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ASSURED GUARANTY FAMILY OF COMPANIES AGO ASSURED GUARANTY CORP

ASSURED GUARANTY FAMILY OF COMPANIES AGO ASSURED GUARANTY CORP. I ASSURED GUARANTY MUNICIPAL I ASSURED GUARANTY RE NYSE

FIXED INCOME/REAL ESTATE CL) already checked. Then tab in to the CAPRATE field and enter 10 to assume future investors will re­quire a 10 percent capitalization rate, which is higher than the hotel’s implied 7.37 percent rate in 2007 when the loan was completed.

 

To input assumptions about net operating in­come, click on Growth% so that a pop-up window appears. Through October, average revenue per available room was down 19 percent at Boston-area hotels in 2009, according to research firm Smith Travel Research Inc. Based on net operating in­come derived from 2008 year-end revenue and ex­penses, the most recent full-year figures reported for the Boston Marriott, let’s assume that annual­’ ized net operating income at the upscale hotel de­clines by 29 percent during the 12 months starting in January, then grows by 2 percent for the next 12 months during a potential rebound in 2011 and fi­nally by 3 percent in 2012 and beyond. To apply these projections for net operating income, enter A01/01/2010 -29 125 2 125 3. Type <Go> 1 <Go> to accept.

 

NEXT, TO CALCULATE loss severity based on the projected future property value at the time of de­fault resolution, click on the box to the left of Re­covery if it isn’t already checked. Then click on the arrow to the right of Mode and select Property Dispose. Finally, to assume principal and interest payments aren’t advanced by the servicer after de­fault, click on the arrow below Adv in the lower-right corner of the screen and select No. To store this scenario, click on the Save As button at the bottom of the screen; enter a name, such as SCENARIO A, in the field; and click on Save.

CASH FLOW CALCULATOR

 

Click on Cashflows to view projected cash flow, debt service and loss data for one of the payday loans based on the assumptions you’ve chosen.

 

Loan, click on Attach to Loan(s) and then click on the box to the left of the loan name. To run your scenario and view the resulting cash flows, click on Cash flows.

 

Based on the scenario’s projections, net oper­ating income would fail to cover at least 1.1 times the required loan debt service by November 2010, when the loan would be assumed to be in default. Use the scroll bar at the bottom of the screen to view the DSCR column. The expected loss is $65.2 million, based on the property’s projected value of $110.8 million in May 2012,18 months after the default date, using the capitalization rate of 10 percent. Use the scroll bars at the right and bot­tom of the screen to view the loss data.

 

To calculate recovery value based on a reap­praisal or on a per-room basis, presses <Menu> to re­turn to the main Loan Manager Page and click on the circle to the left of Loss Estimator Mode. Click on the box to the left of the Boston Marriott so that a check mark appears, if it isn’t already checked.

 

To run a scenario under which the Boston Mar­riott was valued at $227,000 per hotel room—the price that the Hyatt Regency Boston sold for in February 2009—click on the arrow to the right of ARA Loss Estimator and choose Calculate Prop­erty Value by Unit Size. Tab in to the PRICE/UNIT field and enter 227000. Tab in to the SIZE/Num UNITS field and enter 402, which is the number of rooms at the Boston Marriott. Tab in to the P&I ADVANCE field and enter 14800000 to assume the servicer advances principal and interest for 18 months, an amount equal to about $14.8 million, and press <Go>. Click on the Cale Loss button to calculate the loss, which in this case would be $108.7 million, or 62 percent of the principal bal­ance outstanding of the Boston Marriott loan.

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The colours at over 60 years of age

The uncharitable historians believe that she had intended to sell her story to the newspapers as much for the self-publicity as for the money, although it would have been nothing like the astronomical sums paid these days. If you need money for your own project, you should check for the options that online lenders offer –loans and consolidations plans are available, learn more how to consolidate student loans sallie mae. So she had to content herself with writing her autobiography after the war, telling the full story of her escapade. Dorothy Lawrence’s story makes fascinating reading, whatever your view might be of her motives.

