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International Media Production Zone

February 2012, Volume 8, Issue 84

Storyteller

Buzkashi is Afghanistan

Living Arabia

Shisha: Opulence becomes a fad Wedding Special Marriage around the world Outside Arabia De Janeiro The Carnival Capital of the World

Your TINE VALEN de on gui dating 18 p.

ROMANCE IN THE SANDS

ARABIAN EXPERIENCE Layla and Majnun. Antony and Cleopatra. Nancy Ajram, multi-platinum singer, shares what’s in her Travel Bag


DESERT PALM

Desert Palm by Per AQUUM offers 38 exclusive rooms, suites and private pool villas together with LIME Spa.

Exquisitely

prepared dishes from the show kitchen can be found at Rare Restaurant while Epicure serves all day dining delights in a deli style ambiance next to the inďƒžnity pool.

Watch

polo on one of the four championship polo ďƒželds between October and April, enjoy Jewel afternoon tea on the terrace or relax with a signature treatment in LIME.

To book please call the retreat on Tel +971 4 323 8888 email info@desertpalm.ae and visit www.desertpalm.ae


Editor’s Note We have an interesting piece about a particularly unique and ancient Afghan sport that dates back to the days of Genghis Khan—buzkashi. Also considered a national sport, buzkashi can be likened to polo, the only difference is that there are no long-handled mallets or wooden white balls; instead horseback-riding men try to grab, with their bare hands, a dead goat, with its head and hooves cut off, from the ground and bring it to the opponents’ goal to hit a score. Buzkashi traces its roots to the art of hunting wild mountain goats so perfected by the Afghans such that it has evolved into a sport.

what taken on a different twist of its own. Rio De Janeiro, dubbed the “Carnival Capital of the World,” is the only place where you can see people by the hundreds of thousands throwing themselves in wild and frenzied decadence before going on a 40-day fast to re-affirm their faith in God—which is why the rest of the human race wants to see this “far-out” place. **** Shisha, which was once the domain of the Persian rich, has become a global fad. Living Arabian brings you back to its origins and tells you why more and more Shisha bars are opening in all corners of the world.

Giving an eyewitness’ account of a buzkashi event in this edition is Kimberly Stinson who was recently in Afghanistan on a two-year stint. Stinson is a visual journalist, writer and media trainer whose passion for learning, social issues, and making connections has sent her to that country. Currently in Canada, she has also spent time in Sweden, Kosovo and Brunei. You can find her on Twitter @kjstinson, or visit her blog, Media Impressions, at www.kayjae.wordpress.com.

Jojo Dass Editor

**** Outside Arabia this month features a Brazilian city where a worldwide religious event, the Carnavale or simply the Carnival, has someMORE FUN INDEED. Leave the jacuzzi and take a plunge in this lovely spot in Bohol, Central Philipines.

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One love Your complete dating guide

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February 2012 16 28

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35 EDITOR’S NOTE WE HEAR YOU! LET’S DO IT TRAVEL TREATS

P.01 P.04 P.06 P.08

ARABIAN EXPERIENCE VALENTINE DEALS LIVING ARABIA OUTSIDE ARABIA

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CHRONICLES STORYTELLER MELTING POT MY TRAVEL BAG

P.38 P.42 P.58 P.64

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International Media Production Zone

February 2012, Volume 8, Issue 84

Storyteller

Buzkashi is Afghanistan

Living Arabia

Shisha: Opulence becomes a fad Wedding Special Marriage around the world Outside Arabia De Janeiro The Carnival Capital of the World

Your INE VALENT on guide dating 8 p.1

ROMANCE IN THE SANDS

ARABIAN EXPERIENCE LayLa and Majnun. antony and CLeopatra. Nancy Ajram, multi-platinum singer, shares what’s in her Travel Bag

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on the cover Nowhere is romance in Arabian literature so vividly discussed as in picture-perfect Scheherazade's One Thousand and One Nights.


stars, fOOd & art 7 chefs, 12 Michelin stars | tuesday 3rd april 2012

a unique culinary experience, gathering Michelin starred and celebrity chefs On Tuesday 3rd April 2012, the Sofitel Dubai Jumeirah Beach will host the ‘Stars, Food & Art’ culinary gala event. A ‘first’ for the Middle East, 7 international renowned chefs, together representing 12 Michelin stars, will prepare their signature dishes during an exclusive dinner by the pool. The event will be further enhanced by live artistic performances. Tickets to this exclusive event are available for: aed 2500 per person or AED 22000 for a table of 10 8-course dinner including premium beverage pairing Private gourmands as well as companies will be able to partake in this unique gastronomic experience.

Thomas Bühner ***. La Vie, Osnabruck | Claire Clark ***, The French Laundry, California Giovanni d’Amato **, Il Rigoletto, Reggiolo | Christophe Aribert **, Les Terrasses, Uriage-les-bains Bernard Bach **, Le Puits St Jacques | Cyrus Todiwala, Spice Namaste, London | Joe Barza, Chase, Beirut

Information and reservations T. (+971) 4 448 4851 or H6146-FB2@sofitel.com Sofitel Dubai Jumeirah Beach Jumeirah Beach Residence, Dubai Marina, UAE

www.starsfoodart.com


We Hear You.. THIS MONTH READERS TAKE A BREAK, RELAX AND SPEAK OUT

www.travel-arabia.com

part, by the Sh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan Racing Festival. My site would be an excellent placement for a link and ad to Travel Arabia. Whilst I lived in Abu Dhabi, I wrote for local publications. our coverage and article choices are excellent. I look forward to hearing more about your magazine. Best regards, Pamela Burton Email: Pamela@horsereporter.com

Publisher KGI Address Travel Arabia Head Office Office G4, Building No.1 Phase One, P.O.Box 502408 Dubai Media City, UAE Tel +971 4 391 0410/1/2/3 Fax +971 4 391 6619 E-mail editor@travel-arabia.com Media House Indigo

Dear Ms. Burton Thanks for the kind words. Let’s stay in touch. Editor

General Manager Shaza Sharaffdeen Editor Jojo Dass dass@kalimatgroup.com Contributors Elaine Nettleton Caroline Tapken Sharon Garrett Julian Redman Maryam Jabbar Gill Sheperd Photographer Maher El Zein Creative Manager Karen Haroon Designer Najeeb Hamza Sales & Marketing Manager Syed Muhammad Arif arif@kalimatgroup.com Sales & Marketing Executive Crisna De Guzman crisna@kalimatgroup.com Circulation Manager Ihab Abdallah Distributor Jashanmal National Co. LLC Travel Arabia Lebanon Office Riad el solh 11072070 P.O.Box 11-1197, Beirut, Lebanon Tel +961 3 435 780 Fax +961 7 762 104

Travel Arabia disclaimer All text and layout remains the copyright of KGI unless stated otherwise. Travel Arabia is fully independent, and its views are not those of any company mentioned herein. No part of this magazine may be reproduced without the written permission of the publisher. All rights reserved. © 2011 KGI

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Sharing them

Impressed Dear editor I picked up a copy of Travel Arabia at the Arabian Ranches Polo Club in Dubai and was really impressed with your magazine with it’s combination of Middle Eastern and worldwide destination features connected to accommodation, entertainment and food. I have done some travel writing myself. Most of my travel articles are on my site www.doindubai.com I was wondering if I could contribute to your magazine with any relevant articles. I think the cheese factory visit in Nairobi would have a lot of appeal amongst your readers. It’s a bit different and quite a new thing to do, even in Nairobi, where we visit regularly. I would love to hear from you. Kind regards, Monica Kapila. http://doindubai.com/travel-related/ http://doindubai.com/2011/11/08/cheese-factory-nairobikenya/ Dear Ms. Kapila. Thanks for your interest. Best regards as well. To our readers, kindly check out her article, “When in Nairobi, crave cheese” that appeared in the Taste Travel section of Travel Arabia’s January 2012 edition. Editor

Excellent Dear editor Hello and thank you for the excellent Travel Arabia. I put out www.horsereporter.com, an equestrian site that follows Arabian horses worldwide and is supported, in

Dear editor I am the reader who rang you about sending in a contribution for publication in Travel Arabia magazine. As discussed, I had a three-monthlong vacation last summer with my family (and would like to share my experiences with your readers). Regards, Gill Shepherd Dear Ms. Shepherd, Thanks a lot for the articles and photos you’ve sent—they’ve appeared in the Chronicles section of the magazine’s recent editions. (To our readers, this letter was emailed prior to Ms. Shepherd’s first article.) Your third story, “B.C.—Breathtaking Canada” is in this edition’s Chronicles. Kudos! Happy travels. Editor


Let’s Do It this

Winter

A selection of a few events around the region.

Abu Simbel Temple, Egypt

Gourmet Abu Dhabi 2012 Abu Dhabi, UAE Feb. 8—23, 2012 A lifestyle gastronomic extravaganza that marries culture and cuisine impeccably reflecting Abu Dhabi’s advanced modernisation and its rich Middle Eastern heritage. Presented by the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority.

Kasabian gig Dubai, UAE Feb. 10, 2012 Award winning UK rockers Kasabian are set to play 7he Sevens Stadium in Dubai, with their hit singles on February 10th 2012. This indie-rock band has released four studio albums to date, three of which have gone on to be multi-platinum in the UK. Ticket inquiries: www.doneevents.com, www.timeouttickets.com, www.boxofficeme.com or visit Virgin Megastores in the UAE, the Hard Rock Cafe-Dubai and

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7he Sevens Stadium Box Office.

Qatar National Baja Feb. 25, 2012 Venue: Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation Inquiries: 4437-9884 or email info@ qmmf.com.qa

Abdullah Murad and Ghassan Nana Art Exhibition Doha, Qatar Feb. 1—29, 2012 Al Markhiya Gallery Daily: Saturdays – Thursdays 10:00 a.m. till noon, 4:00 p.m. till 10:00 p.m., Fridays 4:00 p.m. till 10:00 p.m. Inquiries: 4442-8007 or 6600-8750. Email info@almarkhiyagallery.com

Third Tour Of Oman Cycle Race Muscat, Oman Feb. 14 – 19, 2012

Sixteen teams, comprising 128 of the World’s greatest cyclists to compete. Inquiries: www.tourofoman.om

Hurghada International Festival Hurghada, Egypt The Hurghada International Festival is a two-week event featuring three sporting disciplines. It opens with a triathlon competition, followed by the 75km Mare Monti, featuring international competitors running off-road between the sea and mountains. Inquiries: info@halfhm.com

Abu Simbel Festival Abu Simbel, Egypt Various dates in Feb. 2012 During the Abu Simbel Festival crowds fill the temple at sunrise to watch the shafts of light creeping across the stone, illuminating the statues of Ramses, Ra and Amun. This spectacular sight happens twice a year, in February and October.


Travel Treats TOP PICKS OF THE MONTH

US$1.3M dream wedding

Introducing Corinthia Hotel London London, one of the favourite travel destinations for GCC residents, has just gained a distinguished new landmark in the form of a graceful and historic luxury hotel. The recently opened Corinthia Hotel London, Corinthia Hotels’ flagship property rated amongst London’s finest five star luxury hotels, combines traditional grandeur with modern freshness. The luxuriously redesigned Victorian destination is ideally located in the heart of London, where guests are conveniently only a short walk from many of the city’s major attractions. Middle Eastern guests will be delighted by the uncompromising standards of luxury at what will surely become a London legend. Vast lobbies, high ceilings, natural light and spectacular views have been combined with inspired cutting-edge design to create iconic public spaces, elegant rooms and luxurious suites. “Corinthia Hotel London is an intricately restored grand hotel with a 21st century approach,” says General Manager Matthew Dixon. “Its modern elegance is defined by a blend of classic Victorian architecture with outstanding craftsmanship and contemporary art, mirroring the energy, style and history of the area. Guests are offered all the modern luxuries whilst enjoying an authentic experience in a hotel and location with heritage.” For more information on Corinthia Hotel London visit www.corinthia.com/London. For hotel reservations, call +44 20 7321 3000 Email: reservations. london@corinthia.com.

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December 12, 2012 will be one of the most coveted wedding dates for year. And with this, Elbow Beach, Bermuda in association with onsite wedding planning company Weddings with Panache, is delighted to introduce 12 luxurious and unique wedding packages for those wanting to get married on 12 December 2012. Priced from USD 14,200, each three-day package commences on 11 December 2012 and includes a special check in and reception with delicious welcome beverages and canapés. That night, all wedding party guests will be invited to a welcome party in the Deep Lounge and Nightclub where they will ring in 12/12/12 New Year’s Eve style with champagne, chic party favours and a special countdown. All wedding party guests will come together on the beach at midnight on 12 December for champagne and 12 minutes of spectacular fireworks. For reservations visit www.mandarinoriental.com/bermuda or call +1 (441) 236-3535.

Thailand grand sale The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has announced that the “Amazing Thailand Grand Sale 2012” will be held from June 15, 2012 to Aug. 15, 2012. The 2012Grand Sale will feature Thailand’s largest collection of travel packages, family entertainment, competitions and the most amazing bargains across retail, dinning, leisure and hospitality as well as health, beauty and medical treatments. The event will be held in Thailand’s leading tourism cities and provinces of Bangkok, Pattaya, Hua Hin, Chiang Mai in the north and the southern tourist destinations of Koh Samui, Phuket and Hat Yai. More than 10,000 companies will be participating.


