The Toyota Yaris, the king of the rental cars in Abu Dhabi.
The Toyota Yaris, the king of the rental cars in Abu Dhabi.

Rental Cars: Toyota Yaris

Halfway into a three-day rental, I'm zipping along Al Falah Street in a 1.3-litre Yaris and my eldest son chirps up from the comfort of the back seat with his own critical appraisal of the Toyota: "Can we get this car?," he asks me. Which, in terms of praise, is about as good as it get from an 11-year-old boy whose head is usually only turned by supercars and, sometimes, souped-up saloons. I had picked up the Yaris the day before from one of the many car rental shops that litter the streets of Abu Dhabi and wasn't expecting anything more than a pre-teenage grunt from my boy when I took him for a drive in the Toyota. The Yaris is, after all, a workhorse, a grafter. It's not flashy, it's not special and it's not exotic. It is though, along with Georgia's Tiida, a hardy perennial of the rental scene. Chances are if you walked into a rental shop tomorrow and asked to hire a budget car, you'd be given either the Toyota or the Nissan.

I was glad to get the Yaris though. For a run-of-the-mill subcompact it looks more than a little interesting with its cheeky, perky European looks (the hatchback version of the car was designed at the car maker's European studio) and its high sides. And for a Toyota, a company not often known for producing cars with looks that get under your skin, it looked mildly cool. My working relationship with the Yaris did not begin particularly well though: the car the rental shop gave me was more bashed up than beautiful. The Yaris was only 18,000 kilometres into its, most likely, long life but it was already showing all the signs of a battle-hardened existence: a ding in the driver's door, a scrape down the passenger's side, heavily scratched hub caps and worst of all, an odd, unmentionable smell in the cabin, which was, I hoped, a mix of driver's sweat and tobacco, although I feared it might have been something altogether more sinister. Then there was the price of the car too. Keen readers of The National will know the paper has reported sharp increases in the prices of rental cars in recent months and this was confirmed by my hire car, which was priced at a staggering Dh131 a day. At these rates, I calculated, I could afford to buy my own brand new Yaris in under a year. Clambering into the driver's seat for the first time I was hit by nothing (except that awful smell). The dash of the Yaris reminded me of a Shania Twain song. You know the one: That Don't Impress Me Much. The main problem is - and let's leave alone for the moment the multitude of different grades of plastic on display - that the Yaris is fitted with a centrally mounted speedometer, just like the permanently cool Mini. Now, on the Mini, one of those central speedometers looks funky, urbane. It's a piece of British retro chic that has been crafted by hip designers in their cosmopolitan studio. In a go-anywhere city car like the Yaris though the speedo just looks silly, especially when the dial is so much more functional than funky. And while a Mini hides the void behind the steering wheel with a rev counter and other such kit and caboodle (depending on your options pack), the Yaris puts nothing in the space except some of the cheapest plastics you could find this side of a toy given away in a box of breakfast cereal. Otherwise, the cabin was generally attractive if a little dull. Once my distaste for the dash dissolved I found a central console clad with nice-to-the-touch, sturdy metal. The console housed dials for the air conditioning and the in-car entertainment system. There was also plenty of storage space dotted around the cabin; Toyota claims more than 18 litres of space in the car's dual glove boxes. The interior was roomy too, with more than enough legroom and back seats that recline, although you wouldn't necessarily want to do a round-the-emirates in the back seat. You couldn't, in fact, unless you only took a couple of handkerchiefs as luggage, as the boot is much smaller than you might imagine. Big enough to squeeze a small weekly supermarket shop into, but not really appropriate for the airport run or a longer tour. On the road, the Yaris was equipped with a four-speed automatic box married to a punchy 1.3-litre engine. I had heard some gossip suggesting this combination was seriously underpowered but, from the first set of traffic lights I accelerated away from, to the time I handed the keys back in, I found the Yaris more than up to the job of thrashing around town. Sure, I had to work it a little to get the most out of the engine, but the transitions were smooth and the ride was perfectly pleasant and, dare I say it, fun. It was neat and tidy through corners, with very little body roll, sharp under braking and, thankfully, visibility was good too. I mention visibility because when you drive the Yaris, or any other subcompact for that matter, you are considered slightly inferior on Abu Dhabi's roads. Other drivers treat you as fair game to jostle into a slower lane. So, as another high-powered BMW bared down on my rear bumper I was able to marvel at the relative delicacy of the Yaris' C-pillars, which gave me an excellent view of the trouble behind me. I was also mildly comforted by Toyota's Minimal Intrusion Cabin System which ensures that should I have had a knock, the car's body has been designed to absorb the worst of the impact without pushing the metalwork too far out of shape, or rather too much further out of kilter given the rental Yaris' slightly world weary look of scrapes and knocks. So, if you want a knockout runabout for not very much cash, I'd recommend the Yaris. After a rocky start, the car finished well.


