Hamida Aman Builds Cultural Bridges and Promotes Peace Through a Community Music Festival

Children are seen scribbling messages of peace and tolerance on a big board, ahead of the “Salam Aleikum” peace concert at Zabeel Park on Friday evening.
Children are seen scribbling messages of peace and tolerance on a big board, ahead of the “Salam Aleikum” peace concert at Zabeel Park on Friday evening.

 

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:

 

“Salam Aleikum” peace concert’s logo celebrates the harmony and connection of youth from different cultures and ethnic backgrounds.
“Salam Aleikum” peace concert’s logo celebrates the harmony and connection of youth from different cultures and ethnic backgrounds.

 

The word “Salam” means peace in Arabic. Artists in Zabeel park painting the letters of the word “Salam” ahead of the concert start on Friday.
The word “Salam” means peace in Arabic. Artists in Zabeel park painting the letters of the word “Salam” ahead of the concert start on Friday.

 

Indian reggae band duo Delhi Sultanate and Begum X perform songs of equality, community, and positivity at the first ever Salam Aleikum peace concert at Dubai’s Zabeel Park on Friday.
Indian reggae band duo Delhi Sultanate and Begum X perform songs of equality, community, and positivity at the first ever Salam Aleikum peace concert at Dubai’s Zabeel Park on Friday.

 

Majestic Muscat: Nightlife in Muscat

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I don’t know why I traveled all the way to Hong Kong to escape busy, fast-paced and crowded Dubai! But, you can read all about my trip to Hong Kong in my earlier posts here.

Then, I decide to visit Muscat to relax by the beach and do some man hunting! (as in finding a partner basically). Of course I was only confronted with the fact that the nightlife in Muscat is struggling to survive.

I found out from residents of the enchanting city that all types of live entertainment have been banned recently in all hotels and establishments. Apparently, the new rules were enforced by the new tourism minister. This left only a few options for a night out in town. Half of them were chains that had branches in Dubai.

The stage for the live  band at Pavo Real – a cool Mexican restaurant and bar – was still there. As if it was waiting for the live band to come back and play their regular tunes one day soon. Everything was still in place – as it was left by members of the band on the last day they were allowed to perform.

Since I now have less time for blogging – busy with University and other things – I decided to write this post in the form of a photo essay. It saves me time and makes it easier/faster to you readers to go through the post. So let’s look at the photos from my Muscat nightlife exploration attempt 🙂

 

Delicious Arabic Mezze at The Chedi Muscat
Delicious Arabic Mezze at The Chedi Muscat

 

Scrumptious Falafel bites at The Chedi Muscat
Scrumptious Falafel bites at The Chedi Muscat

 

Mexican fare at Pavo Real Muscat
Mexican fare at Pavo Real Muscat

 

Chicken Quesadilla at Pavo Real Muscat
Chicken Quesadilla at Pavo Real Muscat

 

Tuna Sashimi salad at The Left Bank Muscat
Tuna Sashimi salad at The Left Bank Muscat

 

Top quality club sandwich at O'Malley's in Muscat
Top quality club sandwich at O’Malley’s in Muscat

 

O'Malley's Irish pub in Muscat is worth a visit
O’Malley’s Irish pub in Muscat is worth a visit

 

Taking notes gets easier at a cozy and friendly pub atmosphere. O'Malley's Muscat is a favourite of mine!
Taking notes gets easier at a cozy and friendly pub atmosphere. O’Malley’s Muscat is a favourite of mine!

 

Here’s a sum up of my Muscat night spots:

  • Pavo Real officially has the best long island iced tea in town.
  • The Left Bank had a strange crowd of expats, locals and pretentious people from Dubai. I felt like I was flown back to a pretentious Dubai bar when I was there. I truly hated my experience there.
  • Trader Vic’s at the Intercontinental hotel is quite spacious with a big outdoor dining area. It had a very upbeat and lively atmosphere. Everyone who was there seemed to be having a good time, dancing to Latin beats. No live band here either – just a DJ or playback music.
  • O’Malley’s at the Radisson Blu Hotel was by far my favourite place to hang out. It’s a casual pub with an Irish theme, and friendly staff. The food was great, the DJ played commercial tracks from different decades, and I met some nice people there. The funny thing is that no one told  me about this place! I found out about it by doing some research online. I’m so glad that I ended up going there on my last night in Muscat. At least I managed to have some sort of fun eventually 🙂
  • Zouk night club: Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance to check out Zouk on this trip. It was located right outside of my hotel, but I just didn’t get the time to visit.

I hope that this post was somewhat useful or interesting. Have you visited any of the places that I’ve mentioned in this post? If so, how was your experience?

You can view my previous post on the Muscat trip here.

 

O'Malley's Irish pub scored high in my books
O’Malley’s Irish pub scored high in my books

UD Review: Brunch at Le Rivage in Ocean View Hotel

Sweet Olivia and I at Brunch at Ocean View Hotel JBR
Sweet Olivia and I at Brunch at Ocean View Hotel JBR

 

If you asked me what I did on a typical Friday afternoon, I’m not sure if I would have a definite answer. Many people spend their Fridays visiting family or having brunch with friends, or just lounging by the beach on a nice sunny day. Being single and living alone in this city, I would say that I put more effort into organizing going to concerts or parties with friends, attending art or community events, or just simply going out for a casual dinner, movie night or walk at the Marina promenade.

 

This Friday though, I got invited by friends to the brunch at Le Rivage Brasserie at the latest addition to the JBR walk hotel scene: JA Ocean View Hotel.

If you decide to head out there for brunch, I would strongly recommend that you sit outside. There’s a nice terrace area with a very chilled vibe. You will still be able to hear your all-time favorite hits being played by the live band inside. So don’t worry about missing out on that. My friends and I all agreed on the fact that the live band playing at the brunch was actually very good! It was so entertaining hearing them play every time we went indoors to fill up our plates from the extensive buffet.

The brunch has a wide range of International dishes to satisfy all your moods and preferences. It also features live cooking stations, which I must admit that my favorite was the eggs Benedict one 🙂 The sushi station offered a good selection of various sushi roll options – another favorite of mine.

One thing you don’t want to miss at this lively yet relaxed brunch is the wheat grass and Andalusian gazpacho shots. They were incredibly refreshing and we couldn’t help but go back to the buffet for more!

Of course, no brunch is ever complete without dessert. And this one will keep you wondering whether to stack up on fluffy freshly made waffles, divine date pudding cake, or just indulge in fresh fruit skewers dipped in chocolate syrup and pistachio or almond flakes!

What can I say…next time I get an invite to go to a brunch, I will not think twice about over-eating! It’s only a once a week affair, right? 🙂

 

Dessert Options at Le Rivage Brunch
Dessert Options at Le Rivage Brunch

 

Waffles and Date Pudding Cake
Waffles and Date Pudding Cake

 

Check out my previous posts on the JA Golf Resort and Spa – my favorite destination for a mini getaway in Dubai 🙂

  1. My Dubai Beach Club Recommendation
  2. My Chilled December Beach Day

 

Ciao for now X

Random Post: The Killers at Sandance, Physical and Emotional Exhaustion and Overall Chaos!

As I sit to write this post while sitting at my favorite cafe, I can feel the rapid pulse of my heart beat as I place my left index finger on the side of my neck. Yes, I’ve always been a weirdo and I tend to do silly things in public too!

Where have I been?

I must start by apologizing for not writing in such a long time. As many of you know by now, I have just started an undergraduate journalism course at a University in Dubai. Since I’ve decided to put this degree as a priority, blogging had to wait until I had the time for it once I was done with my assignments, University hectic commute and daily house errands.

I’m glad that I took the time off (unintentionally) though, as the break allowed me to reflect on my blogging ways and revise my strategy a little bit…well, more like go back to what I was doing when I first started this blog a little over a year ago. But I’ll leave that for you readers to discover 🙂

The Killers at Sandance Gig

At the time of planning this post, I had just gone to The Killers concert at the ever-popular Nasimi Beach and so this topic was in my notes for this blog post. The ironic thing about this show was that my British friend Lianne had told me about it way back in Ramadan…and when I told her that I wasn’t sure of who ‘The Killers” were, she played a music clip from her phone with one of their famous songs.  For some reason, I assumed that “The Killers” were a British band and that I would be having an authentic British experience with a group of cool Brits (my friend Lianne and her friends).

Then while standing at the show with my new cool group of British expat friends, I explain my excitement to one of the members of the group, only to find out that The Killers are actually an American band from Las Vegas, Nevada!

That didn’t change the thrilling factor of the experience. As I still managed to have a great night with my British friends. Plus, being a fan of indie/alternative rock music meant that I still sang along and enjoyed most of the songs that were played that night. The Killers’ music style reminded me a lot of the band Green Day; one of my favorite bands that I used to listen to as a teenager.

Exhausted!

When I first started my course at University, I was trying my best to keep the blog and my usual active lifestyle going as much as I could. This however proved to be so draining as the semester went on and we started to have assignments to hand in. As much as I enjoyed attending all sorts of social and work related events and meetups, I now realize that I must keep it to a minimum if I wish to maintain my sanity and health!

It certainly isn’t an easy task trying to juggle all of the following at the same time:

  • Attending University classes and working on assignments.
  • Attending main social and work related events and other meetups.
  • Going for blog reviews, topics and writing posts.
  • Updating my Facebook Page (glad to discover scheduled posts!).
  • Following the world news and current affairs (on TV and radio) to be able to get at least one answer right at the Media Law and Ethics weekly news quiz :s
  • Attempting to read my current book on successful blogging.
  • Grocery shopping and other essential errands.
  • Housework chores (washing dishes, laundry, ironing clothes…)
  • Catching up with friends and making sure that I don’t disappear from the real world 😉

 

Revised Priorities

In a desperate attempt to save what’s left of my pride and self-integrity…

  • I will no longer push myself to attend social or work related events when I’m not in the mood for it or lack the required energy and stamina for socializing in a decent manner with other individuals!
  • I will put working for my journalism course first and everything else will come after that.
  • I will not bother much about giving my business card to new people and telling them about my Facebook page. Mainly because most will only store the card somewhere and will never put in the effort to type the name of my Facebook Page in the search box to check it out.
  • I will pay more attention to spending time with friends and the people who matter.
  • I will allocate more ‘me-time’ and try to relax with much-needed spa treatments and movie nights!

My Halloween Weekend

I plan to spend my long weekend doing low-key activities namely: lounging by the beach and reading, going to the cinema, having dinner with friends and getting a rejuvenating massage.

I will not dress up for Halloween or attend any parties…because I’m too tired to go shopping for a costume or dress up for the occasion! Yes, as you can tell I am seriously exhausted and could use a short break from an active social life.

Conclusion

Since this post is dragging for too long, I decided to leave some other topics for next time.

In the meantime, you could participate by telling me the following:

Do you sometimes feel like you have no control over your life? and that no matter how hard you try, things are just getting chaotic and messed up?

If so, what techniques and methods do you follow to get you back on track?

The Rebellious Saudi Diva Signing Off…

 

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Dubai Ramadan Iftar Review: Abd El Wahab The Fisherman

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I must admit that it was a strange day full of awkward moments and situations for both me and my expat friend! Walking towards the newly opened Abd El Wahab The Fisherman restaurant at Pier 7 in Dubai Marina felt like a competition of who had more weird stories that day.

I couldn’t wait to tell her about my – hair salon appointment gone mad – story while she was showing me the cat bites on her foot! yes, it was one of those days when nothing seems to be going right I guess.

Despite our frantic and manic Monday stories, we still managed to have a great time at Abd El Wahab and were also rewarded with freshly prepared sea bass fish for our main courses. In addition to an extra fish that we couldn’t dream of having because we were simply too full.

My friend thought that the food served was enough to serve three more people. And was amazed at how our table was completely full of a spread of delicious Lebanese mezza plates.

The restaurant has a nice view of the Dubai Marina skyline…

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Iftar Menu

The Iftar at Abd El Wahab The Fisherman comprises of a set menu that includes Ramadan drinks, soup, Lebanese Mezza, Main course, and Dessert. For the main course, you get to choose between a plate of mixed grills or a daily dish. Today’s daily dish was “kharoof mahshi”.

