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  • Friday, January 30, 2009

    Piers Morgan on Dubai

    What is Piers Morgan's view on Dubai? "Bonkers" is the word he used. He paints a picture of money and more money and even more money. Some would say that it isn't balanced as he doesn't necessarily show the other side. He touches on it, but doesn't really get to the implications. It was filmed a couple of months ago, but it is very topical. The best moment is when he gets Mishal Kanoo to admit that the Global Economic Downturn has affected Dubai. If you don't believe Mishal Kanoo, then you wont believe anyone. Enjoy! This is definitely worth watching if you are interested in what is going on in Dubai. Even if you are well aware of it, it is worth watching for the interviews with Alabbar, Kanoo and some minted expats.








    Last night's TV
    The grass is always greener in Dubai

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    The Leaning Tower of Abu Dhabi

    You would have expected more PR about the leaning tower or Capital Gate as it will be called, when it was announced last year. But the fact of the matter is that Abu Dhabi and crazy things don't necessarily mix. Dubai is used to announcing the crazy projects, but somehow, this doesn't necessarily fit. But maybe that is just the PR. In fact the leaning tower will probably look quite classy, maybe a little bling, but become part of the ever changing landscape that is Abu Dhabi.

    Capital Gate in Abu Dhabi is set to enter the Guinness Book of Records as the 'world's most inclined tower.' It will lean 4 times as far as Leaning Tower of Pisa. Capital Gate will accommodate the 5-star Hyatt at Capital Centre hotel and will provide the most exclusive office space in Abu Dhabi. The tower forms a major part of the Capital Centre development, a $2.2 billion business and residential micro city being constructed around the thriving Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.

    Hyatt Abu Dhabi to Lean 4 Times as far as Leaning Tower of Pisa
    Abu Dhabi Hyatt to Put Leaning Tower of Pisa to Shame

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    Thursday, January 29, 2009

    Rotating Buildings Are Becoming a Luxury Trend

    Dubai may not have been the first to do it, but the fact that Dubai did it added to to the PR around the Emirate and the amazing things that were being undertaken in architecture.

    Dubai wont be the last place to have such towers or houses. And no doubt there will be more than a few that will exist in up and coming places. Gone are the days that rotating restaurant are cool - they seem a tad old fashioned these days.

    What does that mean for places like Al Fanar and Al Dawaar?

    Rotating Houses Are Becoming a Luxury Trend, Not Just a Gimmick, Says The Economist
    Revolutionary buildings

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    Don't gulp if you get caught in a rift

    There's something in the water:

    A noxious tide of toilet paper, raw sewage and chemical waste has transformed Dubai’s most prestigious stretch of shoreline into a foul-smelling health hazard.

    A stretch of the exclusive Jumeirah Beach — a magnet for Western tourists and home to a string of hotels — has been closed. “It’s a cesspool. Our tests show too many E. coli to count. It’s like swimming in a toilet,” said Keith Mutch, the manager of the Offshore Sailing Club, which has posted warnings and been forced to cancel regattas.The pollution is a blow to Dubai’s reputation as an international holiday destination offering almost guaranteed sunshine and clear seas.

    The fact that this has been picked up by the Times in the UK is worrying for the face. Something like e coli in the water is not a great story to tell, and thus the headlines become polarised to either ends of the spectrum - either the amazing or the disastrous. Poo!

    Sun, sea and sewage in the playground of the rich in Dubai


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    Tuesday, January 27, 2009

    Middle Eastern Art

    A new exhibition launches this weekend in London, entitled "UNVEILED: NEW ART FROM THE MIDDLE EAST" at the Saatchi Gallery. The reviewers are calling it "Star Wars meets Middle East", but the reviews have been more than astounding proving that art, travels across boundaries and countries.

    Ghost by Kader Attia

    A selection by Shaadi Ghadirian


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    Monday, January 26, 2009

    Eden Project Abu Dhabi

    According to the Times, Eden is coming to Abu Dhabi. Whether Adam and Eve will be joining is not yet known.

