A welcome sign stands on the Strip in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., on Sunday, Aug. 3, 2008. Today, Nevada is the most-foreclosed state in the nation. One in every 82 Nevada housing units got a foreclosure notice in September,  according to RealtyTrac Inc., putting the state at the top of the list for the 21st straight month. Photographer: Jacob Kepler/Bloomberg News
MGM Mirage and its UAE joint venture partner Dubai World believe the lights will stay on in Vegas.

Viva Las Vegas despite slump



Elvis has not left the building. In fact, at Dubai World's CityCenter project in Las Vegas, as many as 130 backstage workers are being hired just for a show dedicated to "The King". Developers of the US$8.6 billion (Dh31.58bn) CityCenter are confident of their prospects despite the trying economic climate. Described by MGM Mirage, Dubai World's joint venture partner, as an "unprecedented urban metropolis", the 27-hectare Las Vegas Strip resort is to include a permanent Cirque du Soleil Elvis show, a 4,004-room gaming resort, 2,400 condominiums and luxury non-gaming hotels including Las Vegas's first Mandarin Oriental.

Its 46,450 square metre retail and entertainment district should boast luxury retailers including Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior and Tiffany, and a $40 million fine art collection featuring artists such as Henry Moore and Frank Stella. An array of restaurants - including the first US location of a three-star Michelin Chef Pierre Gagnaire restaurant - will vie for travellers' palates. "This is more than a collection of resorts; we see it as a beacon of hope for a future of renewed economic vitality in Las Vegas," Bobby Baldwin, the president and chief executive of CityCenter, boasted last month.

MGM Mirage says CityCenter is the "largest, single privately-funded development in US history". The stakes are also high for Dubai, which took a 50 per cent interest in the project through Dubai World in CityCenter, as well as a 9.5 per cent stake in MGM Mirage two years ago. The investment was made during a boom period for Las Vegas, which its own tourism board calls "an ever-changing fantasyland of a city that has seen unbelievable expansion since it emerged from the desert just over 100 years ago".

And despite the economic slump, the developers still remain upbeat. "CityCenter is an amazing project that is rising up in Las Vegas amidst the most adverse of economic conditions. Dubai World and MGM Mirage have worked hard over the past many months to ensure that everything is on track for the complex to open in December," said a spokesman for Infinity World, the Dubai World subsidiary that is the joint venture partner in the project.

But the reality of the harsh downturn is now being felt in both desert cities. Las Vegas hotels have suffered from a fall in demand, pushing average daily rates down 26 per cent through to July compared to the previous year, according to Expedia's Hotels.com. Meanwhile, gaming revenues have fallen 14.2 per cent in the same period. "Clearly, these are difficult times for Las Vegas," says Ash Kapur, the director of market management, Las Vegas, for Expedia. Visitor numbers have fallen and conventioneers, the lifeblood for many cities' tourism revenues, have fallen by 26 per cent this year.

And Vegas's recent attempt to diversify beyond gaming, which resulted in a boom of residential and commercial construction, have been hurt as the US property market has nosedived, says Justin Epps, the vice president at Jones Lang Lasalle Hotels in the US. Still, MGM and Dubai World say they are confident that the CityCenter development will succeed, and actually could be a much-needed boost to the economy. Indeed, CityCenter is in the process of hiring some 12,000 permanent staff including 255 bartenders and, of course, the stagehands for Elvis.

"MGM Mirage has the benefit of being the largest room operator on the Las Vegas Strip, and therefore has experience in marketing resort properties to a diverse array of audiences," says Yvette Monet, an MGM spokeswoman. "New resort developments in Las Vegas historically lead to increased levels of visitors. Even in this flagging economy, we believe this trend will continue. "In fact, we feel CityCenter has the potential to draw an even larger increase in visitors."

Analysts agree - to an extent. "CityCenter has the potential to boost Las Vegas," Mr Epps says. "However, its full potential will not be realised until the economy and convention pace return to prior levels. "With Las Vegas arrivals significantly down from pre-recession levels, the city has a long road to recovery." The development's arrival on the market also increases competition for other Las Vegas hotels and resorts. "It is my understanding that other resorts are monitoring the developments at CityCenter properties," says Mr Kupur, of Expedia. "Any new room supply in the city can have an impact to competing hotels. CityCenter hotels will compete in the luxury segment."

And given that many of Vegas's recent casino and hotel additions have been in the luxury segment, which now comprises 15 to 20 per cent of the city's room supply, "every property is trying harder to create brand awareness and differentiate the product in terms of service, location, amenities, entertainment and shopping, dining options and green technology", he says. Most notably, CityCenter will be competing with properties such as the Wynn Resort, Encore Resort, the Venetian and Palazzo for business.

