Thursday, December 19, 2013

Snap caption: Santa poses in Ski Dubai grotto, makes sign of the horns

Why he is making the sign of the horns, however, remains unclear. Is he a heavy metal fan? From Texas? Just trying to signal to the kids he's all cool?

Snap caption: Even camel supermodels have to be camera-ready

The Mazayna Al Dafra camel festival starts today, running until December 28, in Madinat Zayed Al Gharbia, or the Western Region of Abu Dhabi. Do go, it's a ton of fun to see all the attention paid to these trusty "ship of the desert" creatures. And it's also home to the world's only camel beauty contest, which attracts camel owners from far and wide. The judging committee takes the selection process for a winner very seriously.

Snap caption: Abu Dhabi group for people in the insurance industry not so popular

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Dear BBC: Thanks for the A Canadian in Abu Dhabi shout-out!

A colleague pointed out that this piece from Sunshine Flint about life in Abu Dhabi lists this space as a way to find out more about life in the city.

The article was likely being prepared just as Abu Dhabi lifted the five per cent cap on rents, which has everyone (myself included) a little worried about what will happen when we re-up. 

Highlight of my week: Painting otters at the Dubai Acquarium and Underwater Museum

Yes, I saw Blackfish. I know all about aquariums. But, but - these otters are painting, with little tiny brushes!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Happy 42nd National Day, you crazy kids

This official National Day Car Parade (as opposed to the many rolling unofficial similar events happening down on the Corniche right now) comes courtesy of the Life&Style Show UAE, on Thursday-Saturday at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, and the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi).

Friday, November 29, 2013

Overheard on a Etihad Airways Toronto-Abu Dhabi flight

Canadian oil and gas worker (en route to Saudi) to oil and gas worker from India (previously worked for Hibernia, off the coast of Newfoundland):

"I travel halfway around the world to work offshore, you travel halfway around the world to work offshore; it's ridiculous."

Look who's coming to Dubai: Paris Hilton at Cavelli Club

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Dubai wins World Expo 2020; UAE proceeds to have best day ever

So you may have heard that Dubai won the right to host the World Expo 2020 last night. The country had fireworks ready to go from the Burj Khalifa as soon as the news was announced in Paris - special enough, one would think. But the celebration did not stop there, nooooooo it did not.

Among the hard-to-imagine in Canada awesomeness that sprung from this news: today was suddenly proclaimed a national holiday, free coffee at Tim Hortons and free ice cream at Cold Stone Creamery, a cool Google doodle and this, Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Executive Council, triumphantly raising the UAE flag atop the tallest building in the world.

There is some pretty cool video at his Facebook page, too.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Windshield selfies: Is this a thing now?

So I spotted this in my neighbourhood the other day. It seems to be a sticker bearing the image of the owner of the car. (Unless it's someone else I don't recognise?)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Still in Canada, because this much snow

The scene from my brother's front door Sunday morning.

I was due to arrive back in Abu Dhabi from a visit back home tonight. However as you can see, there was a giant dumping of snow on my hometown of London, Ontario this weekend. Several times over the weekend officials closed Highway 401, which is how we make the two-hour drive between London and Toronto's Pearson International Airport, and I didn't risk the drive. (More love to Etihad Airways, my favourite carrier in the world. I can say that, because I've flown a little, though never Aeroflot or Ryan Air, thankfully. Anyway, a call, zip, doodle, one small Mastercard charge and I'm flying out Tuesday night)

I have to tell you that while I am here, I'm loving the winter: the crisp, invigorating air, the cool coats and hats, warm cups of hot chocolate, furry slippers, flannel pyjamas, lots of comfort food and just the general cosiness of it all. (I'm not loving having to wear boots everywhere, the instant and unsolvable dry skin issue and of course, the bane of every Canadian woman, "static hair".)

Yet I know my delight at the season is due to my imminent departure from it for sunny, warmer climes. Next week there will be flip flops, and beach yoga, and warm evening breezes across my balcony.

If everyone around me is a little less excited than I am about the white stuff, of course that is because they are going to be in the thick of it for the next six months. And even though I've been gone from Canada for 5.5 years now, I still remember that winter loses its lustre very, very quickly.

Snap caption: Arabic coffee pot is a little bit rock 'n roll

Spotted at Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Jay Z in Abu Dhabi: The 3 best moments of his post-Abu Dhabi Formula One show

The power outage
This took me way too long to notice - after a few minutes I actually said to my friends 'he's taking a really long break' only to be told they blew a generator - but who doesn't like being part of something so large and unusual? And then Timbaland shouted out to the crowd

Thousands of blue wristbands flying through the air during Empire State of mind
I imagine the novelty of these du-sponsored wristbands, which light up simultaneously at key concert moments, ie "In Neeeeeeew York", will wear thin by the end of this weekend. But they really created a moment (and in a different way for my friend Julie, who was in the toilet when hers started flashing).

Jay Z turning the cameras on the crowd
I can't believe no other singers have tried this: it's a great time killer and an absolute delight for those in the crowd to be recognised on the big screen. He called out lots of fans, including one with a sign that read "Blue Ivy is the cutest" and another, asking "you hurt your foot?" And it was fun to hear him gently directing the camera man: "Y'all cut away too fast; you need to hold it a bit longer!"

These pics of David Hasselhoff in his Baywatch outfit on the beach on Saadiyat Island are awesome because ________

I can't believe I missed the Hoff this weekend in Abu Dhabi, because he was literally everywhere: on the Abu Dhabi Film Festival closing night red carpet, in the Flash VIP Lounge at Ferrari World and at the F1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Priz (as a guest of Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority). But it was a visit to the beach on Saadiyat Island, where Hasselhoff encountered some fans from Germany, that yielded the best photos. Not to mention the entertaining press release:

Among the autograph hunters was 21-year-old Ronja Hannsen a hotelier from Dusseldorf.
“This made my day,” said Ronja. “When I first saw David in the lifeguard’s chair I thought I’d had too much sun – but he turned out to be the real thing. I got my photo taken with him and it’s already on its way back to Dusseldorf. BayWatch may have been a long time ago but it was an iconic series and David’s still looking good. This is really something to talk about when I’m back home."

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

When khalas means khalas, or how I panicked and rented a truck when I should have just called a taxi

I moved recently and setting up the new place has been more work than I thought it would be. One of the things I've been obsessed with is setting up my balcony - how great is it to have a balcony just as the weather is getting so awesome?

He looks like he's been caught doing something wrong, but he's really just unloading my stuff. 
Anyway, on a recent Friday I was tearing around the city like a maniac, stopping at IKEA and Ace Hardware, and the plant souk, and by the end of it my little rental Nissan Micra was chock full of stuff. One last stop at Spinneys before heading home, unloading my car with what I was sure would be the help of my building's security, getting changed to go to my friend's house for a special dinner, I thought.

But when I got back to my car, it was totally dead. A car full of stuff, a lot of it live, expensive plants, searing heat - it did not seem feasible to just let it sit there. No one answered at the rental place, of course. Rather than calling a taxi, rather than calling Triple A, which is what I now know you are supposed to do when a rental car dies, I panicked. One second later, I spotted one of those big white trucks. You know the kind, with a flat bed and white railings out back, the kind where the guys fleece you when you try to hire them? The kind I once paid Dh400 to move a sofa half a block? Yes, that kind. I approached to see if the driver might be able to get me and my stuff home in a reasonable time, for a reasonable price. He was very friendly, and agreed to the operation for Dh100.

And we were off. Don't you love the way these guys decorate their trucks?

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Overheard in the newsroom: Yanni & mutton edition

"I so wanted to write a Yanni review. 'It was Yanni'."

"I drove in New York City. Although it's much worse here."

"He went to the gym but he brought long socks instead of short socks & he had to wear them so he thought 'whatever, just commit'."

"What are you doing, planning your lunch for the next three weeks?"

"I had no idea you were supposed to turn your car off at the petrol station."

"I've got luxury fatigue, I think it's actually some sort of syndrome."

"No, it's a grown up sheep. It tastes a bit older." 

Snap caption: Selena Gomez is all grown up at Dubai Music Week, works the wind machine like a true diva

Monday, September 23, 2013

Emmy Awards 2013: I got up at 4am to watch this shindig......

...and I wrote about it the entire time. Head over to The National Arts&Life section's Scene&Heard blog for three hours and 10 minutes worth of my observations. You are welcome.

"Edie Falco tears up as she remembers James Gandolfini, who was no Tony Soprano in real life. "I'm here to tell you Jim was really quite different…if you needed anything at all, ever, Jim was there before you asked…it's Jim the man, the real man, who I will miss most of all." Is this an inappropriate time to say I think she looks amazing and her dress is one of the best I've seen? Probably." 

Snap caption: Confusing sign in spa bathroom sort of a metaphor for life

Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa by Anantara

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Overheard in the newsroom: Press release edition

Editor A: What's that?

Editor B: It's a dirham glued to a press release.

Just because Thursday: Two awesome pics of John Travolta in the Dubai desert

When John Travolta passed through Dubai as part of his Qantas ambassadorship, he spent some time, as everyone seems to do, in the desert. My favourite from those shots, taken at Al Maha, a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa about 45 minutes outside the city, is this camel pic. 

But this one's not far behind...

Sunday, September 15, 2013

10 reasons I like living in Abu Dhabi, over to Dubai

So things seem to be settling down now, but there are still a few people upset about the Abu Dhabi Government decree that all its staff who work in the emirate must live in the emirate. There was a lot of discussion about how this would be enforced, and when the rules came out, they were pretty iron-clad.

Sure, no one likes to be told where to live, and there were families with kids and people with established lives faced with uprooting them, and other cases, I get it. But there was also a whole lot of "I could never" that I just really didn't sympathise with. Having lived in the capital since I arrived five years ago - and having been pretty happy about it - I think it's actually pretty cool and kind of superior Dubai. And here's why:

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Lust object: Jimmy Choo puffball purse

I had a tour of the gorgeous The Galleria at Al Maryah Island this morning, and while I saw a load of gorgeous designer stuff that I totally wanted but would never be able to afford, this little number really took my breath away.

It is so adorable, don't you think? Just Dh9,950. My friend has offered to make me one; now all I need to find is a bag that shape.

Abu Dhabi taxi ride: Finally, my first lady driver

When I landed in Abu Dhabi after two splendid weeks in Scotland, I was presented with a further treat in a fortnight that had been filled with them: my first ride in one of the capital's lady-driven taxis. These cars, which have purple accents on them, have been around for a few years and I've never been able to snag one despite wanting to.

My driver was really nice and good at her job, too. An assured, attentive, speed-limit obeying, a left foot completely off the brake while the right foot was the on the gas kind of great driver. Oh, and another thing? She had change for Dh100. 

Mushrif Mall aquarium transfixes late-night crowd

So I went to Luluhypermarket late last Thursday night (here's something I love about Abu Dhabi: you can buy a 40-inch Sony flatscreen at 11.30pm) and as I was coming down the escalator I saw this crowd in front of the aquarium (another thing I love about Abu Dhabi: a crowd of families out in a mall at midnight).

Everyone just looked so delighted. It was infectious. And a little confusing. It all became a little clearer when I came round the corner, and saw this: 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Etihad Airways Introduces the Flying Nanny

So you want to take a trip but can't bear the hassle of travelling with kids, or even if you can, you still find yourself running out of ideas for stuff to keep them occupied? Etihad Airways, fresh from bumping me up to business class at the last minute on my recent trip to Edinburgh (sweet-as!), has introduced something that seems 1950s-style quaint and smack-me-in-the-face obvious at the same time: The Flying Nanny.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Overheard in the newsroom: Ra-Ra-Ramadan edition

Others did not like the banoffee, but they were British.

Anyone else more aware of their fingertip now?

So that's going to be quite a complicated order. Should we go through it again, to make sure we get it?

This smells, by the way. I am just warning everyone now.

OH! I just turned off my computer by accident. Hit the button with the pointy toe of my shoe right in the middle of an edit.

Four in a Yaris, it will be fine.

You don't have a supercar to ride home in today? 

Those are some spinning shoes: One picture sums up why I am in no way glam enough to be an Arab woman

This photo was taken on a recent morning at my local fitness studio just before an 8.30am RPM class.

I had stumbled to the class fresh out of bed, wearing my workout clothes.
This woman had donned an abaya and - so chic - studded high heels, for the same thing.

I just love how awesome she must have looked at that hour, and how terrible I did. I also love that I don't even have a pair of shoes like this, let alone wear them to exercise class.

Even better, when class was finished she just touched up her face and hair and popped the abaya on over her exercise clothes. 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

July in Abu Dhabi: Got a case of the stir-crazies? Just know you are not alone

The way you feel right now? That's a case of the mid-UAE summer stir-crazies. 

If you feel fine, then maybe you are lucky, and it hasn't set in yet.

If you are scoffing at the notion, feeling assured that you are strong enough to withstand high temperatures coupled with a dearth of fresh air - and ready to argue that the thing you are mad about now you are really and truly mad about and would be even if it was lovely, lovely February - then I'd suggest that you either don't know about the stir-crazies or are in deep denial about having them.

I realised the mid-UAE summer stir crazies had descended over the weekend when I looked out my car window and I hated everything I saw. (I hated things inside the car too, and inside myself of course. It was equal-opportunity hatred). All of a sudden the things that I treasured mere days ago were sore points. Joy was gone. And the people around me? Irritating, all of them.

I managed to escape this feeling last summer, for the most part, by attending daily RPM classes. One summer I staved them off by going for long, sweaty late-night walks. 

Leaving for somewhere you can breathe - even the UAE seaside - helps. 

In the meantime, deep breaths and calm thoughts. This too shall pass. I've been here for five years - the summer always does. 

Presented without comment

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Overheard in the newsroom: Klout one-upping is a thing now edition

Okay, we'll have a little Klout-off.

Except he hasn't worn shoes in 20 years.

Is it today? What are you, like 21 or something?

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Chiva Som: Ommmmmmmmm

The view from my balcony. By the way, when you live in Abu Dhabi,  weather is not an issue when you travel. Rain? Welcome.
I just returned from a glorious week at the health resort Chiva Som in Hua Hin, Thailand, and am about five times the woman I was when I left. I am still grappling with the fact that I even went to a spa in the first place; it's not the kind of travelling I usually like to do.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Yoga at the Top, Burj Khalifa: Now THAT was a Friday morning

Yoga at the Top of the Burj Khalifa. The blue mat is mine.
So I completely scrapped my weekend plans when I heard my friends were going to do this yesterday: a 7.30am yoga class on the observation deck of the tallest building in the world, courtesy of Fitness First.

Um, yes, I am in.

And The Mountains Echoed: Anyone else notice that in Khaled Hosseini's world, women are ageing badly, misshapen or horribly disfigured?

Maybe it's because I recently turned 43, or maybe it's because last month I read Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In, and liked it, but my enjoyment of Khaled Hosseini's popular third book, And The Mountains Echoed (now number two on the New York Times' Best Seller list), was paired with an undercurrent of discomfort - then irritation. By the end I was angry.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Overheard in the newsroom: Thursday edition

All I'm going to do today is feel pity for people who don't have more life awareness. 

I was just thinking I'd have a nap on the way home, but then I realised I'm driving. 

Istanbul - now that's a boozy city.

Editor A: I never really got Mr Wobbles.
Editor B: What didn't you get? He was not that complex a character. 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

I love my Dad: A Top 10 list for Father's Day

Obviously I can't be in Canada to celebrate Father's Day with my very awesome dad Larry. So I sent him this list. He's the best.

In 2009 on a desert safari. Because you have to. 

Top Ten reasons I love my Fasha, on Fasha's Day

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Wheeler's in Dubai and baby corn as a drink garnish: Discuss

I hate baby corn. It is the porridge of vegetables; it is the vegetable equivalent of the blandest, dryest most boring person you know. The only high point in its history is that film scene, when Jim Carrey chewed through a piece of baby corn as if it is a regular-sized cob. Hilarious, always.

And so, when the bartenders talked my friend into ordering this beverage (after the jump) at Wheeler's recently, I almost fell off my chair when I saw how it was garnished.

Today in Groupon: UAE Groupon writers are better than any product or service they are trying to sell

They are all gems but today's is really stellar:

Appearing comfortable in your body can help project a professional image more easily than sewing a three-piece suit out of business cards or replacing your head with a briefcase. Finesse your fa├žade with this Groupon: get up to 6 sessions of full body relaxing massage starting from AED 75 at Emirates Inspiration Beauty Center.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Overheard in the newsroom: Super special holiday Thursday edition

I think Idris Elba would be a good choice for the next James Bond.

Editor A: I want to buy some new shoes.
Editor B: Me too, and I know where they are and how much they cost.

She took something away from me that day.

I hate self-service

The internet is just pages and pages of peril and porn.

This is fish by the way, it's going to smell

DIY Vampire Facial! That would be Google bait gold...

They all look the same, guys with dirty beards

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Overheard in the newsroom: Sandance & Justin Bieber edition

 I think Idris Elba would be a good choice for the next James Bond

Editor A: I want to buy some new shoes.
Editor B: Me too, and I know where they are and how much they cost.

I'm getting tired of Justin though.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Snap caption: Banged up joke suitcase not so different from my banged-up real suitcase

Love the quirky items at, particularly the 4-wheel crash trolley for Dh770. And since that's how my suitcase looked when it came off the conveyor belt after my last trip home, why not just lean it to the pending damage?

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Dear Pizza Hut: This crust appears to be breaded, please explain yourself

The Canadian embassy and Tim Hortons want you to go to Justin Bieber

This is adorable. My embassy wants you to "like" their Facebook page and they've paired up with a Canadian coffee institution to make it happen. (Although frankly there are so many Tim Hortons over here now I don't know where I'm at). From the press release:


Last Chance to win Fan Pit Tickets to see Justin Bieber in Dubai on May 5.

Like the Embassy's Facebook page and answer the question to win !

Pass on the info to your contacts !

Susan Sarandon survives SPiN Dubai

Susan Sarandon and SPiN Dubai co-owner Dani Alyamour 

Is she not gorgeous? Wow oh wow do I hope I look one-tenth that good when I wake up tomorrow. Anyhoo, I travelled down to DXB for the opening of this club, SPiN Dubai, last night. First off, because I know you were wondering: no, the paddles are not actually that big.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Fun games you can only play in the UAE

How many times can I cheat death while driving about my business during the day
-I often think about the astonishing number of accidents I avoid daily. I am usually almost sideswiped at least once on the way to work (it is about an eight-minute drive) and once on the way home. A day off involving several errands could bring the tally to five or six. Should I head down Sheikh Zayed Road to Dubai, the stakes grow ever larger. Particular close calls include finding yourself in the middle of several racing cars, someone passing you while you are in the fast lane, and they are in the inside lane, which almost everyone knows is not a lane. The only thing that soothes my soul at these times is remembering all the taxi mentality I used to endure. At least I'm the one with my feet on the gas and the brake.

Will the delivery match the order
-You may remember my milk/lock story (it happened twice by the way, that I ordered milk from the corner store and got a padlock). Particularly relevant with lunch and corner shop orders. With all the different languages spoken here, you just never know what you are going to get. It's much easier to just go with it, borrowing the reaction a fellow Canadian once used to sum up the experience: "Why yes I would like some chips!"

Spot the other Westerner
-Living among hundreds of nationalities is one of my favourite things about Abu Dhabi, and it never gets old. I always forget about this game until I go outside my apartment building (in Hamdan Street) on a Friday. It's basically where South Asia meets, everyone hanging out in their Sunday best. I've heard Global Village is another good place to play. It's always a bit funny, and a bit of a comfort, when you spot the other Westerner in this situation. A look will pass between you, and I like to think it's a combination of emotions: like suddenly you realise you are having an adventure, and how strange and different and wonderful it is, and you are (for a few seconds) sort of in it together.

Should we risk ordering lunch from the new place?
-A flyer marked "free delivery" may look enticing, until you get everyone's order organised and call it in only to be told "no delivery". Or you can tell from first phone contact that they are just impossibly organised. Or that they won't find your office. Or they will phone-stalk your mobile trying to find your office while you are in a meeting. Or the order takes two hours and the department mood dips dangerously low due to hangryness.

Guess what gave me food poisoning
-In a place where it's not uncommon to pick up breakfast, order in lunch and eat dinner in a restaurant, it's always hot and sunny and food standards are still a work-in-progress, residents find themselves asking this a lot more than you'd think. I had to play this the other day after a beautiful Friday hotel brunch in Abu Dhabi. The odd feeling set in about 5.30pm, the vomiting about 7. Was it the scallops? The oysters? The sushi? Ugh. Never. Brunching. Again.

Honking: it's all about perspective
-One of the first things I notice when I go to Europe or North America is how quiet it is. (Not you New York). Cars are driving everywhere, but no one is honking. For a person living in the Middle East, it is ear nirvana. Really. It's a constant mind game here, having the person behind you honk the second the traffic light turns green. Anger instantly flares up, and it's very easy to spend the next 10 minutes hating your life if things are not exactly going that well at the moment. At the very least, you are going to think   "how rude" and get very judgy of the other driver. When this happens I remind myself, and it usually works, that the person behind me doesn't think honking is rude. They don't think anything of it. They are probably in their car, thinking about the next thing they have to do, not trying to be a jerk, not trying to noise-pollute an already noise-polluted city, rather just providing what they see as a normal reminder that the light is green, so go already. 

Overheard in the newsroom: Crazy noodle Sunday edition

Help! I'm surrounded by nerds.

I never recognise when there is an earthquake, it's starting to piss me off.

You can tell in the morning I have a bunch of tweets I thought up in the car.

Do you want Noodle House?
Ooooooh, I do love Noodle House.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Abu Dhabi Police are on the case, within about four months for sure

A friend of mine submitted a suggestion to the Abu Dhabi Police via their website (she suggested they have liaison who provides info to all the radio stations with the latest on traffic, instead of radio stations relying on listeners). This was the automated response she got:

Thank you for using the feedback management system (FMS) and sharing your experience. Be assured your suggestion # 31323 has been noted for special consideration. Expect a response to your suggestion within 126 working days.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

I get press releases: Kellogg's to pour massive amounts of cereal in a Guinness World Records bid at Dubai Marina Mall

When Susan Sarandon told me in an e-mail interview this week that when it came to launching one of her SPiN ping-pong clubs, her answer was "why not Dubai"? It's that kind of thinking that brings us to this:

On Friday April 26, Kellogg's will attempt to break 2 Guinness World Records™ titles (the Longest Breakfast Table and Largest Cereal Breakfast Attendance) at the Dubai Marina Mall Promenade in Dubai, from 8am-1pm. 

Everyone is invited to participate to the record and receive a free Kellogg’s Corn Flakes breakfast. 

Thanks for your support!

So this, but times a thousand. On a table. At a mall.

Dubai Golden Cup: World figure skaters come to Dubai Mall

I very much want to attend this event, but cannot, so I am hoping someone reports back to me on all the awesomeness that ensues. I have never heard of this competition before (and indeed, actually attended the World Figure Skating Championships in London, Ontario, last month), but it is an International Skating Union-sanctioned event featuring 220 skaters from 20 countries over three days.

My favourite part of the description? The feats that will be seen "include spins, jumps, moves in the field, throw jumps and death spirals". Too bad, in my 10 years as a figure skater, the "move in the field" was one of those I never did manage to master.

Admission is free, so check it out! It runs today through Saturday, from 9.30am to 6.30pm. The guest of honour is two-time Olympic silver medalist from Russia, Irina Slutskaya.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Only in Abu Dhabi: Lululemon controversy gets an Arab twist

While waiting to start a pilates reformer class, a Canadian and an Arab woman are discussing the merits of Lululemon. The Arab woman says she loves Lululemon (and indeed, she is clad in it from head to toe). She mentions the recent "sheer" pants controversy. The Canadian woman gestures to her own Lululemon top, which was once a brilliant pink, but no longer, and says the quality has waxed and waned over the years.

Arab woman: I think you really have to hand-wash them.

Canadian woman: I think it's a bit much to ask, to hand-wash my workout clothes.

Arab woman: That's why I get my maids to do it. 

What's not to like? Susan Sarandon, SPiN Dubai and a golden ping-pong table

UPDATE: Our email interview here.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Meet Giddy, the family-friendly giraffe who lives at Dubai International Airport

I've become a little bit obsessed today with Giddy, the mascot for a restaurant called Giraffe in Dubai International Airport.

My interest was piqued after receiving a press release this morning, titled "Giddy the family-friendly Giraffe enjoys a warm welcome whilst making new friends at Ski Dubai". 

First of all, I love that Giddy gets a press release sent out when he goes somewhere new. And the tag "family-friendly" just sort of suggests that somewhere out there, exists an un-family friendly mascot giraffe. A non-PC mascot giraffe, who loves cigars and strippers. That kind of thing.

I love how you can see the face of the person inside through that netting in his neck. And lastly, look how much fun Giddy is! I mean, the guy is having an absolute ball.

Overheard in the newsroom: Payday edition

Person A: When is payday?

Person B: The 28th, the 29th?

Person a: Soooo, not the 25th. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

I get email: The 'are you still here?' edition

Subject line: Are you still in the UAE?

Iam a 29 years old doctor visiting uae and tryin to make friends.people worn me about low of trying to know women email me if you r still here

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Pop up yoga in the sky: The adorable Traveling Lotus strikes again

If you look carefully, you can see the corner of my yoga mat at the bottom of this picture! My Saturday started out with a bang, as one of my favourite yoga teachers in the city (and also one of the go-getter free agents making it on their own - and nicer for those of us who love yoga and love being outside while we do it), Jennifer Stewart, organised a pop up yoga class on the massive Al Ain Towers balcony of one of her students. There were about 10 of us, a gentle breeze blowing, the blue Gulf straight ahead. Loved it. Heaven.

Jen teaches at a couple of very nice hotels around the city, namely the St Regis Saadiyat Island and the Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa. Send a message to to get on her email list. Do it!

"Keep Calm" with a Middle East twist

Last week felt crazy all over, didn't it? There was that earthquake, right after the bombings at the Boston Marathon, the manhunt, the fear and unease among Arabs and Muslims at irresponsible reporting in the US. The price of gold is dropping, and in this region, summer is definitely coming. It was oppressive and turbulent all at the same time. It was also a perfect time for Gallery One to introduce its cheeky new "Keep Calm" series. I like "Keep a Camel and Eat Dates" myself (having one of those magical creatures for my very own would keep me calm always, I am sure of it, and I am currently obsessed with medjool dates, or, as I like to call them, nature's perfect food). The stationery, posters, badges etc cost from Dh15 up to Dh489 and are available at locations around Dubai and Abu Dhabi's Souk Qaryat Al Beri.

I am also a big fan of the latest, "get back to normal Boston" version that was circulating Facebook this weekend. "Keep Wicked Calm and Say Hi To Your Mother For Me." Best if said in a Mark Wahlberg accent.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Snap caption: Look what my teeny car can do!

Driving a small car in the UAE is terrifying. I average about three sudden swerves a day trying not to get smushed by giant SUVs. Don't even get me started on the Abu Dhabi-Dubai Sheikh Zayed Road corridor. Shivers.

But then there are moments like this when it all pays off.

How to be a happy expat

Because a cloud wall makes you want to take a selfie.  After 10 years living in the UAE, some of that time happy, some miserable and ...