The student accommodation ready for royal tenants

We found a snake living in the garden of our student house in London.

It wasn’t because it wanted a piece of the party action – there wasn’t a lot of that during the final year of university – but rather due to the rear of the property resembling an Amazonian jungle with waist-deep grass. What else was lurking in the undergrowth, we wondered.

With damp in the walls, a carpet that looked like it dated back centuries and a general smell of dirty football boots and sodden rugby kit, it didn’t make for a pleasant abode.

This was a five-bedroom house in the capital, and more than a decade ago, like now, it came at a hefty cost as far as student pads go.

However, for those with pockets far deeper than we had, an opportunity has arisen to live a very different student life.

A 3,540 sq ft townhouse on London’s Park Lane has come on the market – and is said to be the only one of its type on the exquisite street in Mayfair that has its own private front door.

It is being marketed as “student digs for the super-rich’, with interest expected to come primarily from the Middle East.

Valued at £12.5 million (Dh59.5m), it is available to rent from £4,000 per week.

According to the agent Wetherell, most of the properties on Park Lane now serve as student accommodation for the offspring of Middle East families.

“This property will appeal to an ultra-high-net-worth person from the Middle East or Asia, who wants to launch themselves into Mayfair society,” said chief executive Peter Wetherell.

The home, which has been refurbished, comes with three bedrooms, glass floors, a glass roof and a 60ft-high central atrium.

It also has underfloor heating, air conditioning, and a 24-hour concierge service.

Student accomodation costs in the United Kingdom increased by 18 per cent between 2012-13 and 2015-16, The Guardian reported Shelly Asquith, vice-president for welfare at the National Union of Students, as saying.

Students from across the UK were reportedly organising a rent strike as they saw high housing costs as making higher education unaffordable.

Whoever takes the keys to the Park Lane pad probably won’t be too worried about rising rents.

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Emirates introduces seat selection fee

If you’re flying with Emirates and you really want to reserve that window seat with great views it can now be done well in advance – but it is going to cost you.

The Dubai carrier is introducing an advance seat selection fee which extends further than its normal two-day check-in window from October 3.

The fee for an adult taking a short haul flight between Dubai and countries in the Middle East, areas of Asia such as India and Pakistan, and Africa and the Indian Ocean is Dh50. For a child on a short haul destination the fee is Dh25.

For medium haul flights, which includes the likes of South Africa, China, Hong Kong, Thailand and the United Kingdom, the fee rises to Dh100 for adults and Dh50 per child.

For long haul flights, to the likes of Australia, the United States and Brazil, the fee is Dh150 per adult and Dh75 per child.

There are also fees ranging between Dh50 and Dh100 for adults for flights between countries other than the UAE, with a 50 per cent discount for children.

A spokesperson for the airline said that the fees are applicable on certain economy class fares.

“Emirates can confirm the introduction of a minimal charge for those looking to select their economy class seat in advance, for tickets issued on or after October 3, 2016,” the spokesperson said.

“The charge is only applicable on special and saver fares in economy class and will vary depending on the duration of the flight.

“Children below the age of 2 and accompanying passengers on the same booking will be exempted from the fee. This charge is also not applicable once online check-in opens, which is 48 hours before flight departure. At this stage, seat selection is free.”

Emirates has been seeking new ways to increase revenues as continued lower oil prices squeeze passenger travel budgets.

In June, Emirates president Tim Clark said that the world’s biggest international airline may start offering premium economy seats to improve fare flexibility.

“There’s clear and present evidence that this is something that we too should take seriously,” Mr Clark said at the time, though was keen to stress that he did not want premium economy to bite into demand for business class travel.

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Emirates introduces advance seat selection fee

If you’re flying with Emirates and you really want to reserve that window seat with great views it can now be done well in advance – but it is going to cost you.

The Dubai carrier is introducing an advance seat selection fee which extends further than its normal two-day check-in window from October 3.

The fee for an adult taking a short haul flight between Dubai and countries in the Middle East, areas of Asia such as India and Pakistan, and Africa and the Indian Ocean is Dh50. For a child on a short haul destination the fee is Dh25.

For medium haul flights, which includes the likes of South Africa, China, Hong Kong, Thailand and the United Kingdom, the fee rises to Dh100 for adults and Dh50 per child.

