing suit adding 6kg to her weight so that she would be allowed to attempt the long-distance swim on the Caspian Sea in June. But the outfit was apparently not modest enough for the country’s conservative religious authorities, and her record was not officially recognised. The 32-year-old took nine hours to swim the 20km (12.4 miles), setting out from the town of Nowshahr into the freezing waters of the Caspian. She did so in defiance of officials who are opposed to women swimming in open waters because of the risk of displaying their body shapes to men. Even though Ms Asghari wore a loose-fitting swimsuit which included a headscarf, the authorities were opposed to her efforts - and refused to


Gulf Insider October 2013

acknowledge that she had made it the full 20km. ‘They said no matter how Islamic my swimming gear, it was unacceptable,’ she told the Guardian earlier this year. ‘They said the feminine features of my body were showing as I came out of water.’ In a bid to gain public support for her battle against the authorities, she made a haunting video of herself swimming around while wearing the swimsuit which she claims most swimmers would be unable to handle. ‘My 20km record has been held hostage in the hands of people who cannot even swim a distance of 20 metres.’ The video then cuts to Ms Asghari sitting in a car wearing a headscarf, when she delivers an inspirational message aimed not just at fellow swimmers but at all women living in the theocratic state. ‘I’m not going to submit to bullying, and I ask you not to submit either,’ she says. ‘I ask you to give your utmost effort

to achieve your goals.’ The Nowshahr incident is not the first time the swimmer has met with official resistance to her athletic activities. During a previous open-water swim, Ms Asghari was blocked by police boats which ended up cutting her legs with their propellers. Women in Iran are allowed to swim in segregated swimming pools, and to compete in the Women’s Islamic Games which are held periodically in Tehran. However, they are banned from travelling to competitions abroad, and the authorities frown on swimming in open waters. ‘They fear that if they recognise my record then they would unwittingly approve my swimming gear and that would eventually give women swimmers access to open waters,’ Ms Asghari told the Guardian. She has expressed hope that the new regime led by Hassan Rouhani might prove more accommodating than that of Mahmoud Ahmedinejad. GFI

Women in Iran are allowed to swim in segregated swimming pools, and to compete in the Women’s Islamic Games which are held periodically in Tehran.

Feature Britain

Britain may return to

Military Bases in Gulf By David Blair

Britain plans to restore a permanent military presence in the Gulf, basing land, air and naval forces in the region, according to a defence think tank with close ties to the armed forces.


he withdrawal of all British troops from Afghanistan next year will create a unique opportunity to reverse the “East of Suez” decision that formed a landmark in Britain’s retreat from imperial power, the Royal United Services Institute says in a recently published paper. Harold Wilson’s government decided in 1968 to close a string of military bases in the Gulf, which had served as a linchpin of Empire for more than a century. The British withdrawal was completed in 1971, allowing the Gulf states to become independent. The think tank will say the Armed Forces are considering a partial reversal of the “East of Suez” decision. “The military intends to build up a strong shadow presence around the Gulf; not an evident imperial-style footprint, but a smart presence,” writes Professor Michael Clarke, its director. “This may not yet be declared government policy,” he writes. “But the UK appears to be approaching a decision point where a significant strategic


Gulf Insider October 2013

reorientation of its defence and security towards the Gulf is both plausible and logical.” Any new British presence would be focused on the United Arab Emirates, where the RAF is planning to use alMinhad airbase, according to the think tank. The Royal Navy has always kept three minesweepers and at least one frigate or destroyer in the Gulf, supported by a small permanent staff in Bahrain. The paper suggests this flotilla could be reinforced. The Army plans to use its links with Oman’s armed forces to base troops in the country. This would allow the use of “thousands of square miles of challenging terrain ideally suited to the training of military units in the skills of desert warfare”. Moving equipment and personnel from Afghanistan to the Gulf would be cheaper than bringing them back to Britain, says the paper. In addition, Britain’s commercial links with the Gulf are increasingly important. Well over 100,000 British citizens

Moving equipment and personnel from Afghanistan to the Gulf would be cheaper than bringing them back to Britain. live in the Gulf. Qatar is now Britain’s biggest source of liquefied natural gas. Any deployment would also create a showcase for military equipment, it adds. Two assumptions lay behind the “East of Suez” decision: the oil price, then $4 per barrel, would stay at that level, and Iran, then under the Shah, would remain a reliable ally. The demise of both certainties and the ever-increasing wealth of the Gulf help explain why, if the institute’s paper is correct, that decision is being quietly reviewed. GFI

Middle East Business

Middle East full of promise for international entrepreneurs Two foreign entrepreneurs speak about the opportunities – and challenges – when selling to Gulf States.


ichael Oliver is the founder of Oliver’s Valves, a 35-year old British manufacturing company that specialises in making valves for the oil industry. The Middle East is one of his biggest export markets, accounting for 20pc of the company’s £90m revenue. “Next year, contracts in the Middle East will make up a quarter of the business,” he said. Mr Oliver has spent more than a decade building up relationships across the region. His company is the official supplier of valves to Saudi Aramco, one of the biggest oil corporations in the world and has negotiated multi-million pound contracts with the gas gathering plants in Oman. “I got on airplanes and I tramped the boards to win the business,” he said. Mr Oliver now has an office in Dubai to service the firm’s clients in the region. “It’s vitally important for any exporter to have boots on the ground with their own people in the Middle East,” he said. “You must also be in the same time zone as your customers. You cannot sell by remote control.” Internet usage across the Middle East is up 2,639pc over the past decade compared with 393pc in Europe,

according to Nielson’s latest Internet Usage and World Population Statistics. Saudi Arabia has now become the world’s largest consumer of videos on YouTube, with 40pc of the population visiting the site every day and 70pc accessing YouTube at least once a week. Mobile phone ownership across the Middle East is also 19pc higher than the world average. “There has been massive online growth in the Middle East, which has created incredible business opportunities,” says Rasha Khouri, founder of luxury goods e-commerce company Ms Khouri launched the online shop in September 2012. The site acts as a middleman for big luxury brands like Harrods, Net-A-Porter and US fashion giant Shopbop to sell their wares to the Arab States. The site translates all product information into Arabic and features lifestyle articles and fashion content tailored to the site’s customer base. It takes a small percentage of every transaction and operates a VIP service which costs between $100 to $300 a year. “When I first launched the website, it was in English,” said Ms Khouri. “But traffic and user engagement is much

stronger, more active and loyal since switching to Arabic.” Indeed, Google announced in December 2012 that Arabic was set to be the fourth most important language on the web by 2015, after English, Chinese and Spanish. “If you’re selling online in the Middle East, it’s really important to have an Arabic website,” she said. But it’s not always easy being a pioneer in a new market. DIA-style. com has run into some challenges along the way. “The biggest issue for us is that customers are afraid to put their credit card details online,” explained Ms Khouri. “In the Middle East today, about 75pc of purchases are still done cash on delivery.” Ms Khouri has made some unorthodox business decisions to cater to this new market. “One customer didn’t know how to put her card details into the website,” she said, “So she took pictures of her card, front and back, and texted them to us so we could make the transaction for her. Can you imagine?” The entrepreneur’s flexible approach to doing business in the region has paid off and traffic to the website has been growing 50pc every quarter since inception with an average basket size of $500. GFI

Gulf Insider October 2013


Business Financial Crisis

The financial crisis that refuses to go away By Jeremy Warner


xiting the “quantitative easing” the US Federal Reserve and other central banks launched in the wake of the credit crunch to support failing banking systems and collapsing demand is proving an exceptionally tricky business. It threatens almost as many problems for the world economy as the original money-printing was trying to solve. The latest example of this old truism is the renewed turmoil in emerging economy currency, debt and equity markets. This has become so intense recently that it invites parallels with the emerging markets crisis of the late Nineties, an event that arguably lit the fuse on the all-encompassing Western banking crisis that occurred a decade later. Thus does the policy response to one bubble-induced crisis merely re-infect and lead inexorably to the next one. This recent outbreak of instability is also symptomatic of the way the wider crisis in the world economy refuses to go away. There is always some wretched fly in the ointment. Just as the eurozone debt storm seems to be abating, up pops the developing world to cast another pall over reviving business confidence. With the Fed sticking to its guns over ending QE, many emerging markets went into meltdown. Yet the threatened withdrawal of QE is only really the trigger. The present outbreak of jitters finds its origins as far back as 2000 when, in response to a series of economic shocks – first the emerging markets crisis, then the deflating dotcom bubble, and finally the war on terror – the US and others began the present phase 34

