March 2010

DH 5

Published from Dubai Media City


On the sunny side Old v. new ways

Tasty gourmet portions

Meydan, ready for crowds on the big day



An Indian bedouin

25 years & more..

Dubai enjoys its celebrity status
ithin minutes of a crack in the Dubai nauseating stuff about celebrities. The paparazzi Aquarium being reported, the interthat follow these people indeed do a nasty job, national media got into the act, splashing the but on the flip side one must see why these people ‘sensational’ news all over. Most of these reports are after their victims so dangerously, and at carried much more than the news, many of them times in a life-threatening fashion. After all, like spiced up with a tinge of derision about the ‘ineverything else, fame must also come with a price door ocean’. One heading screamed: ‘Shark-filled tag. aquarium in Dubai cracks open’. Coming within The international media’s obsession with days of the deadly attack on Sea World trainer Dubai has, for all practical purposes, given it a Dawn Brancheau by a killer whale, the reports celebrity status. And considering that the Dubai By K Raveendran approach typically seeks out a positive in every seemed to conjure up an imagery of panicking shoppers trooping out of Dubai’s – and the thing it has to contend with, this is not at all a world’s largest shopping mall - to escape shark bad thing. There is no need to read too much into attacks. the somersault by the media because the media generally Invariably, the stories made it a point to note that tend to be like time-servers. the mall is operated by the same company that owns the When the going was good, the international media world’s tallest tower Burj Khalifa, where a malfunctionwas getting delirious when it came to reporting about ing lift forced the closure of the observation deck atop the Dubai. Teams of journalists and camera crew were landing grand structure a couple of weeks ago. here on a daily basis to chronicle the incredible feats of Of course, the Telegraph report takes the trophy. the place. Awe-struck by the mind-blowing projects that ‘Dubai aquarium springs the world’s most dramatic water characterised Dubai’s boom phase, these people were fallleak,’ it declared. The opening of the story was even more ing over each other to heap praise on the city-state and the dramatic. vision of its leadership. Now that the chips are down, they ‘If assassinations, financial meltdown and exploding are trying to find fault with everything that is going on. lifts in the world’s tallest building were not enough, the But the fact remains that the change is more in the struggling emirate of Dubai faced a new crisis on Thursperception about the place than the place itself, which day – the world’s most dramatic water leak’. continues to have the attributes that put it on the radar The report, filed from Dubai, also cited ‘jokes spread screens of global attention in the first place. through the internet about the availability of cheap shark Take the case of the sensational ‘leak’, for instance. The steaks as water shot through a crack in the glass front of small crack in the huge aquarium, capable of holding 10 the Dubai Aquarium, home to 33,000 fish’. million litres of water, has been repaired without much Whatever be the thought behind these reports, there fuss. And contrary to fears expressed in various quarters is something very obvious about them. The international about a threat to the rare collection of fish and water media seems to be obsessed with Dubai, for good or bad. animals, no harm has been done to the stock. Similarly, While the underlying tone of all this campaign is a tad the widely-reported problem with one of the elevators of negative, Dubai need not be unduly worried about it. Burj Khalifa does not make the structure lose its grandeur Irrespective of the reasons, being in the news all the time or its place in the record books. has its own advantages. As long as it brings top-of-theWhen existing capabilities are challenged – which is mind recall, it is advantageous. what feats like Burj Khalifa represent—these are small opThe closest parallel for this could perhaps be found erational issues that will routinely get sorted out and in no in Europe’s gossip press, which feeds on trivia and other way do they cast a shadow on Dubai’s great achievements.


UAE Digest, March 2010 l 1

March 2010

DH 5

Published from Dubai Media City


On the sunny side Old v. new ways

Tasty gourmet portions

Meydan, ready for crowds on the big day



An Indian bedouin

25 years & more..



K Raveendran Sankaranarayanan Radhika Natu Anandi Ramachandran

PUBLIShER & MANAGING DIRECTOR : GENERAL MANAGER DIRECTOR FINANCE EDitorial Editor Deputy Editor Associate Editor Staff Writer : : : : : :

Linda Benbow Manju Ramanan Vanit Sethi Ambily VijayKumar Ujwala Ranade

Sterling Publications FZ LLC
Loft Office 2, G 01, Dubai Media City P.O. Box 500595, Dubai, UAE. Tel. + 971 4 367 8061, Fax +971 4 367 8613 Website: Email: Delhi: Anand Vardhan, D II/89, Pandara Road INDIA:New Delhi 110003. Tel. 00911 26517981 BAhRAIN: Sunliz Publications W.L.L, PO BOX 2114, Manama, Kingdom of Bahrain. Tel: 00973 17276682 Printing: Asiatic Printing Press L.L.C., PB 3522, Ajman, UAE. Tel. 06 743 4221 Fax: 06 743 4223; email: Distribution: UAE: Tawseel. PB No 500666. Tel. (+971 4) 342 1512 Sultanate of Oman: Al-Atta’a Distribution Est. Kuwait: The Kuwaiti Group for Publishing & Distribution Co. Bahrain: Al hilal Corporation Qatar: Dar Al-Thaqafah Saudi Arabia: Saudi Distribution Company



salEs anD MarkEting Account Manager : Rashmi Pai Biju Varghese Ibrahim hameed

Accounts Circulation Supervisor

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2 l UAE Digest, March 2010


30 A day at the turf
Dubai’s big race day – during which Dubai World Cup will be awarded to a winning thoroughbred – will be held at the newly completed Meydan racecourse, grandstand and resort at Nad Al Sheba.

Changing education
The country is now all geared to take up the challenge of the next stage of its development process – the setting up of top quality educational institutions, both public and private.

Relishing the flavours
Where are you able to taste so many different samples of haute cuisine such as that served in top quality, expensive restaurants, for just a small fraction of the cost of a meal?

54 42 6
Positively speaking
There is a general return of confidence into the market place with hopes for a good 2010. Gregarious, outspoken, fun-loving and ‘rebellious’, the Regional Manager of the Jashanmal National Company (Abu Dhabi), carries a UAE residency visa that expires in 2999.

Indian bedouin

Growth in fashion industry
Fashion houses identify the UAE as an emerging global fashion hub; a survey revealed that UAE residents are some of the most prolific buyers of designer apparel and accessories.

UAE Digest, March 2010 l 3


Completion of main works at the metro stations

Red Line stations to be completed in April
Al Tayer: “Seven Metro stations on the Red Line to be operational on 25 April 2010”
E Mattar Al Tayer, Chairman of the Board and Executive Director of Roads & Transport Authority (RTA), has stated that the contractor of Dubai Metro Project; Dubai Rail Link (DURL) Consortium; will complete all the remaining works in the stations on the Red Line (18 stations) on April 25, 2010, and that all works in the stations on the Green Line will be completed in August 2011. “The operation of Red Line stations will be in phases starting from April 25th, 2010; where several key stations will be operational; namely Emirates Station, Airport Terminal 1 Station, GGICO Station, Al Karama Station, World Trade Centre Station, Marina Station, and Ibn Battuta Station. The remaining stations will be operated over the following months of 2010” added Al Tayer. “RTA will provide the biggest portion of cash injections out of its budget allocated by the Government of Dubai to cover the cost of the additional works on the Red & Green lines, add new stations to meet the needs of property development projects, add a depot to accommodate the resultant increase in the capacity, and increase the number of footbridges linking with the metro stations to enable the public to use the metro easily,” said Al Tayer in a final remark. 4 l UAE Digest, March 2010


Equity Derivatives Training Courses
Training supports growing investor interest in derivatives strategies Nasdaq Dubai Academy will deliver two training courses on equity derivatives this month in conjunction with London-based training company ‘7city Learning’. The one-day courses will support the growing regional interest in trading equity derivatives, including those listed on Nasdaq Dubai’s market. The Fundamentals of Trading Equity Derivatives course on March 17 provides an

introduction to futures and options as well as margining and the concept of fair value. It includes a case study of how to hedge risk, one of the primary uses of derivatives. Exotics, Strategies, Greeks and Managing Option Risk in a Trading Book on March 18 is an advanced course that looks at tools for calculating risk positions and composite derivatives strategies. It examines volatility and the Black-Scholes option pricing model. The first course is aimed at anyone seeking a basic understanding of derivatives, and the second at industry professionals only.

Growth at the free zone
Dubai Airport Freezone recorded remarkable growth rates in 2009 compared to the previous year with the revenue rising by 30 per cent, part of which has come as a result of considerable expansion in office space by major European and American companies based in the Free zone. hE Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Dubai Airport Freezone, said that the Freezone is expanding its capacity due to increasing demand. “Expansion plans in 2010, which is to provide extra office spaces, is on track. The project, West Wing No 7 is near completion, and it will be ready for tenants to move in by the first quarter of next year”.

Jeff Singer, CEO of Nasdaq Dubai

Joint mass wedding of government staff
Deputy Ruler of Dubai, UAE Minister of Finance and Chairman of Dubai Municipality his highness Sheikh hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum recently attended the first joint Mass Wedding of 79 employees of three government departments in Dubai, i.e. Dubai Municipality, Dubai Water and Electricity Authority (DEWA) and the Department of Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities (DIACA) implementing directives to rationalise wedding expenses, and to avoid extravagance and waste that burden grooms in the early stages of their life Sheikh hamdan congratulated the grooms and wished them a happy family life crowned by success. A colourful ceremony marked the occasion, which included performance of songs by a traditional troupe, folklore dances, military band as well as laser shows and fireworks. The wedding was attended by a large number of guests including dignitaries and relatives of bridegrooms.

HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum congratulates a groom

RAK FTZ employees live the experience
Friday, 19 February, before the sun had cast its first shimmering rays across the dunes of Ras Al Khaimah, more than 70 RAK FTZ employees were already out and about, warming up for the muchawaited RAK half-Marathon 2010, together with the other more than 2,000 marathon participants and spectators. In full support of the emirate’s premiere event, RAK FTZ was represented by 13 teams, one for each department, in the Team Relay Challenge Category. Each team of four runners trained for three months in preparation for the big event and ran the 21.0975 kilometre with a confidence and enthusiasm borne from regular practice and coordination. – an exhibition of true team spirit in play. After all, the runners had crossed the finish line and their times were duly recorded, the winners of the RAK FTZ internal relay competition were an-

nounced at the free zone’s headquarters in Nakheel. RAK FTZ Team 7, composed of Suresh Yadav, Pradeep Kumar, Bader Nazeer and Veeramuthu Nani, who managed to bag ninth place overall in the RAK half Marathon Relay Category, came in first in the RAK FTZ Internal competition with a recorded time of 1:40:20. RAK FTZ Team 4, composed of Yahya Abdo Ali, Saeed Sarhan, habeeb K and Jyothish Kumar, came in second in the RAK FTZ internal competition, finishing at 1:55:09, while Team 6, composed of Michael De Versoza, Amster Fajardo, Shameer Khan and Mohan Singh, came in third, with a recorded time of 1:57:31. RAK FTZ CEO, Oussama El Omari, who ran for RAK FTZ Team 10, was all smiles when he reached the finish line. Cooling down after his run, he said, “What a fantastic event! The RAK

half Marathon got a lot of us hooked on a healthy exercise regimen courtesy of the regular training, and it also gave us the opportunity to hold our own healthy, friendly competition to set the best record.” he added, “I am very proud of RAK FTZ Team 7 for placing amongst the top ten teams overall in the Team Relay category, and I am also proud of each and every one of our staff who came out here to run or give moral support. This just shows what RAK FTZ is all about – great team work and indomitable team spirit, at work and at play.” “We had an awesome day, and we all look forward to taking part in similar events, like the Terry Fox Run in March,” said one of the participants. But for now, the RAK FTZ employees who turned out for the race can proudly claim the RAK half Marathon slogan – we lived the experience!

UAE Digest, March 2010 l 5


Positively speaking
There is a general return of confidence into the marketplace with hopes for a good 2010
By Ambily Vijaykumar
any bus stops across Dubai are sporting a new look. Eye-catching series of advertisements listing out the many reasons why Dubai is the place to be have sprung up. The tone is casual yet catchy, signifying a new spring in the step of the emirate that had till recently been virtually sent to the grave by doomsday theorists eager to write its epitaph. The place is being projected as one whose map is updated every day, a place to brush up your language skills, a place to find a reason to go shopping, and many more. “It is an indicator that the government is not willing to let naysayers have the last laugh,” says an Indian expat. “The times have been bad, and people have lost jobs, but that does not mean that it is the end of the road for either the emirate or the country that has set a benchmark for growth in such a short period. Credit needs to be given where it is due,” he argues. Unlike the gloomy days of 2009 with traffic in most populated places of the emirate thinning, homes being vacated, cars being abandoned and malls facing significant dip in footfall, a weekend outdoor trip now paints a different picture. 6 l UAE Digest, March 2010


A popular supermarket was swarming with people on a weekend recently with many finding it difficult to get parking. The atmosphere was almost festive with customers not only engaged in shopping for essentials, but also indulging in

spending on luxuries. “We have registered a very good footfall,” says Tom Miles, Director of Shopping Centres, Al Futtaim Group Real Estate that runs Dubai Festival City. “Footfall in 2009 has in fact risen to 2.5 times the level of 2008 and the trend continues into 2010,” he informs. Reality, however, also has another facet. Dubai retailers have been on a steep learning curve since the start of the downturn. Many lessons on how to solidify market share and streamline business have been learnt by both small and large groups in the region. While many retailers believe that portions of the industry will continue to struggle for the next year or so, with growing consumer confidence and tourists rediscovering Dubai as a ‘cool holiday destination’, retail will experience a bounceback as well. The bounceback is slowly beginning to show. Apart from the shopping experience, Dubai Festival City’s family-centered activities like the Dubai

Bike Week held last month broke previous records. “The first half of the Dubai Shopping Festival has been record-breaking with footfall for the Dubai Bike Week surpassing 175,000 people. It was truly amazing. A huge crowd and a huge relief to see the property teaming with happy people,” adds Tom Miles. And happy, it seems, is what people who have braved the crisis last year are feeling. The stabilisation of rentals in the market has come as a huge relief for many who were paying exorbitant rates but compromising on the space they lived in. A Bangladeshi expat working with a leading bank chose to switch to a bigger home during the crisis rather than continue in the “crammed space that cost us a bomb”. “The crisis in fact came as a blessing for us,” she says. Yet another family chose to buy a property around the newly unveiled Burj Khalifa thereby not only realising a dream that they had nurtured for long but also reposing faith in the long term success of the economy of the country. The opening of the landmark, the world’s tallest tower, is being seen as a confidence booster for the market in general and is expected to revive investor interest and faith in the economy. The change of name notwithstanding, businesses are of the opinion that the inauguration of the Burj Khalifa is definitely a strong signal that the government has sent out to the world that the UAE is capable of keeping its commitments. “Most retailers believe that consumer confidence has been very low for some time in Dubai. This opening not only floats our confidence as residents, but

also puts Dubai back on the world map with some good news. The city has taken its share of hits in the last year and the opening of the Burj Khalifa as well as the continued strengthening of the mall below it, eventually helps us all,” elaborates Tom Miles. The tourism sector has welcomed the new landmark as ‘significant’ and one that has ‘helped to maintain Dubai’s status as a must-see destination during a time of economic challenges’. “Tourists love tall buildings, take

the Empire State Building or the Eiffel Tower, these are attractions that are always popular and the Burj Khalifa will always be one of the things that everyone who visits Dubai will want to see,” says Chris Crompton, General Manager, Double Decker Bus Tours. “The Chinese, the Iranians, they all are coming here to see this marvel. It has done a world of good to us cab drivers. I have lost count of the number of trips I have made to drop these tourists to the new landmark ever since it opened,” says a cab driver. “how many countries can boast of a

landmark of this kind?” asks Jeff Strachan, Vice President Sales and Marketing, Middle East and Africa of J W Marriott. “The opening of the Burj is a stimulant. It shows that there has been a completion of the project and it tells the world, here is another landmark. I would challenge to quote as many things on the negative side for the country,” says Strachan. With a buoyant beginning to the New Year for the hotel industry, they are also looking forward to a more rewarding year this time. “The first month and the first period of the year have performed relatively well. If you look at forward looking indicators, those are healthy compared to some numbers that we looked at during various periods last year,” he adds. The Marriott saw occupancy figures at the beginning of the year in the low 80s which is being viewed as a very healthy number. The continued growth of the airline industry is also being quoted as an indicator that the economy is on track and forging ahead. “Take the ongoing construction of the concourse 3 at Terminal 3 of Dubai International Airport. It is a positive sign that at a time when, internationally, airlines are struggling, unable to continue operations profitably, the UAE is marching ahead, not just in terms of ordering new aircraft but also taking delivery. The new terminal aimed to house A380s is a great example of the country’s commitment to its airline and related industries. Etihad Airways continues to grow, the creation and success of fly dubai and Air Arabia are all positive indicators that the country has a positive UAE Digest, March 2010 l 7

outlook and is looking to continue on the track of growth,” says Jeff Strachan. The Marriott utilised the lean period to make some significant investments in a lot of their hotels globally. “Readdressing certain issues within our popular restaurants and bars was a positive thing that we did during the crisis and once we were out of the uncertain period, we were able to reposition our products and make good use of the market rebound,” Strachan elaborates. Last year, the hotel chain took over and opened more hotels. The year has also begun on a positive note for them in the region with the opening of a new hotel in Oman. The focus still is that of continuous growth since “there are opportunities to be had”. The wheels of business have to continue to turn and that is resulting in not only specific sectors but related busi-

nesses getting back on their feet. The government’s initiative in ensuring that the flow of people into the country continued despite the downturn has helped several industries including the airline, hotel, tourist and retail sectors to reach stable grounds this year. “I believe that the tourist market will rebound much stronger and will be a lot more stable than it was in previous years. What we are presently seeing in Dubai in particular is only an adjustment, albeit a dramatic one, to a sustainable level of economic growth that will provide a solid foundation for years to come,” says Chris Crompton. When businesses were asked what they think the government should do more of to ensure that there is a sustained growth of business in the country, they were largely of the opinion that people need to “put some perspec-

tive around the UAE”. For a country that is in its late thirties to achieve the kind of growth that it has is what they call “truly phenomenal”. “There have been countries that have been around for centuries and yet have been unable to mobilise their billions. This country and its leadership had the vision to realise dreams that many other countries will probably take decades to realise,” says Jeff Strachan. A real estate agent operating in Dubai says that though the property market has been the worst hit by the crisis and continues to stay low at the moment, it is impossible to erase the vast infrastructure that has been set up during the boom times. “It is an investment for the future and one that will stand the country in good stead,” he says. Continued investment in the

8 l UAE Digest, March 2010

infrastructure projects by the federal government has also spurred opportunities within the job market. The UAE tops the list of countries in the region with a growth prospect in the job market this year. Saudi Arabia and Qatar are the other two preferred markets. “The latest job index shows that 50 per cent of employers are going to recruit

presence. But it is sectors like telecom, education, oil and gas, energy, healthcare and infrastructure that hold promise for the future. The spillover of the news of investments being done by governments in the region is having a positive impact on the job market already. “With Abu Dhabi announcing several

in the next three months,” says Amer Zureikat, Regional Manager, a leading job site in the Middle East. says that there are at least 5,000 fresh jobs on offer every day on their site alone and that is indicative that the job market is still buzzing and there are reasons to be hopeful for prospective job seekers. Two major industries that were hit badly during the crisis have been the financial and real estate sectors. Now the trend in these two industries is also a return to confidence with the banking industry looking at long-term investments as their goal and hence looking for talent that can help strengthen their market

projects on sustainable energy, Saudi building its mega cities, North Africa pushing its telecom and oil and gas sectors, there is ample scope for not only regional job seekers but international talent to explore the region in terms of opportunities,” elaborates Amer Zureikat. These announcements apart, businesses have utilised a better part of 2009 to reassess their business strategies. This has enabled them to operate in a market that is more stable. “The rate of recruitment in 2006-07 was extremely high. With the stabilisation happening in the market last year, decision makers are not under pressure

to offer high salaries that largely resulted from the high inflation rates and general lack of talent in the market,” informs Amer Zureikat. Now there is a wide range of talent to choose from and at a better price for the employer. So the job market too is looking to bounce back after a low last year. “The most important that we are now asking employers and decision makers to do is to announce the vacancies that they have. Many of them choose not to advertise and go through the process of sifting through a long list of database since they have become very picky about the talent that they chose. But we are telling them that this is the right time to send the message out that there are jobs to be had and it sends a positive message about the job market outside,” Zureikat elaborates. People are taking note of the recovery wave in the market. With focus on talent, and quality, they are also looking at this opportunity to build strong organisations since availability of talent and cost of living is coming down. Business outlook too has undergone a sea change with most of them wanting to discuss means of forging ahead rather than crying over spilt milk. Though the rosy picture being painted by most is “far removed from reality” some say, there is a need to “stop the overkill of bad news”. Topping the list of reasons for the doomsday theories has been the debt issues pertaining to Dubai World, Dubai government’s investment arm. The government on its side has sought to settle fears by saying that it is the debt of a company and not the entire emirate and hence needs to be viewed in that context. The news sent shockwaves across the world financial markets, and to a large extent dented investor confidence. Many argue that it is again a question of perspective. They say this debt can be benchmarked against the national debt of other countries and that the government has capable minds to handle the issue. But, as they say, every cloud has a silver lining. Close on the heels of this controversy came the news of Dubai discovering a new offshore oil field. Named ‘Al Jalila’ the government says that it will enter producUAE Digest, March 2010 l 9

tion in 2011. “The oil industry will always be a critical component of the country’s economy. That is the driving force of the country’s GDP and this new discovery is a shot in the arm for the government,” says Jeff Strachan. Future growth is also expected to come from a diversification in the sectors that will fuel them. The travel and tourism sector continues to gain from the investments that have been made into realising projects like the formula one circuit. Projects like the Sadiyat and Yas Island in Abu Dhabi are being viewed as “clear indication of the government’s intentions to bolster the tourism sector” as it is being viewed as a future long-term revenue source. The tourism sector says that though the industry as a whole has been “noticeably quieter than last year”, there is an increase in passenger numbers. And that is giving hope that the year 2010 will be better for business as compared to the previous year. Of the many attractions being added to the list, another achievement that the government managed during the economic downturn has been the Dubai

Metro with ten million passengers using it in the first five months since it was launched in September last year. For a country that was talking about a mass transportation system not so long back, to have the metro up and running on the deadline set by the government is also being viewed as a “laudable achievement”. Moreover, new stations are being opened and that is expected to bolster related businesses along the lines. Largely, businesses say that 2009 was by no means catastrophic. It has been a year of taking stock. It was not that consumers completely disappeared from the market. They did spend, but it was only a fraction of what they did earlier. That is the reason several businesses have had to readjust rates in order to stay active. The overall sentiment for the year 2010 is optimistic. An indicator of the slow yet steady change is “newspaper advertisements,” says Tom Miles. “Two years ago, when you picked up the paper it was two inches thick. Last year at this time, it was a fraction of that size and had very few ads. Today, while not nearly two inches thick, it does have ads in it and does give the impression

that business is being done in the marketplace,” he adds. The government’s initiatives involving supporting entrepreneurs by setting up funds to assist the small and medium business segment has received a positive feedback from the market. Supporting one of the most important segments of the economy at a time when it needs it has further helped strengthen the faith that the market has in the government’s initiatives. The ‘cup is half empty’ perspective is being slowly abandoned by businesses to settle for the ‘half full’ perspective. Most businesses operate on a calendar year basis. They are viewing the New Year as a fresh start where there is a need to go outside and train themselves, launch new products and start anew. The beginning of the year generally sets the tone for the remainder of the year. The year 2009 began with the ‘great unknown’ with people asking questions about how long the crisis would last. In hindsight, the previous year was a time when companies took stock of their business models, finances and staff. And the present year is being viewed by businesses as a time to implement those strategies.

10 l UAE Digest, March 2010


The seven-year itch
By Vanit Sethi
t was a crowded hall in hyderabad airport where I was waiting to board the Emirates flight to Dubai on a warm March morning in 2002. When my turn came, the guy behind the counter took unusually long, fuelling my worries. But a few minutes later, I was pleased to discover I had been upgraded. Thus began my first flight to Dubai in Business Class. Three hours later, after a good deal of pampering, as we began the descent, I could see miles of sand; everything else looked tiny. Soon, skyscrapers became visible, which looked like matchboxes from a greater height. As the flight touched terra firma, the buildings appeared larger than ever. Out in the terminal, I remember walking and sliding in endless passageways, until the rows of ‘overbusy’ counters put a brake on the airport marathon. Six months later, I was back in Dubai appearing for a job interview at an English daily. Another three months down the line, I was ready to depart India for who knows how long. On a clear December afternoon, with a heavy heart, I headed to a foreign shore. Thus began my UAE adventure on December 12, 2002. Seven years later, sitting in my office in DMC and reminiscing about my stay in the UAE, I come up with interesting recollections – some of them seem so distant, as time in Dubai flies really fast. The pace of change in Dubai is breathtaking, and inevitably, you too keep changing without realising. It’s when you go back home on vaca-


tions that you feel the change that has overtaken you. In Dubai, change is a supersonic flight. Except that you’re not always on it and feel left out quite often. Change is the only constant in life, they say. But in Dubai, there’s another constant – the cranes. They’re everywhere. But don’t crane your neck to see the world’s tallest building. It only emphasises your ‘smallness’ in the larger scheme of things. People flip flats and change villas at the click of a mouse, but my family remains contented in a two-bedroom apartment in downtown Sharjah we occupied in May 2003. The commute from one end of Sharjah to the other end of Dubai is three hours both ways (on ‘rain-blessed’ days, it would be easier to catch a flight to Mumbai than a cab to Dubai), but I’m not complaining. It gives me ample time to read a thriller, listen to my iPod, chat with friends and catch a few winks – the advantage of going to work on a private bus service! In Dubai, the momentum has been shifting southwards over the years.

From Deira to Bur Dubai to Karama to Sheikh Zayed Road, and now to New Dubai. While buildings are getting taller and commutes longer, memory spans are getting much shorter. It’s Facebook that periodically reminds you that your old friends do exist, at least in the virtual world. A few taps on the keyboard will connect you... but wait, that PR gal is more important – she may help bring the butter to my table. Size really matters.... the spam mail reminds you and Dubai flaunts it. It’s all about being taller, bigger, grander, faster, and of course, richer. Yes, we’re all here for the money, lest we forget! The RTA woke up late – dirhams fell into its coffers like shooting stars once they invented Salik. Parking meters look cheerfully up at the sun. The Global Village said, “Voila! here, they come in droves. Listen to their footfalls... it’s the sound of cash.” And then one day, it all came crashing down – sometime in the middle of 2008. But not for too long; we’re back in business now. Dubai never says die... it’s never down and out. It’s a spring that bounces back with force the harder you press. Somebody said it’s a ‘bubble’ - forget it! We’re not an island - we create islands - and worlds within them. Someday, not too far away, the world will see Dubai far ahead. Why blame me if you see mirages in the desert? Your vision needs correction. Get imbued with that ‘Dubai vision’. Only then you can see things in a clearer perspective. But heck, my seven-year itch has started. Time to shift residence? I wonder! UAE Digest, March 2010 l 11


A new learning curve
Federal government earmarks a 10-year strategy to improve education system in the country
By Ambily Vijaykumar
he topic has almost become the flavour of the season. With admissions, new school openings and ratings, education is once again getting the attention that it deserves. With the federal government keen on reviewing the education system in the country, many debates have been initiated to better contribute to the overall decision making process. Part of these efforts has been the announcement by the Education Ministry to introduce a total of 50 new initiatives as part of a 10-year strategy to improve the education system in the UAE. The initiatives include a recruitment


system for the staff in public as well as private schools in the UAE. The target to achieve the new framework is 2020. According to the new strategy, the performance of teachers will be evaluated with training programmes being set up for each individual. There is also a plan to introduce incentive systems linked to performance. Minister of Education hamid AlQatami says, “Improving the educational attainments of students to match the highest global levels through curricula restructuring and improving the competencies of the teaching staff,” are top priorities of the new initiatives.

Raffles International School, part of Emaar Education, has opened two new nurseries in Dubai Marina and The Lakes. Focused on play and exploratory learning with equal emphasis on parental involvement, the two nurseries feature high-quality educational equipment and attractive play areas to make the first step to education for the tiny tots as exciting and rewarding as possible.

Elaborating on the new strategy AlQatami says, “This strategy is distinct in focus on quality in implementing initiatives and achieving goals, leading to the improvement in scientific output and the elevation of the UAE’s global position in the educational sphere.” With kindergarten, primary and secondary education being restructured under the new plan, there will also be initiatives to develop Islamic education curriculum “to promote multi-cultural tolerance among young Muslims.” The thrust on the future of education was also seen at this year’s GESS (Gulf Educational Supplies and Services Exhibition) held last month. With the focus on “21st century learning”, the event reflected what the country’s education system is aiming to achieve in the years to come. With the future classrooms changing to accommodate the strides that technology has made, the focus is also on making technology an integral part of the education system. “The interactive technology such as whiteboards, 3D technology, SEN equipment and video conferencing amongst others will affect the way education is delivered in a student-centric manner and integrated into the classroom and home,” says GESS spokesperson, Sue Rothwell. The idea of upgrading the education system in the country has been outlined by the federal government, keeping in mind the importance of education “connecting learners to communities”, since this represents a fundamental pillar of access to the concept of long-life learning. Seen in the backdrop of studies that

12 l UAE Digest, March 2010

indicate that students, especially males, in UAE schools do not perceive education as having a significant impact on their lives and future, the shifting focus on making education relevant to the lives of pupils is getting focus. Studies also indicate that the students’ attitude towards schooling largely results from a gap in the education experience itself. The aim of the federal government’s initiative is to bridge these gaps and make education more relevant in the lives of pupils. One of the steps in that direction is also a shift from the teacher-centric, instruction-based learning to a more student-centric and participatory teaching method. A challenge that has also been identified is that while preparing teachers for careers in schools, it is not a usual practice for these teachers to employ the advanced teaching techniques imparted by training courses in their classrooms. Since the techniques fail to reach the pupils, there is no means to assess their relevance to them, and hence make necessary changes to accommodate new requirements.

That alone is not the challenge. Attracting talent to this profession is also a task that is growing. To keep teachers motivated and to retain them is becoming a concern. While many experts argue that monetary incentive alone is not the way out, others say it is essential to ensure that good talent continues to be attracted to this stream. Innovative techniques to reward teachers through “creative loyalty solutions” are being marketed as an alternative method. Experts suggest that government authorities can introduce licences and certificates which can be awarded to teachers when they reach professional benchmarks as a viable alternative to remuneration restructuring. Teaching Arabic has also become one of the key points of the debate

with academics being of the view that it is essential to include newer techniques while teaching the language. Of the many concerns that have bogged the education debate, the amount of time spent on teaching the language, the preparedness of students to learn it, and the diminishing importance of Arabic as the primary language of instruction while teaching key concepts such as science and mathematics are primary. The academic fraternity is now looking for a “meaningful partnership” between the state, the education machinery and other government entities to draft “defining policies” that impact children’s development. Time and concerted effort are required to arrive on a common ground, but this is being viewed as a step in the right direction.

UAE Digest, March 2010 l 13


Taking schooling to a new level
The process of transforming learning in the UAE has begun. While Dubai is monitoring the quality of its educational establishments, Abu Dhabi is building 18 new schools with creative designs
By Vanit Sethi


he importance given to education by the UAE Federal Government is borne by the fact of the year-on-year increases in the national budget to the sector. For the past 20 years or so, the allocations for education have maintained a steady increase. On an average, the federal government spends above 20 per cent of the total budget on education. For 2010, the UAE Cabinet had approved a record Dh43.6 billion federal budget, out of which Dh9.8 billion (22.5 per cent) will be spent on projects in school and higher education. The government had set a goal of achieving full literacy within the year, and with that objective in mind, the UAE is powering ahead with its educational schemes and programmes. But along with quantity, the government has not lost sight of quality. Both the emirates of Dubai and Abu Dhabi have set their own benchmarks for ensuring the quality of primary and secondary education. In Dubai, the Knowledge

and human Development Authority (KhDA) has begun a process of evaluating all the schools (public and private, national and international) within the emirate. Beginning last year, the KhDA evaluated 189 private and public schools combined (barring the Indian, Pakistani and Iranian schools) on a four-level rating

system (Outstanding, Good, Acceptable and Unsatisfactory). Very recently, the Indian and Pakistani schools too have been evaluated. The comprehensive rating procedure is not without its detractors, but overall, the system has ensured that quality will remain the watchword in education.

Rating Indian, Pak schools
There are 21 Indian curriculum schools and four Pakistani curriculum schools in Dubai. These 25 schools were not inspected in the first cycle of inspections in Dubai as the calendar year in these is different from other schools. Twenty schools providing an Indian curriculum and three schools providing a Pakistani one were inspected between November 2009 and January 2010. One Pakistani school, The School of Islamic Studies and holy Quran, is due to close and therefore did not receive a full inspection. One

14 l UAE Digest, March 2010

taking into view the overall favourable comments for indian schools, it is a little surprising that none of them made it to the ‘outstanding’ rank, including the prestigious ones like Modern High, indian High, and DPs

An artist’s image of the new Modern High School building in Nad Al Sheba, Dubai

Indian school, JSS International School, is in the first year of operation and therefore, will be inspected for the first time next year. Inspectors observed around 2,500 lessons in the 23 schools. Parents completed online questionnaires to inform the inspection process and a total of 22,487 were submitted. A total of 57,910 students currently attend these 23 Indian and Pakistani schools. This constitutes approximately 28 per cent of Dubai’s total student population. Three of the Indian schools are very large, with a student population of more than 5,000 on roll. In the evaluation, unfortunately, none of the Indian and Pakistani schools got an ‘Outstanding’ rating, while four UK schools had got the top rating last year (the international schools’ evaluation too has been completed just a month ago, and the results are expected soon). But within the two South Asian systems too, there was a world of difference – while seven of the 20 Indian schools got a ‘Good’ rating, none of the three Pakistani schools were ‘Good’, with just one being ‘Acceptable’. Overall, the KhDA had a good word for the Indian schools, though they did

identify areas that needed significant improvement. In most of the Indian schools, the KhDA was not satisfied with the teaching of Arabic, the quality and time devoted to it. But in almost all the other areas, the KhDA was impressed with the general standards of the Indian schools. In the detailed report on their website, they have clearly highlighted the achievements of the

Indian institutions. They were particularly impressed with the significant emphasis Indian schools placed on environmental issues like recycling and conservation. In the subjects, the students’ progress in English and Mathematics came in for wholesome praise. What the KhDA particularly liked about the Indian schools was the behaviour of students, which they mentioned as “the distinctive quality and notable strength of the Indian schools.” In most schools, inspectors found this to be ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’. “Students consistently display a positive approach to their learning. In classes and around the school, both boys and girls are highly motivated and conscientious,” the report mentions. In fact, this is one of the main reasons - according to the KhDA - that Indian students do well academically,

Delhi Private School, Jebel Ali

UAE Digest, March 2010 l 15

despite the teaching not being too ‘dynamic’ or ‘varied’. The students also came in for praise for their understanding of Islam and local traditions. Taking into view the overall favourable comments for Indian schools, it is a little surprising that none of them made it to the ‘Outstanding’ rank, including the prestigious ones like Modern high, Indian high, and DPS – all of them falling in the ‘Good’ category. The reason, one understands while reading the KhDA report, lies perhaps in the structural weaknesses The Indian High School, Dubai of the Indian curricula. There is very little teacher-student interaction in class, and most of the time learning is a one-way process with students meekly School Name taking in what the teacher dishes out. And though most schools do have a diverse Delhi Private school Dubai range of extra-curricular activities, they Dubai Modern High school are rarely monitored and assessed, leaving (A Branch of Premier schools Intl LLC) the students achievements in those areas our own english High school, Dubai dependant largely on self-motivation. (A Branch of Premier schools Intl LLC) Even so, the KhDA acknowledged that Rajagiri International school the standards in Indian schools varied the Indian High school widely and it was difficult to paint all the Indian High school-Branch of them with the same brush. however, the Millennium school KhDA’s unsaid desire, perhaps, could (A Branch of Premier schools Intl LLC) be to see most of the ‘good’ schools move Crescent english school into the ‘outstanding’ category next year, emirates english speaking school and all the ‘unsatisfactory’ ones to become Gulf Indian High school ‘acceptable’ at least. Gulf Model school As far as the Pakistani schools go, His Highness shaikh Rashid Al though there are only three of them, a lot Maktoum Pak school left to be desired. With just one ‘acceptnew Indian Model school able’ school and two ‘unsatisfactory’, it is our own High school, Dubai no wonder that almost all rich, educated (A Branch of Premier schools Intl LLC) Pakistanis put their children only in inour own Indian school ternational schools. Almost all the pupils (A Branch of Premier schools Intl LLC) in Pakistani schools come from poor the Central school backgrounds, the very low amount of fees the elite english school testifying to that. the Kindergarten starters Across the three schools, around Al Farooq Pakistani Islamic school seven out of ten lessons observed were Al Majd Indian school unsatisfactory. Teachers lack appropriate Buds Public school skills, qualifications and experience and Little Flowers english school often demonstrate little awareness of how Pakistan education Academy students learn. Lessons are poorly planned 16 l UAE Digest, March 2010

CBse CIsCe CBse CBse CBse CBse CBse CBse CBse CBse CBse PAKIstAnI CBse CBse CBse CBse CBse CBse PAKIstAnI CBse CBse CBse PAKIstAnI

Good Good Good Good Good Good Good Acceptable Acceptable Acceptable Acceptable Acceptable Acceptable Acceptable Acceptable Acceptable Acceptable Acceptable Unsatisfactory Unsatisfactory Unsatisfactory Unsatisfactory Unsatisfactory

and time is not used productively. No resources are used other than textbooks and teacher-talk. Teachers’ working conditions in Pakistani schools are also often unsatisfactory with minimal training opportunities provided, poor contractual arrangements and weak management support and guidance for staff. All three Pakistani schools have serious weaknesses with regard to the health and safety arrangements. This includes unsatisfactory practices relating to school

transport, supervision and behaviour management. Corporal punishment is still used by teachers, even with children as young as four years of age. A key feature of the Pakistani schools is weak leadership and ineffective professional relationships between school owners and school management, leading to lack of clarity regarding key decision-making, improvement planning, deployment of resources and self-evaluation. Again, while parents of students at-

tending Indian schools responded positively to the opportunity to comment about their children’s school, with most of them being happy that their children enjoyed school, Pakistani parents were less positive about the performance of their children’s schools. They commented critically about the links between home and school, and did not feel comfortable approaching the school nor confident that the school would act on their concerns. They also believed the curriculum provided was narrow.

Capital’s bold new schools

While the KhDA can rest satisfied with the enormity of the task they have completed (apparently, it is an ongoing task, but the first is always more difficult), the Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC) was not way behind. In December, ADEC unveiled its school facilities programme at an exhibition in the capital city. The programme will see the building of 18 new schools across the emirate of Abu Dhabi starting in mid-2010. These are the first new schools to be developed under ADEC’s 10-Year Strategic Plan. The schools will include seven Cycle 1 (Grade KG-5) schools, Layout of a new design for Abu Dhabi’s schools seven combined Cycle lem Al Sayeri, ADEC’s Acting Director2 and Cycle 3 schools (Grades 6-12), General, said: “ADEC’s 10-Year Strategic two Cycle 3 schools (Grades 10-12), and Plan is a historic transformation of the two KG-12 schools. The programme education system that will deliver eduwill provide learning environments of cational excellence. Providing students the highest quality that support current with world-class learning environments teaching methods and new curricula, is a key element of our 10-year plan and while supporting the population growth is the foundation for achieving excelof the emirate. lence. With the best facilities to support Commenting on the programme, Sa-

For the first time, sustainability features - such as energy efficient air-conditioning systems and water saving devices have been incorporated into the design of abu Dhabi’s new schools

them, students will have a greater chance of achieving their learning goals and will be better able to help Abu Dhabi reach its goal of economic diversification and growth,” he added. Partnering with ADEC in this ambitious goal is Musanada, which develops and manages cost-effective and responsive services for the Government UAE Digest, March 2010 l 17

of Abu Dhabi. As part of its MoU with ADEC, Musanada will provide design and construction management services as well as construction supervision for each of the 18 sites. Musanada has enlisted the support of a leading global firm to provide premier technical, engineering, construction, and management support, while the concept and schematic designs were developed by ADEC with the support of world-class architectural firms. The new school designs will contain features not seen at schools in Abu Dhabi earlier, as ADEC had held an International Concept Design competition, inviting a number of prestigious architectural firms to submit their proposals. After receiving more than 27 proposals from firms around the world and after careful examination, ADEC selected three designs that will serve as the model for future school development in the emirate. The Planar Model features classrooms arranged along the perimeter of a building, with specialised common spaces, such as labs and music rooms, concentrated in the middle spine.

