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Sun 28 Jan 2007 12:00 AM

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Selfridges to join Dubai retail pack

As I exclusively revealed last year, the Alshaya Group has been expanding at an astonishing rate, and with the addition of the H&M franchise, is now without doubt the region’s top retailer.

As I exclusively revealed last year, the Alshaya Group has been expanding at an astonishing rate, and with the addition of the H&M franchise, is now without doubt the region’s top retailer.

And it looks like holding on to that crown for some time yet. My spies tell me that boss Mohammed Al Shaya has been in extensive talks with executives from London store Selfridges, to bring over the Selfridges franchise to the Middle East. The deal has been all but done, and will result in a London style Selfridges appearing first in Dubai — selling both high-end clothes and food. “It is something that has been in the pipeline for some time but is now almost done,” says my source.

Emirates to Rio

With Virgin Atlantic planning to step up its Middle East presence, I hear that Emirates Airline is also looking at a few new launches. Watch out in the next two months for the announcement of flights all the way to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, most probably via Sydney. Four other new destinations are also on the cards. You read it here first.

Bono follows Forbes

This week we feature billionaire Forbes boss Steve Forbes. The media giant is a good pal of rock star Bono, having recently sold him a 40% stake in Forbes for US$250m. Although Steve pleaded ignorance, my sources suggest that Bono may soon be following him on his own tour of the Middle East. Expect details in the next month of a one off U2 gig in Dubai towards the end of this year.

Al Jazeera’s exclusive “power of nightmares”

I am glad to see Al Jazeera International breaking all boundaries when it comes to innovative television. Last week the station announced that “in an effort to provide their Arabic-speaking audience with a unique, diverse and rich perspective on “Southern” issues (from the Southern hemisphere) and stories often overlooked by the Western mainstream media, Al Jazeera Documentary Channel, the first Arabic language channel dedicated exclusively to documentaries, will broadcast several compelling films this week.”

I can’t wait. The first instalment I am told, is the Power of Nightmares, ‘An Al Jazeera exclusive.’ The Power of Nightmares is a startling look at the politics of fear. In the past our politicians offered us dreams of a better world.

Now they promise to protect us from nightmares. The most frightening of these is the threat of an international terror network. But just as the dreams were not true, neither are these nightmares. The Power of Nightmares explores how the idea that we are threatened by a hidden and organised terrorist network is an illusion.

It is a myth that has spread unquestioned through politics, the security services and the international media. At the heart of the story are two groups: The American neo-conservatives and the radical Islamists.

Sounds familiar? Maybe that’s because exactly the same programme was shown by the BBC three years ago.

How’s my grill?

Last week I reported on the launch of the G5 George Foreman grill in Dubai, which the former world champion came to the city in person to promote. It seems George just couldn’t get enough of Dubai. I managed to bump into him three more times, twice in Spinneys supermarkets and once at the Shangri La Hotel where he was staying. Not surprisingly, each time he asked me the same question: “How did you like the grill I gave you?”

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