Undefined Declarations’ List: Top 10 Things I like about being a Blogger

 

Blogging from Cafes becomes a lifestyle for most bloggers
Blogging from Cafes becomes a lifestyle for most bloggers

 

My previous Top 10 List was about being raised by parents from the Gulf region. I come from a moderately conservative family. We are not liberal, but we’re also not extremely conservative or religious. Here’s a link for that post if you missed it.

Today’s list includes the top 10 things that I like about being a blogger. I started this blog in September 2012 to showcase my writing to potential employers. Now, it’s more of a hobby and sometimes feels like a full-time role!

I present to you the top reasons that keep me hooked to writing blog posts:

  1. I can work from almost any location that I feel like working from. Writing blog posts can be done from the comfort of my bed, a cafe across the road, or even from the beach if I had the time and luxury of carrying around a laptop, and a beach bag full of beach essentials.

    Jumeirah Mosque view at this Starbucks Middle East location
    Jumeirah Mosque view at this Starbucks Middle East location
  2. I can write posts at any time of the day. On most days, I have a couple of things to get done. So, blogging is something that might not come at the top of my priority list. That’s when I can write in the evenings – when most people are watching TV, reading, socializing, or out having dinner or drinks. This point can be a disadvantage to blogging too. But that will be discussed in another post 🙂
  3. I get to do creative work, that I choose myself, without any supervision or editing from another party. Unlike working for a publishing house and adhering to certain rules and regulations, blogging gives the writer the freedom of expression and writing within their personal set of rules and limitations.
  4. I get invited to review restaurant meals, spa treatments and other cool stuff. When I first started the blog, I was reviewing these things anyway, because I enjoyed it. After some time of hard work, the blog gained more followers and I started to get invites to review meals, and other stuff. The only issue these days is that, with my University course work, I don’t have the same free time I used to have when I first started the blog. That’s why, I don’t write as many reviews as I used to in the past.
  5. Being a blogger means that I’m considered as a media person. This grants me access to events as press. It also allows me to network with other media professionals, and others from the media industry.
  6. One thing that I really like about blogging is meeting other bloggers. Whether they are based in the same city, or on another continent, it’s always great to meet like-minded people. Most bloggers share many traits in common; they are interesting, determined and curious individuals. We love to learn new things, and we are pretty good in taking action.

    What I just Love the Blog and I catching up over lunch
    What I just Love the Blog and I catching up over lunch
  7. Blogging allows me to share my thoughts, experiences, views and ideas with my readers. It makes me so ecstatic to hear that a reader found my post insightful, or that they learned so many things from it. It equally brightens my day when someone tells me that what I wrote resonates with their own experience very strongly.
  8. I love that blogging has helped me practice – and hopefully – improve my writing skills. I think most of all, it gave me the confidence that I needed to keep writing. It helped me stay focused on my goal of becoming a better writer and journalist.
  9. It helped me build on my social and networking skills. I started to attend all kinds of events when I started this blog. This was mainly to meet new people and to generate blog content. It was very exciting to meet people from different backgrounds and industries. At that time, I was mixing with people from the fashion, arts, food or media industries. That fitted well with the blog concept, as I was writing a lifestyle blog that covered all these topics. Nowadays, I still enjoy attending random events. But due to my time constraints, I have to be more selective with the events that I choose to attend. Of course once I’m done with my course, I should be able to attend more events and network with people from various communities.
  10. Being a blogger who doesn’t outsource anything to another party means that you need a set of multiple skills. I truly enjoy being the following:
  • The editor who comes up with the idea for the post.
  • The photographer who takes the pictures for the post.
  • The writer and editor who writes and then edits the words and images.
  • The marketing and PR person who promotes the blog.
  • The social media person who promotes the blog and the posts on social media.
  • The communications person who attends events and tells people about the blog.
  • The entrepreneurial spirit who constantly goes through ups and downs, but never gives up.

As you can see, blogging is a very fun and engaging way to communicate with others and express your feelings and thoughts through words. I love hearing positive feedback as much as I love hearing critical remarks. So feel free to leave a comment or not 🙂

The next post will be a list of the things that I don’t like about being a blogger. So stay tuned for that!

Till then, Have a wonderful weekend ahead. No matter how you choose to spend it!

XXX

 

Coffee breaks are more fun when blogging is involved :)
Coffee breaks are more fun when blogging is involved 🙂

Undefined Declarations’ List: Top 10 Signs you Were Raised by GCC Parents

Did you grew up in an Arab Gulf family?
Did you grew up in an Arab Gulf family?

 

This post might resonate with a good deal of people who grew up with Arab or Asian parents. Since both cultures have a lot of similarities – especially when it comes to the family and social issues.

If you need some introduction to the way things are in the Gulf Region, have a look at my previous post about the topic here.

Now that you have a general idea about our lifestyle from my previous posts about this highly complicated and rich subject, let me present to you the top 10 signs that you were raised by GCC parents:

 

1. Your curfew time is at around 9 or 10 pm the latest if you’re a girl.

Whether you’re a University student, an employed adult, or a teenager, staying outside the house for a late hour is a big no-no. You can try to beg or ask for permission politely to stay late at your best friend’s graduation or wedding party, but rest assured that all your pleas will be faced with a clear rejection. Note: This rule does not change no matter how old you are or serious the situation may be. So even if you’re in your fifties or sixties or spending the night at ICU, you still must be home by the earliest time possible!

