Eric Ellis

Dubai’s debt crisis

A ‘new paradigm’ built on sand At Dubai’s soaring, spurious peak, one factoid the emirate’s bling-burdened battalion of ‘corporate communications consultants’ liked to slip to junketing media was that Dubai had the world’s densest concentration of cranes. Impossible to verify but too good to ignore, the glib observation almost always made it into media reports.

City Life | 20 June 2009

Morning calm in financial markets despite mad Kim’s nuclear endgame I feel like Forrest Gump, a barometer of Asian Armageddon. I’ve come to South Korea via Sri Lanka, where the triumphant Rajapakse brothers were parading the bullet-ridden body of Tamil Tiger leader Prabhakaran on state television to the tune of Star Wars. And now that

Fear and incomprehension still dominate our perception of Asia

Eric Ellis questions whether Kevin Rudd’s plan to make Australia the West’s most ‘Asia-literate’ country has anything going for it except geography An old friend of mine, a self-made corporate tyro embedded at the Big End of Sydney, asked me recently why I bother writing from miserable, crisis-racked places like Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal and

The return of the old-school Thais

Eric Ellis meets the Wykehamist and the Old Etonian who head recession-hit Thailand’s new government, and asks whether foreign investors can have confidence in them He was born in South Kensington; his character was built at the spartan Old Malthouse prep school on the Dorset coast and at Winchester, alma mater of Hugh Gaitskell, Geoffrey

City Life | 3 January 2009

It’s early days in Indonesia’s election season, but already Jakarta is transformed into a riot of colour. Political bunting of all shades sprouts from every conceivable vantage point, brightening the grey of poverty; the green of the surging Islamist parties; the red and black buffalo of the party of Sukarno’s eldest daughter Megawati; the yellow

City Life | 15 November 2008

It was Kylie Minogue who made me think Turkey and Europe might just about be ready for each other. There was the pop poppet — well, life-size images of her — flaunting her curvaceous clunes at shoppers in the Agent Provocateur lingerie outlet at Istanbul’s Kanyon Mall. It was a shocking exhibition in a country

Whatever happened to Sir Richard Evans?

I had read — admittedly in the Guardian — that one needed to count one’s fingers after shaking hands with Dick Evans. Anecdotes about the super-salesman who secured UK plc’s biggest and most controversial contract, the $80 billion Al-Yamamah arms deal with the Saudis that saved British Aerospace (now BAE Systems), suggested a crafty Lancastrian

Farewell to Asia’s greatest kleptocrat

The strangest moment of the elongated théâtre de mort of the billionaire Indonesian dictator Suharto came islands apart on the day after the old crook died. In Central Java, the remains of the despot the United Nations last year declared to be the 20th century’s biggest thief were interred in his family’s crypt in a

City Life: Kabul

In Kabul Perhaps the best way to view Corporate Afghanistan — there’s a term you don’t often hear — is to regard it as a never-ending spigot draining sovereign wealth funds into the world’s biggest tax haven. That’s the good part. The bad bit is that you might get killed enjoying it. The West tips

City Life

Flying into Colombo’s civil war on tourist-less Sri Lankan Airlines, my eye was caught by three plugs in the in-flight magazine from the country’s investment board: ‘Gen­erous Fiscal Incentives’, ‘Transparent Legal System’, and ‘One of the Most Livable Countries in Asia’. The 70,000 who have died since 1983 in the former Ceylon’s intractable conflict between

‘Asians don’t hug’

Singapore No one outside Singapore’s steel-trap judiciary knows for sure whether Darshan Singh hanged Nguyen Tuong Van, of Melbourne, in Changi on Friday 2 December. A week earlier, Darshan said he’d been sacked as chief hangman after a series of embarrassingly gruesome articles had appeared about him in the Australian press. But his masters insist