"We're always trying to do something different," says Neil Tennan of Pet Shop Boys.
"We're always trying to do something different," says Neil Tennan of Pet Shop Boys.

Their own devices

In the years since the Pet Shop Boys' -debut single, West End Girls, -became a global smash, selling 1.5 million copies, Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe have sold 50 million -albums and had 39 further hits. The statistics alone are impressive but, perhaps uniquely for such a formidable pop act, the band has successfully and effortlessly moved between mass and niche culture, art high and low. The current tour for Yes, their latest album and arguably their finest work of pure pop in years, includes a spectacular stage show featuring enormous stacks of white cubes that nod to Rachel Whiteread's Embankment installation in the Turbine Hall of London's Tate Modern gallery. It's a theme that has run throughout their career. The Pet Shop Boys have worked with the late Derek -Jarman, written a feature film -starring -Barbara Windsor called It Couldn't Happen Here and collaborated with the likes of Liza Minnelli, Rufus Wainwright, Zaha Hadid, David Bowie, Johnny Marr, Bernard -Sumner, Tina Turner, Dusty Springfield, Sam Taylor-Wood, Elton John, Robbie Williams and Kylie Minogue. One of their most -successful and well-realised projects in recent years has been their superlative score to Sergei Eisenstein's -Battleship -Potemkin. You wouldn't have got all that from Wham! or -Kajagoogoo, who formed in the same year as the Pet Shop Boys. What English groups have been so ambitious and broad-minded, -easily crossing the boundaries between music, art, film, fashion and theatre? The Pet Shop Boys and their body of work are a legacy of the post-punk era rather than glossy 1980s pop milieu. Since the band's inception, Tennant and Lowe have continually used their intellectual ideals (born in the radicalism of the late 1970s) and sought to embrace new technology and ideas in art to keep -moving forward. After establishing such a track record on their own terms, why did the Pet Shop Boys choose to collaborate so closely with Brian Higgins's Xenomania - one of the hottest pop production houses on the planet - for Yes? There's something in Tennant's smile that suggests it was done, in part, as a provocation, to confound people's expectations of what a Xenomania-produced Pet Shop Boys record would sound like. "Just to give you a negative spin on the new album, there are people who have said: 'I was expecting it to be like Call the Shots by Girls Aloud meets Delusions of Grandeur by the Pet Shop Boys.' They said that about the new single," he explains. "But we didn't think: 'What's our favourite record by Xenomania and what's our favourite Pet Shop Boys record? Let's try and cram them together.'" "Somebody told me they thought it would be West End Girls with Push the Button," chuckles Lowe, whose droll humour is at odds with his unmoving, taciturn stage persona. In fact, the Pet Shop Boys had wanted to work with Higgins for some time, but friends and their own material conspired against them. "Firstly, we heard that New Order, who we know, were working with them and thought: 'Bernard's got in there first,'" Tennant says. "It's always been a strange thing with the Pet Shop Boys and New Order, and especially Bernard Sumner, in that we've had similar record collections and liked the same things. It's a Sin and Bizarre Love Triangle are both inspired by the same German record, though I can't remember which one now. That's the first reason. "When it came to the album Fundamental, we'd already made the track Numb with Trevor Horn, and we could just imagine him doing a really amazing job, so we went with him for the whole album. With Yes we wrote loads of songs and a lot of them were really up pop songs." It simply seemed like a logical fit to collaborate with the creators of some of Girls Aloud and Sugababes' biggest hits. Lowe says that part of the pleasure of recording Yes was being part of the "whole pop experience" that is the Xenomania hit factory. "Girls Aloud were hanging around. You'd go into the sitting room and they'd all be there with their laptops. We had lunch with Alesha Dixon." "She's very nice," Tennant interjects. The experience reminded the Pet Shop Boys of the 1980s music scene, when they were pivotal figures in nightclubs, the Top of the Pops studio and European music festivals. "We once flew back from an Italian pop festival, and on the plane was The Smiths, The Style Council with Paul Weller, Depeche Mode and Spandau Ballet," Tennant says. "Dave Gahan was making jokes about the plane crashing." Back in London, the Pet Shop Boys were a constant presence on the music scene - and not only in their 1980s heyday. "In those days, the Limelight had opened," says Lowe. "And everyone was always in the VIP bar. George Michael, Gary Kemp, Patsy Kensit. The last time this happened was with Britpop with the Groucho Club. Also in the early 1980s there was the Star Bar at the Camden Palace. Everyone was there." The same was so of the Hacienda in Manchester, where Tennant and Lowe found themselves in the early 1990s. It's remarkable that the pair have been present in so many of Britain's most fertile musical scenes. "We're like Andy Warhol aren't we?" laughs Lowe. However, Yes once more underlines the fact that the Pet Shop Boys have far more to them than a pair of well-connected 1980s -bohos. S-ocial commentary has always been a strong suit of -Tennant's lyricism, whether through the exploration of Catholic guilt in the sublime It's a Sin or exploitative relationships in Rent. "'I've got the brains, you've got the looks, let's make lots of money' from the song Opportunities - that's about Thatcherism," Tennant says. "I think pop music works as a commentary to society and to attitudes, and that's the Pet Shop Boys," he says. This time around, songs such as Beautiful People and Love Etc are explicit digs at celebrity culture, something that has taken even the astute pop observer Tennant by surprise. "We wrote a song called Shameless for the B side of Go West that was about celebrity culture, which we thought then had reached its -zenith. Actually, it had barely started. That was 16 years ago. "I like doing that. I like writing songs with an element of humour about them as well. So there's a whole strand of the Pet Shop Boys that's social stroke political commentary." It's there, too, in Building a Wall, which Tennant says addresses "the homogenisation of everything. All our towns have all the same shops. I sometimes find Britain stifling because of that. There's this monoculture everywhere. I'm hoping with the recession... I've noticed it's clearing out the crap". Tennant says that Building a Wall is a classic Pet Shop Boys song in the way it brings together "allusions and references while not really having a clear linear meaning. They're the ones I tend to like. I don't always like obvious meanings. At the same time, it's very satisfying when you take something and see it through to the bitter end. My favourite poem has always been The Waste Land by TS Eliot - all these different voices and allusions. Even a song like West End Girls was supposed to be like The Waste Land because it's got different voices in it." Their blending of the political with arch aesthetics, of high and low culture, of high glamour and simple pop hits stems, according to Tennant, from the group's origins in the post-punk era. Indeed, could the late, great John Peel's maxim that The Fall were "always different and always the same" be applied to the Pet Shop Boys? "One hundred per cent," Tennant says. "We're always trying to do something different, but it's always going to be a bit the same because it's the two of us." He explains how a post-punk ethos of "rip it up and start again" has -always shaped the band's music and performance. "I think most people don't -realise this. Punk was great, but it was a bit limiting. When you took punk ideology and applied it without any fear of market or of fashion, that's where interesting things happened, and that's where the Pet Shop Boys come from. In a way, it's even where Annie Lennox has come from, but it's not where Take That have come from. That's why there's an ideological division -between modern pop of that kind and other pop." It's a mentality that still shapes how the Pet Shop Boys write, and it explains the simplicity of tracks - the crisp bounce of Love Etc and the carefree, guitar-flecked pop of Do You See Me Coming, which echoes the work Tennant did with Electronic's Bernard Sumner and Johnny Marr. "I think anyone who thinks about the meaning of their music has a relationship to punk because punk was essentially about meaning over form, ability and technique," Tennant says. "The thing punk didn't do was play too many notes, and there's a wonderful economy to it." It's that economy that is still manifest in Yes, the band's collaborations and their live performances. Tennant and Lowe continue to move forward and refuse to sit back - as they undoubtedly could easily do - on cosy 1980s nostalgia. As Tennant explains, it's a punk thing: "I think people of our generation, the post-punk generation, as they've got older they still have their roots in loving David Bowie when they were teenagers and being inspired by punk even if they didn't make punk records. There's also the thing of saying no, and not always being agreeable."