 

2. You’re not allowed to have male friends.

If you happen to mention the name of a male work colleague, brother of a friend, or any other person from the opposite sex, then this must mean that you have feelings for him. Therefore, the two of you must get married ASAP. The simple and basic fact that you mentioned him in your conversations must mean something. You can’t talk about a man for no reason, right? this must mean that you like him, and this gesture must immediately translate to a marriage contract 🙂

 

3. Attending concerts, visiting another city/country on your own are all considered indecent acts for a single young woman.

Growing up in the Eastern Province of Saudi as a teenager, with neighboring Bahrain, only meant that we had access to famous artist concerts and shows. But I had to argue my way to each and every one of those concerts that I managed to attend! Yes, I’ve always been a rebellious one 😉

Now this rule doesn’t only apply to concerts, it goes for any type of outing that involves a bit of freedom. Examples include visiting neighboring Bahrain for shopping and movie trips, or just meeting up with friends. You can’t go alone, even if you’re in your twenties. A parent must tag along to ensure that the reputation of the family stays intact :p

 

Growing up in the Gulf Region has its pros and cons
Growing up in the Gulf Region has its pros and cons

 

4. Traveling abroad for leisure on your own or with girlfriends is another no-no.

Of course, for some liberal families, this rule can be broken. When I was in school, many of my friends were able to travel together in groups without their parents’ company. If not at school age, then maybe later in life – when they’re in their twenties. But for me, this scenario was out of the question. I actually went on my first solo trip for leisure purposes in late 2012. You can read about it here. This is not to say that I wasn’t lucky enough to travel abroad to live and study when I was only 18. But – as you might have guessed by now – I fought really hard for that privilege. My mother used to genuinely think that going away on a beach holiday in the summer is a silly and superficial thing to do! She actually thinks that my desire to do something that the rest of the Universe does – take a beach holiday – is a complete waste of time and resources. And obviously, is not acceptable by all means.

 

5. The house maid or house keeper transforms into a body guard to accompany you at the local mall.

I think this headline requires little or no explanation. For those of you expats who currently live in the Gulf region, you might have already noticed this phenomenon at the malls. Every so often, I see young GCC ladies walking around the mall with their house maids, and I’m taken back in time to the days when I had to be accompanied by my own house keeper. Luckily, she was a very warm and lovely lady. God bless her, but she did get on my nerves at times. You can’t blame her though, she was only following my mother’s strict instructions!

I also had my eldest sister accompany me to University in Bahrain. Even when she didn’t have classes herself. But that’s just going to make this point longer than intended. So let’s end it here 🙂

 

6. Your mom reminds you that it’s time to go to bed at around 9 or 10 pm when you’re in your early or late twenties.

I think this one also requires no explanation. Arab mothers like to take full responsibility for their children – especially the daughters. And this includes making sure that you go to bed at an early time and don’t spend any extra time hanging around or doing pointless activities.

 

GCC parents can be very controlling and over-protective
GCC parents can be very controlling and over-protective

 

7. Your dad tags along as you shop for under garments at the department store’s lingerie/sleep wear section.

Not sure what is worse; shopping for underwear at Saudi shops and asking for assistance from the male sales people (which I don’t recall doing), or browsing the high-end department store’s lingerie and underwear section (in Bahrain or other location outside Saudi) with your dad at your back in every step you take. Hmm…both are difficult situations to find yourself in – I must admit.

 

8. Your mother constantly gets you clothes and tops that are one or two sizes bigger than your actual dress size.

I think anyone who comes from a conservative family will find this point familiar. Traditional Middle-Eastern mothers think that a woman shouldn’t expose her figure by wearing tight-fitting outfits. This applies to all body shapes and sizes. So no matter how slim or flat you are, you are not encouraged to wear skin tight clothes that flatter your body. Even if you had a gorgeous body that you don’t mind showing off 😀

Note: Most of the time, mothers also decide what type of outfits you should wear and what fashion style you should follow. As a teen and a young adult, I always felt more comfortable wearing jeans and a nice top. So this didn’t really affect me that much. In fact, until today, I prefer to wear loose and comfortable clothes on most days. And only dress up for occasions. I guess I’m a bit of a tom-boy 🙂

 

9. Your mother continuously compares you to others.

Be it your class mates, your close friends, your relatives, you name it, she’s got it covered. Arab mothers see this comparison as a form of motivation. They think that by comparing you to others who are in some way or another better than you, you will be influenced in a positive way to become a better version of yourself. Of course when done on a regular basis, this causes serious issues of low self-esteem and diminished self-worth. When I say ‘better’, I mean various things. So it can be in their social skills, their fashion style, their attitude, anything really.

 

Growing up with GCC parents
Growing up with GCC parents

 

10. Your father makes all sorts of decisions on your behalf.

If you read my previous post about the lifestyle in the Gulf Region, you would understand this point. Basically, since the parents (mostly father) support their children financially even when they are adults, they also have the right to ask you to follow their own rules and visions for your own life. This means that your father will feel that he has the full right to make choices for your education (University level), career path, personal, marriage, and ultimately all life aspects 🙂 This is valid for as long as you are single and is being supported by him financially. And as long as both you and him are alive and well. They also tend to always think that they know what’s best for you – even when that’s not the case. And they feel privileged to make decisions on your behalf – as if you don’t exist really.

