Gary Wing for The National
Gary Wing for The National

Newsmaker: Gisele Bündchen

“Who are they speaking to when they come up with these numbers? Not my accountant, that’s for sure.”

The words of Gisele Bündchen, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal's luxury lifestyle magazine, WSJ, in November last year, when quizzed about her persistent ranking as the world's highest-paid model. And if you've ever poured over the Sunday Times Rich List and wondered, when the rich and famous do everything they can to keep this sort of information private, just how the analysts come up with the published figures of personal wealth, the woman most know simply as Gisele will be scratching her head along with you.

That hasn't stopped Forbes from this week naming her, once again, as the highest earning clotheshorse on the planet. "Year after year since 2002," said Forbes, "Gisele Bündchen has made more money than any other model in the world.

If Forbes is to be believed, Gisele raked in some Dh172.59 million. In one year. And that’s on top of the cash earned by her husband, American Football star, Tom Brady (Dh114.94 million last year, just in case you’re curious) – combined they regularly hit the number one spot in ‘World’s Highest Paid Celebrity Couple’ listings, beating the likes of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, and Beyoncé and Jay Z. Gisele can question the workings out all she likes but it’s obvious to anyone that she’s doing rather well for herself.

According to Forbes, the ‘Brazilian bombshell’ has “lucrative contracts from H&M, Chanel, and Carolina Herrera” and gets “a cut of sales from jelly sandals she designs for shoemaker Grendene. The face of Pantene hair products and Oral-B in Brazil, Bündchen’s line of Hope lingerie – Gisele Bündchen Intimates – also plumps up her paycheck, which has increased $5 million from 2013.”

Linda Evangelista, arguably the woman for whom the 'supermodel' phrase was coined, famously said in an interview published in the October 1990 issue of Vogue, "We don't wake up for less than $10,000 a day." At the time, the statement caused something of an uproar but, to put that into some perspective, Gisele could say she would remain under the eiderdown unless there was at least 12.8 times that amount on offer for the day.

It’s easy to see why Gisele is in such demand, even after nearly two decades in the job. She’s 1.8 metres tall, she has curves and a nose she thinks is too big. She has flaws. And her womanly figure effectively put an end to what’s known as the ‘heroin chic’ phase of modelling that was so prevalent in the mid 1990s. We have a lot to be thankful for when it comes to this woman, who has featured on so many magazine covers in her career that she ranks second only to the late Diana, Princess of Wales for the title of the world’s most prolific cover star.

Gisele Caroline Bündchen was born on July 20, 1980, in Três de Maio, a municipality in the state of Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil. She has been very open about her upbringing and says her family's circumstances were modest. "I grew up in a house with two bedrooms and two bathrooms, for eight people," she told Vanity Fair in a 2009 interview. "My mother was a cashier in a bank for 35 years. My father had many jobs: he was in construction, then he did something with packaging milk, then he worked for Amway; he gave courses about self-awareness. He was away a lot."

She says her mother was the one who was more concerned about how to bring home the money. “She worked and devoted herself to us. She is my hero. She did everything. She was a really great mother; she was always teaching us, helping us, talking to us. My father was more the philosophical person; my mother was the realist.”

Her childhood revolved around her five sisters (one of whom is her twin) and she says the girls participated in every activity available in their small town. “We did ballet, gymnastics,” she told Vanity Fair. “I think my mom was trying to keep us busy. She had to work, so we went to a modelling course – me and my twin and one of our sisters, Gabby, who’s like the second twin because we’re one year apart. We were the three musketeers, and we did everything together.”

That modelling course took place in 1993, when Gisele was still only 13 years old and, the following year, while she was on a school trip in São Paulo, she was approached by a stranger in a fast food outlet who told her she ought to be a model. That stranger turned out to be a representative of Elite, the modeling agency famous for launching and nurturing the careers of many starlets over the decades. Gisele was subsequently selected for a national contest, the Elite Look of the Year, in which she came second, and she came fourth in the Elite Model Look world contest, held in Ibiza, Spain. That Elite rep really did see something in her.

Gisele, at the tender age of 14, moved to São Paulo to get her career off the ground and just two years later she was appearing at the New York Fashion Week. In 1997 she travelled to London and auditioned for no fewer than 42 shows, displaying the kind of persistent go-get-it attitude that has served her so well over the years. It paid off a year later when she starred in Alexander McQueen’s “Rain” spring show, in which she demonstrated an uncanny ability to walk in vertiginous heels on a slippery runway. She’d done it; the phone hasn’t stopped ringing since.

