This Is It

After months of secrecy, the final footage of Michael Jackson performing finally arrived on our screens, as 20 premieres happened simultaneously around the world. This meant that the London screening, which I saw, took place at 1am GMT yesterday. It was an especially poignant occasion as it was in the British capital that the singer had been due to perform the series of concerts that he was preparing for when he died.

The film is an exercise in discretion. It is a concert movie, one that makes no attempt to get inside the man, or show him in anything other than a positive light. Most of the action is footage of Jackson at various rehearsals, going through moves for such hits as Thriller and The Way You Make Me Feel. Rarely, a song is shown - Billie Jean, for example - in which the so-called King of Pop seems to nail the tune in one continuous performance. To be fair, at the time of filming the singer still had several more weeks before he was due to perform in London.

Kenny Ortega, who was directing the stage show, also directs the film, so it's no surprise that This Is It shows Jackson as a hard-working singing and dancing machine. The action is confined almost exclusively to the controversial singer, dressed in various costumes, rehearsing from April until June this year as Ortega attempts to show what the concerts would have looked like, had they taken place.

The film opens with an explanation that the footage was being shot mainly for Jackson's own use, but also for a DVD that was going to accompany the tour. It is soon apparent that the singer was a long way from his best, labouring through his dance moves - and this is despite the use of jump-cuts and cross-cutting to give the impression of a single performance. There are hardly any interviews and none at all with Jackson himself. This is a real shame, as what interview footage there is - of the dancers as they excitedly get ready to work on the tour - is one of the highlights of the film. There is one Australian dancer who can't hold back the tears.

Alas, such moments are rare, as Ortega instead decided to concentrate on footage of Jackson. The first number is Something Got Me Started, closely followed by the singer announcing that he is going to do a comeback tour in which, he says, he's going to give the fans what he believes they want: a concert packed full of his most popular tunes. And so the pattern is set. The movie trots out the hits, but it's clear that the singer was long past his heyday.

Not only does Ortega make no attempt to get inside the mind of Jackson, à la Martin Bashir, but the cameramen also seem scared of the star. Every single shot of him looks as though it has been selected by his publicist. Every time the lens gets too close to Jackson's face there is a quick pullback into long shot. It is symptomatic of a film that treads way too carefully around the star and the desire to preserve his image as the consummate entertainer.

There are some sublime moments, especially footage of Jackson that is mixed in with The Big Sleep, which was going to be used to introduce Smooth Criminal. There was also to have been a video featuring clones, playing in the background as They Don't Care About Us was played. There are some clever cuts and some great green screen footage. It is also revealed that the concert was to have had a very strong environmental message.

What the film does not do, nor even attempt, is provide any information that would give any insight into the circumstances surrounding the musician's death or his state of mind at the time. It's a shame that Jackson's passing seems to have made the singer untouchable - for the time being at least - as one must assume that more explosive footage of him exists. It just has no place in this uninspiring film.

The specs

Engine: 2.3-litre 4cyl turbo
Power: 299hp at 5,500rpm
Torque: 420Nm at 2,750rpm
Transmission: 10-speed auto
Fuel consumption: 12.4L/100km
On sale: Now
Price: From Dh157,395 (XLS); Dh199,395 (Limited)

Email sent to Uber team from chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi

From: Dara

To: Team@

Date: March 25, 2019 at 11:45pm PT

Subj: Accelerating in the Middle East

Five years ago, Uber launched in the Middle East. It was the start of an incredible journey, with millions of riders and drivers finding new ways to move and work in a dynamic region that’s become so important to Uber. Now Pakistan is one of our fastest-growing markets in the world, women are driving with Uber across Saudi Arabia, and we chose Cairo to launch our first Uber Bus product late last year.

Today we are taking the next step in this journey—well, it’s more like a leap, and a big one: in a few minutes, we’ll announce that we’ve agreed to acquire Careem. Importantly, we intend to operate Careem independently, under the leadership of co-founder and current CEO Mudassir Sheikha. I’ve gotten to know both co-founders, Mudassir and Magnus Olsson, and what they have built is truly extraordinary. They are first-class entrepreneurs who share our platform vision and, like us, have launched a wide range of products—from digital payments to food delivery—to serve consumers.

I expect many of you will ask how we arrived at this structure, meaning allowing Careem to maintain an independent brand and operate separately. After careful consideration, we decided that this framework has the advantage of letting us build new products and try new ideas across not one, but two, strong brands, with strong operators within each. Over time, by integrating parts of our networks, we can operate more efficiently, achieve even lower wait times, expand new products like high-capacity vehicles and payments, and quicken the already remarkable pace of innovation in the region.

This acquisition is subject to regulatory approval in various countries, which we don’t expect before Q1 2020. Until then, nothing changes. And since both companies will continue to largely operate separately after the acquisition, very little will change in either teams’ day-to-day operations post-close. Today’s news is a testament to the incredible business our team has worked so hard to build.

It’s a great day for the Middle East, for the region’s thriving tech sector, for Careem, and for Uber.

Uber on,


The biog

Date of birth: 27 May, 1995

Place of birth: Dubai, UAE

Status: Single

School: Al Ittihad private school in Al Mamzar

University: University of Sharjah

Degree: Renewable and Sustainable Energy

Hobby: I enjoy travelling a lot, not just for fun, but I like to cross things off my bucket list and the map and do something there like a 'green project'.

8 traditional Jamaican dishes to try at Kingston 21

  1. Trench Town Rock: Jamaican-style curry goat served in a pastry basket with a carrot and potato garnish
  2. Rock Steady Jerk Chicken: chicken marinated for 24 hours and slow-cooked on the grill
  3. Mento Oxtail: flavoured oxtail stewed for five hours with herbs
  4. Ackee and salt fish: the national dish of Jamaica makes for a hearty breakfast
  5. Jamaican porridge: another breakfast favourite, can be made with peanut, cornmeal, banana and plantain
  6. Jamaican beef patty: a pastry with ground beef filling
  7. Hellshire Pon di Beach: Fresh fish with pickles
  8. Out of Many: traditional sweet potato pudding

Company name: Klipit

Started: 2022

Founders: Venkat Reddy, Mohammed Al Bulooki, Bilal Merchant, Asif Ahmed, Ovais Merchant

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Digital receipts, finance, blockchain

Funding: $4 million

Investors: Privately/self-funded

Isle of Dogs

Director: Wes Anderson

Starring: Bryan Cranston, Liev Schreiber, Ed Norton, Greta Gerwig, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Scarlett Johansson

Three stars

The specs: 2018 GMC Terrain

Price, base / as tested: Dh94,600 / Dh159,700

Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder

Power: 252hp @ 5,500rpm

Torque: 353Nm @ 2,500rpm

Transmission: Nine-speed automatic

Fuel consumption, combined: 7.4L  / 100km

UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets