The Uruguayan architect Rafael Vinoly.
The Uruguayan architect Rafael Vinoly.

A workman in the imaginary city: Rafael Vinoly

A notebook is never safe from Rafael Vinoly. Over evening drinks during a recent visit to the capital, the renowned, restless New York architect - here on business related to his master plan for the campus of New York University Abu Dhabi - was constantly reaching for visual aids. "I need to take your pen," he said a few minutes into our meeting, somehow managing to make the statement (it was not so much a request) sound charming.
Dressed head to toe in black, with a sweater that curled slightly at the neck, Vinoly sat on the edge of his high-backed velveteen chair in a lounge at the Fairmont Bab Al-Bahr. In addition to using up several sheets of lined, spiral-bound paper to illustrate his thoughts, he enlisted a cloth napkin, two empty bottles of expensive sparkling water and one round, purple glass ashtray - which was mainly useful as a point of reference for its funny resemblance to Rem Koolhaas's giant spheroid building in Dubai's proposed Waterfront City.
A boyish-looking 65-year old originally from Uruguay, Vinoly has a tousled nest of pale grey hair and always wears three pairs of plastic-framed spectacles - one on his face, the other two either dangling from his neck or perched on his skull. According to a 2003 interview he gave to the New York Times, this is because he "gets hysterical if he loses his glasses". Among the handful of figures who are routinely designated as "starchitects", Vinoly is something of a borderline case. He does not appear to shrink from being a larger-than-life, media-ready personality, or from making oracular pronouncements (On Abu Dhabi: "When you think of this place, it's precisely character. It's not character-less. Quite the opposite. It just happens to be completely misunderstood.") Yet at the same time he bears a professional affinity for the nerdy, workmanlike challenges of designing complex institutional architecture: hospitals, a nanosystems institute, a cancer research centre. His buildings often seem designed not to be photographed from the air but to be used and experienced - from both the inside and out. And he displays the distinctly unstar-like habit of designing structures that respect their neighbours.
One of his recent projects, the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago, sits across from Frank Lloyd Wright's 1910 Robie House. In a flourish that was widely hailed by critics, Vinoly designed the 415,000 square-foot structure with Prairie Style gestures that echo the smaller landmark instead of visually clobbering it. With NYU Abu Dhabi, Vinoly faced the rather different predicament of planning a campus in relation to a context that was still imaginary. Saadiyat Island, where the school is slated to be built, remains a crowded concept but an empty place. The problem was even more vexing given that John Sexton, the voluble president of NYU, is adamant that the campus on Saadiyat should mirror the famously permeable Manhattan campus in being "in and of the city" (a favourite phrase of Sexton's).
"He has an exploding imagination," said Vinoly, professing great admiration for the university president. "But there is no city!" Vinoly began by deciding which models to reject - beginning with that of the traditional university. "This is the citadel, and there's the door," he said, sketching quickly on a clean piece of notebook paper, "and here's the medieval town, and the poor people are here." Rapidly taking shape on the page was a fortress in squiggles; Vinoly's point was that it looked a lot like Yale. "That's a college campus," he said, resting back in his chair. "These people are out; these people are in. That's exactly what we don't want to do."
Instead, Vinoly has designed NYU Abu Dhabi to sit on what is essentially an artificial hillside that slopes down to meet the city around it ("Like if you were on a hill in Northern Italy"). The city streets lead up to the edge of campus and then merge into pedestrian walkways, which head up the slope diagonally towards three main public plazas and a host of yet-to-be-designed campus buildings. The "hill", meanwhile, is hollow; underneath it is the hugely complicated service infrastructure that supports the university. "You've got to create an artificial topography if you want it to link with the context," he said.
After speaking with a kind of patient, intense focus about NYU for a while, Vinoly returned to voluble form and slalomed through a long course of subjects: Koolhaas's concept of the "generic city" ("Generic my foot! I mean give me a break, right? Did you see his ball with the hole in the centre? What do you call that?"); the oil and gas trade ("Completely medieval, by the way. It's like pepper in the 1500s"); the obvious intelligence of the UAE's founder ("My way of judging people is you just look at their picture"); the insidiousness of contemporary architectural culture ("These are operations that tend to do only one thing, which is to create the sense of fame") and the built environment of China ("I was in China in '83, when it was communist, when there wasn't all this hype. I did three projects in China. The mayor of the city was the head of the transportation union of the People's Republic. And I always thought that was better. I still think it was better. Not because of communism. I think it was physically better. More be - yoo - tiful.")
Ever ambivalent about the role of architect as glamour oracle, Vinoly finished on the subject of Abu Dhabi itself. "If you said today, how would you orient development in a place like this, I think you have to be very daring to imagine that. Because you've got to cool down and say, well, I'm not going to copy this or that, or just look into the international register of star architects and hire them all. Because what do they do?" With that, he picked up the purple ashtray and plunked it down again.