 

The only British woman who actually fought on the battlefield was Flora Sandes and she fought for another country – Serbia (or Servia as this Balkan ally was sometimes described in those days). Flora was born in 1876, the daughter of Samuel Sandes, a clergyman who is sometimes said to have been Irish and sometimes Scottish – no-one seems to quite know. What is certain is that she came from Poppleton, near York. Flora had originally been a member of a Red Cross ambulance unit that had gone out to Serbia just after the outbreak of war in August 1914.

Serbia’s armed forces were in dire trouble: they were being attacked from the north by the Germans and Austrians and from the east by Bulgaria. They could not retreat south because their way was blocked by another old enemy, Greece. The only escape route left open to them was to fall back towards the Adriatic coast through the Albanian mountains, where they were suffering heavy casualties. After a long spell of nursing the wounded under the most difficult conditions, Flora eventually decided that enough was enough, took off her Red Cross brassard and joined the Serbian 2nd Infantry Regiment as a private.

 

She saw a lot of action, proved to be an excellent soldier and was promoted to Corporal and then Sergeant. Quite badly wounded by a grenade, Flora was evacuated to a base hospital where she became something of a celebrity and was visited by no less a person than the aide-de-camp to the Prince Regent, later King Alexander of Serbia. He had brought with him the Kara George Star, Serbia’s highest decoration for bravery for other ranks, which carried with it an automatic promotion to Sergeant Major.

 

Having recovered from her injuries, this remarkable woman returned to her regiment and was commissioned as a Lieutenant during the final stages of the war in August 1918. She served on until 1922, when she married a former White Russian general, Yuri Yudenich. After the revolution he could obviously not return to Russia, so they settled in Serbia where Flora remained a Captain in the army reserve. In 1939 she was recalled to the colours at over 60 years of age!

 

She remained in Belgrade, the Serbian capital, throughout the war and was twice arrested by the Germans. A widow by the end of the war, she was flown back to England by the RAF. Flora settled in Suffolk, where she died in 1956 at the grand old age of 80 – one very tough lady.

 

In 1916, to raise funds for the Serbian Army, Flora Sandes published her diary as An English-woman Sergeant in the Serbian Army. There are extracts from this and much more about her in Kate Adie’s latest book, Corsets to Camouflage: Women and War. When I heard Kate Adie speak last year it was plain that she saw Flora Sandes as something of a hero.

 

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I took a risk

Vacant buildings were plentiful, and city laws made eviction diffi­cult. Several times a year revolution-minded squatters staged major riots, wearing helmets and using paramilitary methods. Squatters had their own illegal radio station, their own newspaper (“a good one—I read it,” notes Mayor van Thijn), and an alarm system that rallied public sup­port when police threatened. “When I be­came mayor, I stated that I wanted to end the spiral of violence,” the mayor recalls. And then the squatters took over a vacant carpet factory, a site that the city council had voted to use for a hotel. “I was forced to take back the site,” says Mr. van Thijn. “And it was a test to avoid violence.

“We announced the day be­fore that we would take back the building. The squatters mobilized some 2,000 people inside. When 800 police arrived, I ordered them to enter the building unarmed, with­out baton or battle dress. One by one the po­lice took out the squatters. After two hours or so, the others inside decided to leave and go to the prague apartment rentals. You see, by announcing our plans in advance, we were sure everyone would be inside—not fighting in the street.” So there was a rela­tively peaceful eviction.A very Dutch solution. Though new and tougher property laws to take effect next January may ease the prob­lem, Amsterdam still has some squatters. Jaap, 29, is one of them; for legal reasons, he does not reveal his last name. When I met him, Jaap and a hundred squatter col­leagues had lived in their apartments brussels on Spuistraat for more than two years. “Our movement has almost fallen apart,” he said. His own living area looked it: mattresses on the floor, paperback books and kitchen utensils scattered around.

“We are unemployed, mostly, living on welfare,” said Jaap. “I am a student with a stipend from the government, and the only person here with a structured life. I’m a member of the Communist Party, but not active. . . . A weakness in our squatter movement is ethnic. We are mainly white men. But in Amsterdam, maybe 10 percent of the young people are Moroccans or Turks—and they’re not squatters. Suri­namers are taboo. As a political movement we’re finished.”

