Tag Archives: McDonald’s

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

It’s a dog’s life

I thought about dedicating this blog to tomatoes on the basis that there are 10,000 known varieties before realising that someone beat me to it.  They wrote a lovingly crafted article on the ease of growing your own in Dubai but failed to mention my tips; don’t buy Dutch tomatoes or fertilise tomatoes with the stuff that dogs do.  More good news on the tomato front; the ones my wife bought from the newly opened organic farm shop in Umm Suqeim are brilliantly delicious.  Bravo and more please.  Growing up in England I used to love seasonal fruit and veg. except for fresh pineapples – they were nowhere near as good as the tinned variety.

Having fruit at the top of the agenda allows me to return to one of my favourite subjects; everyone in business is out to make a fast buck.  Remember Ben & Jerry and all of that homespun, local-sourcing, community-building, dog-loving, hippy nonsense they shouted from the rooftops.  Bizarrely I fell for it and actively sought out Ben and Jerry’s ice creams to strike a blow for David – and then what happens? – they sell out to Unilever, that’s what.  Lesson learned?  Unfortunately not.  I then switched allegiance and championed Pret A Manger.  What a great ethical company and a fantastic product.  What happened next?  Mc’Donald’s, that’s what.  Now I was really beginning to question my naivety, yet I was still caught out by Innocent selling out to Coke.  The only Innocent person was me and I’m ashamed to have been mugged by yet another gang of smooth operators.  Here is what Richard Reed one of the founders had to say, “I respect different opinions.  But for me it’s not about whether it’s a large or a small company, it’s about whether it is a good or bad one. And we think Coke is good.”  I hope what Richard meant is Coke is good because they just gave me squillion pounds.  Sorry for whining but it needs someone to take the lead.

Once upon a time I thought it would be great to be a politician (JFK springs to mind, maybe that was who Tiger was trying to emulate) before quickly realising that it’s a mug’s game.  Take the British government, they take dog’s abuse about binge drinking with the Daily Mail leading the charge.  ‘How can we stop kids drinking so much?   Ahh, I know the answer, what about making it too expensive, let’s put a tax on cider, we can even build a hospital and school on the back of the revenue raised?’  Very smart idea, especially as we Brits all start our drinking careers on illicit flagons of cider in the local park and then acquire a taste for lager before rediscovering it 20 years later at music festivals where it’s easy to sneak in past the sniffer dogs (tip of the day).   Bizarrely the Daily Mail hated this idea – destroying lovely apple orchards, decimating the local economy in Somerset and upsetting my friend Skidders.  Heads you lose, tails you lose and it’s a night in the dog house for being too clever for your own good.  A cheaper way of raising money could be to bring back the dog licence.

While on the subject of drinking it gives me the opportunity to heap special praise on the merry men at MMI who recently gave up their time and effort for a charity edition of Whose wine is it anyway? Expertly compered by the Mighty Marek and including a panel of wine gurus led by the knowledgeable and highly erudite Nick Midwood ably supported by Chris Charters (a wine expert from Manchester!) and David Knott; a great time was had by all.  Watch out for MMI’s 2009 En Primeur offer and if you can get your paws on any first growths go for it – Latour, Lafite Rothschild, Mouton Rothschild, Haut-Brion and Margaux are the ones to look out for.

In doing a blog I’ve come to the conclusion that it should include a public service function as well as being a platform to say whatever springs into your head.  This week my gem is how to look after your shoes should you be unfortunate to step into something created by a waggy-tailed friend or indeed should the aforementioned friend chew them.

How to get the perfect shoe shine (click here)

One of the most frustrating things about my job is that whenever I hand out a hard copy of a presentation people skip all of the good stuff and head straight to the end to look for what it is going to cost them.  I’ve countered this by hiding the budget in the middle of presentations.  I’m beginning to feel the same way about my Top 5s as despite raising some of the big topics of the day they seem to be the only bit people are interested in.  The debate about my punk top 5s is still raging with a culchie friend of mine refusing to accept that White Riot tops London Calling as the ultimate Clash song.  Sorry Gez but London Calling is a soppy love song compared to White Riot.

Inspired by a bad day at the golf office when I was taken to the cleaners by a hotter-than-hot pro taking a week off from the US PGA tour and his ex-tour pro dad, here are my top five beatings of all time.  It was Talker Cup week at Emirates Golf Club and our team, magnificently led by Ted the Baker Brigg, won the day and I played my assigned role of making the score a bit closer.

  • Rugby; 2007 England 62 – 5 Wales
  • Football; 1961 England 9 – 3 Scotland
  • Ryder Cup; 2006 Europe 18½ to 9½ America
  • Cricket; Location Headingly, Year 1981, England beat Australia by 18 runs after following on (Denis Lillee and Rodney Marsh won a car boot full of money by betting on England!)
  • Rowing; 1978, Cambridge sunk, 1961 Oxford sunk (2010 Cam and CB sunk)!

To all of these noble losers remember it’s not the winning it’s the taking part that counts and remember don’t let the tail wag the dog.

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Filed under Observations