In 1999, Vogue dubbed her "The Return of the Sexy Model", and she was one of Victoria's Secret Angels for the American lingerie company from 2000 until mid-2007. She's credited with having pioneered the "horse walk"; a stomping movement created when a model picks her knees up high and kicks her feet out in front, and both Claudia Schiffer and Naomi Campbell have said that Gisele Bündchen is the only true remaining supermodel.

By 2004 she had become the highest-paid model in the world, again according to Forbes magazine, but she had more than glossy covers and runways in her sights and had a stab at a film career, too. First off she appeared in the dire Taxi in 2004 – the US version, not the French cult classic – with Queen Latifah and Jimmy Fallon. Undeterred, she took a small role in The Devil Wears Prada two years later, in which she starred alongside Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway.

During this phase she had become a household name due to the fact that she was in a romantic relationship with Leonardo DiCaprio, something that lasted between 2000 and 2005. She claims to be on good terms with him and DiCaprio seems to have gotten over her and on with his life.

As for Gisele, she met Tom Brady in 2007, after a mutual friend set them up on a blind date and the pair married on 26 February, 2009. Brady is a quarterback for the New England Patriots team and the couple has two children: son Benjamin Rein Bündchen Brady, born in 2009, and daughter, Vivian Lake Bündchen Brady, born in 2012.

In 2010, Gisele stirred a hornet's nest when she told Harper's Bazaar how important breastfeeding is for her, saying there should be a law preventing mothers from using formula milk. "I think breastfeeding really helped [me keep my figure]. Some people here [in the US] think they don't have to breastfeed, and I think 'Are you going to give chemical food to your child when they are so little?' I think there should be a worldwide law, in my opinion, that mothers should breastfeed their babies for six months."

She views giving birth as work, pure and simple, telling Harper's that she had a natural birth at her home in Boston after meditating throughout her eight-hour labour. "It prepared me mentally and physically. It's called 'labour' not 'holiday' for a reason, and I knew that. You want to go into the most intense physical experience of your life unprepared? That doesn't make any sense to me. Then I was ready and I thought 'OK, let's get to work'. I wasn't expecting someone else to get the baby out of me." Six weeks after giving birth, she was back modeling swimwear – the power of good genes.

She claims to live a fairly normal domestic existence and lives cleanly, unlike many of her modeling fraternity. She is also a generous philanthropist, a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Environment Programme and sits on the board of the Rainforest Alliance, which is dedicated to conserving biodiversity and sustainability – something reflected in the homes she and Brady have had built, which have the smallest possible environmental impact and carbon footprint.

Model, multi-linguist (she speaks six languages), actor, wife, mother, giver and environment warrior princess – Gisele Bündchen works hard for the money honey and, although leaving school (and home) at 14 is not to be recommended, for someone from a Brazilian backwater her meteoric rise to worldwide fame and adoration is nothing short of a fairy tale. Just stay away from those burgers and hope there’s an Elite scout lurking somewhere nearby.


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


2000: Israel withdraws from Lebanon after nearly 30 years without an officially demarcated border. The UN establishes the Blue Line to act as the frontier.

2007: Lebanon and Cyprus define their respective exclusive economic zones to facilitate oil and gas exploration. Israel uses this to define its EEZ with Cyprus

2011: Lebanon disputes Israeli-proposed line and submits documents to UN showing different EEZ. Cyprus offers to mediate without much progress.

2018: Lebanon signs first offshore oil and gas licencing deal with consortium of France’s Total, Italy’s Eni and Russia’s Novatek.

2018-2019: US seeks to mediate between Israel and Lebanon to prevent clashes over oil and gas resources.


Price, base: Dhs850,000
Engine: 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic
Power: 591bhp @ 7,500rpm
Torque: 760Nm @ 3,000rpm
Fuel economy, combined: 11.3L / 100km

Sinopharm vaccine explained

The Sinopharm vaccine was created using techniques that have been around for decades. 

“This is an inactivated vaccine. Simply what it means is that the virus is taken, cultured and inactivated," said Dr Nawal Al Kaabi, chair of the UAE's National Covid-19 Clinical Management Committee.

"What is left is a skeleton of the virus so it looks like a virus, but it is not live."

This is then injected into the body.

"The body will recognise it and form antibodies but because it is inactive, we will need more than one dose. The body will not develop immunity with one dose," she said.

"You have to be exposed more than one time to what we call the antigen."

The vaccine should offer protection for at least months, but no one knows how long beyond that.

Dr Al Kaabi said early vaccine volunteers in China were given shots last spring and still have antibodies today.

“Since it is inactivated, it will not last forever," she said.