    Emirs of the Gulf to plant offshoot of Britain’s Eden Project

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    Sunday, January 25, 2009

    Dubai Rental Prices

    There has been much criticism of the Rera's Dubai rental ranges that were issued last week. We have covered the basics and put it into a handy spreadsheet. Essentially, with everything that is going on right now, this data represents a ceiling benchmark of the maximum you would expect to pay.

    Dubai Rental Price Index 2009


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    Superbling: Bling for bling's sake....only in Dubai

    Imagine you had the money to do it, would you wrap your car in gold? Is that taste - or just showing of that you can? Either way, you'll always get compared to a the McLaren-Mercedes that was unearthed last year, which is super bling!

    More from autoblog:

    Gold(finger's) Mercedes C63 spotted in... where else? Dubai

    McBling: Chrome SLR holds (food) court in Dubai


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    The Burj Al Arab PC

    There is a newly designed PC that looks remarkably like the Burj Al Arab. Or maybe this is a new line of revenue generation?!?!?!?

    More from Engadget

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    The Oprah Effect in the Middle East

    Whether you like Oprah or not, she is world known - and through channels such as NBC4, topics that some have considered taboo become topical discussions in the Middle East. Check out the video from worldfocus.

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    Friday, January 23, 2009

    Abu Dhabi & Energy

    10 Things You Should Know About Abu Dhabi and Energy

    1. Prince Charles has actively encouraged Abu Dhabi’s push for renewables behind the scenes
    2. Energy Demand to Swell 50% by 2030
    3. Masdar said they’re reviewing the economic viability of its London Array offshore wind farm project
    4. Masdar have selected First Solar and China’s Suntech Power Holdings Sunday to provide solar panels “Masdar City”
    5. Solar Could Power 100% of Gulf in Daytime
    6. Last year the Masdar Initiative invested $2 billion to create Masdar PV, a thin-film solar manufacturing company
    7. Abu Dhabi is not Just About Desert Solar - it's abnout wind as well!
    8. GE and Mubadala jointly manage the Mubadala Infrastructure Partners fund, and GE is an anchor partner in the Masdar initiative.
    9. Abu Dhabi has an R&D issue, but has the money to buy that in.
    10. Time calls techno-environmentalism

    For those of you, interested in green things, get the detail from here:

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    Thursday, January 22, 2009

    Has the Dubai Property Bubble Burst? Is this the evidence? Or not?

    Ok, so everyone agrees that prices have dropped off over the last quarter. But within the course of a week the scale of the issue seems to be widely different depending on who you speak to. Two sources, two scales.

    Firstly, Colliers, who have been producing their index for some time now, issues their Dubai Price Index for Q4 2008 and said the following:

    According to the HPI, the house prices in the emirate dropped by an average of 8% between October 2008 and December 2008.

    Next, HSBC, a highly reputable bank issued their report and said:

    Dubai property prices slumped by 23 percent during the last quarter of 2008

    So, what's the difference? According to the National:

    Until now, many surveys have been underestimating the true scale of price declines because they looked at advertised prices rather than real transaction prices.

    So, do you belive in prices that people hope to sell for, or prices that people actually receive? The latter. That's not negating the Colliers Report, because it's great analysis on the data it receives and it's always a like for like comparison.

    The real worry is if you believe Shuaa - who believe that Dubai Property will fall 60% in the first half of this year. The really worrying statement from the HSBC report is that there were “some signs of distressed selling in the fourth quarter of 2008”, and that a small number of units sold at prices “that fell short of estimated construction costs”.

    What does that say? That is evidence that the Dubai Property Bubble has properly burst, and will now find a more realistic level.

    The only ray of hope from the HSBC report was that the property sector is set to see a rebound in confidence as liquidity improves. It just goes to show that you can read numerous things into supposedly the same data.

