Indian furniture on display at Jerome Dhulst's Antika Furniture in Dubai. Photo by Jeff Topping/The National
Indian furniture on display at Jerome Dhulst's Antika Furniture in Dubai. Photo by Jeff Topping/The National

Upcycling is a step above recycling, with an artistic bent



What do you do with your old junk? You could try to mend it and make it last that bit longer. You could give it to someone who needs it, or to a charity shop. You could sell it at a jumble sale or simply throw it away. But there is another option: you could always upcycle it.

Upcycling is the new recycling. While the latter is simply a case of using things again, the former uses them in new ways, in more stylish, more design-led, more cleverly thought-out ways. Recycling breaks products down into raw materials then remakes them, often with an overall decrease in value. Upcycling takes them as they are and reconfigures, reconstitutes and reimagines them into something better. Something with more inherent, aesthetic and design value.

Fuelled by the increasingly troubled world economy and the need for environmental awareness in all aspects of society, designers are rescuing what would once have been landfill fodder and turning it into eco-friendly and innovative products. It's a perfect solution: reducing waste and the need for virgin resources while sourcing raw materials for very little - if any - cost.

And it's not just a case of need. In fact, our desire for unique, one-off items is as much responsible for the popularity of the trend as anything else. "Mass produced" has been replaced by "hand crafted" on our most-wanted lists, with character and history as important to us as functionality, making upcycled products as fashionable as they are practical and ethical. They tick the "vintage" trend box, but add something new, something that carries the stamp of 21st century approval.

The sheer variety of goods on offer is incredible. Leftover fabric from the fashion industry is being transformed into patchwork arm chairs. Reclaimed wooden planks from old rowboats are finding new life as quirky cabinets. Shards of broken china are being used as unusual mosaic tiles on mirrors and photo frames. Vinyl records are being melted and reshaped as fruit bowls and bookends. Benedicte Moubarak of Lebanon's 2b Design uses architectural salvage to create home accessories, such as a lamp stand made from a 150-year-old piece of balcony.

By their very nature, one-off upcycled products tend not to be found on the high street. Instead they are the preserve of boutique outfits such as Antika Dubai, which stocks individual items of furniture made from reclaimed wood. Online, the growth of internet shopping has given small designers and producers the chance to sell their wares with very little in the way of start-up costs, whether they break out on their own or choose collective selling options such as Etsy.com, where you can currently find almost 220,000 items tagged as upcycled (up from just under 30,000 in January 2011 - an increase of about 730 per cent).

Pretty much anything can be upcycled, and the process doesn't have to be particularly complicated. In fact, anyone can do it. Need a new way to display your flowers? A collection of old jam jars, each tied with raffia or ribbon and grouped on a pretty tray or mirror, works a treat. What about a place to stow your linens and towels? Stack a couple of vintage suitcases at the bottom of your bed and you have a simple but effective - and very trendy - storage solution. Simply looking at an object in a new way can help you see the potential in it.

If you're at all handy, you could try your hand at fashioning homemade items from rescued items that would otherwise be little more than rubbish. The internet is a great source of inspiration, with image sharing sites like Pinterest.com offering a chance to see what other creatively-minded people have been up to. Just search for upcycling and you'll find a bed headboard made from discarded rowing paddles, shelving constructed from old crates, and a coffee table fashioned from a baking tray covered in fabric - and that's just to start with.

Upcycling furniture is particularly popular. Sometimes something as simple as a coat of paint and a set of new handles or door knobs is enough to transform a shabby old pine bedroom suit into a modern design statement. Choosing the right paint is essential - Annie Sloan's Chalk Paints, for example, don't require an undercoat or any sanding, making them super easy to use. If you really want to be creative, try using blackboard paint, which will instantly turn any surface - the panel end of a child's bed, for example - into a canvas for budding artists.

But you needn't stop there. If you're brave enough, why not try making your own furniture? An old door could become a dining table with the addition of legs, perhaps rescued from a tired trestle table. Or, if you have the know-how to construct a suitable frame, a selection of different drawers can come together to form a fabulously quirky dresser. Try painting some of the drawers and leaving others in their raw state for an even more artistic statement.

If you need inspiration, there are plenty of books on the subject, including many "how to" volumes that will take you step by step through a variety of projects. For example, Upcycling: Create Beautiful Things with the Stuff You Already Have, by American environmental lifestyle expert and TV presenter Danny Seo and photographer Jennifer Levy, includes ways to turn old leather belts into a doormat, worn-out paperbacks into bud vases and even tennis balls into a country swing.