Author: Abdullah Khan
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Pages: 304
Available: Now

Director: Nag Ashwin

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

Rating: ★★★★

About Okadoc

Date started: Okadoc, 2018

Founder/CEO: Fodhil Benturquia

Based: Dubai, UAE

Sector: Healthcare

Size: (employees/revenue) 40 staff; undisclosed revenues recording “double-digit” monthly growth

Funding stage: Series B fundraising round to conclude in February

Investors: Undisclosed

The years Ramadan fell in May





Ruwais timeline

1971 Abu Dhabi National Oil Company established

1980 Ruwais Housing Complex built, located 10 kilometres away from industrial plants

1982 120,000 bpd capacity Ruwais refinery complex officially inaugurated by the founder of the UAE Sheikh Zayed

1984 Second phase of Ruwais Housing Complex built. Today the 7,000-unit complex houses some 24,000 people.  

1985 The refinery is expanded with the commissioning of a 27,000 b/d hydro cracker complex

2009 Plans announced to build $1.2 billion fertilizer plant in Ruwais, producing urea

2010 Adnoc awards $10bn contracts for expansion of Ruwais refinery, to double capacity from 415,000 bpd

2014 Ruwais 261-outlet shopping mall opens

2014 Production starts at newly expanded Ruwais refinery, providing jet fuel and diesel and allowing the UAE to be self-sufficient for petrol supplies

2014 Etihad Rail begins transportation of sulphur from Shah and Habshan to Ruwais for export

2017 Aldar Academies to operate Adnoc’s schools including in Ruwais from September. Eight schools operate in total within the housing complex.

2018 Adnoc announces plans to invest $3.1 billion on upgrading its Ruwais refinery 

2018 NMC Healthcare selected to manage operations of Ruwais Hospital

2018 Adnoc announces new downstream strategy at event in Abu Dhabi on May 13

Source: The National

The specs

The specs: 2019 Audi Q8
Price, base: Dh315,000
Engine: 3.0-litre turbocharged V6
Gearbox: Eight-speed automatic
Power: 340hp @ 3,500rpm
Torque: 500Nm @ 2,250rpm
Fuel economy, combined: 6.7L / 100km


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

UAE athletes heading to Paris 2024


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

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

Safia Al Sayegh (women's road race).


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


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

If you go:
The flights: Etihad, Emirates, British Airways and Virgin all fly from the UAE to London from Dh2,700 return, including taxes
The tours: The Tour for Muggles usually runs several times a day, lasts about two-and-a-half hours and costs £14 (Dh67)
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is on now at the Palace Theatre. Tickets need booking significantly in advance
Entrance to the Harry Potter exhibition at the House of MinaLima is free
The hotel: The grand, 1909-built Strand Palace Hotel is in a handy location near the Theatre District and several of the key Harry Potter filming and inspiration sites. The family rooms are spacious, with sofa beds that can accommodate children, and wooden shutters that keep out the light at night. Rooms cost from £170 (Dh808).

Why your domicile status is important

Your UK residence status is assessed using the statutory residence test. While your residence status – ie where you live - is assessed every year, your domicile status is assessed over your lifetime.

Your domicile of origin generally comes from your parents and if your parents were not married, then it is decided by your father. Your domicile is generally the country your father considered his permanent home when you were born. 

UK residents who have their permanent home ("domicile") outside the UK may not have to pay UK tax on foreign income. For example, they do not pay tax on foreign income or gains if they are less than £2,000 in the tax year and do not transfer that gain to a UK bank account.

A UK-domiciled person, however, is liable for UK tax on their worldwide income and gains when they are resident in the UK.


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)

Most wanted allegations
  • Benjamin Macann, 32: involvement in cocaine smuggling gang.
  • Jack Mayle, 30: sold drugs from a phone line called the Flavour Quest.
  • Callum Halpin, 27: over the 2018 murder of a rival drug dealer. 
  • Asim Naveed, 29: accused of being the leader of a gang that imported cocaine.
  • Calvin Parris, 32: accused of buying cocaine from Naveed and selling it on.
  • John James Jones, 31: allegedly stabbed two people causing serious injuries.
  • Callum Michael Allan, 23: alleged drug dealing and assaulting an emergency worker.
  • Dean Garforth, 29: part of a crime gang that sold drugs and guns.
  • Joshua Dillon Hendry, 30: accused of trafficking heroin and crack cocain. 
  • Mark Francis Roberts, 28: grievous bodily harm after a bungled attempt to steal a+£60,000 watch.
  • James+‘Jamie’ Stevenson, 56: for arson and over the seizure of a tonne of cocaine.
  • Nana Oppong, 41: shot a man eight times in a suspected gangland reprisal attack. 

TV: World Cup Qualifier 2018 matches will be aired on on OSN Sports HD Cricket channel

UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets

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