    Colliers International Q4 House Price Index for Dubai Shows Average 8% Price Fall
    Dubai property prices slump 23% in Q4 2008
    HSBC report confirms Dubai property decline
    Dubai realty to see rebound in confidence

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    Tuesday, January 20, 2009

    Will Obama bring progress to the Middle East?

    Although the world will watch this great man, Barack Obama, take office today, his biggest dilemna that he will face along with the financial turmoil will be his stance on the Middle East. Although he will be more diplomatic, many believe there will be no progress on the Middle East:

    A hypothesis: The old boss who Obama will end up imitating is not Bill Clinton--regardless of Hillary at Foggy Bottom--but George W. Bush. Even the idea that Bush was unique as a warmonger may have to be adjusted once Obama escalates American military intervention in Afghanistan, or discovers that talking to Iran "without conditions," as he has ingenuously proposed, won't stop it from developing a nuclear weapons capacity.

    Another hypothesis: the Middle East will never be happy with whoever is in power in the United States of America.

    In any case, goodbye Mr Bush. The Iranians have come up with a new game because of you:

    Obama Will Be Just Like Bush On The Middle East

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    Monday, January 19, 2009

    The Dubai Dream ends for some

    The global economic crisis has hit expats in Dubai so badly that some have no choice but to flee, leaving their expensive cars by the airport. In the last four months, local police have found nearly 3,000 abandoned cars, all in good condition, stranded at the airport or surrounding roads. Workers haven’t had a chance to say goodbye to relatives and friends, just a word from the boss that they no longer have a job and must make alternative arrangements.
    The lay offs are mostly affecting those in the construction industry - professionals in the sales sector and building designers

    A recent article from Daijiworld.com highlights how some expat south asians have been hit during the global melt down…

    "The construction and real estate industry has been hit following the global slowdown and the direct fallout is that professionals working in the realty industry are rapidly losing their jobs," said a senior media professional, in-charge of a realty supplement in Dubai. "In fact, my weekly real estate supplement usually had 60% advertisement and ran into 300-odd pages. In the last seven weeks, it's down to 80 pages and with fewer advertisements," he added.
    Mumbai resident D Nair (name changed) had been living in a plush high-rise in Sharjah for the past four years. However, the script went horribly wrong when his contract was terminated. Nair used all his credit cards to their maximum limit, shopping for people back home. He then discarded his Honda Accord before returning to India for good. Nair, who stays in a rented apartment in Navi Mumbai today, has a Rs15 lakh loan with a Dubai bank.
    Another such victim of the meltdown said he bid goodbye to his car in a small by lane near the airport and hailed a cab. "I was scared because a number of us were doing the same and did not want to be questioned by the police. There was no way I could afford to pay the EMI of 1100 Dirhams for my Ford Focus," he told DNA on condition of anonymity.”

    Indians flee Dubai as dreams crash

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    Dubai Property to Crash by 60%

    Shuaa Capital have called it - and set the mark where Dubai Real Estate is to fall to from its peak. Something miraculous is going to be needed to protect Dubai's image. No doubt it will come, but there is so much bad press hammering the Emirate at the moment, that some good news in the sectors that the outside world monitor would be welcome:

    Dubai real estate prices could fall as much as 60 per cent in 2009 from their peaks in July last year, while Abu Dhabi may slide as much as 20 per cent, Shuaa Capital said on Sunday.

    Real estate prices have fallen by around 40 per cent in Dubai and by around 15 per cent in Abu Dhabi from their peaks last year, Roy Cherry, vice president, research at the Dubai-based investment bank told reporters on Sunday, adding that rents in Dubai are likely to fall some 20 per cent in the next two years.

    'Dubai is seeing a negative growth in demand for real estate,' Cherry said.

    'At the same time it is seeing an increased output. We think the net result of that is lower occupancy rates, going down to the 80 per cent level which will mean a correction in the rents,' he noted.

    Dubai's population was likely to fall 5 per cent in 2009 on job losses, while the population of the United Arab Emirates would ease 1 to 1.3 percent, Shuaa said.

