This year, my friends and I chose a Peruvian restaurant for our Birthday Iftar celebration. My friend’s husband’s birthday is on the 16th of July. My birthday falls on the 15th of the same month. So we’ve been doing a one day celebration with our groups of friends for the past two years.
Tesoro is a fine dining Peruvian concept located at the new Taj Hotel Dubai. The place has a very eclectic and modern feel to it. It’s also very spacious with a huge terrace overlooking the Burj Khalifah.
Thankfully, everyone had a great time and loved the tasty creations by the Chefs at Tesoro.
So, another year has passed. I’m 35, single and still looking for a suitable job or paid internship in Dubai.
I’m grateful for the good friends that I have in this magical city, and those who shared my special day with me.
I’m also blessed for being able to constantly learn new things and new ways to develop and grow – both professionally and personally.
I’m thankful for the experiences that I had and that I continue to have. Like doing random activities, meeting people from different backgrounds and cultures, and discovering something new along the way.
What’s my plan for future days?
Honestly, I think it’s time for me to be more self-involved and self-centered. Nothing can be more disappointing to a diva than investing time and energy into projects or people and not getting similar vibes in return.
Some people like to put their self-interests first, set their own rules, and then expect others to entertain them. Well, I can publicly declare that I’m not Mother Teresa and that I never will be!
When I give someone my time, it’s because I genuinely want to. But I also have realistic expectations to be treated in the same way!
Basically, it’s now time for me to focus more on my career and personal life. I need to eventually land a full-time role that I enjoy doing. I also need to find a loving and supportive partner.
As for this blog – a project that has been so exciting to work on, and very close to my heart. It was an honest representation of my life, my struggles, my dreams and aspirations.
The time for this website to end is getting near. But I have plans to start another blog with a different niche. You can stay updated with my news and new blog news by following me on social media:
On a recent trip to Abu Dhabi, I got to check out what is known as the best pizzeria in town: Pizza Di Rocco.
As most of you know, the UAE has a plethora of pizza joints in almost every corner. Well, this is certainly the case in Dubai. But finding a place that makes a perfect pizza is no easy task.
Luckily, Pizza Di Rocco is one of those places that knows how to make a good pizza. They managed to get the crust, toppings and taste to the right levels. You can also choose to have your pizza made with whole wheat dough for a healthier option.
Being a somewhat health-conscious diva, I went for a half-vegetarian and half-siciliana whole-wheat pizza. Siciliana comes with anchovies and capers.
What I truly liked about Pizza Di Rocco’s pizza is the fact that it was so light, crispy and tasty at the same time. It made for the perfect Italian style dinner.
Since I was dining there alone, I couldn’t help but take the rest of my pizza back to my hotel room.
I can’t wait for my next visit to this cozy and homely pizza concept. The ambiance was so relaxed, the music was lovely and the service friendly and polite.
Give them a call for delivery, or plan an evening out for dinner with friends at their homely space in downtown AD.
Kabul-born Hamida Aman Organises a non-profit peace concert at Dubai’s Zabeel Park, under the Patronage of Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Centre for Cultural Understanding
Featuring seven talented alternative music artists from the Middle East, North Africa and South Africa, “Salam Aleikum” concert was held at Dubai’s Zabeel park for the first time.
The non-profit music festival aims to promote peace and cultural tolerance amongst the youth and to present a more positive image of Muslims to the rest of the world.
The concert is organised under the patronage of Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Centre for Cultural Understanding, by Hamida Aman, the General Manager of Guru Production, a Dubai Media City production company.
The centre supports community events, but this was the centre’s first community music project.
Nasif Kayed, Managing Director of Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding said: “We are all for any good cause that promotes peace between mankind, we are a non-profit organisation ourselves and always count on the support of our friends out there.”
Hamida Aman, Owner of a production company and radio station in Kabul, Afghanistan has organised a similar peace concert in Afghanistan two years ago.
“In 2013, I had a concert in Kabul for peace, where artists from neighboring countries performed in Kabul. It was very successful without any security problems.”
Since 2010, Aman has been based in Dubai as the General Manager of Guru Production, but she still visits Afghanistan regularly.
Hamida thought that it was the right time to bring the project to Dubai after a recent trip to Europe. She noticed the mainly negative perception that the West had of Muslims.
“I was very shocked that they had such a bad image of the Muslims,” she said.
The festival brings together artists from different cultures and backgrounds to communicate a positive message about Muslims and encourage peace and cultural tolerance.
Hamida adds: “We are not all terrorists. We are not all aggressive. We know how to be happy as well.”
“For me Dubai is one of the best places to celebrate togetherness. Here, all communities are living together in peace and harmony.”
Aman’s personal experience as a refugee in Switzerland for half of her life strongly inspires her peace-focused projects and initiatives.
“Because I know what war is, what is destruction and what it means to be a refugee and to go in exile, it’s important that we keep fighting to avoid this for future generations,” she said.
“My generation always lived in war and exile, and I don’t want this to continue happening in other places.”
The alternative artist line-up featured musicians whose songs carry powerful messages.
Hamida plans to organise future peace concerts in other Middle-Eastern cities.
“This is the first one in Dubai, and I hope that I will manage to bring it to Jordan, Lebanon and to Cairo eventually – to make a caravan,” she said.
The non-profit initiative will continue to spread the message of peace, and will always be for the community.
“The concert is for a cause and I want to keep it like that,” Hamida says.
“I would like to keep it like that – always for free.”
YouTube Video link:
A short video recorded at the venue while Indian Reggae band, Delhi Sultanate were performing on stage at the “Salam Aleikum” music festival at Zabeel Park on Friday:
Under the patronage of HH Sheikha Al Jalila Bint Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Etisalat sponsors the first ever Dubai Kids’ Run
In an effort to educate the UAE’s youth on the importance of healthy eating, regular exercise and an active lifestyle, the first ever Dubai kids’ run was launched.
The two-day event – which took place over the weekend – was organised by CPI Media group, and the UAE Athletics Federation. The UAE’s telecommunications company, Etisalat sponsored the race that was held at Dubai Media City’s outdoor Amphitheatre.
The race brought together the kids of Dubai in a social and fun activity that embodies a strong community spirit.
The 2 kilometer-long race catered to two groups of children. The first race started at 9:30 am and was for kids between the ages of nine to twelve. Children from ages four to eight years old ran straight after that, accompanied by their parents.
Liesa Euton, Race Director says: “We wanted to have a smooth course for the children – not too long and not too short – because we want to give them just a little bit of a challenge.”
Collectible medals were given to all the participants at the end of the adrenaline-filled race.
The first-place winner from each race category received an IPad Mini and a hamper including a variety of gadgets, gift certificates and a three-month gym membership.
The top five winners from each category have also received goody bags worth over 3,500 AED.
The event attracted more than 5,000 people, amongst cheering parents and active children.
With more than 2,000 kids participating in the race, the Etisalat Dubai Kids’ Run will be an annual event in the Dubai calendar.
Ahmed Kamali, President of the UAE Athletics Federation says: “We put this run in the calendar, so that it’s going to be like any of the future races; like Dubai Marathon for 17 years, and Dubai Women’s Run for the last 6 years. So hopefully, we are planning to have this forever.”
11 year-old Raedan Chettiar came in second place in the boys 9 to 12 years old 2KM Solo category.
“He plays football with his coach, who trained him for two weeks only.” Raedan’s mother says.
“He’s a very active boy; he plays football and cricket.”
Raedan’s coach trains a group of kids at Dubai’s Zabeel park as a part-time hobby. The kids run around the spacious park and play football two or three times a week.
The Etisalat Dubai Kids’ Run proved to be a successful initiative to promote healthy living and fitness amongst the tech-savvy and modern Dubai kids.
An even bigger step forward can be taken by eliminating the unhealthy snacks and sugar treats that were served at the fun fair after the race.
Hopefully, future events will include a variety of healthy snacks, treats and smoothie stands.
Dubai-based Creative Group – ING Creatives – teams up with graffiti and multi-talented artist, Ruben Sanchez for an original community initiative
ING Creatives, a Dubai-based organisation that supports local artists and creative professionals teamed up with Artist Ruben Sanchez for a JLT community initiative.
The Spanish-born graffiti artist, Ruben Sanchez created a colourful outdoor mural with a local theme.
Using 150 spray paint cans, Ruben transformed the wall – which looked so raw with meaningless words – into a beautiful piece of artwork.
Ruben’s inspiration comes to him while he’s drawing the sketches. “The idea was creating itself as I was sketching.” He said.
Based in the Jumeirah Lakes Towers residential area of Dubai, the community wall has a local theme behind it.
Ruben’s main inspiration were the local elements and culture that surround him. He explains the mural’s main subject as a love story: “You can see the guy playing the Oud, and he’s looking to this woman who’s not facing him. She’s acting tough.”
“That’s basically a love story – courtship.” He continues.
The local elements that inspired this artwork are evident in Ruben’s mural. “I wanted to bring things from the desert. I was playing with the local elements, like the camel.” He said.
Ruben began painting on the blank wall on the 11th of February, and the artwork was completed on the 18th of February.
“It took exactly seven days to complete the project.” He said.
The graffiti artist describes his style as Neo-Cubism.
“Since 10 years ago, I’ve been developing this style.” Ruben explained.
As a strong advocate of community art projects, Ruben was very delighted to re-paint the wall. He explains that getting involved in community art initiatives is the essence of graffiti art.
“Nobody was doing graffiti in the beginning to get money.” He explains.
The talented artist is also happy to see the street life and street art culture evolving in the Arab region and the UAE in particular.
Despite being in its novice stages, Ruben notices the street art scene progression in the city.
“Now street art is getting a lot of recognition. And huge festivals are done for it.” He says.
DMCC – the government entity which regulates trade for the JLT area has supported the community initiative by providing the paint and the cherry-picker (the lift) used to paint the wall.
Another significant supporter to the project was Ramy Alawssy, Founder of ING Creatives.
Ramy’s organisation aims to bridge the gap behind the industry and the creative professionals.
Providing a platform for illustrators, designers and photographers to showcase their work is the JLT-based company’s main concept.
Ramy’s idea of converting the raw wall into a piece of artwork became a reality after a long waiting period.
“It took DMCC one year and four months to revert with the final permission to start the work on the wall.” He said.
The delayed response from DMCC didn’t hinder Ramy’s aspirations for an enhanced community experience. His hard work was clear once the work was completed as community members were happy to take photos and play around the wall.
Ramy said: “When we removed the barriers, kids were running towards the wall and touching it, and wanting to take photos with it. So it shows you that it really is a community wall.”
As for Ramy’s choice of artist to paint the wall, he explains: “I really liked Ruben’s style, I felt it really fitted with the community.”
When Ruben is not painting or sketching in the studio, he can be found skating at one of the city’s newly developed parks.
Skateboarding is a part of his lifestyle since he was living in Madrid.
“I was skate-boarding since I was a teenager, and I was doing graffiti since I was a teenager too.” He said.
The artist misses the convenience of being able to skate at any street pavement, like in Europe.
Ruben finds the street life scene in Dubai very limiting, due to the city’s design and layout.
“It’s very confined to designated locations. It’s not like in Madrid or Barcelona, where you just go out and go skating or walking or ride your bike anywhere.” He said.
The ING creative community wall by Ruben Sanchez can be found in JLT, Dubai, Cluster V – at the lake level.
ING Creative Conference
ING Creatives are hosting a conference on the 27th and 28th of March, 2015.
ING Creatives regularly host talks and portfolio review sessions. But this will be their first conference at this scale.
The conference includes talks, workshops and portfolio reviews that are designed to motivate creatives, give them the support they need and help turn their ideas into reality.
“We’re built for the creative community. We’re not built to help communities that are outside. We’re here to help the community in the UAE, in the region, because they lack the support.” Ramy said.
To describe the group, Founder Ramy said: “We’re a creative community, we’re based here in Dubai.”
“We help creatives to make ideas happen. So we do that through talks, workshops and portfolio reviews.”
International speakers who are experts in their respective creative fields will be flying into Dubai from major cities. Ramy explains:
“We’re flying and getting 15 international speakers from New York, San Francisco, Milan, Madrid, Barcelona, and Singapore.”
“Some of these line-ups are great illustrators, designers, creative directors, fashion designers, and they speak at international creative conferences.” He continues.
The event caters to creatives from different disciplines. “Whoever has a visual portfolio, or anybody that is in the creative field. Whether there’s photography, illustration, graphic design.” Ramy explains.
“We’ll be doing it every year from now on.” He said.
The tickets are 725 AED for both days including talks and portfolio reviews.
High-end designer boutique gives artists a life-time opportunity with its first ‘Dare to Create’ art competition
High-end designer boutique – Valleydez is sponsoring an art competition titled ‘Dare to Create’ in an effort to promote aspiring and emerging artists.
The art competition requires participants to submit an illustration, photograph or any piece of artwork by the 15th of March, 2015.
The winning design will be have t-shirt printing on eight different T-shirt styles, which will be sold at the luxury Jumeirah boutique.
Sidra Surmed, Creative Executive at Valleydez boutique explains that the design entries will go through two rounds of elimination. She says: “The art competition is divided into two parts. The first part comprises of submitting an art piece – it can be a photo or a painting – then the candidates will be shortlisted. Once the candidates are shortlisted, we will contact them and then they will be asked to create a story of eight pieces.”
Each shortlisted candidate will have to create a collection based on a theme of their choice. “Within the eight pieces, you have to summarize you story. What is the theme behind your collection?” Sidra continues.
A judging panel of designers based in four different countries will be in charge of the second round of elimination. “We have four different designers in the judging panel. One is Lamya Abedin – also known as Queen of Spades – an Emirati designer, another designer from Turkey, another from Kuwait, and one from the UK – Jean-Pierre Braganza.”
Founder and Head Buyer of the innovative luxury boutique, Ghalia Al Abbas is an Emirati fashion illustrator herself. Sidra explains what inspired the boutique owner to launch the art competition. She says: “She wanted to relate something which is very personal to her.”
With March being the month of art in the city, Valleydez decided to launch its first ever art competition during the art season. “We decided to run the competition in the month of art in Dubai. March hosts Art Dubai and Design Days events. I think that people look forward to attend all these events and they get inspired. So we wanted to give a proper platform at a proper time.” Sidra explains.
The launch of the Jumeirah boutique art competition was also inspired by the brand’s aim to introduce an eclectic mix of styles into its collections.
With the summer season approaching, the concept of a T-shirt design competition seemed very appropriate. “We wanted to do more casual chic at the moment because now we are entering into the summer phase. And we wanted to bring a more cool side to the store and brand.” Sidra explains.
Supporting aspiring artists and designers from within the UAE is the main purpose of organising the competition. Sidra says: “Valleydez want to give the platform to the aspiring talents to showcase their work.”
Breaking into the design and fashion industry in the UAE can be a lengthy process. That’s why, having the support from a well-known brand can be highly rewarding. “Being in the creative industry takes a lot of courage to get into the industry.” Sidra says.
She continues: “Providing a platform for creativity is a great bonus for anyone wishing to enter the industry in the UAE.”
The art competition is open to all age groups and participants can submit artwork of any type. “There is no specific form of art that we are looking for. It should showcase the artist inside of the person. This includes photography, pop art, fashion illustration.” Sidra explains.
In addition to having their artwork printed on T-shirts, the winner will get the relevant promotion and PR support from the brand. Sidra says: “There will be total support from our PR side and from the media side. We would definitely love to feature them in the magazines, because that would be a very good idea to promote the artist within the industry.”
As for whether the profits from selling the T-shirts will go into charity, the brand is considering that. Sidra says: “About the charity, we will reveal it soon. We are definitely having some talks, but I can’t reveal that at the moment.”
The winning design will be launched as a new collection in the store. “It will be launched as a new collection – as a brand to the store.” Sidra explains.
To submit art work, visit the following link:
“We will be having an in-store event on the 23rd of March in which we are launching our SS15 collection, titled: Garden of Fashion.” Sidra concludes.
Online Designer Store, TheDressRoom.com opens the doors of its JLT showroom to Dubai residents for two consecutive days
The Dress Room designer boutique is one of Dubai’s hidden gems. Since the concept of online shopping is new to most people from the UAE, the Jumeirah Lakes Towers-based designer boutique was launched a year ago to support the online store; TheDressRoom.com.
The web site started two years ago, and an event is being held at the JLT showroom to celebrate the online store’s second anniversary.
The event takes place on Saturday, February 28 and Sunday, March 1st at the Jumeirah Business Center two building in Jumeirah Lakes Towers, Dubai.
Visitors can have a look at the various dresses on display, get their nails done, or participate in spiritual and wellness activities at the designer boutique’s showroom.
Dina Daryani, Owner and Managing Partner of TheDressRoom.com explains the inspiration behind creating the online designer store: “We saw that there’s a need for occasional dresses. It’s very difficult to find something that’s nice and suitable, that’s not very expensive.”
She continues to explain the online store’s concept: “It’s a hassle free thing; you can find a beautiful dress for a reasonable price, and you can find a huge variety to choose something that’s suitable for you.”
The online store specialises in affordable occasional dresses and caters mainly to the Arab and Indian clients. Dina explains: “You don’t usually wear these dresses often, so you don’t want to spend so much. That’s why we offer dresses that are great value for money.”
The Dress Room’s web site hosts a total of 3,000 dresses for various formal occasions, ranging from wedding, engagement, prom or graduation parties. At the JLT showroom, a selection of 300 pieces from different designer brands is displayed.
The concept of an evening wear online boutique is still new to the Gulf and Arab region. Dina observes that most women prefer to visit an actual store to try out the outfits and find their perfect fit. She says: “Our friends and people around us are more comfortable buying these fitted dresses from the showroom.”
Dina is optimistic about the future of online shopping in the region, and thinks it’s only a matter of time before people get used to it. “There is a huge potential for the online business, and I think it is growing. It just needs time.” Dina says. “The showroom is helping people in being more comfortable to buy online.”
Priyanka Nihalani, Operations and Marketing Manager for TheDressRoom.com further explains the site’s concept: “There are about eight to ten different designers on the web site right now. One of our main designers is Jovani.”
The Dress Room currently showcases the dresses of two Dubai-based designers; Hema Kaul and Duchess by Jelena.
The online concept supports talented designers from all across the globe. “Wani, an Australian-based designer develops her creations in Australia, produces the garments in India and sells them in Dubai.” Priyanka explains.
While the concept of an online evening wear store is still new to this region, Priyanka has faith that clients will eventually begin to shop online. She says: “E-commerce is the future. So we’re trying to make it easier for people who don’t have time to actually shop online and find whatever dress they’re looking for at any given time.”
The Dress Room’s web site supports local designers by connecting them with interested buyers and facilitating the selling process for them. In addition, the web site provides local designers with a portal to reach International clients.
While the concept of online shopping is still in its inception in the UAE, The team behind The Dress Room have managed to introduce it to the residents of the JLT neighbourhood and the rest of the UAE in a highly creative and appealing way.
If you’ve been following the blog, you might have read some of my Muscat trip posts. If not, here’s an introduction in the first post. As I mentioned in that post, the trip wasn’t sponsored by any third party. I wasn’t paid to write the review on the hotel or anything else from that trip. I didn’t stay at the hotel for free in return for these posts. I paid the regular full rates as any regular tourist would. That’s why, the posts are truly genuine and honest. I reviewed the hotel from with all fairness, impartiality and accuracy.
Oman is a country worth a visit if you live in the Middle East. Mainly, because it’s different than the rest of the GCC countries. I’m originally from Saudi Arabia, but I have lived in Bahrain while doing my first degree there. I’ve also visited Kuwait once, and I now live in Dubai, in the UAE. I must admit that Oman’s landscape of beach, green spaces and mountains is truly unique for this region. It has a certain magical spell about it. Being surrounded by true nature feels so blissful and relaxing. When I first arrived to the hotel, all I wanted to do was sit and take in the view from outside the hotel room window. If you missed that view, you can check it here.
I spent most of my time lounging by the beach, as I desperately needed a break from Dubai’s fast-paced and busy lifestyle. Here are some shots from the beach at Crowne Plaza Muscat.
That’s it for my Muscat trip posts. For the rest of the posts, just do a simple search on the blog’s homepage for the word “Muscat” and you should get all the posts in the search results.
Another thing that I would like to add is that all the clothes that I wear in all my posts are from my own wardrobe. They are from my personal collection and were not given to me by any third party.
I hope that you enjoyed my recent travel posts, and that they inspired you in some way to visit that lovely city, or to simply travel somewhere. I am personally looking forward to my next trip – once I’m done with my University course.
That’s another thing that I look forward to! getting my journalism degree!
Here’s a photo of my suitcase at the end of the trip – as I was getting ready to leave majestic Muscat…
If you’re looking for a new option for a healthy and fresh lunch in Dubai Silicon Oasis, then I have found just the right spot for you. Java Jolt is a newly opened cafe at Le Solarium building in Dubai Silicon Oasis. Their concept is to create simple, tasty food with a refined edge. At the same time, they try to source organic ingredients as much as possible.
When I asked co-founder and co-owner Lora about the origin of the concept, she explains: “Since everything in Dubai Silicon Oasis was take-away and fast food joints, we wanted to bring fresh, healthy food to the area.”
Lora describes the home-grown concept by saying: “We serve food that resembles something that you would make yourself at home. We use as much organic ingredients as we can. Basically, all the elements that go into the food we make are home-grown, local produce from the region.”
Executive Chef Khomotso from South Africa prepares all the sauces and salad dressings from scratch. He also makes the bread himself in the cafe’s open kitchen with the help of a kitchen aid. Java Jolt uses organic flour to make fully organic bread, muffins and wholesome bagels.
“I actually like to make my own things – completely.” Said Chef Khomotso.
When asked about his favorite dish to make, the Chef immediately tells me: “My favorite thing to make must be quiche.”
If you visit Java Jolt, you must try their home-made iced teas. The chef constantly makes new variations of freshly made iced tea. The first time I was there, I tried a pomegranate iced tea. This time though, I got to sample the Rooibos iced tea – made with a hint of lemon and orange. Known for its great health benefits, Rooibos tea originates from South Africa and makes for a wonderful refreshing drink when infused with orange and lemon!
“I was looking for something from home that I like to drink.” Explains Chef Khomotso. He calls his creation; Rooibos Citrus.
Co-founder and co-owner Jenny describes the new cafe concept: “We are trying to go as clean as possible in the UAE.”
Jenny explains: “In Dubai, most cafes are part of big chains or big companies. We wanted to start a more family-oriented style cafe with a homely feel.”
Being residents of the Dubai Silicon Oasis area, the sisters who founded and manage the cafe together with their mother felt the need to fill a gap in the market. With the majority of the available options being chain and processed food cafes and restaurants, they wanted to introduce a home-grown, wholesome concept with a friendly, welcoming and family-oriented atmosphere.
Another element that was lacking in the Dubai Silicon Oasis community was the option of an outdoor area, where friends and families could meet and catch up over coffee and fresh fare.
The New Zealand style cafe with a South African twist offers guests the option to sit outside – at the spacious and inviting terrace. “There’s no where to hang out in the area and sit outside. We created a space where parents could meet and bring their kids to play” – explains Lora, co-founder and co-owner of the fresh, wholesome and healthy concept.
Java Jolt will be open on Saturdays from 8 am to 5 pm starting next week. They also have plans to open on Friday mornings for breakfast, and on Saturday evenings for an evening roast dinner.
To find out more about the cafe and their opening times, check out their Facebook Page.
I must start by apologizing for not writing in a while. Basically, I was on a break from my University course and I was trying to make the most out of my free time.
Apart from catching up on much-needed sleep and not doing much really, I managed to make a few trips to the beach – like three trips I think! I don’t know about you, but the Dubai winter has made me feel very sluggish and all I felt like doing was stay in bed and sleep! I’ve been feeling tired most of the time too. I think it could be the result of the accumulated stress that I went through in the past term. It’s for the better though, now I can add more skills to my CV – like short video production and editing.
Talking about video editing, you might have viewed my video on the LCF event that was held in Dubai in November. Oh how I miss London and that college! I still plan to go back to finish a course that I started there in 2009 and take another course. Yes, I am a woman on a mission!
If you haven’t seen that video yet, you can find it here.
Today I’m sharing with you my full interview with Senior Business Manager at LCF, Linda Roberts. In the interview, I ask Linda about the Art of Dress Exhibition and her views on the fashion education scene in Dubai and the Middle East. Here’s a video for the full interview that I conducted with Linda Roberts from LCF:
LCF will be back with their short courses program in Dubai this February. For a complete list of the courses on offer, visit their short courses in Dubai page: