Food-wise, Austrian dishes and beverages feature heavily, and the quality is good. Courtesy Niki Airlines
Food-wise, Austrian dishes and beverages feature heavily, and the quality is good. Courtesy Niki Airlines

Viennese waltz from Abu Dhabi with Niki airlines



Before Niki airlines began flying to the capital in late November, Abu Dhabi residents heading to Vienna faced a long drive to Dubai to find a non-stop option.

The new daily flight — offered by the Austrian airline founded by the Formula One champion Niki Lauda and now part of the airberlin group with close ties to Etihad Airways — is a major pickup for the Abu Dhabi hub, which has a bit of a blind spot when it comes to central Europe.

The flight also represents something new for Niki, which is offering business class for the first time.

Let’s get something out of the way early: Niki is generally regarded as a short-haul, budget carrier. So in terms of luxurious style, it is not. But, surprisingly, in terms of substance, its new premium cabin is not far off.

Niki flies to Abu Dhabi on a small Airbus A320, which means that business travellers should not expect lie-flat seats. But with a flying time of just over five hours, its debatable whether that's worth being too disappointed about. The large seats are still plenty comfortable for a quick nap.

Food-wise, Austrian dishes and beverages feature heavily, and the quality is good. There was an abundance of goulash and apple strudel. They are pretty proud of the strudel (it was OK). More importantly, the food comes swiftly.

And the service is certainly another bright spot. Pleasant, efficient, hardly obsequious. Do not expect a half-hourly well-being check. Do expect a rapid-fire top-up upon request.

The only negative aspect of the journey came on the ground. Chauffeur service in Vienna was not available. I was reliably informed during check-in at Abu Dhabi that it would be if I could locate the correct desk in the arrivals hall (I could not, and neither could a handful of airport staff members). I took a taxi instead.

Niki, it turns out, does offer business-class travellers a limousine service — it’s spelt out plainly on the website. But until that is better communicated down through the ranks, it’s safe to say that some confusion will reign.

Prices for a business-class ticket from Abu Dhabi to Vienna next month run at about Dh10,000 return.

q&a entertainment by iPad

Spencer Davis-VanNess reveals the story behind Niki’s new Abu Dhabi route:

What’s the story of Niki?

Launched in 2003, it is the three-time F1 champion Niki Lauda’s second airline venture. The airline merged in 2011 with airberlin, which is 29.2 per cent owned by Etihad Airways.

So what is Niki’s relationship with Etihad?

Seemingly close, with the Austrian carrier signed up as the seventh member of the Etihad Partners programme. Flights to Vienna can be booked as a codeshare through Etihad, and business-class guests can use the Etihad lounges in Abu Dhabi. Etihad loyalists can also use their miles to book flights to Vienna and beyond with Niki.

Anything else notable?

Business guests are offered the use of an iPad, which connects to a large, streaming entertainment library using the jet’s Wi-Fi connection. This is a fantastic solution. It saves weight, the screen and audio quality are great and a malfunctioning tablet can be replaced far easier than a faulty seatback unit.

What about the competition?

None in Abu Dhabi, unless you’re OK with a layover. From Dubai, Austrian Airlines flies daily and Emirates offers a double-daily service.

What about the destination?

Aside from being a hugely popular holiday destination, Vienna is a major seat of international business. Perhaps most notably in the UAE, it is the home of Opec. OMV, the Austrian oil and gas producer part-owned by Abu Dhabi, is also headquartered there.

business@thenational.ae

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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.

WHEN TO GO:

September to November or March to May; this is when visitors are most likely to see what they’ve come for.

WHERE TO STAY:

Meghauli Serai, A Taj Safari - Chitwan National Park resort (tajhotels.com) is a one-hour drive from Bharatpur Airport with stays costing from Dh1,396 per night, including taxes and breakfast. Return airport transfers cost from Dh661.

HOW TO GET THERE:

Etihad Airways regularly flies from Abu Dhabi to Kathmandu from around Dh1,500 per person return, including taxes. Buddha Air (buddhaair.com) and Yeti Airlines (yetiairlines.com) fly from Kathmandu to Bharatpur several times a day from about Dh660 return and the flight takes just 20 minutes. Driving is possible but the roads are hilly which means it will take you five or six hours to travel 148 kilometres.