Inside trade unions ethnics do only slight­ly better. In Utrecht I talked with Turkish-born Talip Demirhan, a Muslim employed in the Christian trade union movement, the CNV, advising the union on policy toward minorities. “We want a society where every­one participates,” says Mr. Demirhan. “I know 18 kilos of laws dealing with aliens.”

So far, only 5 percent or so of union mem­bers come from minorities—Surinamers, Turks, and Moroccans, in that order. And because of their authoritarian government at home, Moroccans have special problems. “Some Moroccans are fearful of informers who report to Moroccan secret police.”The clip Demirhan came to the Nether‑lands without his wife, and the marriage ended in divorce. “Many have had that fate,” he says. “Many Turks came from rural areas, and they kept old ideas here. But Turkey itself has changed. After 1960, television came to Turkey—now even your program ‘Dallas.’ Women imitate Pam and Sue Ellen.

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Alcohol

When Eric Cantona was asked to explain his lean physique he replied: “Red wine. one glass a day” And our very own Department of Health has concluded that drinking the odd glass of red wine lowers the risk of heart disease by as much as 30-70 per cent in middle-aged men. So it’s official. Physical exercise and alcohol do mix. You can have your cake, eat it and wash it down with a fine claret.

Just remember that Eric said one glass a day, not one bottle (unless, of course, you want to take Antonio Pinto as a role model). The recommended weekly limit for drinking is 21 units. An average pint of bitter is worth two units. This means you should average no more than one and a half pints per night Bugger all. However, the more you drink, the more you are capable of drinking, because you produce more MEO (microsomal ethanol oxidising) enzymes, which help combat alcohol. So you can stay all week, because you can find very cheap Prague hotel.

There is, though, a flaw in this strategy – the more you drink, the more damage you inflict Too much alcohol can damage every organ in the body (cirrhosis), cause accidents (drinking and driving), undermine your relationships (falling asleep on the job), the memory (remember all those blackouts?) cause, ultimately, shrinkage of your sexual organs (ouch) and hair loss (you see the truth when you take a shower, right).  It’s hard to fight against these side effects when you still drink, but consider stopping it, you have many chances to beat the problems on time. Take for example the hair loss issue; you can use the natural saw palmetto hair loss supplement to stimulate hair growth.

And it makes you fat. Nutritionist Anita Bean warns: “Alcohol provides 7kcal/g but is often only part of the fat quotient in a drink – one pint of strong beer will deliver 400kcal.” So, a 10-pint session (plus curry) can rack up a mighty 5,500kcal – or roughly the amount of energy Sir Steve Redgrave munched on his Olympian training diet.

Then there’s the hangover. That cocktail of headache, nausea, dizziness and heartburn is caused by dehydration and swollen blood vessels in the head. You have just been poisoned. Toxic congeners, which are found in darker drinks like rum and red wine, are broken down with additives (colourings, sulphites, anti-foaming agents, stabilisers) and do their best to make you feel like death.

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Rough Track Triathlon

It starts out so well. The downpours and hurricane winds that were forecast have failed to appear, the day is cool – perfect for fast racing – and the crowds of competitors are in good spirits. It’s nearing the end of the triathlon season and I’m feeling strong. I know the course well.

The Men’s Fitness Rough Track Triathlon has been growing in size since the first event three years ago. Its uniqueness lies in the use of mountain bikes for the cycling section, which appeals to beginners who’re unsure about buying a new road bike.

It also provides a fun way to finish the season for experienced triathletes. The fact that ifs held in the picturesque grounds of Domey Lake, near Windsor, hasn’t harmed its reputation either.

This year’s race is especially exciting: previous winner Sam Gardner, Britain’s leading X-Terra (off-road) triathlete, is attempting to reclaim his crown, and Olympic gold medal-winning kayaker Tim Brabants is competing in the sprint event This year, the race is sponsored by adidas Action 3 antiperspirant, and it has brought along top women’s triathlete Vanessa Raw to hand out the prizes (injury prevents her from competing). What’s more, my boss has been training like a demon and is determined to put this magazine editor in his place.