So the financial support also means that you must play by their rules – and only their rules!

 

Now I would love to hear your views on this topic…do you agree? do you disagree? does any of the points that I mentioned resonate with you? did you grow up in a liberal type of GCC family with very liberal parents? do you think I’m just a spoiled brat for writing this post?

Whatever your opinion is, feel free to share it 🙂

 

And because I always like to see the bright side of every situation, I must admit that having grown up with somewhat controlling and over-protective parents has taught me many useful life skills. One of these important skills is the ability to practice self-discipline in my daily life. So, I am thankful to my parents for that. I can say that I have a considerable amount of self-discipline that comes in handy at times. That of course is coupled with a huge lack of self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-worth 🙂

I’m also thankful for being more privileged than many others who share my struggles. It’s true that I had to fight for what I have, but I’m still more lucky than many others who might not have the opportunity to get their voices heard or their side of the story listened to.

The photos in this post are by the highly talented Yasir Saeed. You can read my review of his photography session here.

 

Positive Attitude is Essential in every situation!
Positive Attitude is Essential in every situation!

 

Adios mi amigos y amigas X

Cultural Post: The Gulf Region Lifestyle

City Lights in the Gulf Region

 

If you need some introduction about life in the Gulf region, and a general idea of the social structure there, you can check out my previous cultural post, titled: The “Bubble” Life.

Today’s topic is somewhat relevant. It can also be considered more of a personal topic since I’ll be talking about my specific story.

Most Arab parents tend to be over-protective with varied degrees of controlling behavior when dealing with their children. You’d think that these strict and firm ways of upbringing would gradually lessen as the kids grow older, but the truth of the matter is that they never do.

Most Arab parents like to plan their children’s future lives, and be in control of their education, career, love life, marriage and daily life decisions!

Unless a daughter is married to another man and moves out of her parents house, she continues to live by the rules of the parents. No matter how old she gets, or what her status is (employed, jobless, student, PHD graduate), she is forever subject to the rules of the parents. And they are eternally responsible for her every move, decision, and personal freedom in general.

Of course, there’s always a positive side to every bad situation. Parents in the Gulf Region and most Arab countries also continue to support their daughters financially for as long as they have to. But that financial support doesn’t come without a price tag. It is coupled with the obsessive controlling behavior from the parents side.

My post is not meant to portray a negative image about the Arab or GCC culture. It’s more of a realistic explanation of my personal story and background. Since moving to the UAE in 2010, I constantly get asked by people from various expat countries about the method or way by which I am able to support myself financially, and that is usually followed by a certain amount of surprise and words like: “You are lucky.”

That’s why I decided to write a series of cultural, social and personal posts to clarify some aspects of Arab and GCC culture. I don’t mean to generalize though. I can only speak about my own personal experience and that of the society that I grew up in.

I also get asked about how we spend our weekends in the Gulf. Well, most of us in Saudi would either hang out with girlfriends at the local mall, cafe, or restaurant. We tend to spend some time at home too. We can have gatherings, dinner parties or house parties too! But, these would be exclusive to girls only. Since in Saudi and in most Gulf countries, the society is mainly gender segregated. You might ask, but who are you to talk about this lifestyle? Well, I grew up in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, and I didn’t attend an International school. I actually went to an all-girls elite private school, where an Arabic curriculum was being taught. So I can say that I lived a traditional Arab lifestyle for the most part of my life…

I can elaborate about my life in Saudi in another post, but let’s get straight into the topic of this post. It all goes back to a quote that my dad made at one of his short visits to Dubai…we were talking about some general stuff, when he utters the words: “The way it goes is that one should only be going to work, and then straight back home.”

To make things clear, my dad is not a sociable person whatsoever. He literally practices what he was preaching in the phrase that I just mentioned. But that’s his choice, his life, his decision. And I don’t judge him for it, or wish if he would change it. Honestly I don’t.

But what I thought was hilarious and if I dare to say a bit insane in those words that he directed to me was this: If I choose to listen to his advise and to follow it to the nines, then how on earth would I possibly meet a potential partner?! 😀

I have somewhat weird parents. They have unrealistic expectations of the world, their own children and the people surrounding them.

They live in a bubble of their own creation, and they expect people, events, and everything around them to follow the rules of that imaginary and non-existent bubble. They live with the illusion that everyone and everything must match their own distorted image of the world surrounding them. They are extremely opinionated and will stick to their unrealistic and distorted views no matter what happens or what anyone tells them. They are also not open to hearing other views that conflict with their own. They will just cut you off, will stop listening and will not engage in any form of discussion. (That’s mostly my mom, although my father doesn’t like to listen to varying opinions either!).

They impose highly unrealistic rules, standards, and expectations on every life aspect you can imagine. These rules only exist in their “1960’s generation” heads.

This was only a brief and short explanation of my parents and the way they are. I can talk more about this topic in another post.