Ziina users can donate to relief efforts in Beirut

Ziina users will be able to use the app to help relief efforts in Beirut, which has been left reeling after an August blast caused an estimated $15 billion in damage and left thousands homeless. Ziina has partnered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to raise money for the Lebanese capital, co-founder Faisal Toukan says. “As of October 1, the UNHCR has the first certified badge on Ziina and is automatically part of user's top friends' list during this campaign. Users can now donate any amount to the Beirut relief with two clicks. The money raised will go towards rebuilding houses for the families that were impacted by the explosion.”

RECORD BREAKER

Youngest debutant for Barcelona: 15 years and 290 days v Real Betis
Youngest La Liga starter in the 21st century: 16 years and 38 days v Cadiz
Youngest player to register an assist in La Liga in the 21st century: 16 years and 45 days v Villarreal
Youngest debutant for Spain: 16 years and 57 days v Georgia
Youngest goalscorer for Spain: 16 years and 57 days
Youngest player to score in a Euro qualifier: 16 years and 57 days

GOODBYE JULIA

Director: Mohamed Kordofani

Starring: Siran Riak, Eiman Yousif, Nazar Goma

Rating: 5/5

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Haltia.ai
Started: 2023
Co-founders: Arto Bendiken and Talal Thabet
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: AI
Number of employees: 41
Funding: About $1.7 million
Investors: Self, family and friends

MATCH INFO

Day 2 at the Gabba

Australia 312-1 

Warner 151 not out, Burns 97,  Labuschagne 55 not out

Pakistan 240 

Shafiq 76, Starc 4-52

The Laughing Apple

Yusuf/Cat Stevens

(Verve Decca Crossover)

New process leads to panic among jobseekers

As a UAE-based travel agent who processes tourist visas from the Philippines, Jennifer Pacia Gado is fielding a lot of calls from concerned travellers just now. And they are all asking the same question.  

“My clients are mostly Filipinos, and they [all want to know] about good conduct certificates,” says the 34-year-old Filipina, who has lived in the UAE for five years.

Ms Gado contacted the Philippines Embassy to get more information on the certificate so she can share it with her clients. She says many are worried about the process and associated costs – which could be as high as Dh500 to obtain and attest a good conduct certificate from the Philippines for jobseekers already living in the UAE. 

“They are worried about this because when they arrive here without the NBI [National Bureau of Investigation] clearance, it is a hassle because it takes time,” she says.

“They need to go first to the embassy to apply for the application of the NBI clearance. After that they have go to the police station [in the UAE] for the fingerprints. And then they will apply for the special power of attorney so that someone can finish the process in the Philippines. So it is a long process and more expensive if you are doing it from here.”

Eyasses squad

Charlie Preston (captain) – goal shooter/ goalkeeper (Dubai College)

Arushi Holt (vice-captain) – wing defence / centre (Jumeriah English Speaking School)

Olivia Petricola (vice-captain) – centre / wing attack (Dubai English Speaking College)

Isabel Affley – goalkeeper / goal defence (Dubai English Speaking College)

Jemma Eley – goal attack / wing attack (Dubai College)

Alana Farrell-Morton – centre / wing / defence / wing attack (Nord Anglia International School)

Molly Fuller – goal attack / wing attack (Dubai College)

Caitlin Gowdy – goal defence / wing defence (Dubai English Speaking College)

Noorulain Hussain – goal defence / wing defence (Dubai College)

Zahra Hussain-Gillani – goal defence / goalkeeper (British School Al Khubairat)

Claire Janssen – goal shooter / goal attack (Jumeriah English Speaking School)

Eliza Petricola – wing attack / centre (Dubai English Speaking College)

A QUIET PLACE

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

Director: Michael Sarnoski

Rating: 4/5

MATCH INFO

Europa League final

Who: Marseille v Atletico Madrid
Where: Parc OL, Lyon, France
When: Wednesday, 10.45pm kick off (UAE)
TV: BeIN Sports

THE SPECS

Engine: 4.4-litre V8

Transmission: eight-speed automatic

Power: 523hp

Torque: 750Nm

Price: Dh469,000

The years Ramadan fell in May

1987

1954

1921

1888

Our legal consultant

Name: Hassan Mohsen Elhais

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

Most match wins on clay

Guillermo Vilas - 659

Manuel Orantes - 501

Thomas Muster - 422

Rafael Nadal - 399 *

Jose Higueras - 378

Eddie Dibbs - 370

Ilie Nastase - 338

Carlos Moya - 337

Ivan Lendl - 329

Andres Gomez - 322

Tips for travelling while needing dialysis
  • Inform your doctor about your plans. 
  • Ask about your treatment so you know how it works. 
  • Pay attention to your health if you travel to a hot destination. 
  • Plan your trip well. 
Company profile

