LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 19: Tracey Crouch MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Sport, Tourism and Heritage at the Beyond Sport Summit on October 19, 2015 in London, England.  (Photo by Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images for Beyond Sport)
Tracey Crouch, Britain's new loneliness minister / Getty

How a simple postie can teach us all a lesson about tackling social ills



Britain has a new minister for loneliness. The minister, Tracey Crouch, sees her role as a "generational challenge" since feelings of loneliness affect an estimated nine million British people, about one in seven of the population, young and old. It's a worldwide problem – family breakdowns, relentlessly pursuing careers, bereavement and an ageing population all play a part. If 21st century governments see their role as encouraging citizens to find happiness, then addressing loneliness is one of the major challenges of our times.

Something which recently happened in the west of Ireland might prove helpful in that struggle. A local postman in a remote rural area has just retired. The man was much-loved by the 400 or so families on his postal route and a party was held in his honour. Many of those for whom he has been a friendly face every morning gave him gifts. The postman thanked everyone for their friendship and hospitality while on his rounds in all weathers. He said he was always offered a cup of tea and the possibility of a chat by a warm fire. But the postman added that he usually only accepted the offer of tea from those who lived alone and seemed lonely. What a wonderful person he must be. Now that he has retired, perhaps his successor will follow his example, by sticking not just to his job description but by fulfilling a wider role in the community. It is the very definition of public service at a time when those who work in that frontline are constantly told that private businesses create wealth. The implication is that the public sector is a drain on the economy. It isn’t. Private businesses do indeed create wealth. But as we have seen with the enormous bank bailouts during the financial crisis, private businesses can also destroy wealth. Without well-run public institutions to keep us safe and healthy, teach the young and enforce the law, the private sector could not possibly thrive.

The story of the Irish postman was told to me on the same day as a deliveryman for a large privately owned commercial company rang my doorbell. The man was delivering a parcel and at first refused to give it to me.

“Sorry,” the deliveryman said. “We have to wait one minute before you can sign for it.”

It turned out that the deliveryman’s job is run by a computer which estimates how much time each run in his van should take. If he arrives a few minutes early – as he did at my home – the computer will not let the customer sign for the delivery until the appointed time. So we had a short conversation until the computer said yes, then I signed for the parcel and he left.

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In business terms, this delivery company is doing the right thing. The business phrase is "maximising shareholder value". It means that running the company's deliveries minute by minute will maximise efficiency and profit. But treating employees like human robots destroys our common humanity. The driver could not stay for a chat because his online boss was nagging him not to be late for the next delivery. The Irish postman, in comparison, was probably a business disaster. There is no profit in paying a postman to have a cup of tea with an elderly farmer's widow in her country kitchen. A postman is paid to deliver the mail, not to act as a social service for the lonely. If everything in our lives is calculated only to "maximise shareholder value", then business sense says dismiss the postman and replace him with a delivery driver programmed like a robot. In a few years' time, human delivery drivers will undoubtedly find themselves replaced by real robots, whereas what the Irish postman did every day is irreplaceable. What has taken the place of friendliness and community is the insincere and phoney friendship of business calls. A woman from the mobile phone company I use called me recently to sell me a new product and began by asking: "How is your day?" Does anyone believe she really cares? She is reading a prepared script, which has turned her into a speaking but dehumanised automaton.

And so here is a suggestion for those concerned by loneliness. If it is a problem so significant that it requires action from a new government minister, perhaps governments should re-consider the value of public services. Shouldn’t we talk more positively about the humanity of teachers, healthcare workers, the police, postal workers, local council and central government workers? Shouldn’t we celebrate those private businesses – and there are many – which see making a profit as the core of what they do but which go on to contribute greatly to the public good in many other ways, including by being decent and caring employers? And shouldn’t we expose employers who treat human workers like robots? The Irish postman should be celebrated. He is a modern hero for doing his job while also combating loneliness – one cup of tea at a time.