"While we are in competition with other Las Vegas resorts, we also know that new developments benefit other resorts," Ms Monet says. "What is good for one of us is good for all of us. By its nature as the newest resort, we expect CityCenter to be the centre of attention." Such rosy predictions seemed uncertain earlier this year, when MGM Mirage's relationship with Dubai World took a tumultuous turn. Dubai World had sued MGM Mirage, citing breach of contract and mismanagement of costs, which almost led the project to the US bankruptcy court. The companies, however, resolved the dispute in May.

"Our partnership with Dubai World is stronger than ever," Ms Monet says. "Enduring hardship together sometimes creates the strongest bonds. "It seems that is the case here, as our relationship is currently working very well." While the project is still scheduled to be on time and the business partnership has strengthened, challenges are not over for CityCenter. On Monday, MGM announced that a 30 per cent price reduction will be offered at closing to the existing buyers of CityCenter's luxury residential offerings: The Residences at Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas, Veer Towers and Vdara Condo Hotel.

"We believe that in this economic climate this price reduction is an appropriate step to take on behalf of our buyers so as to provide them greater flexibility in closing on their residences," said Mr Baldwin. Last month, MGM Mirage acknowledged that a write-down to the CityCenter project was "reasonably likely" due to the significant property element of the project. "The Las Vegas real estate market is significantly over-built," Mr Epps says. "CityCenter's condo sales will certainly be affected by the downturn and will likely take years to absorb."

Both Vegas and Dubai might need a bit of help from lady luck: property prices in the American city have tumbled 53 per cent between August 2006 and May this year. rbundhun@thenational.ae

BACK TO ALEXANDRIA

Director: Tamer Ruggli

Starring: Nadine Labaki, Fanny Ardant

Rating: 3.5/5

Director: Nag Ashwin

Starring: Prabhas, Saswata Chatterjee, Deepika Padukone, Amitabh Bachchan, Shobhana

Rating: ★★★★

THE SPECS

Jaguar F-Pace SVR

Engine: 5-litre supercharged V8​​​​​​​

Transmission: 8-speed automatic

Power: 542bhp​​​​​​​

Torque: 680Nm​​​​​​​

Price: Dh465,071

Sweet Tooth

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

Sarfira

Director: Sudha Kongara Prasad

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5

Hidden killer

Sepsis arises when the body tries to fight an infection but damages its own tissue and organs in the process.

The World Health Organisation estimates it affects about 30 million people each year and that about six million die.

Of those about three million are newborns and 1.2 are young children.

Patients with septic shock must often have limbs amputated if clots in their limbs prevent blood flow, causing the limbs to die.

Campaigners say the condition is often diagnosed far too late by medical professionals and that many patients wait too long to seek treatment, confusing the symptoms with flu. 

The biog:

From: Wimbledon, London, UK

Education: Medical doctor

Hobbies: Travelling, meeting new people and cultures 

Favourite animals: All of them 

Blue Beetle

Director: Angel Manuel Soto
Stars: Xolo Mariduena, Adriana Barraza, Damian Alcazar, Raoul Max Trujillo, Susan Sarandon, George Lopez
Rating: 4/5 

Confirmed bouts (more to be added)

Cory Sandhagen v Umar Nurmagomedov
Nick Diaz v Vicente Luque
Michael Chiesa v Tony Ferguson
Deiveson Figueiredo v Marlon Vera
Mackenzie Dern v Loopy Godinez

Tickets for the August 3 Fight Night, held in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, went on sale earlier this month, through www.etihadarena.ae and www.ticketmaster.ae.

Queen

Nicki Minaj

(Young Money/Cash Money)

MATCH INFO

Europa League final

Marseille 0

Atletico Madrid 3
Greizmann (21', 49'), Gabi (89')

ENGLAND SQUAD

Goalkeepers: Jack Butland, Jordan Pickford, Nick Pope 
Defenders: John Stones, Harry Maguire, Phil Jones, Kyle Walker, Kieran Trippier, Gary Cahill, Ashley Young, Danny Rose, Trent Alexander-Arnold 
Midfielders: Eric Dier, Jordan Henderson, Dele Alli, Jesse Lingard, Raheem Sterling, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Fabian Delph 
Forwards: Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy, Marcus Rashford, Danny Welbeck

Company Profile

Name: HyveGeo
Started: 2023
Founders: Abdulaziz bin Redha, Dr Samsurin Welch, Eva Morales and Dr Harjit Singh
Based: Cambridge and Dubai
Number of employees: 8
Industry: Sustainability & Environment
Funding: $200,000 plus undisclosed grant
Investors: Venture capital and government

