Actors Amitosh Nagpal and Mansi Multani performing onstage. Courtesy Ductac
Actors Amitosh Nagpal and Mansi Multani performing onstage. Courtesy Ductac

Desi adaptation of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night comes to Dubai



Set in colonial times in a fictitious Indian town, Piya Behrupiya is a colourful desi reboot of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. This kitschy stage production was originally commissioned by London's Globe Theatre and finally makes its Middle Eastern debut in Dubai this weekend.

The play is a collaboration ­between Dubai’s Tall Tales Production and Dubai Community Theatre & Arts Centre.

“We were looking for an all-round production that would give Dubai something it had not experienced before,” says Asad Raza Khan, a co-founder of Tall Tales. “Piya Behrupiya is that perfect mix of music and theatrical elements, and caters to all ages and ethnicities. It is a play that is a true reflection of Dubai’s multicultural set-up.”

The two-hour production keeps the storyline of Shakespeare’s original comedy – about twins who are separated when their ship is wrecked. But the script is written in English, Hindi and Punjabi, blurring the lines between classical English and regional Indian theatre, while the musical score feature songs from rural India – Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Punjab. The sets and costumes evoke a feeling of colonial India in the early and mid-1900s in all its pomp and glory.

In 2012, the Globe Theatre commissioned Mumbai’s The Company Theatre to work on an Indian adaptation of a work by Shakespeare. The company chose Twelfth Night, and veteran theatre actor/director Atul Kumar was put in charge. The fact that it staged its 100th show in Chile a few weeks ago is a testament to how popular Piya Behrupiya is with audiences all over the world.

“It’s been a long journey – from the selection process to acting workshops to the staging of the hundredth show,” says Geetanjali Kulkarni, a graduate of India’s National School of Drama, who portrays Viola (the Indian actor and screenwriter Amitosh Nagpal plays Sebastian).

“Initially we didn’t know whether it will be accepted or not. Now we know that people love it, so naturally we are more confident. We still rehearse before every run, so we keep on developing our character. Our director always gives us challenges, which has kept us on our toes.”

“I think Dubai audiences will have a great time,” says Mansi Multani, an actor, singer and dancer, who takes on the role of Countess Olivia. “I lived there for a short while a few years ago and I think their musical and cultural tastes will completely find their place in this play. After a hundred shows, the production has a life of it own. This has given me the opportunity to explore and fine tune, add and subtract and most importantly, play.”

When asked about public reaction since the play first made its debut two years ago, Multani says: “The audience reaction varies, based on their cultural upbringing and understanding of what they see and how they appreciate. Shakespeare’s plays can be interpreted in innumerable ways and that is why this play is so well received everywhere we go.” Kulkarni agrees. “People react differently because of the language and the context, but overall they like the energy.” she says.

“The secret of its success is the manner in which the script has been adapted,” says Multani. “The ‘Indianisation’ has hit home with expat audiences all over the world. The multilingual songs are part of the attraction, too. We have such a good time performing this play that the energy has become infectious. It is overwhelming to know that we’ve accomplished 100 shows in India, the United Kingdom, Singapore, China, Chile – and now we are coming to Dubai.”

Piya Behrupiya will be staged at Centrepoint Theatre at Ductac on February 6 at 7.30pm and on February 7 at 3.30pm and 7.30pm. Tickets cost from Dh150 and are available at the Ductac box office and

THE SPECS

Engine: Four-cylinder 2.5-litre

Transmission: Seven-speed auto

Power: 165hp

Torque: 241Nm

Price: Dh99,900 to Dh134,000

On sale: now

Company name: Farmin

Date started: March 2019

Founder: Dr Ali Al Hammadi 

Based: Abu Dhabi

Sector: AgriTech

Initial investment: None to date

Partners/Incubators: UAE Space Agency/Krypto Labs 

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

Long read
Company Profile

Company name: Namara
Started: June 2022
Founder: Mohammed Alnamara
Based: Dubai
Sector: Microfinance
Current number of staff: 16
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Family offices

The specs

Engine: 6-cylinder, 4.8-litre
Transmission: 5-speed automatic and manual
Power: 280 brake horsepower
Torque: 451Nm
Price: from Dh153,00
On sale: now

Non-oil trade

Non-oil trade between the UAE and Japan grew by 34 per cent over the past two years, according to data from the Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Centre. 

In 10 years, it has reached a total of Dh524.4 billion. 

Cars topped the list of the top five commodities re-exported to Japan in 2022, with a value of Dh1.3 billion. 

Jewellery and ornaments amounted to Dh150 million while precious metal scraps amounted to Dh105 million. 

Raw aluminium was ranked first among the top five commodities exported to Japan. 

Top of the list of commodities imported from Japan in 2022 was cars, with a value of Dh20.08 billion.

HEY MERCEDES, WHAT CAN YOU DO FOR ME?