Since my friend is vegetarian and can only eat seafood, and since we were both looking forward to trying the seafood at this new Lebanese seafood eatery, we asked the supervisor if we could have fish for our main course instead of the grills or daily dish. To our surprise, we not only got two sea bass pieces of fish for our mains, they even served us an additional fish 😀

Lebanese Mezza for starters
Lebanese Mezza for starters

 

Lebanese Mezza at its best at Abd El Wahab The Fisherman
Lebanese Mezza at its best at Abd El Wahab The Fisherman

 

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Freshly Prepared Sea Bass Fish
Freshly Prepared Sea Bass Fish

 

Colorful Fruit Plate
Colorful Fruit Plate

 

Scrumptious Baklawa
Scrumptious Baklawa

 

If they could work on enhancing one thing, what would that be?

My friend was beyond shocked when a waiter took away her starter plate while she was still eating her hummos! throughout our Iftar, the servers seemed to be in a rush to clear our plates or the table, bring in the next course, or simply offer us some refreshing napkins!

I repeat, during Iftar, it is highly important for the servers to take into consideration that us clients have been fasting all day and would need to take our sweet time in eating and taking breaks between courses! It’s even more agitating when you can sense that there is someone watching over your shoulder to see if you are done with your plate, so that they can take it and bring in the next one! It really takes away from the whole – meant to be relaxed – dining (or in this case Iftar) experience!

So please have some mercy on us and let us take down our meal slowly and with ease.

Abd El Wahab The Fisherman at Pier 7
Abd El Wahab The Fisherman at Pier 7

 

Cost

The Iftar set menu at Abd El Wahab The Fisherman is at 135 AED per person. It includes soft drinks, Ramadan drinks, soup, starters, a main course, desserts and coffee or tea!

Conclusion

After our superb Iftar, we had a short stroll at nearby Marina Mall before sitting down at Cafe Nero to chat. To help us digest our huge Iftar even better, a live band were playing the Oud at the mall’s main lobby. The chilled tunes helped us relax and unwind after a long and unusually awkward day!

 

Ramadan Decor at Dubai Marina Mall
Ramadan Decor at Dubai Marina Mall

 

Oud Player at the center of Dubai Marina Mall
Oud Player at the center of Dubai Marina Mall

 

Live Arabic Band at Dubai Marina Mall
Live Arabic Band at Dubai Marina Mall

 

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And did you miss me while you were looking for yourself out there?

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You may have noticed that I have been covering a lot of music shows in my recent posts. You may have also taken a look at my about page where I mention some facts about myself and how I am 30-something. So you might be wondering why I am living a 20-something lifestyle in my early thirties?

While most people my age could be settling down by getting engaged or married, or possibly already have a bunch of kids at school age, I’m still celebrating my spontaneous twenty-something- like days! I like to contribute this to the fact that I grew up and have lived in Saudi for most of my life. And must add; to somewhat over-protective and controlling parents. Who seemed to give a good amount of importance to people’s opinions and judgmental views. You can’t completely blame them though. Saudi society is quite fierce and tough when it comes to conservativeness and liberality. It’s a very complicated topic that I would need to dedicate a whole post to explain it, and it still wouldn’t be enough!

For now, I just felt like I could use some justification for my sometimes immature and crazy behavior 🙂 Like making sure that I don’t miss out on any cool concerts in town and dragging  my “more responsible” and mature friends to them.

So I basically didn’t get to do many things that people in their twenties would do. Although I did argue my way around to some cool concerts in Bahrain when I was a teenager (yes, I was rebellious since then!).

Sometimes, I wonder if my late-lived twenties phase will ever end. Because I enjoy it so much that I would never want to live a different lifestyle!

Moving on to Train’s concert, I used to listen to the amazingly talented American pop rock band as a teenager growing up in Saudi. Yes, my parents were not that strict :p  So to me, their show was more of a trip down memory lane to my 90’s in Saudi. When life was much more simpler and easier. When all I cared about was which magazines I wanted to get with me from Bahrain when I went there in the weekend. Yeah I was a weird teenager too! But doesn’t everyone love and long for the 90’s? I personally would go back to those years at any given time.

Arriving to the concert venue, me and my friend were surprised at how quiet it was! there wasn’t even any music playing at some point. And while I expected to see other 30-something Train nostalgic fans at the concert, all I seemed to see were teenagers and a generally younger crowd of people who didn’t look like they were old enough to sing along to “Drops of Jupiter”! My friend had also pointed out that it was her first time to see a five year-old girl at a concert 🙂

Nevertheless, Train put on a great show and sang many of their new and old hit songs. Such as “Hey Soul Sister” and “Meet Virginia”.

