You Don't Have to Say You Love Me by Sherman Alexie. Courtesy Little, Brown
You Don't Have to Say You Love Me by Sherman Alexie. Courtesy Little, Brown

My favourite reads: Mina Aldroubi

Picking five favourite reads has been almost impossible. My life has revolved around politics and war, so by reading I’m able to transport to another universe. I picture myself walking alongside the characters. It’s beautiful every time – it becomes my escape.

The Gaze by Elif Shafak (1999)

My all-time favourite. I love this book, the plot, the characters – all of it. It’s an uplifting tale of love in its many forms. The book is about the love between an overweight woman and a feisty dwarf, who are tired of being stared at wherever they go and decide to reverse roles. It’s a beautiful story that explores how people’s perceptions of others are shaped at first sight.

The Bastard of Istanbul  by Elif Shafak (2006)

A tale of two families divided between two cities, Istanbul and Tucson, and two identities, Turkish and Armenian. The book tells a story about the struggles of living with the past and trying to survive without one. It asks what happens when personal pain is ignored and how it can shape the future. The trick is to concentrate on the characters, not the political or social elements of the book.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (1998)

“When you really want something, the universe always conspires in your favour.” This is one of the key phrases in The Alchemist – the tale of a Spanish shepherd, Santiago, who dreams night after night that there is treasure beneath the Egyptian pyramids. During his journey, Santiago meets an alchemist who leads him toward spiritual enlightenment and self-empowerment.

Animal Farm by George Orwell (1949)

This is a classic tale of a revolution that is then tainted by the overwhelming power of corruption. It is a timeless story about a group of barnyard animals who revolt against their human master, only to then fall under a tyrant chosen by their own kind. Orwell lays out a devastating satire of the possible consequences of our social and political acts.

You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me by Sherman Alexie (2017)

This is a gripping memoir of the American poet and filmmaker’s relationship with his mother. A tale about love, loss and forgiveness, Alexie lays bare his complicated feelings on his mother’s life and death. Written in poems and short stories, the author portrays how grieving the loss of others can lead to self-discovery.

Mina Aldroubi is a foreign reporter at The National


Read more:

My favourite reads: Panna Munyal

My favourite reads: Sarah Townsend

My favourite reads: Viqar Ahmad

My favourite reads: Chris Newbould


Company Profile

Name: HyveGeo
Started: 2023
Founders: Abdulaziz bin Redha, Dr Samsurin Welch, Eva Morales and Dr Harjit Singh
Based: Cambridge and Dubai
Number of employees: 8
Industry: Sustainability & Environment
Funding: $200,000 plus undisclosed grant
Investors: Venture capital and government

Our family matters legal consultant

Name: Hassan Mohsen Elhais

Position: legal consultant with Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultants.

Mercer, the investment consulting arm of US services company Marsh & McLennan, expects its wealth division to at least double its assets under management (AUM) in the Middle East as wealth in the region continues to grow despite economic headwinds, a company official said.

Mercer Wealth, which globally has $160 billion in AUM, plans to boost its AUM in the region to $2-$3bn in the next 2-3 years from the present $1bn, said Yasir AbuShaban, a Dubai-based principal with Mercer Wealth.

Within the next two to three years, we are looking at reaching $2 to $3 billion as a conservative estimate and we do see an opportunity to do so,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Mercer does not directly make investments, but allocates clients’ money they have discretion to, to professional asset managers. They also provide advice to clients.

“We have buying power. We can negotiate on their (client’s) behalf with asset managers to provide them lower fees than they otherwise would have to get on their own,” he added.

Mercer Wealth’s clients include sovereign wealth funds, family offices, and insurance companies among others.

From its office in Dubai, Mercer also looks after Africa, India and Turkey, where they also see opportunity for growth.

Wealth creation in Middle East and Africa (MEA) grew 8.5 per cent to $8.1 trillion last year from $7.5tn in 2015, higher than last year’s global average of 6 per cent and the second-highest growth in a region after Asia-Pacific which grew 9.9 per cent, according to consultancy Boston Consulting Group (BCG). In the region, where wealth grew just 1.9 per cent in 2015 compared with 2014, a pickup in oil prices has helped in wealth generation.

BCG is forecasting MEA wealth will rise to $12tn by 2021, growing at an annual average of 8 per cent.

Drivers of wealth generation in the region will be split evenly between new wealth creation and growth of performance of existing assets, according to BCG.

Another general trend in the region is clients’ looking for a comprehensive approach to investing, according to Mr AbuShaban.

“Institutional investors or some of the families are seeing a slowdown in the available capital they have to invest and in that sense they are looking at optimizing the way they manage their portfolios and making sure they are not investing haphazardly and different parts of their investment are working together,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Some clients also have a higher appetite for risk, given the low interest-rate environment that does not provide enough yield for some institutional investors. These clients are keen to invest in illiquid assets, such as private equity and infrastructure.

“What we have seen is a desire for higher returns in what has been a low-return environment specifically in various fixed income or bonds,” he said.

“In this environment, we have seen a de facto increase in the risk that clients are taking in things like illiquid investments, private equity investments, infrastructure and private debt, those kind of investments were higher illiquidity results in incrementally higher returns.”

The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, one of the largest sovereign wealth funds, said in its 2016 report that has gradually increased its exposure in direct private equity and private credit transactions, mainly in Asian markets and especially in China and India. The authority’s private equity department focused on structured equities owing to “their defensive characteristics.”

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The line up

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Electric scooters: some rules to remember
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Google wasn't new to busting out April Fool's jokes: before the Gmail "prank", it tricked users with mind-reading MentalPlex responses and said well-fed pigeons were running its search engine operations .

In subsequent years, they announced home internet services through your toilet with its "patented GFlush system", made us believe the Moon's surface was made of cheese and unveiled a dating service in which they called founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page "Stanford PhD wannabes ".

But Gmail was all too real, purportedly inspired by one – a single – Google user complaining about the "poor quality of existing email services" and born "millions of M&Ms later".

The biog

Job: Fitness entrepreneur, body-builder and trainer

Favourite superhero: Batman

Favourite quote: We must become the change we want to see, by Mahatma Gandhi.

Favourite car: Lamborghini

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