Gulf Insider October 2013

of highly accommodative monetary policy. Unimpressed by the rates of return offered by slow growth and low interest rates in advanced economies, investors settled on emerging markets in their search for the next big thing, and piled in. This was when the acronym BRICs came into common parlance to describe the apparent waning of the old world and the coming of the new. As occurs with all investment crazes, the process was indiscriminate. The bad and the ugly were puffed up alongside the good. The old definition of an emerging market as one from which it is impossible to emerge in a crisis was widely forgotten, or ignored. The flow of funds also went both ways. To keep exports competitive, many emerging markets began accumulating foreign exchange reserves on an unprecedented scale – $7 trillion at the last count. The consequent savings glut found its way back into American sub-prime mortgages, the Spanish and Irish construction booms, the UK and Dutch housing markets, the Greek love of German cars, and so on. The upshot was the worst banking crisis in 100 years, an event which, initially at least, only further emphasised the apparent attractions of high-growth, emerging markets. What goes around comes around, and with Western economies beginning to revive, the process is going violently into reverse. Money piped in under pressure is now being sucked out again. Like a receding tide, it has exposed the wrecks that lie beneath the surface. As occurred in the eurozone, easy money disguised

To keep exports competitive, many emerging markets began accumulating foreign exchange reserves on an unprecedented scale – $7 trillion at the last count. a multitude of sins, which the good times have left unaddressed. The deficit economies of the developing world – Brazil, India, Turkey and Indonesia – have been particularly badly affected, forcing them to start imposing higher interest rates and capital controls to stem the outflows. This in turn threatens to slow these economies to stall speed, strangling demand on a global scale just as the West begins to lift itself out of the economic mire. As emerging markets sell down foreign exchange reserves to protect their currencies, it has also set in train a global rise in market interest rates. At this stage, it’s hard to see where the turmoil might end. We know from experience over the past five years that seemingly local and containable panics can quickly turn into something much more serious. We also know that there has been a monumental credit boom in many developing economies, and that such booms nearly always end badly. GFI

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Feature Airline

airline Profits Grow in 2013,

But at a Slower Pace Upward Trend to Continue in 2014


he International Air Transport Association (IATA) revised its 2013 global industry outlook downwards to $11.7 billion on revenues of $708 billion. Airline performance continued to improve in the second quarter; however at a slower pace than was expected with the previous projection (in June) of $12.7 billion. This reflects the impact on demand of the oil price spike associated


Gulf Insider October 2013

with the Syrian crisis and disappointing growth in several key emerging markets. Performance in 2013 is considerably better than the $7.4 billion net profit of 2012. The upward trend should continue into 2014 when airlines are expected to return a net profit of $16.4 billion. This would make 2014 the second strongest year this century after the record breaking $19.2 billion profit in 2010.

Airline Feature

Airline performance remains strong. This year, airlines are expected to post the same operating margin (3.2%) as in 2006, even with a 54% hike in jet fuel prices. The industry has been able to absorb this enormous cost increase as a result of changes in the industry structure (through consolidation and joint ventures), increased ancillary sales and reduced new entry due to tight financial markets. Moreover, the industry is expected to have a relatively good year even with global economic growth at 2.0%. Previously 2.0% gross domestic product (GDP) growth was considered the point below which airlines posted losses.

Major Forecast Drivers for 2013 Economic Growth: Airline profits generally follow broad economic trends. Business confidence bottomed out at the end of 2012 and we have been expecting an acceleration of economic activity to follow. We have seen an acceleration of improvements in developed markets (particularly the US) and a deceleration of growth in some key emerging markets (India, Brazil and to some extent China). Oil Price: Oil prices are expected to average at $109/barrel (Brent) for the year. While this is $1.0 higher than previously expected, jet fuel prices have softened slightly. Passenger: Passenger growth remains robust at 5.0%, although slightly below the 5.3% previously projected and below the 5.3% growth recorded in 2012. Passenger numbers are expected to grow to 3.12 billion—the first time that they have topped the 3 billion mark. Cargo: Cargo markets remain in the doldrums. Growth of 0.9% is expected (down from the previously projected 1.5%). Cargo revenues are expected to show an $8 billion decline to $59 billion from their peak in 2011.

Regional Divergence in 2013 North America: North American airlines are expected to post the strongest performance at $4.9 billion profits (up from the previously forecast $4.4 billion).

This is more than double the $2.3 billion profit of 2012. Consumers are benefitting both from expanded networks with more travel options and from significant investments to improve service levels. Concerns over the trend towards more onerous regulation in the US have increased considerably with unfounded objections to further consolidation by the US Department of Justice. Europe: European airlines are expected to record profits of $1.7 billion (up from the previously expected $1.6 billion). Slowly improving performance is largely being driven by long-haul markets and economic stabilization in the Eurozone. The benefits of these improvements are not being equally shared. On a geographical basis we see stronger performance in the German and UK markets.

Middle East carriers are expected to post profits of $1.6 billion. Asia-Pacific: The outlook for Asia-Pacific airlines is downgraded by $1.5 billion to $3.1 billion profits largely driven by slower growth among the region’s emerging economies. Asia-Pacific carriers are the largest players in global cargo markets and the most impacted by its flat performance. Latin America: The outlook for Latin American carriers is unchanged at $600 million profits. The long-haul market between North and South America continues to grow. Middle East: Middle East carriers are expected to post profits of $1.6 billion which is marginally ahead of the $1.5 billion previously forecast. The region’s efficient hubs continue to support strong performance on long-haul markets. And the impact of the Syrian crisis has been limited. Passenger demand is expected to grow by 10.5%, the strongest among

all regions. But this will be slightly outstripped by capacity growth of 11.3%. Africa: This region’s carriers will fall into losses of $100 million (down from a previously projected profit of $100 million). Long-haul markets face stiff competition, while intra-Africa market development remains constrained by a restrictive regulatory environment. Although African economies are among the world’s fastest growing, the region’s airlines face the significant impediments of high costs, onerous taxes, government interference, inefficient fleets, and poor infrastructure.

The Outlook for 2014 Even with the significant improvements expected for 2014, an industry profit of $16.4 billion implies a return on invested capital of just 5.2%. That remains significantly below the industry’s weighted average cost of capital which is hovering between 7% and 8%. “Airlines are demonstrating that they can be profitable in adverse business conditions. Efficiencies are being generated through myriad actions—consolidation, joint ventures, operational improvements, new market development, product innovations and much more. When market forces drive action, we get results that both strengthen the industry and benefit the consumer. Quite simply, stronger airlines can invest more in improving connectivity and service innovations. If more policy makers incorporated that into the cost-benefit analysis when developing regulations, we would have a much healthier industry generating even broader economic benefits,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO. The balance between profit and loss remains delicate despite the forecast improvement for 2014. “A $16.4 billion profit for transporting some 3.3 billion passengers means that airlines will retain an average of about $5.00 per passenger. That very simple calculation demonstrates that even a small change in the operating environment—a new tax or other cost increase for example—could change the outlook quite significantly,” said Tyler. GFI Gulf Insider October 2013


