Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing Team won the 2014-15 Volvo Around-the-World Ocean Race

SDC11703Considered the world’s toughest sailing race, Azzam (Arabic for ‘determination’) crossed the finish line in Gothenburg, Sweden, on 11 June after covering approximately 39,000 miles that required nearly 9 exhausting months to complete. The race began in Alicante, Spain, on 4 October and included stops in 11 ports. The 7 international teams, each carrying a standard crew of 9, competed on 65 foot, ultra-fast, one-design, state-of-the-art sailboats.

Congratulations to the Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing Team! The next race is in 3 years — 2017-18.

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July 29, 2015 · 5:27 pm

Dubai is the most expensive city in the world to buy dinner, according to TripAdvisor.com and Ipsos, and the 9th most expensive holiday destination in the world. [Business Travel Newsletter, 20 June 2015]

A two-course dinner with a bottle of wine averages $167 in Dubai. A three-day stay averages $1,524, far shy of the most expensive, Cancun in Mexico at $2,000, but higher than Paris, Toyko, Toronto or Singapore.

How did a small emirate in the middle of a troubled region manage to become a global tourist hub that commands such high prices? A great airline? Fantastic hotels? Over-the-top shopping? Skiing? A business-friendly government? Yes, yes, yes, yes and yes. However, robust marketing may top the list. The Dubai government has invested heavily in pizazz and publicity consisting of superlatives. The “world’s best, biggest, highest, most iconic, most breath-taking” and a long list of other mind-blowing accolades have placed Dubai on the “gotta go there” global map.

Just pace yourself at the dinner table.

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Kensington Palace gate

Fond memories of Lady Diana returned while standing at the magnificent gate that was adorned with flowers in front of London’s Kensington Palace in September 1997. In Elton John’s words, “The legend never ends.”

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Next stop – Tunisia

pamelaSteve-7781Enjoying our visit to the Mediterranean marina in Sidi Bou Said, Tunisia.

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A $20 billion refi at 1%? You’re kidding, right?

No photo to share. No need to. Read on.

International Monetary Fund estimated that the emirate of Dubai faced $30 billion in maturities this year. That is reportedly equal to a third of its annual economy. But — an agreement was reached last March allowing the sheikdom to refinance $20 billion at 1% fixed interest, a quarter of the original cost, for five more years. And, the term is renewable. Wow!

A $10 billion bond extended by the UAE central bank plus a $10 billion loan from the oil-rich neighboring emirate of  Abu Dhabi helped Dubai state-controlled companies to weather the global financial crisis in 2008.

The rationale to refinance? Dubai’s domestic economy expanded 4.9% in 2013 and witnessed a double-digit upturn in apartment and villa sales. Improved credit worthiness theoretically boosts the entire country’s competitiveness both regionally and internationally.

Pick up the book STAYING AFLOAT – Three Years in Abu Dhabi and enjoy a colorful tale of my experience as an American expat while working and living in wealthy Abu Dhabi. Available via Amazon.

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Big? Uh uh. Momentous! It’s Dubai. Now what?

dubai-creek-extensions_clip_image028Purportedly the largest infrastructure project in the world is in the oven.

The monstrous Dubai Water Canal project was launched last October by the Ruler of Dubai, H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. What is it? It’s a 3 kilometer (1.8 mile) canal that stretches from the Arabian Gulf inland into the heart of the Business Bay district where the tallest building in the world is located. The canal will add 6 kilometers (3.6 miles) of waterfront real estate and is master planned to encompass in excess of 450 new restaurants, luxurious marinas, four world-class hotels, deluxe residences, an iconic Trade Center, the list goes on and on and on and ….

Cost of the canal alone? About $2 billion. The completed project is forecast to attract 20 to 22 million visitors per year so the trickle-down (trickle?) effect should cover the investment. Right?

What particularly fascinates me is that the Dubai Water Canal will be wide and deep enough to accommodate luxury yachts up to 200 feet! Captain, drop me off downtown. I have a business meeting to attend, and my wife wants to shop for a new wardrobe.

When might this whole shibang be completed? 2017 – three years prior to the World Expo which will be hosted by Dubai in 2020. But within those six years, a more momentous project than this momentous Water Canal project is very well apt to pop up. Hey, it’s Dubai.