Now the problem is that these days, my University course requirements and blogging don’t leave me with much free time to go out and meet new people. So, instead of spending my evenings going out to night spots or events, I find myself sitting at Starbucks or on my bed writing blog posts! But that’s OK, because once I’m done with this course in two semesters from now, I should have more time to go out and mingle 🙂

Basically, I will make it my life mission to meet as many new people as possible. Truth to be told, it will take a lifetime for me to reverse my previously closed and restricted GCC lifestyle! I’m so glad to have the privilege to do that…and if you think I’m a super-lucky girl, just be reminded that each one of us has an equal amount of suffering. And that financial freedom and stability are not the only elements that guarantee a happy and peaceful life.

I hope that I could make part of my story more clear to some of you who might be intrigued to know. And for anyone interested in learning more about the Gulf region, its culture, and lifestyle, stay tuned to this blog…

 

Rebellious Saudi Diva signing off XXX

 

Vacation Mode: ON

vintage beach

 

So the plan was to take a creative photo with my new Nikon for this post, but because I’m tight on time and honestly too tired, I decided to just use an online image.

Many of you might be back from vacations or are close to ending your holiday season…but I am just about to start my summer getaway! It’s more of a mini getaway really – nothing major. I just need to take a break from the fast-paced life for a while…a break from social media, checking e-mails, running errands, thinking about what to have for lunch or dinner,  and all the other nuisances of our busy modern society.

All I want to do is to read my books and magazines by the ocean, get pampered at a spa, and explore some new and exotic locations.

I wouldn’t mind meeting some interesting folks along the way too 🙂

Truth is, my blog turns two in September. I can’t deny that the journey resembles a roller-coaster ride. On some days, you’re ecstatic and doing fun stuff and on others, you feel like giving it all up. I get asked all the time about how blogging works and if I’m making any profit out of it. In my case, the main reason I started this blog was to create a portfolio for my writing to present to potential employers. It also gives me an opportunity to practice and improve my writing skills. Whether I generate any income out of it is only a small part of the equation. Mostly because when I decided to change careers from IT to journalism, my goal wasn’t to become a successful blogger! It was – and still is – to make a living out of writing. Basically to become a journalist.

So to all of you looking into starting a blog or who are working towards monetizing one, just make sure that you’re willing to be in it for the long run. Because it’s a long and challenging journey, that requires a lot of determination and a plethora of skills. Nevertheless, it’s an exciting and thrilling ride.

I won’t be blogging, tweeting, checking Facebook or e-mail for the entire time of my vacation. But it won’t be too long until I’m back with more innovative, interesting and insightful posts.

I wish all of you a lovely summer, whether you are spending it at home or have gone/are going away to a new and exciting destination.

Looking forward to telling you all about my holiday once I’m back.

 

Reflective Thought: Do you sometimes get the feeling that you just want to disappear from the face of this planet called earth? and possibly never come back?

Please share your thoughts on this, if only to confirm my sanity level :p

Love,

The Rebellious Saudi Diva

 

Random Post: Planning versus Improvising

DSC_0135

 

I must admit, I have a crazy obsession with lists. I make lists for everything; from to-do lists for the next day’s tasks, to grocery/random shopping lists, to future plans lists. My uncontrollable compulsive obsession with lists even gets me writing lists for the topics that I want to discuss with the people that I meet! sometimes these people are ones who I meet for the first time for business, but many times, they’re just friends who I’m catching up with over lunch or coffee!

I’ve always been super organized, and overly systematic in my thoughts, my plans and my life in general. Now while this may not necessarily be a bad thing, or anything to be worried about, the conflict that I face when dealing with others who don’t follow the same pattern of thinking or lifestyle was my main inspiration to write this post.

Anyone who lives in Dubai knows that it’s a melting pot of different ethnic groups, religions and nationalities. Each with their own set of values, cultures and lifestyles. This strong multi-cultured kaleidoscope obviously has its advantages and challenges. It’s always interesting and insightful to learn about other backgrounds and cultures, to hear stories from different voices and nationalities, and to connect with others who share your triumphs or successes.

At the same time, dealing with people from multiple parts of the world can be challenging and draining at times. Some of the differences between cultures can cause serious conflict between individuals, and lead to immense stress and misunderstandings. The value of time and planning are one of the main concepts of clashes between people from different cultures and backgrounds.

While some of us might be punctual to the minute when it comes to time, others may not think it’s a big deal if they showed up 20 or 30 minutes late to an appointment or a meeting. Planning is another one. While I like to plan the next day’s tasks well in advance, and arrange any meetings with people accordingly, those individuals who I’m meeting with may not have given that appointment much consideration and will therefore end up cancelling at the last minute, because they found out that they had other “commitments” and so won’t be able to make it.

For someone who occasionally plans their casual conversations with friends and family, I find it difficult to understand people who act so spontaneously and who make their plans up as they go about their lives. Not only do I don’t get them, I also try my best to avoid meeting them or working with them, resort to distancing myself from them, and sadly, I also loose most of my respect for them.

I’m not saying that relying on your wits and doing things randomly is a no-no at all times. Sometimes, being spontaneous leads to fun experiences, gets you to explore new things, and even brings the things that you need the most your way!

This is why, I think a balance between planning and improvisation is the best way to go. You shouldn’t be totally against going with the flow, as you never know where that might take you. Making room for spontaneity is essential in keeping our lives rich and vibrant, away from boring routines and monotonous activities and lifestyles. So, despite not being totally against being spontaneous, I am a firm believer in planning and setting daily goals for yourself.

