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With its grotesque mix of business and military tomes alongside cheap gadgets and cuddly toys, Borders looks like a shop designed by Victoria Beckham and Albert Speer. Stephen Lock / The National
With its grotesque mix of business and military tomes alongside cheap gadgets and cuddly toys, Borders looks like a shop designed by Victoria Beckham and Albert Speer. Stephen Lock / The National

From the desk of Frank Kane: no more Borders run

The founder of modern Turkey would have been proud of the achievement his successors will mark in June, when the World Economic Forum will take place in Istanbul.

I've always loved bookshops, but never really appreciated Borders in the UAE, until now.

With its grotesque mix of business and military tomes alongside cheap gadgets and cuddly toys, Borders looks like a shop designed by Victoria Beckham and Albert Speer (as has been said of somewhere else, I believe).

The Borders outlet in the Dubai International Financial Centre, however, had some saving graces, once you got past the dusty ranks of remaindered editions by Sir Richard Branson and Warren Buffett.

It was handy for my DIFC office, the Dome cafe next door. It had some decent books, comparatively well ordered. (Although I had a giggle at the inclusion of Charles Dickens's Oliver Twist in biography.)

Most important, a journalist could buy the essentials of the trade there: newspapers and magazines, notebooks and pens.

I don't know if it's to do with the troubles of Borders in the United States (now bust and sold), but the DIFC branch has been closed for the past couple of months.

With the exception the Financial Times, which you can pick up free virtually anywhere in the Gate vicinity, it's now impossible to buy those must-have journo accessories.

Just try buying a pen in the DIFC. If you want a Montegrappa rollerball in solid gold and black jet, it's yours for a mere Dh68,000 (US$18,511); or you could slum it with a Cartier ballpoint for Dh3,500. But a Bic for Dh1? I couldn't find a single outlet selling such a thing.

In the end, I went into Spectrum ("Digital print solutions") and asked an assistant if the store had such a thing as a pen. "No sir, we don't use pens," she answered.

Come back Borders DIFC, all is forgiven.

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The last time Turkey stood astride Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia was probably in 1683, when the Ottomans lost the battle of Vienna and their empire began a 250-year slide arrested only by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

But the founder of modern Turkey would be proud of the achievement his successors will mark in June, when the World Economic Forum will take place in Istanbul.

This is not the big Davos bash at which I had such fun this year, but one of the mini-WEFs intended as curtain-raisers and agenda-setters for the main event in Switzerland next January.

Nonetheless, it is a pretty impressive achievement by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister, to have grabbed so much territory under the sway of his three-day conference by the Bosphorus.

The vast area, which covers three continents, is bizarrely referred to by the WEF as a "key mega-region of the future". Not to mention the past, of course, as the cradle of much of what is referred to as "world civilisation".

Some of Davos-kind are muttering that maybe the Turks have been allowed to grab just a little too much.

My WEF mole in Dubai tells me: "They're all talking about it. How did they get Europe and Central Asia? They're calling it the Ottoman economic forum, and suggesting it's all because Erdogan stormed offstage at Davos in 2009. They had to give him something to get the Turks fully back into the WEF fold".

Speculation is rife that the Chinese will make a concerted effort to grab back Central Asia at the "Summer Davos" in Tianjin in September. But they'll have to slug it out with the Russians.

I'm persisting with Twitter, despite still not really getting the point.

However, I am addicted to the @GSElevator tweets, especially in the current climate at Goldman Sachs.

Supposedly tweeted from conversations overheard in the elevators at Goldman's New York HQ, they give you a comical but convincing twist on life at the "vampire squid", all big egos with bigger wallets.

For example: "On our anniversary, I send my wife flowers with a congratulations card."

fkane@thenational.ae

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