Published from Dubai Media City
Hamama all the way.... says Emirati ﬁlm-maker Nujoom Al Ghanem The Great UAE Outdoors
Clicks of Truth
Social media's new world
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Clicks of Truth
A silent revolution is on in cyberspace
34 Faith is all Emirati poet and film-maker Nujoom Al Ghanem, the Middle East’s most recognised talent, speaks to UAE Digest on her new film Hamama –on a 90-year-old faith healer from Sharjah
16 Chill out The great wide outdoors take centrestage during winter
20 Fabulous Fujairah Fujairah won two Guinness World Records this year for the highest sword throw and the largest Yolla dance.
2 l UAE Digest, December 2010
38 Bloomingdale’s Home Presents FAKiE Dexhibition
Make it to the cover! December 2010
Published from Dubai Media City
Hamama all the way.... says Emirati ďŹ lm-maker Nujoom Al Ghanem The Great UAE Outdoors
Clicks of Truth
Social media's new world
The December issueâ€™s cover picture is a contribution from life coach, Al Ain based Chris Payne (Al Ain Enthusiast.com). In the picture is his eight-year-old son Felix at the Al Ain Wildlife Sanctuary. If you have a great picture that can be featured on the cover of the uaE Digest, send in your entries, with your details, to : email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org UAE Digest, December 2010 l 3
IN THE NEWS
Fall in property prices
t is speculated that residential values may fall as much as 20 per cent more by the end of 2012 if new homes are built as planned according to broker Landmark Advisory in Dubai. About 48,000 homes will come on to the market in the next two years, or about 12 per cent of existing supply, according to research at Landmark. An influx of foreign buyers sparked a construction boom as prices rose by 79 per cent to mid-2008 from 2007 before the financial crisis caused lenders to tighten credit and speculators left the market. About 35,000 homes will be completed through 2012. It is estimated that hotels will recover first and commercial properties last.
Sports park for Abu Dhabi DUPLAYS, the provider of recreational and amateur sport leagues in the UAE, has partnered with the Municipality of Abu Dhabi City (ADM) to introduce community sports services along the Corniche beachfront. The Abu Dhabi Beaches Sport Park (ADBSP), which officially opened this month, forms part of a broader strategy to help improve the physical activity levels of residents in the capital. The beach in front of Gate 4 (Al Sahil) of the Corniche has been transformed into courts and pitches where, under the management, residents can participate in a variety of sporting activities every day of the week. The beach sports include volleyball, football, dodgeball, netball, and beach cricket, as well as individual classes, such as yoga and Pilates.
4 l UAE Digest, December 2010
RAK’s new Crown Prince his highness Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, issued an Emiri Decree Number 23 of 2010 on Monday December 6, 2010, naming Mohammad bin Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi his son, Sheikh Mohammad bin Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, the Crown Prince of Ras Al Khaimah. Sheikh Mohammed is Sheikh Saud’s eldest son, born on February 9, 1987. After his schooling at the Ras Al Khaimah English Speaking Schoo,l he joined the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and graduated in Political Science. After his return from the US in 2009, he joined the RAK Ruler’s Court and has ever since steered several initiatives to enhance government- sector competitiveness and efficiency. An avid reader of books and journals on international relations and literature, Sheikh Mohammed bin Saud also shares a passion for sports.
Labour card changes rule
The labour card validity has been reduced from three years to two years for all UAE private sector workers from January 2011. The new regulations from the Ministry of Labour will have a knockon effect on residence visas, which will also be reduced to two years. This would lower the time that private sector employees are obliged to spend with one employer. The ministry also said the new regulations would bring all private sector workers in line with drivers and domestic helpers, who only get two-year labour cards from the Department of Residency and Foreigners Affairs. “The decision will have a positive impact on the labour market as it will create more flexibility in the employer-employee relationship, and will allow both parties to this relationship a shorter time,” said humaid bin Deemas, the assistant undersecretary for labour affairs at the Ministry of Labour, according to Wam. Among the changes is a requirement for private sector firms to have no less than 15 per cent of Emiratis on their workforce. Fines for companies failing to observe the Emiratisation policy are as much as Dh20, 000 ($5400).
IN THE NEWS
Art Talk Indian Islamic art from the Salar Jung Museum in Hyderabad, India, is being showcased at the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization Sheikh Essam bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Chairman of the Office of hh the Ruler of Sharjah, and Nawab Ahtheram Ali Khan, Salar Jung family member and board member of the Salar Jung Museum, hyderabad, inaugurated ‘Glimpses of Courtly Splendour’, an exhibition of Indian Islamic art from the Salar Jung Museum, hyderabad, India, organised by Sharjah Museums Department (SMD) at the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilisation. One of the largest museums in India, Salar Jung houses extensive rare collection of art objects from around the world - Indian, East Asian, Middle Eastern and European art were collected by the family of Salar Jungs, the Prime Ministers of Nizams (rulers) of hyderabad. Today, the enormous collection amounts to over 43,000 artefacts, dating from the 2nd century BC to the early 14th/ 20th century, in addition to a library of 50,000 one-of-kind books and manuscripts. The richest part of the collection consists of nearly 200 illustrated manuscripts, and they contain more than 5,000 miniatures. All these illustrations belong to different Iranian and Indian schools such as Bukhara, Isfahan, Shiraz, Tarbraiz, Qhachar, herat, Lahore, Kashmir, Punjab, Delhi, Jaipur, Marwar, Gujarat, Eastern India, Faizabad, Company School, and
Deccani. The exhibition, on until February 10, 2011, is a unique collaboration, and the first of its kind in the UAE. It features three main sections - Official Life at the Palace, The Private Palace, and Faith & Devotion – intended to showcase a selection of masterpieces that have never been exhibited before, many of them of utmost historical and art-historical value. Scientific interests and preoccupations are represented by a rare copy of an 11th/17th-century medical work associated with one of the famous early rulers of the Islamic Deccan, Qutb Shah. A magnificent decree by Tipu Sultan, the famous ruler of Mysore, hints at the important and often complex political links between hyderabad and other Indian states. Manal Ataya Director-General of SMD, states: “This special exhibition of later Indian art is shown outside India for the first time. The exhibition not only celebrates the rich artistic legacy of Islamic hyderabad, but also underscores the strong aesthetic and cultural influences of the Islamic world in Indian art.”
Small tree, big news The $11 million Christmas tree at the Emirates Palace hotel in Abu Dhabi came under the scanner for showcasing opulence and luxury in the current scenario. Considered to be the most expensive Christmas tree in history, the 42-feet faux evergreen tree (valued at $10,000) is draped with a total of 181 diamonds, pearls, emeralds, sapphires and other precious stones, stated Khalifa Khouri, owner of Style Gallery which provided the jewellery. Combined with its bejewelled accessories - including necklaces, earrings and other jewellery created from the gems the tree prices out at a whopping $11 million. Soon the tree was the biggest topic of conversation across media forums and social networking sites, and the Emirates Palace hotel said it regretted “attempts to overload the tradition followed by most hotels in the country,” There has also been mention of the tree being bedecked to enter the Guinness Book of Records for being the costliest christmas tree ever
UAE Digest, December 2010 l 5
Early Saving Lessons National bonds help 200 newborn babies in Al Ain to start saving
xpectant mothers in Al Ain can expect double joy this month, thanks to the extension of National Bonds Corporation PJSC, ‘Welcome to the World’ campaign at Tawam hospital. As part of the initiative under the NBC Corporate Social Responsibility Programme, any mother delivering babies at the hospital during November will receive a welcome pack that will include National Bonds saving certificates of Dh100 each, National Bonds baby book recording their child’s memorable moments that include the saving calculator guide to help them understand the importance of saving for their child’s future at an early age, a gift hamper, and a baby shop discount gift voucher. National Bonds Corporation PJSC, the leading Sharia’a compliant saving scheme, launched the ‘Welcome to the
6 l UAE Digest, December 2010
World’ initiative for newborn babies as a part of the NBC CSR programme earlier this summer at Al Wasl hospital in Dubai which was extremely well received. The success of the initiative encouraged the company to continuously peruse and nurture a savings culture within the UAE, this time via planting the seed at an early age so that it could lead to harvesting a brighter and much more financially secured future, with a strong sense of financial responsibility for generations to come. A National Bonds kiosk has been placed at the hospital during the monthlong campaign to enlighten parents about the importance of saving for the future of their small ones. Mohammed Qasim Al Ali, Chief Executive Officer of National Bonds Corporation PJSC, says, “The initiative has already touched the lives of approximately 600 families in Dubai and we are glad to continue this legacy and
to play an integral role in encouraging parents to save for their babies at an early age. Regular savings are vital in providing a better future for our children and by extending this initiative and much more to come under the NBC CSR programme; we hope to continue spreading this message to families across the UAE and all over the region”. The newborn babies will also enjoy the opportunity to be a part of the biggest draw in the region, with 22,250 prizes given out to bond-holders every month, including a monthly reward of one million dirhams. Bond-holders will also be automatically entitled to Takaful life coverage (without any additional fees) from the age of 12 months to 70 years. National Bonds certificates are available for purchase in nearly 560 outlets nationwide, including Emirates Post offices, exchange houses and banks.
Emirates Classic Car Festival Winners were selected on the basis of car originality, engine cleanliness, original car colour, historical car value, finishing and aesthetics
ore than 100 cars participated in the Emirates Car Festival, across Downtown Dubai, described as the new heart of the city. The event was organised by Emaar Properties, in association with the Automobile & Touring Club of the UAE (ATCUAE) and with the support of Ministry of Culture, Youth and Community Development, as part of the UAE National Day celebrations. The 1967 Lamborghini Mura, owned by Imtiaz Shaikh, was adjudged ‘Best of Show’. The prestigious ‘FIVA Award’ was granted by horst Brüning, President of FIVA, for the third time worldwide and the first in the region. It was given away at Pebble Beach and Villa d’Este in the USA and Italy. The FIVA award winner is Wael Buheiry for his 1960 Mercedes Benz 300SL Roadster for the ‘Best preserved original car.’
Renowned personalities associated with the festival, including Suhail Marar, Chief Steward of FIVA Jordan; Rony Karam, President of FIVA Lebanon; Robert Bryan, Technical Director of ATCUAE; and Dave Dresen, a classic car restorer with over 40 years of experience and General Manager of West Coast Custom Middle East, were also honoured at the festival. Also feted were the passionate collectors who support the festival with a variety of classic cars every year – Al Serkal family, Al Attar family, Baker Family and Mr. Tariq Al Qamzi – who displayed their cars at the festival on Emaar Boulevard, which was attended by several thousand spectators over three days. Competitions across 14 categories included a public poll. Car experts scored the cars on the basis of car originality, engine cleanliness, original car colour, historical car value,
finishing and aesthetics. The other winners in various categories are Tariq Al Qamzi - 1976 Triumph TR6 (UAE Award); Mohammed Al Tahiri - 1970 Mercedes 280S (Dubai Award); Al Attar - Peterbuilt Truck & Batmobile from Batman movie (Emaar Award); Marzooq Al Mansouri – 1947 Chevrolet Pickup (Classic Truck Award); Samer Al Fakir – 1929 Pontiac (Pre-World War II Award); Jamal Salam – 1955 Buick Convertible (heritage Award); hisham Al Rifai – 1978 Corvette Indy Pace Car (Modern Classic); Rafiq Mahmoud – 1963 Corvette (American Award); and Simon Crispe – 1961 Daimler Dart (European Award). The Public Choice Awards were presented to Mr. Al Attar for the Batmobile from Batman Movie; Leslie Bowis for the 1959 Mercedes 190 SL; and hassan Ali Alaleeli for the 1948 Chrysler Plymouth.
