The battle to be the best in television is hotting up in Dubai. This month One TV made an impressive re-launch, and the station’s imminent ‘Emirates News’ programme is set to be a winner judging by the current promotions now running.
Meanwhile, my spies tell me that Arab Media Group is not planning on missing out on a slice of the action. It is in talks with MTV over launching MTV Middle East, which would be based out of Dubai. Discussions are in the final stages, and AMG is already busy looking at the programme line up and likely presenters for the station.
“This will be very, very big. It will be one of the biggest TV launches you will ever see in this part of the world,” according to one of my sources.
Tony Blair made a fleeting visit to the UAE last week at the tail-end of his whistlestop tour of the Middle East.
Stops in Turkey, Egypt, and Iraq must have left the UK’s 'Dear Leader' pretty exhausted, and so it was no surprise when he asked that his final press appointment be restricted to a short speech, as opposed to the traditional question-and-answer session.
Yet as we waited for Tony to take the stage, anxious whispers began to build amongst the PM’s phalanx of helpers. What was the problem? A new crisis back home? Trouble in parliament? Cherie on the warpath?
As it happens, the problem was a little less dramatic. Someone had supplied the PM with Masafi mineral water, instead of his favoured Evian brand. The mistake was quickly rectified — but that’s got to go down as a victory for the venerable French brand.
With Emirates Airline having done a great job on the Dubai to New York route, word on the streets is that it may soon have competition. Such is the expected growth in the market, I hear that United Airlines is considering asking the Dubai government whether it can launch direct flights from the USA. Unlike Emirates Airline, United Airlines is proposing flying direct from Washington or Boston.
“The idea is for now just that, but we could see some progress. We think that this could happen in early 2008,” says my United Airlines source.
Talking of Emirates Airline, the battle with Virgin Atlantic may be stirred up again. Next March is the first anniversary of Virgin Atlantic’s London to Dubai launch, and I hear that throughout that month, Virgin is considering slashing its prices by 50%. Upper Class fares may also be dropped by around the 30% mark.
“All I can say is we will be doing something very special which will make more people want to fly with us in March,” says a Virgin source.
More news on The One founder Thomas Lundgren. In March I exclusively revealed that the retailing tycoon is planning to shut down his entire chain of stores, and take his 700 staff to India for a month to help build a new school. My source says: “Thomas has said all the shops will be closed, with a sign saying ‘Please don’t shop at Ikea while we are closed.’”
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