Russians on the box

Three weeks ago I revealed how the Arab world was to receive the planet’s first ever 3D television network.

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By  Ben Dawson Published  April 16, 2006

|~||~||~|Three weeks ago I revealed how the Arab world was to receive the planet’s first ever 3D television network. The plan, you may recall, is courtesy of Dr. Issam Daoud’s Avanti Group, which is launching the Arab Broadcasting Company in September this year. Well it appears Dr. Daoud may soon have some more rivals in the television business. I am told that five Russian businessmen have got together to plough US$300 million of their own cash into the launch of yet another television network, this one in standard 2D format. The network will focus on promoting Arab values and cultures around the globe, with a full announcement expected within the next six weeks. You read it here first. ONE EXPLANATION This morning I did something rather strange: I woke up at 11am, wandered over to The One store on Dubai’s Jumeirah Beach Road, and went straight to the front desk. (The store was almost empty I should add). “Any chance of buying a couple of tickets to see Robbie Williams?” I asked. “Sure,” came the reply. “We have loads left. How many do you need?” Now, unless you have been living on Mars for the past two months you will know that these tickets – all 25,000 of them – apparently sold out in four hours. They were changing hands on eBay for around US$800 each – pure gold dust. You may also remember my story a month ago that promoters Midas needed to raise US$1 million to justify the one-off Dubai show. And what better way than to create massive hype by claiming all the tickets were sold out, even though it physically wasn’t possible to sell that many in four hours? The final part of the “plan” was to put several thousand new tickets on sale, a fortnight before, as a result of 'popular demand'. I think it’s pretty obvious what’s gone on here, don’t you? FATHER AND SON The ever-looming question of succession has been rearing its head again in the Mohammed Al Fayed empire. Fayed watchers will know that the Egyptian tycoon has long been pondering over which of his remaining two sons will take over the Harrods empire. My sources at the London store tell me that 21 year old Omar Fayed is now being groomed for the top post, and from next month he will be invited to sit in on all Harrods board meetings. Even though Al Fayed senior maintains he is not thinking of stepping down anytime soon, I am told Omar could be having a big say in the business by next Spring. LATE again Last week I explained why the launch of the UAE’s second telecoms operator Du has been delayed by a few months. Since then I have been inundated with calls from Du employees, most of them suggesting that there has been less than minimal co-operation from Etisalat officials. Their best guess is that we won’t see Du up and running until next Spring. Let’s hope they are wrong – the service is needed and needed now. FLIGTH SINGLE The battle for control of the lucrative Dubai-London route is seriously hotting up following the launch of Virgin Atlantic services last week. Qatar Airways recently announced that it will fly to London, via Doha, three times a week: hence the impressive advertising campaign which reads: “London is hardly Virgin territory.” And my pals at Gulf Air suggest it may increase its flights to London by 20 per cent next month, to counter the Virgin threat. And best of all, Emirates, Qatar Airways and Gulf Air are all planning huge summer discounts on the route. ||**||

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