UAE Digest, December 2010 l 7
Clicks of Truth A silent revolution is on in cyberspace that tells the truth as it is. For idealists, this is the ultimate form of democratisation of information – power to the people – triggered greatly by the unstoppable social media that spawns legion namesakes. Cut one site out of sight and three others appear – After Wikileaks, 2010 might well be called the ‘year of the social media’ 8 l UAE Digest, December 2010
he last few months have seen the Wikileaks reports of skeletons tumbling out of cupboards questioning the credibility of various countries, government policies, their dastardly acts, manipulations, malfunctioning, and sheer fraud -- in organisations, banks, multinationals etc. Then, adding pepper to the fare, website owner Julian Assange was arrested, followed by the much-debated issue of whether he was victimised for having the courage to take on the establishment, or was he an idol with ugly clay feet who needs punitive action for being the preacher who erred. At nearly the same time, in India, the tapes of Niira Radia (who ran a consultancy firm and had tremendous clout among politicians, mediapersons and businessmen) became the biggest story across newspapers. Under authorisation from the home Ministry, the Indian income tax department tapped Radiaâ€™s phone lines for 300 days in 2008-2009, investigating into possible money laundering, restricted financial practices and tax evasion, opening a can of worms. The tapes proved that Radia, who ran a consultancy service with experience in the aviation, travel, tourism and the communication industry was actively involved in the 2G spectrum allotment in 2008, that resulted in the alleged swindling of $39b, supposedly the biggest financial and economic crime in India till date. The tapes revealed the involvement of a host of Indian politicians, mediapersonas and businessmen, made public by the OPEN magazine. Within a span of a few seconds,
Radia was under the radar screen of millions across the world. The event also dethroned a host of media idols, exposing the nexus between them , the political lobby and their quest for power. Barkha Dutt, one of the
mediaâ€™s unsung queens, came under the spotlight for being a party to the tapes. So did media moguls like Rajdeep Sardesai , Prabhu Chawla and Veer Sanghvi. The tapes, its content and tenor of the conversations went beyond the normal
Owner of Technology and Devices
Social Network Sites
UAE Digest, December 2010 l 9
relationship between journalists and their sources and contacts, and pointed out towards instances of tailoring news to suit the interests represented by the lobbyist – challenging the very basis of Indian journalism and the free press it believes in. In no time, Facebook, Linkedin and other social networking sites were filled with comments, responses and reactions to the whole deal. People across the world were voicing protests online. Social media has greatly facilitated the flow of information across the world - especially information that is ordered, concealed, distorted or twisted to serve an agenda. In the world of online activism, knowledge is finally taking over. There is resistance no doubt, but the access to vital information is empowering the common man with the right facts about an event or happening. The tagline of a recent hollywood film-titled the Social Network reads – ‘ You don’t get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies’. The Social Network,’ that depicts the story of the Facebook creators and the problems they faced to launch one of the most popular networking sites in the worldquite uncannily says it all. A recent study by active internet users showed that we contact more people in our personal life through social networks than we do through any other means, including face-to-face contact, email and phone. The research titled WAVE 5 – The Socialisation of Brands, conducted by UM, a global marketing communications firm,
Social Networks are popular sites for connecting and conversing with old and new friends
...also content creation
From the research titled WAVE 5 – The Socialisation of Brands, conducted by UM
10 l UAE Digest, December 2010
shows that socially we stay in frequent contact with 38 people on average via the social network. The research spans 54 countries, with 10 in the MENA region (Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt KSA, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Tunisia and the UAE) and 37,600 respondents. The research has surveyed 3,700 active internet users between the ages of 16-54. More and more people are getting online, logging on to social networking sites to catch up with friends or colleagues, exchange information, discuss the latest news, and share information. The research states that 1.5 billion people visit social networking sites everyday and also identified over 540,000 social media amplifiers — those users who have more than 345 friends and followers over social networking sites — in the Middle East and North Africa region. They also enjoy a higher level of activity, and their role as influencers who try to give opinions and recommendations are deemed important. In terms of micro-blogging, the number of users are few in the MENA region but the research states that the region’s biggest tweeters reside in UAE and Qatar. Another survey done by worldwide staffing leader Robert half, through an independent research firm, included more than 3,000 human Resources and Finance/Accounting managers from 13 countries in Europe, South America and the Middle East. It states that professionals from the UAE are among the most active users of social and
Blogs and weblogs
professional networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Despite this high usage rate among professionals in the
UAE, however, respondents indicated that companies in the UAE are more liable to put restrictions on the use of social media sites or forbid their use altogether. In the UAE, 66 per cent of respondents indicated they use social or professional networking sites at least “somewhat actively” (a minimum of two to three times per week), compared to the global average of 49 per cent of respondents who describe themselves as somewhat-active users. Only respondents from Brazil (75%), Spain (72%) and Ireland (70%) were more likely to identify themselves as more active users than those from the UAE. Respondents from the UAE indicated they find such sites most useful for gaining knowledge and expe-
UAE Digest, December 2010 l 11
rience from peers (56% of respondents), versus using networking sites for career opportunities (8%) or for recruitment (7%). More than half of those surveyed in the UAE (58%) said they would check the online profile of a candidate when they are looking to fill an open position. Active use of social and professional networking sites is high in the UAE, despite limits that employers have placed on their use. Fifty-four per cent of respondents in the UAE are forbidden from accessing social media sites at work, making the UAE the most restrictive of all 13 countries surveyed, and 17 per cent more restrictive than the global average of 37 per cent. Netherlands was the least-restrictive country, as only 14 per cent of respondents there indicated their company forbids the use of such networking sites. Furthermore, in the UAE, just 24 per cent of respondents are allowed to access such sites without any restrictions, versus the global average of 38 per cent. Most importantly, social networks enable active internet users to create a network of digital friends who share the same interests or needs. They enable them to acquire a sense of belonging to a group or community. The UM research showed
12 l UAE Digest, December 2010
that consumers in the region are not just finding info and shopping; they are contributing, writing, uploading pictures, videos, creating regular status updates and live streaming their every-day happenings. In addition to watching and sharing video clips online, using instant messenger, visiting a friend’s social network pages to reading blogs / weblogs, more and more people – an average of 60per cent in the last six months - in the region are creating new pages on social network sites. Over half the active internet users (who use the internet every day or every other day) in the region, own a laptop and have access to broadband. Almost 90per cent of them access the internet from home and less than 20per cent from a mobile device.
“Social media continues to change the way we interact with our peers and fundamentally impacts our thoughts, feelings, attitudes and behaviour. For marketing communication specialists, it is crucial to understand consumers’ social media usage, influence and motivation to help brands build equity, drive sales, increase loyalty and create brand endorsement,” said Paul Katrib, Regional Managing Director of UM MENA. In the early editions, the report showed that social media enabled a large and active community to create and share this content with others. In the process, the medium moved from being a primarily text-based medium to a fully audio-visual one. A couple of years later, it was driving ever greater means and opportunity for consumers to influence their peers, which dramatically influenced consumers decision making processes. By understanding the motivations behind the use of different social media platforms, it became evident that brands cannot treat all social media the same. Consumers were engaging with the various platforms as they met their specific needs. It is now impossible to quell the
Micro blogging is yet to make the same impact in MENA
Within the region, the biggest Twitters reside in the UAE and Qatar onslaught of social media networks. WikiLeaks is an example of international new media non-profit organisation that publishes submissions of private, secret, and classified media from anonymous news sources and news leaks. It has several mirror sites that can be accessed if the original site is banned or put under the scanner. The site is available on multiple servers and different domain names, following a number of denial-ofservice attacks and its severance from different Domain Name System (DNS) providers.
UAE Digest, December 2010 l 13
Cloud Clout Fujitsu survey from 12 diverse countries indicate how governments and businesses must respond to local attitudes to achieve the benefits of cloud computing while minimising its pitfalls
ujitsu Technology Solutions, the leading European IT infrastructure provider with a presence in all key markets in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, plus India, serving large-, medium- and small-sized companies with their full portfolio of IT products, solutions and services, ranging from clients to datacenter solutions has released its global research report ‘Personal Data in the Cloud: The Importance of Trust.’ The research is based on data compiled as a result of a market research project undertaken by ORC International Limited on behalf of Fujitsu Global Business Group. The research was conducted from June to September 2010 using online bulletin boards, focus groups and quantitative research. Participants from Australia, Germany, Japan, Singapore, the UK, the USA, Canada, India, China, Brazil, Finland and Switzerland were screened to ensure a broad sample in terms of age and gender. There were 500 respondents from each country for the online quantitative research – 6,000 in total. This is the second in a series of reports. The first ‘Personal Data in the Cloud: A Global Research of Consumer Attitudes’ was published on October 27. The report finds that trust will be the key to unlocking the personal data needed to realise the future benefits of cloud computing, but the degree to which governments and businesses are trusted to look after personal data varies greatly from country to country. This variance was explained by two factors; the complex nature of trust (whether people will rely
14 l UAE Digest, December 2010
on something they don’t trust), and the different attitudes to cloud computing of ‘advocates’, ‘objectors’, and by far, the largest group, ‘fence-sitters’. Under its banner ‘Shaping tomorrow with You’, Fujitsu commissioned the research to help its public and private sector customers navigate towards realising the wider social and business benefits of cloud computing, while gaining citizen and consumer trust with regard to data privacy. The research, polling 6,000 people in 12 countries across the globe, investigated the extent to which consumers do – or often don’t – trust governments and large corporations to protect their privacy. The resulting report is designed to help these data-privacy stakeholders to understand the roots of divergent, and sometimes mutually exclusive public attitudes about who they trust, and what data security role consumers expect stakeholders to take. These roles, ranging from ‘keep out!’ all the way up to ‘play a role in connecting data,’ for example in sharing data for social purposes, such as in controlling traffic flow, or promoting public health, are summarised in the chart. The 46 per cent of total respondents found to be fence-sitters may well hold the key to cloud computing adoption rates in the future. They are pulled in two directions: positive about the benefits of cloud computing, but concerned about data privacy.Farid Al-Sabbagh, Managing Director – Middle East, Fujitsu Technology Solutions explains, “With such divergent attitudes to the benefits and risks of
Farid Al-Sabbagh, Managing Director – Middle East, Fujitsu Technology Solutions
cloud computing, there is no one strategic approach to data privacy that will work for public and private sector organisations everywhere. This research helps stakeholders to take a reading in their markets today, and so develop an appropriate response. Successful data privacy strategies will focus on winning over the fence-sitters, converting them into advocates by communicating the benefits even more clearly and by allaying their fears.” ‘Personal Data in the Cloud: The Importance of Trust’ was released at the Fujitsu Visit Forum Europe 2010 in Munich. This report delves deeper into the findings of the earlier one to understand common global trends such as substantial consumer fears over data privacy, coupled with an unwillingness to take measures to protect their data or trust organisations and governments to look after it. Consumers also saw the potential benefits of sharing their data, but the degree to which they were willing to trade off the benefits and risks varied, depending on age, gender and nationality. Cloud computing and other trends such as off-the-rack software and Generation-Y attitudes towards social networking and social responsibility are changing the landscape for IT and business decisions. Fujitsu has identified nine technological trends expected to have a lasting impact on the way companies do business.
