Saturday, December 13, 2014

UAE diary: Sir Patrick Stewart, SJP, Dubai International Film Festival, Breitling Wingwalkers and lots and lots of Lego

It's been quite a week here in the UAE, culturally speaking. Personally, I totally loved that we got this guy to pose in front of the Burj Khalifa: 
Yes, Sir Patrick Stewart dropped by and became a Chivas Legend. He's doing a sitcom with Seth McFarlane and Jackie Weaver (UAE connection - remember when she was here for Abu Dhabi Film Festival last year?) and it sounds if that wasn't enough, Sarah Jessica Parker was in the emirate right on his heels to launch her shoe collection at Harvey Nicols and Bloomingdale's. She sounded lovely (and spent some time at Cle Dubai):

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Overheard in the newsroom: Big bad Banana Guard edition

It finally happened: a cat bit me.

One thing about Bollywood guys, they've all got a good head of hair.

It's good to be a spaz.

Editor: Which ones were you talking to?
Reporter: Marlon and Tito

If you get caught having sex in India you are getting married. 

But it's such a cool thing. It kept my banana from getting bruised.

Editor A: Would you go 6 times a week?
Editor B: I wish I could so I could be thin.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Overheard in the newsroom: Not the National Day edition

It looked to me like an accident waiting to happen.

I'd like to say I've had a great time. This wasn't it. But I've had a great time at some point in my life.

British editor A: That's a big box of tea.
British editor B: It's just a week's worth.

Editor A: Are you missing that guy?
Editor B: Who?
Editor A: The cat. Are you missing that cat?

That lizard ended my day for me.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Overheard in the newsroom: Brit learning to drive edition

"The time I spent at driving school here was one of the worst periods of my life."

Awww: Canadian nursery Maple Bear to open in the UAE

The Canadian nursery chain - with the cutest name ever - will open in the UAE next year, the first two properties will be in Dubai. This is being billed as the "first Canadian nursery chain to open in the Gulf".

Maple Bear already has 170 centres in 11 countries worldwide.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Overheard in the newsroom: Food and shisha edition

He's a bit of a DJ Doogie Howser that guy.

Tinder is hard.

It's not shisha-friendly, you know?

Q: How small is it?
A: It's quite small.

But it can't dangle or blow in the wind.

I haven't been there in awhile. I thought their shawarma went way downhill.

We should turn it into a food table that always has food on it.

 Next Halloween I'm just going to come to work as a dangling beard.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Overheard at Abu Dhabi Art: That's not a performance edition

Oh, he's making a coffee. I thought he was doing some art.

Statue fun Abu Dhabi Art 2014

I wish I could go back and reposition my left hand.

I like to travel and write: 4 days in Yerevan, Armenia

Photo courtesy of @TheAdly

This little piece of heaven is outside the Gerhard Monastery, located about an hour outside of Yerevan, Armenia, one of the coolest places I have had the good fortune to be able to visit while living here.

(@TheAdly does cool things to photos, right?) If you'd like to know more, check out my story.

Friday, October 31, 2014

A Canadian in Abu Dhabi says Happy Halloween

All the ladies who work at Tips N Toes in Marina Mall were done up like this.

There are so many changes in Abu Dhabi since I moved here in 2008, but one of the biggest is the explosion in interest in Halloween (mostly commercial, of course). That year there was basically no sign (that I saw) that anything was out of the ordinary on October 31. This year the stores have gone crazy, restaurants and bars are in on the fun, and kids are actually trick-or-treating. 

I thought I saw my first costume a couple of minutes ago at Waitrose, but it turns out it was just the doorman from the Eastern Mangroves Promenade in his top hat and tails buying some water for his break.

If you don't have anything to do tonight, we drew up a pretty exhaustive list. I am just putting on some heels and going out for a steak, as I am still traumatised by my attempt at dressing up up like Hank from Breaking Bad last year. 

No, you can't see a picture. I had the yellow meth suit right, but it turns out you can't buy a gas mask or anything like one anywhere in the UAE, and since I felt my costume hinged on the mask pushed up atop my head, a la Hank, I ordered one off the internet. I looked like a childish fly. 

Have fun out there. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Abu Dhabi Film Festival: A horror of a movie mess

I managed to catch the second screening of Adityavikram Sengupta's film Labour of Love yesterday at Vox Cinemas in Marina Mall. 

The girls beside me left about 20 minutes into the film after first crunching through this unholy mess, each of them walking on it as they left. 

Their behavior was about as opposite from the sentiment of the lovely, wordless film - which focuses on a day in the life of an Indian couple who pass each other in the morning while working opposite factory shifts - as could be.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Banana Balloon bus spotted on Abu Dhabi road raises lots of questions, offers few answers

For starters: Is it one large banana balloon, perhaps a water attraction that children can ride? Or perhaps just a lot of small balloons shaped like bananas? And what is the deal with this guy:

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Monday, September 1, 2014

Overheard in the newsroom: The it's definitely still hot, but not THAT hot edition

Did you just dream that one night?

I think my head is bigger than yours.

I think Amaze Balls is stronger.

I'm too old for that place. I'm not cool enough.

I would like Iraq to just get it together.

I don't know how to use the phones here.

I go walking in the streets of Melbourne and I'm kind of like a frightened old man.

Editor A: What's the white stuff?
Editor B: I really don't know.

Idiot. He swallowed a chili.

Emirates is sponsoring Arab Idol 3, releases oddly illustrative photo

The third season of Arab Idol begins Friday on MBC 1, with the first episode featuring auditions that were conducted at Dubai's Jumeirah Beach Hotel back in March. So tune in, although it will probably mean more if you speak Arabic. I don't think these ladies will be on hand to show you where the television is, though.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Overheard in the office: A faint whining can be heard edition

"Oh, I hope that carries on all day."

"I always wish I had a gun when I go there."

"They run it like it's a grocery store."

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Overheard in the newsroom: The "it's very hot outside, very cold inside edition"

"There's no winning - just stand outside and fry to death or stay in here."

It's very hot right now in the UAE: Try some Snow Aerobics at Ski Dubai

I still can't quite believe this is happening at Ski Dubai, but then again, they've got some live penguins over there and it's a ski hill built in the desert, so I'm not sure why I'm having trouble wrapping my head around some chilly workouts.

I've heard this before: when you exercise in the cold, you burn more calories. So hey, at least they are making the most of the place. Register here.  

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Overheard in the newsroom: Hot, lazy heat edition

Editor: I would get up...
Page planner: ...but you are too lazy.

Snap caption: Random items on an airport floor

Abu Dhabi International Airport, Friday night

Today in the UAE: Giant octopus, Djinn and edible mosque edition

You go to work thinking it's going to be a normal Tuesday, other than the post-vacation jet-lag that is drying out your eyeballs. And then, like magic, a trifecta of fun news drops in your inbox. And everything is different.

As if it wasn't enough that there is now a giant octopus, 4.3 metres tall (long??) and weighing 70kg at the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo...

...the UAE's first horror film, Djinn, is coming to e-Life video-on-demand from July 29 until August 30 (eek!)...

...and the Hilton Abu Dhabi's pastry team has built a giant, edible chocolate version of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in the lobby for Eid. Those gold details are very tempting.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Monday, June 16, 2014

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Emirati & expat: conversation in an elevator

Emirati gent: How long are you in Abu Dhabi?

Me: Six years. 

Emirati gent: You are local now. 

I like to write: An Observing Life column about the terrible scourge of gyms that insist on measuring your performance

“Ann Marie, you’re losing!”
That’s what the RPM instructor bellowed out at me during the apex of a recent class in Abu Dhabi, right at the point where I am usually so angry and tired that I hate the world.

Read more here.

Friday, May 16, 2014

When I moved to Abu Dhabi I never thought...

...that a Tim Hortons would open, let alone that the chain would take over the UAE.

Here's the most recent one I've noticed, at the Etisalat on Airport Road.

St Regis Abu Dhabi has one amazing view

I recently spent a heavenly night at this hotel (on the Corniche, near the Hiltonia Beach Club) for the opening of the Sisters salon.

The amazing view aside, there is a lot to love at this hotel. Some of the highlights:

-the beach club, which has one of the only in-pool bars in the city
-the gym, which has that hard-to-find machine that lets you can do cardio using skating motions 
-the breakfast in Rhodes 44 (big bowl of berries+lots of smoked fish+freshly prepared waffles=my happy place)
-a serious Italian lunch on the lovely terrace at Villa Toscana
-expert mani-pedi-neck massage at Sisters, a relaxing, mellow hideaway with top treatments and hair stylists I can highly recommend because I've seen them in action (they cut hair and did updos to opera music at the opening - it was very dramatic)
-two items of clothing pressed and a butler included in the stay

didn't love that there was no way to make tea or coffee in the room. They are included, and can be ordered, but it just feels like something you should be able to make yourself.

Overheard at the BOA steakhouse launch Thursday night

"Abu Dhabi is slowly turning into Dubai."

Monday, May 12, 2014

Human trafficking and women, and art and laughing, and hope. And one gift I'll never forget.

One of the ladies at Ewa'a Shelters for Victims of Human Trafficking in Abu Dhabi gave me this picture when I dropped off some copies of my story in The National about their annual art auction Silent Voices 3, which runs at The Space in twofour54 until Thursday. (Story here and picture gallery of their work here.)

I was so touched and surprised by the gesture.  Her giving me that painting is one of the loveliest things anyone has done for me. I had adored it from the moment I saw it and planned to buy it at the auction. So I bought another painting at the opening last night.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Spotted at the Abu Dhabi Book Fair

I keep trying to find a Western version to relate this to. If we are talking about my four-year-old niece Lily, it would be "I love My Mum's Cool Purse".

Monday, May 5, 2014

Somewhere hidden away in Abu Dhabi, women are pole dancing their hearts out

You won't find a sign on the door for this gym. In fact, you might not find this gym at all - we almost didn't. And, while I didn't expect this activity to be easy, I certainly did not expect it to be impossible! 

Here is my painful, painful night, as told in four pictures.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis in Abu Dhabi: Shisha, selfies, Ferrari World & just a little bit of camel rap

I am pretty amped about the Macklemore & Ryan Lewis concert at Du Forum on Yas Island tonight. I anticipate my friend and I will be the oldest women in attendance, but you know what? We're still gonna pop some tags (not that I am really sure what that means, but I know it will be awesome).

Macklemore landed in the UAE this week for his show and has made some pretty fun posts to his 4.5 million Instagram followers, including this fun mini Abu Dhabi rap. Will we hear it at the concert, I wonder? My favourite photo is this one, captioned "the language of selfie is universal".

Judging from the pics shot by some of the people in his group, the trip has also involved the typical: desert safaris, a mosque the Burjs (Khalifa and Al Arab) and old Dubai, too.

A couple of other things:

• Here's a cool interview with Ryan Lewis, conducted by The National's Saeed Saeed.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Star Wars in Abu Dhabi: It really does look like Episode VII is shooting in the desert

When you hear that one of the world's most popular yet top-secret film franchises has moved its fictional planet to the desert in your backyard, you want to find it. You search, but the desert is big. You ask, but no one wants to say anything. And then one day, a brilliant photographer from The National is out dune bashing and sees what she sees: looks like part of an escape hatch from Tatooine, doesn't it?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Press release of the week: Lionel Richie at Dubai International Airport, from Think Events

The first line (I almost spit out my coffee when I read it at 7am): Lionel says "Hello" Dubai as he lands at 1 am this morning into Dubai terminal 3. Also, it's so rare to get something useful like this in the UAE. Usually I would expect to see something like this a few days after his concert, which is tomorrow night at Dubai Media City Amphitheatre.

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 ...