Gavin Esler is a journalist, television presenter and author

Schedule

November 13-14: Abu Dhabi World Youth Jiu-Jitsu Championship
November 15-16: Abu Dhabi World Masters Jiu-Jitsu Championship
November 17-19: Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship followed by the Abu Dhabi World Jiu-Jitsu Awards

The biog

Favourite books: 'Ruth Bader Ginsburg: A Life' by Jane D. Mathews and ‘The Moment of Lift’ by Melinda Gates

Favourite travel destination: Greece, a blend of ancient history and captivating nature. It always has given me a sense of joy, endless possibilities, positive energy and wonderful people that make you feel at home.

Favourite pastime: travelling and experiencing different cultures across the globe.

Favourite quote: “In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders” - Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook.

Favourite Movie: Mona Lisa Smile 

Favourite Author: Kahlil Gibran

Favourite Artist: Meryl Streep

Know before you go
  • Jebel Akhdar is a two-hour drive from Muscat airport or a six-hour drive from Dubai. It’s impossible to visit by car unless you have a 4x4. Phone ahead to the hotel to arrange a transfer.
  • If you’re driving, make sure your insurance covers Oman.
  • By air: Budget airlines Air Arabia, Flydubai and SalamAir offer direct routes to Muscat from the UAE.
  • Tourists from the Emirates (UAE nationals not included) must apply for an Omani visa online before arrival at evisa.rop.gov.om. The process typically takes several days.
  • Flash floods are probable due to the terrain and a lack of drainage. Always check the weather before venturing into any canyons or other remote areas and identify a plan of escape that includes high ground, shelter and parking where your car won’t be overtaken by sudden downpours.

 

Key developments

All times UTC+4

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

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. 

Important questions to consider

1. Where on the plane does my pet travel?

There are different types of travel available for pets:

  • Manifest cargo
  • Excess luggage in the hold
  • Excess luggage in the cabin

Each option is safe. The feasibility of each option is based on the size and breed of your pet, the airline they are traveling on and country they are travelling to.

 

2. What is the difference between my pet traveling as manifest cargo or as excess luggage?

If traveling as manifest cargo, your pet is traveling in the front hold of the plane and can travel with or without you being on the same plane. The cost of your pets travel is based on volumetric weight, in other words, the size of their travel crate.

If traveling as excess luggage, your pet will be in the rear hold of the plane and must be traveling under the ticket of a human passenger. The cost of your pets travel is based on the actual (combined) weight of your pet in their crate.

 

3. What happens when my pet arrives in the country they are traveling to?

As soon as the flight arrives, your pet will be taken from the plane straight to the airport terminal.

If your pet is traveling as excess luggage, they will taken to the oversized luggage area in the arrival hall. Once you clear passport control, you will be able to collect them at the same time as your normal luggage. As you exit the airport via the ‘something to declare’ customs channel you will be asked to present your pets travel paperwork to the customs official and / or the vet on duty. 

If your pet is traveling as manifest cargo, they will be taken to the Animal Reception Centre. There, their documentation will be reviewed by the staff of the ARC to ensure all is in order. At the same time, relevant customs formalities will be completed by staff based at the arriving airport. 

 

4. How long does the travel paperwork and other travel preparations take?

This depends entirely on the location that your pet is traveling to. Your pet relocation compnay will provide you with an accurate timeline of how long the relevant preparations will take and at what point in the process the various steps must be taken.

In some cases they can get your pet ‘travel ready’ in a few days. In others it can be up to six months or more.

 

5. What vaccinations does my pet need to travel?

Regardless of where your pet is traveling, they will need certain vaccinations. The exact vaccinations they need are entirely dependent on the location they are traveling to. The one vaccination that is mandatory for every country your pet may travel to is a rabies vaccination.

Other vaccinations may also be necessary. These will be advised to you as relevant. In every situation, it is essential to keep your vaccinations current and to not miss a due date, even by one day. To do so could severely hinder your pets travel plans.

