Is Arabic translation of credit crunch a spending spree?

I’ve mentioned before that I am a big fan of Charlton Athletic football club and the past few weeks have been a real rollercoaster for us fans. For a while I thought my separate worlds of football and Arabic translation would be brought together as Dubai based Zabeel Investments made an “indicative offer” to buy the club. Following the take-over of Manchester City by the Arabic group ADUG, it’s no wonder fans’ thoughts turned to Fantasy Football transfers we could expect to see arrive at the Valley.

In the end the deal did not go through as Zabeel are looking to concentrate on investing in property and tourism nearer home. It all made me think about how, in this time of world economic gloom, oil rich Middle East companies look set to try to diversify.

In the United Arab Emirates alone, there is currently around £200 billion worth of active construction projects while the Dubai International Financial Centre aims to massively expand the financial sector with tax, rent and regulatory breaks. Meanwhile the Palm Islands are a massive real estate and tourism development – the largest land reclamation project in the world, increasing Dubai’s shoreline by 520 km. All of this has made the United Arab Emirates one of the fastest growing economies in the world, with some estimates putting GDP growth in 2006 at a staggering 35 percent.

The vast sums of money are not restricted to the Arab world as business opportunities are sought out around the world. So we see Barclays bank raising £7.3 billion from Middle East investors. Other famous names that have seen an influx of Arabic capital include P&O, Aston Martin and Madame Tussauds.

In these times of doom and gloom news stories, it’s no wonder that such growth, investment and let’s face it, plain cash, is catching people’s attention and many other companies have their eyes set on pulling in some of that investment.

All of which probably goes to explain why we have been inundated with Arabic translation and typesetting over the last few weeks!

Is the universal language of football enough?

The lead up to the Beijing Olympics over the past few weeks has meant that the start of the football season was quiet… well, relatively quiet. Being a Charlton fan, I tend to experience a combination of hope and fear as this time of year comes around. Our win against Swansea last week was great, despite the rain. Without dwelling on the Carling Cup, I just hope we can prove the doomsayers wrong and keep up our momentum in the league for the rest of the season. Come on you Reds!!
As Charlton now ply their trade in the Championship for a second season, us fans have had to make several mental adjustments. One of the things our relegation makes you realise is just how international the Premiership has become. The market for professional footballers must be one of the best-known examples of globalisation.
Over the past few decades there’s been a huge increase in foreign managers and foreign players (usually defined as those from outside of the UK and Ireland). Back in 1992, the first weekend of the Premiership saw just 11 foreign players starting on the field. Only 3 teams fielded more than one – Arsenal, Man Utd and Leeds (times really have changed!).
This increase has meant new challenges face both players and managers. Language barriers can be difficult to overcome. When Ranieri gave his first interview in English as the new manger of Chelsea in 2001, he admitted that being unable to speak the language had made a tough job “even tougher”.
There have certainly been some success stories. Since his appointment as manager in 1996, Arsene Wenger has led Arsenal to victories in both the Premiership and the FA cup, while coming painfully close in the Champions League. Likewise, Juande Ramos came to Spurs last season with supposedly only a basic grasp of English and yet pulled them up the table – pausing only to defeat Chelsea to seize the Carling Cup. The SPL hasn’t been immune either, even outside of the “big two”, with the likes of Finnish manager Paatelainen doing a workmanlike job at Hibs.
As a new season – with all its highs and lows – begins, the quality brought to UK football by this internationalisation is definitely enjoyable. The debate will no doubt continue to rage over whether it is a good thing, although few would argue we should follow the example of Malaysia’s total ban. The introduction of foreign players and mangers can certainly have a positive impact on a club, but even with the universal language of football, good communication is still necessary between nationalities both on and off the pitch.