Homes that Work
Smaller cities in India showcased at the India Property show
agpur was a new entrant among the host of Indian properties showcased at the 7th Indian Property show held between November 25th-27th at the Airport Expo in Dubai that had about 58 exhibitors from across India. Apart from usual destinations like Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and Bangalore, smaller and lesser-known destinations are much sought after these days. Nagpur, the orange city, is popularly known as the second capital of Maharashtra and home to several engineering colleges, two ayurvedic college and eight law colleges, apart from a host of Sultan Butti Bin Mejrin, Director General Land Department, Sunil Jaiswal, CEO Sumansa Exhibitions opening schools. It is well connected with the 7th Indian Property Show along with other VIPs a network of roads and railway also and has an international scouting for a property costing Rs50 lakhs. airport. It is usually a 2 BhK. They might live in it, Sunil Jaiswal, CEO, Sumansa Exhibiget their relatives to live there or move into tions, who are the organisers of the show it, once they decide to go back to India,” states that Indians in the Middle East can he states. be divided into two categories. The first But what do buyers who invest in propcategory is the one looking for homes near erty in India need to look for? “ I am an their homes – which is a convention folinvestor myself and I always tell this - what lowed for some time now, and the second is a builder, but a property seller. type are those who are not merely scouting If there is a feature that is not condufor homes near their existing homes, but cive for him to sell it, he won’t tell you. they are ready to look at different locations You have to do that research yourself. in India which are not part of the beaten It is important that the buyers do their Sunil Jaiswal route. Mysore and Mangalore are up-comhomework well. They should not get exing. So, a buyer who belongs to Mumbai cited and settle for a buy if they get a good doesn’t mind looking at properties there. location. The credibility of the builder is living in the UAE spoils you and you It is seen that apart from Gurgaon or Manalso important, and so are so many factors get used to a superior quality of life. But galore as preferred destinations, someone including connectivity, infrastructure, and there are several projects in India that from Bangalore wants a second home in at times ‘vastu’. Sometimes, people get the are now comparable to niche property Chennai.” best location, and the best developer, but developments the world over. The main reason why people move to bad vastu – and for people like me who So, what is the average buyer looking another location for buying property, he believe in the ancient science, it is very for? “ Indians in the Middle East looking cites, is superior infrastructure. “Because important,” he adds. to buy a property back home are usually
UAE Digest, December 2010 l 15
Chill Out The great wide outdoors take centrestage during winter
f the sun is welcomed with great fanfare and joy in the colder regions of the world, the UAE welcomes the winters with a sense of complete abandon. As the temperature drops, there is a beeline to welcome cooler climes â€“through barbecue parties, camping, desert safaris, balloon rides, dune bashing etc. A fact common to nearly all the emirates, but with their own touch of originality and culture.
Mountain Trails Nowâ€™s the time to go camping in the mountains. Pitch your tent; spend a night under the stars, away from the din of city life in the numerous wadis of the emirate. Take your pick from idyllic Liwa in Abu Dhabi, Wadi Al Beeh in Ras Al Khaimah with its clean desert landscape, to Fossil Rock in Dhaid or even the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve en route to Al Ain and the ancient Bedouin and Shihuh trails. The Stairway to heaven was once a Shihuh trail leading up a vertical stone face. It is a 12-hour hike from a spectacular
16 l UAE Digest, December 2010
valley. The Hanging Gardens trail at Jebel Qatar near Al Ain, with its unique rock formations is touted as one of the best treks of the region. So are the Hajjar mountains in Ras al Khaimah â€“ that offer numerous opportunities for rock climbing, trekking or even mountain biking.
Deserts Ahoy! Come winters and it is a common sight to see families park their cars by the sands flanking the Emirates Road, for an evening out - where they pitch their tents and camp the night away beneath the starlit sky. However for those who want an organised tour, there are numerous packages offered by hotels and travel agents that will treat you to a round of desert safaris, dinner in the desert, belly dancing and such treats. Treat yourself to a series of desert sports -dune bashing, quad biking, camel ride, sand ski etc. Most tours that take tourists to the
deserts have several photo-stops during the dune drive, visits to a camel farm etc. Women have a great time trying out the henna designs on hand and feet that are done by the local women.
By the Sea A mellow sunshine, calm weather and water currents are ideal for visiting the beach, sunbathing and water sports. Dubai offers water skiing, jet skiing, parasailing and other water sports. Every year, Dubai Water Sports Association invites top performers from the US and Europe for a week-long competition. Water-sports are part of all emirates. You can also try deep-sea fishing since the waters are teeming with fish such as tuna, marlin, barracuda and mackerel. You can either bring your own fishing equipment or hire. Hotels and resorts across the UAE will help you out in these trips. For the sailing enthusiasts participating in several activities and competitions is common. The climate in the region is ideal for the sport and sailing clubs such as Abu Dhabi International Marine Club, Dubai Offshore Sailing Club, Dubai International Marine Club, Jebel Ali Sailing Club, and RAK Sailing Club offer this facility. For diving and snorkeling activities, the colourful reefs and wrecks are good diving spots due to fewer tidal currents. Khor Fakkan, on the east coast, offers more than ten diving sites that are just a few minutes from the shore. So is Ajman that has a huge wreck site ideal for snorkelling. And also is
UAE Digest, December 2010 l 17
Dibba that has a few species of sharks. Padi (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) certification is available through most diving centres and the courses usually last five days. Certified divers must produce their certification card if they wish to avail of diving facilities in the UAE. You can also earn your Padi qualifications through most of the centres by taking courses that usually last two to five days. For those interested in watching aquatic life, 20 species of whales and dolphins are seen off the coast of the UAE regularly. On the east coast, you can spot sperm whales and Rissoâ€™s dolphins. Though you have to cover some distance to view whales, bottlenose dolphins are more easily spotted closer to the shore.
Airborne Adventures Aerial tours of the emirates is a visual treat wherein tourists can fly aircrafts as well as be flown over the various sights of the region. Enjoy a trial-flight session at Fujairah Aviation Centre, Fujairah International Airport. Sign up for a spectacular night flight with Emirates Flying School, Dubai International Airport. Aerial sightseeing tours are available at the Umm Al Quwain Aeroclub or the Al Jazeera Flying Club in Ras Al Khaimah. You can even charter an aircraft for a longer trip to see the cityscape and the desert. Or opt for a helicopter ride over the city. The duration and the flight path can be adjusted to suit any budget or to
18 l UAE Digest, December 2010
include select attractions. Yet another activity is seaplane rides. Seawings offers a range of tours over popular landmarks such as Burj Khalifa and Burj Al Arab. You can even opt for a desert ride. For the more adventurous of you who prefer skydiving, there are experienced skydivers at the Umm Al Quwain Aeroclub who will treat you to an unforgettable experience.
Fun With Water There are a number of outdoor waterparks across the emirate which are ideal for family outings. The recent addition being the Iceland Water Park in Ras Al Khaimah. An outdoor park, the place has several areas for children of all age groups as well for adults who do not quite revel in the idea of taking high
rides on a spectacular 12-acre site. It is popular with residents and tourists. So is Aquaventure – Atlantis The Palm, that has the water park, the Lost Chambers, and the Atlantis Dive Centre. One of the biggest areas of water recreation is the Al Ain Green Mubazara – where the hot water springs that snake around the whole area offer a great site for picnickers and campers. There are chalets available, and there are spas and swimming pools too in closed enclosures.
Dhow Cruises Dhows are traditional Arab sailing vessels that were used along the Arabian Peninsula. They used to originally carry dates and fish as cargo between East Africa and the Arabian Gulf, and till date continue to be an integral part of UAE’s history and culture. Hotels as well as tour operators book these tours and you can cruise along the waters savouring the UAE of yore. These facilities are available in nearly all the emirates. You can also hire a traditional dhow for a full-day trip.
Kidville outdoor play space open
rides, a water soccer field, an Olympic size swimming pool, a snorkelling area etc. The waterpark has the highest man-made waterfall that has various platforms at different levels for those who simply enjoy getting drenched. Located in its vicinity is the Dreamland Aqua Park that has the usual water rides as well as a track for go-karting, an amusement centre for children and several food stalls and restaurants. Dubai’s Wild Wadi Water Park, located next to the Jumeirah Beach Hotel, offers various gigantic water
Kids in Dubai can now swing, slide, run and tumble at the Kidville Outdoor Playspace, JBR, in a safe and nurturing environment. Since its launch in June 2010, children have been able to enjoy Kidville’s unique Indoor Playspace, and will now have the option to play outdoors as well. From slides to sandpits, all the equipment used by the “Little Big City People” are made of the safest, child-friendly materials. Playing outdoors provides children with a different type of distraction, and is also healthy for them, as fresh air and physical activity make them more energetic. While accompanying their youngsters, parents also benefit from this area as they can meet other parents and share parenting stories while enjoying the fresh weather.
UAE Digest, December 2010 l 19
TOURISM - INBOUND
Fabulous Fujairah Fujairah won two Guinness World Records this year for the highest sword throw and the largest Yolla dance. UAE Digest was in Fujairah to witness this event
he winding roads from Masafi snake its way to mountainous Fujairah where, the local population that comprises denizens as well as tribes from the mountains and the seas gather to participate in the Al Saif Traditional Sword Competition sponsored by his highness Sheikh Mohammed bin hamad Al Sharqi, the Crown Prince of Fujairah. The annual competition that represents
20 l UAE Digest, December 2010
various aspects of Emirati culture was held at the Fujairah Fort precincts this year. The segments that won Fujairah the Guinness record were for the largest Yolla dance (traditional Emirati group dance) and the ‘highest Sword Throw’ – a record that was achieved by hazaa Sulaiman Al Shehhi of Dibba, Fujairah when he threw his sword 21.275 metres high - the height of the sword throw measured with laser technology
Al Yolla is the most popular battle scene dance in the UAE. It is performed by a group of men using their sticks, swords, or sometimes rifles to dance to rhythmic steps to the beats of traditional musical instruments like the doumbek, a percussion instrument made of ceramic and goatskin and the Arabian oud - a stringed instrument. The dance is usually performed at weddings and special occasions where men form two or four
HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad Al Sharqi, Crown Prince of Fujairah graced the event
rows, alternating their forward and backward steps to symbolise victory and defeat. At the Fujairah event, a group of 285 people participated in the dance that was conducted against the backdrop of the spectacular Fujairah Fort. This feat smashed the existing record that had been set at Dubaiâ€™s Global Village in 2008 when 221 joined in the yolla dance. The art of heritage dancing in the UAE is a unique cultural feature. Dances may begin as private activities, which pass through generations and become distinct types until finally these folk dances become an important part of social and national events. There are many types of folk dances, including: Al Ayalah, Harbiah, Al Razfa, Liwa, Alhban, Tanboura and Alyoulah. Every one of them is characterised by special features and performed in a different way. Almzafin is considered one of the traditional arts that abounds in the UAE and which reflects social values, morals and aesthetic qualities. It has technical features that depend on movement, rhythm, signs, and symbols of significance and shared meaning that are common among the members of the group where it is popular.
UAE Digest, December 2010 l 21
The event showcased two types of sword dance - the first type is called Al Luqiya (‘The Meeting’). In this sword dance, the swordsmen enter the field while throwing the swords high (Ghalie al Saif) before catching them. This movement expresses strength and courage. The second type is called (‘Al Raghad Play’), Al Tasarri, Al Halaqah or Al Mazafin. Two warriors perform a unique dance and jump while they play with their swords. Suddenly, they will attack each other and the two swords will touch. The Almzafin involves two warriors meeting in the middle, carrying their swords and doing battle. The sword symbolises the strength of the swords-
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man and his greatness is displayed in the mastery of the sword dance. The zafin (swordsmen) showed their feat in two large circles marked on the ground at the fort where the competition was being staged. They had to throw the swords up and catch them while still within the circle. If they did not catch the sword or the sword landed outside the circle, they lost points. At the award ceremony, apart from the sword throwing competition, tourists from all over the world were treated to a rare glimpse of rural Emirati culture. Young girls in their colourful costumes and elaborate gold hair ornaments, bedazzled the
crowd with their traditional dance, and so did the falconers who exhibited the uniqueness of the art of falconry. The camel riders were there, so were the horsemen and the people who conducted bull-fights – an event practised till date in Fujairah. The entire event was held in the atmosphere of a fair, with stalls selling antique coffee pots, jewellery and curios and memorabilia associated with the emirates, women in naqaab dishing out savouries etc. One unique feature of the event was a group of boatmen who demonstrated the procedure of sailing – on an actual boat – and unfurled the national flag of the UAE – a feat
that was accompanied by the traditional songs sung by Emirati sailors in the days of yore and showed the entire arrangement of the boat crew as per the jobs assigned to them while at sea. Yet another event was the Nadbah – a high-pitched song sung by the people in the mountains, a unique feature that is often demonstrated in traditional ceremonies like these. The event represented the diversity the UAE has – the stadium erected for tourists and visitors had a good combination of local Emiratis and people from nearly all parts of the world sharing one common platform.
UAE UAEDigest, Digest,December December2010 2010ll233
Festive season offers galore! Hotels in Dubai vie with one another to woo customers with special packages for the Christmas-New Year season
oining forces, Dusit Thani Dubai Hotel, Dusit Princess City Centre and Pearl Coast Premier Hotel apartments are offering visitors to Dubai a ‘tale of three hotels’ shopping festival package until end-February 2011, to coincide with the Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF) 2011, which runs from January 20 to February 20. Tourists can enjoy tax-free shopping as well as heavy discounts during this 32-day event on a wide range of items including jewellery, cars, perfumes, textiles, handicrafts and electronics items as shops and malls try to outdo each other in sales. The common denominators between the three hotels are a common package with three distinct price ranges and service offerings. All three hotels are located within five minutes of a metro station, linking them to each other, the city’s shopping malls, and the international airport. All three offer Thai hospitality -- unique in the Middle East. Welcomed by crowds of excited children and their families, Santa and Mrs Claus arrived in great fanfare at Mall of the Emirates on December 12, their ‘home away from home’ to celebrate the onset of the festive season. Santa and Mrs Claus stayed at the Ski Dubai till December 24. Mall of the Emirates gave away all its customers a chance to delight their loved ones with their special Gift Card, which is ideal for every occasion during the festive month. On purchase of each gift card worth Dh500 or above, customers received a free eco-friendly bag from the mall. Chef de Cuisine Ali Al-hajj at Café arabesque, Park Hyatt Dubai, has introduced a fresh new menu to kick off in 2011. The menu, which features the flavours and aromas of the Levantine region, includes an array of traditional and exotic new dishes. From Saturday to Wednesday, Café Arabesque presents an outstanding selection of cold and hot mezze for starters on five different buffet displays, while a decadent à la carte menu includes a wide variety of kebabs and other regional specialties for the main course. On Thursdays and Fridays, Café Arabesque welcomes guests to delicious
24 l UAE Digest, December 2010
and varied buffet dining experience throughout lunch and dinner service. The new menu includes the addition of several hot mezze and grill items. Among the new dishes are such favourites as Kabab halabi from Syria, a Lebanese-style chicken kebab platter, Chicken Mosakhan from Jordan, and the Turkish specialty Kabab Khashkash. Fish lovers will delight in the two new additions of Red Mullet and Grilled Pomfret. No visit to Café Arabesque would be complete without sampling the mouthwatering desserts, such as Umm Ali, an Arabic interpretation of the British favourite Bread and Butter Pudding, or delicate Arabic pastries. During the cooler months, shisha is served on the Café Arabesque terrace overlooking the beautiful marina in a lounge-style set-up including richly coloured sofas, cushions and candles. The flavours available include Double Apple, Rose, Cherry, Mint, Escandarani and Watermelon, all priced from Dh65. The Café Arabesque buffet costs Dh139 (for lunch/dinner), including unlimited soft beverages. Café Arabesque is open for breakfast, lunch (12noon to 4pm daily) and dinner (6pm to 12midnight daily). Pair the luxury of a single malt with an exquisite cigar at The terrace, Park Hyatt Dubai from January 15 to 31, 2011. At The Terrace, a selection of some of Scotland’s finest – Ballantine’s, Aberlour, Laphroaig, Isle of Jura, highland Park, Auchentoshan and Bowmore – has been assembled and paired with cigars from Montecristo, Cohiba and hoyo de Monterrey. Prices start at Dh75 for the Ballantine’s 12-year-old Gold Seal paired with a Montecristo Joyitas, while the highlight of the pairing list is the 18-year-old highland Park and Cohiba Esplendido at Dh255. Guests who spend Dh500 per person will receive complimentary tapas. The Terrace is the ideal venue to relax and enjoy the sunset overlooking the marina. A daily à la carte menu is offered from 12noon to 1am, except on Fridays, when food is served until 2am. amara, the spa at the luxurious Park Hyatt Dubai, proudly
introduces Total Relaxation with Carita, which combines a luxurious facial with reflexology and spa cuisine. This exclusive spa package commences with a hand and Foot Rose Petal Bath (15 minutes) in one of the luxury suites. The 75-minute Ideal Carita Facial that follows uses ‘Pro-Lift’ technology, recognised for fusing science with nature, and promoting the absorption of active ingredients to firm facial contours and provide immediate lifting effects. The facial is followed by 45 minutes of Reflexology. This ancient Chinese massage of the feet restores the flow of energy, or ‘qi’, throughout the body by targeting reflexology points that correspond to organs, systems and glands to promote a sense of well-being and balance. To complete the experience, guests enjoy complimentary refreshments from a menu that includes the Amara signature Salad of Romaine Lettuce, Cucumber, Tomatoes, Olives, Peppers, Apple and Feta Cheese Tossed with a honey-Lemon Dressing; Crisp Baguette with Isigny Brie, Tomato and Apple; and Spicy Glass Noodle Salad with Minced Chicken and Lime, to name just a few. Guests with a sweet tooth can enjoy a choice of Seasonal Fruit and Berries or haagen Dazs ice-creams. The Total Relaxation with Carita package is usually priced at Dh958 per person, but throughout January, Amara spa is offering this package at the special price of Dh810 per person for two hours of treatment time. The 96-room ibn battuta gate Hotel in New Dubai has launched two festive packages that include accommodation and dining. For Christmas, a two-night stay for two people arriving on December 23 or 24 is on offer for Dh1,950 per room, including breakfast with a choice of either Christmas Eve brunch, dinner or Christmas Day lunch at Mistral, including beverages. Meanwhile, at just Dh2,150 for two people, for two nights checking in on December 30 or 31 the hotel’s New Year package is a perfect ‘Christmas stocking filler’. The offer includes breakfast and a New Year’s Eve Dinner at Mistral. Mistral is the interactive total dining restaurant at the Gate that
delivers eclectic freshly-cooked, pan to plate dishes inspired by the Moorish Arabesque kitchens featured in the travel log of the 14th century journeyman, Ibn Battuta. biCE, the award-winning Italian restaurant at Hilton Dubai Jumeirah resort, is celebrating its ten year anniversary this month and to mark the occasion, recently appointed head Chef Cosimo Danese will be reviving classic dishes from the restaurant’s original menu. The 10-year anniversary menu aims to evoke a sense of nostalgia bringing back classic dishes throughout the month of December, including homemade Ricotta and Spinach Tortelli in a light creamy sauce with black Truffle Brounoise. Signature dishes by head Chef Cosimo will also be placed on the menu such as the Wagyu beef tenderloin with sauté mushrooms in a red wine Rosemary jus. Launched in 2001, BiCE at hilton Dubai Jumeirah has built a reputation for serving authentic Italian cuisine in a setting that has earned the restaurant numerous industry awards, recognising its excellent Italian food and charismatic restaurant personalities. Certo, the award-winning Italian restaurant at the radisson blu Hotel, Dubai Media City, has launched a new menu. The new spread includes antipasti, pasta, risotto and wood-fired pizza, as well as treating traditional main course recipes to a contemporary edge. Other Italian favourites include ‘Insalata tiepida di piovra e patate’ or warm octopus and potatoes salad; ‘melanzane e bufala’, a dish that gives a twist to buffalo mozzarella cheese by adding baked eggplants, olives and a tomato dressing; and ‘brasato di manzo al ginepro e polenta morbida’, which is a main course of braised beef scented with juniper berries and served with soft polenta. Certo’s condiments feature a wide selection of fine olive oil, balsamic vinegar, plus salt and pepper variations, as well as home-made Italian bread. Meanwhile, the six-metre high special storage tower -- an impressive focal point in the centre of the restaurant -- houses 500 vineyard selections from Italy, and from around the world.
UAE Digest, December 2010 l 25
Bag it ladies! Oasis Centre declares Wednesdays as Women’s Day Out
very Wednesday, Oasis Centre shall extend attractive offers and discounts specially designed for the needs of women shoppers ranging up to 60 per cent across brands spanning various categories, including fashion, footwear, beauty, wellness, fitness, home, jewellery, kids entertainment and food & beverages. Aarti Jagtiani, home Centre’s head of Strategic Planning and Design, states that the ‘women’s day out’ theme was chosen to commemorate 80 per cent of the mall’s customers who are all women. “ The mall targets women who live around this area and Wednesday is a good day for them since it is not the weekend and they can shop at leisure,” she states. This includes local as well as expatriate
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women. But doesn’t this leave out a sizable chunk of working women? “Everyone is welcome,” states Jagtiani. According to Neelesh Bhatnagar, Director, Oasis Centre, shopping is a passion for the UAE and women are undeniably at the forefront of the customer segment seeking retail therapy. “Studies conducted within our mall have pegged women at over 50 per cent of the week- day shoppers-the reason, the mall is extending a special day for its women customers. Apart from special discounts, offers and privileges leading stores such as Home Centre, E max, Carrefour Express, Splash, Max, Fitness First will offer women free consultation, the mall’s well-known beauty salon Spaces, will be provide free expert advice on hair care, skin, nail and face treatments, while Beauty Bay will offer free skin analysis worth Dh 75,” he states.
But what about the tourists who are abundant this season? “ Our stores at say the Mall of the Emirates attract a lot of tourists. But the Oasis Centre largely caters to the local and expatriate population living around this area,” states Jagtiani. What are the mall’s plans to be con-
nected to the Dubai Metro? “ The nearest metro station is 2km away and we are talking to the RTA to ply our shuttle buses to and fro the station to attract that segment too, but that will take its own course,” she adds, stating how Festival City, or for that matter, Dubai Mall is not directly connected to the Metro like the MoE is, yet they are extremely popular malls. Would the Wednesday Ladies Day Out promotion benefit all stores of the mall? “ We are hoping that the promotions would benefit Fitness First, the home stores, E max etc,” she adds. What about future events planned? “As more retailers come on board, we will look at events – tying up with magazines, doing readers events etc. Our teams are working on concepts, but as of now, we shall be studying the kind of women coming in – and the events would cater to that specifically.”