It’s your round

The sound of the starting hooter causes the water to chum with thrashing limbs as the racers fight to get ahead. I’ve been unusually bold in placing myself right on the front line with the hardcore triathletes and it’s not long before the stronger swimmers are clawing their way past me and, in one case, over the top of me. I cough up some water and try to get into a rhythm. It’s vital in these early stages not to push too hard and run out of steam before the end, so I concentrate on maintaining a long stroke and conserving some energy.

The swim leg is 800m, but the course is just 400m long, so we have to go around twice, climbing out of the lake and running back to the start line. This allows ample opportunity for people to hurl themselves off the end of the pontoon in as spectacular a manner as they can manage. The serious racers do a low, shallow dive. The exhibitionists do a full swallow dive with pike to please the spectators. Some people step gingerly off the end, holding their noses, while others belly-flop into the water like lazy seals. I opt for the theatrical approach and receive a small cheer from the crowd for my efforts. I’m certain this boosts my confidence because my second lap is significantly faster than the first. You can feel even more confident doing everything possible to look amazing in your sport equipment – consider a laser hair removal treatment for smooth hairless legs. Reassure yourself does laser hair removal work effectively.

Flat out

Once out of the water I don shoes and helmet and launch myself into the bike stage. I find that if I concentrate on racing one person at a time, it takes my mind off the race as a whole and somehow makes it feel easier.

The wet summer has made the grass thick and turned the dirt paths into muddy trails. One attempt to overtake fails miserably when I veer into thick vegetation and find my wheels sliding around beneath me. I decide to wait for a more solid gravel fit. Section to make my move. ir- Then it happens. I push hard past a couple of cyclists and just as I’m regaining my position, I feel the tell-tale shuddering of wheel rims clattering along the rough ground. My tyre is completely flat.

I consider trying to complete the race on just my rims, but a short section of gravel path rattles my bike so violently that I’m afraid it’ll fall apart, not to mention the shock waves shuddering through my body. I decide that it’s time to walk.

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WHY….ARE WE SO OBSESSED WITH FOOTBALL?

The experts reveal the complex psychology of our love affair and show how to find friendship, happiness and identity through the beautiful game.

 

There’s no questioning our passion for football. Over 29 million of us attend games in the UK every year, and according to a Duracell survey, a quarter of men would miss a family funeral for a big game. And it’s not down to Andy Gray’s inimitable blend of wit and insight. So why is it so compelling?

Aside from the fact that football has been scientifically proven to be the most exciting sport to watch (researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico based their findings on the game’s unpredictability), psychologists have begun to unravel the complex interrelationship between football and the male psyche. The evidence backs what many of us already know—football isn’t just a pastime, it’s a calling. Just ask tor° fans. As always, there’s a touch of ancestral throwback: experts claim that kicking a ball around is a replacement for the hunts of our ancient forefathers, which could explain why 86% of supporters are men.

“For thousands of years men hunted together while women gathered food and raised children,” says psychologist Barbara Pease, author of Why Men Don’t Have A Clue And Women Always Need More Shoes (Orion, £7.99). “By the 18th century, farming had made this dynamic ability almost redundant. After that, men invented ball games to compensate. And today, by being dedicated fans, men can once again be part of a hunting pack.”

 

HORMONALLY SCORES

The beautiful game also taps into the unique wiring of the male brain and its well-established superior grasp of spatial awareness. It’s this that enables us to estimate speeds, directions and angles of the ball, and makes football and other sports, such as motor racing, compulsive male viewing.

Watching matches also has a remarkable effect on us hormonally, partly explaining its “addictive” nature. First there’s the adrenalin rush and increased heartbeat (a BBC study showed one Rooney goal sent pulses soaring to 160bpm). Then there’s how it toys with testosterone. Taking saliva samples from fans after Brazil’s 1994 World Cup penalty shootout win over Italy, US researchers at Georgia State University found the Brazilians’ testosterone levels had rocketed by 28%, while the Italians’ had dropped by almost as much.