Doha’s newest luxury hotel InterContinental Doha The City is set to be a glittering addition to Doha’s hospitality scene, the hotel and residences offer guests a complete “in the know” experience of the booming capital city of Qatar. InterContinental Doha The City has 58 storeys of the highest standards in accommodation and facilities, surrounded by the towering skyscrapers of Qatar’s growing business district, West Bay. The five-star hotel and residence brings a new perspective on luxury, along with superior standards of service, fresh innovative concepts, elegant accommodation and the unique local knowledge that is synonymous with the InterContinental brand across the globe.

Louise Anton at The St. Regis Saadiyat

Dine with the stars Seven international Michelin Starred & Celebrity Chefs will convene on April 3, 2012, at Sofitel Dubai Jumeirah Beach for the Stars, Food & Art Gala Event. The event, which combines art and gastronomic excellence, was created in 2007 at Sofitel Legend The Grand Amsterdam in the Netherlands. Stars, Food & Art is dedicated to creating the perfect relationship between art and the enjoyment of fine dining. During Stars, Food & Art, seven internationally renowned chefs (together representing 12 Michelin Stars) will prepare their signature dishes. The price is AED2500 per person or AED22,000 for a table of 10 and includes an exquisite 8-course menu with carefully selected beverages and artistic programme. Room packages are also available for couples including two tickets and a Double Luxury room from AED5500 or two tickets and a Junior Suite from AED6000. Private guests and companies can make their reservation by contacting 04 448 4851 or via email H6146-FB2@sofitel.com Further details and information available at www.starsfoodart.com

Swankiest

The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Abu Dhabi, the city’s newest leisure address, is delighted to introduce Louise Anton, vocalist, musician and fine artist. From Jan. 17, 2011, Louise will be performing her sultry Jazz vocals accompanied with piano at the Manhattan Lounge, the resort’s cocktail bar and at 55&5th The Grill, the resort’s signature dining experience. This will be the first time for Louise in the UAE’s capital. With the opening of The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Abu Dhabi, the first in the Middle East, guests can now enjoy Louise performing at the resort that is beautifully located on the natural island of Saadiyat and overlooks the azure waters of the Arabian Gulf. The experience and evening will be enhanced with the famed century-old St. Regis bespoke service. For more details on Louise Anton, visit www.louiseanton.com

Bliss Lounge, the swankiest place in town, has opened its door for the hip and chic. Located at the Sheraton Jumeirah Beach Resort, Bliss Lounge promises to be the best for chill out afternoons and upbeat nights. Bliss combines the contemporary outdoors with the sands of Jumeirah Beach. Open seven days a week daily 12.30 pm until 03.00 am. VIP tables can be booked directly by calling Sheraton Jumeirah Beach Resort.

Travel Arabia I 9


Second World Record

Rose Rayhaan by Rotana Dubai, the world’s tallest hotel as declared in the Guinness Book of World Records marked its second anniversary with a strong bid for a second world record. Renowned Polish trial cyclist Krystian Herba has attempted to make a new world record for Stair Climbing by Bicycle. Herba is a 30-year-old sportsman practising on trial bikes for the past 18 years. He was a member of the Polish national team and, three years ago, his passion in conquering the tallest buildings in the world on his bike has materialized having successfully climbed the highest structures in Poland, Germany, Austria and Spain. He has accepted the challenge to conquer Dubai, aiming to beat the current world record of 2008 steps done in China back in 2007. Herba climbed 2,040 steps of the Rose Rayhaan by Rotana staircase from ground floor to the 68th floor in 1 hour, 13 minutes and 41 seconds; his target was to finish in an hour and thirty minutes. Guinness is expected to officially announce the record soon.

Dubai nightlife Rare Lounge Club, one of Dubai’s newest nightspots has a variety of themed nightlife entertainment, six days a week, between 9pm to 3am. Saturday Surprises, where they will be wowed with a surprise performance from a locally based band and a matching combination of Rare’s fusion music. Arabic hits every Sunday. Mademoiselle Night on Tuesdays. Retro nights on Wednesdays. Broadwaystyle show on Cabaret Thursday Nights. International Artist/ Dj on Simply Fridays. Inquiries and bookings: +971 4 4350248, Mobile : +971 55 505780 or email: reservation@raretheplace.com

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‘PUNCHA-a-TANTRA’ For the first time in UAE, Maayavi Dance Drama Concept, the makers of “Piya Bawari” are proud to present “PUNCHA-a-TANTRA” – the 5 cool Mantras. “PUNCHA-a-TANTRA” is a new age interpretation of five age old fables which have formed the basis of humanity for centuries. “PUNCHA-a-TANTRA” is lighthearted yet hard hitting. It aims to encourage the stakeholders of tomorrow to be winners in the game of life—the right way. In November 2011, auditions were held for kids from various schools in Dubai within the age group of 6-16 years, with a passion for dance, music and theater to showcase their talents in this unique fun and educational dance drama production. Selected participants were then trained through special workshops focusing on dance, drama and music conducted over the next three months in preparation for the grand shows. With enchanting music, stunning visuals and endearing performances by 55 enthusiastic Maayavis (as the kids are affectionately referred to), this dance drama production will showcase 5 stories with 5 moral values with a twist, styled uniquely to create a magical theatrical experience and a visual treat for kids and families in UAE. Come and be part of this extravagant jungle adventure on Thursday, 23rd of February at the Sheikh Rashid Auditorium, Dubai and on Friday, 24th of February at The Centre Point Theatre, Ductac, Mall of the Emirates at 07:30 p.m. Tickets are priced at AED 100, AED 75 and AED 50 and are available online at www.boxofficeme. com and www.timeoutdubai.com . Maayavi Dance Drama Concept has been formed under the leadership of Ms. Bhakti Harish - a dance exponent with over 15 years of experience in teaching and choreographing. She is an accomplished exponent of Bharatnatyam with more than a decade of work experience with the Bollywood legend, Hema Malini. She has won great acclaim and several rewards for her choreographic work in Dubai in areas of theatre, musicals and dance productions. She has been training several dance drama enthusiasts through Maayavi Dance Drama Academy establishing her own format of dance drama which include subjects like Maayavi classics, Maayavi urban, Maayavi rural, Maayavi fitness and Dramatics, thus setting one of its kind finishing school for dancers. For more details visit: www.maayavi.com or www.facebook/ maayaviddc.


Dusit Residence Dubai Marina is an exclusive collection of Premier Serviced Residences set within a stunning 35-storey landmark tower overlooking the lifestyle enclave of Dubai Marina. With close proximity to all of Dubai’s desirable business or leisure areas, each of its 146 Residences from the 1 and 2 bedroom apartments to 3 bedroom penthouses offer panoramic views of the Marina area and across the Arabian Gulf. Tasteful, well designed living spaces are integrated with comprehensive facilities to support your every professional and personal needs. P.O. Box 212744, Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Tel: +971 (4) 425 9999, Fax: 971 (4) 422 0122, E-mail: sales.dubaimarina@dusit.com


Arabian Experience

Romance

in the Sahara

12 Travel Arabia


Poetry is the language of love, and nothing can be as fitting to describe what’s written in billets-doux from the land of sun and sands.

Travel Arabia I 13


the ideal side of the loved one which is hidden from others was developed by the Persian psychologist and philosopher Ibn Sina, “Avicenna” in English, in the early 11th century through his Arabic treatise Risala fi’l-Ishq (Treatise on Love). Another theme about courtly love, “love as a desire never to be fulfilled”, was also at times implicit in Arabic poetry.

Many of the tales Scheherazade narrated were also love stories if not one involving romance like “Aladdin,” “Ali Baba” “Ebony Horse” and “The Three Apples.” To date One Thousand and One Nights has become a work that helped mold the identity of Arabian culture and literature.

Sex as theme A thousand and one nights

“There’s beggary in love that can be reckoned.” Shakespeare. Antony and Cleopatra was a love story as sultry as the Egyptian desert—but it had to be tragic; Antony killed himself in remorse, so did Cleopatra, wishing she’d be with him in the afterlife. Shakespeare wanted it this way, why? Perhaps he thought romance in the dunes should be more foreign but exciting; infectious yet poisonous as the desert scorpions are. A love that burns consummates all. Poetry is the language of love, and nothing can be as fitting to describe what’s written in billets-doux from the land of sun and sands.

Romeo and Juliet Arabia has its share of the romance, indeed. The poem Layla and Majnun, a 7th century piece, is a story of tragedy and love so unrelenting much like Romeo and Juliet which came forth later on. Another medieval Arabic love story was Hadith Bayad wa Riyad (The Story of Bayad and Riyad), a 13th-century piece about a merchant’s son, Bayad, who meets a high-heeled, well educated lady. The story’s illustrated manuscript is thought to be the only one that had survived over eight centuries of Arab presence in Spain. Courtship in Arabic poetry centers around the themes, “love for love’s sake” and the “adoration of the beloved lady,” which take its roots from 9th and 10 century literature. The theme about how love’s ennobling power where someone in love sees

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The popular One Thousand and One Nights also had its origins in love, beguiled that is, and specifically about a Persian king, Shahryar, who, after discovering his wife’s infidelity and having her executed, started marrying virgins in succession only to have them killed the following morning so as not to “dishonour” him. Came a time when he ran out of chaste women with the only one left being the daughter of his advisor who had been supplying him with virgins. The daughter, Scheherazade, offered herself and, to keep herself from being executed, told the king stories every night with the conclusions being told the following night thus forcing the king to postpone her execution. This went on for a thousand and one nights!

Sex as a theme has also been a part of Arabic literature. The ghazal or love poem had a long history of being subtle and chaste at one point or another while also being quite explicit at times. In the Sufi tradition, love poems take on a wider, mystical and religious importance. Sex manuals were also written such as The Perfumed Garden or The Dove’s Necking by Ibn Hazm as well as Nuzhat al-albab fi-ma la yujad fi kitab or Delight of Hearts Concerning What will Never Be Found in a Book by Ahmad al-Tifashi. There were also works like Rawdat al-muhibbin wa-nuzhat al-mushtaqin or Meadow of Lovers and Diversion of the Infatuated by Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah which advises on how to separate love and lust to avoid sin.


Wedding Special

‘I do’

Marriage around the world

T

he way couples exchange vows varies between cultures. Arabic weddings have extensively changed over the last century, but the core remains such that purity and sanctity is upheld. Since the traditions of Arab society do not allow couples to engage in romantic relationships before marriage, it often is the job of the young man’s family to “look around” for a potential bride once it is time for him to enter marriage. The selection process can be described as a thoroughly meticulous one, taking into consideration the girl’s physical attributes, manners, education, and, among others, religious standing—i.e., whether she has completed the memorization of the Quran. Also, the girl’s family is scrutinized. But while such is the case in Arabia, other cultures elsewhere around the world have adopted the traditional Western wedding where the bride wears a long white dress and a veil as popularized by UK’s Queen Alexandrina Victoria.

Cut the cake One Western influence in modern urban Arabian weddings is the cutting of the cake and tossing of the bouquet. This however is not the case with rural areas where wedding ceremonies usually take place in a big clearing, where a huge Arabic tent called a sewan has been set up. The entertainment includes a belly dancer or singer, sometimes both. Drinks are passed to guests, and food is served on huge plates. The customary food is called fattah, pieces of lamb meat embedded in rice and bread dipped in stew. In other faiths, Judaism for instance, getting married is so important that remaining single is deemed unnatural. In Islam, marriage helps in one’s pursuit of spiritual perfection. The Bahá’í Faith sees marriage as a foundation of the structure of society, and considers it both a physical and spiritual bond that endures into the afterlife. Hinduism sees marriage as a sacred duty that entails both religious and social obligations. By contrast, Buddhism does

16 Travel Arabia

not encourage or discourage marriage, although it does teach how one might live a happily married life and emphasizes that marital vows are not to be taken lightly.

Sacred fire Hindu wedding celebrations may last for several days and they can be extremely diverse, depending upon the region, denomination and caste. A priest called Brahmin arranges a sacred yajna, or fire-sacrifice, and the sacred fire, Agni, is considered the prime witness of the marriage. The priest chants mantras from the Vedas and subsidiary texts while the couple are seated before the fire. The most important step is where the bride and the groom, hand-in-hand, encircle the sacred fire seven times, each circle representing a matrimonial vow. Then the groom marks the bride’s forehead with vermilion and puts a gold necklace around her neck A traditional Jewish wedding usually starts with a written ketubbah—the marriage contract. The ceremony is done under a wedding canopy called chuppah. Seven blessings are recited for the bride and groom and their new home. The ceremony ends with the groom breaking a glass underfoot. The ceremony is followed by a seudat mitzvah, the wedding meal, as well as music and dancing. Other forms of wedding include the so-called destination wedding where the ceremony is held, often in a vacation-like setting, at a location to which most of the invited guests must travel and often stay for several days.

Weekend wedding One that is obviously an offshoot of the fast-paced city-life is the “weekend wedding” which is where couples and their guests celebrate over the course of an entire weekend. A military wedding for its part is a ceremony conducted in a military chapel where the groom, bride, or both wear their military dress uniform in lieu of civilian formal wear, while a double wedding is a single ceremony where two couples rendezvous for two simultaneous or consecutive weddings.


