Mesue the Elder (777-857), Christian Persian physician, left, being received by Harun Al Rashid (reigned 786–809). Getty Images
Mesue the Elder (777-857), Christian Persian physician, left, being received by Harun Al Rashid (reigned 786–809). Getty Images

A new golden age is in the making, inspired by past civilisations



In 953AD, when the sultan of Egypt demanded a pen that would not stain his clothes, the world’s first fountain pen was invented by the cleverest in his court.

When seeking knowledge becomes a core value, when science, education, innovation and invention become a culture – rather than a side project – everything is possible. This means that with the right tools and the right mind set, a city, a nation or a civilisation can flourish.

The rich legacy of the Golden Age of Islamic civilisation (from the mid-7th century to the 13th century) included Arabs and non-Arabs. The greatest minds included both women and men from across the civilisation. It gave us the number zero, the decimal point in arithmetic, algebra, tools that measure celestial bodies, breakthroughs in medicine such as treatments for cataract and glaucoma, literature, music, art, fashion and architecture – every aspect of life was explored and developed.

The point is, there was no limit to what someone could then do. They built on the knowledge of other nations and cultures, they translated their works and improved upon them, there was tolerance and there was embracing of others, there was a curiosity and hard work to move things forward.

As an example, there was once an intellectual centre, the legendary Bayt Al Hikma (The House of Wisdom) founded by Caliph Harun Al Rashid (reigned 786–809) and finished by his son Al Ma’mun (reigned 813–833), who is credited with its formal institution.

Every great civilisation had its great libraries and centres of innovation and creation, had its theatres and plays, recreated its infrastructure and pushed its own limits to lead and leave a legacy.

We can get a glimpse of our rich past in initiatives such as the 1001 Inventions, an award-winning international science and cultural heritage organisation that raises awareness of the creative golden age of Muslim civilisation that stretched from Spain to China. It is dedicated to the popularisation of the history of science and technology of that time.

“It’s very important to build on the shoulders of giants,” said Ahmed Salim, the producer and director of 1001 Inventions.

A year dedicated to reading, a plan to open the biggest library in the Arab World, parks and projects dedicated to education, science and innovation, an impressive canal built, setting up numerous museums, going green and smart, supporting the arts – including film and performing arts – and the numerous collaborations with other Arab and Islamic centres around the region as well as international collaborations – all this echoes initiatives taken during that golden era.

In a way, we are lucky to witness how the UAE is transforming itself. Those who have been here for a long time appreciate this development and evolution even more.

Unfortunately, while some countries are moving forward, others are, in fact, regressing and falling apart.

It is not enough to look back nostalgically and do nothing, even to the most golden of times. There were conflicts, wars, instabilities and tragedies. The history of our region as well as that of other parts of the world is replete with sacrifices and bloodshed.

To say we were once this or that is not enough to overcome what many are calling this region’s darkest and ugliest chapter. We have to face the moment with all its ugly reality and consider what we can really do about it.

From terrorism to destruction of everything sacred, the Arab world laments the collapse of its greatest capitals such as Baghdad and Damascus, and to some extent Cairo as well as Beirut, where their full potential had not been realised because of politics.

The brightest people of these nations fled or continue to flee to other parts of the world. They are ready to take any risk to get out of their homeland.

Focusing on seeking knowledge, being curious and ambitious, or even a simple act such as sitting with elders and experts in their fields, are steps in the right direction.

Just because we can quickly search something on the internet doesn’t make us experts. We need to realise the value of the exchanges between a teacher and a student, the old and the young, the resident and the visitor. Such interactions were prized by some of the great civilisations of the past.

rghazal@thenational.ae

Twitter:@arabianmau

The bio

Favourite book: Peter Rabbit. I used to read it to my three children and still read it myself. If I am feeling down it brings back good memories.

Best thing about your job: Getting to help people. My mum always told me never to pass up an opportunity to do a good deed.

Best part of life in the UAE: The weather. The constant sunshine is amazing and there is always something to do, you have so many options when it comes to how to spend your day.

Favourite holiday destination: Malaysia. I went there for my honeymoon and ended up volunteering to teach local children for a few hours each day. It is such a special place and I plan to retire there one day.

Company Profile

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

Profile of Udrive

Date started: March 2016

Founder: Hasib Khan

Based: Dubai

Employees: 40

Amount raised (to date): $3.25m – $750,000 seed funding in 2017 and a Seed+ round of $2.5m last year. Raised $1.3m from Eureeca investors in January 2021 as part of a Series A round with a $5m target.

SPECS

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

The years Ramadan fell in May

1987

1954

1921

1888

Monster Hunter: World

Capcom

PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Company Profile

Company name: Namara
Started: June 2022
Founder: Mohammed Alnamara
Based: Dubai
Sector: Microfinance
Current number of staff: 16
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Family offices

Company profile

Name: Yabi by Souqalmal 

Started: May 2022, launched June 2023

Founder: Ambareen Musa

Based: Dubai 

Sector: FinTech 

Initial investment: undisclosed but soon to be announced 

Number of staff: 12 

Investment stage: seed  

Investors: Shuaa Capital

EMILY IN PARIS: SEASON 3

Created by: Darren Star

Starring: Lily Collins, Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu, Ashley Park

Rating: 2.75/5

Zimbabwe v UAE, ODI series

All matches at the Harare Sports Club:

1st ODI, Wednesday, April 10

2nd ODI, Friday, April 12

3rd ODI, Sunday, April 14

4th ODI, Tuesday, April 16

UAE squad: Mohammed Naveed (captain), Rohan Mustafa, Ashfaq Ahmed, Shaiman Anwar, Mohammed Usman, CP Rizwan, Chirag Suri, Mohammed Boota, Ghulam Shabber, Sultan Ahmed, Imran Haider, Amir Hayat, Zahoor Khan, Qadeer Ahmed

NYBL PROFILE

Company name: Nybl 

Date started: November 2018

Founder: Noor Alnahhas, Michael LeTan, Hafsa Yazdni, Sufyaan Abdul Haseeb, Waleed Rifaat, Mohammed Shono

Based: Dubai, UAE

Sector: Software Technology / Artificial Intelligence

Initial investment: $500,000

Funding round: Series B (raising $5m)

Partners/Incubators: Dubai Future Accelerators Cohort 4, Dubai Future Accelerators Cohort 6, AI Venture Labs Cohort 1, Microsoft Scale-up 

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.

About Takalam

Date started: early 2020

Founders: Khawla Hammad and Inas Abu Shashieh

Based: Abu Dhabi

Sector: HealthTech and wellness

Number of staff: 4

Funding to date: Bootstrapped

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

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

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Klipit

Started: 2022

Founders: Venkat Reddy, Mohammed Al Bulooki, Bilal Merchant, Asif Ahmed, Ovais Merchant

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Digital receipts, finance, blockchain

Funding: $4 million

Investors: Privately/self-funded

The bio

Job: Coder, website designer and chief executive, Trinet solutions

School: Year 8 pupil at Elite English School in Abu Hail, Deira

Role Models: Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk

Dream City: San Francisco

Hometown: Dubai

City of birth: Thiruvilla, Kerala

In Full Flight: A Story of Africa and Atonement
John Heminway, Knopff

Director: Nag Ashwin

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

Rating: ★★★★

The Sky Is Pink

Director: Shonali Bose

Cast: Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Farhan Akhtar, Zaira Wasim, Rohit Saraf

Three stars