Feature Afghanistan

Bill Shaw with Tony Blair. This picture features in Mr Shaw’s book, Kill Switch


Left to rot in a Taliban hell hole, a British Army major was put in Afghan jail on false charges. What did UK diplomats do? Nothing. By Bill Shaw


n a gripping new book, Major Bill Shaw reveals how a false bribery accusation led to him being thrown in a notorious Afghan prison and how the experience nearly drove him insane. The prison gate slammed shut behind me and, to my horror, I was inside Tawqeef, Kabul’s feared and forbidding criminal detention centre, wrongly incarcerated on a trumped-up charge of corruption. As I looked around me, I could tell straight away that it was unfit for human habitation and that what lay ahead of me was my idea of hell. The mud walls were cracked, the floors pitted, and the entire building smelled of decay and poor sanitation. The corridor that stretched before me was flooded and yet so overcrowded


Gulf Insider October 2013

that scores of inmates had no choice but to huddle along it. The majority stood in striped uniforms or lay in dirty puddles, their eyes staring out of faces gaunt with hunger and despair. I was ushered into a 4m by 4m cell in which 16 Afghans lived, ate and slept. Chipped metal bunk-beds for ten people were screwed to the walls, and the concrete floor was covered in grubby grey blankets for the rest. Through the thick pall of cigarette smoke, the stark white light from two fluorescent tubes picked out each green globule of sneeze or spit and showed up every stain on clothing, bedding and blankets. A small television in one corner broadcast an image of an imam reciting passages from the Koran. Mindful of local customs, I removed my shoes and placed them with the

assortment of sandals and flip-flops just inside the door. I paid my respects to my fellow cellmates - ‘Salaam Alaikum’ (Peace be upon you) - and some responded in kind, but not everyone. Two mullahs with their long beards and white turbans seemed especially wary. Outside in the corridor, other prisoners crowded the doorway and hung on the bars to glare at the Westerner, dropped like a lamb into their midst. From their appearance it was obvious that some were Taliban. How had I, a respected former British Army officer with an impeccable record, got into this dreadful and dangerous situation? And was I going to get out alive? It had all begun six months earlier in October 2009 when I had left the secure compound of the private security firm

Afghanistan Feature

I worked for in Kabul to sort out an incident on the dusty six-lane highway connecting the centre of Afghanistan’s sprawling capital city with the airport. With frequent roadside bombs planted by Taliban insurgents, drive-by shootings and suicide bombers, it was aptly dubbed ‘Route Violent’. A 51-year-old former Army major with close to 30 years in the Royal Military Police, I was in Afghanistan working for Group 4 Securicor, the world’s largest private security company. I was the contracts director in charge of 400 Afghan staff and 500 Gurkhas. Earlier that day, I had sent out two of my local staff on a routine job to pick up a senior colleague arriving at the airport. They travelled in one of our fleet of 30 armoured Toyota Land Cruisers. An hour later, they radioed that they had been stopped at a random road block, where the £92,000 vehicle had been seized at gunpoint by secret policemen of the National Directorate of Security (NDS), the Afghanistan government’s intelligence agency. Its 5,000 officers, who report directly to President Hamid Karzai, were widely feared and fast becoming a law unto themselves. They had confiscated weapons from us before but handed them back as soon as we produced the correct operating licences. I fully expected the same thing to happen with the Land Cruiser as I drove along Route Violent, a pistol in my holster and a couple of AK47 rifles in the foot-well. When I got to the scene, six pick-up trucks festooned with grenade launchers and heavy machine-guns were blocking the road. I spotted our Land Cruiser parked to one side and went to speak to the NDS commander, who was standing beneath the barrel of a machine-gun. He saw me, the only Westerner in the crowd. Then his eye rested on the Land Cruiser I had come in and he gestured to his men to seize that as well. I pulled out our Ministry of Interior licences to show him, but he wouldn’t look at them. At one point we were nose-to-nose glaring at each other, and I could see that his eyes were bloodshot, his pupils enlarged and he was high on drugs.

So I gave in. I’d been in flashpoints like this many times before, from Northern Ireland to Iraq, and I knew how quickly things can escalate. I knew I couldn’t risk the lives of my men. Gutted, I watched as our vehicles were driven away, along with the £15,000 worth of weapons, tracking systems and high-tech satellite phones each had inside. A few days after the incident, we got a demand from the NDS. Pay them a £15,000 ‘release fee’ and they would return our Land Cruisers. I was against giving in to extortion, but my bosses decided we had no choice other than to go along with this. Then, once we’d got the vehicles back,

I paid my respects to my fellow cellmates - ‘Salaam Alaikum’ and some responded in kind, but not everyone. we would lodge a formal complaint with the Afghan authorities. So, through one of our local staff, an interpreter named Maiwand Limar, we brokered a deal with a man by the name of Eidi Mohammad, and I was sent to make the trade. Once I’d handed over the cash and received the vehicles back, I told this Eidi Mohammad: ‘We’ll need an official receipt, for our accounts.’ Smiling beneath his mirrored sunglasses, he assured me we’d be sent the proper paperwork. We never were, and the longer we waited for that ‘release fee’ receipt, the more we realised we’d been the victims of a sting. Corruption was endemic in Afghanistan and ‘baksheesh’ (a tip or bribe) was expected for almost everything. When the NDS then lifted three more of our vehicles and demanded £6,000 each for their return, it was clear something had to be done. Encouraged by the fact that President

Karzai had just announced a new anticorruption drive, we made a complaint to the Ministry of the Interior. Because I’d been the person in charge when the Land Cruisers were taken, the official complaint was in my name. It was then that a nightmarish situation began to unfold. It turned out Eidi Mohammad, the man we’d paid the money to get our vehicles back, had fled. Worse still, Maiwand, our interpreter, was apparently blaming me. I was no longer the wronged complainant. I was now the chief suspect accused of bribery. I couldn’t believe what was happening and went straight to the British embassy. ‘We can’t advise you,’ was all the officials there would say, despite my protests that this was palpably unfair and wrong. I was on my own. When I told Liz, my wife, on the phone, she wanted me to fly home straight away and I could have done just that. ‘But that would make me look guilty,’ I told her. ‘I’d be unemployed and unemployable. I have to stay.’ There shouldn’t be a problem, I reassured her. Common sense would prevail. But if I was detained, the British embassy would come to my aid. So as requested, I presented myself at the office of the Afghan Anti-Corruption Unit. It was in March last year, five months after the original incident. I had already had several meetings there with no problems, but this time I was told: ‘You are being arrested and taken to a detention centre. ‘This is a complete farce!’ I protested angrily, as I was forced into the back of a waiting car and, flanked by two armed Afghans, driven to Tawqeef. In the blink of an eye, I was about to go from an upstanding member of society to being treated as a common criminal. My so-called crime? To tell the truth. Being honest, open and fair had served me well my whole life, but in ravaged Afghanistan I was to learn that truth was just another commodity - to be bought and sold. The self-serving lies of others had put me in hell. We were the ones who had been ripped off, not the other way round. The injustice of my situation grated against the principles by which I’d always tried to

Gulf Insider October 2013


Feature Afghanistan

live in my 30 years of service in the Royal Military Police. Inside my crowded cell, I found a space on the floor and sat down to gather my thoughts. Cockroaches dropped from the ceiling onto me, which had me in a frenzy brushing them off. Flies buzzed me repeatedly. There’d been no word from my company or from the British embassy, despite promises to get me out of there as soon as they could. Later that night, food arrived - a mess of cold lamb’s fat and rice in a bucket and my cellmates reached in to scoop food into their mouths. Though I hadn’t eaten since early morning, suddenly I wasn’t hungry. After the meal, prayers were said to Allah. My only prayer was that nobody would slit my throat before I was released. That night I barely slept. Summoned to the gate the next morning, I found Azim, my right-hand man in the company and the best fixer and negotiator I’d ever had, waiting for me. ‘Mr Bill sir,’ he said, tears spilling down his cheeks, ‘I’m sorry, so sorry.’ Then he began to push personal items through the bars towards me - a toothbrush, a shaving kit, some soap. A sleeping bag followed, a towel, bottles of water, a change of clothes. I was filled with cold, hard dread as the realisation hit me. I wasn’t going anywhere. Dazed, I walked back to my cell and sat with my face turned to the wall. Was this really happening to me? It was. When two British embassy officials came to see me it was to say that they couldn’t interfere in the ‘due process’ of the Afghan legal system. Head high as if on the parade ground at Sandhurst, where I’d once been an instructor, I marched from one end of the dusty prison compound to the other, back and forward a hundred times as part of my daily regime to stay fit. All the time I kept a wary eye on the other inmates. There were drug smugglers, thieves and murderers, but it was the Taliban that I needed to watch. One glared at me, an ‘infidel’, with open hostility. Another barged into me, almost knocking me off my feet. A third came up to me, smiled and ominously drew his finger across his throat. I