Valentine Deals

One love

Your complete dating guide Aaron Shum Jewellery Valentine’s Day Collection Leading jewellery manufacture Aaron Shum, a brand synonymous with exquisitely crafted jewellery, has unveiled its breathtaking Valentine’s Day collection. The amazing line includes the Coronet Solitaire set, unique Gemtique collection and the adorable LaPOSY jewels. The sophisticated range of jewels crafted in 18 carat yellow, rose and white gold include pendant chains, earrings and rings to entice love birds. Available at Aaron Shum Middle East Gold Land Building in Deira for wholesale. Inquiries: +971 4 235 3636 or visit their website at www.aaronshum.com.

beverages Benihana A Japanese Valentine’s with a sushi

Al Bustan Rotana Dubai Blue Elephant Authentic Far Eastern cuisine in a special Royal Thai buffet for only AED 245* per person, inclusive of unlimited selected

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buffet for only AED 245* per person, inclusive of unlimited selected beverages Rodeo Grill

Classy set menu in the most sophiticated setting for only AED 375* per person, inclusive of a glass of champagne Inquiries: rotanatimes.com or call 04-7054818. * Prices are inclusive of 10% municipality fees and 10% service charge. Bodylines Leisure & Fitness Club Special Valentine’s rate February for couples. 20% discount on the annual couple membership rate. Fully equipped gymnasium with Nautilus equipment, a temperature-controlled swimming pool, outdoor Jacuzzi, indoor sauna, Aquarius, the club‘s snack bar, squash and three tennis courts. Inquiries: rotanatimes.com or call 04-7054571.

City Seasons Suites Overnight Package Check in to an Executive Suite on February 14th and enjoy a specially created


set dinner for two in the hotel’s restaurant. Alternatively, for those who prefer a more private affair, dinner can be served in the room along with a complimentary bottle of sparkling grape juice and home-made chocolates. The package also includes breakfast at New Season restaurant and a late check out for those fortunate to have the next day off. The hotel is also offering complimentary access to the fitness centre and outdoor pool for those taking advantage of the Valentine’s package. Priced at just Dhs 750. Inquiries: 04 2955583

Dubai Marriott Hotels Dubai Marriott Hotels celebrates Valentine’s Day this year with romantic dinners, delicious confectionary and a therapeutic treatment for those in search of the seventh heaven, at various outlets on Feb. 14, 2012. Inquiries: +971 4 262 4444

Fujairah Rotana Resort & Spa Waves Feb. 10 – 19, 2012 Romantic candle-lit dinner for two. Sumptuous five-course set menu accompanied by a bottle of sparkling beverages. Inquiries: rotanatimes.com or call 09 244 9888

Hyatt Regency Dubai Focaccia, Italian Restaurant and Al Dawaar, Revolving Restaurant Celebrate Valentine’s Day with a selection of romantic menus. Enjoy a romantic candle lit dinner featuring a gourmet four-course set menu at Focaccia, Italian restaurant. Alternatively, indulge in a delicious dinner buffet with a panoramic view of the city in the romantic yet contemporary setting of Al Dawaar, Dubai’s only revolving restaurant. Inquiries: +971 4 209 1234 or email dubai.regency@hyatt.com.

Holiday Inn Dubai - Al Barsha The Royal Budha Valentine’s Day. Set menu with live performances. One-night stay in an upgraded room to suite with Buffet Breakfast inclusive 7pm to 1:30am. Entertainment from 8pm to 11:30pm. Inquiries: 04 – 3234333 or reservations@hialbarsha.com / restaurants@hialbarsha.com Gharana

Valentine’s Day. Set Menu with live ghazals and Bollywood music. One-night stay in an upgraded room to suite with Buffet Breakfast inclusive 7pm to 1:30am. Entertainment from 8pm to 1:30pm. Inquiries: 04 – 3234333 or reservations@hialbarsha.com / restaurants@hialbarsha.com

Gift ideas for your special Valentine...

For Her

InterContinental Abu Dhabi Boccaccio Feb. 14, 2012 Enjoy a four-course set menu with a bottle of bubbly at AED 650 for two people. The Yacht Club Feb. 14, 2012 Enjoy a sharing style menu with a bottle of bubbly and pot of hot sake at AED 800 for two people. Chamas Feb. 14, 2012 Enjoy the ultimate Chamas dining experience including a bottle of bubbly and a bottle of red grapes at AED 950 for two people. Inquiries: toll free 0800- IC-DINE (0800- 423463) or email dine@icauh.ae.

Balenciaga AED 7600

Banana Republic AED 150

Gucci bracelet collier rouge AED 1200

Damas Valentine diamond pendant AED 1490

Le Royal Méridien Beach Resort + Spa Dubai Ossigeno Feb. 14, 2012 When Two Becomes One Valentine’s Day menu. A selection of “sharing”, “sensual” and “seductive” themed Italian dishes designed with love by head chef Marco Lucentini. AED250 per person, which includes a glass of bubbly upon arrival. Advanced booking. Inquiries: 04 316 5550.

Aennis Eunis AED 2900

Jumeirah Zabeel Saray Lalezar A romantic journey starts at 7pm Take your sweetheart on a fascinating journey back into time, with romance captured in an ambience which recreates the spirit of the Ottoman Empire. Enjoy a special set menu featuring Turkish delights, or opt for our á la carte menu. Ladies will receive a special surprise gift. Inquiries: +971 4 453 0444 or JZSrestaurants@jumeirah.com

Media Rotana Prego’s Treat the one you love to a decadent five-course set menu served with a special Valentine’s welcome drink for AED 275

AED 625 available at Areej

Val’s Hamper at Candelite AED 225

* All products (otherwise specified) are available at Bloomingdale’s Dubai

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per person from 7pm to 11:30pm. The Terrace Find the way to your lover’s heart with a sumptuous dinner accompanied by a welcome drink for AED 250 per person. Inquiries: 04-4350000 or visit rotanatimes.com/mediarotana/offers or email fb.media@rotana.com

Media One Hotel Aphrodite Celebration Feb. 14, 2012 / 7pm – 10:30pm A vast selection of interesting and tasty recipes containing avocado, chilli, sweet basil, oysters, ginger, chocolate and bananas…but of course not altogether. The finest red & white grape will be part of the package to relax your inhibitions and heighten your senses, ready to send a heart- shaped message to another singleton enjoying the evening. Room package also available. Inquiries: cu@mediaonehotel.com or call 04 4271000.

Park Regis Kris Kin Hotel Dubai Valentine’s Celebration Feb. 9 – 15, 2012 Four-course set menu. House wine. Live jazz. AED 500 per couple. Inquiries: http://www.kris.ae.

Galeries Lafayette – Dubai Mall “So in love” Feb. 5 – 15, 2012 A celebration ranging from the sweet to the exotic. Couples can win 4 nights stay at any Anantara Resort & Spa of their choice. Lafayette Gourmet is also getting into the lovedup act with its sumptuous offerings. From spicy to indulgent, Lafayette Gourmet is laying on a spread of delicacies suitably tailed off with chocolates and roses galore. For those couples who would much rather prefer to spend a cosy evening curled up on the couch, Lafayette Gourmet is offering an array of take-away or delivered meals perfect for a romantic occasion. And for those wanting to try their hand at crafting the perfect meal under the guidance of a gourmet chef, Lafayette Gourmet is also offering cooking classes as part of its Valentine activities. For those wanting to express their love for Galeries Lafayette openly, there’s the Wall of Love. Customers get to select a heart-shaped note card and write a message about what Galeries Lafayette means to them, for a chance to win an AED 2,000 gift voucher.

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Park Rotana Abu Dhabi Teatro Valentine’s set menu dinner at AED 350* per person, inclusive of a glass of bubbly, red rose and heart shape chocolate cake (per couple). Ginger Special buffet dinner at AED 200* per person including glass of wine and red rose. Amador Restaurant and Cellar The most memorable Valentine’s dinner will be served here with prices starting from AED 500 per person. * Price is inclusive of 10% service charge and 6% Tourism fee. Inquiries: rotanatimes.com or call (0)2 6573333.

Be the first guy to say ‘Yes I will’ this Valentine’s Day at Ping Pong in Dubai Mall and the dim sum emporium will host your engagement party absolutely free! Valentine celebrations at Ping Pong will be a little bit special this year, not only will ladies enjoy roses, chocolates and special gifts, but ladies who pop the question to the man of their dreams (well 2012 is a leap year after all) can get a complimentary engagement party at Ping Pong restaurant. Valid if booked in advance. Notify Ping Pong that you will be proposing on the night and of course if your boyfriend utters those magic words, “Yes I will.” Along with a set menu for two for just AED220 the restaurant will be handing out a red balloon to each couple upon arrival. Attached to the balloons will be an offer from special discounts to even a complimentary Valentine’s basket of dim sum. Inquiries: +971 4 3399088 for bookings and further details, or log on to www. pingpongdimsum.ae

Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Deira Creek Al Mansour Dhow Cruise Delightful buffet dinner cruise @ Dhs. 199 net per person. Boarding starts 8 pm, sailing at 8:30 pm for a 2-hour romantic cruise. Early bookings. Inquiries: 04/2057333 or 7444 or visit www.radissonblu.com

Ramada Hotel & Suites Ajman “Only You” Package AED550 net per room per night Valentine set dinner. Complimentary bottle of Sparkling wine and a signature home-made chocolate. Buffer breakfast for two. Free Fitness Centre and beach. 25% on spa treatments. Inquiries: 06 703 1111

Ping Pong Restaurant Dubai Mall Valentine proposal poser

Media One Hotel


Shangri-La Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri, Abu Dhabi Hoi An Feb. 14, 2012 / 8pm – 11:30pm Mauve Valentine Fresh lilacs, a welcome cocktail and a special four-course set menu featuring lemongrass crab cake and star anise beef clay pot. Inquiries: 02 5098555 or email restaurantreservations.slad@shangri-la. com.

Sofitel Dubai Jumeirah Beach Carnival of Love Feb, 14, 2012 Discover Venice’s irresistible charm with a six-course Venetian menu while a violinist plays. AED675 per couple Inquiries: 04 448 4860

Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara The Ultimate Desert Romance Escape to the romantic dunes of the Liwa Desert. Complimentary Valentine’s chocolates on arrival at your palatial Deluxe room. 90- minute Desert Romance Massage. Private 3-course candlelight dinner in the fabulous dunes served by your own private chef and butler. Inquiries: +971 (0) 2 886 2088 http://qasralsarab.anantara.com

Desert Islands Resort & Spa by Anantara The Ultimate Island Romance Feel the romance listening to the melodic songs of a thousand birds and marvel at the serene waters of the Arabian Gulf from your Deluxe seaview room. Unwind together with an indulgent 90-minute Desert Romance Massage. Meander down to the idyllic beach for your private 3- course candlelight Inquiries: +971 (0) 2 801 5400 http://desertislands.anantara.com

Traders Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri, Abu Dhabi

Taj Palace Hotel Le Rendezvous Restaurant Specially created menu and heartshaped decorations designed to set the mood. Three-course menu. Live entertainment. AED 199 per couple inclusive of soft beverages, non-alcoholic champagne and non-alcoholic red wine. Inquiries: +971 4 2232222.

The Address Dubai Mall Ember Grill and Lounge Feb. 14, 2012 / 6:30pm – 11:30pm A stylish destination of choice for Valentine meal to impress. Succulent fourcourse table d’hôte authentic grill menu. Live Latin music. AED 750 per couple including free flow of soft beverages; AED 950 including free flow of selected beverages Cabana Feb. 14, 2012 / 6:30pm – 11:30pm It doesn’t get any more romantic than a candlelit al fresco dinner under the

Afya Feb. 14, 2012 Be welcomed with a red rose and chocolate for your valentine before indulging in an enticing selection of Afyä’s culinary specialities. Inquiries: 02 510 8818 or email afya.thad@ tradershotels.com.

Ramada Downtown Dubai Special Valentine’s Package AED999/- includes a one-night accommodation in a junior suite facing the Burj Khalifa and Fountain view, a three-course dinner at Orchid Restaurant and a buffet breakfast the following morning. All guests booking the junior suite will get a small box of chocolates and flowers placed in their room before arrival.

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Park Rotana Abu Dhabi

stars at Cabana. Be served a 4-course set menu by the azure pool while enjoying unparalleled views of the Burj Khalifa, accompanied by sultry live Latin music and professional tango dancers to liven the evening. AED 750 per couple including free flow of selected beverages and 2 glasses of bubbly on arrival. Private butler available. Inquiries: 04 438 8888 or email dine. dubaimall@theaddress.com The Spa Feb. 1 – 29, 2012 / 10am – 10pm Indulge in our soothing signature herbal massage and revitalising booster facial followed by a glass of bubbly or date juice and chocolate covered strawberries at cabana for the perfect romantic rendezvous. 75-minute treatment for AED 600 per person 110-minute treatment for AED 800 per person

The Address Dubai Marina It’s the month of love at Kambaa On display are heart-shaped Ginger breads, Valentine Chocolate & vanilla cookies, Ivory Valentine’s Raspberry cake & slices, Chocolate Meringue bag, Chocolate Praline box and few more. Treat your loved ones with mouthwatering delicacies. Inquiries: 04 4367777 or email dine. dubaimarina@theaddress.com

The Gramercy Feb 14, 2012 Celebrate being single on Valentine’s Day. Enjoying live Jazz music. Sample our anti-Valentine’s special menu including “two faced” Seabass or the “Don’t give a toss” pasta. 25% off all food and house beverages between 6pm and midnight. Inquiries: +971 4 437 7511


Gift ideas for your special Valentine...

For Him AED365 available at Areej

Sieger AED 450

Dosh Wallet AED 275

Island Treat Taj Exotica Resort and Spa, Maldives The award winning Taj Exotica is an exclusive, private and romantic island resort. The luxurious villas each have a private deck and easy access to the sea whilst deluxe villas have their own private plunge pool. Valid from Feb. 1 – 29, 2012. Inquiries: www.emiratesholidays.com or call 800 5252.

Prague Crystal Ball Mandarin Oriental Hotel Become the belle and beau of the Crystal Ball, a magnificent Baroque-style fête held on Feb. 18, 2012, which marks the culmination of the Prague Carnevale in one of the city’s splendid palaces. Package 2 nights’stay, and Include round-trip transfers by hotel limousine, two tickets to the Crystal Ball and private appointment for two at the Carnevale Boudoir. The Crystal Ball package is only available for the dates 17 - 19 February, with extra days available. Inquiries: +420 233 088 888, e-mail moprg-reservations@ mohg.com.

Raffles Praslin Seychelles Honeymoon in paradise A memorable honeymoon in paradisiacal surroundings. From personalised 24-hour butler service to romantic dinner on the beach and private plunge pools, to couples spa treatments, everything about Raffles Praslin Seychelles is deeply romantic - and guarantees the most spectacular Indian Ocean view to awake to. Package valid for a minimum of 3 nights’ stay until Dec. 25, 2012 and starting from 660 Euros per night. Inquiries:

Tateossian AED 625

Banana Republic AED 250

Bottega Veneta AED 2300

* All products (otherwise specified) are available at Bloomingdale’s Dubai Al fresco dining at Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Prague

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+248 429 6780/6791/6000 or bookus. praslin@raffles.com - www.raffles.com/ praslin

Rome Getaway Hotel de Russie This unique boutique hotel enjoys a marvelous location in the heart of the romantic city of Rome, located between the Spanish Steps and Piazza del Popolo on the Via del Babuino. The hotel is within easy walking distance of Rome’s key attractions. Hotel de Russie is a stylish and elegant retreat and offers impeccable services and a wonderful base to explore this beautiful city. Prices start from AED 8,460 per person, Inquiries: www.emiratesholidays.com or call 800 5252.

Zurich’s cupid Dolder Grand The fairy tale setting with striking views of both the city of Zurich, the lake and the Alps makes the Dolder Grand the ideal luxury retreat coupled with fascinating options for ultimate spa pampering, skiing and shopping. For the hopeless romantics wishing to whisk their love away in celebration of Valentine’s Day, the Dolder Grand offers its guests a dreamy destination of being in Zurich, the city referred to as the “portal to the Alps” from which Switzerland’s top venues can easily be reached on day tours. The Dolder Grand has a delightfully long list of romantic options in its unique ambience; simply indulge in the privacy of your sumptuous and plush rooms before you continue with an evening of enchantment in the celebrated Garden Restaurant. Inquiries: +41 44 456 60 00 or contact reservations@thedoldergrand.com.


Living Arabia

Oman’s ‘wadis’

A number of them counts among the country’s major tourist attractions

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he Sultanate of Oman is blessed with an abundance of natural wonders from mountains to caves to beaches and rock formations. There are also a great number of wadis (the Arabic word for valley). Wadis are drainage courses formed by water but are generally dry the whole year round except after rain, as opposed to river valleys and gullies. Rural areas in the Arab region have used wadis as water sources for ages, with many oases and villages emerging in close proximity to these mountainside depressions. Wadis have thus come to embody the promise of life amidst harsh desert environments. Broad appeal Aside from their life-giving nature, wadis are also appreciated for their beauty and trekking appeal. Lush greenery forms

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near water-laden wadis, while many dried-up formations have been used as travelling routes between local areas or even between countries. There are some wadis that have year-round running water, thus offering visitors a cool dip into deep pools that are usually safe to swim in. A number of wadis count among the major tourist attractions of Oman, one of the Arab world’s most scenic destinations. Among the more popular ones are Wadi Bani Khalid, Wadi Shab, Wadi Tiwi and Wadi Al Abyadh. They provide leisure seekers and adventurers with a recreational area to go four-wheel driving, bird watching, or simply admire the colorful landscape and diverse wildlife. ‘Devil’s Gap’ One of Oman’s most visited wadis is

Wadi Dayqah – also known as the ‘Devil’s Gap’ – which was once described by British explorer S.B. Miles as “The most singular piece of earth sculpture in Arabia.” Located near the Muscat Governorate, it is the largest stream in the Arabian Peninsula and is noted for its picturesque contrast of mountains and coasts. Wadi Dayqah flows year-round and offers an explorative path across the Omani mountains and a portal into their natural diversity. It is one of the most accessible wadis in the country and has recently become the location of the biggest dam structure in the Gulf. Around 120 other wadis converge into its path, so when it rains the surrounding tributaries combine to create a powerful rush of water. Wadi Dayqah cuts through limestone and shale from the Ordovician period of around 450 million years ago; some 6


kilometers onwards and the wadi erodes into Jurassic and Cretaceous limestone. Along the way, ancient trilobite fragments and various other fossils can be unearthed, making the path an important location for geological exploration or educational trips. The modern traveler’s main fascination with the wadi is its ability to support life in the most barren of places. In a similar manner, many visitors are surprised at how an Arab country such as Oman could possess so much natural diversity and charm given its geography. Nature, Adventure, Culture Oman’s Ministry of Tourism notes that now is the perfect time to visit Wadi Dayqah, as the weather is pleasant and cool even during the day. The Ministry explains that wadis are just some of the natural wonders that travelers can look forward to during their visit to the Sultanate. Oman has a wealth of other natural attractions and adventurous activities such as scuba diving, camel racing, off-road driving and camping. Moreover, many of Oman’s ancient sites have been

granted protected status by UNESCO and are listed as World Heritage Sites, thus making the Sultanate a leading regional destination for cultural tourism. Some of the best heritage sites to visit in Oman are the Bahla Fort, the Bat Tombs dating back to 3,000 years ago, and the lost city of Ubar which was buried in the sand for nearly 2,000 years. Beauty from adversity John Lubbock, a British Statesman, once commented, “Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books.” Taking a cue from this wisdom, the wonderful wadis of Oman give us powerful lessons of life amidst adversity and the beauty and importance of nature. They also affirm Oman’s passion for protecting its rich history and valuable resources for future generations to experience and enjoy. Like the humble wadi, Oman continues to provide refreshing surprises just when one least expects them.

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Shisha

Opulence becomes a global fad

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n biblical times, Shi’sha was the father of two members of King Solomon’s court—Elihorep and Ahijah. But that is not what this story is about. American Indians smoked the peace pipe when they parleyed with the U.S. infantry during frontier times…still not what this story is all about—but getting close. Approximately a thousand years ago, somewhere in the north western provinces of India, people used coconut shells and tube with a head attached to it as a device for smoking. This contrivance, later called hookah after evolving into something from wood, soon found its way into the Persian Empire and to what is now Iran where it was named shisheh meaning glass as what this water pipe has become to be made of—now that hit the spot! Wealthy Persians gave hookah the appearance they have today. When it reached Turkey some 500 years ago, hookah became very popular among the elite and intellectuals that designs became much more intricate with paintings and mosaics added for elegance. It was around this time when hookah smoking also became an artful skill. The ‘how’ part The art of shisha or hookah smoking starts with filling the bottom of the jar with water sufficient enough to submerge a few centimeters of the body tube, which is sealed tightly to it.

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into the bowl holding the tobacco. The hot air, heated by the charcoal vaporizes the tobacco, thus producing smoke, which is passed down through the body tube that extends into the water in the jar. It bubbles up through the water, losing heat, and fills the top part of the jar, to which the hose is attached. When a smoker inhales from the hose, smoke passes into the lungs, and the change in pressure in the jar pulls more air through the charcoal, continuing the process.

Deeper water will only increase the inhalation force needed to use it. Tobacco is placed inside the bowl at the top of the hookah and then a foil or charcoal screen with a burning charcoal is placed on top. When one inhales through the hose, air is pulled through the charcoal and

The health part According to Mayo Clinic, smoking a tobacco-based shisha is nowhere less of a health risk as smoking cigarettes. Note that a shisha session typically lasts more than 40 minutes, and consists of up to 200 inhalations. In an hour-long smoking session therefore, users consume about 100 to 200 times the smoke of a single cigarette; in a 45-minute smoking session a typical smoker would inhale 1.7 times the nicotine of a single cigarette. Fortunately, tobacco-free shisha products, such as those based on herbs, tea leaves and either sugar cane or

‘Cigarettes are for fast-paced; shisha is when you just want to really relax.’ sugar beets, have been developed so as to minimise the harm to the user from the nicotine, tar and other chemicals present in tobacco smoke. The ‘why’ part Today, shisha bars can be found in almost all parts of the world where people smoke the water pipe to socialize, discuss current events and politics, and even close business deals, that is, in the case of the Middle East. Young adults go to shisha bars because they’re still legally not allowed alcohol; adults go there with their laptops to unwind and check their social network account; in most Arab countries, middleaged men can be seen in shisha bars smoking while playing video games. For all its worth, why smoke sisha at all when you can have cigarettes instead? Well, as one shisha aficionado put it, “cigarettes is for fast-paced; shisha is when you just want to really relax.”

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Whistle Stop

Rome Come prepared for a city break that will be a landmark historical location well worth the trip. —Julian Redman

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Colosseum

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hey say Rome wasn’t built in a day. I can see why; the attention to detail on the buildings is incredible. Without sounding like my father who was a keen architectural artist, the intricate detail and design of these magnificent buildings in Rome and the Vatican are truly outstanding. Rome’s charm is the hustle and bustle of Romans and tourists fighting for the street space, with motor scooters buzzing past like a swarm of bees and with the good looking guys and girls breezing along the sidewalks. Rome had a great Euro-feel to it which was a welcome break from the Middle East. The familiar landmarks of the Colosseum, the Vatican, the Pantheon and Monument of Vittorio Emanuele II were well worth the trip to Rome – now with direct flights from Dubai through Emirates, this historic city has such a magnificent religious heritage and architectural significance it is simply a place on earth you have to visit, if you are at all interested in experiencing hundreds of years of history in this modern age. The Vatican, a famous catholic centre point surrounded in mystery, traditions and tourists, is an absolute must for any visit – it’s a spectacular array of buildings and upon finding the entrance to the Sistine Chapel building, you will walk along corridors and corridors through an art lover’s dream; murals and artwork to

die for include works from Salvador Dali and Van Gough. Aside from these, the walls are adorned with detailed drawings and gold leaf. Upon arrival to the chapel, be prepared for a small shock: if you have ever seen the famous Michelangelo pictures on TV you’d think the chapel was a large space, however it’s actually small, very crowed and silent – you have the “speech police” on hand to make sure you are always quiet. And you can’t take any pictures in there either. I guess the expectation of a quiet, poignant moment in one of the world’s most famous Christian landmarks was always a little naive

Bikes Architecture


Corridor to Sistine Chapel

knowing it’s such a magnet for tourists the world over. I have to say though, Rome did disappoint on a number of fronts: The taxi driver wasn’t pleasant charging more than the flight to Rome itself. I had my watch stolen from my room, there was a lot of graffiti on some glorious buildings (criminal!) plus the Italian food was dreadful. That last point did have one exception; the time we went outside of the city and found a stunning restaurant perched on the cliff overlooking Lake Nemi, a volcanic lake on the south east of Rome, and ironically the chef was Swedish who had

Central Rome

lived in Italy for 20 years. So, Rome was a mix of “wow” and “oh”; perhaps, we get too used to the safe living of the ME and don’t get robbed by the taxi drivers, can leave the car door open with your wallet on the seat and have an abundance of the world’s best chefs at every hotel entrance. Not to end on a low point, Rome is a European city at the end of the day, with millions of residents and visitors, and therefore is susceptible to the kind of grime and crime of any metropolis, so come prepared for a city break that will be a landmark historical location well worth the trip. Happy Travels!