Date started: 2015

Founder: John Tsioris and Ioanna Angelidaki

Based: Dubai

Sector: Online grocery delivery

Staff: 200

Funding: Undisclosed, but investors include the Jabbar Internet Group and Venture Friends

Director: Nag Ashwin

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

Rating: ★★★★

ROUTE TO TITLE

Round 1: Beat Leolia Jeanjean 6-1, 6-2
Round 2: Beat Naomi Osaka 7-6, 1-6, 7-5
Round 3: Beat Marie Bouzkova 6-4, 6-2
Round 4: Beat Anastasia Potapova 6-0, 6-0
Quarter-final: Beat Marketa Vondrousova 6-0, 6-2
Semi-final: Beat Coco Gauff 6-2, 6-4
Final: Beat Jasmine Paolini 6-2, 6-2

Tax authority targets shisha levy evasion

The Federal Tax Authority will track shisha imports with electronic markers to protect customers and ensure levies have been paid.

Khalid Ali Al Bustani, director of the tax authority, on Sunday said the move is to "prevent tax evasion and support the authority’s tax collection efforts".

The scheme’s first phase, which came into effect on 1st January, 2019, covers all types of imported and domestically produced and distributed cigarettes. As of May 1, importing any type of cigarettes without the digital marks will be prohibited.

He said the latest phase will see imported and locally produced shisha tobacco tracked by the final quarter of this year.

"The FTA also maintains ongoing communication with concerned companies, to help them adapt their systems to meet our requirements and coordinate between all parties involved," he said.

As with cigarettes, shisha was hit with a 100 per cent tax in October 2017, though manufacturers and cafes absorbed some of the costs to prevent prices doubling.

Company Profile

Name: Direct Debit System
Started: Sept 2017
Based: UAE with a subsidiary in the UK
Industry: FinTech
Funding: Undisclosed
Investors: Elaine Jones
Number of employees: 8

Company Profile

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

Results

6.30pm: Maiden Dh165,000 (Dirt) 1,600m

Winner: Celtic Prince, David Liska (jockey), Rashed Bouresly (trainer).

7.05pm: Conditions Dh240,000 (D) 1,600m

Winner: Commanding, Richard Mullen, Satish Seemar.

7.40pm: Handicap Dh190,000 (D) 2,000m

Winner: Grand Argentier, Pat Dobbs, Doug Watson.

8.15pm: Handicap Dh170,000 (D) 2,200m

Winner: Arch Gold, Sam Hitchcott, Doug Watson.

8.50pm: The Entisar Listed Dh265,000 (D) 2,000m

Winner: Military Law, Antonio Fresu, Musabah Al Muhairi.

9.25pm: The Garhoud Sprint Listed Dh265,000 (D) 1,200m

Winner: Ibn Malik, Dane O’Neill, Musabah Al Muhairi.

10pm: Handicap Dh185,000 (D) 1,400m

Winner: Midnight Sands, Pat Dobbs, Doug Watson.

Three ways to boost your credit score

Marwan Lutfi says the core fundamentals that drive better payment behaviour and can improve your credit score are:

1. Make sure you make your payments on time;

2. Limit the number of products you borrow on: the more loans and credit cards you have, the more it will affect your credit score;

3. Don't max out all your debts: how much you maximise those credit facilities will have an impact. If you have five credit cards and utilise 90 per cent of that credit, it will negatively affect your score.

CHINESE GRAND PRIX STARTING GRID

1st row 
Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)
Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari)

2nd row 
Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes-GP)
Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes-GP)

3rd row 
Max Verstappen (Red Bull Racing)
Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull Racing)

4th row 
Nico Hulkenberg (Renault)
Sergio Perez (Force India)

5th row 
Carlos Sainz Jr (Renault)
Romain Grosjean (Haas)

6th row 
Kevin Magnussen (Haas)
Esteban Ocon (Force India)

7th row 
Fernando Alonso (McLaren)
Stoffel Vandoorne (McLaren)

8th row 
Brendon Hartley (Toro Rosso)
Sergey Sirotkin (Williams)

9th row 
Pierre Gasly (Toro Rosso)
Lance Stroll (Williams)

10th row 
Charles Leclerc (Sauber)
arcus Ericsson (Sauber)

Women’s Asia Cup

UAE fixtures
Sun Oct 2, v Sri Lanka
Tue Oct 4, v India
Wed Oct 5, v Malaysia
Fri Oct 7, v Thailand
Sun Oct 9, v Pakistan
Tue Oct 11, v Bangladesh

