Dancing queens with a 1970s theme at the oil barons ball

Dallas, Texas comes to Dubai in March with what promises to be one of the most glittering and glamorous events in the emirate's social calendar.

The 10th Oil Barons Charity Ball will take place at the Meydan racecourse on March 8, with 2,000 guests taking part in a 1970s-themed extravaganza to raise funds for a cancer charity.

The organisers have pulled out all the stops for this one: what is billed as the "region's largest outdoor gala" will hear an Abba tribute band, offer the chance to win a two-carat diamond designed by the award-winning jeweller Farah Khan, and, of course, the opportunity to greet the oil baron of the year

The name of the winner will be unveiled on the night in a climax to the "Glitter Ball".

I've been intrigued by this event ever since watching the brilliant 2005 movie Syriana starring George Clooney. One of the film's set pieces was the "oil industry man of the year" scene in which, at a similar star-studded event, the dark machinations of the oil business were played out in simultaneous backdrop.

Would it be the same mixture of glamour, power and intrigue at the Meydan?

In a journalistic effort to find out, I tried to wangle an invite to this event a few years back. Then times were harder and the oil price far less heady, and I was told it wasn't open to media. This year, the organisers inform me, that policy has been changed.

So I hope I get the chance - even if I have to fork out the US$350 (Dh1,285) price for a ticket.

Incidentally, that's exactly 100 times the price a barrel of oil sold for when Abba was formed in 1972.


I bumped into an old pal the other day in the Dubai International Financial Centre and was pleased to learn that there is life after the US Treasury.

I first met Stuart Jones Jr a couple of years back, introduced by some Washington legal types, when he was in the interesting position of being the American government's financial man in the Arabian Gulf and Afghanistan.

Always the soul of discretion, he never succumbed to my best efforts to get him to divulge the no doubt fascinating secrets that must have passed over his desk at the US embassy in Abu Dhabi.

Offers of dinner in fancy restaurants and nights on the town were all courteously considered, but never taken up.

Maybe it was his family background that made him so stonewall impervious to my entreaties: the only son of an Arkansas farmer and tractor dealer, he must have a healthy scepticism of the media in his DNA.

However, he appeared pleased to see me again in Caribou Café, and we did the ritual exchange of cards. I learnt that he has become an executive director of Ernst & Young, the big accounting firm, in the Middle East and North Africa, with responsibility for "assurance".

Interesting job specification. Given his background, I doubt that E&Y has hired him for his ability to sell life policies. Maybe Stuart will be more susceptible now he's out of Uncle Sam's enfolding embrace.