The trick is to start seeing the potential in every item you're about to relegate to the trash heap. Don't be afraid to experiment. If your first attempt fails, you can just break it all down and start again. What's the worst that can happen? After all, you're using junk you were going to give away, throw out or donate to charity anyway.

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Elmawkaa
Based: Hub71, Abu Dhabi
Founders: Ebrahem Anwar, Mahmoud Habib and Mohamed Thabet
Sector: PropTech
Total funding: $400,000
Investors: 500 Startups, Flat6Labs and angel investors
Number of employees: 12

Sarfira

Director: Sudha Kongara Prasad

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5

Ads on social media can 'normalise' drugs

A UK report on youth social media habits commissioned by advocacy group Volteface found a quarter of young people were exposed to illegal drug dealers on social media.

The poll of 2,006 people aged 16-24 assessed their exposure to drug dealers online in a nationally representative survey.

Of those admitting to seeing drugs for sale online, 56 per cent saw them advertised on Snapchat, 55 per cent on Instagram and 47 per cent on Facebook.

Cannabis was the drug most pushed by online dealers, with 63 per cent of survey respondents claiming to have seen adverts on social media for the drug, followed by cocaine (26 per cent) and MDMA/ecstasy, with 24 per cent of people.

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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

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Kinetic 7
Started: 2018
Founder: Rick Parish
Based: Abu Dhabi, UAE
Industry: Clean cooking
Funding: $10 million
Investors: Self-funded

Company profile

Company name: Fasset
Started: 2019
Founders: Mohammad Raafi Hossain, Daniel Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $2.45 million
Current number of staff: 86
Investment stage: Pre-series B
Investors: Investcorp, Liberty City Ventures, Fatima Gobi Ventures, Primal Capital, Wealthwell Ventures, FHS Capital, VN2 Capital, local family offices

57 Seconds

Director: Rusty Cundieff
Stars: Josh Hutcherson, Morgan Freeman, Greg Germann, Lovie Simone
Rating: 2/5

EMIRATES'S REVISED A350 DEPLOYMENT SCHEDULE

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

'Ghostbusters: From Beyond'

Director: Jason Reitman

Starring: Paul Rudd, Carrie Coon, Finn Wolfhard, Mckenna Grace

Rating: 2/5

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.”

Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus

Developer: Sucker Punch Productions
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Console: PlayStation 2 to 5
Rating: 5/5

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

A QUIET PLACE

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

Director: Michael Sarnoski

Rating: 4/5

SPECS

Engine: 4-litre V8 twin-turbo
Power: 630hp
Torque: 850Nm
Transmission: 8-speed Tiptronic automatic
Price: From Dh599,000
On sale: Now

Living in...

This article is part of a guide on where to live in the UAE. Our reporters will profile some of the country’s most desirable districts, provide an estimate of rental prices and introduce you to some of the residents who call each area home. 

The specs

Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl turbo
Power: 261hp at 5,500rpm
Torque: 400Nm at 1,750-4,000rpm
Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch auto
Fuel consumption: 10.5L/100km
On sale: Now
Price: From Dh129,999 (VX Luxury); from Dh149,999 (VX Black Gold)

MATCH INFO

Uefa Champions League final:

Who: Real Madrid v Liverpool
Where: NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium, Kiev, Ukraine
When: Saturday, May 26, 10.45pm (UAE)
TV: Match on BeIN Sports

Milestones on the road to union

1970

October 26: Bahrain withdraws from a proposal to create a federation of nine with the seven Trucial States and Qatar. 

December: Ahmed Al Suwaidi visits New York to discuss potential UN membership.

1971

March 1:  Alex Douglas Hume, Conservative foreign secretary confirms that Britain will leave the Gulf and “strongly supports” the creation of a Union of Arab Emirates.

July 12: Historic meeting at which Sheikh Zayed and Sheikh Rashid make a binding agreement to create what will become the UAE.

July 18: It is announced that the UAE will be formed from six emirates, with a proposed constitution signed. RAK is not yet part of the agreement.

August 6:  The fifth anniversary of Sheikh Zayed becoming Ruler of Abu Dhabi, with official celebrations deferred until later in the year.

August 15: Bahrain becomes independent.

September 3: Qatar becomes independent.

November 23-25: Meeting with Sheikh Zayed and Sheikh Rashid and senior British officials to fix December 2 as date of creation of the UAE.

