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The Arabian Review

Issue 109


ME’s #1 economically free country - official


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Demoralized Tourist Industry

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February 2014 more inside...

Cover Story


Passion Investments Outperform Shares 56. Motoring

2014 Nissan Patrol



Leader in Economic Freedom

Global Islamic Banking Assets




Fixed Income Markets Outlook

22 Trade

Bahrain and Japan

26 Bahrain

Bahrain Chamber of Commerce Elections


30 Qatar

Real Estate


Adventure Breitling Wingwalking

58. Men’s Fashion

Tommy Hilfiger and Kenneth Cole


54. Motoring

Wael Darwish

Istanbul Through the Lens


BMW 4 Series

64. Art

The Arabian Review Publisher & Editor in Chief Nick Cooksey


Admin & Finance Nikesh Pola

History has many examples of high-profile investors identifying a bubble, perhaps making money out of it, exiting in time - and then getting sucked back in only to lose everything in the resultant bust. Britain’s most celebrated scientist, Sir Isaac Newton, was not immune to the monetary charms of the South Sea Company, and in early 1720 he profited handsomely from his stake. Having cashed in his chips, he then watched with some perturbation as stock in the company continued to rise. Newton went on to repurchase a good deal more South Sea Company shares at more than three times the price of his original stake, and then proceeded to lose £20,000 (which, in 1720, amounted to almost all his life savings). This prompted him to add, allegedly, that “I can calculate the movement of stars, but not the madness of men.” A more recent example would be that of the highly successful fund manager Stanley Druckenmiller who, whilst working for George Soros in 1999, maintained a significant short position in Internet stocks that he (rightly) considered massively overvalued. But as Nasdaq continued to soar into the wide blue yonder (not altogether dissimilar to South Sea Company shares), he proceeded to cover those shorts and subsequently went long the technology market. Although this trade ended quickly, it did not end well. Three quarters of the Internet stocks that Druckenmiller bought eventually went to zero. The remainder fell between 90% and 99%. In the words of Sir John Templeton, “To buy when others are despondently selling and sell when others are greedily buying requires the greatest fortitude and pays the greatest reward.”

The multi-award winning Arabian magazine

The Arabian Review

Issue 109


ME’s #1 economically free country - official


Real Estate Report


Demoralized Tourist Industry

Business Development Manager Redia Castillo Layout Designs Dhanraj S Sales

Chelsea Copenhaver M. +973 3678 8748 E-mail: Editorial Contributors Hugh Haskell-Thomas Rogier Van Zaventer Ramzy Baroud

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The Arabian Review

Issue 108


Manama Dialogue

REAL ESTATE 2014 Trends


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I want to congratulate Gulf Insider on arranging a great day at Sheikh Khalifa Park in Hidd in December with MeetUp Bahrain. I took my children and it was just a wonderful day. Well done for doing it and when will be the next one? John, Bahrain

Thanks John, we were very happy with the way things turned out. The next event will be at the end of March and we will keep you posted. – Ed

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Islamic Banking

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Compliment! Just a quick email to compliment you. I moved to Bahrain in October and was delighted to discover your magazine Gulf Insider on the table of my Dentist waiting room. I was impressed how professional is the writing and how it stands out amongst other titles. Since then I buy it every month. I particularly like the way you put serious news in the first half and the ‘lifestyle’ type of stuff at the back. Keep up the good work. Willem, Bahrain


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Issue 106


Need for Dialogue


A brief guide to Queensland, Australia On a personal note I laughed out loud when I read last month’s (January 2014) travel article on Brisbane and Queensland and the writers critic of the modern ‘art’ at Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art. I have not visited the gallery in question but have looked around others and am always surprised how such, often beautifully designed buildings, exhibit what can only be described as modern rubbish. Well done the writer of this article for pointing out that ‘the emperor has no clothes’! Isa, - a REAL ART lover!

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With Muslim Brotherhood crushed, Egypt sets sights on Hamas

Qatar residents may feel pinch as inflation soars With a GDP per capita of USD 102,000+, Qatar is plagued by rising inflationary pressures that could threaten standard of living of its population.Going forward, inflation in Qatar is set to rise from 4.2% in 2014 to 4.6% in 2015, buoyed largely by a tightening property market, according to a January report on the Gulf country by EIU.“Inflation is expected to pick up from 2014 onwards. Qatar has got off to a slow start on major infrastructure works, which will hamper government efforts to coordinate dozens of infrastructure and real estate projects with the aim of avoiding supply-chain bottlenecks,” EIU noted. Aside from rising house costs, the intelligence company has attributed Qatar’s inflationary concerns to growing population and a tighter house supply market. Inflation, it predicted, will continue to surge in the coming years. “Inflation will increase further to an annual average of 5.3% in 2016-18 as high liquidity persists, population growth continues, major construction projects pick up pace and supply in the housing market tightens. Rising global non-oil commodity prices in 2017-18 will also add to the inflationary pressures,” the EIU report mentioned.

Downfall of Iran’s billionaire sanctions-buster One of Iran’s wealthiest businessmen with a fortune worth an estimated US$14 billion, Mr Zanjani helped the Islamic republic evade choking US-led sanctions imposed over its contentious nuclear programme. But, on December 30, state-run media outlets reported that he was hauled off to Tehran’s notorious Evin prison on corruption charges that he vehemently denies. The high-profile case, which came after the launch of a parliamentary corruption investigation in September, has riveted ordinary Iranians, giving them a rare insight into the secretive and lavish world of Iran’s tycoons who have prospered, at least in part, by helping the country evade sanctions. The businessman’s plight is seen as blowback against the discredited administration of Mr Rouhani’s hardline predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, during whose tenure the tycoon made most of his fortune.- THE NATIONAL


Gulf Insider February 2014

After crushing the Muslim Brotherhood at home, Egypt’s military rulers plan to undermine Hamas, which runs the neighboring Gaza Strip, senior Egyptian security officials told Reuters. The aim, which the officials say could take years to pull off, includes working with Hamas’s political rivals Fatah and supporting popular anti-Hamas activities in Gaza, four security and diplomatic officials said. Since it seized power in Egypt last summer, Egypt’s military has squeezed Gaza’s economy by destroying most of the 1,200 tunnels used to smuggle food, cars and weapons to the coastal enclave, which is under an Israeli blockade. Now Cairo is becoming even more ambitious in its drive to eradicate what it says are militant organizations that threaten its national security. According to the Egyptian officials, Hamas will face growing resistance by activists who will launch protests similar to those in Egypt that have led to the downfall of two presidents since the Arab Spring in 2011. Cairo plans to support such protests in an effort to cripple Hamas. – REUTERS

The world’s most expensive Car... Soon to be launched in UAE It is set to be the region’s first home grown sports car, with a diamond encrusted gear stick, high-tech features and golden stitching. But the W Motors Lykan also comes with a hefty price tag of $3.4 million. CNN’s Marketplace Middle East checked out one of the world’s most expensive cars at its debut in Dubai. The glitz and the glamour in Dubai is nothing new...but at this year’s Dubai International Boat Show ALL eyes were ON SHORE with the showing of a 3.4 million dollar car... Besides the luxury and exclusivity, this car has a flat sixtwin turbo 3.8 liter engine, producing 750 horse power and 1000 cubic meter of torque. Makes it go from 0-100 in 2.8 seconds and maximum speed of 395 km/h, it’s one of the fastest cars in the world. It’s also fully made of carbon fiber, it has the first holographic display with interactive motion inside meaning we replaced all the screens with a projector in mid-air that projects all the images in three dimensions. You can control them, hold them and feel them in mid-air like all the movies you see in 20 years, while this car is the only car in the world that has this technology inside.” - CNN

Business News

Saudi ready to act on Iran, Syria,’with or without’ West The West’s policies on Iran and Syria are a “dangerous gamble”, a top Saudi diplomat said. “We believe that many of the West?s policies on both Iran and Syria risk the stability and security of the Middle East,” the Saudi ambassador to Britain, Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz, wrote in a commentary in the New York Times. “This is a dangerous gamble, about which we cannot remain silent, and will not stand idly by,” he wrote. The bluntly-worded warning was the latest in a series of public statements by senior Saudi figures expressing displeasure with US and Western diplomatic initiatives towards Syria and Iran. Until recently, Saudi leaders rarely voiced public criticism of their Western allies in a decades-long partnership. But Washington’s decision to pull back from military action in Syria and its backing for an interim nuclear deal with Iran has dismayed the oil-rich Saudi kingdom, which views Tehran as a dangerous regional rival. Citing Iran’s backing for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, he said “rather than challenging the Syrian and Iranian governments, some of our Western partners have refused to take much-needed action against them. “The West has allowed one regime to survive and the other to continue its program for uranium enrichment, with all the consequent dangers of weaponization,” he wrote. Diplomatic talks with Iran may “dilute” the West’s will to confront both Damascus and Tehran, he said. “What price is ‘peace’ though, when it is made with such regimes?” As a result, Saudi Arabia “has no choice but to become more assertive in international affairs: more determined than ever to stand up for the genuine stability our region so desperately needs.” The Gulf monarchy had “global responsibilities,” both political and economic, and he said: “We will act to fulfill these responsibilities, with or without the support of our Western partners.” In a thinly veiled jab at US President Barack Obama, the Saudi ambassador said that “for all their talk of ‘red lines,’ when it counted, our partners have seemed all too ready to concede our safety and risk our region?s stability.” Obama had used the term “red lines” to warn Syria’s regime against using chemical weapons. After the regime was accused of firing chemical weapons, Obama threatened punitive military strikes. But in the end he pursued a diplomatic agreement in which Damascus promised to give up its lethal arsenal of chemical agents. The Saudi ambassador slammed the West for its reluctance to offer decisive help to Syrian rebels, vowing to continue support for the Free Syrian Army and the “Syrian opposition.” Acknowledging the threat of Al-Qaeda-linked groups in Syria, he argued the best way to counter the rise of extremists among the rebels was to support the “champions of moderation.”- AFP

One in eight UAE drivers slapped with black points in 2013 508,924 motorists received black points, with more than 2,500 drivers having their licenses seized. Brig Ghaith Hassan Al Zaabi, head of the TCD, speaking to Al Ittihad, the Arabic-language sister paper of The National, observed that those who exceeded the 24 traffic points limit represented only 0,5 per cent of the total of drivers who received demerit points, which shows the efficiency of the penalty points system. Jumping a red light carries eight black points, speeding in city roads 12 points, failing to ensure the road is clear before entering it is four points, Brig Al Zaabi said. He added that six points are given for sudden swerve, failure to observe lane discipline, driving in prohibited areas, tailgating and failing to give way to pedestrians. A licence is seized for three months for a driver who amasses 24 penalty points; a temporary licence holder who accumulates 24 black points will lose it for six months and has to pass a driving rehabilitation course. – THE NATIONAL

Gulf Insider February 2014


News Business

Expats will have to clear all fines before visas can be cancelled Expatriates will not be allowed to leave the UAE unless they have paid all their fines in line with new Interior Ministry measures. “Expatriates must not have any unpaid fines or any police cases against them in order to be able to cancel their visa to leave the country or to get a new visa here,” Major General Mohammad Ahmad Al Merri, Director-General of Dubai Residency and Foreigners Affairs Department in Dubai (GDRFA), told Gulf News. He said this applied all over the country. According to new rules implemented by the Ministry of Interior late last year the rules will be expanded to cover all financial commitments by expatriates.GULF NEWS

Deporting expats will not create jobs for Saudis An economic expert has says the deportation of expats alone will not solve the unemployment crisis in the country. Abdulghani Al-Ansari, a member and financial adviser of the board of directors of Madinah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, demanded the restructuring of financial bodies so that the objective for which they had been established was achieved. Al-Ansari rejected the theory that the huge volume of remittances by 8 million expatriates working in the Kingdom were partly responsible for the financial woes of Saudi nationals. He ruled out the possibility of creating jobs and checking inflation by limiting remittances by expatriate workers. He said it was simple arithmetic that annual remittances by over 8 million expatriate workers reached over SR129 billion. “This puts the average remittance by each expatriate worker at SR16,125 a year. This in turn means a Saudi national who would replace an expatriate worker would earn as little as SR1,343 a month,” Al-Ansari said. He said young Saudis were not eager to fill jobs that give them such meager salaries. - SAUDI GAZZETTE