Pick up the book STAYING AFLOAT – Three Years in Abu Dhabi and enjoy a colorful tale of my experience as an American expat while working and living in wealthy Abu Dhabi. Available via Amazon.

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Dubai is world’s 7th most expensive city in which to live and work

2 March 2014

Following last year’s 41% increase in Dubai’s rental cost index, it now costs an average of just under $72,000/year per employee to rent a residential and office space in Dubai according to Savills World Cities Live-Work Index, as reported in Arabian Money. Savills’ rankings have as much to do with global profile and prominence as with economics and size.

Hong Kong continues its reign as the #1 most expensive city in which to live-work, followed by London, New York, Paris, Singapore, and #6 Tokyo.


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Dubai’s rising house prices are the world’s fastest. Dẻja vu again?

22 December 2013

Through the end of this year’s 3rd Quarter, the emirate of Dubai’s residential property prices are the world’s fastest rising, surpassing the extraordinary price rises in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, according to renowned property broker Knight Frank.

Get this ~ Through the first nine months in 2013, residential prices in Dubai increased 28.5%, compared to a global average of 4.6%. For reference, the global index now stands at 4% above its previous peak in the 2nd Quarter of 2008.

Digging further, the data shows Dubai’s growth actually slowed in the 3rd Quarter, partially allaying fears of another real estate bubble in the emirate — emphasis on partially.

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Interviewed Live on Dubai TV

November 2013

Steve talking to TommoInterviewed by international broadcaster Derek “Tommo” Thompson at the One World – Five Continents Conference in Abu Dhabi in November, Steve discussed the emirate’s rulers’ mindset to THINK BIG – quantum leaps, not incremental steps, and at record-breaking pace.

Pick up the book STAYING AFLOAT – Three Years in Abu Dhabi to acquire a colorful and comprehensive first-hand account of my experience as an American expat while working and living in wealthy Abu Dhabi. Available through Amazon.

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Top international cities or countries in which to work, live and travel

October 31, 2013

Which international city would YOU choose to live, or work, or travel? Geneva? Sydney? Amsterdam? Singapore? Dubai? How about country?

Polls citing different criteria, and presumably targeting different socio-economic groups, are completed each year. Do surveys significantly influence readers, or merely provide colorful reading? Being a frequent global traveler, I find them to be fundamentally arbitrary. Read on …

An online poll called Ipsos’ Top Cities Index conducted in February 2013 by Ipsos MORI, a leading market research company in the UK and Ireland, surveyed 18,147 people ages 16 to 64 from 24 countries asking which cities rank tops in which to work, live and travel combined.

Condẻ Nast Traveler issued its Readers’ Choice Awards for 2013 based upon which cities its travel readers most enjoyed to travel.

Also this year, CBS MoneyWatch listed the 10 Best Economies for Expats. Self-explanatory. 7,000 of the 6.3 million Americans living abroad were surveyed by HSBC.

The Ipsos Index ranked, in order, New York City, London and Paris the top international cities in which to work, live and travel combined. New to the rankings, Abu Dhabi ranked 4th overall. Those polled (which did not include residents of the UAE) were asked to rate a list of 48 cities.

In the business category, Abu Dhabi came in 2nd behind New York City, although New York City topped the World’s Favorite City, Zurich was named Best City in which to Live, and Paris was named Best City to Visit.

Of no surprise, citizens of a particular country tended to vote for a city in their native country, e.g. Germans voted for Berlin, Japanese voted for Tokyo, Istanbul was favored by citizens polled in Turkey, and so forth. Striving to achieve objectivity, the Ipsos Index polled people at random internationally.

The cities which “could do better”, as per the Ipsos Index, were Moscow, Brussels, Madrid, Istanbul and Bangkok. The least popular of the 48 major cities were Budapest, Casablanca, Warsaw, Tehran, and Karachi.

Condẻ Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards named San Miguel De Allende as the #1 most enjoyable city to visit followed, in order, by Firenze, Budapest, Salisburgo, Charleston, San Sebastian, Vienna, Rome, Siena and Quebec.

And for countries, CBS MoneyWatch named Switzerland as the Best Economy for Expats followed, in order, by China, Qatar, Thailand, Cayman Islands, Indonesia, Germany, Oman, Singapore, Turkey.

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