The Studio E/Tawreed Model will be used predominantly for Cycle 1 schools, and features defined learning communities set between outdoor learning facilities. The Lumiset Model designed for Cycle 2 and Cycle 3 schools is organised along a central space that has a triangular shape and accommodates communal facilities such as a library, ICT labs, and a cafeteria. The new school designs will be economical, and easy to build and operate. For the first time, sustainability features have been incorporated into school design such as energy efficient air-conditioning systems and water saving devices. Orientations, insulation and shading devices have been carefully planned, and all the electricity required for daily consumption in classrooms will be generated on the school site. Other key features of the new school designs include special attention to maximising the use of daylight, and maintaining indoor air quality acoustics and thermal comfort to provide students

and teachers with a healthy, safe and stimulating work environment. Labs and ICT rooms will also be furnished and equipped with the latest technology, and every educational space in the new school buildings will be fitted for wireless Internet connections. For the first time, there will also be dedicated classrooms for music, art and design, and technology that will be fully equipped to support diverse learning opportunities. The new school designs will include sports facilities, swimming pools, auditoriums, libraries and other spaces, which can be used by the community after school hours. Thus, both Dubai and Abu Dhabi are taking the school education experience to a new level. While Dubai’s KhDA hopes to foster a spirit of healthy competition among schools to better themselves with every passing year, Abu Dhabi’s ADEC plans on making schools a ‘fun place’, igniting the creative and inquisitive minds of children to fulfil the true purpose of education.

An artist’s image of children inside a new Abu Dhabi school

18 l UAE Digest, March 2010


Islands of excellence
Unesco names DIAC as the region’s leading education service provider, hosting over 58 per cent of the foreign branch universities in the Arab world
By Vanit Sethi
ubai is now all geared to take up the challenge of the next stage of their development process – the setting up of top quality educational institutions. At the higher education level, the city wants to be a beacon of light that attracts students from across the Middle East. To fulfil that lofty ambition, a free zone dedicated to international higher education was established within the Dubai Academic City in May 2006, called the Dubai International Academic City (DIAC). Thus the DIAC is, in a manner, the crème de la crème of higher education – an exclusive, inner charmed circle of prestige, perhaps the world’s only higher education free zone. The project, spread over an area of 129 million square feet, is expected to be complete by 2012, and is expected to house about 2,800 students. All the higher education institutions within the Dubai Knowledge Village (DKV) will have moved to the DIAC by then. The Unesco’s Regional Bureau for Education, in its Guide to Universities in the Arab Countries, names DIAC as the region’s leading education service provider, hosting over 58 per cent of the foreign branch universities in the Arab world. According to the report - which covered 22 countries in the Arab world - the UAE hosts the maximum number of foreign universities. Of the 15.4 per cent of the universities based in the UAE, 6.4 per cent operate under the DIAC. Among the GCC countries, DIAC and DKV together host 23 per cent of the total number of universities. DIAC currently hosts 32 institutions from 13 different countries including US, UK, Canada, Australia, India, France, Singapore, Belgium, Russia, Pakistan, Iran,


Lebanon and the UAE. Some of the important names include the Michigan State University, Manchester Business School, University of Exeter, heriot-Watt University, hult International Business School, BITS Pilani, and Manipal University. Every year, around 3,500 students pass out of DIAC. Approximately 12,500 students are currently enrolled into the various programmes offered at the campuses - ranging from engineering, computer science, finance, media and communication, fashion and design, biotechnology, environmental studies, child development, and business management. The free zone city provides an intellectually inspiring environment for students and faculty. This thriving knowledge community was founded as part of a long-term economic strategy to develop the region’s talent pool and to accelerate its move into a knowledge economy. Free zone partners enjoy special privileges, including 100 per cent foreign ownership, tax-free status, full repatriation of profits, and seamless visa issuance procedures for students, faculty and the staff. Recently, the DIAC Phase III achieved a green status and was awarded the Silver LEED certification. however, not every foreign institution wishing to set up base in the UAE can walk right into the area. A stringent 34-point selection criteria and a discerning screening process ensure that only quality institutions enter the cluster. Even after an institution becomes part of the cluster, the Knowledge and human Development Authority (KhDA) periodically reviews its progress to guarantee its operations remain aligned with the mother campus. “We have experienced consistently

high demand from overseas institutions for setting up their campuses in DIAC,” says Dr Ayoub Kazim, Executive Director, DIAC and DKV. “however, we aim to create a proper balance of institutions based on their standing and the quality of programmes they offer,” he adds. It is clear from the Unesco report that the DIAC, as a cluster of prestigious international institutions, is well on its way to becoming a benchmark for similar establishments across the region.


• American University in the emirates • Birla Institute of technology and science • Cambridge College International • eHsAL • French Fashion University esMoD • Hamdan Bin Mohammed e-University • Heriot-Watt University • Hult International Business school • Institute of Management technology • Islamic Azad University • Jss education Foundation • Mahatma Gandhi University • MAHe Manipal University Dubai • Manchester Business school Worldwide • Michigan state University Dubai • Middlesex University-Dubai Campus • Murdoch University Intl study Centre • sP Jain Center of Management • sAe University Dubai • st. Petersburgh state University of • shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of • syrian Virtual University • the British University in Dubai • the University of exeter • the University of Wollongong • Universitas 21 Global • University of Bradford • University of Phoenix
science and technology engineering and economics

UAE Digest, March 2010 l 19


Standardising education
A large number of institutions have been accredited by the Council of Academic Accreditation, Ministry for Higher Education and Research, Govt. of UAE, but some institutes have decided not to go through the litmus test
By Manju Ramanan
t is a list and not all higher academic institutions in the UAE are on there, for varying reasons. Some didn’t qualify; some didn’t go through the accreditation process at all (since it is not mandatory yet), some found the process too lengthy and opted out or concluded that it wasn’t relevant to their client pool. There is diversity in the way it has been received because the process of academic accreditation is not mandatory to all institutions and is at the discretion of the individual emirate. The Council of Academic Accreditation, Ministry of higher Education and Research, to upgrade the standards of higher education in the UAE, introduced the Standards of Licensure and Accreditation in 2001. Though it was revised several 20 l UAE Digest, March 2010


times, the most recent one, in 2007, has seen the greatest change. It is a combination of local and international experience of the CAA and its consultants which reflect the ‘unique national circumstances now prevailing in the UAE, while maintaining international comparability’. The move has been welcomed by a large group of parents, graduates and students as well as faculty. They can now gauge whether the college or the university in question, offers them value for money as well as international standards of quality. “Students, graduates, their families, and the UAE public can be confident that licensed institutions and accredited programmes will provide the highest quality of higher education that they

expect and deserve,” says Maed Mazrouk, a parent. According to Manasa Bhatt, a parent and administration manager from Al Ghusais, “The move is well due and most welcome. It has been a norm with many expatriate families to send their children back home for higher studies. Now that we know that there is a list of accredited institutions, we can educate our children right here,” she says. A fact, well espoused by hE Sheikh Nahayan bin Mubarak Al Nahayan, Minister of higher Education & Scientific Research who states, “Colleges and universities of the UAE, governmentsupported and private alike, play an essential role to realise the potential of a knowledge-based future. It is therefore

of the utmost importance that institutions offer the highest quality academic programmes which are recognised both within the country and internationally for their excellence”. he states that the institutions that seek accreditation from the accreditation commission go through a very rigorous evaluation and review by teams of internationally recognised evaluators for each programme. “We apply for international and pioneer standards to retain accreditation. Those who get the nod of the accreditation committee are guaranteed to offer quality programmes,” he states and adds that there are still those who are not so particular about getting accreditation and that this can only become mandatory if the emirate in which the university is established seeks to enforce it. “Any university can apply for accreditation after the first batch of students has graduated,” he adds. There are merits galore for accredited universities and institutes. Quite like the Ivy League of institutions in the West.

Professor Badr Aboul Ela, Commissioner at the CAA states that students who enrol in the accredited institutes have a guarantee that their certificates are valid and accredited by the education ministry, hence suitable to find employment after graduation. Dr Aboul-Ela, one of the founding members of the Commission for Academic Accreditation, in the UAE when it was established in 2000 was appointed its Director in February 2007, and had a leading role in developing its Standards for Licensure and Accreditation, its e-Learning Standards for Licensure and Accreditation, and its Standards for Licensure and Accreditation of Technical and Vocational Education and Training. Dr. Aboul-Ela is currently also the Vice-President of the Arab Network for Quality Assurance Agencies in higher Education (ANQAAhE) that is part of the International Network for Quality Assurance Agencies in higher Education. According to the criterion of licensure

and accreditation, put together by his team, that are part of the CAA website, the first stage is aimed at ensuring the institute has a clear vision and objectives, adequate infrastructures and premises, and the necessary resources to deliver the programmes. It also includes an evaluation of the structure of the academic programme and states whether it is tailored to suit the main objectives of the institute. It evaluates the faculty and teaching staff who have to meet the qualification requirements needed to teach the curriculae. The licensing process can take a period of at least a year and a half and the CAA makes sure that the institute in question has built a mechanism for assessing its quality and effectiveness of the academic programme offered as well as the administrative requirements to support that programme. Institutes have to undergo this process every three years. Accreditation takes from 3-6 months and is carried out by a team of experts. Plus all new programmes need to be accredited before they are offered to stuUAE Digest, March 2010 l 21

dents. In case of programmes which were started before the establishment of the accreditation, they are submitted to the commission and it is the institute’s duty to inform students about it. Once the curriculum gets full accreditation, it is re-evaluated every five years. The institution may receive unscheduled visits from the staff of the Commission to ensure that it continues to meet the requirements of the standards. Failure to do so may result in loss of licensure, as determined by the minister. If an institution is denied licensure, those seeking licensure may not resubmit an application under the same institutional name or another name for at least one year from the date of the official letter of denial. To dispense information, the ministry has recently released a list of requirements to get a licence and accreditation regardless of the mode of delivery with a marked focus on the quality of education and programmes. The guide is available at the ministry and the CAA website that also provides a list of institutes that are accredited, as well as those undergoing review, probation etc. In a paper presented by Dr Aboul-Ela in coordination with David Woodhouse, Executive Director, AUQA, Australia; and President, IN-

QAAhE, titled Quality Assurance at a Distance, the duo explored issues related to quality assurance (QA) of two models of transnational education; namely branch campuses and distance education. According to cited findings, in relation to some universities in the US and their branch campuses, the dramatic increase in the number of branch campuses led to questions on their quality. “A recent study (Yokoyama, 2008) concluded that the meanings of ‘autonomy’ and ‘accountability’ substantially differ between the US home and overseas branch campuses because of different operational modes of quality assurance. Many reasons may contribute to such differences involving both country of the provider and the host country. Environment of the host country in terms of cultural context, legal and regulatory framework, and QA (quality assurance) process are among the major factors influencing the success of BC (branch campus) operation and its QA,” the research cited. “In the UAE, experiences of the Commission for Academic Accreditation (CAA) indicated that some of the

BC’s(branch campuses) which were forced to close, had their licensure revoked, or put on probation, were never visited by QA authorities from their home countries. On the other hand, having said that, there were also examples of QA agencies which carry their duties in reviewing BC of their institutions located abroad in a more effective manner,” cites the research, suggesting the diversity among institutions in the UAE when it comes to quality assurance – all of which cannot be covered under one blanket term. The move to upgrade the quality of higher education across the emirates has had a mixed reaction among educational institutes. Several have failed to reach the required standards or have declined to take a licence and accreditation. Some cite that the process is very thorough and will disturb existing courses being taught. Others feel that the entire process projects institutes without UAE accreditation in a wrong light – and projects the ones with accreditation positively. “It is not as if institutes that are functioning outside the purview are not reliable. They have foreign accreditations and some of them are branches of important institutes in other countries,” states the head of an institute that isn’t keen on accreditation. Karamjit Kaur, Admissions Coordinator for the Western International College that runs the University of Bolton, Ras Al Khaimah states, “Most of our clientele involves students who are looking towards working outside the UAE after their courses. So, a UK degree works for them better because that is the region they are looking at when it comes to their future plans. This is the reason why many students and their families register with us,” she states. “The very basis of the accreditation standard needs a retake. The bodies that have decided on the list need to be well conversant with the dynamic nature of educational institutions in the country. It is important to know if the institute or the college is judged on the basis of

22 l UAE Digest, March 2010

its infrastructural facilities, the mental capability of its academic staff, the student’s results or its brand value. At times we need to examine the very basis of the model that could be deeply rooted in a western model of evaluation,” states the principal of an institute that hasn’t been accredited. Another aspect is the growing number of licences given to educational institutes by the free zones. Their accreditation is done by foreign institutes or by the parent branch of the institute or college it belongs to. “Educational institutes get their accreditation themselves and it is not the responsibility of the free zones in which they are registered,” says Oussama El Omari, Chairman of the RAK Free Trade Zone (RAKFTZ). There are debates galore regarding the topic of accreditation of non-federal universities, colleges and schools of higher education. Perhaps one of the most important and valuable aspects of the CAA’s initiative is to sieve out institutions that have started their ventures purely for profit-making rather than its ideal goal of disseminating knowledge and empowering the student. “There have been times that a college or a university that is part of a branch of an illustrious parent organisation does not function well in its chapter in the UAE. Many times, students who do not get admission at a particular course in the parent organisation, fly down to the chapter here to secure admission because it is easy to get in. We need to change that. We need to have the one here as competitive as the one in the home country so that there is no compromise when it comes to educational standards. It reflects well on the parent organisation as well as its branch here,” states a parent and former educator who doesn’t want to be named. The accreditation is often taken as a gentle reminder to check

plan feasibility study, including student Licensure and accreditation demand, adequate level of financial The Ministry of higher Education and Research is the support, and to non-national educational authority that grants licences its internal QA system, are all elements which the QA agency should institutions, degrees and other academic awards, and accredexamine carefully before licensing a its their programmes. branch in the UAE that the success Any institution located campus to ensureprovides regular, theoretical,of its operation, and to preventof one practical, or applied curricula BC collapse. academic year or longer beyond the UAE Secondary School Certification (or the equivalent) and that leads to an academic degree, certificate, or diploma, must be licensed and have its programmes accredited in order to be officially recognised by the ministry. Within the ministry, the Commission for Academic Accreditation (the Commission) is responsible for these quality assurance processes. There is an essential difference between Licensure and Accreditation. While Licensure is applied to the entire university or academic institution, accreditation applies to its individual programmes. A university can apply for accreditation for its programmes only after obtaining licensure. This also means that not all courses taught at a particular university need be accredited. however, the system is so transparent that you can find information on each course online and evaluate its accreditation status. There are some licences issued by free trade zones and allied bodies that might or might not have been reviewed for accreditation.

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UAE Digest, March 2010 l 23

and verify the credentials of institutes that are in the business of education. Of course, the final decision rests with the parents and students themselves. While a non-accredited institution is not the responsibility of the commission or the government, the ball is in the student’s court to evaluate and know better about the institution she/he decides to invest time and resources in. Some prefer accredited universities and colleges and some don’t mind them. Whatever be their

choice, their homework starts now!

What to look for generally?
Ask if the institution or programme has been accredited at its home campus. Based on our experience, ask whether the home Quality Assurance agency has reviewed and approved the branch campus and the criteria and process followed in such review. The answer must

be evidence-based with detailed report to the satisfaction of the local QA agency. The responsibility of the host QA agency is to check the institution’s fitness both ‘for purpose’ and ‘of purpose’. Fitness of purpose is looked at in terms of the institution’s compatibility with any national or regional strategic plan, the suitability of the institution’s mission and its programmes to serve the local educational and research needs, and job market developments.

Number Of Licensed Institutions: 66 • Abu Dhabi University • Ajman University of science and technology • Al Ain International Aviation Academy • Al Ain University of science & technology • Al Ghurair University • Al Hosn University • Al Khawarizmi International College • American College of Dubai • American University In Dubai • American University in the emirates • American University of Ras Al Khaimah • American University of sharjah • Biotechnology University College • Boston University Institute For Dental Research & education • British University in Dubai • Canadian University of Dubai • Computer College • Dubai Medical College for Girls • Dubai Pharmacy College • Dubai Police Academy • Dubai school of Government • emirates Academy of Hospitality Management • emirates Aviation College Aerospace and Academic studies • emirates Canadian University • emirates College for Management and Information technology • emirates College of technology • emirates Institute for Banking and Financial studies • european International College • Fatima College of Health sciences • Fujairah College • Fujairah national University • Gulf Medical University • Hamdan bin Mohammed e-University

• Higher Colleges of technology • Horizon International Flight Academy, Al Ain • Imam Malik College for Islamic sharia and Law • Institute of Management technology-Dubai • Islamic And Arabic studies College-Dubai • Ittihad University • Khalifa Bin Zayed Air College • Khalifa University of science, technology And Research • Masdar Institute of science And technology • naval College • new York Institute of technology • new York University • nicolas & Asp University College • Paris sorbonne University, Abu Dhabi • Petroleum Institute • Police College, Abu Dhabi • Police sciences Academy- sharjah • Ras Al Khaimah Medical and Health sciences University • Rochester Institute of technology- Dubai • Royal College of surgeons in Ireland- Dubai • skyline University College • syscoms College • the Logistics Academy • tufts University Friedman school- Rak • United Arab emirates University • University College of Mother and Family sciences • University of Dubai • University of Jazeera • University of sharjah • University of strathclyde Business school- Uae • University of Wollongong In Dubai • Vocational education and training Institute, Abu Dhabi • Zayed University

24 l UAE Digest, March 2010


Relearning education
Education in the UAE is increasingly concentrating on a ‘hands on’ practical approach rather than the tediously theoretical
By Manju Ramanan
daptability’ – the word that embodies the UAE, is a marked characteristic of the country. People from all over the world adapt to the UAE and the UAE adapts to them, creating a symbiotic relationship between the local and the expatriate population. Like many other aspects of adaptability which includes living spaces, the rush to work, etc, education too has adapted to the life and times of the people of the region. While purists might look the other way at the highly debatable aspect of adaptability, what matters to most educationists, parents and teachers is that as long as students understand what they are taught, the purpose of education is sorted. Dr S. Gurumadhva Rao, Vice-Chancellor of Ras Al Khaimah Medical health University, following the vision of hh Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler of RAK, has designed a curriculum for his university that focusses on the practical aspects of medical healthcare, rather than the tediously theoretical. “Our effort is to make the RAK Medical and health Sciences University the leading one in the UAE as well as the GCC. We have adopted a problembased curriculum. Instead of lectures, we get students into a group of 6-10, give


them a problem and ask them to come up with solutions. The faculty is the facilitator. This promotes practical learning and children are more confident and participative,” he says. The university has devised an evidence based medicine course where students are encouraged to come to a conclusion based on research and data. “Medical care in this region has to be improved and we are resolved to do just that,” he says. The university’s clinical skill lab has trained patients and mannequins which students learn from. “It is a lot like pilot

training” he adds. “The students are taught that when it comes to fields like medicine, money, gender or religion is not important but the disease is. Our aim is to prepare them to treat patients with precision and compassion,” he says Dr Peggy Blackwell, Dean, Zayed University, Dubai, states that educational institutes are showing openness to changing traditional ways of teaching students and thinking outside the ‘we-don’t-do-ithere’ approach. “There are a lot of studies on modifications to curriculum done in the West and we cannot lift them from there and drop them here; but these hypotheses and research surely initiate discussions. Students need to be given a real world problem and be involved in the process of problem solving. In this way, they remember it for life,” she states. Rema Menon, Visiting Lecturer at the Sharjah Women’s College, who is an independent student counsellor and owner of Counselling Point based in Dubai, states that, in her role as a lecturer, for 2nd year students at the Sharjah Women’s College, she has been part of practical training workshops that she feels are imperative to them. “It is important that students know how the professional world functions. So, we equip them with job UAE Digest, March 2010 l 25

search skills, advise them on careers and put them through internship programmes. They learn how to present their CVs, attend interviews, and how to work under senior people in organisations,” she adds. Due to the exposure, students narrow down their choices of careers and can focus on what is really suitable for them. “Though business and IT are the largely preferred choices by children, there is a lot of interest in media, mass communication, real estate management, biotechnology etc since colleges and institutions are offering these courses as well,” she adds. Prakash Muthuswamy, Project Manager with Parsons is part of various scholastic and philanthropic activities in Dubai and Sharjah. he states that the engineering curriculum in the UAE is dynamic and can be enhanced with more academic–industry interface. “We have a number of engineering colleges and allied institutes in the UAE as well as companies that are into manufacturing, biotechnology etc. Engineering students who passout of these institutions can greatly benefit from working there as interns and the industry gets a fresher crowd of people who could be trained and be probable employees,” states Prakash who agrees that summer training is happening within some industries and has proven to be a win-win situation that benefits both students and those in the workplace. An example of the amalgamation of the industry-academics interface to serve society as a whole is the upcoming Masdar development – established by his highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi. This is a logical development of 26 l UAE Digest, March 2010

the emirate’s long-standing commitment to a sound environmental strategy and continuing economic diversification. Masdar, which means ‘the source’ in Arabic, aims to become the source of energy, knowledge and innovation in order to position Abu Dhabi as a global new energy leader and is currently building a zero carbon, zero waste city, investing in a range of new energy technologies, establishing a post-graduate research institution and developing a carbon management unit. Yet another example is the recent MoU between the The Dubai Courts and the University of Wollongong in Dubai (UOWD). The MoU covers a host of areas of cooperation, including student training programmes at Dubai Courts, mutual field visits, collaboration in joint projects in hR development and assistance in executing a comparative judicial KPI research study with Australian courts and marks the start of a strong relationship between the judicial structure and academic bodies and private/public sector organisations. Student training initiatives have also been carried out by Raqmiyat, the Dubaibased company and the primary IT division of the Al Ghurair business group, following its new Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative called ‘Cam-

pus to Corporate’ that helps new graduates from key colleges and universities in the UAE to equip and prepare themselves for the country’s competitive job market. At the University of Sharjah, consultants and experts from Raqmiyat guided graduates on the challenges and appropriate techniques to successfully navigate the recruitment process. Mabel Kuri, human Resources Manager at Raqmiyat, also gave students demonstrations on CV and cover letter writing, interview etiquette and job search techniques. “Today’s generation of students need to be aware that the country’s job market has become fierce and highly-competitive and one of the ways to keep them one step ahead is to be well-versed and knowledgeable on new trends and innovations, within their desired industries,” he states. Dr. Paul J. Giguere, Director of Distance Learning at the Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy based in RAK vouches on the concept of hybrid learning which that combines traditional face-to-face instruction with online learning, and feels that it has the power to revolutionise the higher education scenario in the UAE. Speaking after co-presenting a paper at the 3rd Forum on e-Learning Excellence in Middle East 2010 in Dubai, Dr Giguere states, “There is so much interest in the UAE and the Middle East for setting up physical campuses of foreign universities which often turn out to be extremely expensive. Given the current state of the global economy and the rising costs of maintaining foreign varsity campuses, I think hybrid learning would provide a new model for the UAE and the Middle East as they continue their pursuit to attract more foreign universities.” The one- year intensive Master’s degree programme in Ras Al Khaimah requires students to come together in the emirate for three (10-day) residencies for face-to-face classes taught by the

