Friday, 30 November 2012

Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Moscow and home again in 4 days…

Have you ever been wondering what it is like to be a CEO? Our Matt has some stories to tell... read on and see!

I’ve been on my travels again in the quest to keep all the plates spinning across our middle-eastern, Russian and UK client bases and at this time of year it often means I have to try and cover hot and cold climates, plus carry demos and samples and other bits and pieces crammed into one piece of hand luggage.

My mission was to get to Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Moscow and back again in 4 days.

The UAE leg of my trip saw me take in a last minute film pitch with the municipality of Abu Dhabi, a website for the ministry of foreign affairs that is looking at non-violent methods to counter violent extremism and to talk to an extremely well-heeled client about a possible promotional campaign in the automotive sector…Not your average Assembly spread of work but increasingly we are working in other areas other than the real estate industry which is good news for diversity.

After 2 hectic days of meetings and catching up with our UAE studio and packing the excellent media pack Dina created for Arab Film Studios (see it here!) into my already over filled luggage, it was time for the Russian homeward bound leg.

It’s only 4/5 hrs to Moscow from Abu Dhabi, but the temperature switch can be quite dramatic. Last year I left 32 degrees behind and walked into -19 deep freeze. Given I only packed a woolly hat as an after thought, I was lucky as it was a balmy 2 degrees when I landed.

My very good friend and client picked me up almost immediately after I arrived at my hotel and speeded expertly through what seemed to be otherwise stationary traffic, took a trolleybus on head to head and darted in at the last minute, scything across 6 lanes of traffic and turning right from the left hand lane…. He chuckled to himself as I inadvertently tried to brake from the passenger seat with my foot and said “You’ve missed this haven’t you?”…. er…. Not really…

Next I had 5 meetings, in 3 locations, and the only way to make the schedule was to use the metro as the traffic in Moscow is horrendous off peak. The metro is magnificent in places, and baffling at the same time if you don’t read Russian. I can read very slowly more or less, but the point is, unless you are deciphering an English word (ie for example the word supermarket) once you actually read the word, it really doesn’t help. 

Try reading Krasnopresnenskaya, in cyrillic, whilst it flashes past the window as you arrive at the station… Krasno…..Kras…….noo…… Krasno….. Kr…. Ah forget it. What you have to do is do what umpires do at the cricket and knock a finger off each time you go through a stop – limits you to 10 stops but I had the fortune not to have to go any further on any one line.

So a few tactics I have adopted – get the circle line and count the number of stops in both directions…. If when you get out you’re not where you’d hoped to be, retrace your steps and continue on by the difference? Simples.

Also, I have given up actually trying to exit from the right exit, (often ¼ of a mile difference!!) because just like when you try and take a short cut in IKEA it spits you out in another kitchen department in another country, or in my case, always the furthest exit from where I was headed to.


Dinner at an Azerbaijani restaurant was actually delicious – apparently it’s fine to drink high grade vodka, (in fact it’s mandatory) after each mouthful of food to have a shot down in one…. salad with “brown” meat, some interesting pancake things with more minced “brown” meat, tongue, asparagus wrapped in pig fat…. (ok that last one wasn’t so hot…) and delicious bbq’d lamb chops, I think.

To cut what is turning out to be a long story short, made the plane back home by the skin of my teeth, changed in Dusseldorf where my luggage nearly left me behind due to a ridiculous queue at passport control and then boarded the plane to London with a German version of Billy Jean’s not my lover was playing – refrained from the obvious and extremely tempting “walk in time” down the aisle, was mildly amused by the German pilot informing us that we needed a “slut” to get things going (think he meant slot) and then settled down to a well earned nap.

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