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.
This post might resonate with a good deal of people who grew up with Arab or Asian parents. Since both cultures have a lot of similarities – especially when it comes to the family and social issues.
If you need some introduction to the way things are in the Gulf Region, have a look at my previous post about the topic here.
Now that you have a general idea about our lifestyle from my previous posts about this highly complicated and rich subject, let me present to you the top 10 signs that you were raised by GCC parents:
1. Your curfew time is at around 9 or 10 pm the latest if you’re a girl.
Whether you’re a University student, an employed adult, or a teenager, staying outside the house for a late hour is a big no-no. You can try to beg or ask for permission politely to stay late at your best friend’s graduation or wedding party, but rest assured that all your pleas will be faced with a clear rejection. Note: This rule does not change no matter how old you are or serious the situation may be. So even if you’re in your fifties or sixties or spending the night at ICU, you still must be home by the earliest time possible!
2. You’re not allowed to have male friends.
If you happen to mention the name of a male work colleague, brother of a friend, or any other person from the opposite sex, then this must mean that you have feelings for him. Therefore, the two of you must get married ASAP. The simple and basic fact that you mentioned him in your conversations must mean something. You can’t talk about a man for no reason, right? this must mean that you like him, and this gesture must immediately translate to a marriage contract 🙂
3. Attending concerts, visiting another city/country on your own are all considered indecent acts for a single young woman.
Growing up in the Eastern Province of Saudi as a teenager, with neighboring Bahrain, only meant that we had access to famous artist concerts and shows. But I had to argue my way to each and every one of those concerts that I managed to attend! Yes, I’ve always been a rebellious one 😉
Now this rule doesn’t only apply to concerts, it goes for any type of outing that involves a bit of freedom. Examples include visiting neighboring Bahrain for shopping and movie trips, or just meeting up with friends. You can’t go alone, even if you’re in your twenties. A parent must tag along to ensure that the reputation of the family stays intact :p
4. Traveling abroad for leisure on your own or with girlfriends is another no-no.
Of course, for some liberal families, this rule can be broken. When I was in school, many of my friends were able to travel together in groups without their parents’ company. If not at school age, then maybe later in life – when they’re in their twenties. But for me, this scenario was out of the question. I actually went on my first solo trip for leisure purposes in late 2012. You can read about it here. This is not to say that I wasn’t lucky enough to travel abroad to live and study when I was only 18. But – as you might have guessed by now – I fought really hard for that privilege. My mother used to genuinely think that going away on a beach holiday in the summer is a silly and superficial thing to do! She actually thinks that my desire to do something that the rest of the Universe does – take a beach holiday – is a complete waste of time and resources. And obviously, is not acceptable by all means.
5. The house maid or house keeper transforms into a body guard to accompany you at the local mall.
I think this headline requires little or no explanation. For those of you expats who currently live in the Gulf region, you might have already noticed this phenomenon at the malls. Every so often, I see young GCC ladies walking around the mall with their house maids, and I’m taken back in time to the days when I had to be accompanied by my own house keeper. Luckily, she was a very warm and lovely lady. God bless her, but she did get on my nerves at times. You can’t blame her though, she was only following my mother’s strict instructions!
I also had my eldest sister accompany me to University in Bahrain. Even when she didn’t have classes herself. But that’s just going to make this point longer than intended. So let’s end it here 🙂
6. Your mom reminds you that it’s time to go to bed at around 9 or 10 pm when you’re in your early or late twenties.
I think this one also requires no explanation. Arab mothers like to take full responsibility for their children – especially the daughters. And this includes making sure that you go to bed at an early time and don’t spend any extra time hanging around or doing pointless activities.
7. Your dad tags along as you shop for under garments at the department store’s lingerie/sleep wear section.
Not sure what is worse; shopping for underwear at Saudi shops and asking for assistance from the male sales people (which I don’t recall doing), or browsing the high-end department store’s lingerie and underwear section (in Bahrain or other location outside Saudi) with your dad at your back in every step you take. Hmm…both are difficult situations to find yourself in – I must admit.