For long haul flights, to the likes of Australia, the United States and Brazil, the fee is Dh150 per adult and Dh75 per child.

There are also fees ranging between Dh50 and Dh100 for adults for flights between countries other than the UAE, with a 50 per cent discount for children.

A spokesperson for the airline said that the fees are applicable on certain economy class fares.

“Emirates can confirm the introduction of a minimal charge for those looking to select their economy class seat in advance, for tickets issued on or after October 3, 2016,” the spokesperson said.

“The charge is only applicable on special and saver fares in economy class and will vary depending on the duration of the flight.

“Children below the age of 2 and accompanying passengers on the same booking will be exempted from the fee. This charge is also not applicable once online check-in opens, which is 48 hours before flight departure. At this stage, seat selection is free.”

Emirates has been seeking new ways to increase revenues as continued lower oil prices squeeze passenger travel budgets.

In June, Emirates president Tim Clark said that the world’s biggest international airline may start offering premium economy seats to improve fare flexibility.

“There’s clear and present evidence that this is something that we too should take seriously,” Mr Clark said at the time, though was keen to stress that he did not want premium economy to bite into demand for business class travel.

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Dubai holds top 10 spot in world's most expensive cities to live and work

Dubai is still in the top 10 most expensive cities in the world to live and work, according to a new study.

The Savills Live/Work Index placed Dubai in eighth, despite a fall in property and office rents in the past year amid weakened oil prices, which has affected occupier demand.

“We attribute this to the perception by corporate occupiers and employees alike that the market has matured and is more resilient to external macroeconomic shocks than in the past,” said David Godchaux, the chief executive of Core, UAE associate of Savills.

He said that demand is “steady” for residential and office space with long-term confidence remaining strong.

The study found that Dubai’s total annual cost per employee of living and working accommodation stood at US$53,913, a decrease of 7 per cent since December.

This is less than half the amount of first-placed New York, at $114,009, a rise of 2 per cent. The US city replaces London at the top after a two-and-a-half year stint.

“One may have expected that Dubai would have become less expensive in comparison to other cities, but even with this decrease of 7 per cent over the past 12 months, it is still able to maintain its position in the top 10, showing the confidence of corporate occupiers and employees in the long term for this market,” Mr Godchaux said.

Online classifieds site dubizzle yesterday suggested that Dubai’s property market is showing signs of bottoming out.

Its second-quarter report said that residential rents were generally down by 2 per cent over the three months. Data from ReidIn last month said that sales prices were 4 per cent lower than they had been a year earlier and 12 per cent lower than they were during the market peak in 2014.

Office rents, meanwhile, have also been falling, with plenty of new supply arriving.

Rents for offices in Downtown Dubai and along Sheikh Zayed Road fell by 6 per cent in the second quarter compared with the same period last year, Core said last month. Rents in Jumeirah Lakes Towers fell the most, with a 10 per cent drop.

The Savills report found that currency swings since Britain’s decision to leave the European Union in June have changed the cost dynamic in a number of cities around the world.

“Weakening financial sector office rents are behind local currency live-work costs levelling out in London during the first half of the year but this translates into an 11 per cent reduction in total occupation costs when dollar-sterling currency movements are taken into account since December 2015,” the report said.

Tokyo had the biggest increase in dollar terms (22 per cent) as rent increases, particularly in prime residential and creative office sectors, were amplified by significant strengthening in the yen.

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When will we get another Steve Jobs-style iPhone revolution?

“Every once in a while a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything,” said Apple founder Steve Jobs as he paced the stage at the unveiling of the first iPhone back in 2007.

His speech went down in technology folklore, as he built a crescendo of geeky excitement among the crowd at the Macworld event in San Francisco.

“Well, today, we’re introducing three revolutionary products of this class,” he went on. “The first one: is a widescreen iPod with touch controls. The second: is a revolutionary mobile phone. And the third is a breakthrough Internet communications device.”

“Are you getting it?” he asked as he repeated the three progressive pieces of tech.

“Today, Apple is going to reinvent the phone,” he said before the big screen behind him showed an image of an iPod with a clunky dialling wheel from a home phone circa 1970, drawing laughter from the crowd.

