UD Review: Urban Bistro Dubai

Urban Bistro's spacious terrace
Urban Bistro’s spacious terrace

 

It’s winter in Dubai, and no one wants to spend all their time indoors. The weather is at its best and we are all want to make the most of it while it lasts. That’s why, I’ve been trying out different outlets for a weekend breakfast. But they must have one thing in common: a terrace or outdoors seating area.

Luckily, Urban Bistro has recently expanded their terrace to accommodate more people. I’ve visited this cool Media City cafe a few months ago and tried their Friday brunch – which I think you should too. The brunch had a great selection of fresh salads, healthy and tasty juice blends, and a good variety of main courses.

Today, I opted for the breakfast meal. My friend and I both went for the vegetarian breakfast. You can choose how you want your eggs to be cooked – we had ours poached. This healthy breakfast option comes with sauteed spinach, roasted cherry tomatoes, avocado slices, Portobello mushrooms, and roasted new potatoes.

I teamed up my veggie breakfast with a green juice for a super nutritious meal 🙂

 

Urban Bistro's vegetarian breakfast.
Urban Bistro’s vegetarian breakfast.

 

Poached eggs for breakfast at Urban Bistro Dubai
Poached eggs for breakfast at Urban Bistro Dubai

 

If you’re someone who doesn’t like to have any meat (chicken, beef or salmon) with their breakfast, then you should give Urban Bistro’s vegetarian breakfast a try. And if you’re tired of the conventional glass of orange juice with your breakfast, then you’ll love the different blends that they serve at this chilled Media City cafe.

I personally prefer to go somewhere quiet and peaceful on the weekend – away from the busy cafes and malls. Somewhere where I can have a nice conversation with a friend, work peacefully on my laptop, or just take in the beautiful view as I sip on my cup of latte.

 

Relaxation mode at Urban Bistro's terrace
Relaxation mode at Urban Bistro’s terrace

 

Urban Bistro Dubai's interior is spacious and airy
Urban Bistro Dubai’s interior is spacious and airy

 

Urban Bistro is a hidden gem that I’m glad I discovered. It’s located in a lovely area of Dubai Media City – surrounded by a tranquil and peaceful green space. There’s even a lake with turtles and sea birds in front of the cafe – perfect for a day of relaxation.

Whether you work in Dubai Media City or just live nearby, then I would definitely recommend that you check out Urban Bistro.

On weekdays, the place is buzzing with media professional and other working people on their lunch break. And in the weekends, it is the epitome of tranquility and peacefulness in a busy, modern city life.

 

Web site: Urban Bistro Dubai.

 

Urban Bistro Dubai - a hidden gem
Urban Bistro Dubai – a hidden gem

Photo Essay: Sole DXB Event in Dubai

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Today’s post is another University project that I just completed for this term’s photojournalism course. I present to you:

My Photo Essay on Sole DXB event that took place on the 14th and 15th of November. I was there on the 14th of November for a few hours, taking photos and meeting up with some friends.

First up, the short synopsis about the photo essay:

Many think that Dubai’s street culture doesn’t exist. The organisers of Dubai’s urban lifestyle and culture event want to change that misconception.

The city’s first – one of its kind event, Sole DXB was staged at Dubai Design District to showcase the region’s latest street culture trends. Specifically the footwear, fashion, basketball, hip hop, and street art.

Those who made their way to the venue were treated by regional retail brands; Nike, Puma, and Reebok. DJ’s, live performances and panel discussions pumped life into the event and gave it a fresh and exciting community atmosphere. With a hidden construction site chosen as a venue for this year’s Sole DXB event, indeed it is underground.

 

Ball Above All
Ball Above All

Professional basketball players take turns at shooting hoops at Sole DXB’s grounds in celebration of basketball culture. Dubbed ‘Ball Above All’, the competition saw the victor walk away with 10,000 AED. The game has proved to be a popular way to bring the community together. The only stipulation was that entrants must be 18 or older to apply to play in the tournament.

 

Funky Lines and Abstract Shapes
Funky Lines and Abstract Shapes

British artist, Remi Rough and his counterpart YesBee are busy creating the freestyled ‘Mondrian vs Wildstyle’ art piece. A 3 x 10 meter art work; spray painted using ‘Montana 94’ paint. Remi’s art began on walls and trains in South London in 1984. By his own admission, “I didn’t invent straight lines, I just made them funky!” – said Rough of his work.

 

Feline Nostalgic?
Feline Nostalgic?

Canadian pop artist, Antoine Tavaglione – also known as Tava is a muralist and illustrator based in Montreal. Famed for his signature ‘dripping milk’ paintings, his “Che Cazz” piece proved a popular addition to Sole DXB. The cat figure mural was created in one day, and produced using spray cans.

 

Melting Bart Art
Melting Bart Art

Additional work from Tava – showing more of his favourite cartoon figures – this time, Bart Simpson. Made using acrylic colours on canvas, Tava said: “I like to recreate iconic characters that are very nostalgic to me, and add my signature dripping effect to them as if they are melting ice cream.”

 

Futuristic Femme Fatales
Futuristic Femme Fatales

‘The Irezumi Girls’ are part of a limited edition created by Dubai-based design studio Robot and Spark. The figures are made using cast resin material with a chrome finish. The artist imagined these toys to live in the year 2075 in the city of London. ‘The Irezumi Girls’ are a gang of heavily tattooed, uber cool, superhero vixens hailing from Baker Street Station.

 

The Dangerous Duo: Lipstick and Suicide
The Dangerous Duo: Lipstick and Suicide

Creative Director Robert Gibbs from design studio Robot and Spark has been working on these original figurines since 2009. The germ of the idea came from a fiction-story about a group of futuristic, rebellious and superhero vixens – namely Lipstick and Suicide. The futuristic fantasy eventually came to life at Sole DXB’s gallery, after a five-year obsession.

 

Vintage-inspired Wheel Art
Vintage-inspired Wheel Art

British artist and photographer, Julian Castaldi expresses his love for Italian company ‘Campag’ with this painting of a vintage bicycle. His cobalt blue piece was inspired by his love for cycling, and the iconic company. Julian explains the concept by saying: “I have always loved the logo and story behind the brand.” The ‘Campagnolo’ painting uses acrylic, enamel, pastels, and lacquer on a 4 feet x 3 feet canvas.

 

Retro Biking
Retro Biking

Corcel, a Dubai-based bicycle and apparel store take cycling lovers back to the good old days with their 50’s/60’s inspired collection. The ‘Bikeid’ range was created for a nostalgic bicycle experience. The simple, elegant, and vintage designs can be customized for personal taste. A couple interested in getting a bike are looking at the catalogue and selecting their preferred colour of bike and tires.

 

Soulful Art
Soulful Art

An amateur artist is keeping himself busy by drawing a pair of sneakers using spray paint. Despite his aching fingers from the excessive amount of pressure while completing this piece of art, he is determined to leave his mark at Sole DXB. He asks the audience: “Does it look like a shoe?” and feels ecstatic after their approval.

 

Neon Galore
Neon Galore

The stylish crowd attending the urban lifestyle event did not overlook making a fashion statement with their favourite pair of sneakers. A young lady sporting a very bright and colourful pair of ‘Nike’ trainers caught my attention. She told me that they were a recent buy from the brand’s latest collection.

 

Drained Soles
Drained Soles

Another original pair of ‘Nike’ trainers worn by one of the ladies attending the street art event. When I asked her about the unique running shoes, she told me the story behind them and how they’ve been worn out at a music festival overseas. “I bought them from Barcelona – for a rave.” she said. I thought they still looked new and exotic!

 

Reliving the 90’s
Reliving the 90’s

A priceless moment in time, as I am transformed back to the 90’s at street wear label Amongst Few’s interactive gaming space. The highlight of the event for me was discovering this cool 90’s inspired concept brand. Founded in 2013, Amongst Few is a Dubai-based street wear brand that merges traditional Emirati outfit inspiration with Western style. In my nostalgic 90’s flashback, I can be seen playing the game ‘Duck Hunt’ on a 1983 Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) console – complete with classic TV sets and 90’s memorabilia.

 

On Cloud Nine
On Cloud Nine

A great variety of second-hand sneakers on display at the sneaker swap stall. Trendy and pristine trainers to match every age and style fill the wooden racks at this sneaker wonderland. Get lost in time as you look for the perfect pair to replace your worn out and tired sneakers. No cash? Don’t worry, you can trade in the currency of sneakers!

 

Bouncing Sick Beats
Bouncing Sick Beats

Dubai-based urban and R&B DJ, Mr. Shef Codes livens up the Reebok space with his top old-school R&B beats. Shefan Lantra, better known as Mr. Shef Codes is currently signed with Bliss Inc Entertainment and plays at local venues around the city. The tunes he was playing were so addictive, they kept the crowd glued to the Reebok stand far longer than they intended to be there.

 

Love for the Sole
Love for the Sole

Iraqi artist, designer, calligrapher, and typographer Wissam Shawkat creates a ‘calligraffiti’ piece of art in his signature modern Arabic calligraphy style. The art work includes the words (love, affection) written in calligraphy style. The Dubai-based artist has been in love with the classical writing style since he was 10 years old. He is using acrylic colours on canvas to create the aptly titled ‘Love for the Sole (Soul)’ piece.

 

Some additional images that were not part of my photo essay project:

 

PUMA x Sophia Chang sneakers
PUMA x Sophia Chang sneakers

I won these lovely designer PUMA sneakers in a competition that I entered with Stylist Arabia magazine. All I had to do was share a photo of my favourite pair of sneakers! This pair was part of a collection for autumn/winter 2014, in a collaboration between PUMA and East Coast creative Sophia Chang. The designer’s illustrations are inspired by New York, and specifically the Brooklyn area.

 

Here’s the finished wall that Remi Rough and Yesbee were painting:

 

Remi Rough art work
Remi Rough art work

 

here are other paintings from Julian Castaldi that were on display at the event’s gallery:

"7Up"
“7Up”

Materials used: acrylic, enamel, lacquer on canvas : 4feet diameter.

Concept: Just love the old school soda labels I actually collect vintage skateboards, soda bottles amongst other things.
"Skater Girl"
“Skater Girl”

Materials used: 100cm x 70cm in metal frame.

Concept: Shot in London and used in Urban Outfitters.

"Typo"
“Typo”

Materials used: 100cm x 70cm in metal frame.

Concept: Love the signage and billboards around LA lots of hand painted and distressed signage which looks amazing, this was shot around Melrose in LA.

 

"Voyeur"
“Voyeur”

Materials used: 100cm x 70cm in metal frame.

Concept: Used to drive past this private members club on Santa Monica Blvd, it had a mysterious look and I stopped one morning to shoot the pic.

 

"7Up Polaroids"
“7Up Polaroids”

Framed original Polaroids shot in LA 2005 on painted board.

 

"Pegasus"
“Pegasus”
Framed original Polaroids shot in 2012 on painted board
Julian explains:
“I have been shooting Polaroids for over 20 years and my Private Rooms project includes Polaroids I have taken of John Malkovich, David Bailey, Oasis, Pearl Jam and many more.”
For more information about Sole DXB or any of the artists mentioned in this post, check the links included in this post.
My personal pair of sneakers which I wore to Sole DXB!
My personal pair of sneakers which I wore to Sole DXB!

