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The rise of the city state

David Light (Staff Reporter)
Filed on March 19, 2008

Sir Bob Geldof who was in the city to perform on St Patrick’s Day shares his view of Dubai

SIR BOB Geldof’s St Patrick’s Day performance at the Irish Village, Dubai has become somewhat of a recent tradition.

This year was no exception as he played to a delighted crowd on the 14th.

Away from the stage we caught up with Mr Geldof at the Raffles Hotel during the launch of the Emerald Vacation Group’s new Turtle Cove Resort and Spa, an eco- friendly holiday destination in the Maldives.

Sir Geldof shared his thoughts on a wide range of topics affecting the Middle-East and the world today on the occasion.

An icon like no other

It was difficult to know what to expect from this modern day icon.

Everyone is guilty of having their preconceptions of the man who has made the abolition of poverty and the salvation of the environment his life’s work.

Some say he is too preachy, others groan that he is too sullen.

Most of these people must never have actually had a few words with him because when Geldof entered the room it was suddenly apparent why he has been so successful in his cause.

The man who addressed us was a charming, funny, highly intelligent orator with an unreserved passion and dedication to his beliefs. Such dynamism was infectious and even prompted this highly sceptical reporter to question and change his previously held opinion of the Irish singer!

Dubai: Past and Present

Sir Bob began with telling us about his experiences in Dubai. “I first came here in the 1970’s,” he explained, “all I can really remember about it was the heat and that there were a few sheds around. It’s amazing to come here now and witness the building of all these futuristic constructions, the rise of a city state.”

When asked whether he viewed such vast construction favourably he answered, “It’ll be interesting to see what happens. This is what the 21st century is about but it’s rare to come to a city which makes Las Vegas look organic!”

Joining us in the meeting was Bob’s good friend and fellow spokesman for the Turtle Cove project, Frankie Dettorri.

With the Dubai World Cup fast approaching, the world class jockey was undergoing final preparations for the race.

He stated that all preparations were going well and hopes this year will be “fantastic.”

Sir Bob will be attending the World Cup for the first time on March 29.

“However, I’m here primarily for my performance at the Irish Village. St Patrick’s has migrated. I love doing it in Dubai because it’s fun. They’re a great crowd that come out and I can just get on with things.”

An environmental friendly holiday

When asked what his involvement with the Emerald Vacations Group was he said, “I’m tired of endlessly travelling around. When I have a holiday I now want to do very little. The Maldives is a brilliant location and thankfully, as a result of this position I’m in, I’m able to know people in charge. When I heard of this project I was able to make suggestions on how to make it better.”

Those suggestions included helping at the planning stages to make the resort environmentally friendly and giving a fair deal to the people of the Maldives.

“Carefully considered tourism will benefit the population. The Maldives is a small place that will not be a centre for agriculture or commerce. Tourism is one of the few ways to help ensure the populations’ continued sustainability. If this place were rubbish I’d tell you, but they’ve followed through so I kept backing them. It’ll maintain the area.”

Turtle Cove will be a settlement of luxury villas situated on Mahadhdhoo Island in the Northern Huvadhu Atoll (region) of the Maldives.

Sir Bob then directed the conversation to the environmental issues surrounding tourism.

“I’m all for off-setting your carbon emissions. If I want to go to a place like the Maldives then I should pay. If I can’t pay I just don’t go. It’s as simple as that. The more it costs to travel the more money goes to the country’s people and preserving the astounding natural beauty so we don’t just go in and all mess it up.”

Mr Geldof has recently completed a trip to Africa with US President George Bush onboard Air Force One.

Virtually ignored by the Press, Bush has been touring Africa and Sir Bob, an expert on the continent accompanied him.

“He’s a nice guy,” said Sir Bob on Bush, “I might not agree with his policies but he is trying to do some good in Africa.”

Geldof has been frustrated at the lack of Press coverage of the event: “Bush in Africa is a great story. Africa will be the hub of emerging politics for the 21st Century, it needs as much coverage as possible. Bush may not have made great choices in his political career but he’s responded to challenges in the best way he thought he could.”

Sir Bob Geldof may not be everyone’s cup of tea but what you see is what you get. He will never tire of trying to make things better for people that are worse off and that has to be admired.


 
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