The point had been made though. Apple had revolutionised the phone, with the three components brought together on one device.

Fast forward almost a decade and new products are coming thick and fast.

Samsung last night unveiled its lovely-looking Galaxy Note 7, which features an iris scanner to unlock the phone. It is in essence its predecessor the Note 5 with a few bells and whistles added for its release before the new iPhone due next month.

Don’t expect a Jobs-style revolution when Apple parades its new wares, however, as this is still the age of the incremental update. The days of smartphone revolution are but a YouTube video of the Apple guru extolling how he was changing human behaviour in almost every respect.

Waterproofing, improved security via your eyeball and fingerprint, top quality front and rear cameras, plus being able to play Pokemon Go are all lovely additions to our mobile phone lives.

But a new era of smartphones is proving elusive. The rate of progression has slowed.

Maybe the tech bods should take note of JP, the privileged and pompous university student from the British comedy Fresh Meat.

With the youthful enthusiasm to make his mark on the world, he struck upon the idea of putting the phone against the human face for a reason other than making calls.

Sadly, neither he nor the engineering student he paid £100 to could make the iPhone/electric razor a reality.

Now that would have been a revolution.

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The Tower at Dubai Creek Harbour: Wind tests completed on UAE's future tallest building

Anyone who has stood atop a skyscraper, be it New York’s Empire State Building or Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, can attest to the power of nature at such heights.

Not only is the wind strong, it also behaves in complex ways when coming into contact with tall buildings, meaning there is more to building megastructures than just the aesthetic.

With this in mind, Emaar Properties, the Dubai developer, has confirmed that it has completed advanced wind tunnel tests on The Tower at Dubai Creek Harbour, which is set to be 100 metres taller than the 828-metre Burj Khalifa when complete.

Emaar said the wind tests were crucial in defining the final height and design aspects, while the project’s Spanish-Swiss architect Santiago Calatrava Valls added that they “were an important component in the structural design stage, and we have deployed innovative engineering techniques to confirm the strength of the new icon”.

The tests involved 12 different analysis and testing methods to ensure that all possible ­cases were considered, according to Emaar. They were carried out for the entirety of the project using a scale model. As part of climate tests in the local area, measurements were taken at different heights, including data provided by the weather stations.

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The Tower at Dubai Creek Harbour – watch the video here

Dubai Creek Harbour project – see it in pictures here

Dubai to add hotel with tropical rainforest and artificial beach in the sky

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Seismic studies were also done on the local ground conditions “to guarantee the maximum safety and stability of the building. The design of The Tower also includes multiple damper systems and shock absorption systems, located at different points and heights”, Emaar said.

Work on the project got under way last month, with Aurecon appointed as the engineer and architect on record and the Cala­trava team leading design and engineering works.

The Tower was described by the Emaar chairman Mohamed Alabbar as “an ambitious project on a never-before scale and design” which will require “high-precision engineering across all its facets”.

He said The Tower “will serve as a beacon of hope and positivity for the city and the region”.

The 6 square kilometre master-planned community was revealed in April, when Emaar said it would have 2km of creekside waterfront and would house 679 million sq metres of residential space, 851,000 sq metres of commercial property, 22 hotels with 4,400 rooms and 11.1 million sq metres of retail. By comparison, The Dubai Mall has an overall footprint of 1.1 million sq metres.

The Tower will feature a VIP observation garden deck, and glazed rotating balconies.

It is scheduled to be delivered ahead of Expo 2020 starting in October of that year, and is to cost US$1 billion to build.

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Etihad to help take your supercar on holiday

The downside of going on holiday for an extended period of time is missing those life essentials back home.

That could be sleeping in the comfort of your own bed, or the love and affection of the family pet. For some, however, it is the feeling of being behind the wheel of your own car.

And that is understandable when your “pet” happens to be a luxury supercar by the likes of Ferrari and Porsche.

In recent years, European cities such as London have been invaded by Arabian Gulf visitors escaping the heat and enjoying the shopping and culture, but refusing to leave their expensive motors at home.

Supercar fans, known as the “carparazzi”, have followed to take pictures of their dream motors, some of which are worth up to Dh5.7 million, lining the streets of swanky London areas such as Kensington and Knightsbridge.