Gulf Insider February 2014

U.S. implanted Spy Software in Saudi computers U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) has implanted software in nearly 100,000 computers around the world allowing it to carry out surveillance Saudi Arabia is among the countries where such surveillance software has been covertly installed, according to The Times which cited NSA documents, computer experts and U.S. officials in its report. The Times reported that the technology, used by the agency since at least 2008, relies on radio waves that can be transmitted from tiny circuit boards and USB cards inserted covertly into the computers. Parts of the program have been disclosed in documents leaked by Edward Snowden, the former NSA systems analyst, the Times reported. A Dutch newspaper published the map showing where the United States has inserted spy software, sometimes with the help of local authorities. Der Spiegel, a German newsmagazine, published information about the NSA’s hardware products that can secretly transmit and receive signals from computers, according to the Times. The Times said that it withheld some of those details, at the request of U.S. intelligence officials, when it reported in summer 2012 on American cyber attacks on Iran.– from Saudi Gazette

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News Business

Saudi religious police chief rejects repression to enforce Shariah code The head of Saudi Arabia’s controversial religious police, officially referred to as the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, has denied that his forces are using repression to enforce the Shariah code in public.Sheikh Abdulatif Al al-Sheikh told Al Arabiya News Channel in a special interview aired on Monday that there are ultra-conservative members within the committee who espouse a tougher approach to enforcing the Shariah code. “We are neither extremists nor too lenient. We follow the course of the Prophet Mohammad and we don’t seek to be repressive or brutal because this is not part of Islamic Shariah,’ he said. He said the committee is also in the process of drafting measures to better regulate businesses during prayer times. He said businesses will be required to shut down for only briefly during prayer times. Members of the committee will carry out surprise checks and if a business is found open during prayer time the salesman could be subject to punishment. Dealing with women in public places is another challenge that the committee seeks to address. Al-Sheikh said women are prohibited from revealing their faces “when there is a clear violation of public decency.” He said it would be up to committee members working on the field to judge whether a woman violates public decency by uncovering her face. The religious police chief asked a woman inside the mall if she supports the idea of walking in public without the face veil. “No, no, never, I reject this,” the woman replied, but complained that some committee members overstep their responsibilities in “advising” women. Another woman complained that the number of the committee members has decreased in public due to pressures. “We want more of them, they are important and have stature,” she said. – SAUDI GAZETTE

Saudi man gets 80 lashes for ‘defaming’ Kuwaiti singer on Twitter The Riyadh Criminal Court has sentenced a Saudi man to a three-month jail term, 80 lashes and a fine of 10,000 riyals ($2,600) after defaming a Kuwaiti singer on Twitter and Facebook. The Saudi man was accused of posting defamatory messages on social media, including allegations of immoral conduct about celebrity artist Shams. The defendant had been on bail since August and will now appeal the court’s verdict, according to local media. But he may be in for a surprise as Shams’ lawyer announced the singer will appeal the court’s decision “because the punishment was light compared to the enormity of the man’s crime,” the Saudi-based Arab News reported. Shams has now said she will also follow up on defamation charges held against three other “Ahlam fans” on social media. The case highlights the extent to which public figures have begun to crack down on defamatory posts on social media that could be of harm to Kuwaiti singer Shams their reputation. - Al Arabiya News (Photo courtesy: 12

Gulf Insider February 2014

Indian man denied UAE entry ‘over moustache’ An Indian national was denied entry into the UAE after refusing an immigration official’s demand to shave off his moustache in a bizarre incident at an airport in the Gulf state, it was reported. According to local daily Gulf News, Sujeev Kumar flew into Sharjah International Airport from Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala on Friday, when an official withheld his passport after objecting to his facial hair. Kumar claimed that the immigration officer continued to query him on his moustache in an official tone. “He finally told me: ‘If you agree to shave off your moustache, I will let you to go’ and kept my passport with him,” he said. “He kept my passport and told me very seriously again to remove my moustache if I wanted it back and called the next person in line.” Kumar said that his passport was only returned after asking to speak to the immigration officer’s superior at the airport. He was then permitted to enter the country. Brigadier Dr Abdullah Bin Sahoo, director general of the Sharjah Department of Naturalisation and Foreign Affairs, told Gulf News that that CCTV images are being studied as part of an investigation into the incident. ARABIAN TRAVEL NEWS

Business News

Revealed: How muslims really think women should dress New study reveals what citizens of different Muslim countries believe is appropriate female dress. The survey was conducted across seven countries - Tunisia, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. And the research from the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research found that most residents in these countries prefer women to cover their hair with a traditional hijab, al-Amira or head scarf rather than cover their entire face with a full burqa or niqab. The majority of those questioned - 57 per cent in Tunisia, 52 per cent in Egypt, 46 per cent in Turkey and 44 per cent in Iraq - believed the white hiqab or basic al-Amira is the most appropriate dress for a Muslim woman. But the more conservative black hijab or chador was the second favourite choice of citizens in Iraq and Egypt. And a 63 per cent-majority of those polled in Saudi Arabia chose the second most conservative form of dress, a niqab.It was a similar response in Pakistan, Only in Lebanon and Turkey did a substantial proportion believe it is appropriate for women not to cover their head at all in public. Roughly a third of Turks, nearly half of those surveyed in Lebanon and 15 per cent of Tunisians agreed it is acceptable for a woman to appear in public without a head covering. Although the fact that 27 per cent of those quizzed in Lebanon were Christian may have an impact upon the results. Also the results are not broken down by gender. DAILY MAIL

Iran bans online chatting between unrelated men and women Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has issued a religious edict (fatwa) banning online chatting between unrelated men and men, Iranian media reported on Monday, quoting Khamenei’s website: The ruling came in response to a question sent to the supreme leader on his Website. His answer was: “Given the immorality that often applies to this, it is not permitted.” The ruling came days after Iranian authorities blocked WeChat, a popular messaging app that enables smart phone users to access online social networks. The authorities in Tehran are sensitive to social media and have blocked access to many social networking websites, including Facebook and Twitter, used by activists to stage protests after the 2009 controversial presidential vote. But many Iranian internet users are relying on proxies to circumvent the government censorship. Ironically, many Iranian officials, including President Hassan Rowhani, have active Facebook and Twitter accounts. President Rowhani, who has 163,000 followers on Twitter, has pledged to ease state “policing” of people’s private lives. - AL ARABIYA

Gulf censors cut The Wolf Of Wall Street by 25% About 45 minutes have been cut from the nearly three-hour blockbuster The Wolf Of Wall Street for Gulf audiences, or a quarter of the film, leaving many viewers disappointed and confused about the sequence of events. The cuts come as the movie has drawn criticism even from film critics in more liberal countries for its portrayal of drugs, sex and money. Moviegoers said all profanities were bleeped out from the Martin Scorsese movie featuring Leonardo DiCaprio. One woman wrote on the Facebook page for Reel Cinemas, which operates two theaters in Dubai, that she and her friend walked out after about 40 minutes because they felt the movie was simply incoherent and unwatchable. Gulf Film, which distributes Paramount and Universal titles in Dubai and other Gulf Arab countries, and its parent company Qatar Media Services did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The movie, ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’, is adapted from Jordan Belfort’s memoir about his heady rise from a penny stock trader to a wealthy stock swindler. DAILY MAIL

Gulf Insider February 2014


News Business

MINI celebrates Great British Week in the Kingdom of Bahrain Manama – True to its British heritage, MINI was the star at a host of activities across the Kingdom of Bahrain celebrating Great British Week. The Great British Week was an initiative organized by the British Embassy in Bahrain to emphasize the friendship and strong bilateral relationship between the United Kingdom and Bahrain. Euro Motors, the BMW Group importer in Bahrain dressed up a MINI Hatch and MINI Countryman in the bright colors of the Union Jack. As part of the celebrations the unique MINI lead a parade of MINI’s driven by their owners alongside a traditional double decker London bus. Commenting on the event, Paul Yates, General Manager Euro Motors said: “At Euro Motors we also firmly believe in contributing to our community through the participation in similar events. MINI is a brand whose heritage is rooted in British culture and as such the pairing with Great British Week celebrations was a natural fit.”

Cathay Pacific announces increase of flights between Bahrain and Hong Kong Cathay Pacific Airways has announced adjustments to its Middle East network, effective 30 March 2014. Bahrain will be served with a daily flight via Dubai. This is an increase of three flights every week over the existing schedule. Thomas Bellamy, Country Manager for Bahrain and Saudi Arabia said, “Bahrain will now enjoy a daily service to Hong Kong. This service enhancement between Bahrain and Hong Kong, demonstrates Cathay Pacific’s long-term commitment to the Kingdom of Bahrain and the local community.”

Launch of Business Lunch Menu at Royal Golf Club Create unrivalled memories with your business colleagues and friends at the Royal Golf Club’s Prego Italian restaurant where a new business lunch menu will be available from Sunday 2nd February. Enjoy any pasta, risotto or 9’’ pizza with a soft drink and tea or coffee for just BD 5 net* per person. The Prego business lunch is available from Sunday to Thursday each week from 11.30am to 3pm (except on public holidays). To book your table in advance, call +973 17 751263. 14

Gulf Insider February 2014

Business Passion Investments

PASSION INVESTMENTS RISE 77% SINCE 2005 ... Outperforming Shares, according to report


assion investments returned 77% (local currency terms)* since 2005, outperforming shares, according to the first edition of The Coutts Index: Objects of Desire. The new Coutts Index aims to provide the global benchmark for monitoring the performance of passion assets. The Index captures the price return in local currency (net of the holding costs) of 15 passion assets across two broad categories: trophy property and alternative investments. Alternative investments can be further broken down into fine art, collectibles and precious items. Of all the alternative investments Coutts examined for the Index, classic


Gulf Insider February 2014

cars have returned the most since 2005, rising by 257%, outpacing all other investments by more than 80 percentage points over the seven anda-half-year timeframe. Classic watches have also proved they can stand the test of time, rising by 176% from 2005 to 30 June 2013. Jewels returned 146% in comparison, while the standout performer in the fine art space is the traditional Chinese works of arts sector, which rose by 163% between 2005 and 30 June 2013. Over the past seven and a half years, the Coutts Index, based in US$ terms, has risen by 82% – over the same period, the MSCI All Country Equity Index has risen by 53%, based in US$ terms. The Coutts Index incorporates a

real estate component supplied by Savills World Research. Trophy property comprises ‘billionaire’ residential properties in the ten prime global city locations and ‘leisure’ properties in the world’s most desirable leisure destinations associated with these cities. Both measures lost value in the run-up to the global recession, but billionaire property values have risen strongly since, rising 100% from 2005 to 30 June 2013. Mohammad Kamal Syed , Head of Strategic Solutions at Coutts, said: “The Coutts Index has been created to measure passion assets, or objects or desire, in terms of performance, cost of storage and currency. But while many alternatives have provided spectacular

Passion Investments Business

Over the past seven and a half years, the Coutts Index, based in US$ terms, has risen by 82%.

returns, there is more to investing in these assets than price appreciation. For many people, profit is furthest from their mind.” He added that for many ultra-highnet-worth individuals, it is less about investing and more about purchasing – purchasing assets driven by their emotions. “The benefit is more than just profit. Owners can bond with like-minded people in an elite network, with assets offering escapism and a chance to reenact history. Indeed, there is one thing that the Coutts Index, for all its robustness, can’t measure – and that is

wrote: “If you had bought a 1970s Ferrari Daytona for £50,000 in 2003, it would be worth £250,000 today. A 1960s Aston Martin DB5 bought for £60,000 a decade ago would now command £350,000.” “The question is whether the classic car market has peaked. I’ve been wondering whether the bubble will burst ever since prices started to rise in 2009. But they have kept on rising and were up 27% in the first half of 2013.” Nick Foulkes, author, historian and watch enthusiast, revealed why he has been fascinated with watches since he was a child. He wrote: “I can still remember writing an article in the 1980s,

happiness. The idea of someone paying $50m for an uncomfortable old car, with windows that don’t work and a noisy engine, seems illogical. In many ways it is. But the happiness such a car can bring is immeasurable.” Coutts commissioned articles and interviewed experts for its first edition of the Coutts Index. They included Stanley Gibbons, the world’s leading stamp dealer, Berry Bros. & Rudd, and the auction houses Sotheby’s and Christie’s. Quentin Willson, broadcaster and classic car specialist, looked under the bonnet of the classic car market. He

saying that the price of an old ‘Paul Newman’ Rolex Daytona was about to overtake the price of a new one. Now you will be lucky to find one for under £70,000.” “But not all watches will burn a hole in your pocket. Rolex recently launched some particularly attractive Day-Date models with brightly coloured dials. These recalled the original ‘Stella’ dialled Rolexes and are now creeping up in value, but these Day-Date models can still be purchased for four figures. And I still think that vintage Cartier watches are hugely undervalued.”

