Travelling to Sharjah in style, in search of an eccentric new car



In the 1970s, Panther Westwinds used to make cars in a ramshackle collection of scruffy outbuildings they'd somehow managed to meld together to create a factory. I used to live a short distance up the road from the Panther factory, in the south-east of England, and regularly saw their mad, eccentric and exotic creations being tested on the roads of leafy Surrey. Over the years, Panther sold enough cars to soldier on for probably longer than they should have done and even managed to launch the Six, a huge futuristic convertible which had, yes, six wheels.

I was a young boy at the time they released that particular footnote in automotive history. Panther went bust three years later, having produced just two roadworthy examples of the Six. In hindsight, it was not really an entirely surprising turn of events. Thirty years later and I have just seen pictures of the newly-launched PGO Hemera, a two-seater sports coupé - or is it a shooting-brake? No one, not even the manufacturers, can quite decide which.

The Hemera looked that good it made me feel giddy with excitement. Even more so after I found out the Hemera was here, in the UAE, making its GCC debut at last month's Sharjah International Automobile Show. This wonderful little motor is produced by one of France's last remaining low-volume automakers and is infused with the kind of joie de vivre that reminds me of being a boy again and thinking I'd own a Panther Six one day. I resolved to go to Sharjah to pay homage to the Hemera.

However, I am currently carless, so the only options for the trip were either bus or taxi. And, much as I love taking a long taxi journey, the cost can sometimes be chastening. The previous time I had ventured out of town, to Dubai, the trip had been expensive. Admittedly, I had travelled in style, with my family, spending a lovely couple of hours in the back seat of a black Infiniti admiring acres of tan leather.

That was for a high-rolling day of family fun at the recently-opened Aquaventure water park. I was viewing my impending trip to Sharjah as a much cheaper affair. A whimsical flight of fancy to see the Hemera, a whimsical flight of fancy in itself. The bus would have to do. My resolve was challenged as soon as I arrived at Abu Dhabi's main bus and taxi stand. Several willing gentlemen negotiated vigorously to relieve me of varying amounts of cash and eventually, somewhat against my better judgement, I struck a deal with Anwr to take me to Sharjah in his seven-seater Kia Carens. He was offering a mid-price quote for a journey in a mid-price car. The trip was, I am happy to report, every bit as lovely as my previous venture out of town, except without the additional luxury of leather seats. Anwr even threw in a free soft drink as a gesture of goodwill. Already though the cost of my day had spiralled over budget. I hoped the Dh150,000 shooting brake-coupé would be worth the effort. Oddly, it was really difficult to find. The Hemera was nowhere to be seen on the official and surprisingly prominent PGO stand at the Sharjah show. Instead, the manufacturers had decided to launch the car in a corridor that separated the two main exhibition halls. Only the eccentric, or the French, or both, choose to launch a new car in a corridor. In these unlikely surroundings, the Hemera did not disappoint. It was a beautiful thing. The marketing blurb told me it had "a unique rear glass bubble" and it did. With the main reason for my trip ticked off my list and my curiosity satisfied, I headed for the Sharjah bus station and for home. I arrived just as a coach bound for Abu Dhabi was slipping out of the terminal and to my dismay there was a long queue of people snaking around the ticket office. The air was thick with the smell of diesel, while my head was filled with doom-laden thoughts of delayed or, even worse, cancelled travel. Where was a nice, comfy Infiniti when you needed one? In the event, my mood brightened as quickly as the queue melted. I bought a ticket, found a seat on the next available bus and waited for it to leave. When it did, the Friday night traffic was heavy as the bus nosed its way past the Blue Souq, but my mood was light. I'd had my giddy meeting with the Hemera and now I was saving money by catching the bus home. Maybe if I took public transport more often I'd be able to afford to buy my own Hemera. nmarch@thenational.ae

THE BIO

Bio Box

Role Model: Sheikh Zayed, God bless his soul

Favorite book: Zayed Biography of the leader

Favorite quote: To be or not to be, that is the question, from William Shakespeare's Hamlet

Favorite food: seafood

Favorite place to travel: Lebanon

Favorite movie: Braveheart

 

 

 

'Skin'

Dir: Guy Nattiv

Starring: Jamie Bell, Danielle McDonald, Bill Camp, Vera Farmiga

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

The Bio

Ram Buxani earned a salary of 125 rupees per month in 1959

Indian currency was then legal tender in the Trucial States.

