Tag Archives: Egypt

Mubarak heads to Dubai (maybe)

Dear Diary what a week it has been.

Mubarak finally makes a sharp exit to Sharm el-Sheikh – didn’t he read all of those stories about the sharks?  Brave man – to stay in Egypt that is.  Now speculation is building that he is negotiating to come to Dubai.


Lifted from my newspaper of choice:

Mubarak said in his first speech during the uprising on 1 February that he would not leave his homeland, pledging to “die on the soil of Egypt and be judged by history”.

But exploratory discussions involving the Saudis, the US and the UAE have reportedly taken place about him moving to Dubai. One important issue is immunity from any prosecution he might face on charges of crimes against humanity after 300 deaths and documented abuses by the security forces.

According to the London-based paper al-Quds al-Arabi, revelations about the Mubarak family fortune and possible legal action over that are also a factor in planning for a post-presidential future.

Experts have estimated that the Mubaraks could be worth £43.5bn, with much of the wealth from investment deals in British and Swiss banks or tied up in upmarket real estate in London, New York, Los Angeles and expensive tracts of the Red Sea coast.

For the likes of you and me, transferring our hard earned money can be the task from hell with all sorts of rules and regs.  So how has Mubarak managed to siphon away $43.5bn with complete impunity?  The gnomes and our lovely bankers have a lot to answer for.

Cameron has a new friend

Someone loved Cameron’s speech on multiculturalism, step forward Marine Le Pen, Leader of France’s National Front who has congratulated David Cameron on his controversial speech.  I have openly said I don’t like Cameron’s politics but I never had him down as a fascist.  Live and learn.  This came in the week that most of the top universities in England declared they would charge the maximum student tuition fees.  Now anyone who thinks that students from a middle and working class background will not be put off going to Oxford, Cambridge, LSE, Imperial College etc. is sadly deluded.  Parents who send their children to private school will still be looking forward to the day their kids head off to uni, £9,000 versus £30,000.  A country’s future (and its ability to pay for everything else) depends on its education system.

A cautionary tale about online advertising

A few weeks ago I expressed a concern that banks shouldn’t have sales and in the article I named and shamed HSBC and gave my critical opinion.  HSBC’s sale is being supported by a huge advertising campaign and I accept being stalked on The Guardian is the penalty I pay for reading a quality paper where  customers and potential customers of HSBC are lurking.

However imagine my surprise when their ad popped up on my blog?  I wrote to them politely explaining that I was telling people that, in my opinion, a bank holding a sale was a bad idea but they declined to reply.  We went public on Facebook and Twitter but  the world’s local bank has no local social media strategy, so again complete silence.  All of which reinforces my view that HSBC is falling way short in all respects.

HSBC sale HSBC ad above my blog on phone

It’s all about the line

I had a very interesting meeting last week with the marketing lady from Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai (a seriously good hospital specialising in anything and everything to do with your eyes which in my book are our most precious sense and yet we go to the dentist once a year but pretty much completely ignore the health of our eyes unless something goes seriously wrong) and the media guru from Optimedia. We slipped into jargon, above the line (advertising), below the line (stuff like packaging, sales promotion) online (anything to do with the www) . . . Nadim from Optimedia speculated that there is no line anymore, it’s all about one line, in other words you have to be on the ball in all forms of communicating with customers/clients.  Sounds about right to me.

Was Amy any good?

Before I reveal all, I went to Bike Week to meet up with our Harley client and had a play on a big bike, wow, I went vrrm, vrrrm, vrrrrm.  My wife has banned me from riding a bike but in my next life I’m going to get a big boy Harley and a super cool Vespa.  Harley’s start from around AED 34,000 here and Vespa’s are a snip at AED 14,000.

Harley DavidsonVespa

My wife Sally represented the Prosser’s at Amy.  She is tough to please, for example she rated Robbie as average when he visited Dubai a few years ago.  Amy started slow and was in a bit of a mess but in the opinion of our Sal she was incredible and very special.  I think this goes against what you are going to read and hear but give the gal a chance if you get the opportunity to see Amy before it’s sadly too late.

My music tip for this week is The Hold Steady – one for Alan Main and anyone who loves Bruce Springsteen. These guys rock like it’s1984 – watch out for the guitar break at 2:50 and get air guitaring: 

McDonalds profits soar, again

Apparently during a recession our spending power goes down and we eat more cheap, junk (comfort) food.  The US gave the world fast food because it suited their lifestyle and monster appetites, British food is a bit hit and miss so I can fully understand why McDonalds has done well in these two countries.  But Asia has the most scrummy food on earth (along with the Italians) and have fantastic, incredibly cheap street food so why are more people in Asia eating more McDonalds?  It just doesn’t make sense to me.