Gulf Insider February 2014


Bahrain Economic Freedom




ccording to the annual Index of Economic Freedom published by The Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal, Bahrain remains the Middle East / North Africa (MENA) region’s most economically free country. Overall, the Kingdom is ranked 13th out of 178 economies worldwide, between the United States and the United Kingdom which rank 12th and 14th respectively, and is the only MENA country to rank in the top 20. In the 20 year history of the index Bahrain has consistently achieved a score greater than 70, well above the world average. The Kingdom’s 2014 economic freedom score is 75.1. The report highlights that the Kingdom’s “transition to greater openness and diversification is based on foundations of economic freedom,” and that Bahrain “continues to be a financial hub for dynamic economic activity, with high levels of trade and investment bolstered by a competitive and efficient regulatory environment”. According to the report, Bahrain has


Gulf Insider February 2014

improved its economic freedom score in a number of categories at an aboveaverage rate since index grading began 20 years ago, particularly in the areas of financial freedom, investment freedom and labour freedom. In September 2013, the Fraser Institute’s annual Economic Freedom of the World Index ranked Bahrain as the eighth freest economy in the world. The 2014 Index of Economic Freedom measures the level of economic freedom in 10 pillars: business freedom, trade freedom, fiscal freedom, government size, monetary freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom, property rights, freedom from corruption and labor freedom. A realignment is under way in Europe, according to the index’s findings. Eighteen European nations, including Germany, Sweden, Georgia and Poland, have reached new highs in economic freedom. By contrast, five others— Greece, Italy, France, Cyprus and the United Kingdom—registered scores lower than they received when the index started two decades ago.

The most improved players are in Eastern Europe, including Estonia, Lithuania and the Czech Republic. These countries have gained the most economic freedom over the past two decades. The U.S. and the U.K, historically champions of free enterprise, have suffered the most pronounced declines. Regulation, taxes and debt knock the U.S. out of the world’s top 10. It’s not hard to see why the U.S. is losing ground. Even marginal tax rates exceeding 43% cannot finance runaway

Image: Shareef Panhatt

Economic Freedom Bahrain

2014 Index of Economic Freedom 1. Hong Kong 2. Singapore 3. Australia 4. Switzerland 5. New Zealand 6. Canada 7. Chile 8. Mauritius 9. Ireland 10. Denmark 11. Estonia 12. United States 13. Bahrain 14. United Kingdom 15. Netherlands 16. Luxembourg 17. Taiwan 18. Germany 19. Finland 20. Sweden 21. Lithuania 22. Georgia 23. Iceland 24. Austria 25. Japan 26. Czech Republic 27. Botswana 28. United Arab Emirates 29. Macau 30. Qatar 31. South Korea 32. Norway 33. Saint Lucia 34. Colombia 35. Belgium 36. Bahamas 37. Malaysia 38. Uruguay 39. Jordan 40. Brunei 41. Armenia 42. Latvia 43. Macedonia 44. Israel 45. Barbados 46. Cyprus 47. Peru 48. Oman 49. Spain 50. Poland 51. Hungry 52. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 53. Costa Rica 54. Albania 55. Mexico 56. Jamaica 57. Slovakia 58. Malta 59. El Salvador

60. Cape Verde 61. Bulgaria 62. Romania 63. Dominica 64. Turkey 65. Rwanda 66. Ghana 67. Kazakhstan 68. Montenegro 69. Portugal 70. France 71. Panama 72. Thailand 73. Trinidad and Tobago 74. Slovenia 75. South Africa 76. Kuwait 77. Saudi Arabia 78. Paraguay 79. Madagascar 80. Dominican Republic 81. Azerbaijan 82. Swaziland 83. Guatemala 84. Samoa 85. Kyrgyz Republic 86. Italy 87. Croatia 88. Zambia 89. Philippines 90. Sri Lanka 91. Uganda 92. Gambia 93. Vanuatu 94. Namibia 95. Serbia 96. Lebanon 97. Mongolia 98. Burkina Faso 99. Fiji 100. Indonesia 101. Bosnia and Herzegovina 102. Nicaragua 103. Morocco 104. Tonga 105. Gabon 106. Tanzania 107. Cote d’Ivoire 108. Cambodia 109. Tunisia 110. Moldova 111. Kenya 112. Honduras 113. Benin 114. Brazil 115. Belize 116. Bhutan 117. Seychelles 118. Djibouti 119. Greece

120. India 121. Guyana 122. Mali 123. Yemen 124. Malawi 125. Senegal 126. Pakistan 127. Niger 128. Mozambique 129. Nigeria 130. Suriname 131. Bangladesh 132. Papua New Guinea 133. Guinea 134. Mauritania 135. Egypt 136. Cameroon 137. China 138. Liberia 139. Tajikistan 140. Russia 141. Burundi 142. Comoros 143. Guinea-Bissau 144. Laos 145. Maldives 146. Algeria 147. Vietnam 148. Sierra Leone 149. Nepal 150. Belarus 151. Ethiopia 152. Togo 153. Micronesia 154. Lesotho 155. Ukraine 156. Haiti 157. Sao Tome and Principe 158. Bolivia 159. Ecuador 160. Angola 161. Central African Republic 162. Burma 163. Uzbekistan 164. Kiribati 165. Solomon Islands 166. Argentina 167. Chad 168. Equatorial Guinea 169. Congo, Republic of 170. Timor-Leste 171. Turkmenistan 172. Congo, Dem. Rep. 173. Iran 174. Eritrea 175. Venezuela 176. Zimbabwe 177. Cuba 178. North Korea

Not Ranked 1. Afghanistan 2. Iraq 3. Kosovo 4. Libya 5. Liechtenstein 6. Somalia 7. Sudan 8. Syria

In the 20 year history of the index Bahrain has consistently achieved a score greater than 70, well above the world average. government spending, which has caused the national debt to skyrocket. Both countries now fall in the “mostly free” category. Some of the worst performers are in Latin America, particularly Venezuela, Argentina, Ecuador and Bolivia. All are governed by crony-populist regimes pushing policies that have made property rights less secure, spending unsustainable and inflation evermore threatening. Despite financial crises and recessions, the global economy has expanded by nearly 70% in 20 years, to $54 trillion in 2012 from $32 trillion in 1993. Hundreds of millions of people have left grinding poverty behind as their economies have become freer. Gulf Insider February 2014


Business Fixed-Income

Elaine Stokes,

Fixed-Income Manager, Loomis, Sayles & Company


NGAM specialists share their perspectives.


Gulf Insider February 2014

With a more stable economic picture around the globe and a slightly stronger growth story in the U.S., Stokes is not surprised that the Federal Reserve began tapering its monthly bond-buying purchases in January. The Fed policymakers voted on December 18 to reduce monthly asset purchases from $85 billion to $75 billion, citing improvement in the outlook for the U.S. economy. That said, Stokes believes the bright spots for fixed-income in the coming year are going to come from the investor’s ability to recognize stable to improving credits, which include corporate bonds, as well as bonds issued by government agencies, foreign governments, and taxable municipal bonds. “If we’re in an environment with low yields to even potentially rising yields, that’s not the best environment for fixedincome. But if you can identify those credits that have upside potential, due to either the bond structure or the fact that the credit is improving and could potentially have upgrades, you may see spread compression and the potential to make good money in the fixed-income markets over the coming year,” said Stokes. The best yield opportunities in the fixed-income markets are currently coming from high-yield in its many forms, she believes. Within traditional high-yield credit, Stokes sees a nice yield advantage versus other fixed-income sectors, although it is historically low for high-yield corporate bonds. Also, high-yield rated sectors, such as bank loans and convertible bonds, are currently offering attractive yields and have the ability to go up when interest rates rise. “As rates rise, the floating rate nature of the bank loans helps out. And as rates rise, the equity sensitivity of the convertible bonds allows those bonds to go up. So it really is about looking hard within that high-yield

Fixed-Income Business

opportunity and picking the right spot within the capital structure to potentially get your upside,” said Stokes. Stokes said she will be closely watching long-term secular growth stories in areas such as healthcare and technology in 2014. “For example, in healthcare, it’s the demographics. It’s the aging population and the need to cut costs, the need for preventative care that is really driving many of those companies,” said Stokes. Among the challenges Stokes sees for bond markets in the New Year is the lack of liquidity, which has the potential to create large price swings. “We expect this lack of liquidity to play out in the next few years as continued volatility. When it is more and more challenging to transact bonds in the marketplace, and the different types of securities being traded are more and more interconnected, it becomes very challenging to get a trade done,” said Stokes.

Olivier de Larouzière,

Managing Director of Euro Interest Rates, Natixis Asset Management

de Larouzière does not see any major trends globally for sovereign interest rates. He expects there to be limited downside or upside movement mostly due to very accommodative monetary policy, modest growth and a lack of inflation. The European Central Bank’s (ECB) forward guidance policy that was implemented in the summer he believes will continue to have a positive effect on European bond markets. “The ECB wants visibility on their monetary policy for market operators. They want to bring volatility down, so that’s very helpful for long-term investors looking for yields to invest and, at the same time, to help bring risk perception down,” said de Larouzière. One challenge the euro zone may continue to face in early 2014 is the strength of the euro. “The euro has been a topic for the last few years. We know it’s an obstacle for growth in the region. This has to change at some point,” said de Larouzière. Market complacency is another obstacle to overcome in Europe,

he believes. “Finance ministers have been giving the message to markets that they need more time. Even though growth is picking up, they need time for budget consolidation.” Within the context of modest growth, no inflation, and continued monetary easing for the whole year, de Larouzière does not expect short-term rates to midterm rates to rise at any point in 2014. Long-term interest rates might rise within a range of 50 basis points higher than the current level, especially in the euro zone if the ECB enacts additional stimulus measures such as its long-term refinancing operation (LTRO). “We do expect more measures to come at the end of the first quarter or second quarter. And then, finally, at the end of the year, we hope there will be stronger data for economic growth and for inflation. If this

The best yield opportunities in the fixed-income markets are currently coming from high-yield in its many forms. occurs we can then anticipate future changes in monetary policy,” said de Larouzière.

James Grabovac,

Municipal Bond Manager, McDonnell Investment Management Among the areas Grabovac finds interesting for the New Year include the healthcare sector, higher education, and transportation. Also, one behavioral trend Grabovac has been watching play out over the past year is investors’ growing fear of rising interest rates, while at the same time clamoring for yield. What has transpired in the muni market because of this behavior is investors have tended

to favor bonds with durations inside of 10 years, and have tended to shy away from bonds with durations of 10 years and longer. “So, it has really created a lot of opportunity in the longer, intermediate space of the yield curve. We think in 2014 that should provide pretty good opportunities for investors who have the capability to extend a little bit out on the yield curve,” said Grabovac.

Philippe Berthelot,

Head of Credit, Natixis Asset Management In a world of low growth and low rates, 2014 is set up to be a year of carry with low default rates for European credit markets, according to Berthelot. “European growth will remain quite low, with the possible exception of Germany. We have no risks of inflation. In fact, we have some risk of deflation. We don’t think we’ll be in an environment of rising interest rates. We think that central banks will remain supportive, at least until mid-2014. All that is quite good for credit investors,” said Berthelot. With the default rate below 3%, Berthelot thinks high-yield corporate bond space is an attractive area of the European credit market. He also favors asset-backed securities and convertible bonds as we enter 2014. One of the key themes for 2014 he believes will be SME (small and medium enterprise) financing. “With BASEL III, banks have less and less room for maneuvering the financing of the stocks of companies. Therefore the industry is working on innovative solutions to bring financing to those SMEs through loans or private placements. Another key thing is the CLO (collateralized loan obligations) revival in Europe. Is the European debt crisis waning? Berthelot believes the crisis is far from over. For example, despite the fact that a lot has been achieved in recent years, countries such as Portugal may remain in a difficult situation. “Portugal must get refinancing by June 2014. Also, France and Italy must implement structural reforms for their labor markets or their pension fund structures,” said Berthelot.