Engine: 1.5-litre turbo

Power: 181hp

Torque: 230Nm

Transmission: 6-speed automatic

Starting price: Dh79,000

On sale: Now

Gran Gala del Calcio 2019 winners

Best Player: Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus)
Best Coach: Gian Piero Gasperini (Atalanta)
Best Referee: Gianluca Rocchi
Best Goal: Fabio Quagliarella (Sampdoria vs Napoli)
Best Team: Atalanta​​​​​​​
Best XI: Samir Handanovic (Inter); Aleksandar Kolarov (Roma), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli), Joao Cancelo (Juventus*); Miralem Pjanic (Juventus), Josip Ilicic (Atalanta), Nicolo Barella (Cagliari*); Fabio Quagliarella (Sampdoria), Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus), Duvan Zapata (Atalanta)
Serie B Best Young Player: Sandro Tonali (Brescia)
Best Women’s Goal: Thaisa (Milan vs Juventus)
Best Women’s Player: Manuela Giugliano (Milan)
Best Women’s XI: Laura Giuliani (Milan); Alia Guagni (Fiorentina), Sara Gama (Juventus), Cecilia Salvai (Juventus), Elisa Bartoli (Roma); Aurora Galli (Juventus), Manuela Giugliano (Roma), Valentina Cernoia (Juventus); Valentina Giacinti (Milan), Ilaria Mauro (Fiorentina), Barbara Bonansea (Juventus)

Sreesanth's India bowling career

Tests 27, Wickets 87, Average 37.59, Best 5-40

ODIs 53, Wickets 75, Average 33.44, Best 6-55

T20Is 10, Wickets 7, Average 41.14, Best 2-12

John Wick: Chapter 4

Director: Chad Stahelski

Stars: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, George Georgiou

Rating: 4/5

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

The biog:

From: Wimbledon, London, UK

Education: Medical doctor

Hobbies: Travelling, meeting new people and cultures 

Favourite animals: All of them 

Richard Jewell

Director: Clint Eastwood

Stars: Paul Walter Hauser, Sam Rockwell, Brandon Stanley

Two-and-a-half out of five stars 


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

Company Profile

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

England squad

Joe Root (captain), Alastair Cook, Keaton Jennings, Gary Ballance, Jonny Bairstow (wicketkeeper), Ben Stokes (vice-captain), Moeen Ali, Liam Dawson, Toby Roland-Jones, Stuart Broad, Mark Wood, James Anderson.

Match statistics

Abu Dhabi Harlequins 36 Bahrain 32


Tries: Penalty 2, Stevenson, Teasdale, Semple

Cons: Stevenson 2

Pens: Stevenson


Tries: Wallace 2, Heath, Evans, Behan

Cons: Radley 2

Pen: Radley

Man of the match: Craig Nutt (Harlequins)


Western Region Asia Cup Qualifier, Al Amerat, Oman

The two finalists advance to the next stage of qualifying, in Malaysia in August


UAE beat Iran by 10 wickets

Kuwait beat Saudi Arabia by eight wickets

Oman beat Bahrain by nine wickets

Qatar beat Maldives by 106 runs

Monday fixtures

UAE v Kuwait, Iran v Saudi Arabia, Oman v Qatar, Maldives v Bahrain

UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets
Company Profile:

Name: The Protein Bakeshop

Date of start: 2013

Founders: Rashi Chowdhary and Saad Umerani

Based: Dubai

Size, number of employees: 12

Funding/investors: $400,000 (2018)


Display: 6.7" Super Retina XDR OLED, 2796 x 1290, 460ppi, 120Hz, 2000 nits max, HDR, True Tone, P3, always-on

Processor: A17 Pro, 6-core CPU, 6-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine

Memory: 8GB

Capacity: 256/512GB / 1TB

Platform: iOS 17

Main camera: Triple: 48MP main (f/1.78) + 12MP ultra-wide (f/2.2) + 12MP 5x telephoto (f/2.8); 5x optical zoom in, 2x optical zoom out; 10x optical zoom range, digital zoom up to 25x; Photonic Engine, Deep Fusion, Smart HDR 4, Portrait Lighting