Tufts faculty and much of the remaining course work is done online via interactive learning management software and other instructional tools. Another aspect that has been addressed commonly in the UAE is the teaching and speaking of English - an issue that is gaining attention and support. The British Council has designed a Train the Trainer programme to support the teaching of English in the public sector throughout the Middle East region. In fact it has completed the Train the Trainer course with the Ministry of Education’s Madares Al Ghad (Schools of Tomorrow) programme that comprises of 50 hours of direct training, involving 28 Teacher Development Specialists (TDS) from the 16 Madares Al Ghad secondary schools. The course provides participants with a basic understanding of the principles and practice of teacher training by taking part in teacher-training and trainer-training sessions, and supporting them to codesign and deliver their own workshops. “The British Council’s Train the Trainer course builds teacher training capacity by supporting TDS to develop the skills, expertise and confidence to train others. The training that these Madares Al Ghad trainers will now deliver in their schools will help to raise the standard of English language teaching across their secondary schools which will in turn benefit the students at these schools,” said Karen Ryan, English Projects Manager, British Council UAE. In the recently concluded seminar of The Dubai School of Government (DSG), a research and teaching institution focusing on public policy in the Arab world titled ‘Teachers and Teaching in the UAE,’ one of the panellists, Dr Ian R haslam, the Vice-Chancellor of Centre for Advanced Education, Abu Dhabi, stated that creative collaboration across various sectors within all emirates, which includes ADNEC, schools, teachers and service providers, would be an ideal solution to upgrade the teaching facilities in the UAE. According to Jane Truscott from the

Schools of Tommorrow, the modification is already happening in teaching the teachers. “We are looking at the change from traditional classrooms and teacher centered learning to dynamic classrooms with child centered learning,” she states. Two assessment departments of the University of Cambridge will significantly boost support for teachers in the Middle East from their new state-of-theart Deira base. The modern facility, run by University of Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) and University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations (ESOL), aims to improve communications between local teachers and examiners based in the UK. This move will help the departments of the University to continue to offer high-quality internationally recognised qualifications for students and teachers of all ages in the region. Zara Shahid Khan, Development Manager for Cambridge ESOL – who offer English language examinations throughout the region – says, “The expanded office will act as a hub for the region which will help us to focus on improving opportunities here. In the current economic climate, it is more important than ever for students to develop English language skills in order to remain competitive.” Modifications to curriculum in the UAE haven’t really taken place in a large way, but the approach to education has undergone innovation within classrooms. Maryum Salahuddin, Senior Manager Operations, Star Education Management Systems that runs four international schools and a number of educational institutes states that the biggest modification of curriculum that has happened in the UAE’s education system is the introduction of Arabic. “Though the move was restricted to local schools in the past, since the last 10 years, Arabic language being man-

datory is an important modification in the country’s education system.” Also, there is a lot of attention being paid to the way local history is taught in school curriculums. “In India too, a few years ago, a whole lot of emphasis on history was focussed on the British version of history. While it applies to British schools, the local schools benefit being taught about the history of the Middle East. The UAE SST course in schools has been well received by students as well as parents,” she states. however, parent Pragna Acharya, a home-maker, feels that more emphasis can be given to Arabic language. “It is normal to see 10th grade expatriate students learn Arabic throughout their entire academic life yet not understand the language fully well or converse in it fluently. It shouldn’t be restricted to being a subject that ‘you also have to clear’ in the examination,” she says. She suggests a more conversational approach to the language involving the parent in the language learning process. “Often, the child comes home with homework in Arabic that the parent is illequipped to monitor since he/she doesn’t understand the language. If there is parental involvement in the learning of Arabic, it will be greatly beneficial,” she adds.

UAE Digest, March 2010 l 27

Falcon car park - Image courtesy of Meydan and Teo A. Khing Design Consultants

A day at the turf
By Linda Benbow
sions when rain hit the area hard and a wonder what the weather will be too for the many race-goers who like the lot of squelching shoes traipsed from car like on race day? That is a question social atmosphere of the day and evening. park to the Grandstand and then back that those interested in horse racing Dubai’s big race day – during which again. The television cameras thought it ask themselves each time the big Dubai World Cup will be awarded to a was amusing to watch women in their sun day arrives, before their chosen quadrawinning thoroughbred – will be held on dresses and stiletto shoes making the trek peds are led onto the race track. Will the Saturday 27th at the newly completed with the best poise they could muster. going be hard, soft or maybe good-toMeydan racecourse at Nad Al Sheba. It This year will be different as the car soft? Which type of ground conditions is hoped that the day will be fine this parking area is under cover. Yes, work do the various horses prefer under their year, unlike a number of previous occafeet? Which jockeys are Meydan Hotel - Image courtesy of Meydan and Teo A. Khing Design Consultants more comfortable with a cool breeze around them rather than a hot shamal? The hobby of horse racing is a complicated one for all concerned whether they be owners, trainers, riders or punters who love to watch the competition. The weather is a concern 28 l UAE Digest, March 2010


has been progressing at a smart pace to ensure that visitors will enjoy all aspects of the day, including the long trek from car to track, protected from the weather. This year, the racing will be at Meydan, previously known as Nad Al Sheba, but now built upon and improved beyond recognition. Construction has been going on from one end of the superb racing track to the other – almost up to the AlAin Road – as well as from the entrance to the old access road. A huge tract of land now houses Meydan’s hotel, grandstand for 60,000 people, upper-level glassed-in restaurants, lower level food court, Imax cinema, museum and covered parking for 10,000 cars. Part of the grandstand is for those who want to book a seat, while the rest of it is free-seating. The racing season is held during the country’s cooler winter months, culminating with its final racing day at the end of March. The lead up to the big day is known as The Dubai International Racing Carnival which is held weekly with seven to eight races per night at 40-45 minute intervals, starting at 6pm. A prediction ‘Pick 7’ competition is held every racenight which must be handed in prior to the first race. Entry for the competition is free of charge and the winners are announced on the night itself and must present a photo ID in order to claim their prize. Also, a car raffle is conducted each racenight with tickets costing Dh20 each and the winner is announced on the night. What is the dress code for the Dubai International Racing Carnival, you may well ask? The answer is that casual attire is okay for those who go to the free admission area; whereas smart attire is a must for those who enter Meydan Grandstand Smart. Jeans, t-shirts, trainers and shorts are strictly not permitted

in the grandstand. Women are encouraged to wear hats and race wear, although this is optional. There will once again be fiercely contested competitions for ‘Best Dressed Lady,’ ‘Best Dressed Couple’ and ‘Best hat’ as Dubai’s increasingly style conscious racegoers battle it out for the fantastic prizes on offer. Registration forms will be available from all Apron Views information booths. The free admission area provides access to limited areas within the new Meydan grandstand. A large number of seats with excellent views are available and visitors are free to stretch their legs on the vast apron area between the track and the Grandstand and from the side of the apron can get an up-close view of the thoroughbred racehorses in the Parade Ring for their pre-race parade and when they return after the race is over. A variety of food and beverage outlets are available and they are situated in the purpose-designed food court area with dining tables. Admission is from 5pm. All food and drinks on the premises must be bought from one of the outlets at the grounds, visitors are not permitted to bring their own food and drinks. Those who book to dine at the grandstand and view the races from hospitality chalets can eat at a number of fine dining restaurants, bars and a food court. It is recommended that for getting to and from the venue one should hail a taxi as Dubai Transport Company operates a taxi service from here with the drop-off and pick-up point being located outside the grandstand. To celebrate the 15th renewal of the

Dubai World Cup and opening of the Meydan Grandstand and Racecourse an extension of the programme was recently announced, and the Dubai World Cup meeting will now stage eight races, with the addition of the Group 3 Al Quoz Sprint, a 1200m turf race worth $1 million. The whole meeting, now worth a staggering $26.25 million, is not just about the world’s richest race as the rest of the eight-race card is also stacked with quality.

Dubai World Cup Programme 2010 Dubai World Cup (Group 1) $10,000,000 - 2000m All Weather Dubai Sheema Classic (Group 1) $5,000,000 - 2400m Turf Dubai Duty Free (Group 1) $5,000,000 - 1800m Turf Dubai Golden Shaheen (Group 1) $2,000,000 - 1200m All Weather UAE Derby (Group 2) $2,000,000 - 1900m All Weather Godolphin Mile (Group 2) $1,000,000 - 1600m All Weather Al Quoz Sprint (Group 3) $1,000,000 - 1200m Turf Dubai Kahayla Classic (Group 1) Purebred Arabians $250,000 - 2000m All Weather

The Dubai World Cup is classified as a ‘Group 1 Flat Race’ previously run on dirt for four-year-old thoroughbreds and above, and spans a distance of 2000m (one mile, two furlongs). 2010 marks the first year this race will be run on Tapeta. Chief supporting races are the $5 million Dubai Duty Free and the $5 million Dubai Sheema Classic - the two richest races run on turf, anywhere in the world. The newest addition to the card is the Group 3 Al Quoz Sprint, worth $1 million, to be run over 1200m on turf. Also on the card are the Dubai Golden Shaheen and UAE Derby, both worth $2 million, and the $1 million Godolphin Mile, while the evening kicks off with the Group 1 Dubai Kahayla Classic for Purebred Arabians. UAE Digest, March 2010 l 29


Touring the facilities during the trial races are: His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, Mr Saeed Humaid Al Tayer, Chairman of the Board and CEO of Meydan, Mr Ahmad Al Shaikh, Vice Chairman of Meydan and Mr Sultan Al Subosi. Image copyright Meydan/Andrew Watkins.

Trial races in January
January saw Meydan holding a trial race night at the world’s largest integrated racing facility with his highness Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai in attendance. The successful and well-received trial was a precursor to the Racing Carnival . hh Sheikh Mohammed was on hand to tour the facilities which included the racecourse and associated facilities, including the paddock, grandstand and jockey's changing rooms. Consisting of four races commencing at 6pm, the trial saw 44 horses with a total of 16 jockeys racing over distances between 1200m and 2000m. Chairman of the Board and CEO of Meydan Mr. Saeed humaid Al-Tayer said: “We've seen some of the world’s finest talents in horseracing take to the tracks this evening, and we're excited at the responses we've had to the conditions and facilities we've built." Champion jockey Frankie Dettori, Ted Durcan, Richard hills, Pat Smullen,
Frankie Dettori. Image copyright of Neville Hopwood

Kevin Shea and Kieren Fallon were amongst the first to ride at Meydan. Frankie Dettori spoke of his experience between the races: “I’m gob smacked after what I’ve seen, and I just can’t find the words to describe the amazing experience of racing here, it’s just out of this world.

of the track is super and the rides all went great. I think it’ll suit all horses, I’m really impressed”. Thrilled with his experience Richard hills

Richard Hills. Image copyright of Neville Hopwood

said: “I think the track rode very well and the saddling area looks in good condition. Full marks on everything!” World-renowned trainer Mike De Kock also

Jockey Keiren Fallon. Image copyright of Neville Hopwood

The tracks are great and very even, and the lights are beautiful. I absolutely loved it.” Kieren Fallon shared his sentiments: “Meydan Racecourse has a beautiful surface which is very well covered even as you’re coming round the bends, and I can’t wait to get on the grass! It was really a joy to ride on Ted Durcan. Image copyright of this track and I reNeville Hopwood ally loved it. Santa Anita has been one of my favourite tracks in the world, and this track is probably every bit just as good, if not better.” Ted Durcan added: “The layout

Trainer Mike de Kock Image copyright of Neville Hopwood

concurred that the trial race night was a resounding success: “We’ve received really positive feedback from the jockeys that the surface is fantastic. It was very good to have the trials as it was a good experience, especially to get a feel of the long walk from the barns and through the tunnels.”

30 l UAE Digest, March 2010

Well Armed (Aaron Gryder) winning the 2009 Dubai World Cup. Image copyright of Andrew Watkins

Jockeys’ challenge
March 5 will see the launch of ‘Meydan Masters’, an international jockeys’ challenge featuring winning jockeys from the world’s 11 premier races of 2009 plus a special invitation to another rider to bring the number to a perfect dozen. Frank Gabriel said: “The opening of Meydan will be history in the making and what better way to show that than by having 12 of the world’s best riders, who have excelled this year, all competing against one another at the Meydan racetrack.”
Ahmed Ajtebi. Image copyright of Andrew Watkins

the riders are : Championship Race Dubai World Cup Dubai sheema Classic Kentucky Derby tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) Derby King George VI and Queen elizabeth stakes Prix de l’Arc de triomphe* Irish Derby Melbourne Cup Breeders’ Cup Classic Hong Kong Cup * st Leger * Prix du Jockey Club

Country UAe UAe UsA Japan GB GB France Ireland Australia UsA Hong Kong GB France

Horse Well Armed eastern Anthem Mine that Bird Logi Universe sea the stars Conduit sea the stars Fame and Glory shocking Zenyatta Vision D’etat Mastery Le Havre

Jockey Aaron Gryder Ahmed Ajtebi Calvin Borel norihiro Yokoyama Michael Kinane* Ryan Moore Michael Kinane* John Murtagh Corey Brown Mike smith olivier Peslier ted Durcan Christophe Lemaire

Meydan Board member Mr Malih Lahej Al Basti said that the Meydan Masters will be a competition with a difference: “With racing now being so international, it is difficult to establish a formula for which jockey should represent which country. Jockeys now don’t necessarily ride full time in their home country. For example, does Frankie Dettori represent

Italy, or Darren Beadman and Douglas Whyte, who are so successful in hong Kong, represent Australia and South Africa respectively? With the Meydan Masters, these world-class jockeys will represent themselves against their contemporaries from across the globe, those that excelled and triumphed on the biggest stage throughout 2009.” UAE Digest, March 2010 l 31

Mr. Al Basti added: “Of course, there could be one rider fortunate enough to win more than one of the races we have identified, such as Frankie Dettori and Robbie Albarado in 2007, in which case we have identified alternate races in the same jurisdiction to invite another rider.” “For instance, Michael Kinane was invited courtesy of his Derby win, but having also won the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, we have had to go to the alternate French race, the Prix du Jockey Club and its winning rider, Christophe Lemaire.” “his retirement means that we have also had to go to the alternate race in England which for 2010 was the St Leger and its winning rider Ted Durcan.” The Meydan Masters will be held over four support races on the programme that features the recently upgraded Zabeel Mile, run for the first time in 2010 at Group 2 level. It will close the Carnival and build up to the $10 million Dubai World Cup on March 27.

It has been announced that internationally renowned artiste Sting will perform live at the Dubai International Racing Carnival’s Super Thursday on March 4, after the last race at 11pm. A composer, singer, actor and activist, Sting has evolved into one of the world's most distinctive and highly respected performers, collecting as a solo performer 11 Grammys, 2 Brits, a Golden Globe, an Emmy, three Oscar nominations, Billboard Magazine's Century Award, and MusiCares 2004 Person of the Year.

Bermuda grass (race season over-sown with rye) 100mm(4”) sweet soil root zone with 2.00% organic by weight 250mm(10”) sweet soil root zone with 2.00% organic by weight 300mm (12”) to 150mm (6”) red sand tapered drainage layer 300mm (12”) select subgrade material (natural soil)

32 l UAE Digest, March 2010


Dubai promotion
Colm McLoughlin came to work for six months in 1983 … and is still here.
What was it like in Dubai in 1983 when you first came here to set up Dubai Duty Free? Of course Dubai was very different when I first arrived here in July 1983. It was obviously the middle of summer and I had never experienced the kind of heat upon departing the aircraft. Everything was different, the sights, the sounds, but the people I met were very welcoming and I had a very good sense of liking Dubai straight away. I was part of a ten man team who worked for Irish airport operator’s, Aer Rianta, who were contracted by the Dubai Government to set up the duty free operation at Dubai International Airport. We had six months to do the job which was not a great deal of time but we had to open by December 20th. How did your family react to the sparse – and different - conditions? Initially, I had arrived by myself and the family joined later. Dubai was a very exciting place even then and as everyone was welcoming, they quickly felt at home. What does ‘setting-up’ involve? The new duty free was to be a world-class airport retail operation and had to replace the existing retail offer which was basically a series of shops which for the most part sold the same products and were operated by different retailers. Our suggestion was that Dubai Duty Free, which was a division of Dubai Civil Aviation, would run the operation from A to Z. Our job as consultants was to convert the area that had been allocated, which was in the basement of the former terminal, into a stunning shopping area. So it had to be designed and built, products had to be sourced and our brief was to source around 70 per cent of goods locally. This is something that we follow to this day. We had to recruit staff and we did this mainly from the Philippines and India, as well as some local recruitment. A great source of pride to me is that from the original 100 staff that we recruited in 1983, 57 still remain in active service. That is a pretty impressive retention rate. We had to design uniforms; we had to train the staff, some of whom had never seen the different currencies; we had to install systems and set up the cash office; we had to gain the respect of the local traders who were supplying us with products. It was all very exciting and at times a bit daunting,

Colm McLoughlin

but on the 20th December, we were ready and opened for business. Once the operation was set up, I was asked to stay on and head it up, which I agreed to without any hesitation. George horan, my deputy here, also stayed on and so did John Sutcliffe, who is now in Bahrain working for Aer Rianta there. I have no regrets about my decision to stay on, I sometimes say that I came here to do a job for six months, but never finished it! Why does Dubai need a ‘duty free’ outlet when there is no tax here? There is import duty on luxury goods, but more importantly, the Dubai government wanted a first class airport retail operation that would in many ways be part of the promotion of the city and the airport. Dubai Duty Free, through its own retail-

Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of the Department of Civil Aviation and Chief Executive and Chairman of The Emirates Group presented Colm McCloughlin with the Frontier Award in 2009