UAE Digest, December 2010 l 27
TOURISM - INBOUND
India Tourism Dubai office’s promotions at Dubai Festival City was a grand success
Visible Impact India Tourism’s various promotional initiatives were on show in several events in the UAE.
ndia Tourism’s Dubai chapter, that is responsible for promoting Indian tourism across the UAE and the MENA region, has been extremely upbeat about its promotions. It has successfully portrayed the diverse potential India has as a tourist destination at several events. At the Indian Business and Professional Council (IBPC) meet in Dubai at the Jumeirah Beach hotel, India Tourism’s Dubai office had a gailydecorated stall showcasing the opulence of various destinations in India. Pitching it at the right crowd - the event focused on the business community in India and the UAE to set up a joint Indo-UAE business council to facilitate smooth trade and investment flows between the
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two countries. It was well attended by a high-level business delegation accompanying Indian President Pratibha Patil in Dubai, Mirza Al Sayegh, Patron of IBPC and Director of the Office of Shaikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Finance Minister. “India and the UAE share a very successful and mutually beneficial business relationship. The high-level state visits are helping to boost this relationship. We need to go a step further and strengthen the businessto-business relationship by setting up a joint forum that can help each other in dealing with local constraints in respective countries,” said Al Sayegh. Paras Shahdadpuri, IBPC President, told the Indian delegation that the UAE is a land of huge opportunities for Indian businesses planning to invest abroad. “The UAE is the largest trading partner of India and
UAE Digest, December 2010 l 29
on in the other emirates as well. From the Northern Emirates, India tourism’s Incredible India campaign organised the Travel Agents Association meeting at the Acacia Hotel in Ras Al Khaimah, along with Al Safeena Holidays. The event saw an eclectic mix of the travel and tourism industry. The event saw various presentations on Indian tourist spots promoted and publicised under the Incredible India campaign of India Tourism’s Dubai office.
Tourism is about taste In the changing kaleidoscope that is India, how impossible would it be to capture the country in essence? Sudhir Kumar, Assistant Director, India Tourism, Dubai, has this daunting task ahead of him. He speaks to UAE Digest in a candid interview.
India Tourism kiosk at the Indian Business and Professional Council event
vice-versa, with non-oil bilateral trade of $43 billion. The UAE is ahead of major countries like the US, UK, Japan and Germany. This speaks volumes for the importance of the India-UAE trade and economic relationship,” he said. India Tourism participated in the Parent Plus organised programme - A Family A’ fair , a gala event that targeted families in the UAE. The event was focused on family products and events and had many interesting talent shows like Mom of the Year, Dad of the Year, Family of the Year and Made for Each Other. There was a talent show for adults as well as kids. The programme targeted all age groups and included talented tweens too and an inter-school quiz show conducted by India’s well- known quizmaster Derek O’Brien. India Tourism’s stall in the day event was well received and thronged by visitors. The pictures speak for themselves. India Tourism has a sizeable promotion and networking campaign going
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How would you describe tourism to India from this part of the world? I have been with the tourism industry in India for the last 15 years and have
Mom of the Year contest, part of the ‘Family Af ’air ‘ programme organised by Parent Plus, where India Tourism took an active part
worked in nearly every part of the country before my posting in Dubai. So, I am well-equipped to advise people from here to go places that would suit their temperament and choice. Tourism really is about taste of the people, their attitude and their mindsets. Since people from this region are acquainted with seashores, I guess hill stations would really be their choice. For locals in the region, we have an Islamic circuit that takes them to the important Muslim centres of India - be it Nizamuddin Aulia, Ajmer Sharif, Fatehpur Sikri etc. Tourism started the world over when people started visiting religious places and shrines for worship Sudhir Kumar and prayer. The areas around the place started developing and tourist centres were formed. Which is the most popular circuit till date? The most preferred circuit, also called the Golden Triangle still is the DelhiAgra – Jaipur route. The Taj Mahal that is a Unesco protected monument is still a favourite with visitors owing to its architectural uniqueness, its history of being a monument of love, and its publicity. The Taj by moonlight, which is a paid entry, is a sight to behold and much in demand by Europeans and people from the Middle East. Since the monument is created in white marble, by moonlight, it creates a majestic aura. The sheesh-mahals of the Agra and Jaipur forts, the Diwan-e-aam and the Diwan-e-khas are much visited. So is Akbar’s tomb in Agra, the Sikandra. What are the other preferred tourist spots? India has thousands of places to visit.
like the Arabian deserts. At our stall in Global Village, quite a few locals asked me about the similarity between Jaisalmer and UAE. Rajashan’s wildlife sanctuaries that would interest the locals here are Sawai Madhopur and the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary. The latter, however, depends on rainfall and water – that bring thousands of migratory birds there. Maharasthra has several cities like Mumbai that need no introduction. So are the Elephanta Caves that can be reached by ferry from Mumbai. Also the Ajanta and Ellora Caves and the Karle Caves at Lonvala. Hampi heritage site and Rangathur National Park in Karnataka are sought after. Jammu and Kashmir – the paradise of India is safe to visit and the shrine of Vaishnao Devi is a preferred destination for NRIs and local Indians. Himachal Pradesh, with its hill stations, is lovely except for January when it gets really cold. Jharkhand is a good area too, so is Uttaranchal. We have devised a Buddhist circuit that would include Nalanda, Bodh Gaya, Varanasi, Kosambi, Koshinara and Lumpini – it is greatly preferred by the Chinese, Thai, Korean and Sinhalese tourists. Haridwar and Rishikesh are popular among locals and Europeans too. The Golden Temple at Amritsar in Punjab is open for everybody and will be a great experience for Arabian tourists. So is the Wagah Border (the India-Pakistan border) which sees a crowd of 10.000 to 20,000 people everyday. Like the Change of Guard at Buckingham Palace, the WagahBorder has soldiers on either side doing their customary salute and parade. As for Rajasthan – Jaisalmer is quite
How do you ensure that tourists to India get the best of services from the tour operators? First of all, we advise tourists to go through a network of reliable travel agents and tour operators. For any complaints we receive from tourists, we investigate the situation, pull up the travel agent and take action against them. At times, we have also facilitated in reimbursing money for tourists who have been deceived. What is your plan of action for this season? I am planning to concentrate on the North Eastern states. They are undiscovered areas and have a flying distance of 5-6 hours from the UAE (Dubai-DelhiGuwahati). To ensure a smooth travel, tourists should get in touch with our office and our network of travel agents and tour operators – we will take these groups there by writing to the state secretary and manage the entire process efficiently.
UAE Digest, December 2010 l 31
The coming-of-age party With the seventh edition of the Dubai International Film Festival, the glamorous event has heralded the arrival of regional cinema – particularly the blossoming of Emirati talent -- on the world stage By Vanit Sethi
s the winter sun shines warmly down our backs, there’s a quiet stillness of purpose among the hordes of journalists gathered at the Madinat
a very faithful representation of Dubai’s cosmopolitan lifestyle. This year, Nayla Al Khaja’s Bored, and Nujoom Al Ghanem’s Hamama (see interview) – which bagged the first and special jury prizes respectively – show that Emirati cinema is on the right track, though still a long way to go. Of course, the utility of film festivals in exposing the general public to the best of world cinema cannot be underestimated. This season, a total of 157 films were showcased (a comedown from the past two years – blame it on the ongoing recession) from 57 countries – right from Sweden in the North to South Africa in the South, and Japan in the East to United States in the West. The subjects too were as diverse – from romantic comedies to suspense thrillers and slices of history. As far as classification goes, the festival’s films fell into seven broad categories – arabian nights, Cinema of the World, Cinema of asia-africa, indian Cinema, Cinema for Children, gulf Voices (with a special section on Emirati cinema), and in French actor Jay Reno with DIFF Chairman Abdulhamid Juma Focus-Mexico.
the festival’s roadmap. Welcome to the seventh edition of the Dubai International Film Festival 2010! It seems Dubai need not prove itself as the hub of regional cinema – it has arrived. The growing number of entries from Arab cinema does it. What is even more heartening is the growth of the fledgling Emirati cinema – a dozen entries this year. The role of film festivals in nurturing local talent is well known, and DIFF has played no small a part as a catalyst for the growth of a UAE film culture. Last year, Mohammed Al Kaabi’s multi-lingual feature City of Life was highly appreciated by Emirati directors Nujoom Al Ghanem and Nayla Al Khaja at a DIFF photocall Emiratis as well as expatriates as Jumeirah waiting for the numerous photocalls along the picturesque waterfront before the press conference inside the media rooms. Sometimes, the popping of flashes from cameras is the only noise that precedes the more raucuous exchanges at press meets with stars inside. Gone is the infectious enthusiasm of DIFF’s earlier years, as the festival settles down into a more relaxed ambience, confident of its growing stature in the region, despite home-grown competition from the younger, more flamboyant version in the capital city. Regular foreign journalists and visitors too seem more at ease with
32 l UAE Digest, December 2010
Hollywood actor Colin Firth at a DIFF photocall
The Muhr Award categories this year included a separate slot for Emirati films, giving a major boost to local talent. The Lifetime Achievement Awards section showcased six films in all – two each of Egyptian actress Sabah, Malian director Souleyamane Cisse, and Hollywood actor Sean Penn. However, what was surely lacking this year was a dash of Bollywood glamour. Besides director Karan Johar, who was present at a film market panel discussion on Arab response to Indian cinema, film city Mumbai was conspicuous by its absence (despite the increasing number of Hindi films being shot on UAE locations). Last year, thespian Amitabh Bachchan was bestowed the Lifetime Achievement Award. Last-minute arrangements to set the distortion right, however, proved unsuccessful.
Hollywood Galas On the brighter side, Hollywood actors Colin Firth (The King’s Speech) and Colin Farrell (The Way Back) set the tone for the DIFF this year. Both the films were the biggest draws at the Gala screenings in Madinat Arena (due for commercial release in January 2011). But the most heartening news for the region is the growing international clout and artistic
excellence of Arab cinema – from Egypt to Morocco, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq. A total of 38 films (10 features, 13 documentaries and 15 shorts) from the Arab region graced the DIFF this season, while the Arabian Nights segment (films focusing on the Arab region, but made outside it) showcased 11 offerings. Typically, the Arabian Nights segment dealt with problems of the region as seen from outside, while the Muhr Arab Awards section highlighted a diversity of themes, showing the drifting away from an obsession with conflict-ridden subjects. The vibrant Celebration of Indian Cinema, however, brought only four features this year (Hindi, Bengali, Malayalam and Tamil), while three other Indian offerings (feature, documentary and short) were covered in the Muhr Asia-Africa Awards section – two of them from Kashmir alone. The DIFF may have to work more on this segment in the coming years, taking into account the large number of Indian expats in the UAE. The richness of Indian regional cinema – particularly Bengali and Malayalam – needs to be highlighted, given the overarching dominance of mainstream Bollywood cinema in this region. In Focus-Mexico had five films, while Cinema of the World showcased 21 features (two of them Galas) – no-
Scene from the DIFF Opening Film ‘The King’s Speech’
table among them being 127 Hours, The Way Back, Tomorrow Will Be Better, and Copacabana. Surprisingly, the Cultural Bridge section this year had only one film (in the Gala) – Cairo Exit – but a day of cultural events was planned around town on December 16, to “spread the festival’s goals of cultural exchange and understanding.” Also missing was the AmFar Gala this year (on AIDS prevention). On the flip side, however, spectators could view the opening gala night on giant screens at the JBR Walk where the event plus the film The King’s Speech was shown on December 12. Besides, the Rhythm & Reels segment was thrown open free to the public this year (at the JBR Walk instead of DMC Amphitheatre), where Mexican, Lebanese, Arab and American rock bands performed. But the Dubai Media City was devoid of zest this year without the popular Screen on the Green segment. However, Mall of the Emirates seemed to have more than made up by its packed houses for quite a few DIFF screenings. On the whole, a much quiter, sober and subdued version of the DIFF was on show this year. While the festival does not have to prove its credentials to anyone any longer, one did miss some of the exuberance of its earlier years. Here’s hoping for a rejuvenated, somewhat louder and much livelier DIFF 2011.