I always wonder how non-planners know when they’ve reached a specific goal that they have set for themselves? Or do they not bother with setting goals and working towards them in the first place?

In my opinion, the only way that you can progress and improve yourself and your life is by setting definite goals, working towards them, and then changing them along the way. Not sure how that works for people who don’t like to make plans. I tend to set all types of goals for myself; personal, career, financial. And in the end, they are all connected to make up who you are and what kind of life you are – will be – living.

I always aim big, then lower my goals according to reality. I set very high standards – sometimes unrealistic or unachievable – and then work my way towards them. Until I either reach those exact goals, others that are close, or decide on new goals and work towards those.

OK, for the sake of not wanting this post to turn into a self-help book (article in this case), I will end my post by asking you to tell me what type of person do you consider yourself to be – an avid planner or someone who likes to be creative and make things up as they go along? Do you mostly rely on your instincts and just do what feels right for that moment in time? or do you have endless to-do lists and planner books filled with daily tasks, and plans for next year’s summer holiday maybe?

I would love to hear your views on this 🙂

Love,

The Rebellious Saudi Diva xxx

Undefined Declarations’ List: Top 10 Tips for Making it in the Creative Industry

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When I first decided to change careers from IT to journalism back in 2008, I had no idea about the way to get there. I didn’t realize that it would be a completely different route to what I was used to, or to how I eventually got my IT job. Doing things the hard way – without anyone to guide me, assist or support me – I must say that I learned the lessons in the best way possible: by trial and error.

Comparing my previous career and work experience to what I do now is a very hard task. They’re two completely different fields and work environments. But, I will give you a brief idea to help you understand and maybe get inspired to make a similar change or adjustment to what you currently do.

I had a degree in Business Information Systems from the University of Bahrain. And after working in IT support for around four years, I decided to quit my job and pursue my passion: writing. I was 28, a year later, I moved to London to take a foundation course with London College of Fashion. After completing one term of A-Level equivalent and intensive study, I decided to move to Dubai to start interning for publishing companies in the hopes of landing an editorial role along the way…It’s the year 2014 and I’m still working towards that same goal that I had aimed for when I moved here in 2010. Except that these days, I have learned so many lessons along the way and I would like to share them with anyone who is working towards a similar goal or is looking into becoming a creative professional and earning a living out of it.

 

1. Start doing the creative work

While it might work otherwise in other industries – get a degree then apply for a job. In the creative industry, it’s the other way around. You must start by doing the work that you aspire to get paid for. Since employers will only hire you after they have seen your actual work and how you can add value to their organization and goals. Plus, doing the actual work will greatly help in improving your skills and expertise.

 

2. Do unpaid work

Freelancing and offering your services for free is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s a great way to build your portfolio – because you will need one in order to get paid for your work. So keep doing unpaid work for as long as it takes to get paid for your work and to be accredited for it.

 

3. Work 24/7

Working in a fun and creative environment is a good thing, but you must be prepared to work without taking breaks. Fixed working hours aren’t part of the game. There’s always something new to learn, some project to work on, a new and exciting idea to consider…The cool thing is that you get to be your own boss and you can manage your time according to your personal preferences.

 

4. Take notes of your ideas and put them into action

Whether it’s your next blog post, photo shoot, short video, web site design, you need to keep coming with fresh and new ideas. Most importantly, put those ideas into action by implementing them into that blog post, photo shoot, video or web page.

 

5. Love what you do

Any entrepreneur will give you this advise really. You must do what you do with passion if you want to get to anywhere. The monetary return will not appear in the first stages, so you must do what you love in order to have the passion to keep doing it even when the going gets tough and when you are not making any profit out of it.

 

6. Network, network, network

One of the essential elements of the creative industry is networking. Find out about relevant events and make an effort to attend them. Not only will you learn more about the market, you will also meet new people who share your interests and passions. Building positive and meaningful connections with others in your industry is vitally important.

 

7. Have casual meetings with like-minded people

Whether it’s over coffee, lunch, dinner or even breakfast, meeting with others from similar industries is a great way to share ideas, discuss various topics and maybe learn new tips and market information. Supporting others in their own career goals is always a great way to build positive and healthy relationships with others in your industry. The road is always more entertaining when traveled with others.

 

8. Work in creative hubs and open spaces

Whether you choose to work from your local neighborhood cafe, head to the nearest spot of big chain coffee shops, or collaborate with others at one of the work spaces in town, it’s always better than working from home. Being a creative professional – especially when writing – can be a lonely experience. So surrounding yourself with others in an open and busy environment is the best way to go. You will also feel more motivated to work in an environment where everyone around you is working in front of their laptops or doing some sort of productive work.

 

9. Read, learn, study

Taking a short course or working towards a degree in your chosen creative field will only add to your knowledge and build up your confidence. If you can’t afford a course, simply read online articles about your topic or any topic for that matter! Staying updated with what’s happening in your industry will help keep you ahead of others and boost your knowledge levels.

 

10. Never give up!

Reaching your goals in the creative industry and getting paid for your work could be an extremely lengthy process. It could take years before you could get published or be taken seriously by potential employers. But the trick here is to never give up and to continue working hard towards your goals. Even if no one reads your blog posts, supports you or what you’re doing, or thinks that you have great ideas, you must stay fixed to your target and aim to achieve it no matter how challenging things get. Keep reminding yourself of why you chose to do this in the first place and how long it took you to get to where you are. You must fuel yourself from your own energy, ambition and inner power.