Gulf Insider October 2013

Bill Shaw during an appeals court session in Kabul in 2010 sidestepped him and carried on my way. I knew the key to survival was to remain focused. I had to keep myself in shape, mentally and physically. I had to keep believing in myself - no matter what. I found ways of managing my disgust at the cockroaches and the mould, the mice and rats, the over-flowing toilets and the lack of proper washing facilities. I became accustomed to itching like hell from the lice that took up residence in my hair, skin and clothing. All my 30 years of impeccable service as an Army man - rising through the ranks from private to major - I had been fastidiously clean and tidy. Now I was permanently unshaven, dirty and smelly. I hated that aspect of my incarceration with every fibre of my being. Discipline was harsh inside Tawqeef. Fights often broke out - usually over drugs or food - and the guards would wade in, swinging lengths of hosepipe to separate the combatants. Outside my cell I was a target, as the prison commandant himself warned me. It was, however, the guards who hassled me the most. Those at the gate took their pick of whatever goodies my friends sent in for me while those inside wanted cash and would rub their index finger over my palm as an invitation for baksheesh. I could, of course, have played the

same game and bought my way out of the entire situation. ‘It is common to pay, William,’ I was told by fellow prisoners. For USD10,000, a judge could be found to release me. I said no. That would be flying in the face of all I stood for. There were no guarantees, anyway, that the judge wouldn’t take the money and still leave me locked up. Finally, the day for my trial arrived and, trussed up like some character from a Dickensian clink with handcuffs on my wrist secured to a ring on a chain round my waist, I was taken to court. Arriving at the anti-corruption court - a building paid for, refurbished and furnished by the British taxpayer dozens of reporters and TV cameras were waiting for me. As I staggered through a gauntlet of lenses and microphones, I have never been more humiliated. What if my grandchildren saw pictures of me in chains? I wanted the red Afghan dirt to open up and swallow me. But once inside, I was upbeat. My lawyer, Kim Motley, a glamorous American woman who specialised in helping foreigners ensnared in the Afghan criminal justice system, told the judge there was no case to answer. The judge appeared to agree with her, until the prosecutor intervened. Because the man we claimed we had paid the money to had disappeared and could not be produced in court, we had produced no witnesses to confirm that we’d been cheated. The legal presumption had to be, therefore, that we were guilty. I felt the atmosphere shift. The judge stopped agreeing with Kim and instead gave the prosecutor another week to draw up his case. Dazed, I was ushered out. I was going back to prison. The thought overwhelmed me. ‘How much longer?’ I asked her, close to losing it. ‘A week? A month? A year?’ If I imagined things couldn’t get any worse, though, I was wrong. I didn’t know it, but ahead lay not release in seven days’ time but an experience that very nearly drove me insane. GFI

*Adapted from Kill Switch, by Bill Shaw, published by Headline. Available from

Feature Advertorial

Fraser Suites’ Accolade


raser Suites Bahrain has received the Best Guest Review Award from a leading on-line travel agency for its high average score during the year of 8.7 from satisfied guests. presents the award each year for hotels with an average score of 8 or above, out of a possible total of 10. The ratings are provided by guests and refer to the level of their satisfaction with service and facilities. “We are delighted with both the award and the exceptionally high level of satisfaction amongst guests who stay with us,” says Mrs Juliana Mateva, Director of Sales of Fraser Suites Bahrain. Mr Olivier Briand, General Manager, Fraser Suites Bahrain believes that it is the consistency in the delivery of service, a keen attention to detail and anticipating guests needs that won the hospitality

marquee this recognition. “The guest reviews speak for themselves; this is an honest feedback from people who have stayed with us and taken the time to share their point of view with us,” he says. “We take into account guest feedback as this helps us improve the guests experience; this encourages brand loyalty.”

Fraser Suites says that what gives it a competitive edge is that it doesn’t treat every guest in the same way; each guest is different and has varied needs and expectations which are identified and met by the team; the guest is offered not just the basic services but an entire experience – the Fraser Touch! GFI

Salma Abdel Meguid, Olivier Briand - General Manager, Fraser Suites, Juliana Mateva - Director of Sales, Fraser Suites and Amir Fahmy

British Airways Revamps Service to Bahrain Gulf Insider meets British Airways’ Area Commercial Manager at the Kempinski for a chat about the airline’s recent refurbishment of 18 Boeing 777 aircraft and its long relationship with Bahrain.


aolo de Renzis was recently in Bahrain for a press conference announcing a complete refit of 18 of British Airways’ 46 Boeing 777 aircraft, which includes advanced entertainment system in all cabins. He revealed that the airline was two years into a US$5 billion investment that would enable it to serve its passengers from Bahrain better. Last year was an important one for BA in the region. The airline has just added new destinations in Lebanon and Jordan to its extensive network, and increased the number of flights to Saudi and Kuwait. The Boeing 777 now


Gulf Insider October 2013

makes a daily trip to Jeddah, and Mr. de Renzis anticipates opening up ten more destinations in the Middle East. He reports that British Airways has seen strong demand from Bahrain, and that passenger traffic was back to normal after the dip in 2011, adding that Bahrain has historically been an important port of call for British Airways. After all, Concorde’s maiden flight in 1976 was to Bahrain, and it was the only country in the region that Concorde flew to regularly. The Middle East is a significant region for British Airways globally and operates 69 weekly flights between London and various cities in the GCC. GFI

Paolo de Renzis

British Airways’ Area Commercial Manager

Advertorial Feature

World Endurance Championship Spectacular 6 Hours of Bahrain to delight fans at BIC.


et ready for ‘high-octane endurance racing at Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) in Sakhir, the home of motorsport in the Middle East. BIC is all geared up to host the exciting World Endurance Championship 6 Hours of Bahrain on 29th and 30th November. The twoday event is the eighth and final round of the 2013 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) and is sure to delight the scores of racing enthusiasts from all over the world who will flock to BIC next month. This end of the season race will witness an entourage of over 30 race cars compete across four different car categories, including the Le Mans Prototype 1 (LMP1), the Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2), the Le Mans Grand Touring Endurance – Professional (LMGTE Pro), and the Le Mans Grand Touring Endurance – Amateur (LMGTE Am). A fantastic line-up of support races will also be a part of the event as will a wide range of entertainment activities that will keep the crowds up-beat. Under BIC’s ongoing tickets promotion, six lucky winners will take home attractive prizes every three weeks! In addition to the tri-weekly draws, every ticket will be entered into a draw for a chance to win a grand prize of a brand new car! The car draw will take place during the 6 Hours of Bahrain making the day truly unforgettable for one lucky winner. Buy your tickets today using BIC’s newly launched online ticketing system located at BIC’s official website, and also through BIC’s official Facebook page. GFI

For further information call the hotline on Tel. +973 1745 0000

Tickets For Adults: BD20 For Kids (3 to 12 years): BD10 & up to 3 years FREE entry Tickets to BIC’s exclusive Le Mans Spirit Club cost BD200 each and offer a premium viewing experience, coupled with the club’s world class hospitality.

Gulf Insider October 2013


Feature Advertorial

The Elite Group October 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. BD12 net per person. When: Every Wednesday from 7.30 pm onwards Where: Poolside

Thursday Night Grills

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

Chillout Saturday

The ideal setting before the new week begins; enjoy soothing music 44

Gulf Insider October 2013

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. BD12 for adults and half price 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 allyou-can-eat-buffet When: Every Saturday Where: H2O Price: BD10 net inclusive of Shisha GFI

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

Morality Law Sudan

Image: AFP/Getty

Sudan - morality law

Sudanese woman, 35, who refuses to cover her hair under country’s morality law appears in court.