Gulf Insider February 2014


Interview Japanese Ambassador

STRENGTHENING THE BAHRAINI-JAPANESE PARTNERSHIP Gulf Insider meets Shigeki Sumi, Japan’s Ambassador to Bahrain.


hile Bahrain and Japan have always enjoyed very friendly relations, Ambassador Shigeki Sumi has made it his mission to convert this friendship into a strategic partnership from which strong economic alliances can emerge. Now in the third year of his posting to Bahrain, he has seen the King’s first ever visit to Japan in 2012 and Crown Prince’s second official visit in 2013 respectively, as well as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to Bahrain last year, the first visit to Bahrain by a Japanese Prime Minister in 42 years. “The focus is broadening,” says Ambassador Shigeki Sumi. “The leaders of the Gulf countries are looking beyond Europe and the US and taking a closer interest in the Far East.” Commenting on the trade relations, he says, “previous relations were focused on the exchange of resources—Japan imports oil products and aluminium from Bahrain, while the most significant Japanese export to Bahrain is automobiles. That is starting 22

Gulf Insider February 2014

Japanese Ambassador Interview

Japanese companies are attracted to Bahrain, not just for business reasons, but also because the people are very friendly and style of living is so pleasant. to change, however, with more Japanese investment coming into Bahrain.” “Japanese companies are attracted to Bahrain, not just for business reasons, but also because the people are very friendly and style of living is so pleasant. They are more comfortable setting up businesses in Bahrain than in other GCC countries, despite its small size, because it is a financial hub and there is a large pool of financial experts to draw on. The education level of Bahraini nationals is also noticeably higher than in other parts of the gulf.” Most of these companies are hightech industries. The CEO of Mitaka Koki, a technology company that develops solar energy systems, visited Bahrain in December to consider setting up a test plant here since the weather is so conducive. A Japanese pharmaceutical company, SBI Pharmaceitical, is thinking of setting up a plant in Bahrain to produce a new diabetes drug after recognising that diabetes is a common problem in the region. Significant Japanese investment is involved in the SULB Steel Plant by Yamato Steel Corporation and Hidd water and electric generating company by Sumitomo Corporation. The Ambassador notes that even as Bahrain’s small size makes it comfortable for Japanese companies, it also poses challenges. “Bahrain is not particularly well known in Japan for the place for investment,” he observes. “Raising capital can be difficult. It is hard to find local partners, especially when large investments are required.” Touching on Bahrain’s political situation he comments, “ We believe in consultation to reach a consensus. The human rights issue has received

criticism from the Western media, but we believe in encouragement for the better human right situation. We should work together as friends. It is in Bahrain’s own interests to improve the situation, in order to protect its position as an important trading hub, and the government has proven that it has the will to do so.”

Japan’s Relationship with the Kingdom of Bahrain 

1934, first Bahraini oil shipment

to Japan

1971, recognition of the State of

Bahrain by the Government of Japan 1972, establishment of

diplomatic relations between Japan and Bahrain

1983, opening of the Liaison

Office of Embassy in Bahrain



1988, opening of the Japanese

Embassy in Bahrain

2005, opening of the Bahrain

Embassy in Japan

Japan is one of Bahrain’s major trading partners, representing 5th largest trading partner for Bahrain. Japan’s imports from Bahrain have been mainly petroleum products and aluminum, and Bahrain’s major imports from Japan have been machinery and equipment, and transport equipment. Many projects have been accomplished by Japanese companies including petrochemical, electricity & water desalination, and oil refinery projects as well as the designing of the Arab Gulf University building (now University of Bahrain) in Sakhir. Other recent projects include steel plants in Hidd, Hidd IWPP Project. Since 1994, 29 Bahraini university graduates have gone to Japan for higher studies on the basis of the Japanese Government Scholarship.

Gulf Insider February 2014


Feature Photographing Tragedy




hen one looks at scenes of fleeing refugees from Syria via images of their squalid refugee camps and hears their pleas for solidarity, mercy or for God’s help to end their suffering, one finds eerie similarities between their experiences and those of the Palestinians, Lebanese and Iraqis. However, the worse part of the tragedy occurs when it is so prolonged that video footage, photos and personal accounts meant to delineate an urgent reality, wind up becoming the ever-present state of affairs, a painful and humiliating status quo. But is there a line of demarcation that people cross, where they cease to represent a real crisis – humanitarian, political, or any other – merely subsisting in their anguish, simply counting days in their UNsupplied blue tents as they await salvation? What is the use of a photo when the human conscience has grown numb, and barely appreciates the artistic expression of the photo, not the moral and political crisis it represents? These thoughts and more occupied my mind when on Feb.15, Paul Hansen, a Swedish photographer from the Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter, convincingly won The World Press Photo of the Year in 2012. This is according to Reuters “the world’s largest annual press photography contest.” The winning photo documented an event that has been repeated hundreds of times in Gaza in the last few years. Bereaved families and neighbors that 24

Gulf Insider February 2014

are filled with pain and despair, carry the frail bodies of little children who died in one Israeli strike or another. They walk shoulder to shoulder in the alleyways of their towns or refugee camps, weeping, chanting and praying to God to send their little ones to Paradise. Photographers snap numerous shots, selected ones get published and the most prized wins awards. Sadly, even then, nothing changes the persistently agonizing reality.

A photo, on its own, no matter how artistic, compelling, captivating, even incensing, is not enough. It must be combined or followed by solid actions and a clear strategy. An almost trademark demand that most victims have is for the world to know of their plight. There is a pervading impression that when the “world” knows, the “world” will not allow injustice to perpetuate. Of course, it is not so simple, especially in the case of the Palestinians. Referring to the winning photo, jury

member Mayu Mohanna said, “The strength of the picture lies in the way it contrasts the anger and sorrow of the adults with the innocence of the children. It’s a picture I will not forget.” Photos taken in Palestine often reflect that very experience, a contrast between one thing and something else: a woman crying for her demolished house while settlers celebrate a new conquest or a family terrified by a raid on their home as soldiers enthusiastically destroy their furniture, and a million more. Needless to say, they are often bloody, and ever “artistic”. Of course, it is not exactly the responsibility of the photojournalist nor that of the photography awards judges to ensure that the meaning of the photo is diffused in such ways as to affect political and humanitarian outcomes. It is still disturbing however, that those painful conflicts are reduced to photos, footage and sound bites and eventually are appreciated for something other than the urgent and utter need to compel whatever action is needed in bringing people’s suffering to an end. There is a photo of Samer Issawi, a Palestinian political prisoner who has reportedly staged the longest hunger strike in modern history, as he was wheeled to and from an Israeli court room. It was taken by, whose work has left an important mark in terms of disseminating powerful imagery pertaining to the Palestinian struggle, the Israeli occupation and more. In the photo, Samer looks like a shadow of his former-self (the already slim young man

Photographing Tragedy Feature

had lost 77 pounds), his hands clasped at his chest, his beard long and untrimmed, yet his face is glowing as if he were grateful to the man or woman who snapped his photo while being dragged somewhere by impatient Israeli prison and court officials. Samer, naturally hopes that photo and many others, will be used as a tool to spread a message of his critical situation, but more importantly the collective cause he represents. His supporters want to achieve a similar end. But without political will, real action and pressure, that photo is likely to end up in some archive with little consequence in the fate of Samer’s and the freedom of thousands of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. Starting most noticeably with the First Palestinian Intifada in 1987, Palestine offered incredible photo opportunities for journalists. It was not exactly common that a whole nation take to the street where youth battled well-equipped soldiers with sling shots and empty fists for several years nonstop. Even a random photo that involves barefooted children at war against Israeli tanks would have many ‘contrasts’ and artistic worth. Back then, many Palestinians were convinced that once these images reached the world, the tide would turn in favor of Palestinian rights. In fact, to

a degree, it did, as if it were suddenly discovered that Palestinians do exist beyond whatever stereotypes Israel has managed to concoct about them through its media influence. However, the barrier between public sentiments and government action remained erect. It would have made little difference whether US officials viewed Intifada photos or not, for the US government’s position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was never determined by values such as human rights, freedom and the right to self-determination. The entirety of the photos of all the dying children will not alone alter even a single footnote in the US’ ‘unconditional support’ of Israeli doctrine. These images must be coupled with passionate political activism, decided public pressure, legal action and numerous other methods to hold Israel accountable for the gory images as well as the US for allowing Israel free range in murdering Palestinians. A photo, on its own, no matter how artistic, compelling, captivating, even incensing, is not enough. It must be combined or followed by solid actions and a clear strategy to ensure that someday no such tragic contexts exist for photographers to freeze them in time and place. Palestinians – and Syrians – are not

mere opportunities for award-winning photos to be snapped. “My people are not animals in a zoo” is the famous quote from Palestinian novelist and intellectual, Ghassan Kanafani to a Danish journalist who later became his wife, as she requested to visit refugee camps in Lebanon. “You must have a good background about them before you go and visit”, he said. Kanafani was assassinated in an Israeli Mossad car bomb, along with his niece, in July 1972, but his words endure. Palestinians, as well as other peoples who are undergoing protracted tragedies, are neither ‘animals in zoos’ nor only mere subjects of artistic expression, no matter how noble. Their tragedies, no matter how long-lasting, deserve resolutions and tangible remedies. All that victims in photos hope to achieve is for their oppression to end, not for the victimization itself to become such an accepted state of affairs and end in itself, detached from any serious political dynamics that could propel change.

Ramzy Baroud ( is an internationally-syndicated columnist and the editor of PalestineChronicle. com. His latest book is: My Father was A Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press). Gulf Insider February 2014


Bahrain BCCI


Perhaps the biggest news concerning the forthcoming Bahrain Chamber of Commerce (BCCI) elections is that a coalition of prominent businesspeople have come together to contest sixteen of the eighteen available seats in an effort to steer the entity towards a new direction. Gulf Insider attends the press conference of Ma’akum. 26

Gulf Insider February 2014

BCCI Bahrain


he usual practice for BCCI elections is for individuals to stand on their own and once elected get to know the other members of the board. The upcoming 28th term elections, to be held on the 15th of February, will be very different. A broad coalition of fifteen men and one woman last month invited Bahrain’s media to a press conference to announce their candidacies and explain what they stand for. They told the assembled gathering that they have found that, despite their own diverse backgrounds, they have a common vision for Bahrain. Working under the banner “Ma’akum”, which means “For You”, they hope to be elected as a group and get straight down to work. Between them, the sixteen members of Ma’akum represent small and

They wish to make the elected board more accessible to members and establish closer working relations, which they feel is currently not the case. large businesses, diverse professional backgrounds, and varying levels of experience. Some of them have served on the board of the BCCI before, while for others this will be their first time. Members include Jawad Yousuf Alhawaj, who established the luxury perfume and cosmetics brand Al Hawaj; Isa AbdulRahim, who has served on the board of the Bahrain Olymic Committee; and Deema AlHaddad, an active member of the Bahrain Businesswomen Society. Leading the coalition is veteran businessman and Shura Council member Khalid Almoayed. Recognising that they cannot guarantee all sixteen of them will be elected, they are doing their best to explain what they stand for. Their stated aim is to bring the BCCI more in line with

the Chambers of Commerce of countries like the US, the UK, or Germany. This involves setting up clear benchmarks and key performance indicators. Some of Ma’akum’s proposals are fairly innovative. They wish to make the elected board more accessible to members and establish closer working relations, which they feel is currently not the case. Board members will also be held accountable for their activities; they have promised to publish their achievements online every six months and to answer any questions in a transparent manner. They will bring a fresh perspective to issues such as Bahrainisation laws, the fact that there is no bankruptcy law in Bahrain, and the lack of a retirement package for business owners. Another key goal is helping to eliminate impediments in the way of people setting up businesses. They will work in partnership with Tamkeen to help individuals acquire financing. The group has expressed particular support for the creating of micro companies, which consist of 5 people or less, as statistics have shown that these are responsible for 67% of the growth of the economy. Most of all, they say they hope to facilitate projects that transcend mere trading and consumerism and have a genuine socioeconomic impact. They say that they also believe there is much room for improvement in the current level of professional services offered by the BCCI and wish to become more proactive by conducting market surveys, offering training to entrepreneurs, and assisting companies by getting more notice period for tenders. Identifying another area of weakness, Ma’akum points out that while the structures for a solid regional partnership are in place, they are not being fully utilised. The group aims to improve this and create real alliances with their GCC counterparts. Looking beyond the GCC they also hope to act as a coordinator for engagement between their members and international companies. Ma’akum reiterates that the Chamber of Commerce is no place for politics or sectarianism. They are here, they say, to serve Bahrain’s businesses and citizens and to help the country realise its 2030 vision.