The specs: Taycan Turbo GT

Engine: Dual synchronous electric motors
Power: 1,108hp
Torque: 1,340Nm
Transmission: Single-speed automatic (front axle); two-speed transmission (rear axle)
Touring range: 488-560km
Price: From Dh928,400
On sale: Orders open


Engine: Supercharged 3.5-litre V6
Power: 400hp
Torque: 430Nm
On sale: Now
Price: From Dh450,000

Everybody Loves Touda

Director: Nabil Ayouch 

Starring: Nisrin Erradi, Joud Chamihy, Jalila Talemsi

Rating: 4/5

The specs

Engine: 1.8-litre 4-cyl turbo
Power: 190hp at 5,200rpm
Torque: 320Nm from 1,800-5,000rpm
Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch auto
Fuel consumption: 6.7L/100km
Price: From Dh111,195
On sale: Now

In-demand jobs and monthly salaries
  • Technology expert in robotics and automation: Dh20,000 to Dh40,000 
  • Energy engineer: Dh25,000 to Dh30,000 
  • Production engineer: Dh30,000 to Dh40,000 
  • Data-driven supply chain management professional: Dh30,000 to Dh50,000 
  • HR leader: Dh40,000 to Dh60,000 
  • Engineering leader: Dh30,000 to Dh55,000 
  • Project manager: Dh55,000 to Dh65,000 
  • Senior reservoir engineer: Dh40,000 to Dh55,000 
  • Senior drilling engineer: Dh38,000 to Dh46,000 
  • Senior process engineer: Dh28,000 to Dh38,000 
  • Senior maintenance engineer: Dh22,000 to Dh34,000 
  • Field engineer: Dh6,500 to Dh7,500
  • Field supervisor: Dh9,000 to Dh12,000
  • Field operator: Dh5,000 to Dh7,000

Engine: 4-litre V8 twin-turbo
Power: 630hp
Torque: 850Nm
Transmission: 8-speed Tiptronic automatic
Price: From Dh599,000
On sale: Now

How green is the expo nursery?

Some 400,000 shrubs and 13,000 trees in the on-site nursery

An additional 450,000 shrubs and 4,000 trees to be delivered in the months leading up to the expo

Ghaf, date palm, acacia arabica, acacia tortilis, vitex or sage, techoma and the salvadora are just some heat tolerant native plants in the nursery

Approximately 340 species of shrubs and trees selected for diverse landscape

The nursery team works exclusively with organic fertilisers and pesticides

All shrubs and trees supplied by Dubai Municipality

Most sourced from farms, nurseries across the country

Plants and trees are re-potted when they arrive at nursery to give them room to grow

Some mature trees are in open areas or planted within the expo site

Green waste is recycled as compost

Treated sewage effluent supplied by Dubai Municipality is used to meet the majority of the nursery’s irrigation needs

Construction workforce peaked at 40,000 workers

About 65,000 people have signed up to volunteer

Main themes of expo is  ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’ and three subthemes of opportunity, mobility and sustainability.

Expo 2020 Dubai to open in October 2020 and run for six months

Sweet Tooth

Creator: Jim Mickle
Starring: Christian Convery, Nonso Anozie, Adeel Akhtar, Stefania LaVie Owen
Rating: 2.5/5


Directors: Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, Justin K. Thompson
Stars: Shameik Moore, Hailee Steinfeld, Oscar Isaac
Rating: 4/5


Zia Mashwani (PAK) bt Chris Corton (PHI)

Super lightweight:
Flavio Serafin (BRA) bt Mohammad Al Khatib (JOR)

Super lightweight:
Dwight Brooks (USA) bt Alex Nacfur (BRA)

Tariq Ismail (CAN) bt Jalal Al Daaja (JOR)

Abdullatip Magomedov (RUS) bt Sulaiman Al Modhyan (KUW)

Mohammad Fakhreddine (LEB) bt Christofer Silva (BRA)

Rustam Chsiev (RUS) bt Tarek Suleiman (SYR)

Khamzat Chimaev (SWE) bt Mzwandile Hlongwa (RSA)

Alex Martinez (CAN) bt Anas Siraj Mounir (MAR)

Jarrah Al Selawi (JOR) bt Abdoul Abdouraguimov (FRA)

What is tokenisation?