Sudanese woman who is prepared to be flogged to defend the right to leave her hair uncovered in defiance of a ‘Taliban-like’ law has appeared in court. Amira Osman Hamed faces a possible whipping if convicted. Under Sudanese law her hair - and that of all women - is supposed to be covered with a hijab but Hamed, 35, refuses to wear one. Her case has drawn support from civil rights activists and is the latest to highlight Sudan’s series of laws governing morality which took effect after the 1989 Islamist-backed coup by President Omar al-Bashir. Her lawyer Moezz Hadhra told AFP said: ‘The defence asked the court that

the charges against this woman be withdrawn, and the court adjourned the hearing while it considers the request.’ In an interview earlier this month, she said: ‘They want us to be like Taliban women.’ She is charged under Article 152 which prohibits ‘indecent’ clothing. Hamed said she was visiting a government office in Jebel Aulia, just outside Khartoum, on August 27, when a policeman aggressively told her to cover her head. Hamed, a divorced computer engineer who runs her own company, said: ‘This public order law changed Sudanese women from victims to criminals. ‘This law is targeting the dignity of Sudanese people.’ In 2009, the case of journalist Lubna

The defence asked the court that the charges against this woman be withdrawn. Ahmed al-Hussein led to a global outcry and highlighted women’s rights in Sudan. Hussein was fined for wearing trousers in public but she refused to pay. She spent one day behind bars before the Sudanese Journalists’ Union paid the fine on her behalf. Ten other women rounded up with her in a restaurant were each given 10 lashes. GFI

Gulf Insider October 2013


Feature Miss World

Image: EPA

The audience claps during the final of the 3rd Miss World Muslimah 2013 contest

Image: EPA Image: AFP/Getty

Obabiyi Aishah Ajibola of Nigeria reacts emotionally as she hears the announcement of her victory in the Muslim Miss World

The Muslim Miss World A

Nigerian woman has been crowned Muslim Miss World in the final of a beauty pageant organised by a women’s group in direct response to the mainstream Miss World competition. Miss Nigeria, Obabiyi Aishah Ajibola, 21, won the Miss Muslimah World contest which was organised by the World Muslimah Foundation, a Muslim women’s group, and held in Indonesia’s 46

Gulf Insider October 2013

capital city of Jakarta as a protest to the traditional contest held in Bali last month. The annual Muslim event - now in its third year - is held exclusively for Muslim women, who are assessed not only their appearance (in Islamic dress) but also their piety, religious knowledge and understanding of the Koran. More than 500 Muslim women entered the contest online, with 20 finalists chosen by judges. Entrants

More than 500 Muslim women entered the contest online, with 20 finalists chosen by judges. were asked to talk people through their path to the religion and what wearing a headscarf meant to them. When Miss Nigeria was announced the winner - and won a trip to Mecca she recited a verse from the Koran. Meanwhile in Bali, the mainstream pageant was subject to protests by hardline Muslims within the world’s most populous Muslim country, even though organisers relented and agreed to cancel the bikini round. Moreover, its final - held on 28 September - was due to take place in Jakarta, but was changed to Bali, a Hindu-majority island, where armed police were on high alert following warnings that the contest could be a target for terror attacks. GFI

Global Warming Feature

Global Warming World’s top climate scientists told to ‘cover up’ fact that the Earth’s temperature hasn’t risen for 15 years.


cientists working on the most authoritative study on climate change were urged to cover up the fact that the world’s temperature hasn’t risen for the last 15 years, it is claimed. The newly published report addresses the fact that 1998 was the hottest year on record and world temperatures have not yet exceeded it, which scientists have so far struggled to explain. The report is the result of six years’ work by UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which is seen as the world authority on the extent of climate change and what is causing it – on which governments base their green policies. But leaked documents seen by the Associated Press, last month revealed deep concerns among politicians about a lack of global warming over the past few years. Germany called for the references to the slowdown in warming to be deleted, saying looking at a time span of just 10

or 15 years was ‘misleading’ and they should focus on decades or centuries. Hungary worried the report would provide ammunition for deniers of manmade climate change. Belgium objected to using 1998 as a starting year for statistics, as it was exceptionally warm and makes the graph look flat - and suggested using 1999 or 2000 instead to give a more upwardpointing curve. The United States delegation even weighed in, urging the authors of the report to explain away the lack of warming using the ‘leading hypothesis’ among scientists that the lower warming is down to more heat being absorbed by the ocean – which has got hotter. The last IPCC ‘assessment report’ was published in 2007 and has been the subject of huge controversy after it had to correct the embarrassing claim that the Himalayas would melt by 2035. It was then engulfed in the ‘Climategate’ scandal surrounding leaked emails allegedly showing scientists

The newly published report addresses the fact that 1998 was the hottest year on record and world temperatures have not yet exceeded it. involved in it trying to manipulate their data to make it look more convincing – although several inquiries found no wrongdoing. The latest report, which runs to 2,000 pages, was shown to representatives from all 195 governments this month at a meeting in Stockholm and reveals that the rate of warming between 1998 and 2012 was about half of the average rate since 1951. GFI

Gulf Insider October 2013


Feature Advertorial

Go Offshore with Sovereign Group Setting up your own Company has never been easier.


fter opening its first office in Gibraltar, in 1987, today Sovereign Group has 25 offices in all major international finance centers including Bahrain, Dubai, Cayman Islands, British Virgin Islands, Isle Of Man, Hong Kong and Seychelles. Sovereign’s core business is setting up and managing Onshore , Offshore and Free Zone companies, trusts and other structures to meet the specific personal or business needs of their clients (Individuals & Corporate). Typically these needs would include Trading, Consulting, Bank Accounts, Residency, Citizenships and Insurance, tax planning, wealth protection, foreign property ownership, Trade Mark Registration, Franchising Services and facilitating cross-border business. Sovereign currently manages over 7,000 structures for a wide variety of clients worldwide. Majority of the clients are individuals, expatriates, entrepreneurs, freelance consultants, private investors, or wealthy persons and their families. Sovereign has developed a wide range of supporting services 48

Gulf Insider October 2013

embracing asset management, corporate finance and fundraising, specialist tax advice, ship and yacht registration, insurance broking, credit cards, as well as trademark and intellectual property registration and protection.

Offshore Companies

Though often demonised, Offshore Companies may offer you many advantages including minimising tax burden on the company, holding shares in Bahraini companies and those outside Bahrain, protecting your personal assets, quick and simple formation process and corporate and banking confidentiality.

Most Recommended Offshore Jurisdictions

• British Virgin Islands (BVI) • Ras Al Khaima (UAE) • Hong Kong • Seychelles • Cayman Islands

British Virgin Islands Company Characteristics

• A minimum of one shareholder is required, any nationality. • A minimum of one director is required, can be the shareholder. • No Taxation • No cash capital required • No Physical Office required • Incorporation time 48 hours • Its business activity can be one or more in the same at the same time. • Very useful tool to Hold Shares, Open a Bank account, Set-up a Representative Office in Bahrain, own assists, property, yachts, art and more. • Total incorporation fees, including first year government fees, is around BD1000 with NO hidden costs. GFI

For a free of cost chat with a Sovereign Consultant call on Tel. +973 1715 1572 E-mail:

Advertorial Feature

Istanbul Arrival Lounge Turkish Airlines will open its Lounge for Business Class passengers, available after international arrivals in Istanbul.

