Akon. AFP
Akon. AFP

Akon on his new album Stadium and upcoming UAE shows

Akon is at ease mingling with fellow musicians or world leaders. After wowing fans in sold out concerts in China, the 43-year-old rapper travelled to Marrakech to take part in COP22, the United Nations Climate Change conference which is running until November 18. The Senegalese artist attended the high profile affair to discuss his work with the organisation Akon Lighting Africa. We caught up with the Akon in a village on the outskirts of the Moroccan city, where he paired up with the Solar Impulse pilot Bertrand Piccard to teach kids how to build solar lights.

What brought you to the conference here in Marrakech?

I’m here for the COP22 pretty much to see and hear what the discussions are, see the engagement that the officials are putting forth linked to climate change so on and so forth. But also to continue staying active in the work I’m doing with renewable energy in rural areas throughout Africa. I kind of want to get more engaged, more educated and figure out how to move forward in a more effective way.

Your career found you easily moving from the entertainment field, to business and politics? Are there different Akons when they are in each field? Or do you approach them all in the same way and attitude?

Actually it’s the same Akon , I just use music as the bridge to fulfill my dreams and passions, you know, and excitements at the end of the day.

You have worked hard on you Akon Lighting Africa projects. How fulfilling has that role been? Is it more rewarding than show business?

It’s more fulfilling to me than music honestly. Yeah, I mean, you think you’re changing people’s lives through music but when you do this kind of work, you can really see the impact. Of course through music, you’re rewarded through awards. But that doesn’t really mean anything, it’s all just propaganda towards the corporate agenda to make more money and tours utilising my likeness. Whereas this, you can actually see the benefits and impacts it has in people’s lives. It’s a way bigger reward for me.

Can you tell us a bit about your film project American King? The only thing we know about is what you put on your Instagram? Is it a film, short film  - can you explain?

So American King is a hilarious story, the best way to describe it it's almost the like Coming to America, but the flipside, coming back to Africa. The whole concept is spilled around this King who passed away, but he had a son that the villagers who didn't know nothing about. But he was shipped to the US early because there was a civil war happening back in his town. So when the king passed away there was no one to take heir to the throne. The oracle at this point, is searching for who can be the next king. So there's a tradition in Africa, if you don't know who the next king is, the oracle picks the king. To pick the king, he takes a feather, puts it on the top of the village male's head and if the wind blows the feather off then clearly he's not the king. If it stays, then he is the king. They go through the whole village, looking for the next king but the feather falls off all of them. The last male, the oracle puts the feather on his head the wind blows and poof, the feather falls off.

So everyone is confused like “who is our king, the oracle never lies.” So he replies, well the king is in the land of the free, home of the brave. But he’s a complete American and knows nothing about Africa. He needs to come back to Africa to learn about the culture and run the village. It’s a parallel comedy between African Americans and Africa.

You recently appeared in the new Gucci Mann single Moon Walk - can you tell us a bit about that track and how it came together?

When Gucci first got out of jail, the first thing he did was come to my studio. Me and Gucci, we go way back, he's a great friend of mine. We were doing a lot of work before he had to go in and clearly when you get locked up - if you haven't been locked up before - it's this thing like time comes to a standstill. When you walk in, you come out with the same state of mine, as if nothing ever happened. Time has passed you by, but you're in a completely warped time zone. I think the same thing happened to him. As soon as he came out of jail, he went straight back to the studio, literally as if it was paused then we continued working. We worked on some great records and Moon Walk was one of them.

What’s the status on the album Stadium? Are you still planning to release it this year as a four CD set?

It’s funny you ask because you’ll probably be the first to get it. It’s still four bodies of work, that’s going to be presented on an app. It’s releasing before the end of the year, we’re trying to get it out before Christmas. Within the next week or two weeks I’ll be out there promoting the app.

We have been seeing you a lot in the UAE in club show mode? Can we expect a full Akon concert show soon in the UAE?

That’s coming very soon. There’s a private concert that I’ll be performing at in COP22 and it won’t be open to the public much. But we are working on a UAE tour, also Qatar and throughout Asia.