Gulf Insider February 2014


Feature Islamic Banking



lobal Islamic banking assets with commercial banks are expected to reach US$1.72 trillion for 2013, according to EY’s latest World Islamic Banking Competitiveness Report 2013– 14. In 2012, Islamic banking assets with commercial banks globally reached US$1.54 trillion. The report revealed that six rapidgrowth markets including Qatar, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, UAE and Turkey (QISMUT) represented 78% of the international Islamic banking assets with commercial banks, excluding Iran. This includes both pure-play Islamic banks and windows of conventional banks. There is also increased demand on established and new reference centers including Bahrain and Malaysia to provide leadership for the next phase of industry’s development. Gordon Bennie, Partner and MENA Financial Services Leader at EY, said: “We believe that the future success of Islamic banks will be measured less by the growth of assets and more by the quality of this growth. Impact made through responsible banking, inclusive growth and alignment with the broader halal asset class will be the defining features. Also, trade patterns are shifting decisively in favor of rapid growth markets and QISMUT will be the major beneficiaries. Banks with strong


Gulf Insider February 2014

connectivity across key markets and sectors are set to gain.” QISMUT is home to 17 of the top 20 Islamic banks and the global Islamic banking standard setting bodies. QISMUT holds the largest pool of financial and intellectual capital of the industry that will drive the next wave of development across existing and new markets. Ashar Nazim, Partner, Global Islamic Banking Center at EY, said: “Bahrain and the six rapid-growth markets are systemically important to the future globalization of the Islamic banking industry. We expect Islamic banking to grow at a CAGR of 19.7% across QISMUT to reach US$1.6 trillion by 2018 compared to US$567 billion in 2012.” According to the report, Islamic banks today serve approximately 38 million customers globally, two third of whom reside in QISMUT. However, few Islamic banks are able to fully apply customer insights to innovate. Going forward, emphasis on customer excellence will be the key differentiator that will separate successful Islamic banks from others. “Islamic finance markets are far from being homogenous as each market is at a different stage of maturity and profitability varies significantly compared to conventional banking. For 2012, the average ROE of the 20 leading Islamic banks was 12.6% compared to 15% for

Islamic banks today serve approximately 38 million customers globally, two third of whom reside in QISMUT. its conventional peers,” added Ashar. The reports reveals that many banks are currently in the process of replacing or upgrading their core banking system. Capital planning in view of Basel 3 and IFSB guidelines is already influencing the preferred business mix and more Islamic banks believe that the collaborations between mobile providers and banks will further accelerate the adoption of mobile banking beyond payments to more complex savings and financing products. The biggest challenges for Islamic banks are how to become a mainstream form of banking in their home markets, diversification to build regional brands, and taking a more socially responsible approach to differentiate themselves from conventional banks. The growth of the industry is expected to remain moderate going into 2014, as several leading Islamic banks contemplate large scale operational transformation.


lentin a V y p p a H Day

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Qatar Real Estate



ompared to Q2 2012, Qatar GDP surged by 6.06% and reached to USD 181.074 bn in Q2 2013. Qatar has been moving towards FIFA 2022 and as part of the preparation, government investments in infrastructure projects have been increasing. The budget at last year was 5% of GDP at current price, which increased to 13.4% in Q2 2013. Remarkably, the non-mining and quarrying sectors have been behaving much better; the growth over a year is nearly 14%, whereas the mining and quarrying sector demonstrated a growth of 0.5%. Inflation has taken over significantly between Q2 2012 and Q2 2013, it surged by 2.4%.

Residential Market Overview

Residential is one of the most prominent segments in the Qatar real estate market. Over the last few years, residential properties have been giving stable and remarkable cash flow to investors. The demands for new


Gulf Insider February 2014

properties have been surging due to the increased population. Apartment prices in Q3 2013 surged by around 5% compared to the previous quarter. An apartment in The Pearl, which was available at an average price of QAR 14,000 per sq.m is now offered at an average price of QAR 15,000 per sq.m. In addition, the average price for 2BR apartment has increased to QAR 3,350,000 from QAR 3,200,000. Similarly but not equally, substantial growth can be seen in West Bay and usufruct areas as well. Due to very limited supply within usufruct areas, the demand from retail investors for an apartment remains top of the mark. The trend in sale prices for apartment have been surging ever since 2011. Return of Investment from residential properties are in the range of 6% - 8%, one of the highest in the Middle East. Qatar has limited areas which are marked under freehold and usufruct status. Aside from The Pearl, villas that are for sale available for expatriates to purchase is extremely rare. The most

desirable residential accommodation is 1BR and 2BR apartments. In Q2 2013, the appreciation in rental for such properties across all areas were in the range of 2% - 5%. Owing to luxurious living, apartments in The Pearl remain one of the priciest in terms of rental, this can be followed by apartments in West Bay. An average monthly rental for 2BR apartment in The Pearl is QAR 15,000, whereas, similar apartments at West Bay is QAR 13,500.

Office Market Overview

The office market in Qatar is still in its initial stage of growth. Unlike other neighborhood GCC countries where office and business districts are spread across the country, Qatar has a concentrated office market which is mainly operated from Doha, although multibillion dollar Lusail project may take over old CBD upon its completion. Nevertheless, the demand for new office acquisition is dependent upon the occupiers’ profile. For example, multinational companies tend to take

Real Estate Qatar

offices in West Bay whereas local businesses are still inclined to obtain offices on C&D Ring road, Al Sadd, Airport Road and so forth. The average monthly rental of office spaces in West Bay is nearly QAR 220 per sq.m, C&D Ring Roads command QAR 120 – QAR 150 per sq.m. Barwa Commercial Avenue may fetch QAR 120 – QAR 140 per sq.m in an office segment. Due to on-going and proposed changes in Doha city centre areas, the change of existing business dynamics owing to FIFA 2022, as well as lucrative opportunities to new businesses within Qatar, in the long term office market may behave optimistically. The current supply of offices, especially in West Bay, C Ring Road, and Barwa Commercial Avenue, may drag office rental rates down in the upcoming two to three quarters. The office market may remain stable in Q4 2013.

Retail Market Overview

Within Qatar, the retail market can be segmented into four basic zones: malls, souqs, hypermarkets and unorganized shops. Unorganized retail secures 70% of total retail space, although, no further supply can be expected as per Doha town planning scheme. Qatar government focuses more on malls and traditional souqs developments; a total of 10 new malls within Qatar are at various stages of construction and 3-4 malls are at planning stage. The top three malls – Villagio, City Center and Landmark secure almost 50% of overall shopping activities amongst the mall segment. For grocery and day-to-day shopping, hypermarkets are preferred over malls. Approximately 1,500 food joints, restaurants and coffee shops comprise nearly 30% of unorganized retail spaces within Doha. The traditional concept of glamor and residential locations for retail have changed after the successful opening of Grand Mall Hypermarket. This hypermarket is located near Industrial Area and focuses on bachelors rather than households. Overall, the retail segment in short to medium run looks stable. Upcoming supply which is likely to be delivered in the

next 2-5 years may impact pessimistically in organized retail segment in longer term. Hypermarket, souqs and retails shops may not experience much change in rents and occupancies.

Hospitality Market Overview

As Qatar moves closer towards FIFA 2022 World Cup, the pressure on hoteliers to deliver additional keys have been increasing. Efforts of Qatar Tourism Authority to attract households of neighborhood countries to celebrate their Eid holidays show that Qatar is to not only remain as a business destination but also gradually develop its image to a leisure destination. Qatar has a total of 94 hotels of various categories which deliver around 16,741 rooms. Luxury segment dominates nearly 85% of total room supply within hotels and 75% of overall hospitality segment. Owing to increase in family

About 29 luxury hotels are planned within Doha and in adjoining areas. These hotels are likely to deliver around 8,300 new keys which is 58% of existing rooms available within the luxury segment. Qatar contributes 9% of total future supply of keys within GCC countries. UAE has highest amount of rooms under construction which is around 45% of GCC aggregate, however, Saudi Arabia may contribute 34%. Qatar secured third place within GCC countries in terms of future rooms supply. Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman would deliver keys in the range of 2% to 7%. Within GCC countries, a total of 92,300 rooms are currently in different stages of development.

Land Market Overview

Overall appreciation of land prices across Qatar within Q3 2013 is in the range of 3-10%. Such appreciation shows that investors are fairly interested

The office market in Qatar is still in its initial stage of growth. Unlike other neighborhood GCC countries where office and business districts are spread across the country. tourism, the service apartments have been increasing in popularity. For example, under construction Grand Merweb, a luxury hotel, has kept an option of service apartments. Many executives within Qatar choose to stay in hotel apartments on account of better lifestyle and hassle free living. 5-Star segment has a total of 31 hotels with 7,411 rooms with a hotel consisting an average of 240 rooms. Similarly, the average amount of rooms in 4-Star category hotel is 260 and in three star hotels is 81. Virtually 4-Star hotels should have lower average rooms per hotel, however, due to Ezdan Towers and Suite, which is the biggest hotel within Qatar and comprises of 2,200 keys, the room average increases within the 4-Star category. Around 30% of hotels across all segments do not serve alcohol, although Qatar has been planning to attract global tourists.

in the land market. On account of limited supply of freehold and usufruct lands which allow purchasing by international investors, the majority of lands available for sale are in non-freehold areas. Hence, the land investors are mostly Qatari individuals and business houses. Qatar government is likely to announce a gazette where Qatari nationals can own a residential villa land within Doha municipality at substantially lower price than prevailing market rate. The implication on the market of such gazette can be interpreted only upon its release.

This report has been compiled by AREDC Valuations and Research and has been edited for publication in Gulf Insider. To receive the report in full visit

Gulf Insider February 2014


Bahrain Citizens



uring November 2013 Citizens for Bahrain issued a report looking at the 26 Recommendations from the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) and evaluating progress in implementing them. On 1 December the BICI FollowUp Unit published its own report, gathering together evidence from a variety of Government departments. For those concerned with this issue, it is worth reading the FollowUp Unit’s report in full. However, our summary below sets out briefly and straightforwardly where work stands on each of the key areas from the BICI recommendations. Accountability - The new Special Investigation Unit was charged with determining criminal liability of government officials. All complaints submitted were investigated, including those outside the BICI’s remit. The Unit referred 39 cases to the courts, including 95 defendants. 13 people were convicted; 15 were acquitted; other cases are under way.The opposition alleged that the investigations haven’t gone far enough and that sentences were too lenient. However, the authorities argue that where sufficient evidence of foul play exists action has been taken. Successful implementation: 4/5 Remodeling the National Security Agency - According to the Decree, the NSA’s mandate is limited to intelligence gathering, without law enforcements and arrest authorities. Observers agree that Recommendations for the NSA have been implemented in full. Successful implementation: 5/5


Gulf Insider February 2014

Reconfiguring the security forces During 2012 effort was put into police retraining and new codes of conduct explicitly prohibiting torture. International experts were brought in to facilitate this process. The BICI Follow-Up Unit’s report details the training courses and revised procedures. Installation of CCTV across all police centres was an important measure. Despite increasing levels of militancy from rioters, resulting in the deaths of 8 police officers and over 2,300 police injuries; the police’s record has improved

The Unit referred 39 cases to the courts, including 95 defendants. 13 people were convicted; 15 were acquitted; other cases are under way. in its ability to contain rioting without resorting to excessive force. Successful implementation: 4/5 Strengthening the judicial system - A lot of work has been done in retraining the judiciary, including extensive international training courses. There has been progress in strengthening the rule of law and improving access to lawyers and due process (see the full BICI FollowUp report). However, it will take time for these cultural changes within the judicial system to become entrenched. Successful implementation: 4/5