Main camera video: 4K @ 24/25/30/60fps, full-HD @ 25/30/60fps, HD @ 30fps, slo-mo @ 120/240fps, ProRes (4K) @ 60fps; night, time lapse, cinematic, action modes; Dolby Vision, 4K HDR

Front camera: 12MP TrueDepth (f/1.9), Photonic Engine, Deep Fusion, Smart HDR 4, Portrait Lighting; Animoji, Memoji

Front camera video: 4K @ 24/25/30/60fps, full-HD @ 25/30/60fps, slo-mo @ 120/240fps, ProRes (4K) @ 30fps; night, time lapse, cinematic, action modes; Dolby Vision, 4K HDR

Battery: 4441mAh, up to 29h video, 25h streaming video, 95h audio; fast charge to 50% in 30min (with at least 20W adaptor); MagSafe, Qi wireless charging

Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.3, NFC (Apple Pay), second-generation Ultra Wideband chip

Biometrics: Face ID


Durability: IP68, water-resistant up to 6m up to 30min; dust/splash-resistant

Cards: Dual eSIM / eSIM + eSIM (US models use eSIMs only)

Colours: Black titanium, blue titanium, natural titanium, white titanium

In the box: iPhone 15 Pro Max, USB-C-to-USB-C woven cable, one Apple sticker

Price: Dh5,099 / Dh5,949 / Dh6,799


Centre Court

Starting at 2pm:

Malin Cilic (CRO) v Benoit Paire (FRA) [8]

Not before 4pm:

Dan Evans (GBR) v Fabio Fogini (ITA) [4]

Not before 7pm:

Pablo Carreno Busta (SPA) v Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) [2]

Roberto Bautista Agut (SPA) [5] v Jan-Lennard Struff (GER)

Court One

Starting at 2pm

Prajnesh Gunneswaran (IND) v Dennis Novak (AUT) 

Joao Sousa (POR) v Filip Krajinovic (SRB)

Not before 5pm:

Rajeev Ram (USA) and Joe Salisbury (GBR) [1] v Marin Cilic v Novak Djokovic (SRB)

Nikoloz Basilashvili v Ricardas Berankis (LTU)

The more serious side of specialty coffee

While the taste of beans and freshness of roast is paramount to the specialty coffee scene, so is sustainability and workers’ rights.

The bulk of genuine specialty coffee companies aim to improve on these elements in every stage of production via direct relationships with farmers. For instance, Mokha 1450 on Al Wasl Road strives to work predominantly with women-owned and -operated coffee organisations, including female farmers in the Sabree mountains of Yemen.

Because, as the boutique’s owner, Garfield Kerr, points out: “women represent over 90 per cent of the coffee value chain, but are woefully underrepresented in less than 10 per cent of ownership and management throughout the global coffee industry.”

One of the UAE’s largest suppliers of green (meaning not-yet-roasted) beans, Raw Coffee, is a founding member of the Partnership of Gender Equity, which aims to empower female coffee farmers and harvesters.

Also, globally, many companies have found the perfect way to recycle old coffee grounds: they create the perfect fertile soil in which to grow mushrooms. 


Director: Nikhil Nagesh Bhat

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

Rating: 4.5/5





Tips for entertaining with ease

·         Set the table the night before. It’s a small job but it will make you feel more organised once done.

·         As the host, your mood sets the tone. If people arrive to find you red-faced and harried, they’re not going to relax until you do. Take a deep breath and try to exude calm energy.

·         Guests tend to turn up thirsty. Fill a big jug with iced water and lemon or lime slices and encourage people to help themselves.

·         Have some background music on to help create a bit of ambience and fill any initial lulls in conversations.

·         The meal certainly doesn’t need to be ready the moment your guests step through the door, but if there’s a nibble or two that can be passed around it will ward off hunger pangs and buy you a bit more time in the kitchen.

·         You absolutely don’t have to make every element of the brunch from scratch. Take inspiration from our ideas for ready-made extras and by all means pick up a store-bought dessert.



Developer: SCE Studio Cambridge
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Console: PlayStation, PlayStation 4 and 5
Rating: 3.5/5


Mainz 0

RB Leipzig 5 (Werner 11', 48', 75', Poulsen 23', Sabitzer 36')

Man of the Match: Timo Werner (RB Leipzig)


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