epa05521380 Australian runner Suzy Walsham runs up the last of a total of 2,041 steps of the China World Summit Wing to complete the vertical run World Circuit at the China World Summit Wing in Beijing, China, 03 September 2016. As many as about 700 competitors from 23 countries complete the 2,041 steps of 82 floors to an elevation of 330 meters to finish the race.  EPA/WU HONG *** Local Caption *** 52998305
epa05521380 Australian runner Suzy Walsham runs up the last of a total of 2,041 steps of the China World Summit Wing to complete the vertical run World Circuit at the China World Summit Wing in BeijinShow more

Stair-running: Fight the flight to step up your fitness levels



A few months ago, we wrote about the simple but effective regimen of stair-climbing – an activity that's inexpensive, easily accessible and boosts both body and brain health.

Most experts maintain that injury-free adults should aim to climb stairs daily for 10 minutes, preceded by a five-minute warm-up, which could include walking on flat ground, and some basic squats and lunges. Once you’re comfortable doing 70 minutes a week, add flights until you’ve reached at least 30 minutes a day. But what next? If you find stair-climbing physically and mentally productive, you can take it to the next level: stair-running.

Sometimes called tower-­running or sky-running, the sport is gaining popularity in the UAE. In addition to international competitions hosted here, organisations such as Gulf for Good and Zayed Sports City regularly organise stair-running events and races in the country’s many high-rises.

Singapore-based professional stair-runner Suzy Walsham came first in the women’s category during the Dubai leg of the 2017 Vertical World Circuit, scaling up the 52-storey Jumeirah Emirates Towers in 8 minutes and 16 seconds. Walsham also won top honours at the inaugural 82-floor Climb to Abu Dhabi vertical marathon hosted by Etihad Towers this year.

Before she became a professional stair-runner, the 43-year-old Australian was an 800-metre and 1,500-metre track athlete, who has won several Australian national titles and competed at the 2006 Commonwealth Games. She tells us how she got involved with stair-running and about its many joys and jubilations.

What do you enjoy most about stair-running?

AI love the challenge of it. It is incredibly tough, but I love trying to work out how I can go faster and how I can train my mind to overcome the physical challenge. I get a great sense of satisfaction when I finish a race. I also like that it's an exercise where factors such as the weather are not really an issue, and you can get a really tough workout in a relatively short period of time.

What other sports would you compare stair-running to?

I have a middle distance track background; however, stair-running is harder physically due to the sustained lactic acid, particularly for a tall building, although you can recover quicker as there is much less impact. Stair-runners often talk about what sport is most similar, and we think speedskating and rowing, to some extent, could be close cousins. Stair races are different to track races, so I have enjoyed applying my skills to a new sport.

How did you get involved with the sport?

My first race was the Swissotel Vertical Marathon in Singapore in 2006, prior to which I never did any stair-training or used the stairs in regular life. I happened to win that race, and won a trip to New York to compete in the Empire State Building Run-Up [which she won]. Back then, there weren’t many races, but I quickly developed a passion for the sport. 

After the birth of my son, I turned, once again, to the stairs to get back into shape, and from 2012 I started to do a lot more international races – in 2016 I did 16 stair races. This year, I competed in Abu Dhabi and Dubai and I won both. I found the events were excellently run and had a great atmosphere, and I really enjoyed visiting the UAE.

How should active but amateur stair-climbers train themselves to compete in a stair-running race?

If you are going to do a race, then you ought to do some training on the stairs. It can seem super-hard at first, so start out with manageable sessions; stop after five or 10 floors for a set amount of rest time, and then increase the number of floors you do before stopping. 

Before a race, I recommend to at least cover the race distance in training, but preferably aim to do 50 per cent more in a session – that way the race will feel easier. You can also practise your technique and find out what works best: how you use the handrail, whether you take one step at a time or two, and practise pacing yourself. Too many runners start out way too fast; I always recommend to go out slower and then find your rhythm and build on that.

What’s your dream tower-running destination?

Without a doubt, I am desperate for there to be a race up the Burj Khalifa. I have been to Dubai several times and I refuse to go to the [Burj’s] observation deck until I can run there myself.

What are some of the physical and mental-health benefits of making stair-climbing a regular part of a person’s life?  

It is a fantastic exercise to build fitness and strength – you get the cardio because your heart rate goes through the roof, but you also get strength from pushing your body up the stairs – great for legs/glutes – and when you use the handrail, you also get a good arm workout. After some races, it is my arms that are sore the next day and not my legs. It also has much less impact than running, so there is much less chance of injury.

Stair fitness is also very convenient if you live or work in a building, and you can get an amazing workout in just 15 to 20 minutes, without having to worry about the weather or pollution, or paying expensive gym fees. It is also a great de-stressor as you can’t really think of anything else when you are doing a running session up the stairs, and the endorphins and sense of achievement you will feel will put you in a good mood. 

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New process leads to panic among jobseekers

As a UAE-based travel agent who processes tourist visas from the Philippines, Jennifer Pacia Gado is fielding a lot of calls from concerned travellers just now. And they are all asking the same question.  

“My clients are mostly Filipinos, and they [all want to know] about good conduct certificates,” says the 34-year-old Filipina, who has lived in the UAE for five years.

