A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

real money

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on December 15, 2008

This weekend I had the chance to catch up with Maria, Owlfish‘s younger sister and also a dear friend since grade school. I thought of her earlier today, when I learned that the 50 members of Arabian Business‘ “Rich List” – the wealthiest Arab-world Arabs – had, like me and everyone else I know, seen their portfolios drop with the market.

Of course, their loss – and their remaining assets – occurred on a much larger scale. And this in turn reminded me of a fond fond Abu Owlfish family memory, about people with money.

After I graduated from high school, my parents allowed me to spend the first two weeks of the summer visiting the Abu Owlfishes in Venice. Owlfish had returned there from her freshman year in college, while Maria had spent a crash-course sophomore year at one of the city’s “academic” high schools.

Midway through my stay, an eminent Iowa family contacted Um Owlfish to say that their cruiseship would soon be arriving in Venice, and inviting us all to lunch on board.

Lunch was lovely – the Eminents gave us a tour of the ship, including their stately cabin, and while it was all quite nice, I am embarrassed to say that my primary, 17-year-old’s memory is of the ice cubes that came in our drinks. Ice cubes are easy to come by in Europe these days, but in the mid-1990s they were still quite rare.

Anyway. When we got home, I remember Maria asking about the Eminents, noting that they didn’t seem so different from our families.

Well, they have money, Abu Owlfish said.

But Pappa, Maria pointed out reasonably, we have money too.

We have money, Abu Owlfish agreed. But they have Money.

Indeed – and they were gracious enough not to flaunt it.

If you’re curious to know who the (publicly disclosed) movers and shakers of the Arab world are, here is the list. Make sure you scroll down to the bottom – the reader comments are a must-read.


4 Responses to “real money”

  1. intlxpatr said

    Didn’t you spend longer than two weeks with their family? I thought I remembered you being there for months, and keeping the most wonderful journal?

    LOL @ Money!

    My husband says his 401(k) is now a 201(k)

  2. 🙂 nope – but I was a somewhat grumpy teenager, so it might have seemed like months to the Abu Owlfishes.

    My friend P was saying that he had a “200.5 K” back in October – I think the fact that the joke has made its way around the world speaks to how much it resonates!

  3. abu owlfish said

    Thank you for the retelling! Of course I remember visiting Jackie & Mike on their ship, but have no memory of my comment (though I’m impressed that back then I could speak in capital initial letters when appropriate). Any chance we’ll get you back there? –I can offer a tour through the rii in the family sandolo.

  4. Maria said

    I have absolutely no memory of this, but am pleased to know I was such a naive young thing well into my teen years. Scratch that…another anecdote from that same visit comes to mind. We were riding on the vaporetto, looking and talking just like the fair complexioned midwestern girls that we are. A pair of venetian boys a few feet away begin speaking about us– in dialect– a few feet away. Unbeknownst to them, this Iowan was fresh out of a year in high school with their peers. If I had learned any dialect, I knew enough to understand the vulgar things they were saying about us. I did a simultaneous translation for you for the duration of their conversation, only letting the boys in on my secret as we got off at our stop. The looks on their faces was priceless!

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