Mercedes-Benz's MBUX digital voice assistant, Hey Mercedes, allows users to set up commands for:

• Navigation

• Calls

• In-car climate

• Ambient lighting

• Media controls

• Driver assistance

• General inquiries such as motor data, fuel consumption and next service schedule, and even funny questions

There's also a hidden feature: pressing and holding the voice command button on the steering wheel activates the voice assistant on a connected smartphone – Siri on Apple's iOS or Google Assistant on Android – enabling a user to command the car even without Apple CarPlay or Android Auto

Padmaavat

Director: Sanjay Leela Bhansali

Starring: Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone, Shahid Kapoor, Jim Sarbh

3.5/5

PROFILE OF SWVL

Started: April 2017

Founders: Mostafa Kandil, Ahmed Sabbah and Mahmoud Nouh

Based: Cairo, Egypt

Sector: transport

Size: 450+ employees

Investment: approximately $80 million

Investors include: Dubai’s Beco Capital, US’s Endeavor Catalyst, China’s MSA, Egypt’s Sawari Ventures, Sweden’s Vostok New Ventures, Property Finder CEO Michael Lahyani

If you go

The flights 

Emirates flies from Dubai to Funchal via Lisbon, with a connecting flight with Air Portugal. Economy class returns cost from Dh3,845 return including taxes.

The trip

The WalkMe app can be downloaded from the usual sources. If you don’t fancy doing the trip yourself, then Explore  offers an eight-day levada trails tour from Dh3,050, not including flights.

The hotel

There isn’t another hotel anywhere in Madeira that matches the history and luxury of the Belmond Reid's Palace in Funchal. Doubles from Dh1,400 per night including taxes.

 

 

WHAT IS THE LICENSING PROCESS FOR VARA?

Vara will cater to three categories of companies in Dubai (except the DIFC):

Category A: Minimum viable product (MVP) applicants that are currently in the process of securing an MVP licence: This is a three-stage process starting with [1] a provisional permit, graduating to [2] preparatory licence and concluding with [3] operational licence. Applicants that are already in the MVP process will be advised by Vara to either continue within the MVP framework or be transitioned to the full market product licensing process.

Category B: Existing legacy virtual asset service providers prior to February 7, 2023, which are required to come under Vara supervision. All operating service proviers in Dubai (excluding the DIFC) fall under Vara’s supervision.

Category C: New applicants seeking a Vara licence or existing applicants adding new activities. All applicants that do not fall under Category A or B can begin the application process through their current or prospective commercial licensor — the DET or Free Zone Authority — or directly through Vara in the instance that they have yet to determine the commercial operating zone in Dubai. 

Top investing tips for UAE residents in 2021

Build an emergency fund: Make sure you have enough cash to cover six months of expenses as a buffer against unexpected problems before you begin investing, advises Steve Cronin, the founder of DeadSimpleSaving.com.

Think long-term: When you invest, you need to have a long-term mindset, so don’t worry about momentary ups and downs in the stock market.

Invest worldwide: Diversify your investments globally, ideally by way of a global stock index fund.

Is your money tied up: Avoid anything where you cannot get your money back in full within a month at any time without any penalty.

Skip past the promises: “If an investment product is offering more than 10 per cent return per year, it is either extremely risky or a scam,” Mr Cronin says.

Choose plans with low fees: Make sure that any funds you buy do not charge more than 1 per cent in fees, Mr Cronin says. “If you invest by yourself, you can easily stay below this figure.” Managed funds and commissionable investments often come with higher fees.

Be sceptical about recommendations: If someone suggests an investment to you, ask if they stand to gain, advises Mr Cronin. “If they are receiving commission, they are unlikely to recommend an investment that’s best for you.”

Get financially independent: Mr Cronin advises UAE residents to pursue financial independence. Start with a Google search and improve your knowledge via expat investing websites or Facebook groups such as SimplyFI. 

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Xpanceo

Started: 2018

Founders: Roman Axelrod, Valentyn Volkov

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Smart contact lenses, augmented/virtual reality

Funding: $40 million

Investor: Opportunity Venture (Asia)

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.”

Andor

Creator: Tony Gilroy
Stars: Diego Luna, Genevieve O'Reilly, Alex Ferns
Rating: 5/5

Ashes 2019 schedule

August 1-5: First Test, Edgbaston

August 14-18: Second Test, Lord's

August 22-26: Third Test, Headingley

September 4-8: Fourth Test, Old Trafford

September 12-16: Fifth Test, Oval

The specs

Engine: 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6

Power: 540hp at 6,500rpm

Torque: 600Nm at 2,500rpm

Transmission: Eight-speed auto

Kerb weight: 1580kg

Price: From Dh750k

On sale: via special order

Company profile

Company: Verity

Date started: May 2021

Founders: Kamal Al-Samarrai, Dina Shoman and Omar Al Sharif

Based: Dubai

Sector: FinTech

Size: four team members

Stage: Intially bootstrapped but recently closed its first pre-seed round of $800,000

Investors: Wamda, VentureSouq, Beyond Capital and regional angel investors

Company Profile

Name: Nadeera
Based: Abu Dhabi, UAE
Founders: Rabih El Chaar and Reem Khattar
Sector: CleanTech
Total funding: About $1 million
Investors: Hope Ventures, Rasameel Investments and support from accelerator programmes
Number of employees: 12

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3

Director: James Gunn

Stars: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper

Rating: 4/5