With that in mind, Etihad Cargo has launched a special service this summer, offering first and business class passengers 20 per cent off air cargo rates and their seat, with the car delivered straight to the driver’s doorstep.

“We have several years of experience in transporting vehicles for manufacturers to luxury car markets around the world and will aim to provide a first class service for those clients who are looking to take their vehicles with them to Europe during the summer,” said David Kerr, senior vice president of Etihad Cargo.

The Abu Dhabi airline is now able to move vehicles in the bellyhold of aircraft such as the Airbus A380, and has made the service available to European destinations such as Amsterdam, Berlin, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Geneva, London, Manchester, Milan, Munich, Paris and Zurich.

It said the number of cars transported has been rising over the past few years, with “hundreds” carried in 2015. These have included F1 cars, with Etihad sponsoring the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

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Airbus reveals plan for even more passengers on A380 aircraft

Three-four-three, three-five-three – they sound like football formations being mulled over by managers of teams at the Euro 2016 tournament which starts this week.

But while formations are regarded as only so important when designing a winning formula on the pitch (and the goalkeeper-less line-up is unlikely, unless desperate), they are far more vital when it comes to organising people in the sky.

For this is how airlines and airplane makers look to maximise passenger numbers – and therefore profit.

And it is the three-five-three which looks set to come to fruition for Airbus, with Dubai carrier Emirates the likely recipient of a rejigged and even bigger version of the A380, the world’s biggest passenger plane, should the French manufacturer go ahead with the design.

The new seating plan for the A380 can fit 11 people in one row, one more than the previous line-up.

Re-arranging fixtures and fittings within the A380 could accommodate 60 more customers without reducing the width or pitch of its seats, Kiran Rao, Airbus’s director of strategy and marketing, told Bloomberg.

One way to shoehorn more passengers on board would be to alter the staircases that connect the double-decker jet’s two passenger floors.

Bloomberg reported that existing A380 customers suggested that curved steps located toward the rear of the world’s biggest jetliner are rarely used since passengers have little need to move between levels, opening up the possibility of making them less of a design feature to create more room.

Emirates has been the biggest purchaser of the A380, having ordered 142, of which 77 were said last month to be in operation. The carrier has said that it could increase the number beyond 200 when it moves to Dubai’s second airport, Al Maktoum International at Dubai South.

Last year, Emirates started using a two-class configuration of the A380, featuring 58 flat-bed seats in business class and 557 seats in economy. This compares to a total of 489 seats in its three-class ultra long range A380 and 517 in its long range version.

The airline’s president Tim Clark said last week at Iata meeting in Dublin that he has all but given up on the re-engined A380neo. He said that talks with the manufacturer regarding an upgrade had “kind of lapsed”.

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Middle East playing 'an important part' in making European football lucrative

The Middle East is playing a central part in growing European football revenues – particularly the English Premier League (EPL), according to Deloitte.

The Deloitte Annual Review of Football Finance 2016 found that the region was contributing significantly in terms of both broadcast revenue and commercial partnerships.

“The Middle East continues to play an important part in this story both at a club and league level,” said Dan Jones, partner in the Sports Business Group at Deloitte.

“Commercial partnerships with Middle East-based sponsors are some of the most lucrative in the game, with three of the top five revenue generating clubs having Middle-East based shirt sponsors.

“Equally the region is contributing to the significant increase in English Premier League broadcast revenue, with 9 per cent of the next cycle’s international rights fees coming from broadcasters in the Mena region.”

Emirates sponsored-Real Madrid topped the global list for highest revenue for the 2014/15 season (the most recent available data), with FC Barcelona, sponsored by Qatar Airways, in second and Paris St Germain, also backed by Emirates, in fourth.

In terms of football shirt sponsorship, the UAE has lead the way for two seasons running. In March, The Repucom European Football Jersey Report said that Arabian Gulf airlines spent Dh670 million putting their names on shirts, including those of Arsenal and Manchester City.

“Football is still the cheapest advertising there is if you want visibility,” said Boutros Boutros, the divisional senior vice president for corporate communications and marketing at Emirates.