8. Your mother constantly gets you clothes and tops that are one or two sizes bigger than your actual dress size.
I think anyone who comes from a conservative family will find this point familiar. Traditional Middle-Eastern mothers think that a woman shouldn’t expose her figure by wearing tight-fitting outfits. This applies to all body shapes and sizes. So no matter how slim or flat you are, you are not encouraged to wear skin tight clothes that flatter your body. Even if you had a gorgeous body that you don’t mind showing off 😀
Note: Most of the time, mothers also decide what type of outfits you should wear and what fashion style you should follow. As a teen and a young adult, I always felt more comfortable wearing jeans and a nice top. So this didn’t really affect me that much. In fact, until today, I prefer to wear loose and comfortable clothes on most days. And only dress up for occasions. I guess I’m a bit of a tom-boy 🙂
9. Your mother continuously compares you to others.
Be it your class mates, your close friends, your relatives, you name it, she’s got it covered. Arab mothers see this comparison as a form of motivation. They think that by comparing you to others who are in some way or another better than you, you will be influenced in a positive way to become a better version of yourself. Of course when done on a regular basis, this causes serious issues of low self-esteem and diminished self-worth. When I say ‘better’, I mean various things. So it can be in their social skills, their fashion style, their attitude, anything really.
10. Your father makes all sorts of decisions on your behalf.
If you read my previous post about the lifestyle in the Gulf Region, you would understand this point. Basically, since the parents (mostly father) support their children financially even when they are adults, they also have the right to ask you to follow their own rules and visions for your own life. This means that your father will feel that he has the full right to make choices for your education (University level), career path, personal, marriage, and ultimately all life aspects 🙂 This is valid for as long as you are single and is being supported by him financially. And as long as both you and him are alive and well. They also tend to always think that they know what’s best for you – even when that’s not the case. And they feel privileged to make decisions on your behalf – as if you don’t exist really.
So the financial support also means that you must play by their rules – and only their rules!
Now I would love to hear your views on this topic…do you agree? do you disagree? does any of the points that I mentioned resonate with you? did you grow up in a liberal type of GCC family with very liberal parents? do you think I’m just a spoiled brat for writing this post?
Whatever your opinion is, feel free to share it 🙂
And because I always like to see the bright side of every situation, I must admit that having grown up with somewhat controlling and over-protective parents has taught me many useful life skills. One of these important skills is the ability to practice self-discipline in my daily life. So, I am thankful to my parents for that. I can say that I have a considerable amount of self-discipline that comes in handy at times. That of course is coupled with a huge lack of self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-worth 🙂
I’m also thankful for being more privileged than many others who share my struggles. It’s true that I had to fight for what I have, but I’m still more lucky than many others who might not have the opportunity to get their voices heard or their side of the story listened to.
The photos in this post are by the highly talented Yasir Saeed. You can read my review of his photography session here.
If you need some introduction about life in the Gulf region, and a general idea of the social structure there, you can check out my previous cultural post, titled: The “Bubble” Life.
Today’s topic is somewhat relevant. It can also be considered more of a personal topic since I’ll be talking about my specific story.
Most Arab parents tend to be over-protective with varied degrees of controlling behavior when dealing with their children. You’d think that these strict and firm ways of upbringing would gradually lessen as the kids grow older, but the truth of the matter is that they never do.
Most Arab parents like to plan their children’s future lives, and be in control of their education, career, love life, marriage and daily life decisions!
Unless a daughter is married to another man and moves out of her parents house, she continues to live by the rules of the parents. No matter how old she gets, or what her status is (employed, jobless, student, PHD graduate), she is forever subject to the rules of the parents. And they are eternally responsible for her every move, decision, and personal freedom in general.
Of course, there’s always a positive side to every bad situation. Parents in the Gulf Region and most Arab countries also continue to support their daughters financially for as long as they have to. But that financial support doesn’t come without a price tag. It is coupled with the obsessive controlling behavior from the parents side.
My post is not meant to portray a negative image about the Arab or GCC culture. It’s more of a realistic explanation of my personal story and background. Since moving to the UAE in 2010, I constantly get asked by people from various expat countries about the method or way by which I am able to support myself financially, and that is usually followed by a certain amount of surprise and words like: “You are lucky.”
That’s why I decided to write a series of cultural, social and personal posts to clarify some aspects of Arab and GCC culture. I don’t mean to generalize though. I can only speak about my own personal experience and that of the society that I grew up in.
I also get asked about how we spend our weekends in the Gulf. Well, most of us in Saudi would either hang out with girlfriends at the local mall, cafe, or restaurant. We tend to spend some time at home too. We can have gatherings, dinner parties or house parties too! But, these would be exclusive to girls only. Since in Saudi and in most Gulf countries, the society is mainly gender segregated. You might ask, but who are you to talk about this lifestyle? Well, I grew up in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, and I didn’t attend an International school. I actually went to an all-girls elite private school, where an Arabic curriculum was being taught. So I can say that I lived a traditional Arab lifestyle for the most part of my life…
I can elaborate about my life in Saudi in another post, but let’s get straight into the topic of this post. It all goes back to a quote that my dad made at one of his short visits to Dubai…we were talking about some general stuff, when he utters the words: “The way it goes is that one should only be going to work, and then straight back home.”
To make things clear, my dad is not a sociable person whatsoever. He literally practices what he was preaching in the phrase that I just mentioned. But that’s his choice, his life, his decision. And I don’t judge him for it, or wish if he would change it. Honestly I don’t.
But what I thought was hilarious and if I dare to say a bit insane in those words that he directed to me was this: If I choose to listen to his advise and to follow it to the nines, then how on earth would I possibly meet a potential partner?! 😀
I have somewhat weird parents. They have unrealistic expectations of the world, their own children and the people surrounding them.
They live in a bubble of their own creation, and they expect people, events, and everything around them to follow the rules of that imaginary and non-existent bubble. They live with the illusion that everyone and everything must match their own distorted image of the world surrounding them. They are extremely opinionated and will stick to their unrealistic and distorted views no matter what happens or what anyone tells them. They are also not open to hearing other views that conflict with their own. They will just cut you off, will stop listening and will not engage in any form of discussion. (That’s mostly my mom, although my father doesn’t like to listen to varying opinions either!).
They impose highly unrealistic rules, standards, and expectations on every life aspect you can imagine. These rules only exist in their “1960’s generation” heads.
This was only a brief and short explanation of my parents and the way they are. I can talk more about this topic in another post.
Now the problem is that these days, my University course requirements and blogging don’t leave me with much free time to go out and meet new people. So, instead of spending my evenings going out to night spots or events, I find myself sitting at Starbucks or on my bed writing blog posts! But that’s OK, because once I’m done with this course in two semesters from now, I should have more time to go out and mingle 🙂
Basically, I will make it my life mission to meet as many new people as possible. Truth to be told, it will take a lifetime for me to reverse my previously closed and restricted GCC lifestyle! I’m so glad to have the privilege to do that…and if you think I’m a super-lucky girl, just be reminded that each one of us has an equal amount of suffering. And that financial freedom and stability are not the only elements that guarantee a happy and peaceful life.
I hope that I could make part of my story more clear to some of you who might be intrigued to know. And for anyone interested in learning more about the Gulf region, its culture, and lifestyle, stay tuned to this blog…
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:
They offer classes at a professional fitness level, for intermediate to advanced trainees, by highly experienced and motivational instructors.
The club is spacious, with funky and cool interiors, and a number of studios for the different group exercise classes they offer.
There’s an organic food specialty cafe inside the club.
The club regularly organizes social and fitness events for both its members and non-members.
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?
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 🙂
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.
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 🙂
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!
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.
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 😉
As many of you know, I’m currently taking an undergraduate journalism course at University. Well, I still need to update my About Page with that piece of information. It’s just that these days, with trying to juggle between attending classes, assignments, the blog, attending events, catching up with friends and doing mundane tasks like making a sandwich to take withe me to school and then spending a good amount of time washing up the dishes, the task of updating my “About Page” always gets pushed down to the bottom of my list – or should I say lists? I guess that’s another story for another post.
One of the subjects that I’m taking this term is: Politics, Journalism & Society. I’m truly enjoying the lecture discussions on various political and social topics. I believe I’m more into social and cultural issues than I am into political ones.
That’s why, for our first assignment for the unit, I chose to write about a topic relevant to my society and one that is always in the spot light of International media. I wrote about my personal opinion on the ban of driving for Saudi women and what I honestly think about it…and most importantly, why I don’t think it deserves all the media attention that it is given.
Let me present to you: My First Opinion Piece 🙂
Title: My View on the Ban on Saudi Women Driving and Why I think it’s Insignificant
By: Nada Al Ghowainim
Whenever I meet anyone for the first time and they find out that I’m from Saudi Arabia, I usually get asked one of two main questions. The most common question is related to the national dress worn by women in Saudi; the Abaya. People wonder and are even surprised at times at the fact that I don’t wear a head scarf or an “abaya”.
The other question that typically follows the “no-abaya” after-shock is mostly: “So, do you drive here?”
My response to the latter is an automatic reply that I sometimes prefer to keep to myself, primarily in fear of facing the other person’s greatly puzzled facial expression and having to go through a series of complicated explanations and justifications.
For someone who was born and raised in Saudi Arabia, driving a car has never been on the top of my “things that I need to fight for” list. That’s why, since moving to Dubai in the year 2010, I haven’t pursued getting a driver’s license or even had that task on my to-do list.
I must admit that relying on a personal driver or a male member of the family to take me from one location to another has its fair share of frustrations and agonies. However, those types of distresses pale greatly in comparison to other daily sufferings faced by all Saudi women.
More complex and deep political, social and cultural issues that women can’t escape from on a daily basis are in my opinion far more significant than the inability to drive a car. An example of those issues is the topic of women’s legal rights in the Kingdom. A Thomson Reuters Foundation report published in September stated that “Saudi Arabia tops the list of countries for laws that limit women’s economic potential, while South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa have made the least progress over the last 50 years in improving women’s economic opportunities.”
The laws in Saudi Arabia require women to seek formal permission from their male guardian – be it their father, brother, husband or even son – to study, work, travel or simply go from one place to another. However, there are more serious restrictions that pose a far greater impact on the quality of life than getting behind a wheel does.
Author Abdullah Al-Alami explains these daily struggles that Saudi women face: “There is a group of ultraconservatives here who will try to do anything and everything to prevent women from exercising their rights,” Al-Alami continues by saying: “Be it driving, going to school, working, travelling for that matter, receiving medical care. Many men that I know, we feel that it is crucial for us to support women who do this.”
More importantly, viewing the ban on driving as an extension to other major restrictions imposed on Saudi women will help divert the negative media attention on the topic; where it often makes it seem as the most significant issue facing the country or its citizens.
While a ban on driving does limit the freedom of women in the country, a number of rigid and age-old issues that deal with social, political and economic matters continue to confine both women and men in Saudi society.
Economic issues range from the increasing unemployment rates among Saudi youth, to the poor distribution of wealth and the growing rich-poor gap, to the inadequate infrastructure of even the biggest cities in the Kingdom.
Political and legal issues related to the “male guardian” system have far much greater impact on the lives of Saudi women than the trivial topic of driving a car does. The Washington Post’s foreign affairs blogger, Max Fisher clearly justifies this point in his article published in “The Washington Post” in October.
In comparison to other restrictions facing Saudi women, a ban on driving isn’t necessarily the biggest problem. Fisher elaborates that there are far more important issues restricting Saudi women in their daily lives.
According to Fisher: “It’s part of a larger system of customs and laws that make women heavily reliant on men for their basic, day-to-day survival.”
There’s limited attention given by local media on social issues faced by Saudi women which are directly linked to tradition and the social norms of the country and its people.
Examples of these topics include conventional social norms such as early marriage, arranged marriage, and other pressures that women face in Saudi society. In a society explicitly dominated by men, women can easily find themselves helpless and unable to fight for their simple rights. Women are closely scrutinized over their every move, and immediately judged if it doesn’t conform to the rules set by the society or its controlling male citizens.
In this confining society, simple freedoms that people all over the world take for granted, are non-existent. Having said that, how can one argue for a specific form of freedom when the general and broader restrictions haven’t been lifted? Shouldn’t we ask for more control over our personal freedoms and basic human rights before we ask to be merely in control of a vehicle?
No one enjoys having to be under someone else’s control, let alone a personal driver or a male member of the family, but I believe that there are far too many other causes that deserve our energy and attention besides the call for women driving.