For more details on Cop22 go to www.cop22.ma



Display: Main – 6.7" FHD+ Dynamic Amoled 2X, 2640 x 1080, 22:9, 425ppi, HDR10+, up to 120Hz; cover – 3/4" Super Amoled, 720 x 748, 306ppi

Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, 4nm, octa-core; Adreno 740 GPU

Memory: 8GB

Capacity: 256/512GB

Platform: Android 13, One UI 5.1.1

Main camera: Dual 12MP ultra-wide (f/2.2) + 12MP wide (f/1.8), OIS

Video: 4K@30/60fps, full-HD@60/240fps, HD@960fps

Front camera: 10MP (f/2.2)

Battery: 3700mAh, 25W fast charging, 15W wireless, 4.5W reverse wireless

Connectivity: 5G; Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.3, NFC (Samsung Pay)


Cards: Nano-SIM + eSIM; no microSD slot

Colours: Cream, graphite, lavender, mint; Samsung.com exclusives – blue, grey, green, yellow

In the box: Flip 4, USB-C-to-USB-C cable

Price: Dh3,899 / Dh4,349

Company Profile

Name: Direct Debit System
Started: Sept 2017
Based: UAE with a subsidiary in the UK
Industry: FinTech
Funding: Undisclosed
Investors: Elaine Jones
Number of employees: 8

Ziina users can donate to relief efforts in Beirut

Ziina users will be able to use the app to help relief efforts in Beirut, which has been left reeling after an August blast caused an estimated $15 billion in damage and left thousands homeless. Ziina has partnered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to raise money for the Lebanese capital, co-founder Faisal Toukan says. “As of October 1, the UNHCR has the first certified badge on Ziina and is automatically part of user's top friends' list during this campaign. Users can now donate any amount to the Beirut relief with two clicks. The money raised will go towards rebuilding houses for the families that were impacted by the explosion.”


Created by: Jim Mickle, Beth Schwartz

Stars: Nonso Anozie, Christian Convery, Adeel Akhtar, Stefania LaVie Owen

Rating: 3.5/5

UAE athletes heading to Paris 2024

Abdullah Humaid Al Muhairi, Abdullah Al Marri, Omar Al Marzooqi, Salem Al Suwaidi, and Ali Al Karbi (four to be selected).
Men: Narmandakh Bayanmunkh (66kg), Nugzari Tatalashvili (81kg), Aram Grigorian (90kg), Dzhafar Kostoev (100kg), Magomedomar Magomedomarov (+100kg); women's Khorloodoi Bishrelt (52kg).

Safia Al Sayegh (women's road race).

Men: Yousef Rashid Al Matroushi (100m freestyle); women: Maha Abdullah Al Shehi (200m freestyle).

Maryam Mohammed Al Farsi (women's 100 metres).

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

Abu Dhabi racecard

5pm: Maiden (Purebred Arabians); Dh80,000; 1,400m.
5.30pm: Maiden (PA); Dh80,00; 1,400m.
6pm: Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan National Day Cup (PA); Group 3; Dh500,000; 1,600m.
6.30pm: Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan National Day Cup (Thoroughbred); Listed; Dh380,000; 1,600m
7pm: Wathba Stallions Cup for Private Owners Handicap (PA); Dh70,000; 1,400m.
7.30pm: Handicap (PA); Dh80,000; 1,600m


Juventus 1 (Dybala 45')

Lazio 3 (Alberto 16', Lulic 73', Cataldi 90+4')

Red card: Rodrigo Bentancur (Juventus)

What is the definition of an SME?

SMEs in the UAE are defined by the number of employees, annual turnover and sector. For example, a “small company” in the services industry has six to 50 employees with a turnover of more than Dh2 million up to Dh20m, while in the manufacturing industry the requirements are 10 to 100 employees with a turnover of more than Dh3m up to Dh50m, according to Dubai SME, an agency of the Department of Economic Development.

A “medium-sized company” can either have staff of 51 to 200 employees or 101 to 250 employees, and a turnover less than or equal to Dh200m or Dh250m, again depending on whether the business is in the trading, manufacturing or services sectors. 