The Vatican

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Advertorial

Happy Birthday, Arabian Ranches Golf Club! Arabian Ranches Golf Club is celebrating its eighth birthday, and is doing it in style with everybody who likes to swing a club on occasion. From January 2 through March 31, 2012, you can start your week with an irresistible offer of two-for-one on Sundays and Wednesdays or enjoy Monday Madness, where you can play at an amazing 18-hole green fee rate. All Day Twilight Tuesday is the buffet of golf, when you can play as many holes as possible anytime at Arabian Ranches Golf Club, whilst Thursday is a four-player special. Bring your friends or colleagues and enjoy a round for four at the price of a two-ball. The Golf Academy also offers a two-for-one on the Par 3 Course. So why not take advantage of this course, designed by Ian Baker-Finch in association with Nicklaus Design, and built as a true 18-hole desert style course. The signature course spans 247 acres, of which 120 acres are irrigated and offers a challenge for golfers of all abilities, with three PGA-trained golf professionals on hand to provide lessons for total beginners and more experienced golfers, wishing to improve their game. The facilities are open until late in the evening and include a Floodlit Driving Range, Floodlit Par 3 Course, Short Game Area and Putting Green. A wide variety of tuition packages are available, including Ladies Golf Clin-

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ics and lessons for juniors. Open for both members and nonmembers, the Ranches Restaurant and Bar is located within the Spanish Colonial Clubhouse, with a terrace offering spectacular panoramic views over the 9th and 18th holes. The restaurant offers a tantalising array of international cuisine, as well as hosting a variety of different theme nights from around the world. Contact +971 4 366 3000 or email teetime@arabianranchesgolf.ae or visit www.arabianranchesgolfdubai.com. The specials are not valid during public holidays and in conjunction with any other promotion.


Resort to perfect serenity Indulge in a beach getaway Escape to a perfect beach getaway. Escape to The Cove Rotana Resort with 600 metres of pure sandy beach on the waters of the Arabian Gulf. Enjoy exciting water sports, the best of Arabian hospitality, the best Mediterranean cuisine in town and sunset beach

Weekdays Classic Room Deluxe Room Premium Room

499* 599* 699*

* Rate is subject to 10% service charge * Rates are per night on room only basis * Limited number of rooms and villas available for this promotion * Rates are valid from 04.02.12 till 29.02.12 * Promotion is not valid on 16 & 17

parties for those seeking an action-filled night! The Cove Rotana Resort offers Beach Front Villas with plunge pools as well as deluxe rooms that have breathtaking sea views. It also has a variety of restaurants and bars to choose from; and a revitalis-

ing spa. Indeed, there is plenty to enjoy, to unwind and to de-stress. Treasured Time. Our promise to you. Fab! February at The Cove Rotana Resort-Ras Al Khaimah. The weather is perfect to spend your day out, come to the beach and enjoy our marvelous offers!

Weekends 699* 799* 899*

1 Bedroom Villa 2 Bedroom Villa 3 Bedroom Villa

February * Rotana Rewards exclusive will be entitled to 10% discount on above mentioned rates. * Free breakfast in case of two consecu tive nights stay. * Book through Rotana.com and get 25% discount on morning Spa treat

Weekdays

Weekends

999* 1499* 1999*

1499* 2499* 2999*

ments during weekdays & 15% discount on dinner at Cinnamon and Basilico (Food only) * Terms and conditions apply. For more information visit www. rotanatimes.com/thecoverotanaresort and for reservations call 07 206 6288 or email us at res.cove@rotana.com

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Outside Arabia

De Janeiro The Carnival Capital of the World

Only in Rio will you see people by the hundreds of thousands throwing themselves in wild and frenzied decadence before going on a 40-day fast to re-affirm their faith in God… 34 I Travel Arabia

…which is why the rest of the human race wants to see this “far-out” place. Carnival, a popular annual four-day celebration that culminates on Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, was originally a period of relaxation for Christians before Ash Wednesday, which by itself, starts 40 days of Lenten fasting and during which one is supposed to abstain from all forms of bodily pleasure. Carnival therefore is an act of bidding bye-bye to the fantasies of the flesh; a farewell to bad things in a season of religious discipline to practice repentance and prepare for Christ’s death and resurrection.

It’s a sin-all-you-can-before-Jesus-dies nationwide party, if you will. Carnival is celebrated across the country and usually happens in February, the hottest month in the Southern Hemisphere, when the Rio summer is at its peak. This year, the event, profane as it is to some quarters, will be from Feb. 18th till the 21st. Carnival is the most famous Brazilian holiday and has, over the years from the first festival held in 1723, become an event of huge proportions so much so that the entire country stops completely for almost a week because 24-hour festivities


are intense. It is during this time when tourism receives 70% of annual visitors. Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival alone drew 4.9 million people in 2011, with 400.000 being foreigners, according to government figures.

Carnival capital Although Carnival (Carnaval in Portuguese) is celebrated in towns and villages throughout Brazil and other Catholic countries, Rio de Janeiro has long been regarded as the Carnival Capital of the World. The Rio Carnaval is not only the biggest Carnival, it has also a benchmark against which every other carnival is compared to. Rhythm, participation, and costumes vary from one region of Brazil to another. In the southeastern cities of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, huge organized parades are led by samba schools. Those official parades are meant to be watched by the public, while minor parades (“blocos”) allowing public participation can be found in other cities. The northeastern cities of Salvador, Porto Seguro and Recife have organized groups parading through streets, and public interacts directly with them. This carnival is heavily influenced by African-Brazilian culture. Crowds follow the trio elétricos floats through the city streets. Also in northeast, Olinda carnival features unique characteristics, part influenced by Venice Carnival mixed with cultural depictions of local folklore.

Cidade Maravilhosa Rio de Janeiro is Portuguese for “January River.” The place was named as such because the Europeans first arrived on Guanabara Bay, the body of water fronting Rio, on January 1, 1502 Nicknamed Cidade Maravilhosa or “Marvelous City,” Rio de Janeiro is the most visited city in the southern hemisphere and is known for its natural settings, carnival celebrations, samba, Bossa Nova, balneario beaches such as Barra da Tijuca, Copacabana, Ipanema, and Leblon. Some of the most famous landmarks include the giant statue of Christ the Redeemer atop Corcovado mountain. The 2016 Summer Olympics will take place in Rio de Janeiro, which will mark the first time a South American city hosts the event Rio’s Maracanã Stadium will also host the final match for 2014 FIFA World Cup. Rio de Janeiro will also host World Youth Day next year.

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Düsseldorf A youthful German city with many faces

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üsseldorf is a city of many faces –fashion, art, culture and architecture, palaces, parks and castles, tradition and customs, old and new, a city of business and pleasure. Set on the River Rhine in the heart of North Rhine-Westphalia, Düsseldorf boasts Germany’s 3rd largest airport, is headquarters to five Fortune Global 500 companies and organises nearly one fifth of the world’s premier trade shows. Sitting within one hour’s reach of all large European capitals, it is ranked sixth in the worldwide quality of life index, and first in Germany. Düsseldorf is also a compact city, with the airport only 20 minutes from the centre, and most points of interest inside the city within walking distance. One of the world’s most elegant shopping destinations, it is home to the one-kilometre-long Königsallee, ranked among the “dream streets of the world.” A culinary capital, the Old Town, one square-kilometre on the banks of the Rhine, boasts over 260 restaurants, inns, pubs, rustic breweries and cafes, with

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quiet lanes and cobbled streets leading to The Rhine embankment promenade; plus Media Harbour, the ultramodern creative hub of the city with trendy glass palaces, bars, clubs and restaurants. Düsseldorf is also a city of culture. No less than 26 museums from ancient art to classical modernity and contemporary grace the city, plus an incredibly wide, creative range of galleries; 17 theatres provide a colourful mixture of boulevard theatre, comedy, cabaret and opera: all within the city limits. Many artists call Düsseldorf their home, among them Andreas Gursky, Thomas Schütte, Katharina Fritsch, Tony Cragg and Michael Burges. The city’s K20 Kunstsammlung am Grabbeplatz is one of the leading museums in the country, presenting 20th century art, reopened in July 2012 after extensive renovation and now housing originals from Paul Klee, Pablo Picasso, Max Ernst, amongst others. Connected by regular shuttle bus to the K21 Kunstsammlung im Standehaus, which focuses on the future and shows international contemporary art from the 21st century, this building is also of architectural interest


with its glass cupola and works of art by Candida Hofer, Thomas Ruff and Andreas Gursky. The Rhine embankment promenade, between the tunnel sections of the bridge nestles the KIT – Kunst im Tunnel, which is one of the city’s spectacular exhibition places for contemporary art. For something completely different, visit the Haus des Karnevals – set in a historic building from 1632, the museum shows numerous exhibits related to the tradition of carnival. Families are well catered for with the Aquazoo combining a natural history museum and zoo under one roof; with tropical hall, penguin enclosure and aquariums, this is designed to keep the whole family entertained (www.duesseldorf.de/aquazoo) The Junges Schauspielhaus appeals to children and youngsters offering theatre for all generations from fairy tales and myths to contemporary topics. (www. junges-schauspielhaus.de) whilst the Puppentheater introduces culture with laughter and fun through the use of puppets to children as young as 2 years of age (www.puppentheater.de) For circus lovers, Roncalli’s Apollo Variete on the banks of the Rhine entertains with artistes, acrobats and clowns performing in this world famous circus (www.apollo-variete.com) Düsseldorf is also a green city, with numerous parks and open spaces, many of which are adorned with sculptures. Many of these sculptures belong to the famous international artist, Thomas Schoenauer, who also resides in the city but is also known in the Middle East as a painter and sculpter.

On the musical front, Düsseldorf offers everything from opera and ballet at the Deutsche Oper am Rheine to musical theatre, plays and concerts at the Capital Theater. There are so many things ‘not to be missed’ in this city, and for those short of time, the Düsseldorf Marketing & Tourism Department offers individual guided culture tours, walking tours, cultural tours for kids, and many more options to ensure visitors get the very best out of their time.

How we travelled: On the inaugural Etihad flight to Düsseldorf on Dec. 16, 2011 from Abu Dhabi. Departing 2am and arriving Düsseldorf 6.30am, this was ideal timing for getting the most out of a weekend visit without wasting time in the air! Etihad currently offer 4 flights weekly from Abu Dhabi. Where we stayed: for a central location, you cannot beat the Breidenbacher Hof (http://www.capellahotels.com/dusseldorf/) just off Königsallee. A Capella Hotel, this is a modern classic hotel with superb spacious accommodations and a youthful service-minded team with an intimate understanding of Middle Eastern and European guests. We loved the “Living Room” and the fact that soft drinks in the mini bar, tea and coffee and wireless internet were all included in the room rate.

Tips: purchase a Düsseldorf Welcome Card from 9 Euros for free transportation, entry into museums and discounted rates on many other attractions. Check http:// www.duesseldorf-tourismus.de/en before you travel to see what exhibitions and events are of interest.

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Chronicles B. C. Breathtaking Canada Summer in the Canadian west

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have always wanted to visit Canada, but it’s one of the coldest countries on earth, and I hate being cold. It has summers too, of course. So I was delighted that our family road trip, up the Pacific Coast from San Francisco, found us just 15km south of the border in mid-August, when Canada is warmest and sunniest. Perfect! After a week on a ranch in eastern Washington state, we turned north on Highway 97 and crossed into British Columbia. Soon the scenery changed from dusty, rolling, cowboy country, to green valleys with narrow lakes, snaking along for miles between majestic mountains. Fresh fruit stalls and vineyards, busy lakeside beaches and campsites were everywhere. Were we back in California? No, the Okanagan valley: a premier wine region and popular destination for Canadian holidaymakers. We were heading to Sicamous, to rent a houseboat to explore Shuswap Lake. Shuswap is billed as ‘House-boating heaven’ because much of the surrounding area is only accessible by water; the lake remains relatively calm, nestled amongst the towering peaks; and the water warms up to a pleasant 23°C in July/August, despite being very deep. Our boat was spacious, comfortable and well equipped including camping chairs and a barbecue. At the back was a swim ladder, stairs to the upper deck and a water-slide ensuring hours of fun plunging into the crystal clear lake. After stocking up with enough food and water for the trip, and watching the video explaining how to operate the engine and beach the boat safely, we set sail. Once away from the busy marina, we spent four very relaxing days afloat. The lake was so extensive we only covered half

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of it, and it was far from crowded, meaning that the children could take turns at the wheel, and we always found a secluded beach to stop for lunch, or stay for the night. In the evenings we enjoyed campfires at the water’s edge, colourful sunsets with matching reflections, and a sky full of thousands of the brightest stars. From Sicamous, we drove west through Kamloops, into the southern Pacific ranges of the Coast Mountains, to Whistler: the world class ski resort where many of the events for the 2010 Winter Olympics were held. Tours to the Olympic sites are available, and Olympic mascot memorabilia and Inukshuk Olympic logo souvenirs are still on sale in the shops. But Whistler has much more to offer summer visitors. Many chair lifts operate year round, including those to Whistler and Blackcomb mountains, creating opportunities for hiking, mountain top dining and All Terrain Vehicle Tours. The ski runs are open too: minus the snow, but with a few added features, turning the area into the number one destination for hundreds of helmet clad mountain bikers who come half cycling, half flying down the slopes at incredible speeds. Other summer activities include kayaking, rafting, fishing, horse riding, rock-climbing and eagle and bear spotting walks. The less energetic can visit the excellent Whistler Museum and Squamish and Lil’wat Cultural Centre. But the highlight, for us at least, was ‘Monkido’ (Monkey-doo): just one of the various

‘tree treks’, or aerial obstacle courses, through the surrounding woodlands, by boardwalk, rope bridge and zipwire. A shorter but stunningly scenic drive, down the Sea to Sky Highway, took us to Vancouver: surely one of the most picturesque cities in the world. Our hotel was family friendly, but centrally located, so we set off on foot to see the waterfront: cruise ships at Canada Place, freighters gliding towards the docks, mountains across the bay, yachts in the marina and sea planes coming and going from their harbour-side runway. Renting bikes enabled us to keep going, around the headland and fully explore Stanley Park with its totem poles, aquarium, outdoor pool and beaches. We couldn’t resist taking a scenic sea plane flight, which revealed that Vancouver was even more beautiful from the air than it had looked from the ground. Next stop Chinatown, for the best Dim Sum outside of Hong Kong, and a stroll around Gastown to see its unique Steam Clock. Finally, a quick trip to Granville Island Market on the Aquabus, for some souvenir shopping, dinner at the Yaletown Brewery, and it was time to leave. Although I can now say I’ve been to Canada, it’s not only one of the coldest, but also the second largest country in the world, so I know we only saw a fraction of what it has to offer. We never even left B.C. But for me, those initials neatly sum up the impressions it made upon me: big country, beautiful city, beyond comparebreathtaking Canada.

Contributed by Gill Shepherd

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Abu Dhabi

‘I knew…there were loads of many wonderful experiences and opportunities awaiting me.’

P

rior to my arrival, I was always fascinated by the United Arab Emirates and was always reading about the Emirati culture even way before I knew I was going to move to this part of the world. And when the news came that I will be the General Manager of Millennium Hotel Abu Dhabi, I knew deep inside that there were loads of many wonderful experiences and opportunities awaiting me, coming along with a myriad of discoveries.

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The challenge of adapting to a new city and culture with my wife and two kids, makes it even more enthralled by how fun and fascinating Abu Dhabi can really be. In my opinion, it is a peaceful and an ideal place to raise a family. I just couldn’t get over the hospitality, the warmth, the friendliness and politeness that are all valued traits widely practiced both as a religious duty and a way of life, in addition to the safety and the low crime rate compared to other European countries.

To gain deep understanding of the land and its culture, I was enthusiastic to see all those things that I have been reading about some of which are the falconry centres, gold and spice souqs, fishing harbors, camel races, dhow races; I was also upbeat about watching the whales and dolphins, hunting and safaris. I have also heard a lot about the traditional cuisine of the UAE, which was why the first rich filling dish I tried was the Harees, a meal prepared with small pieces of meat, cracked wheat and


water. After loving it, I decided to go to the second famous which is the makbous and the matharubah—all were of delicious taste that I have never experienced before. I was also taken by the numerous places I could take my kids to visit like the Ferrari World, Yas Marina Circuit, and the safaris. My wife enjoyed a lot of the handicrafts, the embroidery, the henna tattoos and the dates festival. My children saw pictures of the Arabian oryx, the thar, leopards and sand gazelle—maybe one day we will all get a chance to see them for real. From my end, I am looking forward to see the Saadiyat Island with its cultural district that will have five theatres, three museums including the Louvre, Zayed National Museum and the Guggenheim. I must be honest though: The one and only thing I was not looking forward

to was the hot and humid months of summer; but as we learnt, “we cannot have everything in life”. German born, Ruprecht Schmitz has worked for Millennium & Copthorne Hotels for the past 10 years in Europe and Asia, most recently in Singapore as the General Manager of the 656 room five star Orchard Hotel Singapore. With more than 20 years of international experience in the hospitality industry, trilingual Schmitz has worked in management positions with various international chains in Europe and joined Millennium Hotel Paris Opera in 1999. Trained in Hotel Management in Germany and with Business Economics educational background, Ruprecht Schmitz has a wealth of experience in his capacity. He is looking very much forward to contribute to the ongoing success of the Millennium Hotel Abu Dhabi.

Mr. Ruprecht Schmitz and his family

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Storyteller

Buzkashi is

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‘With the fierceness of the competition…(T)he incredible strength and agility of the rider as he is almost entirely off his horse at times, and the training of the horses who will stand perfectly still over the buz or his rider until told otherwise (come into play).’ —Kimberly Stinson, contributor.

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n a cool grey Friday in February, I was invited to watch an age-old Afghan sport, buzkashi. You cannot live in northern Afghanistan and not hear about the buzkashi matches that take place from autumn to early spring when temperatures are lower, and, traditionally, the men have less responsibility with their farm fields. Buzkashi translates as “goat-grabbing,” although a calf or sheep may also be used. Head and hooves are removed and the carcass prepared for the match. It is then the “buz,” and the riders will compete fiercely to gain and maintain possession of it for a

win. At the entrance to the walled buzkashi field in Mazar-e-Sharif, Balkh, stood a small cluster of multi-coloured carts selling oranges, nuts and popcorn for the spectators entering the grounds. The guards check us out and passed us through. I was very excited because this was my first time at buzkashi. As we entered the grounds, I noticed hundreds of men and boys lining the sloped banks on either side of the stands. A father and son passed by, swinging a bag of fresh oranges, as we headed to the stands. As a woman, entering the buzkashi field, I knew that all eyes would be on me

because it is such an unexpected sight. This event is for men and boys only. But I doubt after the first whistle was blown if even a woman could draw attention from the intense action on the field. When I entered the grounds, I could not take my eyes off the large dirt playing field filled with gorgeous horses and their riders, both milling restlessly, waiting for the games to begin. You could taste the excitement in the air. There are two ways to play buzkashi: with teams or as individuals. This was a game of individuals. The riders would be told where to carry the “buz” before return-

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ing to drop it in the winner’s circle. Most commonly they carry it out and around a pole at some distance. And, all the way, the riders will struggle for possession, often at full gallop. At the centre of this crowd was a small group of professional chapandazan, the riders around the edges played for practice, and still others circled the group with fresh horses that could be exchanged at any time. The chapandazan, or recognized riders, wear a fur-fringed lambskin hat (or occasionally one left over from the Russian era), knee-high boots padded with protection and designed with large heels to hook the stir-ups, and a whip that is carried in their teeth when not in use. Because my colleagues knew the Minister of Sport we were given enviable seats in the stands, middle of the second row. Here, I prepared my cameras and nodded with a smile to the men seated around me. I was ready for the action to begin, or so I thought. In the stands, music blared from huge speakers and a master of ceremonies, dressed in achapan, directed the action through a megaphone. Three older men in turbans sat in the front row to my left and were using the ends of their turbans to cover their mouths and nose. I had seen this done during windstorms, but the air was still on that day and no dust. I was curious, but went back to taking photos and deciphering the action. It did not take me long to learn why they had them covered. When hundreds of hooves head toward you at full speed, they will abruptly change direction as they reach the stands, but the massive dust cloud that follows them does not. So the flavours of excitement, and dust, are now forever associated with buzkashi. With the fierceness of the competi-

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tion, as wild masses of horse and man compete, it might be easy to overlook the high level of skill on the part of both rider and horse. The incredible strength and agility of the rider as he is almost entirely off his horse at times, and the training of the horses who will stand perfectly still over the buz or his rider until told otherwise. It takes years for this kind of training, and these horses are highly valued. But I will tell you a secret, if you ask nicely, you may even be able to ride one of the best-trained horses in the world. I can tell you personally, it is another experience not soon forgotten. Buzkashi is said to be a legacy from the times of Ghengis Khan. And, despite the conflict of the last 30 years, buzkashi continues to bring men together. In fact, I have heard that “buzkashi is Afghanistan.� This sport embodies the Afghan spirit of bravery, honour and survival, and while unique to Afghanistan, it is definitely not the only tourism draw to the country, but maybe the most thrilling.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kimberly Stinson is a visual journalist, writer and media trainer with a post-diploma in e-journalism. Currently in Canada after two years in Afghanistan, she has also spent time in Sweden, Kosovo and Brunei. Find her on Twitter @kjstinson, or visit her blog, Media Impressions, at www.kayjae. wordpress.com.


City Living

The evolution of the inn How hotel apartments came into being Todays travellers have been replaced by 20-some-yearolds with laptops, iPods, internet cellphones, and digicams—and they need a place to stay. In the frontier days, when land travel was limited to horse-drawn carriages, it would take days for people to get from point A to point B, thus necessitating inns for sleepovers, a quick meal and a shower. Trans-Atlantic ocean travel, and later on, commercial air flights revolutionized travel so much so that it has become a global industry with the inns having

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become the five-star, luxury high-rise glitzy structures with fancy brand names that they are. Despite this however, remnants of the inns have remained and actually been revitalized to take the form of drive-thru motels in the 1950s and 1960s, where the horse-drawn carriage was no more and instead replaced by cars. The age of information technology has further revolutionized travel so much so that it is now not anymore limited to the moneyed class; where the 40-someyear-old fedora men in three-piece suits and leather cases have been replaced by 20-some-year-olds with laptops, iPods, internet cellphones, and digicams. With this revolution came the corresponding radical changes in inns or drivethru motels. Indeed, the evolution of the

inn has taken on a rapid phase such that, suddenly, there are one too many terms referring to it—apartment hotels, budget hotels, hotel apartments, three-star hotels, apartels, serviced apartments, residence suites, and so on. Wikipedia doesn’t have a word for it, thus far! Why stay there? For mainly a couple of reasons, people choose hotel apartments over hotels— one, more freedom and privacy; and two, value for money especially in matters of long stay. A hotel apartment has a bigger space with a kitchen, a big refrigerator, a laundry machine, couch living area and a bedroom; some even have more than one bedroom. It has parking space and a 24-hour security. It also has the good old-


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Book now and enjoy the following: Valet parking service available free of charge Full kitchen in each suite Daily turn down services Two and Three bedrooms available for families Late check out up to 3:00 pm on availability For reservations: Abu Dhabi: Tel. +971 2 641 3555, E-mail: mhapt@eim.ae Dubai: Tel. +971 4 228 2280, E-mail: reservations@khalidiahotel.ae


and cooking. Yuppie travellers Most young urban professionals— yuppies—also prefer hotel apartments, their alternative to hotel accommodation that have similar, if not totally the same, services and features of luxury that hotels have. They are not stiffened by a punctilious hotel stuff and can come sliding down the lobby in shorts and snickers. Moreover, hotel apartments, being residential complexes, use hotel-style booking systems where there are no fixed contracts and so they can leave whenever they want. In this age of online booking and fast-track living where more and more travelers—businessmen, young urban professionals, and families on a holiday— tend to prefer less costly accommodations like five star hotels, hotel apartments have become a lily in a placid pond; the star of the morning show. Indeed, the sleepover inns of the yonder days have come full blossom. fashioned room service and wake-up call that the big guy next door has. All this for a very reasonable price compared to staying at a hotel where one may have to eat out from time to time or have someone do the laundry. Who stays there? People sent by their companies to another country to oversee and help in ongoing projects are among the kind that go to hotel apartments with their stay paid for by their bosses; they also get to bring their family from time to time depending on the duration of their stay. As well, more and more families on a holiday or those visiting a relative for a special occasion like wedding, have started checking in hotel apartments because this allows them to remain in touch in a manner that wouldn’t at all be possible had they stayed in a hotel instead. They can, for instance, dine and watch TV together, even share stories before slumber. In a hotel, they would have to split into rooms and go down to the lobby for dinner or breakfast. Hotel apartments offer accommodation for families that need to “live” in an apartment rather than “stay” as they would in a hotel. Hotel apartments provide a “holiday home” that allows occupants to do everything they would at home, such as cleaning, washing

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Welcome to the

Marina View Hotel Apartments

It means a warm welcome, a unique holiday experience and a sophisticated style of living. Marina View prides itself in exceeding customer expectations and is dedicated to setting a new standard in the hospitality industry. Marina View Hotel ranges from homely to luxurious, but you can always be assured of generous hospitality. Marina View Hotel is a luxury residency located in the heart of Dubai Marina, fully furnished by high stylish decorations. The hotel’s modern architecture is easily spotted against the Dubai sky line with easy access to, Dubai’s key business hubs, leisure and shopping.

Marina View Hotel Apartments, P.O Box 454745, Dubai, UAE Phone: +971 4 4571000, Fax: +971 4 4570999 Email: reservations@marinaviewhotel.com, bookings@marinaviewhotel.com

www.marinaviewhotel.com


Taste Travel

Saturday lunch excursion in the desert Hearing a Brit say “This is the best Indian meal I have ever had” is praise indeed, given the fact that there is an Indian restaurant on just about every corner of the United Kingdom. However, that was the verdict of my lunch companion when we drove out to Bab Al Shams for their Saturday “dine and dive” special in Masala. A little on the chilly side for a swim, the package is none the less great value for money, and promises to be extremely

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popular when the temperature rises a little. We can only hope they continue offering it through the steamy summer in the UAE. Driving into the resort you feel like Lawrence of Arabia approaching a mirage as this low rise desert retreat, built in an Arabic fort style rises out of the desert landscape. Bab Al Shams Desert Resort and Spa is located about 45 minutes from Dubai; the welcome is friendly, although we were left to find our own way through the narrow passages, past tranquil courtyards with water features and intimate seating, to Masala, in the heart of the hotel. It did allow us to explore a little though. Service was a little slow, but we decided this was not detrimental as the cuisine is clearly lovingly prepared. The set menu our ‘package’ was based on started with Murgh Mirch Masala, or boneless spicy chicken legs served with Hara Kabab or spinach patties. The latter were dry and powdery, but the chicken legs were delicious! Following this dish was Aloo papdi chaat – spiced potato and crisp fried savoury pastry flavoured with mint chutney, yoghurt and tamarind chutney, and absolutely delicious. We would have been happy with another dish of this. Of the four main course dishes served in heated copper pots, one we would never have selected if left to our own devices but which proves you must try

everything, was the Dal Masala. When serving this, the waiter pointed out that it was “the best lentils in Dubai” and we believe he could be right! A close second was the Murgh Makhni—chicken tikka to the Brits—followed by Gosht balti masala, spicy lamb; and Subz Abir, the Masala version of palak paneer—cottage cheese in spinach gravy. A freshly baked selection of naan, roti and parantha accompanied the main course selection and for those with a sweet tooth (a very sweet tooth), a choice of Gulab Jamun—warm donuts floating in warm sugar syrup, clocking up an amazing 260 to 300 or more calories per serving, or Kulfi—Indian ice cream made with cream and a variety of flavours such as raspberry, rose, mango, cardamom saffron and pistachio. Both were too sweet for our tastes, but still beautifully presented.