UAE squad
Chaya Mughal (captain), Esha Oza, Kavisha Kumari, Khushi Sharma, Theertha Satish, Lavanya Keny, Priyanjali Jain, Suraksha Kotte, Natasha Cherriath, Indhuja Nandakumar, Rishitha Rajith, Vaishnave Mahesh, Siya Gokhale, Samaira Dharnidharka, Mahika Gaur

Sarfira

Director: Sudha Kongara Prasad

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5

THE NEW BATCH'S FOCUS SECTORS

AiFlux – renewables, oil and gas

DevisionX – manufacturing

Event Gates – security and manufacturing

Farmdar – agriculture

Farmin – smart cities

Greener Crop – agriculture

Ipera.ai – space digitisation

Lune Technologies – fibre-optics

Monak – delivery

NutzenTech – environment

Nybl – machine learning

Occicor – shelf management

Olymon Solutions – smart automation

Pivony – user-generated data

PowerDev – energy big data

Sav – finance

Searover – renewables

Swftbox – delivery

Trade Capital Partners – FinTech

Valorafutbol – sports and entertainment

Workfam – employee engagement

THE SPECS

Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbo

Power: 275hp at 6,600rpm

Torque: 353Nm from 1,450-4,700rpm

Transmission: 8-speed dual-clutch auto

Top speed: 250kph

Fuel consumption: 6.8L/100km

On sale: Now

Price: Dh146,999

Kill Bill Volume 1

Director: Quentin Tarantino
Stars: Uma Thurman, David Carradine and Michael Madsen
Rating: 4.5/5

Teri Baaton Mein Aisa Uljha Jiya

Directors: Amit Joshi and Aradhana Sah

Cast: Shahid Kapoor, Kriti Sanon, Dharmendra, Dimple Kapadia, Rakesh Bedi

Rating: 4/5

Five healthy carbs and how to eat them

Brown rice: consume an amount that fits in the palm of your hand

Non-starchy vegetables, such as broccoli: consume raw or at low temperatures, and don’t reheat  

Oatmeal: look out for pure whole oat grains or kernels, which are locally grown and packaged; avoid those that have travelled from afar

Fruit: a medium bowl a day and no more, and never fruit juices

Lentils and lentil pasta: soak these well and cook them at a low temperature; refrain from eating highly processed pasta variants

Courtesy Roma Megchiani, functional nutritionist at Dubai’s 77 Veggie Boutique

MADAME WEB

Director: S.J. Clarkson

Starring: Dakota Johnson, Tahar Rahim, Sydney Sweeney

Rating: 3.5/5

UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets
COMPANY PROFILE

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

Why it pays to compare

A comparison of sending Dh20,000 from the UAE using two different routes at the same time - the first direct from a UAE bank to a bank in Germany, and the second from the same UAE bank via an online platform to Germany - found key differences in cost and speed. The transfers were both initiated on January 30.

Route 1: bank transfer

The UAE bank charged Dh152.25 for the Dh20,000 transfer. On top of that, their exchange rate margin added a difference of around Dh415, compared with the mid-market rate.

Total cost: Dh567.25 - around 2.9 per cent of the total amount

Total received: €4,670.30 

Route 2: online platform

The UAE bank’s charge for sending Dh20,000 to a UK dirham-denominated account was Dh2.10. The exchange rate margin cost was Dh60, plus a Dh12 fee.

Total cost: Dh74.10, around 0.4 per cent of the transaction

Total received: €4,756

The UAE bank transfer was far quicker – around two to three working days, while the online platform took around four to five days, but was considerably cheaper. In the online platform transfer, the funds were also exposed to currency risk during the period it took for them to arrive.

SPECS

Engine: 4-litre flat-six
Power: 525hp (GT3), 500hp (GT4)
Torque: 465Nm (GT3), 450Nm (GT4)
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic
Price: From Dh944,000 (GT3), Dh581,700 (GT4)
On sale: Now

ETFs explained

Exhchange traded funds are bought and sold like shares, but operate as index-tracking funds, passively following their chosen indices, such as the S&P 500, FTSE 100 and the FTSE All World, plus a vast range of smaller exchanges and commodities, such as gold, silver, copper sugar, coffee and oil.

ETFs have zero upfront fees and annual charges as low as 0.07 per cent a year, which means you get to keep more of your returns, as actively managed funds can charge as much as 1.5 per cent a year.

There are thousands to choose from, with the five biggest providers BlackRock’s iShares range, Vanguard, State Street Global Advisors SPDR ETFs, Deutsche Bank AWM X-trackers and Invesco PowerShares.