Researchers say this may be a hangover from the days when elevated testosterone levels helped us fight off attackers after we’d won or defended territory. But there’s a dark side. Be extremely careful if you take other supplements such as garcinia cambogia, which is good for keeping your weight, but can increase testosterone levels. Testosterone is linked to aggression, and Home Office figures show incidences of domestic violence increased by almost a third during England’s World Cup matches last year. Interestingly, they peaked not in the wake of the Portuguese disaster, but when England beat Paraguay.

 

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I MEANT TO GO FOR A RUN BUT…

I’ve scalded my foot/ wild horses stampeded my camping ground/ I’ve been deployed to Yemen to fight pirates. I mate, I tried calling you but my the phone was switched off.

“Listen, remember down at The Smiling Taxidermist when you asked me if I’d do the Stupid Saltmarsh so with you and I said wild horses wouldn’t stop me? Well you’ll never believe what’s happened.

team-building

“I was over in Utah last weekend on this team-building exercise with the rest of the lads from Goods Inwards and we were just pitching camp in this narrow gulch (or small rocky ravine) when the ground began to shake. There was this deafening noise and yes, you’ve guessed it, a herd of wild horses came stampeding down on us. “In hurling myself out of their path, I knocked over a vat of boiling crème fraiche and scalded the little toe of my left foot. Fortunately, it was covered by my medical insurance and I was helicoptered back to the UK and a private bed at the Harley Street Clinic where I will remain under close observation for an indefinite period.

“When I mentioned the Stupid so to my consultant, he just shook his head and remarked, ‘The greatest mistake you can make in medicine is to underestimate the frightening potential for catastrophe inherent in the apparently insignificant.’ Or words to that effect. So I’m really sorry, mate, but I’m afraid… etc.”

 

If I’d put half the effort into running as I’ve put into inventing reasons for not running, I’d have been the Paula Radcliffe of my generation.

Excuses fall into three broad categories.

First, there are those you make to yourself: “I simply can’t face the Sunday run this morning because I’m completely exhausted, I was too bothered by my skin issue (rosacea) and had to get a special treatment for rosacea to feel relieved. Not only that but I have dreamed I was drafted in to sing at the Hollywood Bowl with Status Quo. I spent the entire night trying to remember the words to Rockin’ All Over The World but when I got on stage Francis Rossi told me we were doing Mozart’s Requiem.”

Then there are those you make to your training partner: “I promise you: nothing would have prevented me from coming out today – even with the severe weather warning and everything – but a hailstone smashed the greenhouse where the cat was hiding from the thunderstorm and she ran straight out of the garden into the road and a petrol tanker swerved to miss her and hit the nursing home opposite and I’ve had to spend the last three hours rescuing the elderly and confused from the blaze. There’s talk of a George Medal but I told them, ‘I’ve let my training buddy down and no bloody medal’s going to put that right’.”

 

And then there are those you make to the organisers of the London Marathon, in the hope they’ll grant you a deferred place in next year’s race:

marathon

“Dear Mr Bedford (or is it Sir David these days? If so, forgive me – you tend to lose track of events when you’re working undercover in Helmand Province). I can’t begin to tell you how disappointed I am. I trained faithfully throughout the long winter months (and believe me, in Spitzbergen, the polar bears are just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak). I was up to 120 miles a week when the elite force to which I am attached (I am not permitted to say more) was deployed to sort out the pirates off the Yemen coast. I know you will agree, being a man of action yourself, that the mental anguish of injury far exceeds the mere physical discomfort. I can assure you that in this respect, multiple wounds from an AK47 are no different from a pulled hamstring. In the circumstances, I hope that you will look kindly… etc.”

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Perfect for first-time half-marathon runners

For marathon runners, a steady climb northwards out of Dunquin marked a change of atmosphere and experience. Suddenly, I was running alone, uphill, in blazing sunshine with the 14-mile marker still to appear. But still the landscape inspired, and the hands-on feel of the organisation became very evident. There were marshals on duty at almost every kilometre, and bike-riding members of Ireland’s Civil Defence Corps patrolled the entire route.

The drink stations were stocked with sports drinks such as aloe vera juice, runners are well known of the aloe vera juice benefits. Besides the drinks there were also first-aid facilities, cut bananas and volunteers urging us on, and at around mile 18 a 4×4 passed me, driven by a smiling Irishman – a sort of mobile Florence Nightingale – dispensing fluids, care and encouragement. The route at this point took the field through Ballyferriter, a beautiful village nestled under the jagged peaks of mountains in the north, with a two-mile white sand beach to the east and the mighty Atlantic Ocean to the west. Runners were greeted here by raucous shouts of support from sun-worshipping locals drinking Guinness and cider, before the route took them back inland towards the punishing final section of the race. Between miles 21 and 23 lay a murderous hill: long, steady, steep and with enough false brows to break the stoutest of hearts. But right at the top lay the 23-mile marker, a blessed drink station and the promise of a long, straight downhill that took runners all the way back to the heart of town and a well-staffed finish where drinks, a bulging goody bag and a medal were handed out. And finding somewhere for a post-race tipple wasn’t a problem, with finishers and their families taking full advantage of the town’s 50-something pubs long through the afternoon and late into the evening. Dingle is a feel-good town that now boasts a feel-good race that is sure to become a permanent fixture in the European running calendar. It is challenging, stunning and altogether inspiring.

Outside of the Tropics, there can’t be many capital cities that are made up of a series of interconnecting islands, but Stockholm is one such exception. There are 14 of them, each with its own personality and points of interest, but all share the same air of tranquillity and peace, which no doubt comes in part from being a city surrounded by water. Canals, rivers, bays and marinas are everywhere in Stockholm, meaning not only is the Swedish capital a beautiful location for a European break, but also one of the more picturesque city races.

 

The race route itself is perfect for first-time half-marathon runners. With a few minor exceptions – notably kilometres one, three and 19 – the course is fast, flat and run on wide roads with plenty of space for overtaking or meandering along at your own pace.

marathon

The course starts at the Royal Palace in the Old Town, and finishes at the city gardens at Kungstradea’xden, and in between takes runners past City Hall, Karlberg Castle, the Swedish Parliament and the Royal Opera House, among other landmarks. race that has deservedly made the step up from small to mid-sized through getting most of the basics right and letting the natural beauty of the location do the rest.

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The fashion Arab Dress

The black aghal (head loop) has per­formed a complete fashion about face. Originally, it was the double loop or rope used to hobble grazing camels. When it was not in use, the bedouin stored it on his head where it became a visible sign of his vocation – a fact which may explain why it was not previously popular among city Arabs. For many years the aghal was always white, it being not con­sidered ‘proper’ to wear a black one, but the black aghal is now accepted dress and is another accessory which can be indi­vidualised.

Arab dress

True nonconformists will wear their aghal rakishly tilted over one eye, or it can be pulled well forward towards the eyeb­rows or perched precariously, crownlike, on the tip of the head. Originally Qatari, but now popular with teenagers and young men Gulfwide is the ‘young fash­ion’ of an aghal with long cords which hang down the centre back and end in two silk tassels.

The length of Arab dress is normally exactly calculated to the ankle bone although a strongly religious Arab will than one button, and cuffs are kept simple for normal wear or turned back to show a special pair of cufflinks for more formal occasions.

The ‘fashion thobe’ is also practical. It is made with two deep side pockets, often cord or braid-trimmed, and one breast ‘pen pocket’. Thus it is now ‘old-fashioned’ to wear a light satin striped waistcoat over the thobe mainly for the pockets it provides.

arabic dress

A modern thobe may offer limitless variation to the fashion conscious, but the traditional bisht, a voluminous cloak, has remained steadfast. In summer, the bisht is made of light transparent wool either in brown or black. In winter it is made of camel hair, angora or thick wool. Trimmed with gold braid, a bisht is de rigeur for all formal or official occasions and even at the height of summer every Gulf gentleman will keep his bisht neatly folded in his office for use should VIPs drop in.