 

UD Review: Sri Sri Harmony with Yoga Ashram

Great views at Yoga Ashram Dubai studios
Great views at Yoga Ashram Dubai studios

 

I have a confession to make: I had leftover bean nachos and some guacamole dip for dinner (recipe will be shared soon on the blog). I feel bloated, extremely guilty and very uncomfortable. As if eating a 2-days old leftover mash of beans, corn chips and tomato sauce – that now looks like play-doh – isn’t enough to make anyone feel an ultimate surge of guilt and self-loath…I also just saw a recent photo taken of me at the Zeta restaurant and lounge opening at The Address Downtown Dubai, where I have an obvious bulging belly!

And to top all of this unhealthy diet phase and low workout lifestyle, I am now overwhelmed with University projects and assignments that I need to spend a lot of time working on. This means that I won’t be able to do any proper physical exercise until the term ends sometime in mid-December!

But, at least I have Yoga Ashram just across from my building. If you still haven’t read my previous posts about this lovely yoga studio, then you are missing out big time. I’ve been trying out a couple of their classes, and I must say that each class they offer is distinct and different.

My latest review was of their Hatha Yoga class. This time, I tried a class called Sri Sri Harmony. Which is also very different in essence from the Sri Sri Fit class – which I reviewed earlier.

What is Sri Sri Harmony?

The session is comprised of a combination of breathing exercises and basic yoga postures. Sri Sri Harmony is more of a therapeutic type of yoga, as opposed to a fitness one.

Why Sri Sri Harmony?

The main aim of this type of yoga is to bring back the awareness and balance to the body. This is done by performing a sequence of postures that are done with gentle and repetitive yogic breathing.

How difficult are the postures?

I must admit that the postures and breathing techniques for this class are fairly simple and easy to follow for all levels. This is a great class for beginners to yoga, as the postures are very basic and don’t require much effort.

Who should attend this class?

Anyone who is looking to meditate, release tension and destress should give this class a try. It’s a great way to let go of all the stress and negative emotions, and to bring more awareness and presence to the body in a very relaxed and casual environment.

What are the benefits of this type of yoga?

At the end of the class, you will notice that your breathing is more deep. You can take longer inhales and exhales, and you start to breathe correctly. You will feel as if the lungs are more open and that you are more relaxed and less stressed.

I personally felt that the blood circulation in my body has improved greatly – as I always have cold hands and feet. I also could feel that my abs have toned and that feeling continued for two days after the class!

Of course, with all the stress from my University school work, meditating with Sri Sri Harmony surely helped reduce my stress and anxiety levels.

Whenever you visit Yoga Ashram, you will feel as if you have entered a new space – full of positive and peaceful vibes. That is also made more powerful with the help of the extremely friendly and genuinely kind staff.

In a nutshell:

If you’re looking for a way to find peace and presence in the midst of a busy, fast-paced and hectic lifestyle, then you won’t regret trying Sri Sri Harmony. The session offers a simple and effective way to re-energize the body and soul with basic breathing and yoga postures.

 

Yoga Ashram Dubai
Yoga Ashram Dubai

 

Note: When we breathe, we only use up to 30% of our lungs. Sri Sri Harmony helps us make use of 90% of our lungs’ capacity.

 

Sri Sri Harmony at Yoga Ashram Dubai
Sri Sri Harmony at Yoga Ashram Dubai

 

Honestly, I can’t wait till I’m done with my University course so that I can become a regular at this authentic and blissful yoga studio.

The next time you are in JLT, give Yoga Ashram a visit and you won’t be disappointed.

Yoga Ashram is located in Cluster X – X3 tower (1504).

Tel: +9714 – 3609028
Email: [email protected]

Web Site: http://yogaashram.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/yogashramJLT

 

I can’t wait for my next Yoga Ashram class, not only to shed off some of the weight that I’m accumulating and tone up, but also to see the lovely and warm team at that studio – who make it a truly one of a kind fitness and well-being center.

 

Rebellious Diva Signing off X

 

 

Majestic Muscat: The Exclusive Qurum Club Lounge at Crowne Plaza Muscat

UD at Qurum Club Lounge at Crowne Plaza Muscat
UD at Qurum Club Lounge at Crowne Plaza Muscat

 

After my traditional market escapade at Muttrah Souq, I head to the Crowne Plaza Muscat‘s Club Lounge for some canapes and refreshing drinks.

The exclusive Qurum Club Lounge is located on the 6th floor of the hotel, overlooking the beautiful Gulf of Oman.

What’s great about this club lounge – apart from the amazing views – is that it’s open all around the clock. A wide range of snacks and drinks are served throughout the day, to match every mood and palate.

You can choose to sit inside and work on your laptop, read a book, or watch the news on TV. In the evenings, I would suggest sitting out in the terrace and cherishing the tranquil and peaceful beach setting.

Of course with me being the Saudi Diva, I chose to do it all! At one point, I was reading my book inside while having some tasty canapes. And on anther occasion, I was outside on the terrace taking a break from my sacred tanning sessions. I even spent some time networking with some business guests 🙂

I must warn you though; the canapes served at the Qurum Club Lounge are pretty addictive! Honestly, I couldn’t stop myself from making numerous trips to the buffet to refill my plate. I even felt a combination of guilt (for overeating) and embarrassment (from the repetitive trips to the buffet). But what can I say, the food at Crowne Plaza Muscat is of great quality and the Club Lounge snacks were no exception.

If you’re a foodie like me, then I can’t recommend any other hotel in Muscat other than the Crowne Plaza. The standard of the F&B in that hotel is truly exceptional.

In the following photo, I’m wearing a short floral print summer dress from cool 90’s urban style label: Pull&Bear.