    Rental rates for apartments and villas have been levelling off throughout 2008, with an average growth rate of 4 percent and 8 percent respectively, property services firm Asteco said in a report last week.

    Rents are expected to continue rising in Abu Dhabi, albeit at a slower pace, due to strong demand exceeding limited supply, Cherry said.

    Around 30,000 units are expected to be delivered in Abu Dhabi in 2009 and 2010 compared with 80,000 units, he said.

    Rents in the seaside emirate have been spiralling since a regional real estate boom started in 2002 when it first allowed foreign investment in property.

    Falling oil prices and fallout from the global credit crunch have since taken their toll on Dubai's once-booming real estate sector, which has shown signs of slowing in recent months.-Reuters

    Dubai property prices 'may plunge 60pc'

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    Monday, January 12, 2009

    The Internet doesn't lie

    The worry for Dubai in this downturn is that those considering a holiday to Dubai, will think that it's too expensive a holiday in 2009 and thus put that off for a more meagre holiday to somewhere closer. Indeed, many people who would have onced travelled the globe are not travelling this year due to the impending doom and gloom. There are those that have lost jobs, those who are worried about their jobs and there are businesses that are on the brink due to financin, reduced sales. The picture is similar across the world.

    Let's get a piece of data from hitwise:

    UK Internet searches for flights experienced a seasonal increase of 58% between the weeks ending 27/12/08 and 03/01/09, but they were down by 42.4% when compared with the equivalent post-Christmas week last year

    That's a little bit worrying. That doesn't necessarily mean that there will be reduced travel, but there is a very high probability.

    Here's another piece of data:

    Change in UK Internet searches for flights to popular destinations between 05/01/08 and 03/01/09: Dubai -27%

    Yes, you read that right, Dubai, 27% down. Does that actually mean anythng? Well the pound is at a low at the moment against the dollar and with the dirham tied to the dollar, UK travellers think twice about going to places that are 30-40% more expensive, even if hotel rates are quashed. Expensive places will always be perceived as expensive places. Even if you can stay at a budget cheap hotel in Bur Dubai, Dubai will always be considered high brow.

    And do there we have it then. Travellers from the UK are considering Dubai less for a holiday this year. That may not change anything at all, but I suspect that it will. I will guarantee you this, there will be less holiday makers coming from the UK to Dubai this year. Why? Because the Internet doesn't lie.

    Searches for flights down 42% on last year


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    Shoppers paradise? Yeah Right!

    Dubai’s core selling point as a top class destination spot has been the tax free shopping and the abundance of well known high street and designer brands. This may no longer be the case as recent reports have highlighted well known goods are being sold for nearly 50% more then in their country of origin. This is shocking news to both expats and locals who are aware of identical items being sold for cheaper whilst shopping away from Dubai.

    At a time when shopping in Dubai was cheap compared to back home, so many people are finding they need to shop around for branded items. Another disadvantage is that online shopping in UAE is not available for most stores which makes searching for the best deals harder.

    Some analysts say the reason UAE bears the burden of higher priced branded goods is due to the purchasing power of different markets. UAE is viewed as one of the stable countries where growth is amongst one of the strongest in the world.

    Retail cost of living in the Gulf

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    Friday, January 09, 2009

    A Casualty of the Dubai Property Market

    If one wants evidence of the downturn on Dubai, one must look at instance of this nature. Casa Dubai, essentially an agent for Dubai Property, but also into it a bit themselves, have had numerous issues, directly or indirectly to do with the down turn. But the fact remains - they couldnt sell property past the end of August. In the end, the Global Economic Downturn killed them off.