Source: Pawsome Pets UAE

Specs: 2024 McLaren Artura Spider

Engine: 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 and electric motor
Max power: 700hp at 7,500rpm
Max torque: 720Nm at 2,250rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed dual-clutch auto
0-100km/h: 3.0sec
Top speed: 330kph
Price: From Dh1.14 million ($311,000)
On sale: Now

Medicus AI

Started: 2016

Founder(s): Dr Baher Al Hakim, Dr Nadine Nehme and Makram Saleh

Based: Vienna, Austria; started in Dubai

Sector: Health Tech

Staff: 119

Funding: €7.7 million (Dh31m)

 

The specs

Engine: Dual synchronous electric motors
Power: 660hp
Torque: 1,100Nm
Transmission: Single-speed automatic
Touring range: 488km-560km
Price: From Dh850,000 (estimate)
On sale: October

Dengue fever symptoms
  • High fever
  • Intense pain behind your eyes
  • Severe headache
  • Muscle and joint pains
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Swollen glands
  • Rash

If symptoms occur, they usually last for two-seven days

Sarfira

Director: Sudha Kongara Prasad

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5

Tips to keep your car cool
  • Place a sun reflector in your windshield when not driving
  • Park in shaded or covered areas
  • Add tint to windows
  • Wrap your car to change the exterior colour
  • Pick light interiors - choose colours such as beige and cream for seats and dashboard furniture
  • Avoid leather interiors as these absorb more heat
The Specs

Engine: 1.6-litre 4-cylinder petrol
Power: 118hp
Torque: 149Nm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Price: From Dh61,500
On sale: Now

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

The specs

Engine: 77kWh 2 motors
Power: 178bhp
Torque: 410Nm
Range: 402km
Price: Dh,150,000 (estimate)
On sale: TBC

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Xpanceo

Started: 2018

Founders: Roman Axelrod, Valentyn Volkov

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Smart contact lenses, augmented/virtual reality

Funding: $40 million

Investor: Opportunity Venture (Asia)

SPECS

Engine: Two-litre four-cylinder turbo
Power: 235hp
Torque: 350Nm
Transmission: Nine-speed automatic
Price: From Dh167,500 ($45,000)
On sale: Now

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

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

What is Bitcoin?

Bitcoin is the most popular virtual currency in the world. It was created in 2009 as a new way of paying for things that would not be subject to central banks that are capable of devaluing currency. A Bitcoin itself is essentially a line of computer code. It's signed digitally when it goes from one owner to another. There are sustainability concerns around the cryptocurrency, which stem from the process of "mining" that is central to its existence.

The "miners" use computers to make complex calculations that verify transactions in Bitcoin. This uses a tremendous amount of energy via computers and server farms all over the world, which has given rise to concerns about the amount of fossil fuel-dependent electricity used to power the computers. 

Director: Nag Ashwin

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

Rating: ★★★★

Hydrogen: Market potential

Hydrogen has an estimated $11 trillion market potential, according to Bank of America Securities and is expected to generate $2.5tn in direct revenues and $11tn of indirect infrastructure by 2050 as its production increases six-fold.

"We believe we are reaching the point of harnessing the element that comprises 90 per cent of the universe, effectively and economically,” the bank said in a recent report.

Falling costs of renewable energy and electrolysers used in green hydrogen production is one of the main catalysts for the increasingly bullish sentiment over the element.

The cost of electrolysers used in green hydrogen production has halved over the last five years and will fall to 60 to 90 per cent by the end of the decade, acceding to Haim Israel, equity strategist at Merrill Lynch. A global focus on decarbonisation and sustainability is also a big driver in its development.

Indoor Cricket World Cup

Venue Insportz, Dubai, September 16-23

UAE squad Saqib Nazir (captain), Aaqib Malik, Fahad Al Hashmi, Isuru Umesh, Nadir Hussain, Sachin Talwar, Nashwan Nasir, Prashath Kumara, Ramveer Rai, Sameer Nayyak, Umar Shah, Vikrant Shetty

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. 

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

How it works

Each player begins with one of the great empires of history, from Julius Caesar's Rome to Ramses of Egypt, spread over Europe and the Middle East.

Round by round, the player expands their empire. The more land they have, the more money they can take from their coffers for each go.

As unruled land and soldiers are acquired, players must feed them. When a player comes up against land held by another army, they can choose to battle for supremacy.

A dice-based battle system is used and players can get the edge on their enemy with by deploying a renowned hero on the battlefield.