This service is especially valuable to guests arriving in the early morning when hotel rooms are generally not yet available for check-in.


urkish Airlines continues to enhance the travel experience for its international Business Class passengers. Turkish Airlines inaugurated its new “Istanbul Arrival Lounge” in a ceremony, designed to provide a space where inbound guests may refresh themselves before exiting the Ataturk Airport. This is the most recent innovation directed at making Business Class travel on Turkish Airlines a uniquely pleasurable experience. The lounge, which is 250m2, has a capacity of 38 seats and provides a comfortable ambience for passengers to relax and refresh after their flight. It offers passengers shower facilities, areas for changing clothes and staff dedicated to ironing clothing items if desired. There are also delicious treats prepared by

Turkish DO & CO—all designed to ready passengers for the tasks that await them upon leaving the airport. This service is especially valuable to guests arriving in the early morning when hotel rooms are generally not yet available for checkin. Also available are daily local and foreign newspapers and magazines, a

full wireless internet connection, media walls and charging points for passengers’ electronic devices. The lounge will be open every day to receive arriving passengers from 05:00 12:30 (local time) and will be closed each day at 13:00 (local time). GFI

Important details for using the Istanbul Arrival Lounge: • Only Business Class passengers and Economy or Comfort Class passengers

having Elite Plus membership will be able to use the lounge on arrival in Istanbul following their international flights. • Star Gold members and other Miles & Smiles members--except Elite Plus members - will not be eligible to use the Lounge. Additionally, eligible passengers will not be permitted to bring guests.

For further information visit or call on Tel. +90 212 444 0849 or visit any TK sales offices. Gulf Insider October 2013


Car Volvo

GulfInsider CAR REVIEW

2014 VOLVO XC60 This vehicle received the highest possible scores in various government and insurance industry crash tests.

Review by Nick Cooksey


he XC60 is a compact sport-utility, or crossover and this 2014 model is much beefier than the previous 2013 model. It’s higher and looks wider, though it isn’t, and is a mid cycle refresh that has been given a major facelift rather than any major change to the mechanics of vehicle. It has good ground clearance and optional all-wheel drive offers light offroad capability. The four-wheel-drive system adds expense, so think hard about whether you really need it. It’s good in sand, but doesn’t make it any more fun to drive. This XC60 is well equipped. All models in the range come with alloy wheels, rear parking sensors, electric windows all round, and Bluetooth. There’s an optional

panorama sunroof which produces a neat skylight effect. Four trim levels are available, including leather. There’s a six-speed automatic transmission for all engines, and horsepower on the 3 litre engine starts at 240bhp with the sporty R-Design offering 325bhp. The R-Design is the sporty choice, which includes a sporty body-kit and a sports chassis, it loses some comfort for better body control and sharper steering, but the standard car provides the better compromise for families. Regardless of which model you chose, all have a high driving position which offers good all round visibility, and parking is easy thanks to a rear view camera. An elevated rear bench gives

rear seat passengers a better view of the road, and in the back there’s a built in kiddie’s booster seats and a pop-out picnic table. The seats fold flat to open up a huge load-space of 1,455 liters, and the front passenger seat can also fold flat to enable the easy transportation of bulkier and longer items. For in-car entertainment there’s full internet browsing, with music streaming, radio, Google maps, and more. Connection is provided either by a car-mounted dongle or an occupant’s mobile phone. When driving at night the Volvo automatically shields oncoming cars from high-beam glare, so you’ll never have to dim your high beams again.

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. 50

Gulf Insider October 2013

Volvo Car

When driving at night the Volvo automatically shields oncoming cars from high-beam glare, so you’ll never have to dim your high beams again.

This car comes with vast amounts of safety kit built in, including a system to prevent colliding with a car in front at speeds of up to 30 kph. I must admit I found all the various warning bongs annoying. In addition to the loudest and most aggressive bongs telling you off for not wearing seat belts and driving above 120 kph that I have ever heard in a car, there’s anti-collision warning lights, blind spot monitors, lane departure buzzer, pedestrian detection… and more! But what I like most about this car is easy to drive, compact, easy to park, a comfortable ride, it has great seats, and it’s ever so practical. GFI

To arrange your own test in Bahrain call Motor City on 17 736 222

There’s lots of storage without the bulk of a big SUV, and it fits 5 occupants versus 7 for the larger three-row Volvo XC90, which it looks similar to. The XC60 is about same size as its rivals the Audi Q5, BMW X3, and Mercedes-Benz GLK. This vehicle received the highest possible scores in various government and insurance industry crash tests, and in addition to all the safety features I’ve already mentioned there’s twin front and side airbags, window airbags, and anti-whiplash head restraints.

the XC60 online NEW! Watch our test drive of visit Gulf Insider October 2013


Car Porsche

GulfInsider CAR REVIEW

2014 Porsche Panamera

Nick Cooksey tests the Panamera on the highways and winding mountain roads of Oman.


orsches don’t change just for the sake of change, they evolve over time based on design improvements and new technologies. This has been the case for the 911, the Cayanne, and now the Panamera. Last month I was invited to fly down to Oman to test drive the new model Panemera. Great – I love the Porsche brand, and Oman is beautiful and a great place to test drive cars, so off I went. The Panamera is a successful and effective combination of a sports car and four seater luxury saloon, and because it’s a hatch and that the rear seats fold flat there’s also lots of practical storage capacity. The 2014 mid cycle model is lower, wider, and the hunched back has

been reduced by flattening and enlarging the rear of the car. Full-LED headlights are available for the first time. What will surprise many is that the previous 4.8-liter V8 in the Panamera S has been replaced with a smaller, lighter, yet more powerful twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 that generates 420 bhp and 384 pound of torque – that’s an extra 20 bhp and 25 pounds more torque than before. For those who, whether for emotional or other reasons prefer to stick to the big V8, the GTS retains the naturally aspirated 4.8, and the top of the range Panamera Turbo keeps its twinturbocharged 4.8-liter 520 bhp V-8. Driving the Panamera on the winding roads of Oman was a pleasure. We journeyed up along the Jebel Akhdar

mountains, one of Oman’s most spectacular areas. The highest point, Jabal Shams (mountain of the sun), is around 3,000 meters and is the highest point in the whole of eastern Arabia. The car was solid on tight bends, gripping the corners perfectly, and the steering was accurate throughout. This is a true sports car that also happens to be a four seater luxury car – no mean feat and something Porsche deserves credit for. The interior is comfortable and classy. I loved the ventilated seats which kept me cool and dry during the long drive. The car handled perfectly, and when I wasn’t listening to the excellent in-car entertainment system I was enjoying the sound of the powerful, highly tuned engine.

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. 52

Gulf Insider October 2013

Porsche Car

Nick with the Executive long wheelbase version

The Panamera is a successful and effective combination of a sports car and four seater luxury saloon, and because itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a hatch and that the rear seats fold flat. The Panamera lineup expands for the 2014 model year with the addition of three new variants: the Panamera S E-Hybrid, the first plug-in hybrid from Porsche; and two long wheelbase Executive versions based on the 4S and Turbo. I got the chance to test the new E-Hybrid which is now available in the Middle East for the first time, recognizable by acid green accents on the brake calipers and badges. I found it to be a smooth ride, both when the electric motor was working alone and when collaborating with the petrol engine. The Panamera E-Hybrid is the only hybrid capable of driving upto a speed of 135kmh purely electric in comparison to other Hybrid brands. Porsche introduced the long wheelbase version of the Panamera due, apparently, to demand from the Middle East and China, stretching the car nearly six inches for the sole purpose of improved rear passenger space. Why anyone would want to buy a Porsche so they can sit in the back I have no idea, but I suppose if you need to be chauffeured around, then why not in a Porsche? GFI

Check out the Panamera range for yourself by calling Porsche Centre Bahrain on +973 1745 9911

Gulf Insider October 2013


Car Bentley Flying Spur

GulfInsider CAR REVIEW

The New Bentley Flying Spur

Gulf Insider was invited to take the latest Bentley Flying Spur for a spin from the glittering launch party in Dubai to the picturesque mountain enclave of Hatta. We were, of course, delighted to accept.


he new Flying Spur is Bentley’s most powerful car yet, and it certainly shows. Powered by Bentley’s renowned 6.0-litre, twin turbo W12 engine, it makes short work of the open road that stretches in front of us. The round trip between Dubai and Hatta is a few hours long, with stops for refreshments along the way. Interestingly, part of the road passes through Oman, but there are no border stations. The tiny sheikhdom of Hatta,

nestled in the foothills of the Hajar mountains, is an authentically Arab heritage village, and makes for a perfect day trip away from the bustle of Dubai. The long drive gives us plenty of time to admire the carefully handcrafted interiors. Bentley’s designers have created a luxurious, spacious cabin featuring soft leather and mirrorpolished wood veneers. The veneer of the dashboard meets that of the doors in a perfectly aligned curve, giving the impression of an unbroken arc of wood

around the interior. The seats have various massage and air-conditioning functions. Concealed behind these opulent trimmings lie advanced technologies such as a touch-screen infotainment system, mobile connectivity including Wi-Fi, and an eight-channel, eightspeaker audio system. Yes, the interior is a luxurious, spacious cabin filled with electronic technologies and exquisite hand-crafted leather hides and wood veneers.