He received the wages plus food, accommodation, a haircut and cinema ticket twice a month and actuals for shaving and laundry expenses

Buxani followed in his father’s footsteps when he applied for a job overseas

His father Jivat Ram worked in general merchandize store in Gibraltar and the Canary Islands in the early 1930s

Buxani grew the UAE business over several sectors from retail to financial services but is attached to the original textile business

He talks in detail about natural fibres, the texture of cloth, mirrorwork and embroidery 

Buxani lives by a simple philosophy – do good to all

Day 3, Abu Dhabi Test: At a glance

Moment of the day Just three balls remained in an exhausting day for Sri Lanka’s bowlers when they were afforded some belated cheer. Nuwan Pradeep, unrewarded in 15 overs to that point, let slip a seemingly innocuous delivery down the legside. Babar Azam feathered it behind, and Niroshan Dickwella dived to make a fine catch.

Stat of the day - 2.56 Shan Masood and Sami Aslam are the 16th opening partnership Pakistan have had in Tests in the past five years. That turnover at the top of the order – a new pair every 2.56 Test matches on average – is by far the fastest rate among the leading Test sides. Masood and Aslam put on 114 in their first alliance in Abu Dhabi.

The verdict Even by the normal standards of Test cricket in the UAE, this has been slow going. Pakistan’s run-rate of 2.38 per over is the lowest they have managed in a Test match in this country. With just 14 wickets having fallen in three days so far, it is difficult to see 26 dropping to bring about a result over the next two.

Abu Dhabi GP schedule

Friday: First practice - 1pm; Second practice - 5pm

Saturday: Final practice - 2pm; Qualifying - 5pm

Sunday: Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix (55 laps) - 5.10pm

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: OneOrder
Started: March 2022
Founders: Tamer Amer and Karim Maurice
Based: Cairo
Number of staff: 82
Investment stage: Series A

FROM THE ASHES

Director: Khalid Fahad

Starring: Shaima Al Tayeb, Wafa Muhamad, Hamss Bandar

Rating: 3/5

Normcore explained

Something of a fashion anomaly, normcore is essentially a celebration of the unremarkable. The term was first popularised by an article in New York magazine in 2014 and has been dubbed “ugly”, “bland’ and "anti-style" by fashion writers. It’s hallmarks are comfort, a lack of pretentiousness and neutrality – it is a trend for those who would rather not stand out from the crowd. For the most part, the style is unisex, favouring loose silhouettes, thrift-shop threads, baseball caps and boyish trainers. It is important to note that normcore is not synonymous with cheapness or low quality; there are high-fashion brands, including Parisian label Vetements, that specialise in this style. Embraced by fashion-forward street-style stars around the globe, it’s uptake in the UAE has been relatively slow.

SPECS

Engine: 1.5-litre turbo

Power: 181hp

Torque: 230Nm

Transmission: 6-speed automatic

Starting price: Dh79,000

On sale: Now

West Asia rugby, season 2017/18 - Roll of Honour

Western Clubs Champions League - Winners: Abu Dhabi Harlequins; Runners up: Bahrain

Dubai Rugby Sevens - Winners: Dubai Exiles; Runners up: Jebel Ali Dragons

West Asia Premiership - Winners: Jebel Ali Dragons; Runners up: Abu Dhabi Harlequins

UAE Premiership Cup - Winners: Abu Dhabi Harlequins; Runners up: Dubai Exiles

UAE Premiership - Winners: Dubai Exiles; Runners up: Abu Dhabi Harlequins

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

Children who witnessed blood bath want to help others

Aged just 11, Khulood Al Najjar’s daughter, Nora, bravely attempted to fight off Philip Spence. Her finger was injured when she put her hand in between the claw hammer and her mother’s head.

As a vital witness, she was forced to relive the ordeal by police who needed to identify the attacker and ensure he was found guilty.

Now aged 16, Nora has decided she wants to dedicate her career to helping other victims of crime.