Tokenisation refers to the issuance of a blockchain token, which represents a virtually tradable real, tangible asset. A tokenised asset is easily transferable, offers good liquidity, returns and is easily traded on the secondary markets. 


Developer: Luminous Productions
Publisher: Square Enix
Console: PC, PS5
Release date: January

Company of Heroes 3

Developer: Relic Entertainment
Publisher: SEGA
Console: PC, PS5, XSX
Release date: February

Star Wars Jedi: Survivor

Developer: Respawn Entertainment
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Console: PC, PS5, XSX
Release date: March

Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League

Developer: Rocksteady Studios
Publisher: Warner Bros
Console: PC, PS5, XSX
Release date: May

Final Fantasy XVI

Developer: Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix
Console: PS5
Release date: June

Street Fighter 6

Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Console: PS5, XSX, PC
Release date: June

Diablo IV

Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
Console: PC, PS5, XSX
Release date: June

Baldur's Gate 3

Developer: Larian Studios
Publisher: Larian Studios
Console: PC
Release date: August

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of The Kingdom

Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Console: Nintendo Switch
Release date: September

Marvel's Spider-Man 2

Developer: Insomniac Games
Publisher: PlayStation
Console: PS5
Release date: Fall

Assassin's Creed Mirage

Developer: Ubisoft
Publisher: Ubisoft
Console: PC, PS5, XSX, Amazon Luna
Release date: 2023


Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Console: PC, Xbox
Release date: 2023


Romeo Akbar Walter

Rating: 2/5 stars
Produced by: Dharma Productions, Azure Entertainment
Directed by: Robby Grewal
Cast: John Abraham, Mouni Roy, Jackie Shroff and Sikandar Kher 

Race card

5pm: Handicap (PA) Dh80,000 (Turf) 1,600m; 5.30pm: Maiden (PA) Dh80,000 (T) 1,400m

6pm: Handicap (PA) Dh80,000 (T) 1,400m; 6.30pm: Handicap (PA) Dh80,000 (T) 1,200m

7pm: Wathba Stallions Cup Handicap (PA) Dh70,000 (T) 2,200m

7.30pm: Handicap (TB) Dh100,000 (PA) 1,400m

The specs

Engine: two permanent magnet synchronous motors
Transmission: two-speed
Power: 625hp
Torque: 850Nm
Range: 456km
Price: from Dh737,480
On sale: now


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Name: SmartCrowd
Started: 2018
Founder: Siddiq Farid and Musfique Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech / PropTech
Initial investment: $650,000
Current number of staff: 35
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Various institutional investors and notable angel investors (500 MENA, Shurooq, Mada, Seedstar, Tricap)

Women’s Asia Cup

UAE fixtures
Sun Oct 2, v Sri Lanka
Tue Oct 4, v India
Wed Oct 5, v Malaysia
Fri Oct 7, v Thailand
Sun Oct 9, v Pakistan
Tue Oct 11, v Bangladesh

UAE squad
Chaya Mughal (captain), Esha Oza, Kavisha Kumari, Khushi Sharma, Theertha Satish, Lavanya Keny, Priyanjali Jain, Suraksha Kotte, Natasha Cherriath, Indhuja Nandakumar, Rishitha Rajith, Vaishnave Mahesh, Siya Gokhale, Samaira Dharnidharka, Mahika Gaur

Find the right policy for you

Don’t wait until the week you fly to sign up for insurance – get it when you book your trip. Insurance covers you for cancellation and anything else that can go wrong before you leave.

Some insurers, such as World Nomads, allow you to book once you are travelling – but, as Mr Mohammed found out, pre-existing medical conditions are not covered.

Check your credit card before booking insurance to see if you have any travel insurance as a benefit – most UAE banks, such as Emirates NBD, First Abu Dhabi Bank and Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, have cards that throw in insurance as part of their package. But read the fine print – they may only cover emergencies while you’re travelling, not cancellation before a trip.

Pre-existing medical conditions such as a heart condition, diabetes, epilepsy and even asthma may not be included as standard. Again, check the terms, exclusions and limitations of any insurance carefully.

If you want trip cancellation or curtailment, baggage loss or delay covered, you may need a higher-grade plan, says Ambareen Musa of Souqalmal.com. Decide how much coverage you need for emergency medical expenses or personal liability. Premium insurance packages give up to $1 million (Dh3.7m) in each category, Ms Musa adds.

