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Showing posts from February, 2011

3 reasons to love Abu Dhabi this week

1) My friend has dedicated herself to a strict regime of morning meditation in an effort to calm her mind and help her days run more smoothly. On the first day she rose and began the process, only to be distracted by the sound of a neighbour's bleating goat outside her window.

"I tried to meditate and all I heard was maaa-aaa-aaa," she said.

2) Another friend was waiting for me to arrive at Oceans for ladies night when two stout women from India bellied up to the bar. They ordered: "Sex on the Beach. Warm." As they drank their ice-cubeless cocktails, they made a wall with their purses. Safely out of sight of the bar staff, they pulled out a tin foil package and proceeded to snack on some homemade onion bhajis. After one drink, they left.

3) A friend in the hospital was given some delicious, fanciful cakes by concerned co-workers, but he felt ill and just didn't have the stomach for them. Another co-worker took them and gave them to her taxi driver, who was …

Reporter tries to find Libyan embassy in Abu Dhabi (not as easy as it may seem)

Reporter: "Where are you located?"

Embassy: "Why? Who are you? What do you want?"

Reporter: "I'd like your location please."

Embassy: "Call back in an hour. We are busy."

(Conversation carries on like this for a few minutes)

Reporter: "Please tell me where you are located."

Embassy: "I don't want to."

Overheard in the Middle Easter newsroom: super special Thursday edition

"I think Lady Gaga should dress as Gaddafi at her next concert."

"I can't take Oman seriously as a country."

"I like your spelling of hypocrisy. I've never seen it spelled like that before."

More Libyan protests, at the embassy in Abu Dhabi this time

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In Abu Dhabi, the Libyan ambassador to the UAE this morning told a crowd that although he was with the people, he wouldn't remove the Libyan flag in solidarity. Unlike others of his ilk around the world, he has not resigned nor does he seem prepared to.

Omar al Ghanai gave the short speech, in Arabic, hence none of it is here yet, to dozens of protestors outside the embassy.

Bad (or good, depending on how you look at it) timing for Younis Beshari, 23. He came to the UAE from from Benghazi 10 days ago, and wants to return to join the protests against Gaddafi.

"I feel ashamed sitting in front of the TV, watching this," he said. "I want to be with my friends."


Yesterday's protest in Dubai was a good deal more boistrous, larger and much longer than we are used to seeing here. Up to 100 people gathered to condemn violence in the North African country, in the process destroying a photo of Gaddafi and replacing the flag with the country's former standard. 


My fav…

Protests at the Libyan consulate in Dubai: “Tell Muammar and his sons: Libya has men”

The National's Wafa Issa is down at the Libyan embassy in Dubai covering a protest that unfolded earlier this morning.

At one point, protesters entered the Libyan consulate and removed a portrait of Muammar Gaddafi from the walls, took it outside and smashed it on the ground.

The crowd grew to 80 people, some who called for the UAE Foreign Ministry to condemn violence against protestors in Libya, but quelled as the group offered prayers for their country at midday. At last report Dubai Police were allowing the protest to continue, quite a rarity in this country.

Libyan Yousef Omar, 23, a businessman from Benghazi, also took part in the protest. “The world cannot remain silent,” he said. “These human rights violations must be stopped.”


UPDATE: From Twitter, Danya B Mohammed: We TOOK OFF THE FLAG IN UAE!!! CONSULTE!! But they have locked us in!! @SultanAlQassemi @ShababLibya

Tiny chili shaped like a heart

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I love this picture for a lot more reasons than that it is a cute little chili. I love it because a family was shopping in Al Ain last week and noticed it, and they thought it was cute, and they took a picture of it and emailed it in to the newsroom under the headline "chili with a little heart".

In these turbulent times, I have been trying to appreciate the small things in life. And the fact that this family who I do not know, but already like very much, took the time to notice this heart-shaped vegetable, photograph it and then email it to a newspaper so other people could enjoy it too- well, it's just really sweet, is all. And we need a little more of that.

Nick Kristof: I am glued to his every word

There are loads of people to follow as they report what is going on in the Middle East right now, but you have to pick a few or you won't get any work done. One of those Western journalists who seems to have a nuanced view of the situation is the New York Times' Nick Kristof. I enjoy his blog, which ended with this:


Finally, I just have to say: These Bahraini democracy activists are unbelievably courageous. I’ve been taken aback by their determination and bravery. They faced down tanks and soldiers, withstood beatings and bullets, and if they achieve democracy – boy, they deserve it.

Sri Lanka, the UAE's cottage country, is beautiful

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It's been quite a week in the Middle East: Bahrain, Libya and Yemen, oh my

After Egypt and the bloody demonstrations in Bahrain, as well as unrest in Libya and Yemen, it's starting to get a little close for comfort over here. And very painful to watch. I am all for the right to peaceful protest – growing up with it and all, I once took it for granted, until moving overseas and perhaps right up until #Jan25, but no longer – and praying that not too many more lives are lost.

In other, completely unrelated news, things are sort of shaping up in the (very peaceful, not-much-on-the-public-squares) UAE. Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed has been on a tour of the emirates, meeting rulers and finding out what the locals have to say. According to WAM, the state news agency:

President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan stressed on the necessity of close and continuous follow up of the outcome of this tour in order to live up to the aspirations and hopes of nationals, already a high priority by the government as part of its strategy…

Overheard in the newsroom: A super special triple Sunday edition

"Don't make me show you all my tattoos."

"I always like to know that someone has been through my mail before I get it."

"I have one fake tooth."

Try to find something like this in a Canadian shopping centre: Ibn Battuta Mall, Dubai

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And while you are there, drop by the Lime Tree Cafe and try an ultra-delish Watermelon Fizz:

Today, in unfortunate acronyms: Milf, the Philippines largest Muslim insurgent group

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front, or Milf, everybody!

Talk about an SEO'd headline.

This part is not funny, though.

Why was The Cult guitarist Billy Duffy wearing an Etihad shirt on Married to Rock, and why do I know about it?

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Because I watch E! Okay? I watch it sometimes. Okay, I watch it a lot. Too much. And on Saturday I sat down for five minutes to watch Married to Rock and I watched the whole damn thing. That show, like most of the offerings on E!, is a bit like crack.

As the title would suggest, this "reality" show depicts the antics of girlfriends/wives of four "rock stars". The scene in question shows Duffy being kind of mean and ignoring his very cool girlfriend AJ Cell's hints about getting married, or at the very least going to a wedding with her. He's obviously gun-shy and enjoys being so, to the point where after three years I might be saying to myself, "self, perhaps it's time to move on", instead of what AJ is doing, which according to promos for an upcoming episode is planning on proposing to him.

Anyhoo, in that scene Duffy is clearly wearing a
black Etihad T-shirt somewhat like the one picture here, although it could have been long-sleeved and it di…

Snap caption: I beg your pardon, HSBC? A sale you say? Isn't that a little bit... weird?

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Jones the Grocer waiter fails to mention "occupied" means "Abu Dhabi Crown Prince is coming"

I went to meet a friend for brunch at Jones the Grocer earlier (I guess both of us woke up and thought 'I want to spend Dh120 on eggs and stuff today, that will be cool".) I arrived first and tried to take the best table, in a little patch of glorious February Abu Dhabi sun.

"Actually ma'am, it is occupied," said the water. He pointed to a tiny deuce beside a man who was smoking (and looked intent on doing nothing but smoking for the foreseeable future), but a weekend brunch table at Jones the Grocer is not to be scoffed at, so of course I took it.

Who should turn up? The Crown Prince himself, with a couple of other fellows. They shared a giant plate of salad and even larger plate of toast. Then, when they finished, they had the whole thing again. Yes, that's right, the whole thing again.

Sidenote: If you haven't tried the granny smith & ginger natural cordial with sparkling Voss, please, please do. Don't worry about the cost, if you are eating …

Tim Hortons is coming to Abu Dhabi, I can barely contain myself

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It's true, the first Tim Hortons shop is due to open April 5 in the new Mushrif Mall on the outskirts of the city, mall management has confirmed. (Cautionary note: Apparel Group, the operators, have not confirmed. UPDATE nor has Tim Hortons international HQ - still examining the region, nothing signed that kind of stuff)

I am beyond excited. When I land at Pearson in Toronto, the first thing I do is get in the (always incredibly long) line for a medium with milk. Words cannot express just how much Canadians love this coffee. Please, help me express it in the comments.

And a double-double (I'd say triple-triple but that is just heart attack country) thanks to A Canadian in Abu Dhabi reader Mounir for the tip he emailed in this morning. A tip he had even confirmed with a call to the mall's operators. He is the very best sort of tipster. This is part of a big expansion by the Canadian chain, a little more about that end here, from a Globe and Mail story last June.

There are 24,…

Important Tim Hortons news coming...

...stay tuned!

Snap caption: Shabby media company sign makes no sense

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Snap caption: GlaxoSmithKline, convincing doctors of their patients' serious mental health issues, one country at a time

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The upside of revolution, even if it's just a personal one: Egypt edition

Many times I look around myself, even almost three years after arriving, and think how did I get here? What am I doing? How will I ever get back home?

In recent weeks, watching situations unfold in Tunisia and Egypt, things have made a little more sense.