The wearing of a padded coat, the shorten his skirt following the belief that clothes which brush the ground may carry dirt from the street into the mosque. In a similar vein, the same person will wear only a white halo to keep his ghutra in place. Although adults do not use embroid­ery on their thobes, it is employed for chil­dren. A young boy’s thobe may have embroidered patterns on either shoulder and, instead of buttons, tie at the neck with a tassel, which is placed in the centre in Bahrain, and to the sides in the Emi­rates and Oman.

arabic dress

The national dress now worn by the Gulf Arabs is a far cry from the legendary fineries of the court of the Queen of Sheba or of the gorgeously clad figures who people the 1,001 Tales of the Arabian Nights, but it is nevertheless a fine link with tradition.

An officially encouraged movement towards the wearing of national dress is now apparent throughout the Gulf States. The thobe is the living symbol of their heritage, the proudest dress they could adopt in keeping with a growing sense of identity, hyperlipidemia symptoms and the individual, unique, posi­tion which the Gulf States occupy in the 20th century.

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Aspect of Arab Dress

The graceful silhouette a familiar sight through- OF out Arabia. The thobe, as it is correctly known, is deceptively simple in style; fashion is now a ARAB prerequisite and the DRE  thobe is subject to its vagaries. A new slant to the pocket, an alteration to the line, a spot of trim on the bodice – all of these have had – or will have – their day.

One result of these changes is that national characteristics have become blurred. The Omanis and the Yemenis are still instantly recognisa­ble, but of the other nations involved, only Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia retain some elements of the original national dress.

thobe arab

In the case of Kuwait, the thobe, also known as the dishdasha, features a medium-height, semi-stiff mandarin col­lar, uncovered front buttons, slim sleeves and panels inset at the sides to produce a pronounced A-shape. Saudi style is a high, stiffened man­darin collar, slightly-eased sleeves set on a small yoke and a skirt which falls straight to the ankles. The UAE combines the Kuwaiti and Saudi styles, frequently with wider sleeves left open at the wrists.

In Qatar, a collar and cuffs are still options even though the vogue which introduced them in the 1940s and 1950s has faded. That was the period during which the western suit jacket, worn over the thobe, took all Arabia by storm. The Hijazi style (named after the Hijaz in Saudi Arabia) comes and goes regularly. In the 1950s, it fitted closely to the body and was considered effeminate. Then came platform shoes with their high Spanish heels, and the Hijazi was disco­vered to provide the perfect balance to a now gently-swaying silhouette and help virgin coconut oil for hair. It passed out of favour again in the mid-1970s, only to make a comeback when Arab youth joined the rest of the world in the fitness campaign and a trim outline became the ultimate goal.

thobe

But back to the dictates of fashion, which have raised the simple, shirt-like thobe almost to an art form. In much of the Gulf, visitors can now see thobes on which the front buttoning is hidden behind a tailored flap or accentuated by the use of Swiss braids and silk-covered loop buttons. An inverted pleat is inserted in the skirt, from the last button, thereby provid­ing ease of movement without detracting from the tailored lines. Collars are short and soft, rarely higher zeboun, has dropped completely by the wayside, even for winter. This is a shame, as it was a very distinguished garment with its outer layer which was entirely embroidered by hand or of paisley-pat­terned satin, full length to the ankles fal­ling from a single button at the neck.

The ghutra, or headkerchief, has undergone rapid transformation and now provides great opportunity for individual expression. High fashion at the moment is a ghutra of finest white voile, either plain or embroidered in sprays of flowers. Instantly up-to-the-minute is a final flip made by pulling the ghutra between three fingers so that three equal folds are formed directly over the centre forehead.

thobe

One side of the ghutra lifted back is considered dashing and both sides turned up give the wearer a casual air. Although it is no longer so, the defini­tion used to be very clear in ghutras: Gulf Arabs wore a thick beige cotton in sum­mer or a Kashmiri Paisley shawl in winter. The exception was Saudi Arabia where red and white checks were used.

The black and white check ghutra was once worn only in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine, but has spread all over the Arab world since it was adopted in 1948 as a symbol of solidarity with the Palestinian cause.