UAE Digest, March 2010 l 33

ing success and marketing efforts, quickly became synonymous with Dubai itself and we heard of people planning their routes so that they could fly through Dubai and shop at Dubai Duty Free. In addition to that, the operation had to offer value, a wide range of quality products, great customer service, and all in a shopper friendly environment. In many ways, we had to set the benchmark for the airport Novak Djokovic, Barclays Dubai Tennis Championship Men’s champion 2010 retailing in the region and had to compete with the downtown retailers. million tournament which has since What sort of problems do you have to grown to be the $4 million, Barclays deal with during a typical day in the Dubai Tennis Championships, a two office? week ATP and WTA tournament I never see problems, just opportunities! played back-to-back and attracting the top players in the world and a TV audiWhen and why did DDF decide to sponence of potentially one billion. sor sports events? horse racing, both here and As part of our brief to promote Dubai as a overseas, is another good fit for Dubai business and leisure destination, we quickDuty Free, resulting in international ly realised that sport, and in particular TV exposure, and we are also involved international sporting events, were a great with Golfing events, both as a sponway of aligning your brand with a target sors and organiser of our own tournaments, including the Dubai Duty Free Venus Williams, Barclays Dubai Tennis Golf World Cup which attracts senior Championships Women’s champion 2010 executives from the duty free industry to Dubai each year. are you a sportsman? I have always played sports whether it was rugby, tennis or squash. I currently
Ballinasloe post office at the Irish Village

enjoy playing golf and I enjoy watching a wide variety of sports. Do you attend the various events that DDF is involved with? I attend all of the events that Dubai Duty Free is involved with and as you can imagine, that makes for a pretty busy schedule. Our level of involvement varies from event to event, but for the tennis for example, we own and organise the two week tournament, and myself and a huge team of people from Dubai Duty Free are involved in the event every day from start to finish. What is your involvement with the aviation Club complex and affiliated facilities? Dubai Duty Free manages the Aviation Club and its affiliated facilities, including The Irish Village and the Century Village. It is a great complex and a great home to the Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships. We are building a five star hotel on the site which should open later this year and that is a very exciting development. Whose idea was it to open an irish pub? The Irish bar concept is popular across the world, so it made sense to have an authentic-style Irish bar and restaurant as part of the new Dubai Tennis Stadium complex. The Irish Village was to replicate

audience. hence, we became involved in the early days with world class snooker, which had a huge British audience at the time and we held the Dubai Duty Free Snooker Classic in Dubai for many years. We then turned our attention more to tennis and lobbied the ATP for a couple of years before being allocated a week on the ATP calendar. The Dubai Duty Free Men’s Open was first held in 1993 as a $1 34 l UAE Digest, March 2010

a typical Irish street scene and hence there is a façade of shops, cobbled streets, an authentic telephone booth. There is even the ‘Ballinasloe Post Office’, which incidentally is my home town in Ireland! When did DDF first start their Finest surprise car and bike raffles? Do you see these continuing or is it time for something new?

holders (tickets cost Dhs1,000) have the chance to win $1 million. After a one-off ‘Multi-Millionaire’ draw to mark our 25th anniversary last year, we have now settled on the Double Millionaire for which 5,000 ticket holders (tickets cost Dhs2,000) have the chance to win $2 million and we conducted our first draw for that at the end of the Women’s tennis final.

and new opportunities. From the retail point of view, we now have 15,000 square metres of retail space at Dubai International Airport following the opening of Terminal 3 in October 2008. We are looking at refurbishing the retail offer in Terminal 2 and will review some aspects of the retail area in Terminal 3. Further ahead, we will have a retail operation in the first

Dubai Duty Free officials headed by Colm McLoughlin, Managing Director conducted the winner of $1 million in Series 100 of Dubai Duty Free’s Millennium Millionaire promotion

A previous winner of a Harley Davidson with his motorbike

The very first Finest Surprise promotion was launched in 1989 to coincide with the expansion of the shop floor at that time. We thought it would be a oneoff and the car – a Rolls Royce - was won by a Lebanese man, Simon Simonian. Once the draw was conducted in December 1989, we received lots of calls to ask if we would do another car and so on, so we tried it and we now have drawn over 1,400 cars and 159 harley Davidson bikes. The latter was launched in October 2002 and it is a lower entry level so open to a new audience (Dhs100 per ticket, compared to Dhs500 for the Finest Surprise tickets). We introduced the Millennium Millionaire in 1999 in which 5,000 ticket

What future plans are in store for Dubai DDF? Well, we are always looking at new things

phase of the new Al Maktoum International Airport and we are excited about that.

Perfume and Cosmetics sections at Terminal 3

UAE Digest, March 2010 l 35


Creating good mood homes
Enhancing the shopping landscape of the UAE is PAN Emirates with its astounding variety of furniture, furnishings and home accessories, not usually seen elsewhere in the world


tour of the sprawling Pan Emirates showroom at Al Barsha, designed by M/s Darton & Elgee of UK, extending to 300,000 square feet built area spread across three floors, feels like a trek across various countries of the world. More specifically, a tour of extremely tasteful drawing rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms and study rooms of various countries across the world – each marked by their distinct furniture, décor, accessories – and most importantly, the ambience. So, while Italian furniture with its gold edges and pale colours welcomes you in one section, an Arabesque dressy décor with its gilded frills and bright colours greets you in another. Making a subtle yet ethnic statement is the Indian antique furniture from Rajasthan with its mahogany wood, large chest-drawers and elegant chairs that complements the grim-looking European furniture with fine lines and texture, offering a classic, yet contemporary look. Garnering attention is the company’s new line of designer furniture with gems encrusted

Shakeel Khazi

on pure leather sofa sets - available in rare colours such as gold and silver. So well embedded are they in the design that they enhance its regal look and do not cause discomfort at all.

“These are quite innovative and much in demand in this region,” states Shakeel Khazi, Deputy Managing Director, PAN Emirates home Furnishing. Most of what he stocks is made in China by well-chosen craftsmen who employ high standards for creating furniture. “We give them our own specifications and are very stringent on quality, since we cater to a well-informed audience,” he states. This is the reason why customers who want furniture of a particular size exactly like the one displayed, can place an order. The first retailer in this region to allow for online purchases, Pan Emirates has nine outlets across the UAE (Sharjah and Dubai) and is planning to open two more in Abu Dhabi and other GCC countries. Ask him how he sees the market and its spending habits, given the current phase of recession, he states, “Today, the customer is being watchful about his/her spending habits. however, it is true that the UAE has a climate for shopping, and while there was a lull initially, people now are seen shopping

36 l UAE Digest, March 2010

across malls and other outlets”. To gauge the right furniture that will interest the customer, Shakeel conducts ‘perception studies’ - a very close monitoring process of what the customer wants and demands when he steps into their showroom. “We take into account several aspects of consumer behaviour, be it likes, dislikes, culture specific aspects, choice, trends, affordability etc,” he states. So, he knows what is particularly different about the Middle Eastern customer? “The GCC takes any kind of style. In the US, Canada and Northern Europe, the furniture is traditional and there is not much variety. But here, the market takes all types of styles. Because of the dynamic nature of the region, the styles of furniture are different and dramatic. A fact well reflected in the store. On the same floor, you will find Asian fusion furniture that is largely dominated by wood, the flashy ones with trimmings and bold designs preferred by Emiratis, and the ones that appeal to a European audience,” he adds. The local choice is usually for rich furniture “Most of it has lacquer coating that is expensive and welcoming and provides an aspirational value to the customer,” he adds. Over the years, has he observed a change in customer preferences and choices? “Change is what we bring in and show to the customer. We are the trend-setters and we in turn learn about trends from our suppliers. If there is an international trend with furniture, we pull out a strand of the trend to suit the tastes of people in this region,” he adds. An increasing trend that he observes worldwide is a group of niche garment designers extending their creativity towards home décor – some of which are available at the stores. Another aspect is the growing sensitisation towards ergonomical furniture. “This is usually to do with sitting furniture, more specifically in office chairs where we take into account, a person’s height, his working table and the way the chair supports his back. A person’s feet should rest on the floor when he sits on any chair before he even thinks about ergonomic furniture, as this is a very basic thing about the posture. Good quality ergonomical furniture, in demand in Dubai, is a niche market which also includes some variety of mattresses, but it does not come cheap,” he advises. In the last decade, the group has had several highlights. From being a wholesale store catering to the export market, then to the Arab customers, then to European customers, and now to a full-fledged retailer across the UAE. The group has recently built a 500,000 square feet logistics centre in Jebel Ali, to cater to support its delivery fleet of 100 vehicles for timely delivery to its clientele.

We have a designer studio in our precincts that offers customers its services free of charge. You can get expert advice at doing up your home. The facility is extended to all customers

Kids Zone
One of the most interesting trends in furniture in the UAE is the growing demand for children’s furniture. The variety seen here is rarely seen across the world. There are so many popular cartoon characters and now they have spilled into furniture too. Films like Cars have inspired a range of beds for children shaped like cars too. For most kids, beds are part of their play areas, so, children’s furniture too tries to engage them with innovative designs through which they can convert their bed into tents, turning them into make-believe camps. Basketball nets match with the furniture and the décor and pink-themed bed sets with hannah Montana bed sheets etc are very popular. UAE Digest, March 2010 l 37


Leading from the front
“If you don’t see yourself as a winner, then you can’t perform as a winner.” Zig Ziglar
Lucy Hay is Managing Director of Expressions Arabia
n these challenging times it is imperative that companies nurture the people in their organisations who can lead from the front. Leaders who can visualise the future and can take their company successfully forward. Leaders need to create this bright future by adopting peak performance management techniques through a different kind of thinking and a different kind of behaviour. From an early age we develop comfort zones around every aspect of our lives, whether they benefit us or not, we staunchly stick to our comfort zones and the ingrained behaviour that we have developed since childhood. Our comfort zones were originally used to keep us safe in the fight-or-flight reaction encountered during stressful, alarming and dangerous situations. Today, however, they are used to create excuses to keep us from moving forward, changing and evolving for the better, in short bringing us out of our comfort zones. Excuses such as:


“It won’t work.” “I don’t have the time.” “It’s too difficult.” “The system is wrong.” “My colleagues don’t like change.” “I don’t have the money.” are all sub-conscious thoughts that prevent us from becoming all that we can be, that stop us from leading our teams and indeed our companies into the new decade. so how do we change, how do we excel? Our society offers a structured education system which is designed to deliver left brain dominated individuals, individuals who are trained to think logically and analytically. What’s wrong with that? There is absolutely nothing wrong with this kind of thinking when it is balanced with more creative and intuitive right brain thinking. The problem comes when we only use left brain thinking. “A left brain cannot and will not ever imagine a future, it can only analyse the past”.

The realisation then is that my left brain could be preventing me from seeing and realising a better future outcome because it is scanning and analysing my history. Even if I could create a desired future outcome would my comfort zone cause me not to take the actions required to realise this desired outcome? My need to stay safe may prevent me from stepping out of the comfort zone, although this is where the solution will most probably be found. “The key to significant long-term sustained cultural and behavioural change is to empower the leaders to habituate extraordinary behaviours, who then become both cultural architects in their own right and role models for their staff, team or department.” Gavin Whyte, Mindstore, UK It makes sense, therefore that we should retrain our leaders to use both their brain hemispheres equally, empower them to use positive thoughts and actions, give them the tools and techniques to overcome stress and develop a habitual thought process for the future.

38 l UAE Digest, March 2010


Blockhead, block ahead?
Like a whiff of fresh air, strange errors on shop signs, boards and hoardings make you smile, and add that dash of lime to an otherwise boring drive
By Manju Ramanan
here are those who spend an entire lifetime dotting their i’s and j’s to flawless perfection and those who don’t care about the nuances of English grammar as long as the words they state convey their meanings. Like a whiff of fresh air, strange errors on shop signs, boards and hoardings make you smile, and add that dash of lime to an otherwise boring drive. heard of the ‘Loose hand Supermarket’, ‘Strange Textiles’ shop or Child Beer? (it obviously means Chilled Beer and it belongs to a shutters down shop in the Northern Emirates). At hatta, you can be served food at the Quick hands restaurant. What fun! While most of these errors are pointed out by outsiders or the ‘correct’ English speaking audience, for a large number of people the names sound fine. “Most people who own these shops are not native speakers of English and their versions of the language vary. At times, these shop names are exact English translations of non-English words, stemming from across the various nationalities in the country,” says Lata Khubchandani, a home-maker. “Signs get funny when there are little or no English equivalents of the words and the result is a strange name,” says Sadiya Ahmedi, an entrepreneur from Sharjah. her tailoring shop has a non-English name and its English translation reads strange. Bloggers in the Emirates have observed a host of interesting spellings. For instance, ‘Drive slowly or it is a regret’ or ‘Drive carefully in a foggy weather’, ‘Telephone cards awailable here’ or ‘Breast Feeding is a community responsibility’ – being some of the examples posted online. What about a


shop on Airport Road called Golden Paviwon? Or a slight addition to hyde Park Salon that reads hayed Barck Salon? The use of the English language is interesting too. Ever heard of real estate investors who have been advised to consider purchasing ‘repossessed property’? Spooky! Perhaps the commonest errors people make are the ‘TO LET’ boards, sometimes confused with an I in the middle of the two words, Oops. Well, anyone can make a mistake – and they often do. a blogger who calls herself talks of a Magic House that advertises itself as : Wonder head inside horror, thrill, wonder and fun Talk with live human head on the plate And experience the Invention of Magic. Send in whacky board signs or shop names you’ve seen around the country to info@sterlingp. ae or post it to: The Editor, UAE Digest, Sterling Publications, PO Box 500595, Dubai. The funniest entries will be published.

UAE Digest, March 2010 l 39


Pointed attack on cancer
Dr Karl Reinhard Aigner’s Regional Chemotherapy might just be the answer to many glitches endured in regular chemotherapy and extremely effective in the treatment of solid tumours
By Manju Ramanan
o watch a healthy friend, relative or loved one degenerate with disease is perhaps one of the most painful sights to endure. More so, if the treatment involves intense mental and physical agony that stunts their quality of life. Cancer patients who undergo chemotherapy fall in this category. Not only do they have to endure the trauma associated with cancer, they have to deal with chemotherapy that saps their very life- energy and endure side effects such as nausea, hair loss or organ excision. Dr Karl Reinhard Aigner, head of Oncologic Surgery at the Medias Klinikum Gmbh & Co KG in Burghausen, Germany; is now here, at the International Modern hospital in Dubai. Early in his career, he had observed the slow and painful deterioration that leads to the loss of quality of life in patients undergoing chemotherapy. A cardiovascular surgeon turned oncologist, he did not completely agree to the practice of administering chemotherapy to the whole body when only a part of it was affected. “This is usually done to stunt the spread of the cancer. But what happens in several 40 l UAE Digest, March 2010


Dr Karl Reinhard Aigner, now at the International Modern Hospital, Dubai

cases is, the unaffected parts of the body react to the treatment and there are side effects that prove to be very harmful.” “For me, my highest goal has always been to relieve pain. Survival rates and prognoses for recovery lie significantly above those of the results for conventional chemotherapy, especially in breast and pancreatic cancer. Good chances for treatment success exist for most cancers of other body organs such as lung cancer, carcinomas of the stomach, liver, bladder, prostate, ovaries, anus as well as head and neck tumours,” he adds. Traditional chemotherapy treatment includes the use of poisonous chemical agents (cytotoxins) that attack and destroy the tumour. For

patients with carcinomas that have already metastasized, the use of poisonous chemical agents in the total body blood circulatory system is often the last chance to combat the illness. Despite newer developments, the poisonous agents damage not only the tumour cells but also healthy cells in areas like the hair follicles, bone marrow, and the mucous membrane of the digestive tract; they reduce the number of white corpuscles. As a result, patients lose their hair and complain about intense nausea and physical exhaustion. Also, conventional chemotherapy is not known to be a great success in many patients, since the concentration of poisonous agents that are administered is distributed over the entire body, leaving only a proportionally small number of cytotoxins to have an effect on the tumour cells. This is the reason that he devised a method which would use chemotherapy pointedly. Regional chemotherapy treatment or RCT is a method wherein chemotherapy attacks the tumour in a sustained fashion because of its highly concentrated action. Cytotoxins are injected directly into the blood vessels that supply the tumour or the region of the body affected by the tumour – hence the name of the procedure: regional chemotherapy. “It’s like the fire department,” explains Dr Aigner. “We aim our hoses at the actual source of the fire and not at the intact surroundings.” “Regional Chemotherapy (RCT) is tolerated well by 95 per cent of all patients; they suffer neither nausea nor hair loss and no organ excision” he states. Mortality figures for the Middle East prove that cancer is one of the major causes of death in the region. Cancer is considered to be an insidious, difficult to treat disease with many bad side-effects on the bodies and the spirits of its victims. The advantages of RCT are several. By injecting the cancer medication into the artery serving the tumour or tumour region, the poisonous chemicals can be administered with a very high concentration into the affected region. This leads in turn to a

higher transfer of these poisonous chemicals into the tumour cells and results in a superior and more rapid effect at that spot. In contrast to conventional chemotherapy and depending on the type, size and state of metastasis of a tumour, a three to ten-fold higher concentration of cytotoxins can be injected, and in especially difficult cases, up to 70 times as much. Nonetheless, there are hardly any side-effects on the total body, since with the process of chemo filtration ‘de-poisoning’ in connection with every intervention, the blood is cleaned. The quality of life of patients is generally significantly improved. All of the techniques developed by Dr Aigner and his team for regional chemotherapeutic treatment are designed to minimise, as far as possible, actual operations. Between treatments, patients can lead a normal life and, usually, hold down a normal job. RCT does not involve excision of body organs. Dr Aigner explains: “Most of the patients who come to us are those who have not responded well to chemotherapy or those who have had a relapse. Various medical studies have published results pointing to convincing data in terms of tumour response, quality of life and survival of those treated with RCT. For instance, it has been well established that pancreatic cancer, a killer cancer, responds well to RCT when other chemotherapies have failed. Breast cancer too has been treated with almost no side-effects and without amputation. The response rate of breast cancer has been 80 to 95 per cent with RCT.” “Additionally, even advanced cancers of the bladder and the prostate are treated by means of the isolated pelvic perfusion technique with chemo filtration, avoiding mutilating surgery, impotence and incontinence,” he says. RCT is suitable for all patients with solid tumours. To be sure, not every type of tumour is suitable for highly concentrated chemotherapy. Dr Aigner adds: “Our method either works right away or not at all.” In essence, just as in conventional cancer treatment, the greater the proportion of the body affected by the tumour, the

smaller are the chances for success. Even in regional chemotherapy the dose of poisonous chemical agents cannot be increased without limit. Tumours in their early stages are especially good to treat with regional chemotherapy. Still, Dr Aigner and his team have achieved very good results even in late stages, and in supposedly hopeless cases. The move, however, has not been seen similarly by certain people in the pharmaceutical industry who, according to Dr Aigner, see the patient in the sense of business rather than as human beings. his earlier book which he wrote with friend Dr Fred Oscar Stephens, former head of Sydney hospital, was well received and their forthcoming book Induction Chemotherapy will line up all methods used for RCT. As for expenses, Dr Aigner states that, in the long run, RCT is cheaper. “We perform four to six cycles usually and the patients do not need home care. They can go to work between sessions too,” he adds.

Prof Dr Karl Reinhard Aigner, head of oncologic surgery at the Medias Klinikum GmbH & Co KG in Burghausen, Germany, has been successfully using RCt or Regional Chemotherapy treatment for years. the basic concept is to treat organs and body parts affected by cancer very aggressively in one region only while filtering the chemotherapeutic agents out of the rest of the body. In doing so, the tumour shrinks and later can be removed without problems, or it may even completely disappear as a result of the therapy and there will be no need for excision of body organs.

UAE Digest, March 2010 l 41


Indian bedouin
Gregarious, outspoken, fun-loving and ‘rebellious’, Mohan Jashanmal, the Regional Manager of the Jashanmal National Company (Abu Dhabi), who carries a UAE residency visa that expires in 2999, talks about how business, faith, service and spirituality are inextricably linked
By Manju Ramanan
here is a salt and pepper theory that Mohan Jashanmal, Regional Manager of the Jashanmal National Company (Abu Dhabi) LLC and Chairman of the Indian Business/ Professional Group, believes in. “When you go onstage to take a bow, post performance, it is always sensible to carry salt and pepper in your pocket. They are very handy if the audience throws rotten tomatoes at you. Catch one of them, sprinkle the condiments on top and eat them with a flourish… the scene will change, so will the mood of the audience,” he says. The youngest of seven siblings, Mohan Jashanmal was born in undivided India in 1938 in Karachi (now part of Pakistan) to a Sindhi family of businessmen. his father Rao Sahib Jashanmal Jhangiani was a well-known businessman with business interests in the Middle East. An authoritarian figure in the family, he opened the first Jashanmal store in Basra, Iraq in 1919. All the women in the family, especially Mohan’s elder sisters-in-law, were given instructions to take care of the motherless Mohan (he lost his mother when he was four) – and he grew up well pampered and, as he admits, spoilt. When Mohan was six years of age, the family moved to Bahrain where Narain Jashanmal, eldest son of Rao Sahib had 42 l UAE Digest, March 2010


Mohan Jashanmal

opened their store in 1935. The store imported household goods, men’s clothing, stationery, books and newspapers. This was followed by a general store in Safaat Square, Kuwait. As Mohan was completing his primary schooling in Bahrain, India won her independence from the British. The woes of partition did not affect the family that was already out of the country.