Reviewing sentences - All cases tried through the National Security Courts were transferred to the civilian court sector and all those convicted through this system were given right of appeal. The review committee went beyond the BICI’s recommendations by reviewing all cases, not just rulings. A high proportion of sentences were reduced and many were given minimal sentences, fines or released. Regarding the issue of the medics put on trial for seriously breaching their professional duties, these individuals were initially released from prison and then pardoned. No death sentences have been, or will be, carried out. Successful implementation: 4/5 Compensation - A compensation fund was established based on international best practice. Families of all 35 fatalities cited in the BICI report were compensated, including a number of additional cases identified by the investigation. $6.2m was allocated. The 421 claimants for injury have been assessed and will receive compensation commensurate with the seriousness of their injuries. Successful implementation: 4/5 Reinstating dismissed employees and students - All public sector employees returned to their jobs. Only a tiny number of private sector employees have not been reinstated. In mid-2012 a visiting ILO delegation found the reinstatement percentage to be 92%. This subsequently rose to 98.7%. All students were quickly re-admitted. These measures have been confirmed by international observers. Successful implementation: 5/5

Citizens Bahrain

Rebuilding religious structures - This has been a difficult process because many of the affected structures were built illegally or in impractical locations, such as infringing on a major highway. Out of 12 Mosques which are to be rebuilt work is in progress on 5 and the others are pending approval, or planning agreements for rebuilding in alternative sites. Eight million dollars has been allotted for rebuilding. Successful implementation: 2/5 Freedom of expression & the media - A number of legislative measures have been introduced recently targeting sectarian language and incitement. New measures are also being introduced for improving media standards and reinforcing freedom of expression, including reinforced protections for journalists. The Media and Communication draft law currently being worked on takes as its starting point international human rights norms. Successful implementation: 4/5 Reconciliation - The Government has embarked on a number of educational initiatives for strengthening religious tolerance and social cohesion. The Government has also supported civil society initiatives for reconciliation. See the BICI Follow-Up Report for a list of projects. A number of initiatives are in place for addressing many of the core grievances of the opposition, such as housing programmes, empowering elected MPs, strengthening the rule of law and supporting small businesses harmed by the unrest. Regrettably, the reconciliation initiatives have not received the public support that they deserve because for most Bahrainis the political crisis is not yet over, and as a result the time is perhaps not yet right for genuine reconciliation and overcoming the social divisions. Successful implementation: 3/5 Conclusion - The BICI Follow-Up Unit’s report illustrates that, despite the perception that implementation of the BICI Recommendations has been slow and incomplete, a lot of work has actually been done to bring Bahraini institutions in to line with international human rights norms; learn lessons from events during 2011; and to move forward as a nation. To counter criticism that not enough has been done, we would strongly recommend visible efforts over the coming weeks and months to expedite remaining investigations into abuses; consolidate institutional reforms and to embark on a societywide process of reconciliation.

This article is summarized for Gulf Insider. To read in full visit

Gulf Insider February 2014


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Gulf Insider February 2014


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Gulf Insider February 2014





his month, two of the most globally sought leadership and entrepreneur experts, Robin Sharma and Verne Harnish, will be coming to Bahrain to hold a dual seminar, entitled “Success Summit.” The event is being held by Bahrain Institute of Hospitality & Retail, in association with BIBF and will be held in the Crowne Plaza hotel in Manama. The “Success Summit” will be a one day transformative experience seeking to build better businesses and better leaders by providing a unique environment in which participants can tackle the most critical challenges facing senior business leaders today. Both of the speakers have worked with some of the most successful companies operating globally, and will be offering personal insights, advice, and experience on confronting 4 major leadership challenges. The program includes seminars on Leading Without a Title, Lessons on Personal Leadership, A Dialogue on Greatest business decisions of all time, and Sustaining Great Results. Nigel Viegas, the Director of BIHR, implores “all companies and institutions in the private and public sectors to utilize this opportunity and provide their staff the chance to learn from world-renowned professionals in the fields of leadership and success. We are expecting the event to have approximately 1000 attendees from across the GCC.”


Gulf Insider February 2014

Robin Sharma - Robin Sharma is the globally celebrated author of 10 bestselling books on leadership and personal development. His work has been published in over 50 countries and nearly 70 languages, making him one of the most widely read authors in the world. He shot to fame with The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari (HarperCollins) which has topped international bestseller lists and sold millions of copies. Robin is the founder of Sharma Leadership International Inc., a global consultancy that helps people in organizations Lead Without a Title. Clients include many of the FORTUNE 500 including Microsoft, GE, NIKE, BP, FedEx and IBM. Organziations such as NASA, Yale University and The Harvard Business School are also SLI clients. Robin is a former litigation lawyer who holds two law degrees including a Masters of Law (Dalhousie Law School).

Verne Harnish - is the founder of two world-renowned

entrepreneurship organizations, the Young Entrepreneurs Organization (YEO) and the Association of Collegiate Entrepreneurs (ACE),. He is the author of Mastering the Rockefeller Habits which is endorsed by over 100 CEO is of mid-size companies and is published in several languages. He has spent the past 31 years educating entrepreneurial teams and continues to teach in the MIT based executive program he founded.

What: Success Summit featuring Robin Sharma and Verne Harnish When: February 26, 2014 Where: Crown Plaza Hotel, Bahrain How to Participate: Contact BIHR at 8000 1077 or +973 3604 8699 or log onto Cost: BD320 per individual


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In its latest quarterly Economic Insight report, ICAEW, the accountancy and finance body says that lower oil output mean skills shortages coupled with population growth could damage the Bahrain economy if not addressed.


conomic Insight: Middle East warns that while GDP growth in Bahrain is above the global average at 4.5% in 2013, it is expected to slip 110 basis points in 2014 to 3.4% as oil production returns to normal levels following an outage in 2012. Oil prices across the GCC will also drop as global supplies rise. The combination of the rapid expansion of US shale production and the loosening of international sanctions on Iran mean oil prices will continue to fall at the same time as demand from emerging markets slackens. With smaller oil reserves the Bahrain government has always recognised the need to diversify its economy away from oil. However, the services sector continues to suffer due to concerns over political tension, with protests a regular occurrence. Bahrain’s economy is also more vulnerable than others in the GCC having less to offer foreign investors than Saudi Arabia or the UAE. But the biggest threat to Bahrain’s sustainable economic growth is skill shortages. Strong population growth means Bahrain will be in a position to benefit from a ‘demographic windfall’ if it invests in education. Conversely, a lower-skilled population would lead to rising unemployment and a drain on national resources. Peter Beynon, Regional Director, ICAEW Middle East, said: “To compete in skills-intensive industries like engineering or financial services, economies need access to a highlyskilled workforce. Currently, statistics 38

Gulf Insider February 2014

suggest Bahrain is lagging behind other developed economies in terms of education. This means firms are forced into buying in expertise from abroad, but in certain circumstances if they do not employ enough nationals they are fined. This could place them at a distinct disadvantage in competitive international markets. Investing in education to raise skill levels would be a long-term sustainable strategy that would help GCC countries to diversify whilst also helping nationals into the workforce.” The region’s role as an energy exporter means that its output closely tracks the mood of the global economy, so GDP growth in the Middle East is expected to rise this year. The report notes that the GCC is becoming increasingly reliant on exports to developing economies. Douglas McWilliams, Chief Economist and Executive Chairman of Cebr said: “Twenty years ago advanced economies accounted for nearly three quarters of all goods sold overseas by the GCC+5. Now fewer than half of all goods exported go to advanced economies, and nearly the same again to emerging markets. The trend to increased trade with emerging markets is likely to continue. The centre of economic gravity is shifting eastwards, and the Middle East is at the crossroads of global trade. As well as a finance centre, this means the region should have the opportunity to develop as a logistics hub, with a bigger role for ports and shipping.”

The full Economic Insight: Middle East report can be found at

A lower-skilled population would lead to rising unemployment and a drain on national resources. The report also shows: Saudi Arabia raised oil production dramatically to record levels in recent months in response to unexpectedly high prices. This is expected to drive GDP growth of 4% this year, while expansion in the non-hydrocarbon sectors should counteract falling oil prices in 2014, pushing GDP growth up to 4.8%.  Whilst oil and gas continue to dominate the economy of Oman, Muscat’s new airport opening in 2014 is expected to boost the tourism industry.  Investor confidence in the UAE is recovering since 2009 and foreign direct investment (FDI) is expected to improve, setting the scene for robust long-term growth.  Kuwait has raised oil production in response to rising prices but uneasy relations between government and parliament mean other reforms are lagging. High oil prices will support the economy in the short term but concerns remain over long term fiscal sustainability. 

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Travel Affluent Traveler



t seems those with deeper pockets are the ones that pay their money the most attention regardless of where they are. Affluent travelers want access to internet banking while on holiday – a requirement less important to the general traveler according to Visa’s Global Travel Intentions Study 2013. Affluent travelers apparently do not “switch off” on holiday. They require constant contact with others with 64 percent accessing their emails and 45 percent accessing instant messaging platforms during their travels. While still used, activities like sharing photos and surfing the web for leisure are less important among the affluent when they travel – dropping to 34 percent and 31 percent respectively. Predictably, this group also loves their devices, carrying higher-end gadgets such as DSLR cameras (32 percent) and lifestyle devices such as e-book readers (12 percent) and tablets (37 percent) when they travel. While upscale travelers have a particular destination in mind while planning for their trips, they are becoming bolder when it comes to exploring unchartered terrains with eight out of 10 affluent travelers indicating in Visa’s Study that they will visit new destinations in the future. They will be trendsetters in growing visitor numbers to beach destinations in


Gulf Insider February 2014

East Africa. When asked which countries in East Africa they would consider traveling to 44 percent chose Mauritius and 40 percent listed Madagascar. Considering the affluent take more holidays a year – an average of four trips a year – despite the propensity to explore new destinations, modernized cities of the USA, UK and Australia still top their top holiday destinations for the next year. Affluent travelers enjoy independent holidays and are more willing to pay extra for someone to help arrange a customized holiday. “The definition of luxury has evolved, and today it is more about experiences than about possessions,” said Isaac Thomas, General Manager, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, and Oman, at Visa Inc. Good weather (35 percent), rich culture (31 percent) and good attractions (31 percent) rate as the affluent traveler’s three most important reasons for destination choice. The world’s wealthy also travel further (35 percent take long-haul trips compared to the global average of 29 percent) and for longer, as they are more likely to spend at least five to seven nights at their destination. Spending habits once they reach their destinations are also evolving, with average spending per trip expected to jump almost 30 percent from US$3,465 to US$4,501 for future trips. Like most groups, they spend heavily on retail (30

Affluent travelers enjoy independent holidays and are more willing to pay extra for someone to help arrange a customized holiday. percent), dining (25 percent) and activities (22 percent), but spend significantly higher than the global average at medium and large retailers, high-end restaurants and on entertainment and nightlife. The affluent are also the most likely to holiday with their families, as 75 percent travel with relatives compared to the global average of 69 percent. In addition, a higher percentage purchase first and business class flights and book accommodation in luxury hotels of four stars and above.

* Definition of affluent travelers in the Visa Global Travel Intentions Study 2013, are travelers with the following household incomes or higher: USD 6,000 (Kuwait), MED 25,000 (Morocco), SAR 20,001 (Saudi Arabia), AED 25,001 (UAE), GBP 6,001 (UK), USD 9,001 (USA).

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tarting in February 2014, Marriott Residence Inn and Marriott Executive Apartments in Bahrain will be offering a special discount, ranging from 7% to 17% for all GCC citizens. With over 20,000 visitors crossing the King Fahd Causeway from Saudi Arabia per day, and an increase in visitors from other GCC customers, it is apparent that Bahrain is an attractive option for short holidays in the region. Receptionist in both Marriott properties can communicate in both English and Arabic. From Studio suites (46 square feet) in Residence Inn to luxurious three bedroom apartments (203 square feet) in Marriott Executive Apartments, Marriott Bahrain is truly equipped to suit the needs of guest across the spectrum – from the business traveler to families.

For more information, please contact Marriott Executive Apartments at +973 1736 3999 and Marriott Residence Inn at +973 1736 3800 or visit 42

Gulf Insider February 2014

Marriott Executive Apartments features 188 fully furnished one, two and three bedroom apartments from which guests can enjoy the incredible views of the Kingdom’s skyline and the Arabian Gulf. Each Apartment reflects the comforts of a home-away-from home experience with a fully equipped kitchen, entertainment center, luxurious bedding and home interiors, a dedicated office area and wireless internet connection. Take advantage of wonderful amenities – such as Housekeeping, Room and Grocery Services, all delivered to the highest standards and attention to detail, reflecting a 5 star Marriott Hotel. Conveniently located on the ground floor is the Skyw@lk Café serving mouthwatering Mediterranean inspired selections for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.

