It’s a quick dash from Abu Dhabi to Dubai, but a slow crawl past Cityscape

I set two “personal best” records recently: fastest journey from Abu Dhabi to Dubai; and slowest journey along Sheikh Zayed Road, though the latter should really be regarded as a personal “worst”.

Leaving the capital after a meeting that had gone on much longer than expected, I stepped into the back seat of a car at 5.45pm and zoomed off along Al Muroor. I had a meeting in Jumeirah Emirates Tower at 6.30pm, and realised straight away I would not make that.

I called my friend — a man who likes to linger, like me, over a cigar while talking shop — that I’d be late for the appointment in The Agency in Emirates Towers, one of the best cigar joints in Dubai. Would he wait for me until 7.30pm? Yes, of course, he said, though I sensed a bit of frustration.

I hate being late for appointments, especially pleasurable ones such as this promised.

Well, hats off to the driver, who stuck like glue to the fast lane without ever breaking the speed limit, as far as I noticed.

By 6.40pm we were passing the Dubai Marina area, and I texted my friend to tell him I’d be at the cigar bar by 7pm. Excellent, he replied … would I prefer Cohiba or Montecristo? Montecristo I replied, already savouring the flavour.

I spoke too soon, of course. As soon as we hit Mall of the Emirates, it began: a solid wall of red tail lights disappearing off into the distance along SZR, as far as the eye could see.

The French have a neat phrase for a traffic jam, “embouteillage”, which means literally “bottle stopper”. It’s a graphic expression: you are literally corked into a bottle, with no hope of escaping.

That’s how I felt on the SZR that night — like a cork stuck tight in the neck of a bottle.

As an SZR veteran, I know that sometimes, around the Al Manara turning, the traffic tended to thin out. No such luck this time.

I texted my friend it might be 7.15pm. Wishful thinking.

The next spot where the bottle was sometimes uncorked on SZR was at the Al Hadiqa/Meydan turn-off, but again the jam just ground on and on. We were crawling, stopping, accelerating, braking.

Of course, there was a reason, but it wasn’t an accident or a road closure. In a word, it was Cityscape. As I approached the Trade Centre area (I was to turn off SZR just before it) you could see the whole area was one big parking lot of vehicles trying to leave the region’s biggest property exhibition.

I don’t know about the property at Cityscape, but nothing was moving under, around or over the Trade Centre roundabout.

I was grateful when we turned off before, at the exit to DIFC and Emirates Towers. Anybody heading towards Sharjah was in for a long nightmare.

As I pulled up outside the hotel, I looked at my watch: 7.40pm. It had taken me nearly an hour to travel 17km.

I needn’t have worried. My friend had found a charming companion to while away the time with, and the Cohiba (I changed my mind when the box was presented) tasted even better for the postponement of the first draw. The conversation — mainly about in vitro fertilisation — was excellent and informative.

I savoured the cigar, and after a while left my friend to the delights of his dinner companion.

I got a Dubai taxi from outside the hotel, and did the same journey — in the opposite direction — in 12 minutes.

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Producer: Maddock Films, Jio Movies
Director: Amar Kaushik
Cast: Rajkummar Rao, Shraddha Kapoor, Pankaj Tripathi, Aparshakti Khurana, Abhishek Banerjee
Rating: 3.5


5pm: Maiden (PA) Dh80,000 (Turf) 1,200m, Winner: ES Rubban, Antonio Fresu (jockey), Ibrahim Aseel (trainer)

5.30pm: Handicap (PA) Dh85,000 (T) 1,200m, Winner: Al Mobher, Sczcepan Mazur, Ibrahim Al Hadhrami

6pm: Handicap (PA) Dh80,000 (T) 2,200m, Winner: Jabalini, Tadhg O’Shea, Ibrahim Al Hadhrami

6.30pm: Wathba Stallions Cup (PA) Dh70,000 (T) 2,200m, Winner: AF Abahe, Tadgh O’Shea, Ernst Oertel

7pm: Handicap (PA) Dh85,000 (T) 1,600m, Winner: AF Makerah, Tadhg O’Shea, Ernst Oertel

7.30pm: Maiden (TB) Dh80,000 (T) 1,600m, Winner: Law Of Peace, Tadhg O’Shea, Satish Seemar

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: 2019 Haval H6

Price, base: Dh69,900

Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder

Transmission: Seven-speed automatic

Power: 197hp @ 5,500rpm

Torque: 315Nm @ 2,000rpm

Fuel economy, combined: 7.0L / 100km


Edinburgh: November 4 (unchanged)

Bahrain: November 15 (from September 15); second daily service from January 1

Kuwait: November 15 (from September 16)

Mumbai: January 1 (from October 27)

Ahmedabad: January 1 (from October 27)

Colombo: January 2 (from January 1)

Muscat: March 1 (from December 1)

Lyon: March 1 (from December 1)

Bologna: March 1 (from December 1)

Source: Emirates

Sweet Tooth

Creator: Jim Mickle
Starring: Christian Convery, Nonso Anozie, Adeel Akhtar, Stefania LaVie Owen
Rating: 2.5/5

The drill

Recharge as needed, says Mat Dryden: “We try to make it a rule that every two to three months, even if it’s for four days, we get away, get some time together, recharge, refresh.” The couple take an hour a day to check into their businesses and that’s it.

Stick to the schedule, says Mike Addo: “We have an entire wall known as ‘The Lab,’ covered with colour-coded Post-it notes dedicated to our joint weekly planner, content board, marketing strategy, trends, ideas and upcoming meetings.”

Be a team, suggests Addo: “When training together, you have to trust in each other’s abilities. Otherwise working out together very quickly becomes one person training the other.”

Pull your weight, says Thuymi Do: “To do what we do, there definitely can be no lazy member of the team.” 

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,


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