When it was time for his future education, Rao Sahib was advised by the Bahraini Sheikhs to send his children to school in India, where their own children went to. “Can you imagine, a Bahraini telling an Indian family where to send their children to school in India?” he laughs. Mohan was sent to Devlali - Nasik to the Barnes high School, the place where his father built a house for them. “We were day scholars and learned to speak Marathi,” he states. Life in Devlali was fun and a lot of learning for Mohan. “My father was lenient to me and my brothers, who were petrified of him, often used me to get their things done. Of course, I put up a price. I would take advantage of the situation and bullied them into taking me along. If they sought permission from our father to go for a movie, I would mediate for them but added to them that he insisted that I accompany them too,” he explains. Pampered at home, born into a family of very well-to-do businessmen, Mohan was

extremely popular in school too. But it was an incident in Class 8 that taught him a valuable lesson – a lesson he remembered for life. “Once in class, a teacher hit me and I was enraged at the incident. I resolved that I would tell my father about it and ensure that the teacher be brought to book”. Or so he thought. The following day, Mohan complained to his father who gave him a sealed letter addressed to the principal. “I was elated. I boasted to my friends that the man who hit a Jashanmal was getting his due. Soon I was summoned to the principal’s room who asked me to go to the ‘caning room.’ I was caned six times.” What for? “Apparently, my father, had written to the principal stating that I had complained against his teacher and told him to make sure I never complained again. I learnt the valuable virtue of respect.” Another important lesson that Mohan learnt from his father was compassion and respect towards customers. Their shop in Bahrain used to be frequented by an old Bahraini pearl diver who grew senile with old age. “he used to enter from one of the gates, collect coins from my father, leave and enter again. One day, I saw him do it repeatedly and complained to my father about it” states Mohan. “You’ll see customers as human beings,” he told me. “A customer is a messenger of God and it is because of the customer that a businessman is in the trade. he is the boss; you only serve,” he had said. A philosophy that extends to various aspects of his life, including his ideas of faith and worship. Mohan believes in all religions and visits the mosque, the temple as well as the church and is an ardent believer of Shree Satya Sai Baba of Puttaparthi. “People of all faiths come to my store and so I visit the places they go for worship, without any discrimination,” he adds. The same applies to his clothing as well. Mohan slips into a kandoora with the same ease that he sports his formal or informal everyday wear. A much talked about fact about him is his residency visa that expires in 2999. “Yes, the government offered me a nationality of the UAE. Since I have an Indian passport, I declined it. They then offered a permanent residency for me and my family. But

A camel caravan passing by the Jashanmal & Sons store Dubai in 1956. Late Hiro Jashanmal's residence was on top of the shop

Late HH Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the former Ruler of Dubai, along with Late Hiro Jashanmal at the Jashanmal Store in Dubai Sheikh Mubarak bin Mohammed Al Nahyan, referred to as the “Father of the Indian Community” blessing Mohan Jashanmal (sitting) along with the founder-members of the Indian Business / professional Group - Abu Dhabi

UAE Digest, March 2010 l 43

Dhabi had just four or five nationalities (there are 200 now). Sheikh Shakhbut had said, “I respect your country, your people and your religion. how are you going to benefit my country?” Mohan considers him his first guru. his second guru is the Father of the UAE, the late President hh Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. “Sheikh Zayed had great respect for not only human beings but the entire creation of God. When we see the T. Grifith (Ex-Snooker Champion), Hiro Jashanmal and Late HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, ‘The multitude of bird wealth in S. Davis (the then Snooker World Champion) Father of the Nation’ with Mohan Jashanmal - 1968 Abu Dhabi, we are thankful to him; he always used to say “I am happy when you respect creation.” he brought in truck loads of sands from Al Ain to Abu Dhabi and created a green city. he bought birds from all over the world (even we have carried birds from our travels across the world), to be set free in Abu Dhabi. Mohan was once the agent for air rifles that were very popular and Sheikh Zayed asked him to stop selling Early 70’s Early 90’s them. “I am bringing birds H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan receiving greetings from Mohan Jashanmal to live here, so stop selling air rifles that are used to kill them,” he said. and at times, go out on dates with some of the visa office had a problem. What would them,” he recalls. be the date, they would stamp on my visa? his third guru is hh Sheikh Mubarak The experience helped him train his After much thought, they decided 2999,” he bin Mahmoud Al Nahyan who told him once, team in Kuwait, Bahrain and Dubai where states. “I asked them, who would be there to “I agree that you are my close friend but if you the Jashanmal store opened in 1958. “We do the renewal?” he laughs. misbehave, you’ll be the first one to go to jail.” sold a lot of washing machines and vaccum Trained at the grassroots, Mohan was For him religion has been good conduct. As cleaners to the British population largely,” sent to London after his schooling in India, they say in Arabic, ‘Deen Al Maamla’.” he states, and back in England, he earned to understand the business. The assignment With a flourishing business in the UAE and expansions into India in the distribution was to sell hoover washing machines and the title of ‘the hoover Man of the Gulf’ - a of newspapers, magazines, courier service etc, vaccum cleaners door to door. fact he narrated to Prince Charles on his the Indian bedouin has pitched his tent at “We were young and raring to go. We visit here. Abu Dhabi – his home, his place of karma. A were taught that when you ring the bell Ask him about his foray into Abu place his artist wife Vanita took too instantly and the lady opens the door, put your leg Dhabi and he reflects fondly. “Sand was and where his children were born and raised. in before you enter (so that she cannot everywhere and there was a tiny strip for As a parting shot, he shows us his ‘MJ’ tatclose the door) and then announce with a the plane to land,” he reminisces. his home, tooed arm and his eyes twinkle with mischief flourish that they would clean up her carpet at the Abu Dhabi Corniche, at one point as he jokes about sharing his initials with and her dirty linen. In short, give her a live of time, was called the Jashanmal Palace. It Michael Jackson. A septuagenarian with the demonstration. It was usually successful and was under the rule of hh Sheikh Shakhbut right zest for life! we ended up cleaning homes, dirty clothes bin Sultan Al Nahyan at a time when Abu 44 l UAE Digest, March 2010


The EMITT 2010 (East Meditarranean International Travel and Tourism Exhibition)

Turkey calling
India Tourism, Dubai, made a good show at EMITT 2010, the East Mediterranean International Travel and Tourism Exhibition held in Istanbul
he EMITT 2010, held between 11-14 February, 2010 in Istanbul, entertained 2,550 exhibitors from 70 countries and a total of 155,000 visitors, including 55,000 invited visitors and 35,000 trade visitors. The outgoing travel market from Turkey is pretty large and growing and the country is one of the emerging markets for tourism to India. The Turkish population of 12 million has the same income level as those in European countries. Most of the Turkish tourists who travel abroad participate in cultural and shopping based tours, and Turkish tourists spend more than the average spent by European tourists. With a focus on various kinds of tourism - health, Medical, Beach, Adventure, Cultural heritage, Nature, Rural, MICE, etc, - India Tourism showcased the country’s vast and varied tourist destinations, including the facilities available for organising meetings, conferences and exhibitions. India


Tourism, Dubai, participates in the EMITT event every year. Like last year, India Tourism’s Dubai office has been very active with its promotional events this year too. While January saw the Lodhi Festival at the Chutneys restaurant in Movenpick hotel Dubai, the kite flying festival and Pongal festivities were held at the Ajman Beach Resort. Press trips as well as roadshows dotted the first three months of the year. At Global Village, India Tourism’s well-lit Kashmiri houseboat

drew a lot of attention. With several activities planned for the rest of 2010, tourism to India is sure to see a steady upswing.

UAE Digest, March 2010 l 45


Relishing the flavours
By Linda Benbow
he organisers of Taste of Dubai have taken the current economical situation into consideration when setting prices for this year’s event with discounts for those who book tickets early; and many have already done so. It will continue with the practice of using paper vouchers within the confines of the event – for tasting purposes - ridding you of the necessity of carrying purses and wallets full of change at the food kiosks, another thing that many have appreciated over the past few years. But do bring some money along for the many gourmet items on offer at the indoor and outdoor market arenas. Try strawberries dipped in balsamic vinegar, then buy a bottle of the black stuff. The internationally recognised restaurant festival will be back in the city from March 17th to 20th , an opportunity to enjoy the best in gourmet ingredients, speciality foods, beverages and live entertainment. Paul Croft, Show Director, enthused: “Where else are you able to taste so many different samples of haute cuisine such as that served in top quality, expensive restaurants, for just a small fraction of the cost of a meal? And these are tastes cooked by well-known chefs.” Yes, indeed. Many of them have appeared on television in their home countries and are housewives’ favourites. Take Greek Chef Yiannis Baxevanis, for example. To a Greek audience, this top name chef needs no introduction. 46 l UAE Digest, March 2010


The well-known, multi-award winning chef is of legendary reputation among the Greek culinary elite. Nicknamed the ‘aroma magician’ of Greek cuisine, his vision is for Greek products and Greek cuisine to assume their rightful position on the world’s gastronomical map. he is a passionate believer in Greek cuisine and the dietary value of the country’s products. “What distinguishes Greek cooking is the aromatic herbs we use and the wild mountain greens. There are so many tasty leafy plants that nature provides for all to pick – they are not grown commercially, nor can they be found in supermarkets. When I came to Dubai to open Elia restaurant at Majestic hotel, I was happily surprised to visit the local market and see stalls piled high with edible vegetation. Some of them are similar to my Greek ones. I don’t know their names in English, but I know the look and taste of them.” Baxevanis’s creations are borne out of

inspiration: “When I cook, many things are created on the spur of the moment!” however, he ardently believes the products and ingredients are the most significant contributing factor to the success of a dish. “The quality of the ingredients constitutes 60 per cent of a chef’s success, while the remaining 40 per cent is skill.” Baxevanis worked in France for five years, returned to Greece and quickly built up a legendary reputation through his years

Leafy greens, cooked and uncooked

as gourmet chef at Grecotel Mykonos Blue, Elounda Beach in Crete and Lagonissi Resort. he also owns a popular restaurant called ‘Giorti’ which means celebration and is a consultant at an array of top restaurants in Athens. From his time in Crete, he was greatly influenced by Cretan cuisine and he made many Cretan herbs and spices fashionable by using them in his recipes. his passions in life are of course, cooking, Greece, its products, its culture, and children (including four of his own). In 2006, Baxevanis made one of his dreams come true by starting a Little-Chefs Programme. Once a week, he and many prominent chefs set up cooking sessions for

Next to an olive tree is Chef Yiannis Baxevanis checking out fresh olive oil

Recipe ingredients

children where they can learn the beauty of the gastronomical world, fresh products, healthy diet and the virtue of easy, fast, healthy cooking. This programme is available in Dubai too. Elia restaurant is a new take on Greek. Not a statue or broken plate is in sight. Instead, a tranquil, cosy, earthy setting welcomes you, featuring olive trees, which is where the name Elia derives from. A team of four Greek chefs, headed by The terrace at Elia Yiannis Baxevanis not only creates masterpieces of contemporary Greek cuisine, they serve you their creations themselves, giving you the opportunity to converse with them about the recipes and the dish. An informal outdoor terrace is popular with many who enjoy the blue and white colours of the Mediterranean splashed with red – usually geraniums or petunias. Every meal starts with a heart-warming welcome: a basket full of fresh slices of home-made bread, accompanied by olives from Kalamata and fresh virgin olive oil. The menu contains a wide range of hot and cold mezze and delicious main courses, offering meat, sea food and vegetarian options. It is hard not to be wowed by the creative use of nuts, Greek cheeses, interesting herbs and unique combinations, which provide a distinctive flavour. Majestic hotel is owned and run by a Greek company. With the opening of Elia, the management wanted to bring their country to Dubai. “It’s a little piece of Greece nestled in Bur Dubai,” says the GM, Alex Economides. At Taste of Dubai, Yiannis Baxevanis will be taking part by giving lessons at the Cookery School (17th: 21.30-22.00hrs, 20th: 13.30-14.00hrs) and demonstrations at Chef’s Theatre (18th: 20.15-20-45hrs and 19th: 14.15-14.45hrs).

Place fish fillet on top. Pour fish stock into pan until it just covers the fish. Cook until the fish is just tender. Remove from heat. • While fish is poaching in stock, prepare the aioli by separating two yolks from their eggs. Beat them together in a bowl Recipe from Chef Yiannis and place bowl over a separate pan of Baxevanis boiling water, making sure the water does not touch the bowl. Poached fish with dill • Add fish stock a little at a time to the sauce yolks while still whisking the mixture over the bubbling water, until mixture Ingredients: thickens. For poaching: Onion, leafy green vegetables such as spinach or those milder • Add a handful of dill. Stir. • Add a squeeze of lemon juice. Stir. • Serve both together. A hands-on Chef Apart from all the gourmet offerings, inYiannis whisks the spections of new kitchen gizmos, dining acegg yolks for the dill coutrements (china and cutlery) and lessons sauce by experts, visitors in past years have eagerly scanned the crowds around them looking to meet up with famous faces. This year will be no different with celebrity chefs Gary Rhodes, James Martin and Vineet Bhatia mingling with the crowds and passing on their in flavour, fillet of fish, salt, culinary secrets. Maybe pepper, fish stock (the chef Italian chef Georgio uses the liquid left over Locatelli and Mexican when mussels are cooked). chef Richard Sandeval For slow cooking: 2 egg will be there too, as they yolks, fish stock, dill, were at last year’s event. lemon juice Almost certainly Uwe Method: Poaching a fillet of fish Michael, President of • Slowly fry chopped Emirates Culinary Guild, will once more be onions in a pan for a minute. Stir. laughing and joking. Who knows who else • Add a handful or two of greens. Stir. UAE Digest, March 2010 l 47

• •

culinary techniques by creating dishes will be roaming among the tents and stalls under the guidance of leading chefs; each on the grass setting in Dubai Media City’s participant is given a cooking station, amphitheatre? This year’s restaurant line-up offers an extensive variety of cuisine from some of the hottest new restaurants including Awtar, iZ, Mirai, The Wharf and Zheng he’s. 50 sample-sized dishes created by some of Dubai’s most renowned and award-winning restaurants will be available to buy and taste. Starters include Rhodes Mezzanine’s famed white tomato soup, seared scallops from The Wharf followed by entrees such as lamb tagine from Almaz by Momo and The China Club’s Beijing duck. For dessert, visitors can indulge in sticky toffee pudding from Rivington Grill – or if they’re looking for something lighter – Zheng he’s chilled lemongrass jelly. Paul Croft explained:“Nowhere else Chef ’s Theatre will foodies and restaurant-goers be utensils and ingredients to try their hand able to savour such an extensive array of cuiat some amazing recipes. sine, pick up gourmet ingredients and enjoy The Marketplace has expanded this a wide range of beverages in this upmarket year and visitors have the opportunity to festival setting.” buy an expansive selection of gourmet food and beverages and see the latest musthave culinary equipment designed to make cooking a pleasure. The ever popular MMI Beverage Theatre offers visitors food and drink pairing sessions as well as the chance to enhance their knowledge of beverages with a wide programme of guided tastings from leading connoisseurs.
Food sampling

gists in the Blu Water Lounge, using Blu’s array of flavoured waters. The Momotaro Sake and Sashimi

Lounge invites visitors to take a culinary journey through Japan in a relaxing lounge atmosphere. For those looking for something a little more traditional, the Taste Chill Out Lounge courtesy of Almaz by Momo offers the ultimate area to soak up the atmosphere and relax until the next course. Commenting on Taste of Dubai 2009, chef Gary Rhodes said: “It’s a fantastic occasion where everyone who loves food can get together and celebrate. There are now taste festivals in other parts of the world but I believe that this one, here in Dubai, is the best, and it is just going to continue to get better.”
Costillas Ahumada from Richard Sandoval’s Maya restaurant, Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort and Spa (Dubai Marina) featuring corn flour patties with various fillings such as cheese, vegetables and chicken

As well as sampling an array of mouthwatering food, visitors also have the opportunity to learn new recipes and watch Dubai’s most respected culinary talent as well as Michelin-starred masters and chefs create show-stopping dishes in the Tefal Chefs’ Theatre. The Philips Cookery School is the place for visitors to don aprons and learn new 48 l UAE Digest, March 2010

Visitors can enjoy a selection of delightful mocktails created by expert mixolo-

Taste Timings:
Wednesday 17th March thursday 18th March Friday 19th March saturday 20th March noon - 5pm noon - 5pm 7.00 -11.30pm 7.00 -11.30pm 7.00–11.30pm 7.00-11.30pm

Taste Restaurants include:
• Almaz by Momo • Awtar • Certo • elia • Indego • iZ Dish
Chicken Wings Jawaneh Dajaj Provencal Hammour tikka Lamb tagine with pears and prunes Beef Gyros with fresh tomato, onions and tzatiki wrapped in traditional pita bread

*Dellas are the official currency of Taste of Dubai and are used to buy dishes from the restaurants and beverages at the festival.

• Magnolia • Maya • Minato • Mirai • Momotaro • Rhodes Mezzanine Dish

• Rivington Grill • sezzam • sumibiya • the China Club • the Wharf • Zheng He’s

Awtar IZ Almaz by Momo Elia

Lamb Mekanek Chicken tikka Almonds Briouat Aromatic Carob Pie grilled a la minute, stuffed with fresh greens from the Greek mountains and topped with a zesty orange-perfumed sauce Vegetable samosa on a bed of chickpea masala, sweet yoghurt, tamarind chutney and chickpea vermicelli

samkeh Harra Beirutieh Paneer tikka Pigeon Pastilla Galaktobureko; a milk & butter pie of homemade filo pastry


Morsels of chicken and shitake mushrooms in creamy tomato sauce, saffron pulao slowly Braised Lamb with buttered potato and apple mint jelly Quesadillas surtidas seafood Gyoza Miso glaced white radish, sesame seeds, Aloe Vera, roasted peanut, Avocado Ceviche slow braised Wagyu short ribs, crushed potatoes, parsnips, caramelised shallots Beef and Vegetable teppaniyaki traditional Beijing Duck with Pancake Rolls stir fried seafood noodles sticky toffee Pudding Pepes Ikan ( steamed hammour in banana leaf served with steamed rice and sambal) sauteed diced beef tenderloin with black pepper sauce

Fresh rose petal and berry infused chocolate and rice pudding with pistachio stuffed Gulab Jamun Iced strawberries and Clotted Cream Crepas Con Cajeta Assorted Maki Roll Quinoa stuffed Mediterranean vegetables Red Pepper emulsion Kit Kat Brownie, sour Cherry Ice Cream shrimp tempura Deep fried chicken balls in sweet and sour sauce Red Bean & Green tea Parfait Roulade with Passion Fruit sauce Prawn Cocktail sate Campure (mixed sate with peanut sauce and pickled vegetables) Chilled lemongrass jelly

Rhodes Mezzanine White tomato soup Maya Momotaro Magnolia Costillas Ahumada Assorted nigiri Rolls sashimi Green Pea, Apple, Mint Gazpacho Manuka honey caramelised carrot on crispy wonton sheet, garden herbs seared scallops With apple, radish, kipfler potatoes and truffle mayonnaise sushi Rolls Dim sum selection Yakinuku (marinated grilled chicken or beef) Fish ’n chips with mushy green peas and thick chips seafood Laksa (spicy coconut milk soup with shrimp, fish ball, bean sprouts and egg noodles) Deep Fried Prawns with Wasabi Mayonnaise and Mango salsa