They also got the crowd engaged in some songs by asking random people to come up on stage and sing or dance along with the band.

At the end of the show, the band left the stage before coming back to sing my all-time favorite hit for the band: “Drops of Jupiter”. I was glad that I didn’t leave when my friend decided to leave after they left the stage the first time, as I would have missed them perform the ever popular and great track “Drops of Jupiter”. I think I was going to break down and cry when I saw them leave the stage before singing my song!

You must have guessed that I was the only person in that young crowd who was super excited and singing along to “Meet Virgina” and “Drops of Jupiter”! Yes, Dubai makes me feel old. But I stand my ground and continue to act and behave like a twenty-something 🙂

I must confess that I did manage to record some good video clips at the show. But since I am still not familiar with posting videos on this blog (more like, don’t feel like uploading them on you tube as I found out that this needs to be done), I will not be sharing my priceless Train videos for now. Who knows, I might get the motivation required to actually upload videos one day 🙂

So, was my one hour and 15 minutes or so of 90’s music nostalgia worth it? I’d say hell yeah! It was worth every second of the warmth and simplicity and joy it brought to my forever 90’s soul.

 

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Since I’m having issues with my photos, I will only post the links for my favorite Train songs. And I will try to upload more images once I sort out the technical glitch.

Enjoy and long live the undying 90’s spirit!

My Electronic Dance Weekend!

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Honestly speaking, I’m not a huge fan of dance or techno music.  I grew up listening to all different genres of music, and dance was an occasional thing on my play list. Maybe mostly when I was working out. Another reason is the fact that I’m a 90’s girl. So if I wasn’t listening to Michael or Janet Jackson or Madonna, then I would be singing along to Boyz II Men or Lenny Kravitz! Yes, It was a wild mix of tastes and music types.

But since the world-renowned Dutch musician, DJ and record producer Tiesto was coming to town, I had to reconsider my music taste preferences. The show was being held at an indoor venue. Which doesn’t really suit me much. As the weather in Dubai is at its best at this time of the year, so it would be great to attend an outdoor concert. Plus, the place was packed with crazy dance music fans, who were jumping vigorously the whole time. This only meant one thing: you couldn’t keep track of the number of times that your toes got stepped on, or you were hit by someone’s arms or body while they were dancing and jumping around.  Not the best concert experience, I tell you.

I must admit that my second dance music concert for the weekend was more fun and enjoyable. It was the EDMX concert part of the “My Music X” festival at Nasimi Beach, Atlantis. The stage was set outdoors at a spacious area, the ground was covered with sand as it was at the beach, and the visual effects and graphics were simply outstanding. The EDMX night featured famous artists including: Example, Sander Kleinenberg, ATB, Marco V, Miss Nine, Judge Jules and many others.

Hearing Example perform took me back in time to their new year’s eve concert in 2009 when I was living in London. I truly enjoyed singing along to their hits and reminiscing on my glorious London days. ATB is another great dance artist that I used to listen to when I was younger. So many of his tracks were famous hits that everyone could sing along to.

Aside from the stunning graphics and visual effects at the stage, there was blazing fire as well! it was an impressive show that got the crowd pumped up. And the venue wasn’t packed, so there was plenty of space for everyone to dance around and practice their moves.

So I would say that I enjoy listening to dance music with vocals as opposed to just repetitive beats with no vocals. And of course, famous hit songs that I am familiar with and can sing along to, would definitely make for an amazing night at the sands of Nasimi Beach, Atlantis.

 

DJ Tiesto at Sunburn Festival
DJ Tiesto at Sunburn Festival

 

the crowd at Tiesto's show
the crowd at Tiesto’s show

 

 

3D visual effects at EDMX Festival
3D visual effects at EDMX Festival

 

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Gourmet Food, Sun and Live Music!

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Taste of Dubai is a fun outdoor festival revolving around food and music. It’s held annually at the Dubai Media City Amphitheater; the same area where the Christmas festival took place and I wrote a post about it here.

It was a Friday, and on that day the festival started in the morning and went on until midnight. I didn’t have a set time as to when I would go, but I was glad that I went during the afternoon (around 4:30) and stayed till around 8:45 in the evening. I was also thankful that I put some sun protection cream on my arms before heading out, because it was sunny and the sun cream did help me get a nice tan.

What most of you would be wondering now is what did I eat? Well, let me show you with pictures:

Steak fillet with a crab cake on top from Ruth's Chris Steak House
Steak fillet with a crab cake on top from Ruth’s Chris Steak House

 

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Seafood Phad Thai from Mango Tree
Seafood Phad Thai from Mango Tree

 

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Sirloin Steak Cubes with Potato Gratin from Seafire Steakhouse and Bar
Sirloin Steak Cubes with Potato Gratin from Seafire Steakhouse and Bar

 

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Dulce de Leche Creme Caramel (Asado) and Chocolate Mousse (Ritz-Carlton)
Dulce de Leche Creme Caramel (Asado) and Chocolate Mousse (Ritz-Carlton)

 

DJ at the Ritz-Carlton Stand
DJ at the Ritz-Carlton Stand

 

 

Guacamole from Maya Mexican Restaurant
Guacamole from Maya Mexican Restaurant

 

 

I would have to say that my favorite dish was the sirloin steak with potato gratin from Seafire steak house. It was perfectly made and tasted so good. The other steak I had from Ruth’s Chris steak house was kind of average. Maybe the combination of crab cake with the red meat didn’t appeal to me that much. And although the seafood Phad Thai from Mango tree was good, I must admit that I did regret filling my stomach from their stand, mainly because I had recently eaten there with my dad a few weeks back. And so, a better choice for me during the festival would have been to sample other restaurant’s dishes. Especially the ones that I don’t get the chance or time to dine at on normal occasions.

Another choice that I regret making was the creme caramel from Asado. When I was at their stand, I asked the lady if she would recommend the Dulce de Leche creme caramel or ice-cream, and I went with her answer. However, only to be disappointed and wishing that I had went for the ice-cream instead! Yes, that was what I was thinking the whole time that I was eating that creme caramel, which I must admit that I didn’t even finish! And that folks, is a big deal for someone who never leaves a grain of rice in her plate, because there are millions of people starving all over the world! I was greatly satisfied with my chocolate mousse biscuit-like cake from the Ritz though. I even took the second piece with me home and devoured it the next day 🙂

When I saw that there was a Mexican stand after I had already had my mains and desserts, me and my friend decided to try out Maya’s (the famous high-end Mexican eatery) guacamole. Which we both thought was surprisingly below average.

With prices ranging between 20 to 30 Dirhams for most dishes, I would say that Taste of Dubai is worth visiting if you love food and don’t mind paying that amount of money for a small portion from a high-end, gourmet restaurant.

The main attraction of the festival, well to me at least, had to be the opportunity to sit outside in a park-like atmosphere with the company of good friends and great live music.

 

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And the Jazz Vibes Go On…

Jam session at Jazz@PizzaExpress
Jam session at [email protected]

 

It was quite an eventful day when one Tuesday I won a pair of tickets to attend a work shop by the author of the best-selling book: “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus”. Since my father was also arriving in the evening on a short visit, and I was planning to take him for dinner to the newly opened Jazz @ Pizza Express in the area where I live.

In Dubai, most people tend to dress up anywhere they go. They are also highly capable of wearing the perfect attire for the event or occasion that they are attending.  As I grew up and lived most of my life in Saudi, I always made an effort to dress in a stylish way even when it meant not taking off my Abayah the entire day while I was at work! But living in the fashion hub that is Dubai, is making me realize more each day that my personal style and fashion sense are below mediocre standards.  And John Gray’s work shop was no exception to the case in point! I had gone to the mall to have lunch in the food court before going to the venue to collect my tickets, and I was dressed casually in a navy blue sweater with a hint of metallic threads and a pair of black skinny denim jeans. With a star patterned scarf wrapped around my neck in a knot style. Only to discover that my look for the day was more suitable for a rock concert than a relationship expert event 🙂  Most of the ladies were dressed in stylish loose tops and pants, or formal dresses or skirts. I made a note to myself to dress better for the occasion the next time around 🙂

What was titled as a work shop was more of a talk basically. John Gray was the speaker and the audience were there to listen. The talk went on till well after 9, which was longer than the time specified on the ad. Nevertheless, John shared with us some interesting scientific facts about both genders. They would help us in understanding the sometimes vague behavior of men or women. Let me share with you some notes that I took during the talk:

  • Men never do anything that they don’t have to do. That’s why, if you need your man to do something for you, don’t ask him what he would like to do, tell him exactly what you want him to do. You need to word it in a clear request form, such as saying: “Would you do this for me?”.
  • The reason men go to their caves (isolated space/room) is that scientifically when a man relaxes his muscles while staying awake, he rebuilds his testosterone levels.  The more stressed he is, the more he needs to go to his cave.
  • Working women tend to have high testosterone levels, which lead to stress. That’s why they need more of the oxytocin hormone to suppress the high testosterone in their bodies.
  • Suggested words to tell your man to make him feel good from time to time are:
  1. You’re right. And say it with a smile.
  2. That makes sense.
  • A good romance and communication style are super oxytocin producers. A powerful phrase that a man should keep repeating to his woman is: “You do so much for so many people, let me give you a hug.”

Honestly speaking, although I found the relationship tips and scientific facts that John explained quite useful, I must admit that I found more insights and revelations about men and their ways of thinking in the book: Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man: What Men Really Think About Love, Relationships, Intimacy, and Commitment. By Steve Harvey. You can find a link to the book here.

Moving on to my meet and greet dinner with my dad…I was excited to find out that the famous Pizza Express chain have opened up a new jazz-themed branch in my residential area: Jumeirah Lakes Towers. Not on the side where I live though, but still close enough for a chilled dinner with friends or family.

I found out from the waiter that they had a soft opening only three and a half weeks ago. But this was their official launch. They had multiple artists perform on their cozy yet lively stage. The pianist (Nathan) on that night was from South Africa. He enchanted the crowd with his cover of Carlos Santana’s “Maria, Maria”….I actually have videos of the performance, but I need to figure out how to post videos to this blog before I can share them with you 🙂

A lady singer from the Philippines did a great performance of the all-time favorite love song “How do I live”. We enjoyed other classics such as “Quando” and “Sway”.  The atmosphere was buzzing with life, the staff were very friendly, the food was superior with fresh and excellent ingredients, and the pizza was light and yummy with gourmet toppings.

I was informed by one of the staff at the lovely pizza joint that they will be playing live jazz music every night of the week. As it’s part of the concept of this particular branch.  [email protected]  is located in JLT, Dubai. Perfectly situated at the promenade level by the lake, and below the Movenpick Hotel in Cluster A.  And as the friendly staff will tell you: “you will hear the music as you walk by, so you can’t miss us!”. 🙂

 

 

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Our not-so healthy and salty snack
Our not-so healthy and salty snack
Jazz@PizzaExpress
[email protected]

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Soulful Jamming Under the Stars…

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Having grown up in this region, I have always been a huge R&B and soul music fan. So when I heard that Macy Gray; the super cool American R&B and soul singer-songwriter, record producer and actress is coming to town, I was ecstatic and made a trip to the other end of town to get my tickets before they were sold out, and to guarantee my attendance.

The venue was packed with fans of the singer or folks simply wanting to have a good time in the garden where the stage was set up. Me and my friends were lucky to find a place to sit near the stage and shared a delicious and juicy burger and hand-cut thick fries. The weather was pleasant for a night out and the atmosphere was just right.

Macy entertained us with her usual slick groove and ultra cool vibe. She and her back-up singers were simply fabulous…they put up a casual, yet highly fascinating performance, filled with soulful moves and creative ways to engage the fun-loving crowd.

Famous for her deeply appealing witty style and character, the singer graced the stage in beautiful outfits. One of them a sparkly sequined red dress from the 60’s era. The second was another charming vintage number with chiffon and a stunning layered puff to it.

After performing a good number of songs, Macy and her band said their good-byes to us, leaving some of us wondering if this was a joke and the rest screaming out for “more”, before she came back on stage once again to perform her famous international hit single “I try”. The hit sparked a huge burst of life and energy in the crowd, as we were all singing along to the top of our lungs:

I try to say goodbye and I choke
Try to walk away and I stumble
Though I try to hide it, it’s clear
My world crumbles when you are not here

You can sing along too by playing this link:

To Macy – the soulful diva with the warm distinctive voice – and her lovely band:

Thank you for the epic performance, positive vibe, and most importantly; for the powerful and strong messages supporting world peace, love and personal freedom.

 

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