    Public Notice - Attention Casa Dubai clients

    Casa Dubai has been an extremely successful and profitable business. The World Economic Crisis has unfortunately had a serious effect on the Dubai Real Estate market and consequently a terminal effect on Casa Dubai. Casa Dubai has been forced by the current economic situation to commence proceedings for compulsory liquidation. All our offices are now closed and our staff have been laid off. Casa Dubai generated sales of £21m in the eight months to August and virtually nothing since. The specific reasons for closing the business are:

    Developers delaying or being unable to pay commissions due on sales.
    A major developer fleeing from the police with over £500,000's worth of Casa Dubai's clients' money.
    The inability of Casa Dubai to sell properties in which it had invested money generated from its own profits and consequently losing all invested.
    The lack of income in the months September to December to pay for overheads.
    The collapse of sterling making foreign investment considerably more expensive than just a few weeks ago.
    The liquidity problems of UK and World banks which no longer have a desire to lend money to buy property.

    The majority of our clients will not be affected by these events, for those that are, I sincerely apologise for the distress caused. All our clients will be able to talk directly to the developers, please refer to your contract or sales agreement for the contact details. Most developers will face difficulties in completing their projects for a variety of reasons due to the current crisis. It is our belief however, that the majority will still deliver their developments, albeit with delays.
    Once finished, our clients' investments will show exceptional returns. Dubai will recover and will become a highly desirable destination. We would like to thank our clients for using our services, we ask our clients to appreciate how the sudden world events could not be predicted or planned for. We have become another insignificant statistic, just like many thousands of other businesses will become in the coming months.

    Any queries should be addressed to:

    The Official Receiver
    c/o Casa Dubai
    The lodge
    Longheadge Lane
    NG13 9PB


    Casa Dubai

    Casa Dubai is the trading name of Casa Estates (UK) Ltd. Registered in England No: 5374432 at the address below.

    Casa Dubai

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    Wednesday, January 07, 2009

    27,321 Dhs - The most expensive cocktail in the world

    Fancy blowing 30,000 Dirhams at one of the most expsive hotels in the world. Well, if you do, get down to the Burj Al Arab, at the Sky View Bar. The bar holds the record for the most expensive cocktail in the world. It is called the 27321, based on how much it costs. Not sure if it will always remain at that price or at that name, with talk of currency revaluations or common currencies, but for the time being, 27321 is the most expensive cocktail in the world.

    However, what you might not know is that this cocktail is based on another cocktail called "the Old Fashioned". So for those of you who are drinkers and want to pretend to be Dubai blingers, next time you go to a cocktail bar, ask for your Old Fashioned, and secretly grin to yourself that you are paying a hell of a lot less than some mug with more money than sense.

    According to wikipedia, here's the recipe:

    2 ounces (60 ml) bourbon
    Splash of simple syrup or 1 cube sugar and just enough water to dissolve the sugar
    2 dashes bitters

    Old Fashioned glass

    1. Place sugar (or syrup), bitters, and water in old-fashioned glass
    2. Crush sugar if needed and coat glass
    3. Add 2–3 cubes ice and whiskey
    4. Garnish with twist

    An 1895 recipe specifies the following:

    1. Dissolve a small lump of sugar with a little water in a whiskey glass
    2. Add two dashes Angostura bitters
    3. Add a small piece of ice
    4. Add a piece lemon peel
    5. Add one jigger (1.5 ounces or 44 mL) whiskey

    Mix with small bar spoon and serve, leaving spoon in glass

    And so there we have it then. The Karama market version of the 27321

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    Sunday, January 04, 2009

    Dubai Hotels - which ones are the best?

    In 2008, the Atlantis Dubai was highest profile hotel to launch in the UAE, and probably globally, with its massive, expensive party that had fireworks to shame the Chinese Olympics committee. But the Atlantis was only one hotel to launch, and it competes with many others in Dubai. Perhaps Dubai is a hotel haven for those that have the cash to splash, but what about for those that come on business, or want something different, or looking to see Dubai without spending their annual salary? Dubai now caters for different tourists - kings and queens to backpacking students.

    We have put together a selection of lists covering the top hotels in Dubai:

    Which ones topped our list? Hint- what do Malakiya Villas, XVA, Dubai Youth Hostel and the Ritz Carlton have in common?