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. 54

Gulf Insider October 2013

Bentley Flying Spur Car

On the outside, unusually sharp and defined wings flow from front to the back of the car making it look... well, ...muscular! The huge 6.0-litre, quad-turbo 616 horsepower W12 engine burbles and then roars when you put your foot down. And with permanent four-wheel drive the car grips the road perfectly, delivering a top speed of 320 kph and a zero to 100 kph acceleration of just 4.3 seconds. This engine, just like the entire car, is impressive. It is fast, yet quiet and supremely comfortable. In fact, it would be quite impossible to tell how fast we are going if not for the alarm that sounds when we go over the speed limit.

The New Flying Spur is the pinnacle of luxury and refinement with exceptional performance that is synonymous with all Bentley models.

This brings us to the only fault we can find with this otherwise exquisite car. The speed limit alarm is a loud, harsh buzzing sound; quite authoritative, and more like what one would expect from a hire car telling off those hiring it to behave rather than a luxury super car for the rich and powerful. Older models of the Flying Spur already have a loyal following in the Gulf region, and this latest model is expected to prove very popular as well. As Chris Buxton, Regional Manager of Bentley Middle East said at the previous night’s regional launch party for this car at Dubai’s Marriott Marquis hotel, “We have already received many preorders for the New Flying Spur and the response from our existing and new customers has been overwhelming. This model is set to generate our best ever year in the region for sales”. Overall, it was an immensely enjoyable trip. The New Flying Spur is the pinnacle of luxury and refinement with exceptional performance that is synonymous with all Bentley models. GFI

Gulf Insider October 2013


Feature Super Yachts

the world’s most expensive super yachts Wally Yachts, based in Monaco, makes vessels which can sell for $30million-plus.


n a white, immaculate interior, there stands a white, immaculate yacht. But this is no ordinary yacht - it is one of the most luxurious ones that money can buy... and this is the almost heavenly place where they are built. The workshop is owned by Monacobased company Wally Yachts, which specialises in unique, high-performance boats. Their clients range from your average captain of industry to multimillionaires with a James Bond fixation - which is just as well as the vessels can cost as much as $30million. These images, photographed by Benedict Redgrove, show three different vessels: Wally Ace, a motorised yacht; Wally One, a single-deck, with 630 horsepower; and Wally Sail, Better Place, which at 164ft is the biggest carbon fibre sloop so far built by the company. And to give an idea of its owner’s wealth, the latter was in the process of being painted the same color as their Bugatti. Mr Regdrove, who specialises in shooting jets, cars and boats during their production, said: ‘These were shot as part of a slight rebrand that I think came to a halt, which was a real shame as we never got round to shooting the final images of the yachts when they had been launched. ‘I would love my own boat and can’t see myself not owning one at some


Gulf Insider October 2013

This is Wally Ace, a motorised vessel - no doubt destined for a multimillionaire point, but maybe not as grand as Better Place. ‘I’ve heard it costs approximately 10 per cent of the build costs to run a boat each year - and the saying goes “The two best days of owning a yacht are the day you buy it and the day you sell it”.’ Wally One is believed to cost around $500,000; Wally Ace, $5million; and Better Place, $30million. The photoshoot took place in three locations which have dedicated Wally boatyards: Forli (for Wally Sail, Better Place) and Ancona (Wally Ace), both in Italy; and Monaco (Wally One). ‘The shoot at Forli was unbelievably uncomfortable,’ the photographer added. ‘It was a ridiculously hot day and we spent most of it under a tarpaulin or inside a boat with no moving air and lots of wood dust and sweat dripping off us. ‘The yachts ride so well and so smoothly. We had great captains.

Wally One

Wally One is believed to cost around $500,000; Wally Ace, $5million; and Better Place, $30million. ‘On the second day. we saw Eclipse, [Russian business tycoon] Roman Abramovich’s mega-yacht. I can see why they called it Eclipse - it dwarfed everything. As to the cost of running them... these behemoths can easily glug 15 gallons of fuel per nautical mile. But if you can afford to buy one of them, surely that added financial burden is just a drop in the ocean. GFI

Photographed by Benedict Redgrove

GulfInsider new car reviews

NOW online!

BMW 4 Series The bad news is that BMW will no longer be producing 3 Series coupes. The good news is that BMW coupes are to get an even number, and so there will be 4 Series coupes, and they are a noticeable improvement over the old 3 series...

BENTLEY MULSANNE We were invited to test drive the new Bentley Mulsanne from the picturesque French town of Strasbourg to London. It was, of course, an offer we couldn’t refuse...

Is this the world’s fastest jet ski? Maserati Quattroporte

A new supercharged jet ski claims to be so fast that it ‘practically pullls your arms off’.The Black Edition 360 Sea-Doo has a top speed of 130 kph and is as powerful as a Porsche...

The latest sixth generation of the range is noticeably bigger than its predecessor. The car we collected from Euro Motors to drive around Bahrain was a twin turbo 3.8 litre V8 high tech super refined monster...

Rich Arabs return to London for summer Among the extraordinary cars this year has been a customised blue-andwhite Bugatti Veyron from Saudi Arabia. The Arab “invasion” isn’t good news for everyone. Residents are concerned by the allegedly dangerous manner in which many ‘Gulfies’ drive...

Read the full reviews of these great cars + more... visit

Feature Fiji


at a price Idyllic 46-acre estate with its own beach and RAINFOREST goes on sale... but you’ll need to travel to Fiji to enjoy it.


t is a slice of paradise that comes with its own white beach, a 23,000 square feet luxury home and even a private rainforest. The Rai Ki Wai estate is so exclusive that it shares the whole Fijian island of Wakaya with just seven other homes. But this kind of luxury comes at a price. The 46-acre estate is being sold at auction with no reserve this month but has been valued at BD 4.5million ($12million). The house is set at the highest spot on the island, offering stunning views of the South Pacific. It includes six suites in separate pavilions — each with en-suite bathrooms, decks and gardens - and an additional bedroom with full bathroom. The opulent estate has Fijian hardwood


Gulf Insider October 2013

floors and is styled on Balinese and Asian designs. Among the stunning features are a main pavilion with a 4,200 square feet living/ bar area and a separate pavilion housing an enormous 5,000 square feet master bedroom. Guest pavilions have airy 32-foot ceilings, spa bathtubs, indoor/ outdoor showers and private decks. If this was not enough, the estate has an outdoor pool, with unobstructed ocean views. American owner Giselle Fernandez said the island has been an ‘oasis of spirit’ for her family. She said: ‘The seascapes and sparkling reefs and vistas embraced us with nature’s grandest offerings. The Fijian people’s village traditions became ours and enriched our lives in countless ways.

‘I can’t say enough about our 11 magical years on Wakaya Island and the enchantment of our grand Rai Ki Wai estate. ‘We loved it so much. We spent months at a time over the years, shared its enchanting wiles with friends and family and raised our child there. ‘Now with our daughter growing up and in school and grandchildren here in the states, and more on the way, our lives have changed, and it’s not so easy to escape away as we once did.’ The remote island - one of 333 in the country -is a 30 minute flight from Fiji’s airport. And it is so private, the island can only be accessed through a secured dock, airstrip or helipad. Rai Ki Wai estate is being auctioned by New York-based Concierge Auctions. GFI

Fashion Milan


Giorgio Armani Menswear Spring-Summer 2014 collection.