“It was very horrible for her. She saw her mum, dying, just next to her eyes. But now she just wants to go forward,” said Khulood, speaking about how her eldest daughter was dealing with the trauma of the incident five years ago. “She is saying, 'mama, I want to be a lawyer, I want to help people achieve justice'.”

Khulood’s youngest daughter, Fatima, was seven at the time of the attack and attempted to help paramedics responding to the incident.

“Now she wants to be a maxillofacial doctor,” Khulood said. “She said to me ‘it is because a maxillofacial doctor returned your face, mama’. Now she wants to help people see themselves in the mirror again.”

Khulood’s son, Saeed, was nine in 2014 and slept through the attack. While he did not witness the trauma, this made it more difficult for him to understand what had happened. He has ambitions to become an engineer.

The specs

Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo hybrid
Power: 680hp
Torque: 1,020Nm
Transmission: 9-speed auto
Fuel consumption: 7.5L/100km
On sale: Early 2024
Price: From Dh530,000 (estimate)

Story of 2017-18 so far and schedule to come

Roll of Honour

Who has won what so far in the West Asia rugby season?

 

Western Clubs Champions League

Winners: Abu Dhabi Harlequins

Runners up: Bahrain

 

Dubai Rugby Sevens

Winners: Dubai Exiles

Runners up: Jebel Ali Dragons

 

West Asia Premiership

Winners: Jebel Ali Dragons

Runners up: Abu Dhabi Harlequins

 

UAE Premiership Cup

Winners: Abu Dhabi Harlequins

Runners up: Dubai Exiles

 

Fixtures

Friday

West Asia Cup final

5pm, Bahrain (6pm UAE time), Bahrain v Dubai Exiles

 

West Asia Trophy final

3pm, The Sevens, Dubai Hurricanes v Dubai Sports City Eagles

 

Friday, April 13

UAE Premiership final

5pm, Al Ain, Dubai Exiles v Abu Dhabi Harlequins

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

Developer: Ubisoft Montreal / Ubisoft Toronto
Publisher: Ubisoft
Platforms: Playstation 4, Xbox One, Windows
​​​​​​​Release Date: April 10

Haemoglobin disorders explained

Thalassaemia is part of a family of genetic conditions affecting the blood known as haemoglobin disorders.

Haemoglobin is a substance in the red blood cells that carries oxygen and a lack of it triggers anemia, leaving patients very weak, short of breath and pale.

The most severe type of the condition is typically inherited when both parents are carriers. Those patients often require regular blood transfusions - about 450 of the UAE's 2,000 thalassaemia patients - though frequent transfusions can lead to too much iron in the body and heart and liver problems.

The condition mainly affects people of Mediterranean, South Asian, South-East Asian and Middle Eastern origin. Saudi Arabia recorded 45,892 cases of carriers between 2004 and 2014.

A World Health Organisation study estimated that globally there are at least 950,000 'new carrier couples' every year and annually there are 1.33 million at-risk pregnancies.

Email sent to Uber team from chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi

From: Dara

To: Team@

Date: March 25, 2019 at 11:45pm PT

Subj: Accelerating in the Middle East

Five years ago, Uber launched in the Middle East. It was the start of an incredible journey, with millions of riders and drivers finding new ways to move and work in a dynamic region that’s become so important to Uber. Now Pakistan is one of our fastest-growing markets in the world, women are driving with Uber across Saudi Arabia, and we chose Cairo to launch our first Uber Bus product late last year.

Today we are taking the next step in this journey—well, it’s more like a leap, and a big one: in a few minutes, we’ll announce that we’ve agreed to acquire Careem. Importantly, we intend to operate Careem independently, under the leadership of co-founder and current CEO Mudassir Sheikha. I’ve gotten to know both co-founders, Mudassir and Magnus Olsson, and what they have built is truly extraordinary. They are first-class entrepreneurs who share our platform vision and, like us, have launched a wide range of products—from digital payments to food delivery—to serve consumers.

