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The Week That Had Hong Kong Sheikhing All Over.



Of course, Hong Kong has always been a golden magnet with a glittering Welcome mat laid out there to those from overseas with a good story to spin, but what happened last week took that humus dip comprising bits of Borat, The Talented Mr Ripley, and just maybe “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” to new levels of intrigue.



Maybe, with those days where someone who, for example, had been a second rate cook somewhere in someplace in Italy could suddenly impress someone with pasta for brains and become an executive chef in a five star restaurant created for them being a thing of the past and with less and less expats in Hong Kong, there are now more opportunities for a different brand of opportunists?



On Thursday in the South China Morning Post, there was this intriguing headline: “Prince halts launch of family office in HK at eleventh hour”.



What followed was a rather guarded piece on a story that had more questions than answers and more holes than the cheese known as Emmentaler. 



It’s a princely story that goes something like this: 28 year old Sheikh Ali Hashed Ali Saeed Al Maktoum arrives in Hong Kong last week, makes headlines by committing US$500 million to open a “family office” in Hong Kong.


It all gets rather sketchy from here…


Despite apparently, The Man Who Would Be Prince is said to have been received by the Chief Executive of Hong Kong, had a private meeting with, apparently, some Very Important People about, er, philanthropy, and on Wednesday afternoon attended the supposedly high-end Wealth For Good programme.



Everything was looking so good that one almost expected to hear the theme song from Sesame Street being tackled rather vigorously by the city’s business leaders and serial suck ups.


This was until The Man Who Is A Sheik had to leave Hong Kong on Wednesday night for “urgent personal business in Dubai” with the promise that he would be back- in two months.


The news was broken by the Eleanor Jane Mak, below, the vice chairman and CEO of the office of the sheikh in Hong Kong, and still a director of China New Energy Skyrail International and- wow- nine other locally registered companies.



Busy busy, LinkedIn busy.



First the nephew of Dubai’s royal ruler, this suddenly saw him being described as a “relative”.


It becomes all a bit of an intriguing jigsaw puzzle from here starring, at least based on the video below, someone who’s humble and likeable, says all the right things without really saying anything, and which seemed to have made the interviewer, below, buckle at her knees.



The sudden departure of the Sheikh has made those in Hong Kong who are rather desperate to be seen as being relevant to the present and future of the city, but mainly looking for funding for their somewhat vague projects furiously backpedal albeit with some omelettes on their faces.


Why?


After all, weren’t they trying to get into the good books of the supposedly visionary and very very very very wealthy 28 year old Sheikh- and maybe even having a selfie taken with him- a selfie with the right people being the new calling card that opens new doors? 


It’s a miracle that those precious tittle Tatler people weren’t somehow involved in this circus.


On Good Friday in the SCMP, there was the headline “Government distances itself from questions about its knowledge of royal family member’s identity”.


This included news that the proposed Hong Kong family office site for the Sheikh was to share space with an investment firm that has close ties to Macau’s casino operators.


These included executives associated with the late Stanley Ho, the charismatic casino magnate and most powerful man in the former Portuguese enclave. 



With some now desperately trying to not be seen as wannabe groupies to the “nephew” and/or “relative”, what can’t be brushed under the carpet is that those who should have known better are looking less than smart.


Questions being asked:


Who was taken for a ride?


Names?


Was there any due diligence done?


What is the end game?


Where does the sheikh’s director of international strategic relations William Tien, below, fit into this play- someone who was involved in the failed blockchain based TiENPAY?



Wasn’t Tien also a director of a company associated with a solar plant deal in Arizona that was revealed to have backers who- oh dear- could not eventually provide the necessary funding?


Was this another carrot to dangle in front of those desperados in Hong Kong so impressed with the smell of wealth? 


If the sheikh returns to Hong Kong, who will do business with him?


There are many good people in Hong Kong who wish to see the city succeed using their own money to get things done.


They’re not looking for freebies.


They’ve been in Hong Kong long enough to know the fakirs from the shakers and the poseurs from the deer caught in the headlights and with their pantaloons around their ankles.


There are also those who are looking to take shortcuts, because, just maybe, they are running out of cash and have nothing of substance going for them other than a Facebook profile that’s heavy on filters.


We are seeing more and more of these kinds of real time AI people “infiltrating” social circles in Hong Kong.


They talk the talk about this and that and who they know, but can they walk the walk and actually deliver?


Apart from avoiding them like the plague, the government cannot afford to be seen making gaffes by allowing various forms of “sting” operations to continue in Hong Kong and people to pass themselves off as who they are not.



There should be a Security Alert that goes off any time they’re around, especially with cryptic crypto talk.


None of this is good for business and makes the already rickety image of Hong Kong look creepy and crippled and rather silly.



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