    The Top Ten Hotels in Dubai
    The Alternative Top Ten Hotels in Dubai
    The Top Ten Budget Hotels in Dubai
    The Top Business hotels in Dubai

    Everyone has their own opinion - this is what we think. No doubt this will change across the course of 2009 and we will think different in 2010. But in the meantime, these, we believe are the best hotels in Dubai.

    Grapeshisha Guide to the Best Hotels in Dubai

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    Saturday, January 03, 2009

    2008 was the year of the crash

    Take a look at the GCC performance of the various indices in 2008. It wasn't a good year:

    Dubai down 72.4%
    Abu Dhabi down 47.5%
    Kuwait down 35.4%
    Qatar down 28.1%
    Bahrain down 34.5%
    Saudi Arabia down 58%

    Dubai stocks down 72.4% in 2008


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    Thursday, January 01, 2009

    What now? The UAE in 2009

    2008 has been a tale of two stories for the UAE as Dubai and Abu Dhabi continue down their differing paths of growth. The news will continue to be mixed for Dubai, as western observers talk of bubbles bursting - and such negative perceptions will not help change the underlying global sentiment hitting Dubai even further. But as we have said in the past, Dubai won't hit a recession, there just won't be as much growth as was the norm in the early part of this decade. Even without the current economic turmoil, something would have had to give, and maybe this is the time for Dubai to take stock, phase things a little further and play for a better end game.

    The big issue for Dubai will be some of the audacious projects that will not complete on time. But it's not just on the larger end of the scale. One must also look at those developers who rely on financing to complete a project of a hotel, say. Such developers will, and indeed, already have, scaled back. Quite simply, they have not been able to find the financing to be able to complete the projects that they have started. The banks who had initially offered to put up the money are cherry picking safe investments. And what you will see is some down time on some projects. Some projects will not see the light of day....ever.

    Even if the Dubai government inject money into the economy to kick start the growth again, it wont be enough to maintain the same levels of growth as was predicted fr 2009. But that's not a bad thing. Only the realistic much needed projects will come to fruition. The Dubai Metro, for example, is not something that can fail- and it will not. Government initiatives will be looked at with a fine toothed comb and prioritised.

    But one must look at some of the headlines staring at us as we enter this new year. Hotel occupancy has fallen to a level circa 70%, way off the highs of the late 90s which have been seen previously. It's a combination of too much supply has come to the market over the last year and a downturn in the tourism real number growth. Less people than expected are traveling, able to travel or want to travel. People are worried for their future, in many parts of the world due to the slowdown and this is how Dubai is affected by the highs and the lows of the global economy. Hard up travelers and tourists will vote with their feet by staying put or taking a less extravagant trip than visiting the spend culture of blinging Dubai. Unless Dubai becomes less blinging and rates fall, there will be even more woe from the tourist market.

    Prices are falling,property-wise all across Dubai, from high end Burj appartments right down to lowly the Greens one bed rentals. And this is where Abu Dhabi will be hit also. If there is any inflation in any of the prices, they will very quickly come down to their correct market adjusted price. There is no speculation game any mroe, and those that think that there is one, will need to be in touch with the market to be able to spot those bargains. At the end of the day, there is value in Abu Dhabi's proposition at this early stage of its development, and thus there is a mint to be made from the smart strategic investor.

    And while there are other factors in play, oil will continue to be a headline grabber. No doubt much has been stored in the coffers for a rainy day, but 40 dollars is not the level that the oil producing players like it at. Watch it sky rocket over the year. And watch for a further rocky ride across all the bourses in the new year as they look to try to restore value, and shareholders try and claw back at realising a lower loss than they thought they would be hit by in September.

    One thing is clear, this is the most uncertain year that the UAE has entered in its existence, more so for Dubai - and for that uncertainty, this could be a very interesting year for many observers of this Middle East success story.

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