Recommendation: A wonderful way to spend a Saturday with visitors! A leisurely drive through the desert, amazing lunch, followed by an afternoon by the spectacular pool at Bab al Shams. Every Saturday from 12.30 – 4pm from AED 125 – 395 depending on drinks selection and pool access requirement. Children 5 – 12 years 50% discount. Reservations: Tel: +971 4 809 6100 BAS.Restaurants@meydanhotels.com


Sakura at Taj Palace Hotel Dubai Frank Lloyd Wright once commented that “Dining is and always was a great artistic opportunity.” And nowhere can that be more true than in a Japanese restaurant where the visual aspect of the food is as equally important as the taste. Sakura at the Taj Palace Hotel in Deira, Dubai is a little known gem that takes its art very seriously. From the sociable sushi counter to the two black granitetopped teppan grills, the stage is set for an entertaining evening. Teppan which means grill, and yaki which refers to the style of cooking, is an entertaining and highly sociable dining experience. Diners sit around the grill as the chef chops, flips, seasons and cooks the ingredients to make an appealing meal that is both fun to watch and good to eat. “Sometimes things go wrong when I am cooking,” says chef Virnee at Sakura, Taj Palace Hotel Dubai, “but that just adds to the fun element really and the guests

love it” Chef Virnee has devoted the last 14 years of his life to cooking Asian food and had to train for two years to become a teppanyaki chef. “The training is very ordered and we practiced over and over again. When we start out, we wrap our knives in cling film to avoid hurting ourselves. But we do get cut though, it’s just part of the learning process,” he says. The meal begins with another of

chef Virnee’s specialties – sushi. The art of sushi is also something that requires months of practice, and chefs will spend weeks just learning how to cook the rice before moving on to the actual assembly of these items. The sushi is beautifully fresh and the portions are generously sized. The house specials are the Californian Maki with chunks of crab sticks, crunchy cucumber and creamy avocado that is topped by flying fish roe. The main act though is the teppanyaki which is always served in the same order. First come the vegetables, a mix of red onion, peppers and mushrooms dropped onto your plate from the grill. This is followed by the seafood which is a very generous selection of lobster, cuttlefish, scallops and oysters. Chef Virnee uses his own blend of soy sauce, teriyaki sauce and non-alcoholic Japanese wine which he adds right at the end so as not to swamp the flavour of the seafood. After the seafood comes the rice which is prepared with chopped vegetables and eggs. This is generally eaten alone before the final beef tenderloin is served. The Japanese are not fond of desserts so this section of the menu tends to be a little sparse. However after an enormous amount of food, the fresh fruit salad and sesame crème brulee is all that is required to finish off a superb meal.

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Care for a different Saturday family brunch? Head to Mazina at The Address Dubai Marina In Dubai, after working hard for a week, we need to chill out and make weekends a lazy day. Especially during this very tempting weather, most parents look for ways to enjoy, have fun and entertain the kids. Some plan a getaway to the nearby emirates or go for a picnic at the park while others invite over friends for a barbecue. This is why brunch has always been a hit in this part of the world as people can enjoy and celebrate with family and friends for a great gathering. Most of the hotels in Dubai offer Friday brunches but Mazina at The Address Dubai Marina offer a different brunch – on a Saturday. The Saturday Family Brunch stands out from the rest of the city’s venues because of its different approach – more personal which is why it exceeds any guests’ expectation.

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Mazina on a Saturday afternoon turns into a party scene, decorated with balloons and full of activities so this is not the place to go if you feel like being cozy or intimate, if you want to hold a business meeting or if you want to make a first impression with a date on a Saturday afternoon. Here, the atmosphere is bubbly, very energetic, like being invited to a kids’ birthday party. You will see little kids running around the restaurant, faces painted with sparkling colours with giggling screaming and occasional crying filling the entire place. The brunch offers a buffet set-up of international cuisine with live stations for roasting, stir-fry, salads and pasta. Sushi, sashimi, satay, dimsum, roast lamb, roast beef, roast chicken, kebab, vegetables and noodles are on offer. Don’t forget to leave room for the delicious array of mouth watering desserts. The kids will enjoy their portions of chicken nuggets, fish fingers, cheese sticks and French fries and the chocolate fondue will keep them coming back. A rich selection of candy to nibble while they watch their favorite movie is present. Other

entertainment such as bouncy castles, face painting, Wii and balloon bending will keep them quite busy. It’s a family-oriented brunch where kids spent their time as parents relax and catch up around the table. The famous legendary Saturday Family Brunch provides a new twist. Called Generation Creation and happening on Feb. 18, 2012, the idea is for two generations (mom and daughter or father and son) to engage in an activity that both will enjoy. In January, the creation prepares Dad and kids tandem to impress with the best for Valentine’s Day by creating their own floral bouquet within a given time. Wives and Mums will be presented with the unique arrangement and prizes are awarded to the best floral arrangement of the day. The Saturday Family Brunch is for AED195 including soft drinks and juices. Warm and inviting with sweeping views of the Marina, Mazina is the perfect place to enjoy a lively meal with family and friends. To reserve a ‘Generation Creation Station’ or for further enquiries call 04 4367777 or emaildine.dubaimarina@theaddress.com


Caffe Florian

Hemmingway’s at the door If we were to name one thing that restaurants in Dubai are lacking, the simple answer would be a history—and Caffe Florian, which recently marked its 290th birthday, has it. Many a famous artists, politicians, musicians, actors and royalty have spent hours enjoying the unique Florian experience. It is clear to see that attention to detail in every aspect has been perfected over the last three centuries, from the exquisitely smooth Italian coffee to the famous tails of the white-jacketed waiters and the harmonic sounds of the Cafe Concerto. Famous for being the meeting place of icons from Charlie Chaplin to Clark Gable and Hemmingway to Casanova, Caffe Florian has, for the past three centuries, charmed its patrons with Venetian food, history, fine art, rich culture, and decor. Caffe Florian first opened in St. Mark’s Square,Venice in 1720 and today can be found in some of the most prestigious destinations in the world including Harrods, London. It is a contender for the title of the oldest coffee house in continuous operation. Marco Paolini, Caffe Florian owner, is extremely excited about its place at Gate Village in Dubai’s International Financial Centre. On the menu are meals perfected through time; for instance, the Baccalà Mantecato alla Veneziana con Sfloglie di Polenta for antipasti, actually a rustic appetizer as typical to Venice as its gondolas

Wouldn’t you just love to have the same meal he had? and bridges, a Florian favorite made of a salty creamed baccalà (salted cod fish) served over grilled corn polenta. Another would be Gnocchi di Patate Viola con Gorgonzola e Noci e servito su

Cestino di Parmigiano, a Caffé Florian signature first-course dish composed of homemade violet potato gnocchi with Gorgonzola cheese and walnuts served in a basket of Parmesan crust; and Tagliatelle Prezzemolate al Tartufo Saltate Nella Corona di Parmigiano, homemade parsley tagliatelle finished in a parmesan wheel and served with white truffle shavings. Still another would be Tagliata di Wagyu Australiano con Rucola e Grana a scaglie—sliced Australian Wagyu beef striploin served with rocket leaves and shaved Parmesan cheese. Sweets are down-to-earth romantics like hot chocolate soufflé served with vanilla ice cream; the Tiramisu alla Venezian, a classic homemade tiramisu’ made with mascarpone cream and lady finger biscuits soak in amaretto liquor and coffee and the Tiramisu al Caffe’ Florian, a classic homemade cake prepared with mascarpone cream and lady fingers soak in espresso coffee’. Of course there is the ricotta cheese cake, yogurt mousse over wild berry puree and the trio chocolate mousse cake of white, gianduia and black chocolate.

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Bare hand dining galore

Coconut shells for big spoons. Bamboo for bowls and trays. Cross-legged on the floor, dig your fingers into a plate full of steamed rice, gingery curry and all. That’s having a meal Khantoke-style. Nuff with the man on the piano, the candlelight, the array of cutlery, oh and that big white bib, too. Let’s do it Khantoke-style! Khantoke (pronounced: can-toe) is northern Thailand for eating cross-legged on the floor with a pedestal round teak tray from which bowls of food are served and replenished over and over till you couldn’t stand up again. The dishes are all authentic northern Thai favorites like Gaeng Hang Lay, a gingery curry; Naam Prik Ong, a chillytomato-minced dish; the crunchy Kaeb Moo to be dipped in rich gravy; and the succulent fried chicken. At a Khantoke dinner, start with the fried pumpkin as hors d’oeuvres and then alternate as you like between the mildly spicy red chili, tomato and a dip, the succulent fried chicken, and a mouthwatering Burmese curry that is so gentle,

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so soft that you will gladly accept a second helping. Meal is accompanied with traditional entertainment—dance and music by ethnic hill tribe groups like Karen, Hmong, and Lahu. The phrase “finger-lickin’ good” must have been coined by someone who have had the opportunity to dine in some Asian country like Thailand, where till now many people eat with their fingers—not that they are poor for, mind you, even the wealthy eat with bare hands in that part of the world, and during special occasions too like wedding for instance. Traditional Thai meals are rarely one plate experiences, so the Western concept of having meat, two veggies, and gravy all on one plate is alien to Thai dining. Likewise, the use of an array of cutlery seems to be overkill. Unless one is invited to a Thai home,

the closest most visitors get to dining a la Lanna (northern Thai) is at a Khantoke dinner, so this is something you might like to try.


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Tranquil moments their experienced hands do a rub on you. The buttocks and calves are the most abused part of the body, enduring torment from the body’s regular grinding movement. The angels at the Oasis Spa very much know this and they make sure they you got yours tuned up, folding your legs as you lay down on your belly till the toes touch your behind. The back, starting from the shoulders down to the waist, is where stress in-

Most sought-after is a two-hour massage that loosens knotted muscles and unfurl tangled nerves

Thailand highland’s Oasis Traveling can actually sometimes be an endeavor, even a really punishing one to some extent. Jet-lagged. Uneven bed mattresses. Weird foods. Strange people. But there’s always light at the end where your heavy feet take you. In Chiang Mai, a province in the highlands of Thailand, that would be Oasis Spa, which is quite popular for its two-hour Thai-style stress-management massage. It begins with a Thai herbal hot compress along the strong muscle lines so soothing you’d swear uuhhhmmmmmmms were coming out your lips as your eyes close to allow for a 100-percent feel of the radiating tingling heat. This goes on with a hot oil massage that works and stretches the muscles while reopening the body’s energy pathways, completely blanketing you in a cocoon of sort full of energy aching to burst. Seasoned and regularly trained masseuses do it so good they can send you

56 I Travel Arabia

yelping in relief with their eyes shut—no kidding. They know just exactly where you’re sore and where the muscles are so knotted you’ll never realize you’ve been living in abject misery all this time till

sidiously takes its toll on you. Oasis Spa’s masseuses untangle spaghetti nerves with a good old-fashioned kneading that starts from just behind the ear, down the neck and further down your pressure points which are just half a thumb away from each side of the spine till the strokes reach finish line at the waist. Over and over; up and down, up down. This is the part where, like a creek cleared of deadwoods, your blood circulation goes unhindered. There are two Oasis Spas in Chiang Mai. One is on 102 Sirimuangkarajan Road, and another, the Lanna Oasis Spa is on 4 Samlan T.Prasing A.Muang, right next to the Wat Phra Sing Temple.


MAG me Hotel Apartment

A new travelers haven has opened its doors, located in the heart of Bur Dubai, MAG me Hotel Apartment welcomes you...

It has 91 clean and fully furnished rooms, equipped with modern facilities and excellent service. A fitness club, swimming pool and lobby lounge restaurant to make your stay a truly memorable one. Whether you are visiting for business or with your family for leisure and shopping, MAG me Hotel Apartment is an ideal place to stay. It is strategically located behind Burjuman Shopping Centre and with very close proximity to the Gold Souk, Burj Khalifa and Dubai Mall, Sheikh Zayed Road, World Trade Centre, Mall of the Emirates, Media & Internet City and Dubai Marina area.