I expect many of you will ask how we arrived at this structure, meaning allowing Careem to maintain an independent brand and operate separately. After careful consideration, we decided that this framework has the advantage of letting us build new products and try new ideas across not one, but two, strong brands, with strong operators within each. Over time, by integrating parts of our networks, we can operate more efficiently, achieve even lower wait times, expand new products like high-capacity vehicles and payments, and quicken the already remarkable pace of innovation in the region.

This acquisition is subject to regulatory approval in various countries, which we don’t expect before Q1 2020. Until then, nothing changes. And since both companies will continue to largely operate separately after the acquisition, very little will change in either teams’ day-to-day operations post-close. Today’s news is a testament to the incredible business our team has worked so hard to build.

It’s a great day for the Middle East, for the region’s thriving tech sector, for Careem, and for Uber.

Uber on,

Dara

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

2017 RESULTS: FRENCH VOTERS IN UK

First round
Emmanuel Macron: 51.1%
Francois Fillon: 24.2%
Jean-Luc Melenchon: 11.8%
Benoit Hamon: 7.0%
Marine Le Pen: 2.9%

Second round
Emmanuel Macron: 95.1%
Marine Le Pen: 4.9%

The Sheikh Zayed Future Energy Prize

This year’s winners of the US$4 million Sheikh Zayed Future Energy Prize will be recognised and rewarded in Abu Dhabi on January 15 as part of Abu Dhabi Sustainable Week, which runs in the capital from January 13 to 20.

From solutions to life-changing technologies, the aim is to discover innovative breakthroughs to create a new and sustainable energy future.

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.

The specs

Engine: Single front-axle electric motor
Power: 218hp
Torque: 330Nm
Transmission: Single-speed automatic
Max touring range: 402km (claimed)
Price: From Dh215,000 (estimate)
On sale: September

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Revibe
Started: 2022
Founders: Hamza Iraqui and Abdessamad Ben Zakour
Based: UAE
Industry: Refurbished electronics
Funds raised so far: $10m
Investors: Flat6Labs, Resonance and various others

Dengue fever symptoms

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

TWISTERS

Director:+Lee+Isaac+Chung

Starring:+Glen+Powell,+Daisy+Edgar-Jones,+Anthony+Ramos

Rating:+2.5/5

The essentials

What: Emirates Airline Festival of Literature

When: Friday until March 9

Where: All main sessions are held in the InterContinental Dubai Festival City

Price: Sessions range from free entry to Dh125 tickets, with the exception of special events.

Hot Tip: If waiting for your book to be signed looks like it will be timeconsuming, ask the festival’s bookstore if they have pre-signed copies of the book you’re looking for. They should have a bunch from some of the festival’s biggest guest authors.

Information: www.emirateslitfest.com
 

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

Abaya trends

The utilitarian robe held dear by Arab women is undergoing a change that reveals it as an elegant and graceful garment available in a range of colours and fabrics, while retaining its traditional appeal.

ENGLAND SQUAD

For Euro 2024 qualifers away to Malta on June 16 and at home to North Macedonia on June 19:

Goalkeepers Johnstone, Pickford, Ramsdale.

Defenders Alexander-Arnold, Dunk, Guehi, Maguire, Mings, Shaw, Stones, Trippier, Walker.

Midfielders Bellingham, Eze, Gallagher, Henderson, Maddison, Phillips, Rice.

Forwards Foden, Grealish, Kane, Rashford, Saka, Wilson.

The Roundup

Director: Lee Sang-yong
Stars: Ma Dong-seok, Sukku Son, Choi Gwi-hwa
Rating: 4/5

Key products and UAE prices

iPhone XS
With a 5.8-inch screen, it will be an advance version of the iPhone X. It will be dual sim and comes with better battery life, a faster processor and better camera. A new gold colour will be available.
Price: Dh4,229

iPhone XS Max
It is expected to be a grander version of the iPhone X with a 6.5-inch screen; an inch bigger than the screen of the iPhone 8 Plus.
Price: Dh4,649

iPhone XR
A low-cost version of the iPhone X with a 6.1-inch screen, it is expected to attract mass attention. According to industry experts, it is likely to have aluminium edges instead of stainless steel.
Price: Dh3,179

Apple Watch Series 4
More comprehensive health device with edge-to-edge displays that are more than 30 per cent bigger than displays on current models.

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


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