Friday, January 29, 2010

Full immersion


After a fitful first night's sleep, I woke to a (rare) cool and cloudy day in Dubai in a section of town called the Arabian Ranches---an upmarket housing development several miles out in the desert, away from the sea. Didier and Monica joked about the "Wisteria Lane" aspect of their lifestyle here, which, never having seen Desperate Housewives, I had to look up the reference on the internet to get the joke. But, yes, it's very orderly, calm, somewhat uniform, but a quiet, pleasant place to hang your hat as a family man. Baby Noah is healthy and adorable, but what else can one expect from great looking, kind parents? He's at the feed, play, nap, change, bath, feed, play, nap stage, and I am working with him on forehand, backhand, and overhead arm movements when I am lucky enough to have him sit on my lap.

After breakfast, D and I plunged right in to a series of business meetings---the first with a set of Emirati twins who had been deploying family money toward investments in e-commerce, office/lounge/coffee spaces and magazines. Young, energetic, attractive, and of course, like most Emirati men, garbed in traditional dishdash and guthra. We hit it off immediately and began brainstorming all kinds of ideas about their brands. By the end of the meeting, we were extended a rare personal invitation to their weekly Friday night friends and family gathering at their home and am hoping that will happen.

The afternoon meeting with the CFO of the Khaleej Times, recently the #1 and now the #2 newspaper group in the region, was a 180 degree pivot back to an old media, hierarchical, struggling business that needs a major infusion of fresh thinking. Didier, as former CEO, tried to bring exactly that to the party but ran into a political buzzsaw last fall. Maybe I'll have better luck. They are trying to set a follow up meeting for this Sunday.

The evening was spectacular----a night of eating and cruising along the canals at the Al Qasr Hotel. More on that in the next post.

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