Thunderbolt: not the best weather to get stranded in whole on safari in Tanzania – in an open vehicle. Photo by Alamy
Thunderbolt: not the best weather to get stranded in whole on safari in Tanzania – in an open vehicle. Photo by Alamy

Travel secrets: ‘Play it too safe, and you won’t wind up with many stories worth telling’



This was not a good idea! How often have you had that thought on a journey? I’m not talking about the “I wish I hadn’t listened to TripAdvisor” thought. I mean the more dire kind, the white-knuckle one that people must have when they’re confronted with an untimely end on an adventure gone horribly wrong.

I’ve had this thought twice on my travels this year, wondering in moments of utter despair whether my fate might merit an item on the news wire. One was on a whale-watching trip in Sri Lanka that produced no whales, only five hours of being pitched back and forth by towering waves, in a sea so vast I wondered whether we might find MH370. The other was when our safari group got stuck in a ditch in the Serengeti in a thunderstorm. In an open vehicle. After dark. Just after watching a lion that had caught a baby antelope for dinner.

As a seasoned travel pro, I wish I could tell you I’d done my research on the tour operators before placing my life in their hands, or known what the plan was in case of emergency. But I did what most of us do when we ignore the preflight safety demonstration on the plane in favour of more interesting things like the duty-free catalogue – I just trusted I was in good hands and assumed everything would be alright.

In Sri Lanka, I was on a press trip; in Tanzania, I was on a luxury safari. Both, you would think, would be guarantees that everything would be meticulously orchestrated according to plan. But travel, like life, carries no guarantees, no matter who you are or what sort of money you shell out for the trip of a lifetime. It is wise to be more mindful of this: be reassured that there’s an emergency plan before you set out, and if your gut doesn’t like the feeling, don’t be afraid to say “turn around”.

I’ll take the, er, lion’s share of the blame for getting myself into those messes, letting my desire to see something worthwhile override my instincts for safety.

In Sri Lanka, our group had been warned the waves were high, but we really wanted to see the whales. In fact, when we first ventured out in a smaller boat, one woman in our group had the sense to demand we return to solid ground. Our travel editor and I were torn between cutting our losses and entertaining the idea that there was still the faintest chance of seeing whales, and so two men took us out in a bigger boat, which, they warned us, would be slower to reach the whale-watching area, far from shore, but better off in the high waves.

Only slightly better, as we soon found.

It took the first hour to find a place to brace ourselves where we weren’t being tossed or sprayed by seawater; by the time we’d noticed there was no life raft in sight, we were too far from land to do anything about it.

In Tanzania, one safari guide had told my friend and me that we had just missed the Great Migration, but that night at dinner, another guest told us that it was happening a three-hour drive away; not to be deterred, we asked to go. We had stated our preference was for an open vehicle, which had been great for getting close to the wildlife at our previous camp, but not, as we were to find, so comfortable on a long day’s trip full of bumpy roads and swarms of tsetse flies. And definitely not in a thunderstorm. Even less so when stranded.

As the sun set, turning the lightning bolts a rather dramatic neon pink as they cracked over the Serengeti, and as our guides radioed the rangers for help, we started searching the vehicle for an emergency kit, flares or supplies in case the rangers couldn’t come to our rescue. All we had were some soda bottles in the cooler, which someone suggested we could throw at a hungry lion. Again, it was too late to prepare ourselves, a fact of which we were all too well aware as we sat helplessly in desperate silence waiting for rescue or disaster to befall. When another vehicle’s lights appeared on the blackened horizon and took us to the safety of a nearby camp, I wept with relief. Lest you think I exaggerate the danger, as we travelled home on the same road – in the safety of a closed vehicle – a pride of lions ambled out from the tall grass into our path.

Happily, I lived to tell these tales, and because of that, I can say there’s some value in them. No one really cares to hear about your fabulously idyllic holiday, but nothing gets your co-workers’ attention like saying that “I almost got eaten by a lion on safari”.

That said, there’s a fine line between being able to say that and, well, actually getting eaten by a lion on safari. Most don’t want to get too close to that line. But then, stay too far away from that line, play it too safe, and you won’t wind up with many stories worth telling.

