Why everything’s gone quiet on the takeover front – A must-read view from the Middle-East

*Archie – who has lived and worked in the UAE for several years – on why it’s gone silent on the takeover front over the past few days*

You’re probably like me in that first thing in the morning you scour the ‘net looking for any sign of progress in the sale of Newcastle United to the UAE’s Sheikh Khaled. Or if we’re more truthful, to anyone really, just as long as it doesn’t stay with Ashley.

You’ll read anything that you don’t recognise, only to find out that you read it yesterday when it was reported by another site with a slightly less cryptic headline, and the day before that when it was first reported as an ‘exclusive’ by one of three newspapers which, if we’re honest, under normal circumstances we wouldn’t trust to give us the right date.

Well here’s some breaking news for you that you won’t see on any other site, or in any of the papers. Yesterday, in the main conference room of the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi at 4:05 pm, absolutely nothing happened that had anything at all to do with the sale of the club. Nothing happened! Not a thing! 

I suggested in a previous article that nothing substantial would happen until mid to late June – and here’s why:

Yesterday was a Sunday, and as we all know not a lot happens in the UK on a Sunday anyway.
But today is the 3rd of June. Nothing special about that you may say? True, but in the UAE they don’t call it the third day of June – this year they call it the last day of Ramadan. Or they might – depending on the weather.

The Holy month of Ramadan is the month of the Islamic calendar when, during daylight hours all good Muslims, out of respect for their beliefs, refrain from eating, drinking, smoking and other personal pleasury things.    

A side effect of this is that once the sun goes down, effectively all bets are off, and they socialise with their friends and family throughout the evening and usually well into the morning. This results in what can best be described as a “leisurely” approach to the working day. It’s generally just accepted that during the Holy month not a lot of business is going to get done.

Considering that throughout history the Arabs have been such renowned astronomers it may come as a shock to some of you that the day upon which Ramadan will officially finish cannot be announced ahead of time. There is a tradition that the new moon for the following month of Shawwal must actually be seen before the old month can end and the new one begin. If the moon is seen tonight by the official Moon Sighting Committee, then tomorrow is the first of Shawwal and it will have been a 29 day Ramadan. If the moon is not seen then it’s a 30 day month and Shawwal slips a day to the right.

After Ramadan comes the celebration of Eid Al Fitr, or the breaking of the fast of Ramadan. According to the UAE Government the Eid Holiday will last from the 29th day of Ramadan to the 3rd of Shawwal, so after a quiet Ramadan, from Tuesday onwards, this week is pretty much wiped out.  Another well respected “tradition” is – if the holiday starts on the Tuesday, then you might as well make a week of it. You can bank on the office being empty the entire week.

Of the top 3 or 4 guys in the organization you can expect 2 will be on a longer break, out of the country with their families.

So using the above proven formula, I’d guess that Sunday the 16th of June is the earliest we can expect anything of substance from the UAE.

For those of you who read these articles thinking that some blog/hack/wannabe can tell you something here that none of the syndicated news channels or national newspapers have managed to pick up on, well in a way you were right. Nothing happened, and now you know why.

9 thoughts on “Why everything’s gone quiet on the takeover front – A must-read view from the Middle-East

  1. What if the lawyers working on the deal for the arabs are from the western world & have been left to it?

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  2. Well let’s just wait and see if it happens great if it doesn’t then fattys done it again to us all

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  3. Blake – they leaked it for their benefit – maybe to pressure Ashley or the Prem to move a bit more quickly so that it can be completed before the end of the transfer window. Or maybe to steal the edge over other bidders. Loads of possibilities.

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  4. Scott – if thats the case then great – but even if that is the case someone in the link is on Ramadan hours (even if not the lawyers). However , I’d hazard a guess and say they have one of the big local firms on retainer.

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  5. I’ve worked in the Middle East since 2004. Nowhere I know actually stops working during Ramadan. The Eid holiday’s yes. Yes, output is reduced, some take holidays, and by the end everyone of them is cranky as hell (who can blame them when not eating, drinking, or smoking during the hours of daylight and in 45 degree heat!). But the world doesn’t stop and most certainly not the world of international business such as BZG.

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  6. Worked and lived in Saudi for 5 years and can confirm your info re Ramadan.
    They all lie around like loppy dogs during the day.
    Been telling pals in my local nowt will happen until after Eid.
    Keep up the good work and info.
    Reg.

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  7. SickAndTired – I spent quite a few years in the UAE too. Working for a large company belonging to the ruling family. Nothing got done during Ramadan. While it didn’t exactly stop it certainly slowed to less than a walking pace with staff coming in late and leaving early, if they even managed to get there at all. Meetings were simply not scheduled because it wasn’t worth it.

    Not sure which part of the Middle East you are in, but in all the years I was there where I can’t remember ever seeing a local doing anything in 45 degrees of heat, at any time of the year. Everything is air conditioned – homes, cars, offices, malls. Even parking spaces were allocated so the walk from the car to the office was minimal.

    Plus of course, having read the article for a second time just to check, I can’t see anyone “blaming” anyone in the article.

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