Ms Gado contacted the Philippines Embassy to get more information on the certificate so she can share it with her clients. She says many are worried about the process and associated costs – which could be as high as Dh500 to obtain and attest a good conduct certificate from the Philippines for jobseekers already living in the UAE. 

“They are worried about this because when they arrive here without the NBI [National Bureau of Investigation] clearance, it is a hassle because it takes time,” she says.

“They need to go first to the embassy to apply for the application of the NBI clearance. After that they have go to the police station [in the UAE] for the fingerprints. And then they will apply for the special power of attorney so that someone can finish the process in the Philippines. So it is a long process and more expensive if you are doing it from here.”

UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets
How to invest in gold

Investors can tap into the gold price by purchasing physical jewellery, coins and even gold bars, but these need to be stored safely and possibly insured.

A cheaper and more straightforward way to benefit from gold price growth is to buy an exchange-traded fund (ETF).

Most advisers suggest sticking to “physical” ETFs. These hold actual gold bullion, bars and coins in a vault on investors’ behalf. Others do not hold gold but use derivatives to track the price instead, adding an extra layer of risk. The two biggest physical gold ETFs are SPDR Gold Trust and iShares Gold Trust.

Another way to invest in gold’s success is to buy gold mining stocks, but Mr Gravier says this brings added risks and can be more volatile. “They have a serious downside potential should the price consolidate.”

Mr Kyprianou says gold and gold miners are two different asset classes. “One is a commodity and the other is a company stock, which means they behave differently.”

Mining companies are a business, susceptible to other market forces, such as worker availability, health and safety, strikes, debt levels, and so on. “These have nothing to do with gold at all. It means that some companies will survive, others won’t.”

By contrast, when gold is mined, it just sits in a vault. “It doesn’t even rust, which means it retains its value,” Mr Kyprianou says.

You may already have exposure to gold miners in your portfolio, say, through an international ETF or actively managed mutual fund.

You could spread this risk with an actively managed fund that invests in a spread of gold miners, with the best known being BlackRock Gold & General. It is up an incredible 55 per cent over the past year, and 240 per cent over five years. As always, past performance is no guide to the future.

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

Results

Stage 5:

1. Jonas Vingegaard (DEN) Team Jumbo-Visma  04:19:08

2. Tadej Pogacar (SLO) UAE Team Emirates  00:00:03

3. Adam Yates (GBR) Ineos Grenadiers

4. Sergio Higuita (COL) EF Education-Nippo 00:00:05

5. Joao Almeida (POR) Deceuninck-QuickStep 00:00:06

General Classification:

1. Tadej Pogacar (SLO) UAE Team Emirates 17:09:26

2.  Adam Yates (GBR) Ineos Grenadiers 00:00:45

3. Joao Almeida (POR) Deceuninck-QuickStep 00:01:12

4. Chris Harper (AUS) Team Jumbo-Visma 00:01:54

5. Neilson Powless (USA) EF Education-Nippo 00:01:56

MEDIEVIL (1998)

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

Men from Barca's class of 99

Crystal Palace - Frank de Boer

Everton - Ronald Koeman

Manchester City - Pep Guardiola

Manchester United - Jose Mourinho

Southampton - Mauricio Pellegrino

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: SmartCrowd
Started: 2018
Founder: Siddiq Farid and Musfique Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech / PropTech
Initial investment: $650,000
Current number of staff: 35
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Various institutional investors and notable angel investors (500 MENA, Shurooq, Mada, Seedstar, Tricap)

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 five pillars of Islam

1. Fasting

2. Prayer

3. Hajj

4. Shahada

5. Zakat 

MATCH INFO

Uefa Champions League semi-finals, first leg
Liverpool v Roma

When: April 24, 10.45pm kick-off (UAE)
Where: Anfield, Liverpool
Live: BeIN Sports HD
Second leg: May 2, Stadio Olimpico, Rome

Abu Dhabi GP starting grid

1 Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)

2 Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)

3 Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)

4 Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari)

5 Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull)

6 Max Verstappen (Red Bull)

7 Romain Grosjean (Haas)

8 Charles Leclerc (Sauber)

9 Esteban Ocon (Force India)

10 Nico Hulkenberg (Renault)

11 Carlos Sainz (Renault)

12 Marcus Ericsson (Sauber)

13 Kevin Magnussen (Haas)

14 Sergio Perez (Force India)

15 Fernando Alonso (McLaren)

16 Brendon Hartley (Toro Rosso)

17 Pierre Gasly (Toro Rosso)

18 Stoffe Vandoorne (McLaren)

19 Sergey Sirotkin (Williams)

20 Lance Stroll (Williams)

Drishyam 2

Directed by: Jeethu Joseph

Starring: Mohanlal, Meena, Ansiba, Murali Gopy

Rating: 4 stars

Key developments

All times UTC+4

Specs

Price, base: Dhs850,000
Engine: 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic
Power: 591bhp @ 7,500rpm
Torque: 760Nm @ 3,000rpm
Fuel economy, combined: 11.3L / 100km

The specs: 2018 Range Rover Velar R-Dynamic HSE

Price, base / as tested: Dh263,235 / Dh420,000

Engine: 3.0-litre supercharged V6

Power 375hp @ 6,500rpm

Torque: 450Nm @ 3,500rpm

Transmission: Eight-speed automatic

Fuel consumption, combined: 9.4L / 100kms

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.”


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