Milan Fashion Week Gulf Insider was invited to Milan Fashion Week last month to check out the new men’s fashion.

Ermanno Scervino Men Spring/Summer 2014


Gulf Insider October 2013

Milan Fashion

A chat

with fashion designer Giorgio Armani (sitting, centre) with his models.

Rick Owens

Rick, how do you think your show went? You know, I’m 50. After ten years of doing this, you’ve got to have your s**t together a little bit. And, I mean, I’m not saying it’s perfect, but I’ve done the best I can, and now I have to let it go. When you get dressed in the morning, do you know what you’re going to wear? Yeah, I do. Because I have twenty of the same thing, I wear the same outfit every single day. I can’t imagine having to choose clothes in the morning. It would drive me crazy. What inspires you most? Architecture.

FC Barcelona striker Lionel Messi enjoys Milan Fashion Week.


ilan Fashion Week 2013 was full of glamorous parties. The city’s Mayor held a grand gala at the opera house that was attended by many of the world’s top designers including Giorgio Armani, Roberto Cavalli, and Alberta Ferretti to name just three. Prada held a rival show where stars of the fashion world could be seen including Cate Blanchett, Kate Moss and Selena Gomez. Moschino held a party celebrating their thirtieth anniversary in the fashion industry at which Gloria Gaynor sang I Will Survive to an excited audience… and there were many more! A common thread in conversations at the fashion week was how Milan is under siege and losing its position of preeminence to London, which is increasingly seen by many as the world’s new international fashion hub. There has been a steady drift to London, and just recently Tom Ford and Burberry announced their moves from Milan to London. In 2009, Milan was regarded as the world fashion capital, even surpassing New York, Paris, Rome and London. In 2011, Milan was ranked number 4, behind London, New York, and Paris. Still, Milan still had the mega brands compared to London, including Valentino, Versace, Prada, Armani and Dolce & Gabbana, so there’s still everything to play for. Everyone we spoke to thought the week was a success, and one of the big things apparent is the many new investments now being made in young designers on a scale that has not been seen before. The general attitude we picked up was that Milan is now fighting back and wants to be numero uno again!

Anything specifically? I like vintage things. There are people that like contemporary art and people that like old art, and I like old art. I like art from the thirties and twenties. If I’m talking about architecture, I like Robert Mallet-Stevens and Oscar Niemeyer What’s your favorite music? Wagner. Specifically Schmerzen, one of the Wesendonck Lieder from Wagner, and that’s what I played in my last show. It’s been an important song to me since I was young when it swept me away and it made me think about something bigger than where I was. What would you tell a man is the key to discovering his personal style? I have no idea. Maybe personal style really isn’t that important. If it’s not a priority for you and you haven’t found it already, then go think about something else. Style isn’t everything. What’s you next big plan? I will soon be opening my own night club in London where I plan to recreate the atmosphere of ‘Spotlight’, the club in Paris. GFI

Gulf Insider October 2013


Luxury Lifestyle

Lifestyle Your favourite luxury brands bring you the best in fashion.

For Him…

‘Scorpion Ring’ from Roberto Coin Collection: Scorpion Ring in 18kt rose gold with black and colourless diamonds. Flexible structure Diamonds, total weight 2.16ct Mythical creature, high-end jewelry work of art, enchanting talisman eccentrically magic.

Maurice Lacroix Unique, extraordinary and steadfast. The emphasis on the contemporary spirit of the new Masterpiece serves to highlight traditional watchmaking expertise and the application here of one of its most delicate techniques. The skeletonization of a movement is a painstaking operation that requires a very high level of precision and dexterity from the craftsmen

Price BD4,995/-

For Her…

Price: BD3,495/-

‘CapriPlus’ from Roberto Coin Collection: CapriPlus

‘Nemo Bracelet’ from Roberto Coin Collection: Nemo Bracelet in 18kt yellow gold with diamonds and rubies. Creatures inhabiting fairy-like marine kingdoms. Fishes with heads that seem to be taken from Renaissance fountains, like mythological divinities. A playful, astonishing collection delighted to offer new visions of unusual subjects

Price BD9,995/62

Gulf Insider October 2013

Bracelet in 18kt yellow gold with diamonds. Inspired by the breathtaking sunsets and atmosphere of the island of Capri. A romantic and super modern collection.

Price BD8,650/-

Available at the Roberto Coin Store, Moda Mall. Tel: +973 1717 9451, 3965 0571

Art Art Sawa



Gulf Insider October 2013

Art Sawa Art


rt Sawa in September hosted a solo show by artist Saddam Jumaily, Dialogue Degree Zero. Saddamâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s unique style is both raw and captivating and deals with transforming the mundane and routine into something dynamic. Saddamâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s external representations are reflections of his inner life, his paintings are filled with strange animal like, dreamlike forms. The composition of the pieces is dictated mainly by strong characters and as a leitmotiv the apparition of a strange symbolic animal. Saddam was born in Basra, Iraq, in 1974. He currently lives and works in Amman, Jordan, and has an MA in Fine Arts from Basra University College of Fine Arts, Iraq. GFI

Gulf Insider October 2013


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Luc Levesque, founder of TravelPod. com, on how he conducts monthly staff evaluations: “This approach is supposed to speed us up, and it creates alignment every 30 days, and you’re constantly giving feedback,” he says. “The meeting every month just facilitates a conversation, and it captures all of the great things they’ve been doing. And I think the most important questions at the end are: ‘What can I expect for the next 30 days? Anything I can do to make things go faster?’ “ Levesque says he now uses a Google spreadsheet to keep tabs on workers’ goals and achievements. “It creates some structure, because we’re so busy as leaders that we might not be doing it otherwise,” says Levesque. “And the beauty of it is that the year-end conversation is a piece of cake, because it’s all written already, and you know exactly where you stand throughout the year.” Paul Venables, founder of Venables Bell & Partners, on developing a strong company culture: “If I get the culture right, it will attract the right people, and they’re going to do the right kind of work”.Venables says that culture is about creating a bond strong enough where people know you’re there 66

Gulf Insider October 2013

to support them. This means workers aren’t “looking over their shoulder” because they think you’re expecting them to fail. You want to create a culture where people can come into your office and say, “I screwed up — help me out” instead of trying to hide it.

Simon Anderson, CEO of DreamHost, on a useful question to ask job candidates: Anderson says he asks one question to determine what motivates job candidates: “Tell me about the first experience in your life when you realized that you had the power of change or the power to do something meaningful. It’s open-ended. Some people might tell the story of when they were five and there was some incident and they had to take more responsibility for their baby brother or sister, maybe it was from their teenage years: ‘Something bad was going to happen at school and I stood up for this friend of mine and all of a sudden I felt self-empowered to do things.’ I think that’s really important. If someone sits there and they’re stumped, I think that tells you something.” Jed Yueh, chief executive of Delphix, on good management: Yueh says that one of the biggest management mistakes he’s ever

committed is not being able to manage himself. Managers need to think about the bigger picture and focus on big-picture wins. If you’re set on being right and not truly listening to your subordinates, at the end of the day, you lose even if you are technically right. “Managers can either increase or decrease motivation for their teams. They can either increase or decrease clarity for their teams,” Yueh says. “They can either build cultures that are highly collaborative and capable of solving problems quickly, or they can create cultures where you have a lot of paralysis, and it’s very difficult to make decisions.”

Nick Woodman, founder and CEO of GoPro, on the art of firing: “The best way to fire somebody is to compassionately fire them.” And quickly. Woodman says that as soon as you know that it’s not going to work out with an employee, it’s imperative to take action immediately. One employee can make a huge difference in the morale of a company, says the founder. If that person is the wrong fit, other employees will suffer as well. “The worst way to fire somebody is to let it drag out. It’s not good for that person because they’re not succeeding in their role. And it’s not good for the organization because it’s just not working.” GFI



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Gulf Insider October 2013  

The Arabian Review