The Wharf

Minato China Club Sumibiya Rivington Grill Sezzam

Zheng He’s

UAE Digest, March 2010 l 49


Radisson Blu Hotel, Abu Dhabi Yas Island

12-hole at The Faldo course, EGC

Let’s celebrate
By Linda Benbow
here is plenty on offer at hotels and hostelries around town with weddings, golf, Motown music, fiery kebabs and organic caviar on offer this month. That is in addition to places to celebrate Iranian New Year, the Chinese New Year, St. Patrick’s Day and Mother’s Day. radisson blu Hotel, abu Dhabi Yas island, is to offer itself as a unique venue for staging wedding receptions, and has appointed a dedicated personal wedding co-ordinator to deal with everything to ensure that these unique days are special in every way. The Galaxy Ballroom on the ground floor is ideal for wedding receptions, having its own private entrances leading into a separate reception area and outdoor terrace. It can be divided into three portions


and can host up to 445 people at a time. At prices well under Dh200 per person, the packages include food, ballroom rental and basic set-up. The fully trained personal wedding coordinator will assist with everything from table plans and wedding etiquette to food and drinks options. In short, he will ensure that the reception will be perfect and that the couple, as well as their guests, will have an unforgettable day. The beauty of the property and its stunning views ensure that photographers will be able to provide the most beautiful and dramatic wedding pictures, offering memories to last a lifetime. Meanwhile, the Dubai Creek golf academy have a 9 to 9 promotion where, from 9am to 9pm, Sunday to Thursday, you can enjoy a bucket of balls on the driving

range, a round of golf on the Par 3 course and a main course in the Academy restaurant for Dh99. Not to be outdone, Emirates golf Club has a special low rate for uaE residents who play a round on the Faldo Course during March and April. All green fees are inclusive of shared cart and range balls prior to play. Bookings can be made seven days prior to play. UAE residents will need to present proof of residency on arrival. Lovers of foie gras will revel at the latest offering from sloane’s restaurant, in grosvenor House Dubai, which will play host to foie gras, goose and duck-themed Friday brunches this month. Sloane’s promises a unique experience, offering diners a spectacular traditional feast each Friday from 1 to 4pm with a complimentary glass of sparkling vino. Motown records was one of the most important and prominent record labels in the 1960s, serving as the foundation for many successful African-American artists in the USA and throughout the world. Epic number one hits such as My Girl, Dancing in the Street, Baby Love, I Heard It Through the Grape Vine and Can You Feel It became timeless classics that are still on radio today. ‘Soul of Motown’ brings a selection of some of the best music from the 50-year history of the label to audiences in Dubai. This is not a tribute concert, but a fully choreographed, theatrical experience with many of the performers having backgrounds in

50 l UAE Digest, March 2010

Ping Pong’s dim sum is enjoyed by young and old

Bamboo Lagoon

major Broadway musicals. Will be staged at The First Group Theatre at Souk Madinat Jumeirah on 8-13 March at 8pm with a matinee performance at 3.30pm on 13 March. Whether you are a seasoned diver or beginner, The Pavilion Dive Centre at Jumeirah beach Hotel has everything you need to make the most of your underwater adventures. Enjoy 20 per cent discount on all courses by quoting ‘Liquid Magic 303’ at the time of your booking. Valid until the end of this month. The chefs at JW Marriott Dubai are planning to tantalise your taste-buds with the freshest catch throughout the restaurants. Be prepared for the biggest invasion of fish and crustaceans, fit for a sea-king! From the kingdom of Neptune comes a threecourse seafood menu at the JW’s Steak-

house. ‘Adventura in Mare’ at Cucina Italian restaurants starts with a 3-course menu available from 12 noon to midnight. Visit the living cooking station grilling prawns, lobsters, fish, squids and other seafood at the Market Place. Step into scattering huts, waterways and bridges at the recently re-opened bamboo lagoon and experience a potpourri of seafood flavours from the Far East and Polynesian islands. Try the Thai fish cakes; steamed oysters on shell; Tom Yam soup; seafood Dim Sum; Teppanyaki Salmon Lobster; Prawn Tempura; Octopus Salad; Fried Money Bags with Shrimps and Carrot plus Greenleaf mussels with Kimchi. lakes Club at The Lakes residential area, next door neighbours with EGC, is a pleasant place for an afternoon soiree

with friends and family. Try their relaxing afternoon tea or an Italian coffee served on the lawns with a choice of mini sandwiches or pastries. Available Saturday - Thursday, from 3 - 6 pm. Trips to the mall are a regular pastime in the UAE and stopping for a bite to eat is part of the experience. But what do malls have to offer if you are vegetarian, healthconscious or simply want to avoid piling on the calories? The Dubai Mall has a range of alternatives to the usual fast food chains of many malls, including the UAE’s first Ping Pong dim sum restaurant offering a choice of healthy, alternative food. Steamed dim sum in the Chinese tradition is not only healthy and pure but seals in all the nutritional elements of the food and allows the flavours to shine through. It is introducing a new menu which will include many new vegetarian dishes as well as offering its usual low sodium, dairy-free, soy-free, shellfish-free, onion and garlic-free, gluten-free and vegan meals for the health conscious. This is a modern take on the ancient Chinese tradition of the teahouse offering small, sweet, savoury and affordable dishes with tea.

Discover Zaika - By Linda Benbow

First, you have to find the restaurant, and then you can discover its secrets such as an outdoor dining island in the middle of a small lake, complete with 12-foot high fountain, with the Burj Khalifa in the background towering above the hotels’ rented suites and residences. A photo opportunity indeed. A buggy ride from the main Al Murooj Rotana Dubai hotel takes you down the steep ramp, across the front of a lively pub and up a winding access slope where Zaika Restaurant lies hidden behind a hedge of greenery. step

inside the Indian restaurant and you will find a classy two-storey eatery with delightful booths and alcoves. the restaurant brings a kebab festival featuring sous Chef Madhu who will unveil a specially designed promotional menu comprising of a hot and spicy selection of kebabs, in addition to an à la carte menu. the main highlight will be on the selection of signature dishes such as tandoori salmon tikka (fresh salmon marinated in yogurt, saffron spiced with green chilli), Baluchi Boti Kebab (Lamb marinade with yogurt, garlic, brown onion and saffron), Skewered kebabs Banno Kebab (Chicken marinade in yogurt, yellow chilli and green cardamom), and vegetarian dishes such as Bhatti Ka Paneer tikka (cottage cheese marinated with yoghurt, bhatti spices and mustard oil cooked on charcoal grill). Daily Punjabi and Bollywood live entertainment will take the festival atmosphere of the restaurant to a higher note from 9pm to 11pm. UAE Digest, March 2010 l 51

The Terrace at Park Hyatt Dubai

Exclusive organic Zwyercaviar
Independent family enterprise esturiones del Rio negro, pioneers in the aqua farming of sturgeon, enjoys an impeccable reputation as eco-responsible farmers of sturgeon and producers of best-in-class caviar the terrace at Park Hyatt Dubai has introduced organic farmed ZwyerCaviar to the menu at its Raw Bar. Priced at Dh250 for 10gm or Dh2,995 for 125gm, the oscietratype caviar comes from Russian and siberian sturgeon, but is harvested exclusively onsite in Uruguay. ZwyerCaviar’s sturgeon grows in an unspoilt nature reserve in a largely natural environment in Uruguay. the sustainably run aqua farm meets the highest health and quality standards. ZwyerCaviar’s sturgeon live for up to 10 years in a lake and artificial river system where, every second, they are washed by thousands of litres of fresh water from the river Rio negro, one of the cleanest rivers in the world. ZwyerCaviar is caviar of the type ‘oscietra Flor de sal Malassol’ (Malassol means ‘lightly

• • • • • •

salted’). the caviar comes from Russian or siberian sturgeon and, thanks to regular inspections, the appraisal of each individual fish and, in the truest sense of the word, ‘handiwork’, ZwyerCaviar roe are harvested exclusively at the height of their maturity with respect to size, taste, colour and consistency. In its production process, the company uses the purest glacier water and exclusive sea salt (Flor de sal) from Portugal, which is an absolute novelty in the production of caviar. things to know about caviar: Caviar is consumed either with plastic or horn spoons as metal or silver has a negative effect on the taste Light caviar is more expensive than dark caviar Pearly quality, size, lack of colour and sheen of the grains are characteristics of a good caviar Caviar is very rich in protein (25%-30%) Caviar contains good cholesterol Caviar is eaten either on its own or on blinis, with “Gschwellti” or egg, but never lemon and mayonnaise


Tiger Chilli Crab festival at Mazina
Celebrate the year of the Tiger and try their Chilli Crab, one of the most famous national dishes of Singapore, as well as a variety of traditional Asian cuisine and beverages, during a weeklong celebration starting on March 5 at Mazina, The Address, Dubai Marina. They will be serving Tiger beverages too.

Steak and Spa, ideal decadent combination this Mother’s Day
Come and join the Ruth’s Chris Steak house team at Monarch hotel over the Mother’s Day weekend, from March 12 to 14 to celebrate Mother’s Day with 52 l UAE Digest, March 2010

your family in true American style. Every mother deserves to be pampered on this special day, and so to help create the perfect day and make your mother feel as wonderful as she is, the restaurant has teamed up with Mandara Spa to offer every mother who dines there a complementary voucher worth Dh150. Ruth Fertel, the driving force and woman behind Ruth’s Chris Steak house was a devoted mother herself, and so this date is extra special for the restaurant. Mandara Spa’s therapists will enrich your mother’s spa experience with warm and gracious hospitality and unpretentious charm – and really pamper her on this special day – and show her how much you care.

Mother’s Day in Fujairah
Treat your mother to dinner at Le Méri-

Celebrate Novrooz at Shabestan
From March 21st- 30th, the Radisson Blu hotel, Dubai Deira Creek celebrates the Iranian New Year with award-winning cuisine and traditional festivities. Novrooz, or Iranian New Year, marks the coming of spring and the awakening of nature after a long dark winter. Traditionally, it is a time to celebrate the renewal of all life on earth. Join the celebrations at the hotel’s Iranian restaurant featuring a special set menu available for lunch and dinner, including fresh Iranian Salads and Mast O Khiar with freshly baked Iranian Naan Bread, ‘Ash-E-Reshteh’- fresh Vegetables and Fine Grains cooked with Kashk, ‘Sabzi Polo Ba Mahi’- Persian dill rice served with local fried fish, a traditional Novrooz dish, followed by ‘Faloodeh Bastani’. A set price includes traditional Pub celebrates St. Patrick’s Day from March 12 – 17 with a specially prepared food menu featuring Irish specialities, and a St. Patrick’s Day special cocktail menu featuring favourite Irish beverages. Soak

Carpaccio de Manzo

dien Al Aqah, with delicious dining options from around the globe. All mothers staying at the resort during UK Mother’s Day, which is celebrated on March 14, will dine on 50 per cent off on any meals at Views Restaurant when accompanied by their children.

The Pub celebrates St. Patrick’s Day
Located on the second floor of the Radisson Blu hotel, Dubai Deira Creek, The

Dervish performers

up the traditional pub atmosphere, have a game of darts, sit back and watch the latest live sports from around the world and enjoy the traditional pub grub.

mint tea and sweets. Children and elders alike will be entertained with special performances presented by mystical illusionist Kaveh, flown in all the way from Tehran and dervishes performing mediation dances and playing instruments. UAE Digest, March 2010 l 53


ou have predicted a 15 per cent growth in the fashion industry in 2010 and a five per cent increase in job opportunities for fashion designers through 2016, what were the reasons and factors that prompted you to do so? The $12 billion Gulf clothing market is attracting more brands to the affluent and increasingly fashion-conscious region. Several factors contribute to the surge in the Arab fashion sector, including the emergence of a pervasive regional ‘mall culture’ as shown by the launching of numerous commercial centres; a robust retail fashion business; and a rising regional interest among the world’s top designers as well as the growing popularDesigned by Esmod students

in fashion industry
Tamara Hostal, Director and Founder, French Fashion University Esmod - Dubai, speaks on fashion industry trends


ity of Arab designers. Fashion houses identify the UAE as an emerging global fashion hub; an AC Nielsen survey revealed that a third of UAE respondents bought luxury goods and that UAE residents are some of the most prolific buyers of designer apparel and accessories. Even the domestic real estate sector has incorporated fashion into its line-up of developments, as embodied by the hotel Armani in the Burj Khalifa and the upcoming Isla Moda, the world’s first dedicated fashion island to be built on Dubai’s ‘The World’ project, which will feature limitededition homes designed by fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld. A similar Dh26 billion

Tamara Hostal

mixed-use residential and retail fashion district called ‘Style City’ is also in the works in Abu Dhabi. Our long years of experience in the fashion industry, complemented with our sole presence in the region, has given us the advantage of being able to predict trends and possible market activities for the Middle East’s fashion industry. Esmod is recognised as the oldest and most prominent school

54 l UAE Digest, March 2010

associated with international fashion education while French Fashion University Esmod is the region’s only fashion-based university. Since establishing in the UAE in 2006, we have witnessed an overwhelming response to the initiatives that we have introduced to the region’s fashion industry. The excellent response has also led to more students enrolling at FFUE, which has constantly increased year after year. Global brands setting up businesses and branches in the region has also become a key driving factor in the predicted increase in job opportunities for the fashion industry. With all of these factors put into place, we expect five per cent growth through 2016 and further growth to run until 2020. How has the current economic crisis affected the fashion industry in both an international and local scale? The global fashion industry, along with other international industries, has suffered a decline in business as a result of the crisis. Despite this, the region’s fashion industry has shown the least signs of being affected by the current economic downturn. What the crisis has done, however, is create a newfound consumer and creator attitude towards the industry. Today, the middle market, which is composed of a younger set of consumers, buy more trendy garments like they were buying magazines. The higher market is made up of consumers who tend to base their buying decisions on quality, creativity and exclusivity. Upbeat thinking can help push the fashion market towards more growth despite the crisis. Manufacturers and shop owners who have embraced this positive outlook are now looking into implementing new ideas and strategies to give satisfaction to their customers and offering products that match their budgets. h&M for example, is now trying to sell fashion garments at lowered prices. How do you evaluate the volume of people opting for a degree in fashion education in the uaE? The region has recognised the need to provide competitive and comprehensive training and education to help boost the business. Success in fashion not only brings

fame to a creator or designer but also to their respective countries. Many Arab designers are now recognised globally, but the UAE, Dubai in particular, will have to discover more fashion designers to help leverage itself as the next global hub for the fashion industry. What career options are currently available for fashion designers? Career opportunities for graduates range from fashion creation, production, marketing and communications. Many of our graduates are now working with renowned global fashion brands In the limelight like Yves Saint Laurent, Paco Rabanne, Elie Saab, Victoria’s Secret, Givenchy and Swarovsky. Some of our graduates have also established their own fashion brands. What is the uaE’s potential as a global fashion hub as compared to the international fashion scene? Dubai is a very cosmopolitan and chic city marked by a multi-cultural population that uses fashion as a means to express their backgrounds, culture, and inner creativity. Fashion also helps in creating a harmonious blend of both local and foreign cultures. The UAE’s multi-cultural residents have the potential to innovate through an eclectic mix of culture and creativity.

Do you think that the entry of renowned fashion brands in Dubai enhances its position as a global fashion hub? The influx of global fashion brands helps enhance the industry and the taste of the consumers. There is a wonderful feeling that comes when you discover a market that offers everything that you will ever need in terms of fashion. If local consumers are made more aware of the wide array of choices and the quality of clothing that you can find in the different shops here, then they might find themselves doing more shopping here instead of doing their shopping abroad.

UAE Digest, March 2010 l 55

An example of this is the recent opening of the Villa Moda shop in the DIFC area. The new store offers high-quality affordable products that are comparable to products being offered in shopping capitals from other countries. Do you think celebrities contribute to supporting fashion? Celebrities play a key role in helping promote today’s fashion industry. Take Victoria Beckham for example, who is a former member of the Spice Girls. Beckham is not a stylist nor does she have any fashion training or background, yet in such a short span of time, she has successfully marketed her own line of clothing and fashion accessories through Villa Moda shops worldwide. Today, the use of celebrity endorsers is a must to succeed in the business, as these celebrities have become a part of our lives— they are seen on magazines, TV, the internet and different billboards. Media has invested a lot in these celebrities. One key advantage earned from celebrity endorsement is that trendy garments are now offered at lowered prices and has now become more accessible to everybody. Global brands like h&M and La Redoute have also introduced fresh ideas and concepts like inviting a famous designer to design a whole
Final touches to a frilly frock

new collection exclusively for their brands. This becomes an excellent way to teach and increase the fashion level and understanding of the consumer; offering high fashion clothing at reduced prices that they can afford. Personally, I would love to be mentored by a top celebrity designer like Kenzo or John Galliano, who is recognised as the first designer for the Dior brand. How do you evaluate the level of consumer awareness in the region in terms of global fashion trends? The local market has to create its own trends. One of the key attractions of the region, in terms of fashion, is the infusion of Oriental and Arabic styles in designs. We should strive to attain a good position in the international fashion industry, but only if creativity is strong and not classic. The idea is not to copy what has been done by others, even if it is a top brand like Elie Saab or Jimmy Choo. Do you think Dubai can compete with other countries such as india and China in terms of labour needed for making fashion? It is not a question of competing with each other, as each country represents different

strengths and styles in terms of fashion. India is best known for its embellishment, embroidery, quality finishing and cost efficiency. however, Indian designers tend to always do the same in terms of their creations; offering a lack of creativity and seasonal trends. Another foreseen problem is that Indian designers prefer to keep their market limited only to Indians. China is well-placed in terms of cost volume production, even if Vietnam offers cheaper resources. Some fashion experts have even predicted that the next wave of famous successful designers will be coming from China, which is known for its rich culture and artistic creativity. The Chinese are also very open to the world and are excellent when it comes to promoting themselves. What are the best selling fashion sectors in the region? People in the region follow its fashion trends according to key factors like traditions, lifestyle and the different change in seasons. haute couture is the number one selling style in terms of fashion, followed by formal wear, which is classic and priced reasonably. Bridal wear and accessories has also become a top seller, while sportswear follows behind. Fashion is expected to perform exceptionally well worldwide in 2010, with textile and apparel trade forecast to reach $655 billion within the year. Textile and apparel currently account for around six per cent of total world exports, with the apparel sector representing 57 per cent of the international textile and apparel trade. Fashion employment opportunities are projected to grow by at least 10 per cent within the next five years. This is actually a very exciting time for the region’s fashion industry.

56 l UAE Digest, March 2010


Things that aren’t what they seem
By Linda Benbow


eauty is in the eye of the beholder, it is often said, but sometimes the beholder’s eyesight isn’t what it is cracked up to be. I certainly looked twice when I saw a men’s fragrance with a car name attached to it - Porsche. Then I found out that Porsche Design had launched its first fragrance line ‘The Essence’, in 2008, and was now introducing its new one ‘The Essence Intense’ to the market.

men that combine quality and beautiful materials with practicality and restrained design. These include classic accessories, a fashion and sportswear collection, electronic items and a perfume line. These products are designed by the Porsche Design Studio based at Zell am See (in Austria) and distributed throughout the world in brand boutiques, department stores, luxury department stores and exclusive travel retail sales outlets. Meanwhile, Cadillac had decided to come to the Middle East, - no, not as a car; instead it entered the perfumery business after successful introductions in other international markets, including Los Angeles and Toronto. Mr. Alwyn Stephen, President and CEO, Beauty Contact Inc., said: “The

tomobile range of fragrances – the premium perfume collection is aimed at customers of the Middle East, and the first line will be targeted at the male market. Cadillac Fragrance for Men opens with notes of ebony, cloves and incense, wrapped in sparkling aromas of grapefruit and chamomile, while the masculine tone of the perfume is woven in by geranium, tarragon and cinnamon. Mr. Stephen said that Beauty Contact has crossed major milestones in the development and marketing of the fragrance including licensing, research, development and brand promotion. The company has now moved into the next phase of shipments and sales. The first men’s Cadillac Fragrance line is already available in most of the major Middle Eastern markets, North America, Canada and parts of Europe. ZZegna has brought out its Spring Summer 2010 collection. Never subject to rules, new aesthetics flow throughout the collection, conveying a feeling of unsentimental refined street dandyism. The clothes

This modern product is a new orchestration, sensual and sophisticated, of The Essence. The tonic freshness that defines the initial scent has been kept. Its aromatic and woody facets have been intensified and ‘warmed’ with added notes, which provides a longer lasting scent. It has a mix of myrtle, juniper berry and bitter mandarin. Next, the fragrance opens to the intense and virile notes of Siberian pine and black pepper, which contrast with the spicy mildness of cinnamon from Ceylon. Finally, Haitian vetiver and amber give the creation its strength and sensuality. Porsche Design is a luxury brand that designs and develops products inspired by advanced technology, and was created in 1972 by Ferdinand Alexander Porsche. Since then, it has created timeless products for

launch of Cadillac Fragrance for Men takes the name of the well-known famous automobile brand under an official licence agreement with General Motors to design, develop, produce and market Cadillac Fragrances throughout numerous countries in the world”. This is not yet-another entry into the auUAE Digest, March 2010 l 57

should be worn with a touch of irony with personal eccentricity being a visual device, not a way of life. Tall, lean and slender proportions are shaped to be graphically masculine. Raw edge tailcoats and sleeveless jackets with clean yet soft necklines are paired with narrow trousers elongating the silhouette. Jackets with multiple layered pockets and trench suits emphasise the waist and enhance the shoulder proportion. The fabrics are light and compact with that ‘feel it’ quality. Fresh touch cottons, tussah, translucent silks and oversize striped suitings portray an effortlessly breezy air. Kangaroo leathers, ultra-light suedes and linen satins are all strikingly weightless while conveying a sense of inner strength and fortitude. Shades of blue reign supreme, from navy to ink to royal. Discrete tones of natural whites and concretes compact and blur into lilacs. What is swatch? It’s not just a watch - it’s a cultural code. It’s creative and it’s colourful. It’s unmistakably different. And just to make things perfectly clear, they are delighted to present the new Swatch Colour Codes Collection which takes them back to the roots where they began with ten bright shiny wristwatches, each with a shiny plastic strap in a single, solid colour and a case and dial in the same colour. Another ten new Colour Code watches feature plastic straps in solid colours with a matt surface, plastic cases to match the straps, and white dials with coloured numerals and indexes. And since Swatch is all about creation, art is at its origin. They have been working with creative artists ever since they started, and now they present, as part of the new Collection, six Swatch Art Specials by exciting graphic artists Gary Card, David Benedek (David’s also a member of the Swatch Snowboard Pro Team) and Carrie Munden. 58 l UAE Digest, March 2010

IMAGE 1: 2 in 1 graphic print belted dress at Dh239. The rocking 80s were a time of fun, frolic and fashion. So with that in mind, Jane Norman designed this gorgeous 2in1 graphic print-belted dress. Dress features scoop neck top with thick elastic waist belt and a tulip shaped multi-colored skirt. A fabulous dress, perfect for work to cocktail hour.