Don’t wait for days to call your insurer if you need to make a claim. You may be required to notify them within 72 hours. Gather together all receipts, emails and reports to prove that you paid for something, that you didn’t use it and that you did not get reimbursed.

Finally, consider optional extras you may need, says Sarah Pickford of Travel Counsellors, such as a winter sports holiday. Also ensure all individuals can travel independently on that cover, she adds. And remember: “Cheap isn’t necessarily best.”

How to become a Boglehead

Bogleheads follow simple investing philosophies to build their wealth and live better lives. Just follow these steps.

•   Spend less than you earn and save the rest. You can do this by earning more, or being frugal. Better still, do both.

•   Invest early, invest often. It takes time to grow your wealth on the stock market. The sooner you begin, the better.

•   Choose the right level of risk. Don't gamble by investing in get-rich-quick schemes or high-risk plays. Don't play it too safe, either, by leaving long-term savings in cash.

•   Diversify. Do not keep all your eggs in one basket. Spread your money between different companies, sectors, markets and asset classes such as bonds and property.

•   Keep charges low. The biggest drag on investment performance is all the charges you pay to advisers and active fund managers.

•   Keep it simple. Complexity is your enemy. You can build a balanced, diversified portfolio with just a handful of ETFs.

•   Forget timing the market. Nobody knows where share prices will go next, so don't try to second-guess them.

•   Stick with it. Do not sell up in a market crash. Use the opportunity to invest more at the lower price.

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

The specs

Engine: 4-litre twin-turbo V8

Transmission: eight-speed PDK

Power: 630bhp

Torque: 820Nm

Price: Dh683,200

On sale: now

Our legal columnist

Name: Yousef Al Bahar

Advocate at Al Bahar & Associate Advocates and Legal Consultants, established in 1994

Education: Mr Al Bahar was born in 1979 and graduated in 2008 from the Judicial Institute. He took after his father, who was one of the first Emirati lawyers

The Secret Kingdom

Director: Matt Drummond

Stars: Alyla Browne, Alice Parkinson, Sam Everingham

Rating: 3/5

If you go

The flights

Etihad flies direct from Abu Dhabi to San Francisco from Dh5,760 return including taxes.

The car

Etihad Guest members get a 10 per cent worldwide discount when booking with Hertz, as well as earning miles on their rentals. A week's car hire costs from Dh1,500 including taxes.

The hotels

Along the route, Motel 6 (www.motel6.com) offers good value and comfort, with rooms from $55 (Dh202) per night including taxes. In Portland, the Jupiter Hotel (https://jupiterhotel.com/) has rooms from $165 (Dh606) per night including taxes. The Society Hotel https://thesocietyhotel.com/ has rooms from $130 (Dh478) per night including taxes.

More info

To keep up with constant developments in Portland, visit www.travelportland.com. Good guidebooks include the Lonely Planet guides to Northern California and Washington, Oregon & the Pacific Northwest.

How to turn your property into a holiday home
  1. Ensure decoration and styling – and portal photography – quality is high to achieve maximum rates.
  2. Research equivalent Airbnb homes in your location to ensure competitiveness.
  3. Post on all relevant platforms to reach the widest audience; whether you let personally or via an agency know your potential guest profile – aiming for the wrong demographic may leave your property empty.
  4. Factor in costs when working out if holiday letting is beneficial. The annual DCTM fee runs from Dh370 for a one-bedroom flat to Dh1,200. Tourism tax is Dh10-15 per bedroom, per night.
  5. Check your management company has a physical office, a valid DTCM licence and is licencing your property and paying tourism taxes. For transparency, regularly view your booking calendar.

Company name: Clara
Started: 2019
Founders: Patrick Rogers, Lee McMahon, Arthur Guest, Ahmed Arif
Based: Dubai
Industry: LegalTech
Funding size: $4 million of seed financing
Investors: Wamda Capital, Shorooq Partners, Techstars, 500 Global, OTF, Venture Souq, Knuru Capital, Plug and Play and The LegalTech Fund

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