Bahrain boasts the first Residence Inn in the Middle East, which is strategically located in Al Fateh, with quick access to business districts, shopping, entertainment, and minutes from the Bahrain International Airport. The exclusive 80 all suite property is the perfect place to relax and recharge, when on an extended business trip or on a family weekend. Whether you’re with us for a few days, a few weeks, or a few months, Marriott Residence Inn provides the traveller with all conceivable conveniences, from spacious suites, a fully equipped kitchen, complimentary grocery service, free wifi, breakfast, and fitness center access. Relax and unwind when you want. And stay focused and productive when it’s essential. Residence Inn will ensure you thrive during your stay.

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Feature Wingwalking

BREITLING WINGWALKING ... Nick Cooksey discovers his wings


ne of the perks of working in the media is that I often get invited to have unusual and exciting experiences. A perfect example was receiving an email, a few days before the Bahrain International Airshow, asking if I’d like to “wingwalk” with the Breitling aerobatic team. I deliberated over this difficult decision for a grand total of two seconds before replying, “Yes!” Founded in the 1980s, the Breitling Wingwalkers are one of the best known and loved civilian air display acts in Europe. A team of six pilots take to the skies with a female wing walker strapped 44

Gulf Insider February 2014

to the top wings of the Boeing Stearman biplanes. The women then proceed to do a series of energetic and athletic aerobatic feats as the pilots take them through loops, rolls, and stall turns. Wing walkers must not only be fearless, but also in top physical condition to endure speeds of up to 241 kmph and G-forces of up to 4 G. Ideally, they need to have a gymnastic or dance background. Professional wing walkers Freya Paterson and Danielle ‘Bird’ Hughes certainly fit this bill. Both have dance backgrounds, look very fit, and in addition Danielle is a former British Taekwondo champion.

It was a bit late for me to acquire a dance background, so I focused on the being fearless part. On the appointed day, I showed up at the Shaikh Isa Air Base where preparations for the airshow were in full swing. The Saudi and UAE air force formation teams were practicing thrilling stunts—I watched planes stalling in midair and going straight into a heartstopping dive. The British Army Red Devils parachute team were also there rehearsing their routine. It was a cool, sunny day, and the atmosphere was vibrant. I promised myself I would not waste my time up in the air being scared as

Wingwalking Feature

I promised myself I would not waste my time up in the air being scared as I took up my place alongside a few other journalists.

I took up my place alongside a few other journalists. My resolve was only strengthened when I watched one of them get strapped in and get cold feet at the last minute and requesting to be unstrapped. Besides, I had already told too many people about this and couldn’t live with the embarrassment of not going through with it. And so it was that when my turn came, I was far more excited than nervous. After emptying my pockets, I was strapped in by one of the Wingwalkers and received a briefing. I was informed that Bahrain regulations did not permit them to perform acrobatics with people who weren’t part of the team. In an anticlimactic turn of events, I was forced to stand down due to some VIP air movement, but eventually I was back in place. The plane made its way down the runway, took off, and from then on, it was pure exhilaration. I was flying! Really flying! There was nothing above me and nothing around me—stretched out in all directions was a massive open sky. I was a speck suspended in a sea of pale blue. All that was between me and the elements was my thin jacket into which I had stuffed my hands to keep them warm. The wind rushed against my face as we flew at 80 mph and I had to be careful not to turn my head to either side or open my mouth. My attention returned to the oldfashioned biplane beneath my feet and the reassuring sound of propellers whirring. It shook a little as it hit air pockets, but it was nothing to be

alarmed at. Looking down at the desert from 1,000 feet, I could see that no part of it was left untouched by human development. Black pipes crisscrossed the sand. I thought again about how incredible it felt to be floating through the air and pretty soon the ten-minute flight was over.

A Go-pro on board captured my adventure for posterity, and the Wingwalkers have promised to send me the footage so I can relive it as often as I wish. Since then I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the time I took flight tall in a day’s work when you’re in the media.

Gulf Insider February 2014


Feature Profile


Egyptian artist Wael Darwesh, who currently has a solo exhibition “Disappearance...Continued” at Art Sawa in Dubai.


ow were you first exposed to art? I grew up in an artist family: my father graduated of the Faculty of Fine Arts in 1961. At home, the walls of our house were filled by his collection of paintings .We had a large library with all publications of Al-Ahram, and a house full of all kind of fine art materials, colors and papers to practice drawing and coloring.

socio- economic issues and the political community combined with the hopes, the joys and sorrows of people. Where in the world have you exhibited? I have exhibited in many places

including Sweden, Ireland, France, India, Germany and Athens, Jordan and Bahrain. I have also participated in many local and international exhibitions in Egypt.

Where were you born, grew up, lived etc I was born in the province of Giza in 1975 and my family is originally from southern Egypt, the Qena province, about 600 km from Cairo, near of the province of Luxor. Do you have a formal Art education? My high results in philosophy and social studies and my artistic potential oriented me to the Faculty of Art Education in 1993 that were 5 years study that I really enjoyed. I did my Masters Degree from 1998 to 2003 that led to my Doctorate in 2008 and granted me with the position of Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Art Education Helwan University. What was your first exhibition and Where? The Arts Center in Cairo, in 2002, with a portfolio of 64 paintings. What is the inspiration behind your Work? My inspiration is the society I live in and its real human concerns: The

To see some exhibits of Wael Darwesh’s latest work see Art Space in next month’s issue of Gulf Insider.

Wael Darwesh 46

Gulf Insider February 2014

Egypt Tourism



orale in Egypt’s tourism industry is at rock bottom; a summer of bloodshed has frightened away all but the bravest foreign visitors from Cairo and the pyramids, and things are little better in the Red Sea beach resorts. Egyptians know that numbers can never climb back to anywhere near their 2010 peak as long as security crackdowns, street protests and militant attacks on the government persist. Like other countries in trouble, Egypt could try an advertising campaign to lure back the Europeans, Asians, Americans and Gulf Arabs who are now largely holidaying elsewhere. But for now it won’t even bother.


Gulf Insider February 2014

“There is really no point in trying to embark on a PR campaign,” said Karim Helal, an adviser to Egypt’s tourism minister. “If you cannot convey the feeling that it is safe, nobody will come,” said Helal, a dive company owner turned investment banker. Visitors are a rare sight in Cairo these days, even though October had always marked the start of the peak season when a gentle breeze from the Nile eases the stifling heat. In July, only about one in six of the capital’s hotel beds were occupied, according to research firm STR Global. Even in the Red Sea resorts, largely shielded from the violence in the big cities, occupancy rates are drastically

down. In Hurghada, a destination usually popular with Russians fleeing their bitter winters, only 11,000 of 50,000 hotel rooms are occupied, provincial governor Ahmed Abdullah told Reuters. Nobody has felt the consequences more than the many Egyptians - from hotel workers to guides and gift shop owners - who rely for their living on tourism, traditionally a pillar of the economy and the second biggest foreign currency earner. Tourism earned Egypt $9.75 billion in the 2012-2013 financial year which ended in June, before the worst violence erupted. Even so, that was down from $11.6 billion in 2009-10, the peak before the overthrow of Mubarak.

Tourism Egypt

treasures including King Tutankhamen’s burial mask. Nevertheless, Egypt has been here before. On Nov. 17, 1997 gunmen descended on Queen Hatshepsut’s temple near the Nile town of Luxor. In a short time they shot or hacked to death 58 tourists and four Egyptians in their campaign for what they regarded as a pure Islamic state. The following January and February, visitor numbers were down almost 60 percent from the previous year. Hotel occupancy rates collapsed from 70 percent just before the massacre to just 18 percent.

In July and August, tourist arrivals crashed by 45 percent, Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou said. He estimated losses since the army takeover at $1 billion per month. Anyone who wants to visit Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the rallying point for Egyptians during the 18-day revolt that toppled Mubarak, may think twice about going. Soldiers manning armored personnel carriers and riot police keep a close eye on it and try to keep members of Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood from protesting. Only a few hundred meters away stands the Egyptian Museum, which houses some of the greatest pharaonic

Yet the industry staged a remarkable comeback. In 1999 almost 4.5 million visitors came to Egypt, well up on the 3.7 million in 1997. At that time Mubarak’s security apparatus was able to keep the streets much quieter than they are now. Nevertheless, hope remains that the industry can again recover, if more slowly. Some hotel operators, like Alexander Suski of Kempinski Hotels, expect Egypt to bounce back one day. “We really still believe in Egypt as a destination,” said Suski, who thinks a recovery would be possible in two to three years and has no plans for the hotel group to leave Egypt. However, much depends on whether Egypt can regain some degree of stability following the long period of turmoil. Capital Economics estimated the

Tourists are enjoying a oncein-a-lifetime opportunity to see the riches of the Egyptian Museum or the Sphinx up close, without being jostled by tour groups.

industry’s losses ranged from $250 million to $650 million a month. William Jackson, an economist at the Londonbased group, said a rebound is possible, but that “the events over the past two and a half years give us every reason to be cautious about thinking that will happen”. There are bright spots; unlike in 1997 Islamist militants have not targeted tourists. Cairo visitors are probably at much greater risk crossing the road through the capital’s anarchic traffic than they are of getting caught up in the street violence, which affects only small areas of a huge city. In the meantime some tourists are enjoying a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the riches of the Egyptian Museum or the Sphinx up close, without being jostled by tour groups.

Gulf Insider February 2014


Feature Sailing Arabia



he cream of Oman’s female offshore sailors will be aiming to mix a bit of learning with a lot of adventure when they head off on EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour 2014 as members of Al-Thuraya Bank Muscat’s all women’s team on February 9th in Amwaj Marina, Bahrain. American skipper Katie Pettibone who in a long and distinguished professional sailing career has been a member of three America’s Cup teams, two round the world race crews and two Sailing Arabia - The Tour teams, has a mid-fleet finish in mind when the 15 day race across four different countries stopping at eight marinas in Bahrain, Qatar, UAE and Oman comes to an end. Talking about her past experience, Katie says: “Manama is beautiful. An amazing city. In Bahrain one year, it was super windy and the start had to be delayed then the next year we had to motor to Qatar because there was no wind. It just goes to show in sailing that anything can happen. Even in the time we have been visiting Bahrain, there has been a lot of development….a mall near the marina was built between the first and second years where you can get coffee and food. It’s beautiful, a really nice little spot. Sailing is well supported in Bahrain and everyone seems to get excited when the sailing boats come in. “ David Graham, CEO of Oman Sail said the inclusion of an allwomen’s team in EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour was an important part of Oman Sail campaign to develop a new generation of women sailors.


Gulf Insider February 2014

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Nissan GT Academy


COUCH TO COCKPIT, VIRTUAL TO REALITY! Last month Gulf Insider’s Rogier Van Zaventer went to Dubai for the announcement of Nissan GT Academy 2014.


his continuing series is major brand initiative from Nissan and forms a significant part of their worldwide brand raising activities. The GT Academy is a collaboration between Nissan and Sony, built on the Playstation’s Gran Turismo computer game. The program aims to take ordinary gamers who play at home on their Playstations, competing the best of these to finally select a winner who will be trained to be an actual racing driver, with a real racing career. You play online at home or via live events in various major cities all over the world. All the good video gamers come together. Nissan takes the best of these through regional finals that progressively push the envelope further and further. The program not only tests driving ability, media skills as well as physical and mental abilities are also examined. The winners of the regional final go through a very intensive driver


Gulf Insider February 2014

development program for 3 months, after which they graduate and race in a real race; in 2013 this took place at the Silverstone Circuit in UK. First launched in 2008, GT Academy was designed to identify gamers with the most natural racing talent in the virtual world, before working with them to transform them into a professional racing driver in the real world. Selection is initially made through times set on a customized stage within the Gran Turismo game, now in its sixth generation. The fastest gamers then have the chance at a Regional Final event, before the very best head to Race Camp where they are assessed on their fitness, mental attitude and car control.

GT Academy was designed to identify gamers with the most natural racing talent in the virtual world.

Ultimately the winner gets a seat behind the wheel of a Nissan 370Z GT race car. For the coming season Nissan has made some significant changes to the GT challenge, lowering the minimum age from 21 to 18 and also expanding the live events to Saudi Arabia. Past winners include Lucas Ordonaz from Spain who won the first GTA Challenge in 2008 and has since become a professional racing driver, racing for the Nissan team in the GT4 European Cup and also in the Le Mans 24 Hour race. Another notable winner is Salman al Khater, a 29-year-old mechanical engineer from Qatar, who won the Inaugural Middle East Regional Championshp and is now based in Silverstone honing his skills on his journey to a professional racing career. In April 2014, YK Almoayyed & Sons will be giving local enthusiasts the opportunity to participate in the GT academy in Bahrain. For more information, contact the Nissan showroom at +973 1773 2732, or like the Nissan Bahrain facebook page for updates.

