Font Size

- Aa +

Sun 7 Sep 2008 04:00 AM

Font Size

- Aa +

Abu Dhabi steps out of the shadows

Trying to find a Man City shirt for our cover shoot took longer than Abu Dhabi spent buying the club.

Trying to find a Manchester City shirt for the Arabian Business cover shoot this week, took longer than Abu Dhabi spent buying the club.

‘Do you want one in white or red?' asked most of the shop assistants, trying to be helpful.

‘Ideally blue', we would respond, as that is the colour they tend to play in. Alas, none were to be had. The futile search continued until we were forced to dispatch emails to the general public soliciting any news of the rare City fans who we hoped were living quietly among us. Like zoologists seeking endangered species, reporters were dispatched to the corners of the seven emirates in their quest for the sky blue grail.

Abu Dhabi's ascent onto the global stage has begun in earnest and like the football team it has just bought, will no longer be known as the other city.

Sure, there were sightings - but most turned out to be false alarms, until finally, in a cave high in the mountains of Ras Al Khaimah, we found a fan willing to exchange his shirt for his pet meerkat.

In the Middle East at least, few people seem to have heard about the ‘other' team in Manchester.

That could all be about to change following Abu Dhabi's dramatic move to acquire the ‘Blues' last week while also signing Brazilian superstar Robinho in a record $61.6m transfer.

In the preceding months, all attention had been focused on whether Dubai would buy Liverpool FC, through private equity house Dubai International Capital, and its ‘Reds'-supporting CEO, Sameer Al Ansari.

Then, when the crowd was looking the other way, Abu Dhabi nipped into the box to score, like an on-form Shaun Wright-Phillips.

Overnight, the team with the trophy cabinet that has remained locked for many years, have become unlikely contenders and quite probably the richest club in British football. Roman Abramovich may have become the man with the second-deepest pockets in the Premier League.

While City have been seen as the other team in Manchester, Abu Dhabi's international profile has also been in the shadow of its headline-grabbing neighbour for many years.

Dubai, home to the world's tallest tower, an indoor ski slope, extravagant hotels and lots of glamorous-looking folk, has had to do little work in stealing column inches from the capital.

But that too is changing fast as Abu Dhabi is linked with deal after deal from New York to Moscow.

In the same week that Arabian Business first reported the acquisition of Manchester City, it emerged that Abu Dhabi was moving into the movie-making business with a $1bn tie-up with Hollywood planned.

That followed an $8bn partnership with General Electric, the $800m acquisition of the Chrysler Building in New York and the multibillion-dollar investments in US financial heavyweights such as Citigroup and Carlyle.

Abu Dhabi's ascent onto the global stage has begun in earnest and like the football team it has just bought, will no longer be known as the other city.

Sean Cronin is the editor-in-chief of Arabian Business English. RELATED LINKS:Out of the blue

For all the latest banking and finance news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
Victor 11 years ago

If going to Ski Dubai during Ramadan, make sure to consult the new working hours. Also remember that it burns tons of oil so plant a tree to compensate for the environment ;)

David H 11 years ago

Hmmm, and there was me thinking you simply contacted a member of the Dubai Manchester City Supporters' Club who dispatched one to your office almost immediately. I suppose the truth doesn't quite have the same patronising tone to it though, does it?