Meanwhile, Deloitte’s study said that the European football market totalled US$26 billion in 2014/15, driven by the “big five” European leagues (Bundesliga, La Liga, Ligue 1, Premier League and Serie A).

A 3 per cent revenue increase in 2014/15 saw the EPL further extend its lead as the highest revenue generating league in the world, with total revenue of $5.3bn. It also now leads the football world in all three key revenue categories, having overtaken the Bundesliga as the highest generator of commercial revenue in 2014/15.

Broadcast revenue across the big five European leagues grew by 8 per cent in 2014/15, and at $6.9bn represented 48 per cent of total revenues of the big five leagues.

“Another year of growth for Europe’s leading leagues helps to re-emphasise that the best live football remains ‘premium content’ for broadcasters and that commercial partners will pay handsomely to be associated with Europe’s elite clubs given their global profile and mass appeal,” said Mr Jones.

The Middle East’s financial clout in European football could be joined by a new major player on the scene.

There has been an increased level of interest in the sport from Chinese stakeholders during the past 12 months, with China Media Capital acquiring a minor stake in City Football Group in December. City Football Group owns Manchester City, as well as New York City FC and Melbourne FC. The sale of the stake was worth $400m.

Aston Villa, relegated from the EPL last month, also announced their sale to China’s Recon Group.

“The ownership of a successful European club has long been seen by many as a global trophy asset, providing owners with an enhanced business profile and access to important relationships,” Deloitte said in its report.

“This, considered with the additional political goodwill towards football within China, will no doubt further increase the attractiveness of Europe’s clubs to Chinese investors.”

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Emaar brings 'mini-Dubai' to London's Harrods

Emaar Properties has brought a taste of Dubai to one the world’s most famous department stores as it attempts to attract foreign investors amid the property slowdown in the emirate.

The Dubai developer, builder of the Burj Khalifa, is launching and exhibiting its latest project at Harrods in London until mid-August.

Visitors can experience interactive video displays, and view large scale models of Dubai Creek Harbour, Dubai Hills Estate and The Opera District.

The models include The Tower, which is expected to be taller than Burj Khalifa – currently the world’s highest – when completed in Dubai Creek Harbour.

Emaar and Harrods estimates that a window display on the ground floor is passed by 75,000 pedestrians per day.

A report released yesterday by Cluttons said that sale prices in Dubai fell by 2.2 per cent in the first three months of 2016, the steepest quarterly drop for five years.

Prices were 4.4 per cent lower year-on-year, with the biggest price declines for high-end villas, while premium apartment sale prices had held up in comparison but transactions had slowed.

JLL said last week that it expected prices to bottom out over the summer and a recovery in the second half of the year, but uncertainty remains with oil prices remaining in the $40 bracket.

It reported a 10 per cent year-on-year decline in house prices in the first quarter of 2016, which it blamed on the strong dollar (to which the dirham is pegged) and lower oil prices.

Simon Barry, head of new residential developments at Harrods Estates, said that the store’s clients will be extremely interested in what Emaar has to offer.

“Dubai offers one of the most compelling opportunities to invest in property in the world at present,” he said. “Just as London is the financial capital of the European time-zone, so Dubai is the financial capital of the Middle East time-zone.

“The Dubai property market is now stable, benefitting from huge inward investment from both the Middle East and the Indian sub-continent, and its economy is anticipated to grow strongly leading up to the Dubai World Expo in 2020, despite last year’s downturn in oil prices.”

One-bedroom apartments measuring 707 sq ft at Dubai Creek Harbour start at £184,135 (Dh986,311), a cost that equates to £260 per sq ft. Harrods Estates said that prime Central London equivalent values are £2,000 per sq ft.

Dubai Land Department figures for the first three months of 2016 show transactions worth Dh55bn were completed, which is a 14 per cent drop on the Dh64bn registered in the same period last year.

However, the volume of transactions completed was said to be 14 per cent higher at 12,568 as more affordable homes have come on to the market.

Emaar chairman Mohamed Alabbar revealed last week that the company had “severely cut costs” due to challenging market conditions, but was “pleasantly surprised” by sales activity.

Emaar Properties’ net profit in the fourth quarter of 2015 of $1.03bn was 1 per cent lower than in 2014, despite a 58 per cent uplift in sales to Dh3.8bn.

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