Lucas Ordóñez – GT academy Europe 2008 champion, Mohammed bin Sulayem chairman of the new Motor Sport Development Task Force set up by the FIA, Ashley Oldfield – GT academy South Afria 2013 champion, Samir Cherfan, MD Nissan Middle East and Nick McMillen - GT Academy US 2013 champion



BMW 4 SERIES Nick Cooksey drives the latest BMW in Bahrain.


had the pleasure of driving the new BMW 428i in Bahrain last month. Unfortunately I only got this lovely car the day before Gulf Insider’s deadline, so dear readers I must write my review almost as quick as I drove the car. Sooooo… Here goes… The new BMW is based on the 3 Series coupe with various improvements both in design and engineering and comes about due to a change in BMW’s identity

strategy - BMW coupes henceforth get an even number, and so there will be 4 Series coupes, and as I just said, they are a noticeable improvement over the old 3 series.

It accelerated, braked, and cornered at high speed wonderfully.

This 4 Series is designed to be a powerful compromise between sports car and practical daily vehicle, which is exactly what BMW 3 series drivers want and expect. BMW knows its market better than anyone, and 3 series customers will not be disappointed with this new model range. This car is lower, longer and wider than the current 3. It also has other features to distinguish it such as angled headlights,

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 February 2014


This 4 Series is designed to be a powerful compromise between sports car and practical daily vehicle, which is exactly what BMW 3 series drivers want and expect.

unique air grills, and just looks better. It looks great in fact! Under the bonnet (or hood) of the 428i a powerful 4 cylinder engine that enables this beauty to zoom from zero to 100kph in just 5.9 seconds. Top speed is limited at 250kph. Inside there’s plenty of space in the front, and enough room for 2 adults to sit comfortably in the back, which is not often the case in a 2+2 coupe. There’s also plenty of boot space. All the fixtures and fittings feel of the highest quality, and the cabin is organized in a logical and pleasing way. The leather trim extends to the dash. The interior is quite, even at speed. The sound system is fantastic.

seemed plenty sporty enough. The car I was given to drive was black, and on a personal note I think for this car black looks best and most strongly highlights the chrome detailing around the sides of the windows. I found the overall driving experience similar to the 3 series, although due to the car being 16mm lower the seating has been lowered by 9mm hence a sportier driving position. It’s also 26mm longer, 45mm wider at the front, and 80mm wider at the back. The low center of gravity enabled BMW to lower and stiffen the suspension. By putting it into Sport mode, which further tightened the suspension, it became a different car.

Visibility all round is excellent. There are many great features; one that I was impressed with was Lane Watch. Such a system is of course not unique to BMW, whereby the steering wheel gently vibrates when moving out of lane to warn the driver, but I believe this is a very useful feature that makes for safer driving. The car can be driven in Sport or Comfort modes, and different design pack options are available so buyers can choose between Luxury and M Sport – which comes with a 3 spoke steering wheel and more aggressive front. I drove the Luxury option and it

It accelerated, braked, and cornered at high speed wonderfully. The new 4 series costs more than the equivalent 3 series. But though getting 2 less doors, you’re actually getting a lot more in power and style. All else being equal, unless I really needed those 2 rear doors on a daily basis I’ve no doubt I’d opt for the 4 series over the 3. But don’t take my word for it, compare them for yourself, and make up your own mind.

For more information or to arrange a test drive in Bahrain contact EuroMotors on +973 17 750750

Gulf Insider February 2014


Car Nissan Patrol


2014 NISSAN PATROL Gulf Insider’s Hugh Haskell-Thomas tests Nissan’s iconic off roader on Jordan’s rugged terrain.


n inspiring landscape and Nissan’s refined chariot have just rewarded this writer with an exhilarating, unforgettable journey traversing the wilderness of Jordan’s highest peaks, stunning scenery and most famous landmarks. The 2014 Nissan Patrol, redesigned specifically for the Middle East market, is one of the best of the large SUVs on the market today. First impressions of the new SUV flagship for Nissan engender expletives such as huge, luxurious, dominating and awesome. This face-lifted variant of the Generation 6 Patrol aims to please and delivers on these promises.


Gulf Insider February 2014

Alterations to the previous variant include redesigned front and read light clusters, a re-crafted tailgate, which now sports some softening convexconcave shapes, and a new collision detection system, to name but a few. These efforts aspire to make the car easier to drive during daily use, which becomes immediately obvious once you have (literally) climbed aboard; the ground clearance dwarfing most of its competitors’. Taking advice from local market representatives, combined with over 30,000 hours of test drives across the region, Nissan has utilized its design prowess to capture this experience

and deliver a desert work horse par excellence! On the road, it is extremely quiet for a massive car with a 2m high profile, but despite this the Patrol provides a feeling of driving a much smaller SUV, which is a commendable achievement considering it’s a little over 5 meters long and just shy of 2 meters wide! The seven-speed automatic gearbox, one of three transmission options, will excitedly kick down a couple of gears whenever asked, and the resultant leap forwards instantly belies the Patrol’s 2700kg body with the 400HP engine, in the top variant, growling on request . The soundproofing in the car really is quite

Nissan Patrol Car

On the road, it is extremely quiet for a massive car with a 2m high profile, but despite this the Patrol provides a feeling of driving a much smaller SUV.

exceptional, most especially because of the huge front profile, on normal roads the Patrol purrs along quietly and effortlessly. The new Patrol’s four-wheel drive system is managed by a centrally mounted “All Mode” controller, which can either be set to ‘Auto’, leaving decisions to the car’s computer, or manually switched between 2H, 4H, and 4L, as well as ‘on-road’, ‘snow’, ‘sand’, and ‘rock’ modes. There are also selections for the rear diff lock and for hill descent control. On the climb up into the mountains, an hour long off-road ascent towards a fast approaching sunset, the true prowess of the Patrol’s suspension and the four wheel drive’s maturity were revealed, combining to relentlessly crush whatever obstacles were put in its way. Nissan’s unique hydraulic suspension system, managing all four wheels independently, gave an effortlessly smooth ride across this roughest of terrains. The Nissan Patrol comes with a 37-gallon (140 liter) tank and, trust me, it needs every drop in there. During our drive, the vehicle averaged just over 27

liters per 100 km, to be fair though, we did work it hard in the off road sections. Nevertheless, it is important to mention that not one word of this matters to its main market, the Middle East! Our drive through the beautiful wilderness of Jordan was made more pleasurable by the brilliant audio system which packs a 13-speaker Bose audio system with two subwoofers, as well as a 9.3 GB HDD that’s ready to store all of your tunes, all controlled from a large 8 inch screen in the dash. The rear passengers are not forgotten either, receiving two seven-inch TFT displays with the Rear Seat Entertainment System; the Patrol is a veritable theatre! From a safety perspective, the Patrol is packed with intelligent assistants that guide the driver. Firstly, there is Active Cruise Control and Intelligent Brake Assist, which can override the driver when necessary and decelerate the car should the driver fail to react in time, reducing the impact speed. Other features provide Forward Collision Warnings, Blind Spot Monitoring, Lane Departure Warning and Lane Departure Prevention – to be honest a few too

many ‘beeps’ for me, but nice to know they are around! Overall, the 2014 Patrol offers a fairly minor facelift to its predecessor, but these mid-life cosmetics have honed a few rough edges from its most capable ancestor. The car was a pleasure to drive, most exceptionally in its favourite playground, off road and on rough terrain; in this environment it can only be described as brilliant! Ignoring its thirst, which in the Middle East we can do, the Patrol is an exceptional vehicle in all but the most minor of areas. Enjoy the ride and set the desert aflame! Starting from BD 15,995

To arrange a test drive in Bahrain contact Y.K. Almoayyed & Sons; Tel. +973 1773 2732 Gulf Insider February 2014


Fashion Tommy Hilfiger


TOMMY HILFIGER Take your look from daytime casual to sleek and formal evening wear. From the boardroom to a night out, you’ll always stand out from the crowd with Tommy.


Gulf Insider February 2014

Tommy Hilfiger Fashion

Outfit 1

Suit BD149.500 Shirt BD34.500 Tie BD22.500 Watch BD115 Shoes BD87.500

1 Model: Elie Sassine Car: BMW 4 series convertible with M body kit, Tel. +973 17 750 750 Clothing & Accessories:Tommy Hilfiger Bahrain City Centre, Tel. +973 17 178 295 Location: Al Areen Palace & Spa Sakhir, Tel. +973 17 845 000 Photographer:Redia Castillo

Gulf Insider February 2014


Fashion Tommy Hilfiger


Gulf Insider February 2014

Tommy Hilfiger Fashion

Outfit 2

Blazer BD149.500 Shirt BD54.900 Trouser BD37.500 Pull over BD49.900 Shoes BD63.500 Bag BD82.500 Gulf Insider February 2014


Fashion Kenneth Cole

1 2


Gulf Insider February 2014


NETH COLE Kenneth Cole Fashion

Outfit 1

Jacket BD65 Shirt BD20 Pants BD27 Watch BD95 Shoes BD90

Outfit 2

Jacket BD50 Pulllover BD50 Pants BD35 Watch BD112 Shoes BD90

Model: Elie Sassine Clothing & Accessories:Kenneth Cole Bahrain City Centre, Tel. +973 16 686 209 Location: Al Areen Palace & Spa Sakhir, Tel. +973 17 845 000 Photographer:Redia Castillo

Gulf Insider February 2014


Art Photography Sultanahmet (Blue) Mosque


Istiklal Street


Gulf Insider February 2014


Photography Art Hagia Sophia


very photographer dreams of going out for a photography adventure in another country. I was so thrilled when Turkish Airlines gave me the opportunity to visit Istanbul, the only city in the world that lies on two continents. Istanbul is a spectacular city with fascinating history, remarkable architecture, vibrant culture and wonderful people. I came to the city to capture Istanbul through my lens, instead it captured my heart. It’s a place I will always love to go back to.

Basilica Cistern

Read Redia’s Istanbul travel advice next month, only in Gulf Insider

Medusa’s Head, Basilica Cistern

Hagia Sophia

Galata Tower

Photography: Redia Castillo

Gulf Insider February 2014


Feature Great Quotes



he Guevara, born in 1928, was an instrumental figure in the Cuban Revolution and fought to incite communist revolutions in several countries in South America. He has long been the idol of left-wing teenagers and university students. His famous portrait has become one of the most widely marketed photographs in history, appearing on everything from T-shirts and coffee mugs to flags and posters. Yet Che was known as ‘the Butcher of La Cabaña’, he is known to have ordered the execution of several hundred people he suspected of betraying his communist ideology. Often, he would have his soldiers and commanders shot without trial, in numerous cases performing the executions himself. After successfully taking over Cuba, Guevara ordered the execution of all political dissidents, severely restricted the press, tried to


Gulf Insider February 2014

ban rock music, and drove the Cuban economy into the ground. He was known by many of his friends to be an incurable racist, and rarely bathed. Here are 9 quotes from Che Guevara: 1. “Youth must refrain from ungrateful questioning of governmental mandates. Instead, they must dedicate themselves to study, work and military service.” 2. “Youth should learn to think and act as a mass. It is criminal to think as individuals!” 3. “The victory of Socialism is well worth millions of atomic victims!” 4.  “We must do away with all newspapers. A revolution cannot be accomplished with freedom of the press.” 5. “To send men to the firing squad, judicial proof is unnecessary. These

procedures are an archaic bourgeois detail.” 6. “Hatred is the central element of our struggle! Hatred so violent that it propels a human being beyond his natural limitations, making him a violent and cold-blooded killing machine. Our soldiers must be thus.” 7. “The black is indolent and fanciful, he spends his money on frivolity and drink; the European comes from a tradition of working and saving which drives him to get ahead.” 8. “I fired a .32 caliber bullet into the right hemisphere of his brain which came out through his left temple. He moaned for a few moments, then died.” 9. “I’d like to confess, Papa, at that moment I discovered that I really like killing.”






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Gulf Insider  

February 2014

Gulf Insider  

February 2014