Players that lose battles and land will find their coffers dwindle and troops go hungry. The end goal? Global domination of course.

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Clinicy
Started: 2017
Founders: Prince Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman, Abdullah bin Sulaiman Alobaid and Saud bin Sulaiman Alobaid
Based: Riyadh
Number of staff: 25
Sector: HealthTech
Total funding raised: More than $10 million
Investors: Middle East Venture Partners, Gate Capital, Kafou Group and Fadeed Investment

UAE athletes heading to Paris 2024

Equestrian

Abdullah Humaid Al Muhairi, Abdullah Al Marri, Omar Al Marzooqi, Salem Al Suwaidi, and Ali Al Karbi (four to be selected).

Judo
Men: Narmandakh Bayanmunkh (66kg), Nugzari Tatalashvili (81kg), Aram Grigorian (90kg), Dzhafar Kostoev (100kg), Magomedomar Magomedomarov (+100kg); women's Khorloodoi Bishrelt (52kg).

Cycling
Safia Al Sayegh (women's road race).

Swimming

Men: Yousef Rashid Al Matroushi (100m freestyle); women: Maha Abdullah Al Shehi (200m freestyle).

Athletics

Maryam Mohammed Al Farsi (women's 100 metres).

The bio

Favourite food: Japanese

Favourite car: Lamborghini

Favourite hobby: Football

Favourite quote: If your dreams don’t scare you, they are not big enough

Favourite country: UAE

Aldar Properties Abu Dhabi T10

*November 15 to November 24

*Venue: Zayed Cricket Stadium, Abu Dhabi

*Tickets: Start at Dh10, from ttensports.com

*TV: Ten Sports

*Streaming: Jio Live

*2017 winners: Kerala Kings

*2018 winners: Northern Warriors

Essentials

The flights
Whether you trek after mountain gorillas in Rwanda, Uganda or the Congo, the most convenient international airport is in Rwanda’s capital city, Kigali. There are direct flights from Dubai a couple of days a week with RwandAir. Otherwise, an indirect route is available via Nairobi with Kenya Airways. Flydubai flies to Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo, via Entebbe in Uganda. Expect to pay from US$350 (Dh1,286) return, including taxes.
The tours
Superb ape-watching tours that take in all three gorilla countries mentioned above are run by Natural World Safaris. In September, the company will be operating a unique Ugandan ape safari guided by well-known primatologist Ben Garrod.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, local operator Kivu Travel can organise pretty much any kind of safari throughout the Virunga National Park and elsewhere in eastern Congo.

CHATGPT ENTERPRISE FEATURES

• Enterprise-grade security and privacy

• Unlimited higher-speed GPT-4 access with no caps

• Longer context windows for processing longer inputs

• Advanced data analysis capabilities

• Customisation options

• Shareable chat templates that companies can use to collaborate and build common workflows

• Analytics dashboard for usage insights

• Free credits to use OpenAI APIs to extend OpenAI into a fully-custom solution for enterprises

RESULTS

5pm: Al Bateen – Maiden (PA) Dh80,000 (Turf) 2,200m
Winner: Ma’Aly Al Shahania, Bernardo Pinheiro (jockey), Mohamed Daggash (trainer)
5.30pm: Al Khaleej – Maiden (PA) Dh80,000 (T) 1,400m
Winner: AF Rami, Tadhg O’Shea, Ernst Oertel
6pm: Wathba Stallions Cup – Handicap (PA) Dh70,000 (T) 1,400m
Winner: Bant Al Emarat, Bernardo Pinheiro, Qaiss Aboud
6.30pm: Al Nahyan – Handicap (PA) Dh80,000 (T) 1,600m
Winner: AF Rasam, Marcelino Rodrigues, Ernst Oertel
7pm: Al Karamah – Handicap (PA) Dh80,000 (T) 1,600m
Winner: Zafaranah, Bernardo Pinheiro, Musabah Al Muhairi
7.30pm: Al Salam – Handicap (TB) Dh80,000 (T) 1,400m
Winner: Nibras Passion, Tadhg O’Shea, Ismail Mohammed


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