Food Briefs: Iftar highlights and Ping Pong goes mobile

Iftar delivered to home

We rounded up some of our favourite iftar destinations yesterday, but if you'd prefer to host an event at home and don't want the hassle of cooking for a big group, have a look at the Dubai-based catering company Epicure, which is offering a special Ramadan service. Pick from a wide variety of dishes (such as hot and cold mezze, fish with harra sauce, freekeh with lamb), and it will deliver the food to your door, along with drinks, soups, bread and dessert. Call 04 347 3808 or email

Ping Pong Room Service

No longer do lovers of Ping Pong's dim sum need to trek to Dubai Mall for a har gau fix. The restaurant has recently teamed up with the online ordering service Room Service Deliveries to launch a home-delivery service. If you're located in DIFC, Downtown Dubai or around the bottom end of Sheikh Zayed Road, you can place an order by calling Room Service Deliveries on 800 6788 or visiting anytime between 11.45am and 11pm. They guarantee delivery in 45 minutes or less and the service will operate during Ramadan.

Noble House closes down

We always liked Noble House, the high-end Chinese restaurant at Raffles hotel, not least because of the extremely dexterous tea pourer and the views of Old Dubai. It was, therefore, a surprise to learn that the restaurant and the adjacent RED Lounge have been shut down. We've since discovered that the closures are to make way for Tomo, an all-new Japanese restaurant due to open in October.

Catch the Olympics

If you're keen to catch some of the action from the London 2012 Olympics on a big screen and wouldn't mind snapping up a food and drink deal or two, then Spike Bar at Emirates Golf Club in Dubai might be just the ticket. The venue is open from 6am to 12am daily and eight flat screens will show key events, including the UAE vs Great Britain football match on the 29th. Dishes on the special menu include satay shots, chilli and five-spice calamari, fish and chips and the Spike burger. For reservations or more details, call 04 417 9999.

Suhoor at Atayeb

Should you find yourself out on Yas Island over Ramadan, then note that the Yas Viceroy is holding a rather pleasant-sounding suhoor at the Arabian restaurant Atayeb. The à la carte menu is filled with classic dishes, the room is traditionally decorated and there's also shisha, card games and qanun music. Iftar, meanwhile, is being served at the all-day dining restaurant Origins. Yas Viceroy, Yas Island, 02 656 0600.

Mercer, the investment consulting arm of US services company Marsh & McLennan, expects its wealth division to at least double its assets under management (AUM) in the Middle East as wealth in the region continues to grow despite economic headwinds, a company official said.

Mercer Wealth, which globally has $160 billion in AUM, plans to boost its AUM in the region to $2-$3bn in the next 2-3 years from the present $1bn, said Yasir AbuShaban, a Dubai-based principal with Mercer Wealth.

Within the next two to three years, we are looking at reaching $2 to $3 billion as a conservative estimate and we do see an opportunity to do so,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Mercer does not directly make investments, but allocates clients’ money they have discretion to, to professional asset managers. They also provide advice to clients.

“We have buying power. We can negotiate on their (client’s) behalf with asset managers to provide them lower fees than they otherwise would have to get on their own,” he added.

Mercer Wealth’s clients include sovereign wealth funds, family offices, and insurance companies among others.

From its office in Dubai, Mercer also looks after Africa, India and Turkey, where they also see opportunity for growth.

Wealth creation in Middle East and Africa (MEA) grew 8.5 per cent to $8.1 trillion last year from $7.5tn in 2015, higher than last year’s global average of 6 per cent and the second-highest growth in a region after Asia-Pacific which grew 9.9 per cent, according to consultancy Boston Consulting Group (BCG). In the region, where wealth grew just 1.9 per cent in 2015 compared with 2014, a pickup in oil prices has helped in wealth generation.

BCG is forecasting MEA wealth will rise to $12tn by 2021, growing at an annual average of 8 per cent.

Drivers of wealth generation in the region will be split evenly between new wealth creation and growth of performance of existing assets, according to BCG.

Another general trend in the region is clients’ looking for a comprehensive approach to investing, according to Mr AbuShaban.

“Institutional investors or some of the families are seeing a slowdown in the available capital they have to invest and in that sense they are looking at optimizing the way they manage their portfolios and making sure they are not investing haphazardly and different parts of their investment are working together,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Some clients also have a higher appetite for risk, given the low interest-rate environment that does not provide enough yield for some institutional investors. These clients are keen to invest in illiquid assets, such as private equity and infrastructure.

“What we have seen is a desire for higher returns in what has been a low-return environment specifically in various fixed income or bonds,” he said.

“In this environment, we have seen a de facto increase in the risk that clients are taking in things like illiquid investments, private equity investments, infrastructure and private debt, those kind of investments were higher illiquidity results in incrementally higher returns.”

The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, one of the largest sovereign wealth funds, said in its 2016 report that has gradually increased its exposure in direct private equity and private credit transactions, mainly in Asian markets and especially in China and India. The authority’s private equity department focused on structured equities owing to “their defensive characteristics.”

UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets

Director: Ric Roman Waugh

Stars: Gerard Butler, Navid Negahban, Ali Fazal

Rating: 2.5/5


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


July 5, 1994: Jeff Bezos founds Cadabra Inc, which would later be renamed to, because his lawyer misheard the name as 'cadaver'. In its earliest days, the bookstore operated out of a rented garage in Bellevue, Washington

July 16, 1995: Amazon formally opens as an online bookseller. Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought becomes the first item sold on Amazon

1997: Amazon goes public at $18 a share, which has grown about 1,000 per cent at present. Its highest closing price was $197.85 on June 27, 2024

1998: Amazon acquires IMDb, its first major acquisition. It also starts selling CDs and DVDs

2000: Amazon Marketplace opens, allowing people to sell items on the website

2002: Amazon forms what would become Amazon Web Services, opening the platform to all developers. The cloud unit would follow in 2006

2003: Amazon turns in an annual profit of $75 million, the first time it ended a year in the black

2005: Amazon Prime is introduced, its first-ever subscription service that offered US customers free two-day shipping for $79 a year

2006: Amazon Unbox is unveiled, the company's video service that would later morph into Amazon Instant Video and, ultimately, Amazon Video

2007: Amazon's first hardware product, the Kindle e-reader, is introduced; the Fire TV and Fire Phone would come in 2014. Grocery service Amazon Fresh is also started

2009: Amazon introduces Amazon Basics, its in-house label for a variety of products

2010: The foundations for Amazon Studios were laid. Its first original streaming content debuted in 2013

2011: The Amazon Appstore for Google's Android is launched. It is still unavailable on Apple's iOS

2014: The Amazon Echo is launched, a speaker that acts as a personal digital assistant powered by Alexa

2017: Amazon acquires Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, its biggest acquisition

2018: Amazon's market cap briefly crosses the $1 trillion mark, making it, at the time, only the third company to achieve that milestone


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