On my most recent trip to China, I had another “this was not a good idea” thought. I had booked a night train between Shanghai and Beijing, in a “luxury” sleeper, taking the chance that someone would not book the bunk over me. I ended up sharing a small cabin with a man named Wong (a nice enough man, it seemed, but definitely not Mr Right). We spoke not a word of each other’s language. “Canada,” I said, pointing to myself, which is the one word I usually summon worldwide to establish that everything’s cool. “Ka-nah-ta?” he repeated, as if he were saying it for the first time. Then he pulled out his phone, spoke Mandarin into it, and a Siri-like voice said in English: “I must warn you that I snore very loudly.” We laughed.

After about an hour of questions and answers using his translation app, surely the most bizarre mode of conversation ever, I asked him where I could get dinner and some tea. Off he went and returned with a can of stew, cracked the top and proudly held it out to me with a spoon.

“It’s cold,” I protested weakly, and he just smiled invitingly. I ate a bit of that stew like a champ, then he dumped the rest out and made me tea in it with the kettle we had in our cabin. I tried to tell him it was like a campfire meal in Canada: not exactly good, but better because of the effort involved. I think that got lost in translation.

Soon after he announced it was time for bed and climbed up into his bunk. He did snore very loudly, but I felt safe, and it ended up being not such a bad idea.

mgannon@thenational.ae

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

Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus

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

'Gold'

Director:Anthony Hayes

Stars:Zaf Efron, Anthony Hayes

Rating:3/5

COMPANY PROFILE

Founders: Sebastian Stefan, Sebastian Morar and Claudia Pacurar

Based: Dubai, UAE

Founded: 2014

Number of employees: 36

Sector: Logistics

Raised: $2.5 million

Investors: DP World, Prime Venture Partners and family offices in Saudi Arabia and the UAE

THE DETAILS

Deadpool 2

Dir: David Leitch

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Justin Dennison, Zazie Beetz

Four stars

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

Company Profile

Company name: EduPloyment
Date started: March 2020
Co-Founders: Mazen Omair and Rana Batterjee
Base: Dubai, UAE
Sector: Recruitment
Size: 30 employees
Investment stage: Pre-Seed
Investors: Angel investors (investment amount undisclosed)

COMPANY PROFILE

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

A QUIET PLACE

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

Director: Michael Sarnoski

Rating: 4/5

'Lost in Space'

Creators: Matt Sazama, Burk Sharpless, Irwin Allen

Stars: Molly Parker, Toby Stephens, Maxwell Jenkins

Rating: 4/5

UAE SQUAD

UAE team
1. Chris Jones-Griffiths 2. Gio Fourie 3. Craig Nutt 4. Daniel Perry 5. Isaac Porter 6. Matt Mills 7. Hamish Anderson 8. Jaen Botes 9. Barry Dwyer 10. Luke Stevenson (captain) 11. Sean Carey 12. Andrew Powell 13. Saki Naisau 14. Thinus Steyn 15. Matt Richards

Replacements
16. Lukas Waddington 17. Murray Reason 18. Ahmed Moosa 19. Stephen Ferguson 20. Sean Stevens 21. Ed Armitage 22. Kini Natuna 23. Majid Al Balooshi

RESULTS

6.30pm Al Maktoum Challenge Round-2 – Group 1 (PA) $49,000 (Dirt) 1,900m

Winner RB Frynchh Dude, Pat Cosgrave (jockey), Helal Al Alawi (trainer)

7.05pm Al Bastakiya Trial – Conditions (TB) $50,000 (D) 1,900m

Winner El Patriota, Vagner Leal, Antonio Cintra

7.40pm Zabeel Turf – Listed (TB) $88,000 (Turf) 2,000m

Winner Ya Hayati, Mickael Barzalona, Charlie Appleby

8.15pm Cape Verdi – Group 2 (TB) $163,000 (T) 1,600m

Winner Althiqa, James Doyle, Charlie Appleby

8.50pm UAE 1000 Guineas – Listed (TB) $125,000 (D) 1,600m

Winner Soft Whisper, Frankie Dettori, Saeed bin Suroor

9.25pm Handicap (TB) $68,000 (T) 1,600m

Winner Bedouin’s Story, Frankie Dettori, Saeed bin Suroor

KEY DATES IN AMAZON'S HISTORY

July 5, 1994: Jeff Bezos founds Cadabra Inc, which would later be renamed to Amazon.com, 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 Amazon.com 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

FINAL SCORES

Fujairah 130 for 8 in 20 overs

(Sandy Sandeep 29, Hamdan Tahir 26 no, Umair Ali 2-15)