November 29:  At 5.30pm Iranian forces seize the Greater and Lesser Tunbs by force.

November 30: Despite  a power sharing agreement, Tehran takes full control of Abu Musa. 

November 31: UK officials visit all six participating Emirates to formally end the Trucial States treaties

December 2: 11am, Dubai. New Supreme Council formally elects Sheikh Zayed as President. Treaty of Friendship signed with the UK. 11.30am. Flag raising ceremony at Union House and Al Manhal Palace in Abu Dhabi witnessed by Sheikh Khalifa, then Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi.

December 6: Arab League formally admits the UAE. The first British Ambassador presents his credentials to Sheikh Zayed.

December 9: UAE joins the United Nations.

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

Herc's Adventures

Developer: Big Ape Productions
Publisher: LucasArts
Console: PlayStation 1 & 5, Sega Saturn
Rating: 4/5

The specs: 2018 Nissan Patrol Nismo

Price: base / as tested: Dh382,000

Engine: 5.6-litre V8

Gearbox: Seven-speed automatic

Power: 428hp @ 5,800rpm

Torque: 560Nm @ 3,600rpm

Fuel economy, combined: 12.7L / 100km

THE SPECS

Engine: 1.5-litre, four-cylinder turbo

Transmission: seven-speed dual clutch automatic

Power: 169bhp

Torque: 250Nm

Price: Dh54,500

On sale: now

The National selections

6pm: Go Soldier Go
6.35pm: Man Of Promise
7.10pm: Withering
7.45pm: Mawj
8.20pm: Falling Shadow
8.55pm: Law Of Peace
9.30pm: Naval Power
10.05pm: The Attorney

SPECS

Engine: 1.5-litre turbo

Power: 181hp

Torque: 230Nm

Transmission: 6-speed automatic

Starting price: Dh79,000

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Turning waste into fuel

Average amount of biofuel produced at DIC factory every month: Approximately 106,000 litres

Amount of biofuel produced from 1 litre of used cooking oil: 920ml (92%)

Time required for one full cycle of production from used cooking oil to biofuel: One day

Energy requirements for one cycle of production from 1,000 litres of used cooking oil:
▪ Electricity - 1.1904 units
▪ Water- 31 litres
▪ Diesel – 26.275 litres

DUNGEONS & DRAGONS: HONOR AMONG THIEVES

Directors: John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein
Stars: Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, Rege-Jean Page, Justice Smith, Sophia Lillis
Rating: 3/5

THE SPECS
Engine: 3.5-litre V6
Transmission: 9-speed automatc
Power: 279hp
Torque: 350Nm
Price: From Dh250,000
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Company profile

Company: POPC
Started: 2022
Founders: Amna Aijaz, Haroon Tahir and Arafat Ali Khan
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: art and e-commerce
Funds raised: undisclosed amount raised through Waverider Entertainment

South Africa World Cup squad

South Africa: Faf du Plessis (c), Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock (w), JP Duminy, Imran Tahir, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Dale Steyn, Rassie van der Dussen.

Kill

Director: Nikhil Nagesh Bhat

Starring: Lakshya, Tanya Maniktala, Ashish Vidyarthi, Harsh Chhaya, Raghav Juyal

Rating: 4.5/5

Specs: 2024 McLaren Artura Spider

Engine: 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 and electric motor
Max power: 700hp at 7,500rpm
Max torque: 720Nm at 2,250rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed dual-clutch auto
0-100km/h: 3.0sec
Top speed: 330kph
Price: From Dh1.14 million ($311,000)
On sale: Now

The biog:

Favourite book: The Leader Who Had No Title by Robin Sharma

Pet Peeve: Racism 

Proudest moment: Graduating from Sorbonne 

What puts her off: Dishonesty in all its forms

Happiest period in her life: The beginning of her 30s

Favourite movie: "I have two. The Pursuit of Happiness and Homeless to Harvard"

Role model: Everyone. A child can be my role model 

Slogan: The queen of peace, love and positive energy

Islamic Architecture: A World History

Author: Eric Broug
Publisher: Thames & Hudson
Pages: 336
Available: September

Five calorie-packed Ramadan drinks

Rooh Afza
100ml contains 414 calories
Tang orange drink
100ml serving contains 300 calories
Carob beverage mix
100ml serving contains about 300 calories
Qamar Al Din apricot drink
100ml saving contains 61 calories
Vimto fruit squash
100ml serving contains 30 calories