It is high time commuters had a time machine

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May 23rd, 2010

There are few things as aggravating in life as being stuck bumper-to-bumper on the Abu Dhabi to Dubai road, traffic snarled and no way out. Times like that get my brain conjuring fantasy escape routes – such as my car sprouting wings and floating above the mayhem. Recently, I was trapped in a just such [...]

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Ladies’ day brings A-Z of property without the XY chromosomes

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April 22nd, 2010

Perhaps the fact that none of the women on The National’s business desk received the invitation to Cityscape Abu Dhabi’s “ladies only” session last Wednesday should have been a harbinger. I found out about it only when one of my colleagues, a Mr Rupert Wright – whom nobody would mistake for a lady – forwarded [...]

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Old-fashioned service still works

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March 26th, 2010

On any given day, you might find Mohan Jashanmal outside one of his family’s stores, perhaps the one at Abu Dhabi Mall. Clad in a khandoura and traditional Emirati headscarf, the India native greets passersby, urging them to come in and have a look around. He ignores the chagrined store manager who is beseeching him [...]

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Hollywood stars? I prefer a media summit any day

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March 13th, 2010

The folks at the Laureus World Sports Awards might have assumed that by persuading the likes of Hugh Grant and Gwyneth Paltrow to show up to the Emirates Palace, they had the upper hand in Abu Dhabi’s swoon quotient. But for me, the main attraction turned out to be across the emirate on Yas Island [...]

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The art of switching on lights

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December 31st, 2009

Brocas Burrows was just another expatriate executive seeking a sun-splashed fortune in Dubai in September 2008. Mr Burrows’s company, Platinum Vision, builds high-end home automation systems, the sort of thing that opens blinds, sets the air-conditioning, lowers the lights to a setting marked “romantic”, all at the touch of a mobile phone. It was a [...]

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We suffer from money amnesia

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November 12th, 2009

A better mind than mine said that if we don’t remember history we’re doomed to repeat it. It seems that, now, we don’t even allow our foolish mistakes enough time to become history before we repeat them. Consider a flier I recently came across for an “exclusive offer” from Emirates Bank. Beneath a photo of [...]

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There is an emotional commitment to buying art

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October 29th, 2009

The untitled painting by Laxman Shreshtha caught my eye. The placid greys of the background contrasted with the reds and oranges in the young girl’s scarf. In profile, she looked a bit wistful, as if she had just realised the loss of innocence required for adult life. And the price was right: bidding would start [...]

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One to One with a self-made woman

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August 27th, 2009

When Lisa Steel waited on tables as a teenager, she never used a notebook to take customer orders. It was not because she wanted to show off. She was illiterate. “I had it all in my head. I’d walk back into the kitchen and someone else would write it down,” Ms Steel says. “I had [...]

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Woman in a mine’s world

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June 25th, 2009

Not many people think turning 40 is good news. But for Ines Scotland it was cause for celebration. Hitting the Big Four-O made it easier for her to get permission to enter Saudi Arabia for business. “I immediately applied for my multiple-entry visa,” she says, laughing. “It seems you’re considered ‘no longer desirable’, and I [...]

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Thoughts on the unthinkable

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March 12th, 2009

Perhaps it should not have come as a surprise that Nassim Nicholas Taleb, having agreed to an interview, would then go silent. After all, the core idea in his book, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, is expecting the unexpected. “The world we live in,” he says, “is vastly different from the [...]

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