Sharjah 131 for 8 in 19.3 overs

(Kashif Daud 51, Umair Ali 20, Rohan Mustafa 2-17, Sabir Rao 2-26)

About Housecall

Date started: July 2020

Founders: Omar and Humaid Alzaabi

Based: Abu Dhabi

Sector: HealthTech

# of staff: 10

Funding to date: Self-funded

Duterte Harry: Fire and Fury in the Philippines
Jonathan Miller, Scribe Publications

The specs

Engine 60kwh FWD

Battery Rimac 120kwh Lithium Nickel Manganese Cobalt Oxide (LiNiMnCoO2) chemistry

Power 204hp Torque 360Nm

Price, base / as tested Dh174,500 

Gertrude Bell's life in focus

A feature film

At one point, two feature films were in the works, but only German director Werner Herzog’s project starring Nicole Kidman would be made. While there were high hopes he would do a worthy job of directing the biopic, when Queen of the Desert arrived in 2015 it was a disappointment. Critics panned the film, in which Herzog largely glossed over Bell’s political work in favour of her ill-fated romances.

A documentary

A project that did do justice to Bell arrived the next year: Sabine Krayenbuhl and Zeva Oelbaum’s Letters from Baghdad: The Extraordinary Life and Times of Gertrude Bell. Drawing on more than 1,000 pieces of archival footage, 1,700 documents and 1,600 letters, the filmmakers painstakingly pieced together a compelling narrative that managed to convey both the depth of Bell’s experience and her tortured love life.

Books, letters and archives

Two biographies have been written about Bell, and both are worth reading: Georgina Howell’s 2006 book Queen of the Desert and Janet Wallach’s 1996 effort Desert Queen. Bell published several books documenting her travels and there are also several volumes of her letters, although they are hard to find in print. Original documents are housed at the Gertrude Bell Archive at the University of Newcastle, which has an online catalogue.
 

Jumanji: The Next Level

Director: Jake Kasdan

Stars: Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, Jack Black, Nick Jonas 

Two out of five stars 

 

 

 

Armies of Sand

By Kenneth Pollack (Oxford University Press)
 

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

Director: Nag Ashwin

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

Rating: ★★★★

TEST SQUADS

Bangladesh: Mushfiqur Rahim (captain), Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, Imrul Kayes, Liton Das, Shakib Al Hasan, Mominul Haque, Nasir Hossain, Sabbir Rahman, Mehedi Hasan, Shafiul Islam, Taijul Islam, Mustafizur Rahman and Taskin Ahmed.

Australia: Steve Smith (captain), David Warner, Ashton Agar, Hilton Cartwright, Pat Cummins, Peter Handscomb, Matthew Wade, Josh Hazlewood, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Glenn Maxwell, Matt Renshaw, Mitchell Swepson and Jackson Bird.

What is graphene?

Graphene is a single layer of carbon atoms arranged like honeycomb.

It was discovered in 2004, when Russian-born Manchester scientists Andrei Geim and Kostya Novoselov were "playing about" with sticky tape and graphite - the material used as "lead" in pencils.

Placing the tape on the graphite and peeling it, they managed to rip off thin flakes of carbon. In the beginning they got flakes consisting of many layers of graphene. But as they repeated the process many times, the flakes got thinner.

By separating the graphite fragments repeatedly, they managed to create flakes that were just one atom thick. Their experiment had led to graphene being isolated for the very first time.

At the time, many believed it was impossible for such thin crystalline materials to be stable. But examined under a microscope, the material remained stable, and when tested was found to have incredible properties.

It is many times times stronger than steel, yet incredibly lightweight and flexible. It is electrically and thermally conductive but also transparent. The world's first 2D material, it is one million times thinner than the diameter of a single human hair.

But the 'sticky tape' method would not work on an industrial scale. Since then, scientists have been working on manufacturing graphene, to make use of its incredible properties.

In 2010, Geim and Novoselov were awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics. Their discovery meant physicists could study a new class of two-dimensional materials with unique properties. 

 

RESULT

Australia 3 (0) Honduras 1 (0)
Australia: Jedinak (53', 72' pen, 85' pen)
Honduras: Elis (90+4)

Company Profile

Company name: Hoopla
Date started: March 2023
Founder: Jacqueline Perrottet
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 10
Investment stage: Pre-seed
Investment required: $500,000

Gender pay parity on track in the UAE

The UAE has a good record on gender pay parity, according to Mercer's Total Remuneration Study.