Come stay with us‌ For other services: Visa assistance, Desert safari and other tours, please call Mr. Nashaat +971 55 2777762

Tel. +971 4 3464333, Fax. +971 4 3464343, P.O. Box. 23325, Dubai, U.A.E, E-mail. info@magmehotel.ae, www.magmehotel.com


Melting Pot

58 Travel Arabia


SHOPPING

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Travel Arabia I 59


DINING

Desert Islands Resort & Spa by Anantara Desert Islands Resort & Spa by Anantara has teamed up with Seawings to offer guests a taste of the high life, with limousine rides and private flight transfers between Jebel Ali Seaport and Sir Bani Yas Seaport on Sir Bani Yas Island to provide the ultimate experience for an extravagant Friday lunch, or weekend getaway. Inquiries and bookings: reservations@ seawings.ae or telephone +971 4 883 2999.

Fujairah Rotana Resort & Spa

Jumeirah Beach Hotel Beachcombers 6:30pm – 11:30pm Enjoy the world’s best cuisines every night of the week: Tuesday Curry Night. Thursday Seafood Night. Saturday Barbecue Night. Inquiries: +971 4 406 8999 or jbhboxoffice@jumeirah.com.

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The Ultimate Birthday Celebration Package 1, 2, 3, 4 … Counting has a new meaning at Fujairah Rotana Enjoy a memorable birthday and book our spectacular birthday package for only AED 1234, where you and your special guests will enjoy: 1- A marvelous beachside BBQ dinner with unlimited soft drinks and mineral water. 2- A tasty birthday cake. 3- A room for 2. 4- A breakfast for 2. and Fujairah Rotana’s amazing list of gifts for you: 1- A voucher for a couple’s massage for 60 minutes. 2- A room upgrade. 3- 1 complimentary room when you book 12 rooms. 4- A chance to upgrade your celebration at a supplement of AED 150* per person to enjoy unlimited beverages for 3 hours during your party. Carnevale di Venezia Feb. 24, 2012 Italian extravaganza to our Hotel. Enjoy the mystery of the mask and show us your best creation to be in with a chance of winning a complimentary dinner at Waves A La Carte Restaurant. Inquiries: rotanatimes.com or call 09 244 9888 Discounts for Divers We know that diving is hungry work and that you’ll work up a healthy appetite out in sea. That’s why we offer all licensed divers a 30% discount on food and beverages to try all Fujairah Rotana outlets. Inquiries: rotanatimes.com or call 09 244 9888 * Please present your diving license to get the discount. Stunning Beach Party Onging till Feb 24, 2012

Party with us at Sharkey’s on the water’s edge as our DJ and band play tracks of the best beats and tunes of the moment. Dance all night around and enjoy an unforgettable evening. Inquiries: rotanatimes.com or call 09 244 9888

Holiday Inn Dubai – Al Barsha The Gem Garden Italian nights every Sunday (7pm – 10:30pm). Finest Italian cuisine, open buffet, live pasta station. Inquiries: 04 – 3234333 extension 800 or reservations@hialbarsha.com / restaurants@hialbarsha.com Sushi Folie Sushi nights on Thursdays and Fridays (7pm – 11pm). AED 120 net per person inclusive of a complimentary mocktail/soft drink Inquiries: 04 – 3234333 or reservations@ hialbarsha.com / restaurants@hialbarsha. com Al Sarab Nightly Lebanese cuisine (7pm onwards) Gharana Nightly kebab festival (7pm – 11:30pm weekdays/ 7pm – 12:30am weekends) Inquiries: 04 – 3234333 or reservations@ hialbarsha.com / restaurants@hialbarsha. com

Madinat Jumeirah Pai Thai Khantoke Promotion Khantoke is a traditional Northern Thai dinner. Enjoy a three-course set menu for two guests in authentic Thai. 6:30pm – 11:30pm Inquiries: +971 4 366 6730 or MJrestaurants@jumeirah.com.

Media Rotana Pregos Authentic Italian cuisine. Wood-fire pizza oven and wine bar. Unpretentious homemade pastas, thin-crust pizzas chicken and veal, and many other Italian delicacies. Opening daily for Lunch 12:00noon3:30pm and Dinner 06:00pm-11:30pm. Dine between 6pm & & 7:30pm and receive a 20% Discount on your total bill Inquiries: 04-4350201 or email fb.media@ rotana.com

Park Rotana & Park Arjaan by Rotana, Abu Dhabi Amador Restaurant and Cellar Festival of fine cuisines Feb. 14-17, 2012


Epicurean dinner promotion with a special set menu featuring creations of 3-Michelin star Chef Juan Amador and 3-Michelin star Pastry Chef Paco Torreblanca. February 18 Chateau Dinner including cocktail reception followed by set menu dinner at Teatro Restaurant. A unique opportunity to enjoy tapas prepared by 3-Michelin star Chef Juan Amador; selected grape beverages from France and divine food of Teatro. Inquiries: (0)2 6573333.

Sofitel Dubai Jumeirah Beach Rococo Enjoy a tour through the hills of Tuscany to the island of Sicily with Rococo’s tantalizing menu featuring a wide array of traditional “Antipasti Classici” with a modern twist. From pastas and risottos to contemporary but authentic Italian dishes favoured by the in-vogue Italian crowd, Rococo offers you new flavors in a sophisticated setting. Inquiries: 04 448 4860 AOC Culinary creativity at its best, AOC French Brasserie menu will excite your taste buds and bring the authentic Brasserie experi-

ence of uptown Paris to JBR. A la carte option is offering French “Grands Classiques” such as Homemade foie gras terrine and red coulis, Leeks Vinaigrette, Halibut “en paupiette” , Croque Madame, Quiche Lorraine. Inquiries: 04 448 4870

The Address Dubai Mall Na3na3 Thursday Seafood Dinner 7pm – 11pm Spicy gazpacho with chilled basil shrimp skewer as well as live cooking stations for grilled seafood on the Terrace. For a selection of cold seafood served on ice, choose from poached shrimp, clams, mussels, oysters on the half shell, scallop ceviches and a variety of sauces and accompaniments. A seafood soup station in Arabic and French style will add to the experience. Inquiries: 04 438 8888 or email dine. dubaimall@theaddress.com

The Address Dubai Marina Mazina Saturday Brunch Feb. 18, 2012 / 12.30pm to 3.30pm “Generation Creation” over Saturday family brunch. Participate in pancake making. international cuisine and entertainment

for the little ones. Book your brunch and reserve a station to cook pancakes styled with creative toppings. There are prizes to be won as you compete with other families. Inquiries: 04 4367777 or email dine. dubaimarina@theaddress.com

The Address Montgomerie Dubai Nineteen Battle of the Chefs – Dubai 2012 February 22, 2012 Every month, our signature dining destination, Nineteen, becomes a battleground for Dubai’s top chefs! Using the same staple ingredient, each contender will create three unique and flavoursome dishes and you, the judges, will determine a winner. It’s the perfect combination of creative cuisine and competition, and a novel way for you to sample delectable new dishes! Surf N Turf Brunch every Friday 12pm to 3.30pm. Succulent meats, in addition to sumptuous starters, a dessert buffet and zesty beverages. Links Sunday Roast /6pm – 10:30pm Sunday night is not just the first night of the week; it’s the first night of themed dining options at Links, our lively sportsthemed restaurant and lounge restaurant!

TRULY INSPIRING The Trade Show for the Asian Travel Market

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M. Tillawi Sons Co. Contact person: Ms Salma M. Tillawi · P.O. Box 593 · 11118 Amman Tel. +962 777 528916 · Fax +9626 464 01 80 · mtillawi@nol.com.jo · www.messe-berlin.com


SPA Shangri-La Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri, Abu Dhabi CHI, The Spa at Shangri-La Tsangpo Ritual & Back Massage Discover the ancient secret to long life. Experience sacred healing from the mountains of Himalayas with Tsangpo ritual, a 60-minute rejuvenating therapy where Tethys sea salt scrub cleanses the body and the application of Red Mountain mud restores minerals, leaving your skin soft and supple. Complete your spa experience and leave your stress and worries behind with a 30-minute deep-tissue back massage, allowing your therapist to tailor your needs with his intuitive touch of healing. Priced at Dhs650 for 90 minutes and available from January to March 2012. Inquiries: 02 5098900or email chi.abudhabi@shangrila.com

Fujairah Rotana Resort & Spa Arabian Royal Ritual Ninety minutes of luxurious sensual soothing with a traditional black soap Moroccan bath, followed by an invigorating body scrub and a silky smooth relaxing massage. Forty-five-minute Body Scrub with 45-minute Aromatherapy Massage Only AED 399 instead of AED 545 Inquiries: rotanatimes.com, or call 09 244 9888 * Price is inclusive of 10% service charge and 10% municipality fee.

Grand Millennium Dubai The Jasmine Spa Stress relief package, an ideal cure for those jaded after the celebrations or tired out after a marathon retail therapy session at the Dubai Shopping Festival. Available for both in-house guests and visitors, the 70-minute treatment is priced at just AED333 and includes a foot ritual, energizing foot reflexology and deep anti-stress shoulder and back massage, ending up with a refreshing Jasmine Spa tea to complement the revitalisation therapy. Inquiries: 04 429 9999 or e-mail spa. reception@grandmill-dubai.com.

Hyatt Regency Dubai & Galleria Club Olympus Fitness & Spa “Cupid’s Chocolate Body Ritual” is an ultimate luxurious beauty body treatment.

62 I Travel Arabia

A chocolate. A body scrub harnesses the ultra-hydrating properties of cocoa butter, while the exfoliating qualities of cocoa and coffee gently detoxify, softening your skin. This body scrub is complemented with a chocolate mask and a full body massage that will leave you relaxed and rejuvenated. 100 minutes. Inquiries: +971 4 209 6802. Prior reservations recommended.

The Address Dubai Mall The Spa Feb. 1 – 29, 2012 / 10am – 10pm Indulge in our soothing signature herbal massage and revitalising booster facial followed by a glass of bubbly or date juice and chocolate covered strawberries at cabana for the perfect romantic rendezvous. 75-minute treatment for AED 600 per person 110-minute treatment for AED 800 per person

The Address Dubai Marina Cupid’s recipe for Valentine’s at The Spa A 25-minute scalp massage, 50-minute hot stone, a 50-minute facial and 25 minutes of reflexology. AED 793; and for you and a companion at AED 1,220 Inquiries: 04 436 7454 or e-mail spa. dubaimarina@theaddress.com.


fort

and Com y r u x u L , e c Elegan

Stay in Style

nge Refreshing plu ity Relax in seren

Leave the rest to us The exclusive RAMADA Continental Hotel – Dubai is renowned for its impressive range of accommodations, restaurants and meeting space. Set in the vibrant business district just 7 minutes from Dubai International Airport. This 4-star luxury hotel in Dubai offers inspired touches on a grand scale. Spacious accommodations are furnished to meet the highest standards, while the 27 elegantly designed suites and 165 rooms provide superior luxury and exclusive services. Dining transcends expectations of Dubai hotels with a tempting choice of 8 restaurants and bars. To unwind, the RAMADA Continental Hotel Dubai offers a refreshing rooftop pool and fully equipped health club. For a superior meeting and conference in Dubai UAE, let our classical event venue beautifully accommodate your event. For inquiries and reservations: Tel.: + 9714-266 2666, Fax : + 9714-268 9830 E-mail: sales@ramadacontinental.com Website.: www.ramadacontinental.com P.O.Box : 31999, Deira, Dubai United Arab Emirates


My Travel Bag What’s in your Travel Bag? Nancy Ajram, multi-platinum singer from Lebanon, a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF, and one of the best female performers in the Middle East today, shares what she has. We’re waiting for yours. Email us at dass@kalimatgroup.com. since I like to travel a lot. But I like to travel all over the world and usually I like every location that brings me peace of mind and rest. Name three places in the world that you can’t wait to see. I would love to visit Switzerland for its green areas and clean atmosphere and the amazing countryside. It’s very appealing to me. Name three of your favorite places that you would love to return to, and explain why. I love Italy, Spain and Monaco. Italy is very romantic as well as being the capital of fashion in the world. As to Spain, it is very close and friendly with the authenticity of the people. As to Monaco, it is the luxury itself with all its greatness.

Does traveling alone appeal to you? I love travelling. It’s one of my hobbies. When was the last time you traveled? 14 January 2012 – I had a concert in Milano, Italy. Dream destination? I don’t have just one dream destination Monaco City

64 I Travel Arabia

the people. What motivates you to travel? Food? Shopping? Sightseeing? When I travel for work, I usually focus on that. But when I travel for a holiday with my family, I try to benefit to the maximum from my time for shopping, trying indigenous food and seeing the tourist sites. Next stop? Undecided yet. Who knows, maybe Honolulu, Hawaii.

Some would immediately hit the pool, or the spa, or the bar, or the road with their camera. How about you? I love anything that gives me peace. Sometimes it’s nature, forests and valleys, some other times it is the beach or the pool with some sun. It depends. What excites you when traveling? When I travel, I like to see the country I am visiting. Not just stay at the hotel or in the neighborhood. I like to discover the place and learn the customs and culture of

Switzerland


Profile for Shaza Sharaffdeen

Travel Arabia Feb 2012  

The Leading Travel Magazine in the Middle East

Travel Arabia Feb 2012  

The Leading Travel Magazine in the Middle East

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