Scene from the DIFF Closing Film ‘Tron: Legacy’
UAE Digest, December 2010 l 33
Faith is All Emirati poet and film-maker Nujoom Al Ghanem, the Middle East’s most recognised talent and winner of the Special Jury Prize at DIFF, speaks to UAE Digest on her new film Hamama – on a 90-year-old faith healer from Sharjah By Manju Ramanan is this film a document on the living heritage of the uaE? I am proud of our culture and heritage, but the reason I chose Hamama was because she is a strong character – a living legend – someone who has contributed significantly to her life as well as her career. There are a lot of television programmes that cover heritage and culture, yes, the film explores that through Hamama but she is central to the film. Filmmaking is a new trend in this country and many people are busy with fiction than documentary. Fiction is more saleable commercially as well as in terms of audience. My concern was to make a good documentary – a visual piece on Hamama, a simple person who is very famous and influenNujoom Al Ghanem tial. She has her strong personality and her own charisma - she has a presence you can feel. She commands respect and is in control of what she is doing. And it is not her ripe old age. I think that she has been like this all her life. As she narrates in the film about how she wanted to cauterise her
34 l UAE Digest, December 2010
daughter and her husband refused, but she said she would still go ahead and do it. Have you known her always? Though I am from the UAE, and have lived here, I have never visited her all this while. I didn’t know much about her till we started the research. My husband is the script- writer of the film. While researching on her, we found pieces of Hamama in the archives – her footage on Abu Dhabi TV and newspaper reports on her from the National Archives. But we decided to make a fresh film – about her taking reference from her life. How open was Hamama to the filming? Except when the camera came close to her, she was completely natural. She is very open to discuss issues about her profession
but not in terms of her personal life. It took us both some time to open up to each other, but it happened gradually without force. We became part of her daily life and we had to acclimatise with her. There were times she forgot the camera was there, except when it came close to her when she started scolding us – but it was in good humour and everyone was delighted to work with her and loved her. How is Hamama as a person? Hamama is 90 years old and has been here for a very long time. She has seen the country much before the federation, during and after, it and is quite amazing. She is not intimidating – she is like an aunt, somebody from your family, at the same time strict enough. She has treated generations of people who have taken her advice. She has her own independent opinion. For example, in the film, she talks about why she hates the road in front of her house and she is very clear about it. “I don’t want it,” she states. Hamaa is an advocate of simplicity – she is surrounded by the modern life but she doesn’t want all of it – she wants the most practical parts - like a comfortable house, but hates television. She chooses and picks from modern life what she suits her and her family. Her own life has been difficult. She has a problem with her eyes and stumbled several times during the filming but heals herself. She has her grand daughters and her daughters but they don’t want to appear in public at all. The best thing about her is that she doesn’t know her age. She has forgotten how old she is, when she got married etc but hasn’t forgotten anyone she treated 50 years ago and the medication she gave him. Hamama has no reservations about treat-
ing men and women – also because she is old enough to be their grandmother. There is a scene in the film where a man in the heritage village greets her the way men greet men. She is above the gender divide. The film had a short interview with a modern doctor too? Hamama chooses her own ingredients while she makes medicines that she combines with her special prayers and a diet – this is part of the traditional medicine. So, it was important to get the other point of view. The reason why we brought in the modern medical practitioner - it brought objectivity – a balance between traditional and modern medicine. What was the most challenging part of the filming? We started work on the film in December 2009 and completed it in December 2010 – this included the research, filming and production. The actual shooting and camera work was 10 days and the whole thing was getting used to her, being around, finding more stories, editing, going back, shooting etc. There were many challenges. I wanted to get her family to talk about her – but they didn’t want to. It is a social tradition, so it is respected. In terms of her memory, Hamama is full of stories, but her memory is not linear – so she would often repeat exactly the same thing she would have said the previous day. I even made a poem about it …… There is a sad story about her first marriage and she liked her first husband – she said that the first mate is always different. But when I asked her about it, she wouldn’t repeat it again. Everything that was intimate was hard to get out of her. Anything
about her profession she would share happily. Has she passed on her legacy? This is an important point. Her daughters know how to mix the medicines and how to apply it, but cauterisation and the massage and pressure points is her specialty. I don’t think someone could do it the same way. She has her own experience in this area that cannot be replaced. She is amazing. She can tell you what is wrong with your body by merely looking at you. She pointed this out to a member of her crew and he is on her medication right now. How has she influenced you? Hamama is a woman of principles. At the end of the film, she summarises things she believes in and the qualities she upholds in her life. She is a straightforward person, she doesn’t accept any wrongs, she doesn’t like lying, cheating, doesn’t like playing aroundshe is a direct and idealistic person and that is why she is respected. That was something to look at, for me, as a person. These are very important principles. It is difficult to depict them in a documentary, so we had to get her to summarise them. She is a living legend and the Sharjah Government has honoured her in terms of her social and cultural contribution. Do you see children get to know her through the film? When you go to children, you have to be specific and selective about what you portray, or else the essence is lost. Hamama’s dialect is very hard to understand and her profession is not easy for children to comprehend. I am afraid that they might look at her like a grandma. We have to put it the right way so that it appeals to them.
UAE Digest, December 2010 l 35
A Plea for life Guzaarish
Directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali Star Cast Hrithik Roshan, Aishwarya Rai
he red rose symbolising eternal love and life comes forth as an enduring symbol in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Guzaarish (Plea) that deals with euthanasia. And quite like all other SLB movies, Guzaarish is a visual treat. Each frame in the movie is an example of high art and beauty. There is a smattering of the vibrant colour red – the colour of life, all over the old Goan home where the film is shot - be it in the Victorian dressings, the blood red rose in Aishwarya Rai’s greasy long plait, her red scarf, her painted red lips and toned down to pink in the main protagonist Ethan Mascarenhas’s pink sunglasses. The colour of life spreads across a movie that that ironically deals with death – in this case euthanasia. SLB even coins a word for it – Ethanasia – surrounding the plot around a once-successful magician turned paraplegic Ethan Mascarenhas, played by hrithik Roshan who runs a radio show from home. his nurse Nancy played by Aishwarya Rai, a tad too beautiful in her ‘almost-flemenco dancer’ outfit – is perfectly turned out. Around the theme are its characters who seem to have stepped out of a Victorian painting - a
36 l UAE Digest, December 2010
By Manju Ramanan clutter of ornate frames, an old Goan house overgrown with shrubbery. Like all SLB movies – Guzaarish seduces you visually, and days after you’ve watched the movie, you can still feel the freshness of the old heritage home where Ethan lives and revel in the beauty of its cinematographic compositions. This is a film where SLB has tried his skills as a music director too – the music is good, but the lyrics could be better. Intensely romantic – the film like SLB’s earlier film Saawariya is a bit anachronistic. Costumes worn by some of the characters like the stunning maid Nancy seem to be overlapping time – but the beauty of the film is so spell-binding that it looks alright when seen as a whole. The film celebrates the unconditional love in friendship. Of togetherness – of relationships other than the usually seen, it celebrates life, and uncannily celebrates death too. The Aishwarya- hrithik chemistry is laudable – so are most of the dialogues but hrithik shines over the rest with his phenomenal performance. Encore!
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Bloomingdale’s Home presents FAKiE Dexhibition
Salama Naasib ‘Or maybe not……’
‘Hers’ is a narrative series of multiple pieces representing the journey of a young girl in this beautiful yet harsh life. Recalling some cruel memories and incidents she faced in her early childhood which had a strong impact on her personality, playing the role of a permanent scar lies deep down her mind. “In this body of work, I’m using hair as a symbol of difficulties, problems, obstacles and everything negative, where they are tangled together in complexity yet controversially move smoothly and in harmony. I have used the pigeon here as well-transforming into hair to convey the idea that these negative impacts sometimes come from within us, not necessarily from the surrounding. Simply said: ‘Hers’ is a series that talks about the incidents and emotions that occur and follow a young girls’ life, represented in a fantastical and surreal style.
38 l UAE Digest, December 2010
Renata Giovannoni ‘Repeat Rebeat’
We constantly repeat the same intense, emotional patterns in our life. In the bigger picture however, the affect is good.
Hind Mezaina ‘Take me to the desert, to the city, to the beach’
I don’t know how to skate, but liked the idea that I could leave my mark on this skateboard. I imagined where I would like to be, whizzing by, feeling the wind on my face. All photos were shot in Dubai using the fisheye camera.
rt has no barriers of boundaries and artists from the UAE have created unique art pieces out of decks or skateboards. Bloomingdale’s home brings you the region’s first FAKiE Dexhibition, where 20 unique decks will be on display, each designed by a different artist handpicked for the unique style they posses. It is a concept visualised and created by Wafa hasher Al Maktoum, who is inspired by the recent cultural evolution, street culture and skateboarding scene in the UAE. “I have noticed over time there has been a subtle rise of street culture in the UAE and we’ve tried to blend that with
rashid al Mulla ‘angry Panda’
My artwork is based on the panda bear. It is always represented as this little cute animal. In my artwork, I wanted to show the other side of the panda bear.
Joseph Manata ‘bokeh snatcher’
he’s the mischievous creature of Satwa who stays on the dark alleys and corners of the horrid place and consumes lights and bokeh for dinner
the local design and art scene here. I have always been a fan of skateboarding and the sub-culture it thrives on.” FAKiE features artists from across the UAE with multiple backgrounds bringing together a pool of talent, and the group supports the initiative. The name FAKiE Dexhibition aligns with the meaning of the word FAKiE, which is riding a skateboard backward and it is an exhibition of art displayed on skate decks that led to the creation of the concept. The FAKiE Dexibition was on display at Bloomingdale’s home Store, Dubai Mall.
This work explores the distances that can separate us from those we care about, both physically and mentally. The woman on the shore is waiting for loved ones who are far away, and have been for quite some time. We see them as she imagines them to be, lone figures in a vessel surrounded by the unknown waters. They are both very far and very near to her as she stands waiting on the shoreline.
Mellissa guevarra ‘Ethnic Patterns’
Everything in life, Sometime it happens at the same time Over and over again … like patterns But colourful like ethnic designs Life is full of colours happy and sad moments, adventures But then ... Life is Beautiful ! waiting on the shoreline.