Starring: Lupita Nyong'o, Joseph Quinn, Djimon Hounsou

Director: Michael Sarnoski

Rating: 4/5

The burning issue

The internal combustion engine is facing a watershed moment – major manufacturer Volvo is to stop producing petroleum-powered vehicles by 2021 and countries in Europe, including the UK, have vowed to ban their sale before 2040. The National takes a look at the story of one of the most successful technologies of the last 100 years and how it has impacted life in the UAE. 

Read part four: an affection for classic cars lives on

Read part three: the age of the electric vehicle begins

Read part one: how cars came to the UAE


UAE central contracts

Full time contracts

Rohan Mustafa, Ahmed Raza, Mohammed Usman, Chirag Suri, Mohammed Boota, Sultan Ahmed, Zahoor Khan, Junaid Siddique, Waheed Ahmed, Zawar Farid

Part time contracts

Aryan Lakra, Ansh Tandon, Karthik Meiyappan, Rahul Bhatia, Alishan Sharafu, CP Rizwaan, Basil Hameed, Matiullah, Fahad Nawaz, Sanchit Sharma


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Memory: 8/12GB

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Cards: Dual-nano SIM

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In the box: Nothing Phone (2), USB-C-to-USB-C cable

Price (UAE): Dh2,499 (12GB/256GB) / Dh2,799 (12GB/512GB)


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)

Herc's Adventures

Developer: Big Ape Productions
Publisher: LucasArts
Console: PlayStation 1 & 5, Sega Saturn
Rating: 4/5

The specs

Engine: three three 212.7kWh motors
Power: 1,000bhp
Torque: 15,600Nm
Range: 530km
Price: Dh500,000+ est
On sale: early 2023

The specs

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

Company Profile

Company name: Cargoz
Date started: January 2022
Founders: Premlal Pullisserry and Lijo Antony
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 30
Investment stage: Seed

Company profile

Company name: Hayvn
Started: 2018
Founders: Christopher Flinos, Ahmed Ismail
Based: Abu Dhabi, UAE
Sector: financial
Initial investment: undisclosed
Size: 44 employees
Investment stage: series B in the second half of 2023
Investors: Hilbert Capital, Red Acre Ventures


Director: Tamer Ruggli

Starring: Nadine Labaki, Fanny Ardant

Rating: 3.5/5

Company profile

Company name: Xare 

Started: January 18, 2021 

Founders: Padmini Gupta, Milind Singh, Mandeep Singh 

Based: Dubai 

Sector: FinTech 

Funds Raised: $10 million 

Current number of staff: 28 

Investment stage: undisclosed

Investors: MS&AD Ventures, Middle East Venture Partners, Astra Amco, the Dubai International Financial Centre, Fintech Fund, 500 Startups, Khwarizmi Ventures, and Phoenician Funds

Our family matters legal consultant

Name: Dr Hassan Mohsen Elhais

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


Company: Eco Way
Started: December 2023
Founder: Ivan Kroshnyi
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: Electric vehicles
Investors: Bootstrapped with undisclosed funding. Looking to raise funds from outside

Top financial tips for graduates

Araminta Robertson, of the Financially Mint blog, shares her financial advice for university leavers:

1. Build digital or technical skills: After graduation, people can find it extremely hard to find jobs. From programming to digital marketing, your early twenties are for building skills. Future employers will want people with tech skills.

2. Side hustle: At 16, I lived in a village and started teaching online, as well as doing work as a virtual assistant and marketer. There are six skills you can use online: translation; teaching; programming; digital marketing; design and writing. If you master two, you’ll always be able to make money.

3. Networking: Knowing how to make connections is extremely useful. Use LinkedIn to find people who have the job you want, connect and ask to meet for coffee. Ask how they did it and if they know anyone who can help you. I secured quite a few clients this way.

4. Pay yourself first: The minute you receive any income, put about 15 per cent aside into a savings account you won’t touch, to go towards your emergency fund or to start investing. I do 20 per cent. It helped me start saving immediately.

Klopp at the Kop

Matches 68; Wins 35; Draws 19; Losses 14; Goals For 133; Goals Against 82

  • Eighth place in Premier League in 2015/16
  • Runners-up in Europa League in 2016
  • Runners-up in League Cup in 2016
  • Fourth place in Premier League in 2016/17
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Company name: baraka
Started: July 2020
Founders: Feras Jalbout and Kunal Taneja
Based: Dubai and Bahrain
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $150,000
Current staff: 12
Stage: Pre-seed capital raising of $1 million
Investors: Class 5 Global, FJ Labs, IMO Ventures, The Community Fund, VentureSouq, Fox Ventures, Dr Abdulla Elyas (private investment)


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Power: Up to 201bhp
0 to 100kph: 7.3 seconds
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Available: Now