Top five

Leading on here are my top five foods I can’t live without:

  • Pasta
  • Pesto (bit of a cheat)
  • Tomatoes (fresh, sweet and juicy)
  • Eggs
  • Plums (fresh, sweet and juicy)


Filed under Observations

Tough call for the Americans

Egyptian protesters

I’m not sure anyone has quite worked out yet how far the people’s revolution can spread through the Arab World.  For those of us that witnessed the fall of communism it was quite astonishing watching the former Soviet bloc countries fall like dominoes with the fleeing or execution of some very unpleasant dictators.  The President of Tunisia saw the writing on the wall and cut and ran PDQ, President Mubarak won’t give up power that easily but there are a lot of unhappy people in Egypt and Cairo is a city of 20 million plus people which equals a lot of people-power.  Whichever side the army supports as the situation unfolds will determine the outcome.  Now comes news that Yemen is catching the bug and who knows where it will end.  My guess is the GCC will be unaffected, most of the countries have small, wealthy, highly privileged local populations and the expats are not entitled to get involved.  My only slight niggle is Saudi where there large numbers of disaffected youth but the importance of religion in their culture will almost certainly keep any discontent in check.

The Americans are now between a rock and a hard place.  As the world champions of democracy they welcomed the collapse of the communist world but now they have the dilemma that undemocratic countries are their allies.  Do they cheer the people on or offer covert advice and lend a few of their operatives to crush the people’s revolution?  Maybe Wikileaks could throw some light on this one.

Egyptians protesters

HSBC announces sale, time to fill your boots!

Having got that off my chest it’s time to return to marketing, my specialist subject.  I’ve been having a very interesting dialogue with HSBC this week.  Some of you may have noticed that HSBC is having their FIRST EVER SALE.  Now it’s my opinion that bank and sale simply don’t go together and I put this to a representative of the bank and he really couldn’t see my problem.  Resisting the urge to say it’s beedin’ obvious I resorted to reasoned argument.  In my book a sale is when the owner of goods or services offers discounts to attract buyers, a tactic that is typically used to boost sales and get rid of excess stock.  Banks by contrast are meant to take deposits and lend money, that’s their job pure and simple.  They make money on the difference between the interest rate they pay on deposits and earn on loans.

Now you will remember the financial meltdown that is still having a huge impact around the world, without going too deep into the causes, it was triggered by the excessive risk-taking of banks.  Lesson learned and you would expect a return to good governance and conservative banking practices, instead we have a bank throwing a huge amount of money at publicising a sale on products like credit cards, loans and mortgages!  If that isn’t encouraging people to take on debt I don’t know what is.  I have invited HSBC to reply to my observations, hopefully they are not too busy calculating their bonuses to reply.

HSBC sale ad

What is a brand?

Staying with marketing, I had an interesting conversation with two very nice ladies from a charity we are supporting by providing our services at a heavily discounted rate (i.e. free).  They do voluntary work for Senses, a charitable organisation that helps children with special needs.  We got to talking about brands and they thanked us for the logo we have designed for them, at which point our branding guru, a certain Nameer Kanderian, explained a logo is all good and proper but a brand is much, much more.  The essence of his argument was if you think of a person as a brand then the logo is the clothes they wear.  This creates a first impression, but there is so much more to the person.  Now one of the ladies was posh spice and the other sporty spice so if we judged them just on the clothes they were wearing we would never have guessed they are both kind, considerate, generous people who are totally committed to giving back. My guess is whenever they are deciding whether or not to do something they will subconsciously be making a judgement against their value set.  This is what a brand should do.  For example, the essence of Apple is Think Different and they live this in everything they do from the people they employ, to the products they sell to the retail shops we visit.

There endeth the branding lesson by a non expert.  If you would like to know more Nameer is your man.  He is also the person who when I asked about the 10km last weekend, namely did he manage to dodge the traffic queues into Media City, his reply was, ‘oh, I ran from my home’ (in somewhere like Abu Dhabi) ‘to the start’.

All time top 5s and the return of the Gang of Four

Having done my top 5s for 2010 a few people (one actually) asked me whether I had seen or heard anything in 2010 to change my all time top 5s. After a couple of seconds thought the answer was a resounding no.

Click this link to find out my top 5s of all time

Last week Gang of Four released their first album for sixteen years (or thereabouts).  On the off-chance anyone out there is also a fan you can hear the stream by clicking the link below.


Gang of four

It always makes my day when someone pitches in below, so feel free to comment.


Filed under Observations