UAE Digest, December 2010 l 39
The Wor(l)d’s Green The world of corporate social responsibility showcases the altruistic side to corporate houses. As the year winds to an end, here’s a peek at what companies are doing to contribute their bit to the environment and to humanity as a whole Eco Initiatives by Panasonic
aims to become the number one green innovation company in the Middle East’s Panasonic Marketing Middle East FZE electronics industry; a target that meets (PMM) has joined forces with Dubai with Panasonic’s group-wide global comGovernment agencies to drive the green mitment to drive eco-innovation by 2018 – revolution with eco-awareness across the the 100th anniversary of its foundation. Arab world, in line with its Eco Ideas To achieve this goal, the company Declaration, which was launched at the is pursuing its Eco Ideas for Lifestyles GITEX Technology Week. PMM will be programme by promoting sustainable and working with The Environmental Centre comfortable green lifestyles, as well as the for Arab Towns (eCAT) and Dubai Eco Ideas for Business-styles scheme which Municipality to drive the green revoluaims to reduce environmental impact tion, raise eco-awareness and promote of Panasonic’s operations and to spread eco-products across the Arab world. The technologies and ideas brought about by initiative enjoys the patronage of hh suchefforts. Sheikh hamdan bin Rashid Al MakPMM’s goals for the Middle East and toum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, Minister Africa, under the Eco Idea Declaration are: of Finance, and Chairman of Dubai Municipality. “As a global leader in the electronics Eco Ideas for Lifestyles industry, it is our duty to ensure a sustainable future. We strive to work closely and To double the regional sales of Superior support all eco initiatives of eCAT and Green Products by March 2013. The Green Dubai Municipality and provide them not just support, but our knowhow and industry expertise to assist in their goal to achieve and maintain a safe, healthy and sustainable city environment across the Arab world,” states Seiji Koyanagi, Managing Director of PMMt. By Dubai Municipality’s Director-General, Eng. Hussain Lootah, and Panasonic adopting the decMarketing Middle East’s General Manager of Corporate Planning, Hiroki Katoh, shake hands after a deal to work closely to raise eco-awareness in the laration, Panasonic Arab World
40 l UAE Digest, December 2010
Products have been internally certified by Panasonic, are the ones to have achieved the industry’s top environmental performance in terms of energy saving, effective utilisation of resources, and the management of chemical substances. Panasonic also aims to educate 100,000 of its customers in the next three years by celebrating Green Day on the first Friday of every month at 30 of its exclusive showrooms in the Middle East. Furthermore, 14 showrooms across the region will be kitted out with eco kiosks. Customers enrolled for Panasonic’s ‘Plus Card’ loyalty programme and school children will be educated by the showroom staff, and eco-booklets will be distributed. The aim of the programme is to raise awareness on energy and water conservation, and waste management.
Eco Ideas for Business styles WWF project – the Lake Victoria Catchment Environmental Education Programme, a biodiversity project, in association with WWF Eastern & Southern Africa Regional Programme Office, is being undertaken. The project is designed to empower catchment communities, schools and regional partners with the knowledge, motivation and abilities for sustainable use and management of natural resources. One school each from Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya will be transformed into green model schools, where students will be encouraged to develop and sustain a green idea. Students will be encouraged to be environmentally responsible and act as citizens of the earth to take action
to protect the planet. They will be encouraged to form a discussion forum between children in the region and the outside world on the web.
Scholarships to students of Abu Dhabi University Panasonic will provide scholarship to two graduate students under the Environmental Science Bachelor Degree Programme from UAE’s prestigious Abu Dhabi University. The scholarship programme is aimed at encouraging local talent to take up environment studies and research in the region.
KWN programme on environmental themes
The Kid Witness News (KWN) is a video-education programme being conducted in more than 20 schools in the UAE, in association with the Ministry of Education, and continuously working on environmental themes. An ‘Eco Picture Diary Contest’ aimed at encouraging 6-12-year-old children to learn more about protecting the environment - has been launched by Panasonic Corporation globally and is being introduced in this region by PMM in UAE, KSA, Kuwait, Oman and Lebanon.
Earth Lunch Hour
Panasonic will be observing Earth Lunch Hour once every month, where all 176 employees from 20 different nationalities, will enjoy lunch, which will be made of organic ingredients using energy efficient cooking method. Car pooling on that day will also ensure reducing CO2 emissions that will be used as an internal education and awareness of its eco-programme.
LEEDS (Gold) and ISO14001 PMM seeks to cut CO2 emissions by 15 per cent in its regional facility by March 2013. PMM is also working to be LEEDS (Gold) *and ISO 14001 certified by 2012*.
Sheikha Shamma bint Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan with representatives from ExxonMobil; Morten Mauritzen, President of ExxonMobil, Abu Dhabi, Hatem Shaker, Vice-President Public & Government Affairs Representatives from the Special Care Centre, including H.E. Mohammed Abduljaleel Al Fahim, Executive Chairman, Reem Al Fahim, Vice-Chair of the Special Care Centre, in addition to the Director of the Centre and children Representative of Zayed University : Dr. Sulaiman Al Jassim, Vice-President of Zayed University
Altruism at its best
ExxonMobil donates $1 million to build a special school in Abu Dhabi The ‘Donate a Brick’ Campaign, a fund-raising campaign launched by the Special Care Centre in 2008, continues its activities under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Shamma bint Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The campaign, which aims to raise Dh50 million for the Special Care Centre in Abu Dhabi, has received a contribution of $1 million from ExxonMobil, an oil and gas corporation. The contribution is the largest made to date and has been granted towards the creation of a state-of-the-art educational facility for children with special needs in Abu Dhabi. In a special ceremony held at Zayed University to mark the contribution, the $1 million cheque was handed over to the representative of the Donate A Brick Campaign.Since its launch, the campaign’s fund-raising initiatives has been supported by individuals, companies, and higher education institutions in the UAE. Sheikha Shamma bint Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, a second year student at Zayed University, commended the UAE’s efforts to support and enable all citizens under the leadership of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Her Highness also indicated that H.H General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahayan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, has fully supported and encouraged all the initiatives of the campaign, particularly voluntary and humanitarian work that reinforces the high values of charity and peace, regardless of race, religion or location. The Special Care Centre provides essential services for children with special needs in Abu Dhabi, and aims to expand its reach to more children in the UAE. To achieve that goal, the Centre needs the support of organisations and individuals through such charitable, targeted campaigns and initiatives. Morten Mauritzen, President of ExxonMobil companies in Abu Dhabi, said, “ExxonMobil has been a part of the economic progress of Abu Dhabi for over 70 years and we are committed to making a positive and lasting contribution in the country. The objectives of the centre are aligned with ExxonMobil’s educational programmes”. Mohammed Abduljaleel Al Fahim said: “Our aim is to complete the fund-raising as soon as possible to enable us to start building the centre. Our waiting list is growing The UAE, along with daily and we need the space and facilities to provide Arab nations, have more services for our students as well as build a declared 2003-2012 platform to advocate for people with special needs the Arab Decade of in Abu Dhabi. This is the time to act, as the UAE Disabled Persons along with Arab nations have declared 2003-2012 the Arab Decade of Disabled Persons.
UAE Digest, December 2010 l 41
It’s all in the signs Acrophonologist VJ Dhyani from India analyses the signatures of three working professionals in the UAE
oes your signature have a lot of ballooning? Do you cut your alphabets as you sign? Do you emphasise your signature with underlines or dots. Are you the kinds who keeps gaps in between letters, bend them or use doodles? Or it is your name written, simple and straight? Whatever is your signature style, it speaks a lot about you, according to acrophonologist Vrajkishore J Dhyani, who is convinced that signatures can be a blueprint of the processes of your mind that cannot be manipulated. Dhyani compares them to a cardiogram of your though processes and what is going on in your mind. Dhyani comes from Baroda in Gujarat where he has regular appearances on radio and television. In Dubai, he writes an annual prediction for Friday magazine. Though he started out in a small way in the city of Mumbai in Maharashtra, India, where he was a textile consultant, a passion for studying signatures and his family legacy of astrology and face-reading helped him greatly with the field. he has read over 50,000 signatures till date, and today at 63 years of age, his passion is undwindled. “Every letter that you use,- be it tall, short, compressed or expanded - signifies your various traits and if they have been crossed, dotted, looped or curved, provides deeper insights into your personality,” he states. The ancient Indian text of the Bhrugusamhita lists eight mahavidyas (streams of knowledge) that include Anka Shashtra (numerology), Swara Shastra (science of the voice), Anga Shashtra (science of the body), Naadi Shastra (science of the pulse), Deshkal Vidya (science of countries), Ayurveda, Vyanjan Vidya (science of culinary art) and Vastu Shastra (Feng Shui). handwriting is part of the Anga Shastra – science of the body. A meeting with India’s well-known astrologer BV Raman changed Dhyani’s life. Raman became his guru and guided him towards his chosen path. Raman predicted that Dhyani would make a great career in a foreign country after the age of 54, a prediction that he agrees with wholeheartedly. “I hadn’t visited a foreign country till I was 54. This art has taken me to different countries of the world, including
42 l UAE Digest, December 2010
General Manager, RAK Ceramics
Renu is a dominating, authentic and generous personality. he is a caretaker, well-wisher and a resultconscious person who succeeds after initial teething troubles or struggle. Life for him means a traditional, familiar and unforgettable experience. Regarding his health, chest/body pain and blood-related problems can cause a concern for surgical treatment. he is a matured, meaningful, active and fully responsible kind of person who mainly leads and usually does not prefer to play second fiddle. his glorified and recognised position keeps him obliging others from different walks of life. The years 2011 and 2012 shall be very crucial and important for him. A diplomatic approach can pay him better, but he is a strict disciplinarian - he will work on natural terms and generosity. Longevity of association and life-span are the main factors of his life.
UAE. Dubai has been very supportive of my endeavours,” states Dhyani.In Dubai, his client list reads like a ‘who’s who’ of the country. And he has found loyal patronage in a lot of Emiratis too. “It is a simple thing to do. By altering your signature, you can alter your life,” he states. According to Dhyani, acrophonology is an ancient science of name analysis, using letter qualities. The movement of sound (phono) across space (acro) correlates every letter in the alphabet with a planet and so you can understand how it influences you. As part of signature analysis, Dhyani studies a signature by looking at the angles of each letter, then draws an axis of each letter in relation to the centre of each word - this is called an astrocope. Each letter is then studied at depth in what is called an astroscan, and when the diagram is complete, it shows the magnetic field of a person and the astroview gives information about the person’s complete life. A correct signature is proportionate. The first letter should be prominent and tower over the other letters. Letters should be uncomplicated. V J Dhyani comes to Dubai every other month. Email him at email@example.com OR firstname.lastname@example.org for appointments.
Real estate industry professional
Sridhar is calculative, comprehensive and cautious in his career. He is an asset to the company. His introverted attitudes and comprehensive thinking may not be readily acceptable initially, but finally cleared for overall progress of the company. Life for him is steady and cool, and he is a workaholic. He is destined to make it big on foreign soil for many many years. He can also have a luxurious building base in his native soil too. There is going to be a landmark in his career from 18th January 2011 onwards. Sridhar will establish himself beyond anyone’s imagination and a rapport with a foreign collaborated project will have the maximum profits. He is full of ideas, and full of potential. His views will benefit the organisation after a lapse of some months. Consultancy has been mastered by him. I would advise him to write broadly and underline his signature.
Public Relations & Media Officer, Corporate Office, Ras Al Khaimah Free Trade Zone Authority
Cleo’s signature is that of an executive – she is self-motivated to execute the job given to her with great alertness and speed. She is mentally very strong, creative and candid – she is quick, sharp and charming too. She can contribute vital things to her career and does become temporarily temperamental and reactive. She involves heartily in everything she undertakes, provided her ego is intact. She is dynamic and enterprising, and since she encircles her signature, becomes a prey of criticism, but handles challenging assignments. She works to the end. She is prone to health hazards from neck to waist and knee to toe. She is a live personality and attracts attention of others. She is critical on certain issues and not someone to be easily tackled in a normal way. She has come across many odds in her life. Still, she has never given up, and from her signature, we can say that she will be able to cope with things forever. Her initials are sharp and sudden. At heart, she is a genuine admirer, lover and a creator. The year 2011 has many financial surprises for her.