Unique colour
Totally transparent, Instant Gloss colours lips with a unique nuance… unique to each person who wears it. How does it work? The sensitive pigments in Instant Gloss react with the skin’s pH level. In contact with the skin, it changes into a subtle shade of pink which instantly enhances the lips’ natural colour. The result is a colour unique to every wearer. Available in the only Clarins Boutique in the Middle East in Dubai Mall

Other than a passion for fashion, John Richmond has always nurtured a great interest in rock music which he reflects in his creations of irreverent style teamed with prints. Another fundamental idea he encompasses is ‘street culture’ that identifies with slogans like: ‘ love and hate’, ‘eat cake’ and ‘wanna be your dog’. Because of this double-thread link to music, he has dressed stars such as Bryan Adams, David Bowie, Elle MacPherson and Annie Lennox.


Picturesque comforters
By Linda Benbow
t’s difficult to find the right threads, materials and craft necessities for the many sewing enthusiasts in this country. hobbyists find a shop that sells needles, embroidery frames, various threads for various types of sewing, ribbons and buttons – and keep that information to themselves, or only share with similar sewingminded friends. A good, old-fashioned word like haberdashery is not so easy to use nowadays, but that is what we are looking for, a shop that caters to home sewers. So it was with great joy that I discovered that the quilting fraternity now has a light and airy shop in Jumeirah that caters to their needs. Classic Quilts is on the first floor of Jumaira Plaza, the pink mall on the Beach Road, and not only does it hold small classes for up to three people at the back of the shop with its large windows, but it also hires out its long arm machine for those who want to finish off large projects, and will even undertake the work for you if required. Racks of colourful cotton materials suitable for close sewing with fillings are available, batiks from the Far East and cloth printed with seasonal pictures are there too. The correct thickness of thread for multiple layers of cloth sewing are stacked neatly along the wall
A quilted picture entitled Bab Al Yemen which was entered in this year’s International Quilt Show


on colourful and shimmering spools. The shop is a joint endeavour of Mala (the quilter) and Shanker (the businessman) Ramakrishnan who opened their first shop in Deira a few years ago. They moved from Muscat to Abu Dhabi in 1995 when Mala took to quilting as a hobby. In 2004 she bought a Gammill Long Arm Quilting Machine and had an initiation to long-arm machine quilting from Beryl Cadman, a leading quilter based in Ireland. In June 2005, Mala opened Classic Quilts & Quilting in Dubai with an object of making and selling quilts, providing quilting services and promoting quilting in the UAE. She is a member of International Quilt Association, Dubai Quilters’ Guild, and Abu Dhabi Quilting Guild.

Benefits of Quilting • Eases stress. Classic Quilts has a following
of doctors and psychiatrists who find quilting to be the best stress buster. That is because the mind relaxes. Plus, quilting involves colours, making motifs, and each individual can create her own pattern without feeling the stress that it needs to turn out correctly. Even a disastrous selection of colours will turn out well in any quilting piece that is done

Creative outlet. People want to try something new, apart from art and other crafts. You can visit the branch at Jumeirah Plaza and take a one-day (three hours) workshop and you’d have tried out a new craft. The projects arranged are usually small bag embellishments and patchwork mobile phone holder. • Made for loved ones – Quilts are usually gifted, they go to children, grandchildren or even partners and families. Mala gave an example of how one lady wanted personalised messages to be quilted for her mother’s 90th birthday. Various technique design elements were used. The actual process and the end product was a touching experience for Mala, as she could relate to the messages and the designs, from a mother’s point of view. A four-day quilt show was held last month with a showing of artistic patchwork quilts, lecture demonstrations and workshops by world renowned quilting experts, plus an international quilt competition which attracted submissions from a number of overseas residents, who flew in to visit the show en masse. A charity quilt was raffled with proceeds benefiting the Dubai Autism Centre. The quilt had a design of a Magic Lantern and was put together by the local based Quilting Bees (including Mala).

Mala at work with the long arm quilting machine

UAE Digest, March 2010 l 59


Art for money’s sake


Art Dubai preview at Hunnar Gallery, Jumeirah

rt is not just for art’s sake. Art is also an investment item that looks good while making money for the owner. This is proved by the upcoming Art Dubai exhibition, to be held from March 17 to 20, a subsidiary of the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), held in partnership with Abraaj Capital and sponsored by Van Cleef & Arpels. Plus, for good measure, it will be held at Madinat Jumeirah, the exclusive hotel partner for the event. Now in its fourth year, Art Dubai will include the return of the Global Art Forum, the second annual Abraaj Capital Art Prize; ‘The Poetry of Time’- a museum quality exhibition curated by Van Cleef & Arpels; Art Park and Contemparabia 2010. Also, it has invited not-for-profit arts organisation Bidoun Projects to curate its programme of special projects highlighting the importance of collaboration in the region. Contemparabia offers a two-week itinerary that includes architectural tours, historical excursions, performances, and visits to contemporary artist studios, fashion designers showrooms, museums,
The Midnight in Dubai timepiece, part of the Van Cleef & Arpels exhibition, reproduces the stars in the Dubai night sky. It is equipped with a unique and extremely complex movement which links the notion of time to the cosmos

non-profit organisations, private collectors’ homes and much more. John Martin, Director and Co-Founder of Art Dubai said, “Over the past three years, this event has set the business of art within a context that is intelligent, stimulating and relevant. Through collaborations with world-class galleries and arts organisations, we have established this

as an unmissable date on the international art calendar, offering a unique vantage point for collectors to discover the most innovative younger galleries and artists, alongside established names from around the world. But the event is not just about making money – it gives some of it away too –to its official CSR programme involving ‘Start’, a children’s charity. Visit

Island inspiration for local artists
Desert Islands sponsors Emirati talent mentored by local artist Jalal Luqman Desert Islands has taken a step ahead beyond its mission for wildlife and nature conservation - to embrace and foster budding Emirati artists. The nature-rich archipelago’s developer, Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC), has joined forces with Emirati artist Jalal Luqman to sponsor his incredible initiative Jalal’s Art Trip, which supports the next generation of Emirati artists to grow from amateur to proficient artists. “I remember how hard it was to become an artist 20 years ago and how scarce support was. There was little, if any, support by individuals or organisations who supported art or artists, and that is why I started Jalal’s Art Trip, to be the vehicle in which I lend that helping hand to new upcoming artists” said Luqman. “Through it’s Arabian Wildlife Park, majestic green hilltops, salt domes and some of the most aweinspiring scenery in the region, Sir Bani Yas Island is the perfect location to serve as the inspiration for artists.” The trip is only the first part of the programme. Luqman will hold a series

of art workshops over the course of six weeks which will be a key part of the education process and will be a comprehensive mix of practical and theoretical skills culminating in each student producing a painting that will be showcased at Ghaf Art Gallery in a 10-day exhibition scheduled at 11th to 21st of April.

60 l UAE Digest, March 2010


Showing at UAE cinemas during March
el Gibson has been persuaded to return to the big screen to play the part of Thomas Craven in a film version of the 1980’s television mini-series. First shown in 1985, Edge of Darkness was a unique drama about a police inspector who tries to come to terms with his daughter’s death, and ends up involved in an international conspiracy involving environmental terrorism, plutonium, and the Knights of St John. Written by Troy Kennedy Martin, and directed by Martin Campbell, Edge of Darkness starred the late Bob Peck as Craven and Joe Don Baker as Jedburgh, the golf-obsessed American agent who may just be acting for a higher power. The action shifts between Craven’s cottage, the corridors of Whitehall, an underground nuclear reprocessing plant, and, in a surreal highlight, an abandoned nuclear bunker stocked by Harrods. Winner of several prestigious awards, it remains highly regarded to this day. Mel, you took a long break from acting prior to Edge of Darkness. Have you gotten the acting bug back? Well, yeah, I walked away from it after Signs, because I just felt I was a bit stale and it wasn’t ringing my bells. So, I focused on directing and writing and producing and all that kind of stuff. And then it was time to come back. Now, I’ve got the acting bug back because I felt like, all of a sudden, maybe, after all these years, I might have something to offer again. And it coincided with a very good piece of material. Now there was a compelling story with good


elements attached, and I dug it, and it gave me a chance to work with Ray Winstone and others, good stuff. So, if it wasn’t this, it would have been something else, but this was the best thing that I saw. What was it like getting in front of the camera again? I remember Martin Campbell, the Director, had to tell me to tone it down a couple of times because you forget levels and stuff. After that it was pretty natural. I mean, geez, you don’t do something for 30 years and forget it. You have some intense fight scenes in this film. Did you do anything differently than in your earlier films? Well, the only thing I did with that was I just ordered a chiropractor for the day after. (Laughs) Because I knew what it was going to feel like. I knew I was going to wake up like roadkill, and I did. You don’t bounce back as quick as you used to. And that guy’s 25, right? He’s taking it easy on you, okay? And it’s not a pleasant experience. You don’t pop back the way you used to. But it’s okay, so long as it still looks good. (Laughs)

Did you watch the original UK production of Edge of Darkness, because your performance reminded me in some ways of Bob Peck’s? I watched it back in the 1980s, avidly. It was some of the best TV I’d ever seen. And British television at that time was great. But I made a point to not watch it again because I didn’t want it to be a part of that, but to just try and be truthful. But, hey, if you’re saying that my performance was anything like what Bob Peck did, I’m flattered. Because I think he was amazing. Did you learn anything exciting while you were away from the industry, about yourself, about life in general? Well, I didn’t really get away from the industry. I learned about writing; I learned about conceiving—from conception to writing to bringing that to the screen, to mounting a film to producing it to directing it to actually singlehandedly marketing and distributing, and doing everything except exhibition. Now I’ve bought a bunch of theatres in Australia called the Dendy chain, so I’m an exhibitor as well.

UAE Digest, March 2010 l 61


Intellectually stimulating line-up
The four-day Emirates Festival of Literature reveals its programme details
By Vanit Sethi


or four days, Dubai’s book lovers were oblivious to the outside world around them, surrounded as they were by more than 100 writers from across the globe in a sea of words, ideas and debates. Taking off on the wings of a stupendously successful beginning last year – the first Emirates Airline International Festival of Literature – this year’s event flew high in the stratosphere of intellectual stimulation. here’s a gist of the exciting events held at the Dubai Festival City from March 10-13 for those who could not make it to the venue for various reasons.

Main Programme
This year’s festival opened on March 10 with a session on ‘Emerging Emirati Writers’ followed by the launch of Khaled Al Budoor’s collection of historic Emirati poetry going back to the 1800s, entitled Looking Back with Love. In a session entitled ‘Inspiration’, the trio of Bahaa Taher, Yann Martel and Imtiaz Dharker revealed how and why they write, and what drives them to do so. Prize-winning Egyptian author Yousef Ziedan read from his novel Azazil, spoke about the book’s tumultuous publication, and the impact of winning the ‘Arabic Booker’. Bestselling business author and public speaker Robert Greene gave his perspective on the global economic crisis, weaving in examples from history to his own theories. The day culminated with an eagerly anticipated session with Martin Amis who discussed his latest novel The Pregnant Widow. The second day of the festival (March 11) saw Alexander McCall Smith (No 1 Ladies 62 l UAE Digest, March 2010 Detective Agency), author and jet-setting commentator Shobhaa De, and renowned BBC broadcaster John Simpson take part in author sessions on a range of fascinating topics. Leading writers in the crime genre came together for the first time in the ‘Crime Writers’ Panel’. Francis Wheen and DJ Taylor analysed the art of biography, discussing the challenges and potential pitfalls of tackling political and literary giants. Well-known Emirati poet Mohammed Khalifa bin hadher delighted audiences with a poetry reading session. Distinguished historian Margaret Macmillan also took part in one session. Another highlight was a session of Arabic poetry, which saw some of the most progressive and influential contemporary Arab poets like Amjad Nasser, Iman Mersal and Samer Abou hawwash taking the stage together. A stellar line-up entertained festivalgoers on the third day (March 12). BBC broadcaster Kate Adie delighted audiences with anecdotes from her long and varied career. Fiction writers Chris Cleave, Vikas Swarup, Yann Martel, and leading graphic novelist Marjane Satrapi provided insights into their craft in a series of one-to-one conversations. Imtiaz Dharker and Fadhil Al Azzawi performed select readings of their work. Later, William Dalrymple talked about his first travel book for more than 10 years. ‘An Evening with 4 Emirati Poets’ included Khaled Al Budoor, Nujoom Al Ghanem, Khulood Al Mu’alla, and Ahmed Rashid Thani. Imran Ahmad discussed the personal challenges of getting published in a post-9/11 world, while BBC Security Correspondent Frank Gardiner appeared via video link from London to discuss his new book Far Horizons. Indian novelist Amit Chaudhuri and local musicians brought the

evening to a close with a musical finale. Arab literature took the centrestage on the last day of the festival (March 13) with two major events. In ‘Author & Translator’, Yann Martel, Samer Abou hawwash, Abdo Khal and Anthony Calderbank explored the relationship between authors and their translators. ‘From Page to Screen’ saw leading writers Vikas Swarup, Mark Billingham and Chris Cleave debate on what makes for a successful adaptation. Maha Gargash discussed how she broke away from the traditional role of women in the UAE to fulfil her ambitions. A preview of an exciting collection of new writing from the Arab world by 39 of its brightest young literary stars appeared in a session titled ‘Beirut 39.’ Adding more flavour to the festival was a cookery demonstration of healthy Indian food by Anjum Anand, the new face of Indian cuisine. For travel writing fans, Tim Butcher described his adventures in Africa which were the inspiration for the bestselling Blood River and his new novel Chasing the Devil. At the end of the day, Amit Chaudhuri joined Alexander McCall Smith for a magical ‘Words & Music’ event which will knit together the two art forms.

also a wonderful line-up of authors for preschool and primary aged children, including Polly Dunbar, Conn Iggulden, Oliver Jeffers, Julia Johnson, Caroline Lawrence, Michelle Paver, Tony Ross and Ian Whybrow. Gervase Phinn’s solo performance delighted adults and older children. For the first time, the festival hosted a range of workshops for adults and children. Experts from around the world provided master classes for adults in creative writing, drama and translation (Arabic to English). Children were also able to take part in creative writing, drama and illustration workshops. The free Fringe Festival, a key attraction of the four-day event, took place onsite and was designed to act as a platform for Dubai’s young writers and performers to showcase their talent. Readings, singing and drama performances made the Fringe Festival a memorable experience. Following last year’s success, the festival once again featured Education Day events, giving an opportunity for students from

• 100 authors • 50 per cent more sessions • Arabic interest sessions doubled to 20 • 4 sessions dedicated to emirati writers and writing • Children’s programme tripled • new musical strands, workshops and cookery demonstrations
various institutions in the UAE to interact with festival authors. The Education Days were held at the Dubai Scientific and Cultural Association, Al Mamzar, and in Dubai Public Library on March 10 and 11 (Wednesday and Thursday). Thus, a packed literary calendar was wrapped up this month. Now, wait for the next year’s Emirates Litfest, all ye Dubai’s bibliophiles!

Workshops and events
Following feedback from the 2009 festival, the organisers tripled the size of the children’s programme this year. All 17 sessions ran on March 12 and 13 (Friday and Saturday). Three mega-star writers -- Jacqueline Wilson, Darren Shan and Garth Nix wowed older children. Roger McGough delighted younger children and their parents with his own brand of performance poetry. New for this season were three children’s storytelling events in Arabic by Nadine Touma, Taghreed Najjar and Fatima Sharafeddine. There was UAE Digest, March 2010 l 63


Tracking state terror
By Con Clude
ubai Police has now come in the global spotlight due to its sophisticated investigation into the killing of hamas commander Mahmoud Al Mabhouh. Within a few days, Dubai Police had pieced together all strands in the highprofile assassination with near certain links to Mossad, the Israeli spy agency. Monitoring CCTV cameras at the airport, hotels and malls, the police identified 11 persons with various passports, along with their photographs taken from video clips. But just a day after the police came out with the ‘Wanted’ list, most countries got back saying all passports were forged. This raised the hackles of Dubai Police amid a growing suspicion that only Mossad could be behind such a dubious operation. It was claimed that actual citizens’ names were used, putting their lives in jeopardy. This created a huge diplomatic row between the countries concerned, with envoys being summoned for explanations. After the police unearthed 15 more names (involved in other ‘shadowy’ tasks), the scale of the operation became clear. What beats comprehension is why 26 people had to be involved in pursuing one person with hardly any security, since he was supposed to be incognito? Though Dubai Police is trying its best to hunt down the killers and seek the cooperation of all EU countries, the outcome of these efforts remains in doubt, since we know what happens when the storm blows over - it’s business as usual. But will dirty tricks continue, regardless? Is might the


right even today? how long can archaic practices of a bygone era be allowed to smear modern liberal policies?

humour take over. After all, who hasn’t heard of Murphy’s law: ‘If things have to go wrong, they will’.

Rumour vs humour
Of late, things seem to be going wrong for Dubai again, albeit in small ways. First, it was the malfunctioning elevators at Burj Khalifa, which left people stranded at ‘stratospheric’ levels for close to an hour. Then, the aquarium at Dubai Mall started leaking with some mall areas getting flooded, raising panic levels. And then, on the last day of DSF, a portion of the India Pavilion at Global Village collapsed due to heavy rains, killing one woman and forcing the premature shutting down of the complex. Before cassandras of pessimism raise their heads, it will be good to remember that such things keep happening in big cities across the world, Dubai being no exception. Of course, the authorities try their best to keep things under control, and do an admirable job of it without raising a hue and cry. But in their zest for order, the complete information is rarely forthcoming. This provides grist to rumour mills, thus making mountains out of molehills. Wouldn’t it be wiser to let the news flow naturally? Why this oversensitivity to the slightest hint of criticism? We know there are people willing to pull down Dubai, but let’s not indulge in knee-jerk reactions. Things get blown out of proportion if you try to hide them. Perhaps, it may help once a while to let

The smarter ones
Bollywood stars coming to promote their films in Dubai is nothing new, but more stars seem to be doing that nowdays. The latest premiere was of Karthik Calling Karthik, dubbed a ‘romantic suspense thriller’, starring Farhan Akhtar and Deepika Padukone. It is another Bollywood offering that will appeal to an international audience. Two halls in the Grand Cineplex were reserved for the premiere a night before its UAE release on February 25. The two young stars and the film director were present, along with Emirates NBD officials, at the show for journalists and invited guests. Young women mobbed Farhan and were quite vocal about their admiration. Pretty petite Deepika must have wished the young guys could be half as vocal. Women always have an upper hand! And when it comes to children, you just can’t beat them! In a surprise electronic quiz contest between scribes and schoolkids, the children won hands down 6-2. During an educational exhibition at the Airport Expo, Promethean (the pioneers of new teaching equipment) organised an impromptu contest on UAE history and geography at their stand. While journalists did know their facts, it was difficult for them to keep pace with ‘superfast’ kids. Generation Z is always one step ahead!

64 l UAE Digest, March 2010

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