President Ouattara was in Dubai this week – not for the Lady Gaga concert, but rather for a West African monetary zone investment forum. There wasn’t the time for a general meeting with the Dubai Ivorian community, but there was a meeting with 20 or so Ivorian ‘cadres’ of which I was lucky enough to be counted among. We met the president in a hotel suite at the Jumeriah Beach hotel for about an hour; a rather formal affair with a speech from the (self-appointed) representative of the ‘Dubai Ivorian community association’ (for which the association earned $20,000), and then a decent pep talk from the president.
It had been a busy week and a busy day left me with 15 minutes to throw my suit on and get out of the door for the presidential meeting. At that point I discovered that I’d already sent all my ties back to the UK. I rushed out the door hoping to find a shop, but as I left the building I noticed the security guard had a rather nice blue tie. I asked if he had a spare I could borrow, and he said no. Ten metres out of the door, he came running after me and said his colleague might have a spare one, and so it came to pass that I wore the parking attendant’s tie to meet the president.
The president seemed pleased (and surprised) to see me, as did several ministers. Being a journalist really opens up access to high places. Funny that these guys used to be all trapped in the Golf hotel, and you could only visit them by helicopter.