 

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Social Post: My First Opinion Piece!

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As many of you know, I’m currently taking an undergraduate journalism course at University. Well, I still need to update my About Page with that piece of information.  It’s just that these days, with trying to juggle between attending classes, assignments, the blog, attending events, catching up with friends and doing mundane tasks like making a sandwich to take withe me to school and then spending a good amount of time washing up the dishes, the task of updating my “About Page” always gets pushed down to the bottom of my list – or should I say lists? I guess that’s another story for another post.

One of the subjects that I’m taking this term is: Politics, Journalism & Society. I’m truly enjoying the lecture discussions on various political and social topics. I believe I’m more into social and cultural issues than I am into political ones.

That’s why, for our first assignment for the unit, I chose to write about a topic relevant to my society and one that is always in the spot light of International media. I wrote about my personal opinion on the ban of driving for Saudi women and what I honestly think about it…and most importantly, why I don’t think it deserves all the media attention that it is given.

 

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Let me present to you: My First Opinion Piece 🙂

 

Title: My View on the Ban on Saudi Women Driving and Why I think it’s Insignificant

 

By: Nada Al Ghowainim

 

Whenever I meet anyone for the first time and they find out that I’m from Saudi Arabia, I usually get asked one of two main questions. The most common question is related to the national dress worn by women in Saudi; the Abaya. People wonder and are even surprised at times at the fact that I don’t wear a head scarf or an “abaya”.

 

The other question that typically follows the “no-abaya” after-shock is mostly: “So, do you drive here?”

 

My response to the latter is an automatic reply that I sometimes prefer to keep to myself, primarily in fear of facing the other person’s greatly puzzled facial expression and having to go through a series of complicated explanations and justifications.

 

For someone who was born and raised in Saudi Arabia, driving a car has never been on the top of my “things that I need to fight for” list. That’s why, since moving to Dubai in the year 2010, I haven’t pursued getting a driver’s license or even had that task on my to-do list.

 

I must admit that relying on a personal driver or a male member of the family to take me from one location to another has its fair share of frustrations and agonies. However, those types of distresses pale greatly in comparison to other daily sufferings faced by all Saudi women.

 

More complex and deep political, social and cultural issues that women can’t escape from on a daily basis are in my opinion far more significant than the inability to drive a car. An example of those issues is the topic of women’s legal rights in the Kingdom. A Thomson Reuters Foundation report published in September stated that “Saudi Arabia tops the list of countries for laws that limit women’s economic potential, while South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa have made the least progress over the last 50 years in improving women’s economic opportunities.”

 

The laws in Saudi Arabia require women to seek formal permission from their male guardian – be it their father, brother, husband or even son – to study, work, travel or simply go from one place to another. However, there are more serious restrictions that pose a far greater impact on the quality of life than getting behind a wheel does.

 

Author Abdullah Al-Alami explains these daily struggles that Saudi women face: “There is a group of ultraconservatives here who will try to do anything and everything to prevent women from exercising their rights,” Al-Alami continues by saying: “Be it driving, going to school, working, travelling for that matter, receiving medical care. Many men that I know, we feel that it is crucial for us to support women who do this.”

 

More importantly, viewing the ban on driving as an extension to other major restrictions imposed on Saudi women will help divert the negative media attention on the topic; where it often makes it seem as the most significant issue facing the country or its citizens.

 

While a ban on driving does limit the freedom of women in the country, a number of rigid and age-old issues that deal with social, political and economic matters continue to confine both women and men in Saudi society.

 

Economic issues range from the increasing unemployment rates among Saudi youth, to the poor distribution of wealth and the growing rich-poor gap, to the inadequate infrastructure of even the biggest cities in the Kingdom.

 

Political and legal issues related to the “male guardian” system have far much greater impact on the lives of Saudi women than the trivial topic of driving a car does. The Washington Post’s foreign affairs blogger, Max Fisher clearly justifies this point in his article published in “The Washington Post” in October.

 

In comparison to other restrictions facing Saudi women, a ban on driving isn’t necessarily the biggest problem. Fisher elaborates that there are far more important issues restricting Saudi women in their daily lives.

 

According to Fisher: “It’s part of a larger system of customs and laws that make women heavily reliant on men for their basic, day-to-day survival.”

 

There’s limited attention given by local media on social issues faced by Saudi women which are directly linked to tradition and the social norms of the country and its people.

 

Examples of these topics include conventional social norms such as early marriage, arranged marriage, and other pressures that women face in Saudi society. In a society explicitly dominated by men, women can easily find themselves helpless and unable to fight for their simple rights. Women are closely scrutinized over their every move, and immediately judged if it doesn’t conform to the rules set by the society or its controlling male citizens.

 

In this confining society, simple freedoms that people all over the world take for granted, are non-existent. Having said that, how can one argue for a specific form of freedom when the general and broader restrictions haven’t been lifted? Shouldn’t we ask for more control over our personal freedoms and basic human rights before we ask to be merely in control of a vehicle?

 

No one enjoys having to be under someone else’s control, let alone a personal driver or a male member of the family, but I believe that there are far too many other causes that deserve our energy and attention besides the call for women driving.