Avatar: The Way of Water

Director: James Cameron

Stars: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver

Rating: 3.5/5

Dengue fever symptoms
  • High fever
  • Intense pain behind your eyes
  • Severe headache
  • Muscle and joint pains
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Swollen glands
  • Rash

If symptoms occur, they usually last for two-seven days

The five pillars of Islam
Company Profile

Name: JustClean

Based: Kuwait with offices in other GCC countries

Launch year: 2016

Number of employees: 130

Sector: online laundry service

Funding: $12.9m from Kuwait-based Faith Capital Holding

The specs

Engine: 3.8-litre twin-turbo flat-six

Power: 650hp at 6,750rpm

Torque: 800Nm from 2,500-4,000rpm

Transmission: 8-speed dual-clutch auto

Fuel consumption: 11.12L/100km

Price: From Dh796,600

On sale: now

Dates for the diary

To mark Bodytree’s 10th anniversary, the coming season will be filled with celebratory activities:

  • September 21 Anyone interested in becoming a certified yoga instructor can sign up for a 250-hour course in Yoga Teacher Training with Jacquelene Sadek. It begins on September 21 and will take place over the course of six weekends.
  • October 18 to 21 International yoga instructor, Yogi Nora, will be visiting Bodytree and offering classes.
  • October 26 to November 4 International pilates instructor Courtney Miller will be on hand at the studio, offering classes.
  • November 9 Bodytree is hosting a party to celebrate turning 10, and everyone is invited. Expect a day full of free classes on the grounds of the studio.
  • December 11 Yogeswari, an advanced certified Jivamukti teacher, will be visiting the studio.
  • February 2, 2018 Bodytree will host its 4th annual yoga market.
Indika

Developer: 11 Bit Studios
Publisher: Odd Meter
Console: PlayStation 5, PC and Xbox series X/S
Rating: 4/5

The Specs

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

And Just Like That...

Director: Various

Stars: Sarah Jessica Parker, Cynthia Nixon, Kristin Davis

Rating: 3/5

UAE athletes heading to Paris 2024

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

Cycling
Safia Al Sayegh (women's road race).

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

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

Tips for taking the metro

- set out well ahead of time

- make sure you have at least Dh15 on you Nol card, as there could be big queues for top-up machines

- enter the right cabin. The train may be too busy to move between carriages once you're on

- don't carry too much luggage and tuck it under a seat to make room for fellow passengers

Coffee: black death or elixir of life?

It is among the greatest health debates of our time; splashed across newspapers with contradicting headlines - is coffee good for you or not?

Depending on what you read, it is either a cancer-causing, sleep-depriving, stomach ulcer-inducing black death or the secret to long life, cutting the chance of stroke, diabetes and cancer.

The latest research - a study of 8,412 people across the UK who each underwent an MRI heart scan - is intended to put to bed (caffeine allowing) conflicting reports of the pros and cons of consumption.

The study, funded by the British Heart Foundation, contradicted previous findings that it stiffens arteries, putting pressure on the heart and increasing the likelihood of a heart attack or stroke, leading to warnings to cut down.

Numerous studies have recognised the benefits of coffee in cutting oral and esophageal cancer, the risk of a stroke and cirrhosis of the liver. 

The benefits are often linked to biologically active compounds including caffeine, flavonoids, lignans, and other polyphenols, which benefit the body. These and othetr coffee compounds regulate genes involved in DNA repair, have anti-inflammatory properties and are associated with lower risk of insulin resistance, which is linked to type-2 diabetes.

But as doctors warn, too much of anything is inadvisable. The British Heart Foundation found the heaviest coffee drinkers in the study were most likely to be men who smoked and drank alcohol regularly.

Excessive amounts of coffee also unsettle the stomach causing or contributing to stomach ulcers. It also stains the teeth over time, hampers absorption of minerals and vitamins like zinc and iron.

It also raises blood pressure, which is largely problematic for people with existing conditions.

So the heaviest drinkers of the black stuff - some in the study had up to 25 cups per day - may want to rein it in.

Rory Reynolds

SPECS: Polestar 3

Engine: Long-range dual motor with 400V battery
Power: 360kW / 483bhp
Torque: 840Nm
Transmission: Single-speed automatic
Max touring range: 628km
0-100km/h: 4.7sec
Top speed: 210kph
Price: From Dh360,000
On sale: September

The specs

Engine: 2-litre 4-cylinder
Power: 153hp at 6,000rpm
Torque: 200Nm at 4,000rpm
Transmission: 6-speed auto
Fuel consumption: 6.3L/100km
Price: Dh106,900
On sale: now

Dengue fever symptoms

High fever (40°C/104°F)
Severe headache
Pain behind the eyes
Muscle and joint pains
Nausea
Vomiting
Swollen glands
Rash


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