"In some of the lower levels of jobs women tend to be paid more than men, primarily because men are employed in blue collar jobs and women tend to be employed in white collar jobs which pay better," said Ted Raffoul, career products leader, Mena at Mercer. "I am yet to see a company in the UAE – particularly when you are looking at a blue chip multinationals or some of the bigger local companies – that actively discriminates when it comes to gender on pay."

Mr Raffoul said most gender issues are actually due to the cultural class, as the population is dominated by Asian and Arab cultures where men are generally expected to work and earn whereas women are meant to start a family.

"For that reason, we see a different gender gap. There are less women in senior roles because women tend to focus less on this but that’s not due to any companies having a policy penalising women for any reasons – it’s a cultural thing," he said.

As a result, Mr Raffoul said many companies in the UAE are coming up with benefit package programmes to help working mothers and the career development of women in general. 

The specs: 2019 Haval H6

Price, base: Dh69,900

Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder

Transmission: Seven-speed automatic

Power: 197hp @ 5,500rpm

Torque: 315Nm @ 2,000rpm

Fuel economy, combined: 7.0L / 100km

Top investing tips for UAE residents in 2021

Build an emergency fund: Make sure you have enough cash to cover six months of expenses as a buffer against unexpected problems before you begin investing, advises Steve Cronin, the founder of DeadSimpleSaving.com.

Think long-term: When you invest, you need to have a long-term mindset, so don’t worry about momentary ups and downs in the stock market.

Invest worldwide: Diversify your investments globally, ideally by way of a global stock index fund.

Is your money tied up: Avoid anything where you cannot get your money back in full within a month at any time without any penalty.

Skip past the promises: “If an investment product is offering more than 10 per cent return per year, it is either extremely risky or a scam,” Mr Cronin says.

Choose plans with low fees: Make sure that any funds you buy do not charge more than 1 per cent in fees, Mr Cronin says. “If you invest by yourself, you can easily stay below this figure.” Managed funds and commissionable investments often come with higher fees.

Be sceptical about recommendations: If someone suggests an investment to you, ask if they stand to gain, advises Mr Cronin. “If they are receiving commission, they are unlikely to recommend an investment that’s best for you.”

Get financially independent: Mr Cronin advises UAE residents to pursue financial independence. Start with a Google search and improve your knowledge via expat investing websites or Facebook groups such as SimplyFI. 

The permutations for UAE going to the 2018 World Cup finals

To qualify automatically

UAE must beat Iraq.

Australia must lose in Japan and at home to Thailand, with their losing margins and the UAE's winning margin over Iraq being enough to overturn a goal difference gap of eight.

Saudi Arabia must lose to Japan, with their losing margin and the UAE's winning margin over Iraq being enough to overturn a goal difference gap of eight.

To finish third and go into a play-off with the other third-placed AFC side for a chance to reach the inter-confederation play-off match

UAE must beat Iraq.

Saudi Arabia must lose to Japan, with their losing margin and the UAE's winning margin over Iraq being enough to overturn a goal difference gap of eight.

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

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.

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

Opening Premier League fixtures, August 14
  • Brentford v Arsenal
  • Burnley v Brighton
  • Chelsea v Crystal Palace
  • Everton v Southampton
  • Leicester City v Wolves
  • Manchester United v Leeds United
  • Newcastle United v West Ham United
  • Norwich City v Liverpool
  • Tottenham v Manchester City
  • Watford v Aston Villa
SPEC SHEET: APPLE M3 MACBOOK AIR (13")

Processor: Apple M3, 8-core CPU, up to 10-core CPU, 16-core Neural Engine

Display: 13.6-inch Liquid Retina, 2560 x 1664, 224ppi, 500 nits, True Tone, wide colour

Memory: 8/16/24GB

Storage: 256/512GB / 1/2TB

I/O: Thunderbolt 3/USB-4 (2), 3.5mm audio, Touch ID

Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3

Battery: 52.6Wh lithium-polymer, up to 18 hours, MagSafe charging

Camera: 1080p FaceTime HD

Video: Support for Apple ProRes, HDR with Dolby Vision, HDR10

Audio: 4-speaker system, wide stereo, support for Dolby Atmos, Spatial Audio and dynamic head tracking (with AirPods)

Colours: Midnight, silver, space grey, starlight

In the box: MacBook Air, 30W/35W dual-port/70w power adapter, USB-C-to-MagSafe cable, 2 Apple stickers

Price: From Dh4,599

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

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)