The Greatest Royal Rumble card as it stands

50-man Royal Rumble - names entered so far include Braun Strowman, Daniel Bryan, Kurt Angle, Big Show, Kane, Chris Jericho, The New Day and Elias

Universal Championship Brock Lesnar (champion) v Roman Reigns in a steel cage match

WWE World Heavyweight Championship AJ Styles (champion) v Shinsuke Nakamura

Intercontinental Championship Seth Rollins (champion) v The Miz v Finn Balor v Samoa Joe

United States Championship Jeff Hardy (champion) v Jinder Mahal

SmackDown Tag Team Championship The Bludgeon Brothers (champions) v The Usos

Raw Tag Team Championship (currently vacant) Cesaro and Sheamus v Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt

Casket match The Undertaker v Chris Jericho

Singles match John Cena v Triple H

Cruiserweight Championship Cedric Alexander v tba


Company profile

Date started: January 2022
Founders: Omar Abu Innab, Silvia Eldawi, Walid Shihabi
Based: Dubai
Sector: PropTech / investment
Employees: 40
Stage: Seed
Investors: Multiple

About Housecall

Date started: July 2020

Founders: Omar and Humaid Alzaabi

Based: Abu Dhabi

Sector: HealthTech

# of staff: 10

Funding to date: Self-funded




Thalassaemia is part of a family of genetic conditions affecting the blood known as haemoglobin disorders.

Haemoglobin is a substance in the red blood cells that carries oxygen and a lack of it triggers anemia, leaving patients very weak, short of breath and pale.

The most severe type of the condition is typically inherited when both parents are carriers. Those patients often require regular blood transfusions - about 450 of the UAE's 2,000 thalassaemia patients - though frequent transfusions can lead to too much iron in the body and heart and liver problems.

The condition mainly affects people of Mediterranean, South Asian, South-East Asian and Middle Eastern origin. Saudi Arabia recorded 45,892 cases of carriers between 2004 and 2014.

A World Health Organisation study estimated that globally there are at least 950,000 'new carrier couples' every year and annually there are 1.33 million at-risk pregnancies.


Director: Sudha Kongara Prasad

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5

Jawab Iteiqal
Director: Mohamed Sammy
Starring: Mohamed Ramadan, Ayad Nasaar, Mohamed Adel and Sabry Fawaz
2 stars

Founder: Ayman Badawi

Date started: Test product September 2016, paid launch January 2017

Based: Dubai, UAE

Sector: Software

Size: Seven employees

Funding: $170,000 in angel investment

Funders: friends

Edward St Aubyn

Tell Me Who I Am

Director: Ed Perkins

Stars: Alex and Marcus Lewis

Four stars

Tips to avoid getting scammed

1) Beware of cheques presented late on Thursday

2) Visit an RTA centre to change registration only after receiving payment

3) Be aware of people asking to test drive the car alone

4) Try not to close the sale at night

5) Don't be rushed into a sale 

6) Call 901 if you see any suspicious behaviour

The biog

Name: Younis Al Balooshi

Nationality: Emirati

Education: Doctorate degree in forensic medicine at the University of Bonn

Hobbies: Drawing and reading books about graphic design

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
Ads on social media can 'normalise' drugs

A UK report on youth social media habits commissioned by advocacy group Volteface found a quarter of young people were exposed to illegal drug dealers on social media.

The poll of 2,006 people aged 16-24 assessed their exposure to drug dealers online in a nationally representative survey.

Of those admitting to seeing drugs for sale online, 56 per cent saw them advertised on Snapchat, 55 per cent on Instagram and 47 per cent on Facebook.

Cannabis was the drug most pushed by online dealers, with 63 per cent of survey respondents claiming to have seen adverts on social media for the drug, followed by cocaine (26 per cent) and MDMA/ecstasy, with 24 per cent of people.

The Specs

Engine: 1.6-litre 4-cylinder petrol
Power: 118hp
Torque: 149Nm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Price: From Dh61,500
On sale: Now

UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets

Most Read
Top Videos