Being a 90’s girl, I can’t think of a high street brand that matches my personal style like Pull and Bear. A mix of feminine, tom-boyish, and street style outfits. Love that label…

Sunset at Qurum Club Lounge at Crowne Plaza Muscat
Sunset at Qurum Club Lounge at Crowne Plaza Muscat

 

Canapes at Qurum Club Lounge
Canapes at Qurum Club Lounge

 

A great spot for contemplation
A great spot for contemplation

 

Gulf of Oman view from Qurum Club Lounge Terrace
Gulf of Oman view from Qurum Club Lounge Terrace

 

Fishing Harbor view from Qurum Club Lounge
Fishing Harbor view from Qurum Club Lounge

 

Qurum neighborhood view at Qurum Club Lounge
Qurum neighborhood view at Qurum Club Lounge

 

Doing business with stunning views
Doing business with stunning views

 

See you at the next post!
See you at the next post!

 

The Qurum Club Lounge is not only a place to do business or network with other hotel guests, it’s also a place for celebration! While I was there, the staff brought a birthday cake and sang Happy Birthday for one of the business guests at the lounge. Now if that’s not outstanding and personalized service, I don’t know what is…

Stay tuned for more posts from my Muscat trip!

Love,

The Rebellious Saudi Diva X

UD Review: Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi Waterpark

UD visits Yas Waterworld waterpark in Abu Dhabi!
UD visits Yas Waterworld waterpark in Abu Dhabi!

 

I can’t believe it took me this long to visit Yas Waterworld waterpark in Abu Dhabi! I think the main reason was the fact that I don’t drive, and so the idea of venturing out of the city requires some sort of planning and transportation arrangement.

The best part was that I got to spend my Friday doing something completely new, fun and exciting! Plus, being an outdoorsy person and a cancerian, means that walking around barefoot on grounds made cool with water sprays and splashing in water for a full day is my ideal definition of the word leisure!

If you need an instant boost to your mood, an intense dose of adrenaline rush, or simply a unique and fun way to spend a weekend, then Yas Waterworld should be on the top of your list 🙂

The park is open from 10 am to 7 pm daily. And there are clear directions for how to get there on the waterpark’s web site.

UD is excited about visiting Yas Waterworld!
UD is excited about visiting Yas Waterworld!

 

What’s unique about this waterpark?

  • Yas Waterworld is not your ordinary waterpark. It’s a waterpark with an Arabian theme and concept.
  • There are water sprinklers on most of the spaces in the park. So you don’t have to worry about walking barefoot in the UAE summer heat.
  • There are even members of staff spraying water on you at different locations – just to cool you off while you walk to your next ride.
  • The whole atmosphere in this waterpark is so lively, upbeat and full of a strong zest for life and happy times 🙂
  • There are professional photographers scattered around the park to take your picture in the water, in front of the slides, or even at the roller-coaster ride.
  • There is underground irrigation, which helps keep the ground cool at all times. This makes it easy to walk without flip flops throughout the park.
  • There are dance competitions for kids with passes as giveaways.
  • There was a pearl diving show for both adults and kids. Which is great for expats to learn about the pearl diving culture and heritage in the region.
  • There were performers all across the park on the day I visited. As it was the first day of the start of the 100 family days – an event which will go on until the end of the year.
  • The park has a wide range of food and drink options. The ice-cream is not to be missed! super delicious!
  • There are different levels of the rides. So whether you just want to slide down a river in a floater or go down a vertical drop slide, there’s definitely something for everyone.
  • There’s a good number of rides and activities for kids too.
  • There was music all over the waterpark. And my favorite radio station – Channel 4 FM – were at the park on that day 😀

Here are some of the photos from the rides that I went on (mind you, my friends and I went on all of the rides twice and three times on one of them!):

The Bandit Bomber is a super cool roller coaster ride – only more fun since you’re in your swim wear! This ride gives you a full tour of the waterpark with crazy detours and turns that will blow you out of your mind 😀  in a good way though….it’s also very breezy up that ride!

 

Bandit Bomber ride at Yas Waterworld in Abu Dhabi
Bandit Bomber ride at Yas Waterworld in Abu Dhabi

 

This ride had different speeds and you can choose the one that matches your fitness level 🙂

 

Slither's Slides at Yas Waterworld waterpark
Slither’s Slides at Yas Waterworld waterpark

 

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waterpark fun at Yas Waterworld in Abu Dhabi
waterpark fun at Yas Waterworld in Abu Dhabi

 

The “beach” or “waves” pool is great for chilling out in between rides. This is me doing poses in the “beach” pool 🙂

 

UD at Yas Waterworld "beach" pool
UD at Yas Waterworld “beach” pool

 

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Great fun at Yas Waterworld in Abu Dhabi
Great fun at Yas Waterworld in Abu Dhabi

 

Being the coffee addict that I am, of course I had to look for a place that serves iced-coffee. And I’m glad to say that I wasn’t disappointed because Yas Berry Cafe serves up a variety of drinks from smoothies to coffees to all things refreshing and delightful…

Yas Berry Cafe at Yas Waterworld
Yas Berry Cafe at Yas Waterworld

 

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iced coffee at Yas Waterworld
iced coffee at Yas Waterworld

 

The surf pool seemed cool, maybe I’ll try it next time 🙂

The surfing pool at Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi
The surfing pool at Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi

 

Dancers at Yas Waterworld stage
Dancers at Yas Waterworld stage

 

Chilling at Yas Waterworld
Chilling at Yas Waterworld

 

They even have body drying machines at the park! which come in handy when you forget to bring your swim suit wet bag like I did…

Body Dryer at Yas Waterworld
Body Dryer at Yas Waterworld

 

There’s no end to the leisure activities, top quality service and upscale facilities that Yas Waterworld has to offer! Read on to find out more:

  • Private cabanas.
  • Sun loungers scattered all around the park and at the area by the “beach” pool.
  • DJ playing cool tracks near the “beach” pool.
  • River with floaters that takes you from one side of the park to the other. We used the river to get to the next ride location 🙂
  • Waterfalls, water splashing at you from random places, and all sorts of water park fun.
  • Friendly and helpful staff. The general atmosphere at this waterpark is highly positive and refreshing. Everyone is happy to be there and to do their job at their best level.
  • Professional picture taking – you can choose to buy your photos at the end of the day. I had mine saved on a USB stick.
  • Good way to stay fit in a fun and cool environment.
  • Great options for food and drinks. I must try the coconut drink at my next visit. The quality of the food was excellent too.
  • A range of activities and things to do for kids. As well as exciting competitions.
  • Events for families. The “100 family days” event will go on till the end of the year. But there will also be other events throughout the coming months.
  • Upcoming events include: festival of lights, music events, and winter activities.

 

Result?

I honestly woke up with an unusual high the next morning after my Yas Waterworld adventure! I guess it was the adrenaline rush from going on all those fun and exciting rides. I think everyone should head out to this original and vibrant waterpark every once in a while. It’s a truly refreshing and invigorating way to spend a Friday. One that’s suitable for the whole family too. Everyone from the babies to the elderly and all ages in between were having a blast at this cool waterpark.

Here are the prices that I took a picture of at the ticket booth on my way out…

Yas Waterworld ticket prices
Yas Waterworld ticket prices

 

Note: If you’re visiting the park on a weekend, you might want to go for the premium admission passes. The premium admission tickets allow you to access the rides through the fast lane/track. This means that you will avoid waiting in the long queues for some of the popular rides on a Friday.

 

For more information, check out Yas Waterworld’s web site or Facebook Page.

 

I can’t wait to visit this lovely and magical waterpark again. Have you visited Yas Waterworld? If so, what did you think? 🙂

Love,

The Rebellious Saudi Diva

Majestic Muscat: Breathtaking Barr Al Jissah

Exploring Barr Al Jissah
Exploring Barr Al Jissah

 

You might have read my introductory post about my recent trip to Muscat, and how I got most of my friends and family worried about me. How come? well, I decided to disappear from Dubai for a short break without informing many people that I was leaving 🙂  My dad knew that I was going to Muscat, but since he’s always been a forgetful person, he completely forgot about it. And I ended up being the center of attention – even to my building’s security guards! If you missed that post, you can still find it here.

Because I like to have  music as a background to my life – be it radio, music TV channels, or Youtube music videos, I decided to share with you this uber cool playlist that I discovered recently. The best part? it’s mainly old-school R&B – my favorite music genre! You can keep this playlist playing in the background as you go through my second Muscat trip post – if you wish of course:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nOmTIiyQRjI

 

Now, if you are visiting Muscat for the first time, you must understand one thing: Most tourist areas, green mountains, wadis, hot water spots, nature, whatever it is – is located at least two hours or an hour and a half away from Muscat downtown.  You could take a tour day trip, hire a taxi driver, or rent a car and drive there yourself. However, for a Diva like me, I decided to just lounge by the beach all day and leave all the sightseeing for another trip! Yes, I was really exhausted from the super fast-paced Dubai life and I wanted to take a break to just breathe…

On the bright side, I did meet some nice people during my trip who offered to take me sightseeing on my next visit to Oman.

So my suggestion for you would be to make friends as soon as you land in Muscat (provided that you don’t have ones already) and ask them to take you around the city and the beautiful green landscapes (which I didn’t get a chance to see really!).

However, I did manage to check out the Barr Al Jissah area. Which is basically a mountainous landscaped area – beautiful at sunset time. I even stopped at the highway to take some pictures for you guys to see! How brave is that? 🙂

 

Barr Al Jissah in Muscat
Barr Al Jissah in Muscat

 

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Both my top and skirt are from the very feminine Miss Selfridge

 

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The road through Barr Al Jissah can only take you to the Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa. And that’s where I went to check out Long Bar, after seeing it listed in the first edition of Conde Nast Traveller Middle East. I had always dreamed of visiting Oman, so I kept that copy of the magazine’s first edition…and it sure came in handy! It does take time to realize your dreams, but it’s never impossible. So whatever those dreams are – whether you dream of visiting an exotic beach destination or becoming a well-known artist – you will get there if you have a strong will and a bit of patience 🙂

 

Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa
Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa

 

The beach width at Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa is quite big. But I must admit, I had higher expectations for this resort. Coming from glamorous and shiny Dubai, I honestly wasn’t impressed with this hotel to say the least. This property didn’t match the standard of this renowned five-star hotel group, nor did the ambiance or food at Long Bar. I felt that the hotel was kind of shabby – I know it’s Oman and not Dubai. So it’s meant to be kind of old and rich in heritage. But I still didn’t feel like I was at the Shangri-La! I had heard a lot about this specific resort prior to visiting. But sadly, I was disappointed with my experience there.

As for Long Bar, it did have an outdoor seating overlooking the bay. However, there were no coolers in the outdoor area (unlike outdoor spaces in Dubai). Plus, there was no music playing in the outside area – apart from the Oud player serenading us with “Om Kulthoum” classics in the next door venue. Now if I wanted to listen to Oud and some classical Arabic tunes, would I be heading to the Shangri-La Resort & Spa for my night out? Hmm…maybe not. It’s true that it was a quiet and serene spot for a chilled night out. But I would say it was too quiet for my liking. Quiet at Long Bar translated into “haunted”. And that’s not what you expect at a five-star beach resort bar.

I only had breakfast that day, so when I saw that they had Spanish tapas on their menu at Long Bar, I got excited! I ordered the classic Spanish omelet starter – only to be even more disappointed with this sports bar. The omelet tasted like something that you would get at a breakfast place that doesn’t serve decent breakfast. In Dubai, ordering International dishes means that the restaurant will try to make them in a way that is highly similar to the original recipe. It will taste very close to the real thing too! Not at Long Bar unfortunately. They might as well remove the Spanish tapas from the menu if they can’t make them properly. This is what I had at Long Bar:

Spanish Tapas at Long Bar - Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa
Spanish Tapas at Long Bar – Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa

 

"Resort Fling" nail polish by Essie
“Resort Fling” nail polish by Essie

 

In the above photo, I’m wearing “Resort Fling” nail polish shade by the famous Essie brand.

 

Long Bar at Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa
Long Bar at Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa

 

I think that’s about all I had to say about this part of my Muscat trip. But stay tuned to hear about more places to see in Muscat…

Love,

The Rebellious Saudi Diva XXX

 

UD explores Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah
UD explores Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah

Majestic Muscat: Al Qurum Elite Neighborhood

View from Crowne Plaza Muscat Club Lounge
View from Crowne Plaza Muscat Club Lounge Terrace

 

I chose Muscat as my summer holiday destination because I wanted to get away to a nearby peaceful and quiet place. And I’m glad to say that I couldn’t have made a better decision. Luckily, as a GCC national, I don’t require a visit visa for Oman. This fact is considered a great privilege, since an advance application for a visit visa is required for most countries with my Saudi passport.

Browsing through the mainly positive reviews of the Crowne Plaza Muscat on Trip Advisor will make anyone looking for a mid-range hotel choose to stay there. And as a note to all my readers and followers, I assure you that I paid the regular room charges for my stay at the Crowne Plaza Muscat. So this is by no means a sponsored post. It is a genuine review of my experience at the hotel and in Muscat in general.

The unique element about this hotel is its location. It’s situated on top of a hill in the “Al Qurum” area. The area is around 25 minutes away by car from Muscat International airport. It’s a well-reputed residential upscale area, that is home to many of the country’s ministers, PDO (Oman’s leading oil and gas company), and the residential compounds of PDO’s employees and other company facilities.

Crowne Plaza Muscat is a four-star property:

Crowne Plaza Muscat is a four star property
Crowne Plaza Muscat is a four star property

 

After my Hong Kong hotel room view, I decided to choose a sea-view room this time around 🙂  Here’s my breathtaking view from my room at Crowne Plaza Muscat:

sea-view room at Crowne Plaza Muscat
sea-view room at Crowne Plaza Muscat

 

Another view from my room window:

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A view of the swimming pool from the same window 🙂

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While at my peaceful sea-view room, I could hear the sound of the waves and the birds chirping throughout the day. Just being in the room felt so relaxing and serene. It resembled living in the outdoors or in a forest for my whole stay there. I even decided to keep my mobile phone switched off throughout my vacation – which caused a lot of family and friends to get worried about me. This meant that I came back to my apartment building’s reception in Dubai to a security guard requesting me to call my worried father, and looking at me as if I’m a crazy woman! not to mention a sweet note slipped under my door from my besties in Dubai, wondering where I have disappeared! Of course all of that commotion can only prove one thing: that none of my close friends in Dubai take the time to read my blog posts! Sigh…oh well, I hope that I will gain loyal readers from across the world who are genuinely interested in reading my blog posts! I will post a picture of that note later on my Facebook Page. So stay tuned for that 🙂

 

Here’s a look at my home for a total of 8 days….

Sea-view Room at Crowne Plaza Muscat
Sea-view Room at Crowne Plaza Muscat

 

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On my first day, I needed to get a few things from a grocery store, so I headed to Al Qurum City Center. It’s basically a local mall for the lovely Qurum area. It’s part of the popular City Center shopping mall chain that has a number of malls around the GCC. The taxis is Oman do not have meters like the ones in Dubai. So you can find the fixed rates on a sign board at the hotel, airport and at malls. The taxi fare from Crowne Plaza Muscat to Qurum City Center is 4 OMR.  There’s a Carrefour hypermarket in the shopping mall. But it’s not nearly as busy as the one in Dubai! I was there on a Thursday afternoon (around 3:30 pm) and the halls of the supermarket were haunted! It was a shocking scene for someone who frequents Dubai’s MOE Carrefour to say the least! Apparently, the residents have other more popular options for their grocery shopping aside from the UAE-renowned Carrefour.

I was glad to see a Borders bookstore at Qurum City Center! I managed to get a copy of a travel magazine and two notebooks for my University September semester (which started yesterday b.t.w.). Here’s a photo of Borders at Qurum City Center.

Borders bookstore at Qurum City Center
Borders bookstore at Qurum City Center

 

It takes around 5 minutes to get to the mall from Crowne Plaza Muscat. It’s a small-sized mall with only one floor including a number of high-street retail shops, a Starbucks, a food court, a Chili’s restaurant, a cinema and the Carrefour. I would say it’s a nice quiet place to go to when you need to kill some time, want to get some groceries, or do some people watching at the Starbucks 🙂

I’ll be posting the remaining photos on my Facebook Page at the end of these series of travel posts. So stay tuned to find out more about the beautiful and captivating city of Muscat…

 

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Note: Airport taxis are located outside the arrival hall in Muscat airport. The cost from the airport to Crowne Plaza Muscat is 10 OMR per way. It’s a fixed rate that you must pay at the airport taxi station, which is located outside the arrival hall at Muscat airport. Muscat airport can be quite busy and overwhelming, so don’t let that put you off a highly peaceful and beautiful city 🙂

UD Review: Pilates with Tribefit ME!

Pilates at Tribefit ME
Pilates at Tribefit ME

 

It was my second time to visit this fitness center which brands itself as a “Fitness and Social Club”. My first visit was during an outdoor yoga event organized by the “Mother, Baby and Child” magazine. Needless to say, it was a highly rejuvenating and relaxing experience to do yoga at a terrace, when the weather was breezy and cool. This time, I was back to Tribefit to check out their Pilates class.

From my personal experience and after two visits to this hip and contemporary fitness club, here’s what I think makes this club different from others and why you should consider visiting:

  1. They offer classes at a professional fitness level, for intermediate to advanced trainees, by highly experienced and motivational instructors.
  2. The club is spacious, with funky and cool interiors, and a number of studios for the different group exercise classes they offer.
  3. There’s an organic food specialty cafe inside the club.
  4. The club regularly organizes social and fitness events for both its members and non-members.
  5. It’s located within short walking distance from the JLT Metro Station (Marina side). Which makes it perfect for those who don’t drive (like moi), or who prefer to take the metro for its convenience.

Now, from my personal point of view, how did I feel about Tribefit’s concept and venue?

  1. The yoga studio where we had our Pilates class had floor to ceiling glass windows, with a view of the Marina-JBR bridge. So it felt like I was in the heart of new Dubai, surrounded by life – as pedestrians walked by over the renowned bridge. It also made me feel nostalgic to my London days! Everything about that studio, the view from those huge windows, the people passing by…all of my surroundings at that moment in time could only translate to one thing: a trip down memory lane to my days in London town 🙂 So if any of you readers are going through some kind of nostalgia for your London days, then I would suggest a simple trip to Tribefit 🙂
  2. Anyone who has lived in Dubai as a single person might have gone through the process of endlessly looking for a compatible partner, only to be left hopeless and disappointed. Well, guess what? there’s a secret place where you can get fit, have fun while doing it, AND get to meet new people who share your interests, love for fitness and positive outlook on life! I believe that anyone who is single and looking for love in the city of Dubai, should give Tribefit a try and see where it goes.

 

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How was the Pilates Class?

  • The instructor was very friendly and she encourages you to work hard in class, in a very motivational and friendly way.
  • The class is like one big family. Everyone was so friendly – including the trainer – Kate. The ambiance of the class was very social and friendly.
  • You will definitely experience the difference in this Pilates class from others. It’s designed for advanced students, with some of the moves being too challenging for not-so fit people like me! However, I was told that the level of difficulty increases as the week goes by. And since I was there on a Thursday, the class was quite intense!
  • Since some of the postures are too advanced, Kate would guide us on the alternative move for beginners. Which was great. So she would demonstrate the move for the various fitness levels of the students in class. That way, no one has an excuse to lay around on the mat and do nothing!
  • As this is an advanced form of Pilates, you are certain to feel the results after the class. It is more of a fitness/strengthening/calorie-burning exercise. And not your typical Pilates class.

 

Check out these two experts in their best headstand split pose! P.S. They are loyal Yoga and Pilates students 🙂

 

Anna and Tariq doing the headstand split!
Anna and Tariq doing the headstand split!

 

Extra Points:

  • The Yoga studio was beautifully dimmed during our class, with color-changing lights in the ceiling. The ambiance was so relaxing and soothing.
  • The music playlist was excellent during the class, and it helped in synchronizing the moves to the song beats. Cool factor: high 🙂
  • Mats, towels of big and small sizes, and lockers are provided to all students. So are showers, sauna and changing room facilities.
  • Being a big fan of Elken Cafe, I must admit that having a branch of that cafe in my fitness club does score high in my books 🙂
  • As I mentioned earlier, the location is key for folks who don’t drive – like me. So being able to walk a few steps to the club from the Metro station is a huge plus for me!
Tribefit Marina interior
Tribefit Marina interior

 

Elken Cafe inside Tribefit Marina!
Elken Cafe inside Tribefit Marina!

 

Hip and Modern Interior at Tribefit Marina
Hip and Modern Interior at Tribefit Marina

 

Join the Tribe at Tribefit!
Join the Tribe at Tribefit!

 

Who should join Tribefit?

  • If you’re looking to meet new people and make new friends while socializing in a casual, friendly and positive environment.
  • If you’re single and are looking to meet new people in a different setting to the typical bar/club scene.
  • If you live in or around the Marina area, and don’t drive!
  • If you’re sick and tired of going to your building’s gym, the neighborhood gym, or of walking on the treadmill at your home.
  • If you can’t stand walking, jogging, or running in the midst of Dubai summer. And are fed up of doing the rounds at the Marina Promenade.
  • If you hate the loneliness that comes with using the gym equipment and working out on your own.
  • If you need highly experienced and professional fitness trainers to motivate and guide you to achieve those new year resolutions which you can never seem to reach with every passing season, or year!
  • If you want to work out in a hip, contemporary and upbeat environment. Where you can meet a friendly and positive crowd.

 

Contact:

Check out Tribefit’s web site, Facebook Page, or attend one of their social events!  Their next event is on Tuesday, August 19. It’s a Bikram Yoga event at 7:30 pm 🙂

 

I personally look forward to visiting this uber cool and happening club sometime soon to try out another class. And at a future date, I would like to become a member and try out my luck in the Tribal love scene 😉

 

Anna and Tariq doing the headstand split!
Anna and Tariq doing the headstand split!

UD Review: Hatha Yoga with Yoga Ashram

Hatha Yoga with Yoga Ashram
Hatha Yoga with Yoga Ashram

 

So, I’ve been practicing Yoga and Pilates at this new studio in my neighborhood. It’s called Yoga Ashram and I must say that the classes they offer are as authentic as the name of the studio 🙂

The instructors are highly experienced and certified in yoga practice. And their passion and dedication for this meditative exercise is greatly reflected in their teachings. You will notice that from the first class that you attend at this spacious and relaxing JLT studio.

This time, I was glad to attend another class with Munishwer, who I took a “Power Yoga” class with earlier. You can read all about it here.

Class Name: Hatha Yoga

Trainer: Yogic science and study certified; Munishwer

What is it like?

The class involved a variation of basic yoga moves and postures, that are mainly aimed to enhance your flexibility and muscle strength by using stretching moves and postures.

The different moves also aid in health-related issues, such as digestion, internal organs health, and mental illness. What’s unique about Munishwer’s classes is that he really motivates you to perform at your best and put in the extra amount of effort to do the move properly – regardless of whether you are an advanced yogi or just a novice to the practice.

During the class, Munishwer also continuously shares with us his knowledge about the various poses and the benefits that each move has on both the physical and psychological aspects of the body.

Result:

  • You might feel a bit sore the next day, but rest assured that it’s a positive sign that you have done the moves correctly and got the most out of the class.
  • The practice will help tone your body muscles and make you look and feel more fit.
  • Yoga is a major stress-reliever. So the practice – which includes some meditation techniques – will leave you feeling more at peace with yourself and with everyone around you.
  • The rest of your day will flow so smoothly and you’ll be able to get more things done, since you experience more “presence” from this spiritual practice.
  • Yoga also aids in cases of insomnia, anxiety, depression, stress and incessant thinking…which are all too common in today’s busy modern society.

 

Here are a few images of the trainer (Munishwer) in his two favorite Yoga postures 🙂

 

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Contact:

Check out Yoga Ashram’s web site, Facebook Page, or give them a visit if you live in or around JLT – they are a friendly bunch of people 🙂

 

Yoga Ashram JLT
1504, Jumeirah Bay X3,
JLT, Dubai,
PO BOX 261301, UAE
Tel: +9714 – 3609028
Email: [email protected]

 

It’s time for me to go and check out my Nikon D5100…so stay tuned to this blog for more professional images and exciting posts 🙂

See ya,

The Rebellious Saudi Diva xxx

UD Ramadan Iftar Review: Moroccan Restaurant at Four Points Dubai

Editted Main

 

I don’t know if some of you had to face the situation of looking for a place in Dubai for a short-term stay, because you were still job hunting or unsure about your future plans for living in the city….but I was there when I first moved to Dubai and so are many people that I have met. I even had someone ask me for advise about where to stay for a short-term period recently. Obviously, not everyone likes to share their private space with others. So for all of you individual souls out there, I have a new property that you can consider moving into if you were in town and were looking for a short-term rental place. Four Points By Sheraton on Sheikh Zayed Road actually has apartments fully equipped with a washer, fridge and other essential facilities. And most importantly, the hotel is located on a prime location only a few minutes walking distance from Financial Center Metro Station.

 

What’s more is that the hotel has a number of cool restaurants, in addition to a roof top lounge – with the best views of Sheikh Zayed Road….I can’t believe I’m letting this secret out! Honestly, I found out about the roof top location when I was looking for a spot to take a photo for my University photography course. And this is what I was able to get:

 

Slow Shutter Speed Photography Technique on SZR
Slow Shutter Speed Photography Technique on SZR

 

A few months later, I get to try out the Iftar menu at the Moroccan Restaurant and Lounge at the Four Points By Sheraton SZR. What makes this venue worth a try is its authentic Moroccan fare presented by a purely Moroccan chef 🙂  Check out their Iftar set menu for AED 175:

Iftar Menu at Four Points By Sheraton SZR
Iftar Menu at Four Points By Sheraton SZR

 

Starters

The traditional Moroccan harira soup was absolutely divine…the taste was just right and it wasn’t too heavy like what you get at some Moroccan concepts. It definitely didn’t fill you up to the point that you can’t have your main course or any more food.

We had two types of salad: one was made with eggplants and the other with capsicum in a rich tomato sauce. Again, the salads were light,  healthy and full of flavor.

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Main Course

The infamous Couscous was made to perfection, complimented by the vegetables traditionally added to the healthy dish. To add richness to the Couscous, there was a wonderfully cooked lamb Tagine. The tagine had some nicely toasted almonds and glazed prunes for a more healthy and rich taste.

Couscous and Lamb Tagine at Moroccan Restaurant and Lounge
Couscous and Lamb Tagine at Moroccan Restaurant and Lounge

 

Dessert

Continuing with the healthy and nutritious take on Moroccan food, we had a mildly sweet rice pudding and some fresh fruits with ice-cream on the side.

Moroccan rice pudding and sliced fruits
Moroccan rice pudding and sliced fruits

 

Moroccan Rice Pudding
Moroccan Rice Pudding

 

Dessert at the Moroccan Restaurant and Lounge
Dessert at the Moroccan Restaurant and Lounge

 

What’s so special about the Moroccan Restaurant and Lounge?

  1. It offers a healthy, light and nutritious Iftar set-course menu, created by a real Moroccan chef!
  2. It doesn’t allow over-eating like what usually happens with the typical buffet-style Iftars all around town.
  3. It’s a well-balanced meal at a comfortable setting. Not too formal or glamorous like most hotels in the city.
  4. It’s easily accessible by car or by metro as it’s within walking distance from the Financial Center Metro Station.

Final Notes

  • The Four Points By Sheraton is a Four-star property under the Starwood hotel group.
  • It’s suitable for both the business traveler and families with kids on vacation or a short trip.
  • It offers short-term or long-term stays with fully equipped hotel apartments.

So there you have it, three hidden gems in one place!

You can opt to stay at the hotel rooms or apartment rooms, visit the roof top to take amazing photos of the city streets and lights (after getting permission from the PR team), or dine in at one of their cool and top-quality restaurants and lounges!

Contact:

Check out their Facebook Page, web site or follow them on Twitter 🙂

@fourpointsdubai

 

The View from the Roof Top at Four Points By Sheraton SZR
The View from the Roof Top at Four Points By Sheraton SZR