UAE Digest, December 2010 l 43
TOURISM - OUTBOUND
Bihu dance from Assam
Land of the Seven Sisters India’s North East, also called the Seven Sisters, beckon tourists from the UAE
ndia Tourism’s Dubai office is all set to promote the North-East of India – Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Assam, and Tripura, popularly called the seven sisters. The undiscovered paradise of India has an infinite variety of geographic settings, topography, varied flora and fauna, avian life, ethnic communities, rich heritage of ancient traditions and lifestyles, festivals and crafts. The place has a raw natural beauty, rare orchids and butterflies, brightly painted monasteries, challenging rivers, intricately woven shawls, indigenous sports etc. Spread over 2,65,000 sq km, the seven sisters are a unique bio-geographical frontier of India – the meeting point of In-
44 l UAE Digest, December 2010
dic, Sinic and Malaysian-Burmese strains, These influences have shaped its people and its unique culture that is surrounded by the major rivers- the Brahmaputra and the Barak, the serried ranges of ancient mountains, the thick impenetrable jungle and incessant rain. Within five hours of flying distance from the UAE, the flight is routed via Delhi to Guwahati, the capital of Assam. From this focal point, the tour of the other states gets easier through road largely. Even a short visit would mean at least spending about a week there. Some of the places, which are difficult to access via road, can be reached using the helicopter service.
Assam Assam is the one of the highest timber producers in India and is a land of tea estates that produce half of India’s tea. Traces of the great Ahoms (of the Shan tribe of Burma), who ruled Assam for six centuries, can be found in the areas around Sibsagar. The home of the one-horned rhino, the Kaziranga Wildlife Sanctuary, is much sought after, so is the World heritage Site -the Project Tiger Reserve Manas Wildlife Sanctuary. The world’s largest inhabited riverine island, Majuli, is in Assam. If one is travelling at the time of any of the festivals like Rongali Bihu, then the charm of Assamese culture will permeate your very being with its rhythm, colour and bonhomie.
Tea garden of Assam
Manipur One can reach Manipur through the Tulihal Airport and reach the capital city of Imphal. The erstwhile royal state, is known for its marital arts Thang-ta and Sarit-Sarak, its ras-leela dance, as well as its traditional crafts like the intricate hand-woven shawls. The Loktak Lake, dazzling rituals, myths and legends, lively festivals and an evocative classical dance form, martial arts and indigenous games, are all part of the state. Sundry wars in which Manipuris played a role are commemorated in the INA Museum and war memorials. Manipur’s Keibul Lamjao National Park is the only Meghalaya floating national park in India. About 48km from Imphal, the park is the abode of endangered species of Brow Antlers. It houses 17 rare species of mammals. The greenery of the place and the moderate temperature
Kuchipudi dance of Manipur
makes it a pleasant experience. Loktak Lake is known for the floating islands, popularly known as Phumdi, made of the tangle of water weeds and other plants in the freshwater lake. About 69km from Imphal is the highest point on the IndoMyanmar Road
Meghalaya Swaddled amidst wraith like mists and aptly called the ‘abode of the clouds’, Meghalaya was part of Assam till 1972. Shillong; its best-known hill station, is an epitome of natural beauty and is called the Scotland of the East. Mawsynram is a
small village in the Khasi Hills about 56km from Shillong. It reports the highest rainfall in the world. The hilly terrain, umpteen streams, and gushing waterfalls will surely leave wanderlusts speechless. Apart from enjoying long walks and breathing some fresh air, one can visit the Mawjymbuin Cave that has some of the fabulous stalagmites. A walk inside the cave is an immemorial experience as one comes across a massive Shivalinga and a dome-shaped rock with a flat top called the Symper Rock.
Mizoram ‘The land of the blue mountains’ lies in
UAE Digest, December 2010 l 45
Mizoram at night
the southernmost outpost of the NorthEastern states. Though Manipur, Assam and Tripura flank this state, a part of it lips down between Myanmar and Bangladesh. Mizoram literally translated means “Land of the Highlanders”. The hills are steep with an average height of 900 metres. The highest peak in Mizoram is the Blue Mountain (Phawngpui) with a height of 2,210 metres. The tropical forests of Mizoram abound in a wide variety of flora and fauna. The thick bamboo groves strewn with wild plantations dominate the lower altitudes, slowly giving way to dense woods festooned with creepers and canes as the hills rise higher. Orchids of various hues, pinkish- white bauthinia, sparkling rhododendrons, yellow sunflowers and many other colourful wild flowers, add a touch of delightful tonal contrast to the greenery. Besides being an ornithologist’s delight, the jungles are home to tigers, wild boars, leopards, monkeys, barking deers, sambars and elephants. The five major tribes areLushei, Ralte, Hmar, Paihte, Pawi (or Poi). The Mizo code of ethics or dharma moved a round “Tlawmngaihna”- an untranslatable term, meaning on the part of everyone Nagaland:The-ruins-of-Medieval-KachariKingdom
46 l UAE Digest, December 2010
Traditional dance of Mizoram
to be hospitable, kind, unselfish and helpful to others. Tlawmngaihna to a Mizo stands for selfless service to others. The Mizos have three main festivals - Mim Kut, Chapchar Kut and Pawl. These festivals, or Kuts as they call them, are in one way or another associated with their agricultural activities.
Nagaland A land of festivals, all the tribes in Nagaland celebrate their distinct seasonal festivals with a pageantry of colour and Nagaland
a feast of music. It has some very good peaks. The Japfu Peak, Mt. Saramati and Mt. Tempu to name a few. Watching the sunrise from Mt. Saramati is breathtaking as it’s the highest peak in Nagaland and gives the best view. From Mt. Tempu Peak, one can have an eyeview of the Dzukou Valley. The valley is a favourite haunt of young trekkers and meditation groups. Drinking the healing waters of Tangkum Marok in Mokokchung surely would leave one refreshed. A trip to Phek which is about 70km from the state capital Kohima would be truly enchanting too. It is the coldest and highest town in the state and situated on the Patkai range, the longest mountain range in the state. Naga handicrafts are generally around basket weaving, woodcarving, metal art, pottery and jewellery.
Arunachal Pradesh: Siang River, Upper Siang District
Unakoti : North Tripura
Arunachal Pradesh Endowed with some of the most breathtaking places in the region, thronged by hot springs, monasteries and nunneries, the place is ideal for all nature lovers. A visit to Tawang, home to a 400-year-old Buddhist monastery and the birthplace of the 6th Dalai Lama, is a memorable experience. The famous Torgva festival, the largest of its kind in the country, is also held here. One can also visit the other Gonpas in the hill town to get a taste of the Buddhist culture and chant some Nam Hun Yoh Ko. Arunachal Pradesh is also home to the first orchid sanctuary in the country located 24km from a town called Tipi. Known as the Sessa Orchid Sanctuary, it houses more than 183 species of varied orchids. Situated at a height of 2,530 mts, Changlong, Doparijo provides a panoramic view of the Himalayan landscapes and
snow-clad ranges. The other places of tourist interest in the state are the archaeological sites—Along, Annini, Bhismaknagar, and Bomdila. The capital city of Itanagar has excavated ruins of the historical Ita Fort and an attractive Ganga lake. To get a bird’s eyeview of the mighty Brahmaputra, one can visit Akashiganga. The Sela Pass about 100km from Bomdila, is also a popular destination for ice-skating during winters.
Tripura In Agaratala, the capital city, one can explore the Ujjayanta Palace, in the heart of the city. A visit to the Sepahijala Wildlife Sanctuary, and one finds endangered spe-
cies like spectacle monkey (Chasma Badar) that is found in this state only. Around 53km away from Agartala is Neer Mahal, a palace in water. It looks like a fantasy castle straight out of your kindergarten fantasy stories. One can explore Deatamura, a hill range 75km from Agartala. It has a panel of crude images engraved on the face of hills facing the river Gumati. Unakoti is another destination worth a visit. There are rock-cut images, belonging to the 11-12th centuries AD. This is an open-air gallery. The Jampui Hills, an orange-producing zone, besides the enthralling landscapes, one’s eyes and mind will be glued to the lifestyle of aboriginals mainly at Lushai with their traditional customs and hospitality.
Tripura: spoted dears at Shipahijala
UAE Digest, December 2010 l 47
Media in the throes of change By Con Clude
he year 2010 has been a crucial one for the media across the world, heralding profound changes across its vast spectrum. In much of the world, there has been a gradual shift from print to electronic to online media. While much of the print media has passed through an existential crisis, caused by declining circulations and falling ad revenues, electronic media has had to deal with rising costs of staying afloat and a shrinking ad pie due to falling TRPs caused by multiplicity of channels. On the other hand, though the online media is growing phenomenally because of greater internet penetration, it has not really come up with a feasible revenue model that can sustain its growth. Across the globe now, we see the media world battling numerous challenges on various fronts. At home in the UAE, we’ve seen many magazines from leading publishing houses close down, and many fledgling companies in the Dubai Media City shut shop. The worldwide recession of late 2008, which hit home in early 2009, has not really bid goodbye to our shores yet, despite optimistic posturing in certain quarters. As of December 2010, the scene still looks bleak, with no ray of sunshine peeping out of the dark clouds. Moving westwards, where the print media is in a state of inexorable decline, it was the online media which made waves. The Facebook phenomenon has expanded exponentially – so much so
48 l UAE Digest, December 2010
that it is said if Facebook was a country, it would be the third largest in the world. But 2010 was clearly the year of Wikileaks, despite Time magazine’s placement of Marc Zuckerberg ahead of Julian Assange. While Facebook has certainly expanded your friend’s circle and changed the way we socialise, it is Wikileaks that has got the goat of governments worldwide. The United States, which prides itself as the Land of the Free, has sunk down an abyss of fear psychosis and media censorship. On the surface, it still likes to maintain a façade of freedom, while the world has seen through the clever game. The hounding of Assange on trumped-up sexual charges makes it not very different from freedom-loathing China and Iran. Isn’t it a crazy, topsy-turvy world we’re living in now? Turning eastwards, India seemed a promising growth story in all sectors of the media – what with rising literacy levels, growing readership and viewership, and a still vast, untapped internet market. To a great extent, the India story is still promising, opening up an array of opportunities for the young and restless. higher incomes have also ensured the media industry’s prestige in society. But the recent Niira Radia scam has hit at the credibility of New Delhi’s English media, particularly television. It has opened up a whole new debate in media circles and outside about the power and reach of corporate lobbying and how the media has been caught on the wrong foot
in the business-politics crossfire. Despite protestations of innocence by journalists in the dock, the discerning public hasn’t seen them come clean. That invariably affects the popularity of the channels concerned and leads to cynicism among the educated classes. While politicians have never been a darling of the Indian intelligentsia, it was the media which upheld the banner of the fight for justice – as seen in cases like Jessica Lal and Ruchika Girhotra, sparking off mass candlelight protests and reopening of the closed files. That high image of the media has taken a beating and will take some time to recover, including a desire by the media itself to do some introspection and self-regulation. however, it’s not as bleak as it seems. The Indian print media is now spearheading the drive for a cleaner image, though the electronic media has fought shy of looking within. One hopes that Indian television news has its glory restored. In the West, governments like the US will soon discover that controlling the online media will boomerang on itself, and they cannot hide petty-mindedness behind lofty concepts like national security. Closer home, a struggling print media will have to find new ways to survive, and obviously PR journalism will no longer work, nor will windowdressing of harsh realities. We must find the courage to call a spade a spade. Or, we will keep bumbling from one crisis to another…