x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

An investor probity milestone and football's stamina-sapping demands

We're all for the cause of transparency and good governance in relations between the region's big companies and their shareholders, aren't we? So it's good to be able to applaud another milestone on the road to investor relations probity, writes Frank Kane.

We're all for the cause of transparency and good governance in relations between the region's big companies and their shareholders, aren't we?

So it's good to be able to applaud another milestone on the road to investor relations probity, with the launch of the Abu Dhabi chapter of the Middle East IR (Investor Relations) Society.

Backed by the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange as well as a sprinkling of the emirate's top corporates, such as National Bank of Abu Dhabi, Taqa and Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, the chapter is the sixth to be launched this year.

That's a testimony to the hard work of Maria Hunt, the society's general manager, and the team led by top banker Paul Reynolds, the society's chairman and managing director of Rothschild in the region.

Now for the "big one", team - Saudi Arabia.

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Gee, but those fun-loving Germans certainly know how to put on a show. The do at Dubai's Grand Hyatt hotel for the Germany versus Italy semi-final of the Euro 2012 football championships was as close as you could get to actually being at the game, with the added benefits of refreshments and food served direct to your table throughout.

It was held in the tent in the hotel grounds that annually hosts the Dubai version of the Oktoberfest celebrations. It remains one of the items on my "bucket list" to visit the real event in Munich some time, but if I don't make it, I think last week's party will probably do.

There were about 1,000 people in the tent, maybe 90 per cent of them German. There were long Oktoberfest-type tables in the middle of the venue, but the coup de théâtre was provided by the bank of terracing at one end that made the place look and feel like a real football stadium. That, and the fact that it seemed everybody (except me) was wearing a German football shirt.

The one drawback for most of those attending, of course, was the Germans lost. I must admit my host - an executive at one of Dubai's leading financial institutions who had swapped his normal pinstripes for a Germany shirt - took it all in pretty good heart.

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I'm glad Euro 2012 is over is many ways. Although I found most of the football compulsive viewing, a succession of 10.45pm local kick-offs was beginning to take its toll.

By the time the final came along, I was pretty much ready for a cup of cocoa and an early night. But I soldiered on with some friends at Dubai's Madinat Souk in Jumeirah, also a pretty good venue but lacking the Teutonic fervour of the Grand Hyatt.

We caught the first half of Spain versus Italy in Bar Zar, normally a loud disco venue but given over entirely to football that evening. It was a little wearisome for us seasoned football watchers.

Why were so many young Asian ladies supporting Spain with such enthusiasm? Why were they all shouting "kick it in the goal" as soon as a Spanish player got the ball just outside his own penalty area?

We adjourned at half-time to join the rather more knowledgeable crowd in the Madinat's Rivington Grill.

There the discussion was all much more erudite: worthy appreciation of another flowing Spanish move, well-informed discussions of the offside rule and the merits of goal-line technology.

At the end, though, I think I would have rather have had the "kick it in the goal" crowd.

Anyway, no more football from me … at least until the start of the English Premier League on August 18.