 

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Motivational Evening at Katsuya Dubai Mall: Media in the Making

Media in the Making Event
Media in the Making Event

 

I was delighted and honored to be invited to a social event hosted by the lovely Anita Buys at the newly opened Katsuya restaurant in Dubai Mall. The dinner event brought together 15 career-driven women from alternative areas and saw us conversing over many interesting and media-relevant topics. I must say that my favorite topic of discussion that evening was the one involving comparison between journalists and bloggers. Being a blogger and journalism student myself, I constantly face the dilemma of choosing between being a full-time blogger or journalist. As I’m still unsure which one of those career paths will open more doors for me. Listening to views from more experienced media professionals and bloggers definitely helped give me an extra insight into both worlds.

Anita and I would love to meet more inspirational women from the media industry and hear more success stories in Anita’s future events. So if you work in PR/events/print media/online media/blogging or any other relevant industry and would like to join us in the next Media in the Making event, please contact Anita on her e-mail address:

[email protected]

Have a look at some photos from our wonderful and inspirational evening at Katsuya Dubai Mall

 

Nada from Undefined Declarations Blog and the lovely Anita Buys
Nada from Undefined Declarations Blog and the lovely Anita Buys

 

A Blogger's Essential Habit: Taking Pictures!
A Blogger’s Essential Habit: Taking Pictures!

 

Beautiful Outdoor Terrace at Katsuya Dubai Mall
Beautiful Outdoor Terrace at Katsuya Dubai Mall

 

Amazing view of the Dubai Mall Fountain and Souk Al Bahar
Amazing view of the Dubai Mall Fountain and Souk Al Bahar

 

Refreshing and Tasty Mock-tails!
Refreshing and Tasty Mock-tails!

 

Delicious Canapes
Delicious Canapes

 

Hollywood Rolls - SIMPLY DIVINE!
Hollywood Rolls – SIMPLY DIVINE!

 

Cod Fillet in a Teriyaki Sauce
Cod Fillet in a Teriyaki Sauce

 

Interesting and engaging discussion at Media in the Making dinner
Interesting and engaging discussion at Media in the Making dinner

 

Nada from Undefined Declarations Blog Enjoying the Evening at Katsuya
Nada from Undefined Declarations Blog Enjoying the Evening at Katsuya

 

Prior to this amazing evening at Katsuya Dubai Mall, I have been to this Japanese dining hub with my American friend from LA. My friend who is a big fan of Katsuya and has been to many of their U.S. branches, has been waiting impatiently for the Dubai Mall branch to open. So once I found out that it was officially open, we went there for lunch on their first official opening day. I’ll be writing a review on that great lunch that I had with my friend Nia on that first opening day soon. So stay tuned for that.

In the end, I would like to thank the lovely and dynamic Anita Buys for organizing and hosting this event. Special thanks to the friendly and welcoming team at Katsuya Dubai Mall for their warm and generous hospitality that evening.

 

Signing off with a note to say that all dreams are achievable and that everything is possible with a little bit of determination, hard work and optimism.  Add to that: a lot of patience 🙂

 

Cool Bag!
Cool Bag!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Personal Post: Revealing the Mystery behind this Lifestyle Blogger

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Ironically, as I sit to write this post at a cafe in the JBR Walk, at a table nearby sits a family from my country. They remind me of the life that i had left behind in the summer of 2009…a decision that I take pride in making – despite all the challenges, confusions and compromises that came with it.

 

Today’s post is a sequel to my previous personal post about my lonely single life…it is also the first in a series of personal posts that I aim to publish on a weekly basis as part of my new blogging schedule. I would like to start by thanking everyone who commented on that post and expressed their concern by sharing their views and opinions from personal experiences. Your care and support is highly appreciated and I’m truly blessed to have loyal and genuine fans and friends.

Publishing that post actually helped me greatly in understanding some of the reasons behind my single status at this age (check my About page for a clue). The answers came from my supportive followers, and they clarified a lot of the confusion surrounding this topic. Basically, the comments and discussions brought to my attention a very important point; the fact that I need to sort out my own life before I can be ready for any commitment. What this means is that prior to thinking about being in a serious relationship with anyone, I need to achieve some personal career goals and reach more advanced levels in the personal, career and financial areas of my life.

This is not to say that I have been lounging around the house (or city in my case) for the past couple of years. I simply chose to change careers into a not so easy field – journalism – at a not so great time – world recession. Add to that, my illusions and high expectations of thinking that I had super powers and would be able to reach that goal without going back to school!

Fast forward four years later and endless trails and errors, I enroll at University to take an undergraduate course in journalism.

A decision that I am proud to take.

 

Now how is getting a degree in journalism and becoming successful relate to my single status? Simply said, getting a degree from an International University and then aiming to become successful career wise and financially should inevitably attract the right kind of men my way. Plus, when I’m more happy and comfortable in my own skin, I will undoubtedly emit positive vibes that will attract decent and successful men, not push them away…

So for now, focusing on my education and blog seem to be the right thing to do, for various reasons.

Not that I had been doing anything different really…I just wanted to write this post as a justification for my obsessive compulsive blogging behavior and to provide a clear explanation for my followers and friends!

The next time you find me preoccupied with my next blog post, or glued to my i-phone updating my blog’s Facebook Page, you’ll understand that I now have legitimate reasons for my compulsive blogging habits. And you will realize the long-term vision and reasoning behind my eternally “busy” state of mind!

Another enlightening conversation that I recently had with my American friend who labels me as “blog crazy” confirmed the comments from my followers on the subject…while in the Arab and Eastern culture generally, it’s agreed on that the man’s role in the relationship is to provide for the family, this is definitely not the case in the Western social system. My friend summed it up as: “what can you bring to the relationship?”. And that is exactly the missing element in my story. Since I come from a Middle-eastern background, I was always accustomed to having my father support me throughout the different stages of my life. Yes, I was working at some point when I was living in Saudi, and at that time I was capable of supporting myself. But once I have decided to change careers, things have taken a different turn.

Many people have told me to take it easy and to “not blog too much” or “work too hard”, but without knowing the main goals behind my commitment, they can’t be blamed, can they?

Apart from finding a partner and realizing my career goals, becoming financially independent will help me detach from my family. Which is one of the main goals of my life. Why would I want to do that, you may ask…I think we can leave that for another post 🙂

 

Will I progress from being a somewhat pampered and spoiled GCC born and raised brat to the successful and financially independent journalist and blogger that I aspire to be?

 

At least when I finally reach my goal and realize my dream, I can proudly and firmly say that I did it all by myself…and most importantly; that along the process, I managed to live two widely and extremely diverse lives…

 

Thank you to Pink Pepper Photography for the fabulous images!

 

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Random Post: Where is He?!

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In Dubai, I can say that I mostly live the expat life. This means that although I’m Saudi and from this region, my lifestyle is not exactly similar to that of most local or Arab people. Since I’m single and living alone, I get the opportunity to explore the places and do the activities that I choose to do. I spend my free time doing things that I usually plan in advance with my expat friends. Yes, most of my friends are expats from different nationalities and backgrounds. And most importantly, I get to meet new people on a regular basis. I think that one of the great aspects of living in cosmopolitan Dubai is the possibility to meet and network with people from all around the world, to exchange cultural knowledge and to build an ever-expanding network of friends and business contacts.

 

Now I can’t complain much, because I’ve always enjoyed being independent and free from my parents’ obsessive controlling ways, but these days, I can’t help but feel exhausted, tired and in a way…hopeless!

Maybe it’s the accumulated stress of taking an undergraduate course at a University located at the other end of town from where I live, trying to update the blog whenever I get the chance, and making sure that my Facebook Page stays alive and my followers engaged and entertained.

But lately, I have been feeling an increased sense of loneliness and solitude creeping up on me, I am no longer enjoying my personal space and freedom as much as I used to, the idea of being single and free doesn’t appeal to me that much, and most of all, I’m fed up and tired of all the responsibilities that come with being single in the city!

Actually, it’s not my first time to talk about this subject, you might remember my post on my visit to a legendary spiritual temple in Hong Kong. While there, I even prayed for a husband and specifically made the prayers on the male statue which is believed to save single women! you can read all about that post here.

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They say that you’ll meet that special someone when you stop looking and start doing the things that you love most. Well, that’s precisely what I’ve been doing all of my life! I was never actively looking or putting effort into that area of my life. I was always focused on career and education, and am proud to say that I still am. I constantly had other priorities in life, and still do!

So could it be that that’s the main reason that the Universe still didn’t bring that person my way? that maybe I need to start putting more effort into attracting him into my life? do I need to implement or follow some strategies that will bring us closer together? 😀

Here’s a short video from Sex and the City that summarizes what I’m trying to say in this post (note: the early dating part doesn’t exactly apply to my story):

Sex and the city – Charlotte

 

Of all the elements that being single brings, the one that I mostly despise is having to act as both a lady and a man in one person’s body. By saying this I am talking about the endless responsibilities that come with living alone and having to do everything by yourself. Therefore, if you are ‘the one’ and you happen to be reading this, I would highly suggest that you are prepared for the following responsibilities:

  • All technical and computer related issues.
  • Handling the payment of utility and services bills.
  • All legal matters (anything that requires preparing important documents and submitting them to official entities. Example: Visa application process).
  • All rent related issues. These could range from looking for an apartment, to viewing it, to negotiating a contract, to signing the agreement and everything in between.
  • Setting up stuff, assembling furniture, connecting electronic devices. (and of course maintenance and fixing when anything goes wrong).
  • All travel bookings, hotel reservations and other travel related arrangements.
  • Help in grocery shopping and general stuff around the house.

 

Now that I’ve got that sorted out, I would like to ask you ladies (single, engaged, married): What are your views on being single and emotional stability and security? Do you think that it’s possible to be single and living alone and still feel emotionally stable? how do you cope with loneliness in the city? who do you turn to for moral support? how significant is sharing your life with a partner is to you? at what stage of your life did you feel at your most happy and secure?

And finally, in searching for or finding that special someone, what did you find has worked most for you?

 

I conclude this post with the ever popular Rihanna and “Where Have You Been”:

Where Have You Been- Rihanna

 

A huge thank you to the highly talented photographer at Pink Pepper Photography for the images used in this post 🙂

Stay tuned to my Facebook Page for more images from that fun photo shoot at Pink Pepper Photography studios!

 

The Downside of being Single
The Downside of being Single