Christmas celebration in a desert

5 Must-Visit Christmas Markets in Dubai

‘Tis the season for festive markets across town.

We all look forward to the festive season since it is one of the most joyous occasions of the year – and between its twinkling lights, towering Christmas trees, and delicious food, it’s exactly what the end of 2021 calls for. Are you as excited as we are? Dubai boasts a variety of Christmas markets, each unique in its own way, which will keep you brimming with festive spirit.

The Ripe Market

Ripe Market is a community market that features upcoming artists, makers, and entrepreneurs. This winter season, it will be buzzing with activities and stalls for you and your familyevery weekend from December 4 to 26. From meeting Santa himself to Christmas workshops and cookie decorations, there’s plenty to look forward to.

The Ripe Market, Academy Park, @ripemarket, Fri (9am-7pm) and Sat (10am-7pm)

The Walk

JBR Dubai is going all out this Christmas – with light shows, snowball fights, mini-golf, inflated slides, live music, and appearances by Santa Claus, this market is a must-visit destination if you have children. Oh, and don’t miss out on the wonderful Christmas delicacies as well!

The Walk, JBR, @jbr_official

Winter Wonderland at Madinat Jumeirah

Every winter, Madinat Jumeirah turns into a German-style Christmas market, filled with fun activities and stalls, a train to the North Pole, and even Santa Claus himself! Every nook and cranny is so lively and vibrant – we dare you to not get into the Christmas spirit.

Souk Madinat Jumeirah, 3pm-12am on weekdays & 1pm-12am on weekends

Desert Winter Wonderland

No, you read that right – Bab al Shams Desert Resort is shaking things up by hosting a winter wonderland in the middle of the desert. Sounds fascinating, doesn’t it? Visit the resort from December 12 to 20 for Christmas dishes, mulled wine, hot chocolate, gifts, and activities for the young ones to enjoy!

Al Forsan Garden, Bab Al Shams, https://babalshams.com/, 6pm-10pm

Habtoor Palace Dubai

Enjoy one of the most glorious Christmas markets coming at Habtoor Palace Hotel. From December 5 to 28, you can find Santa, an extremely tall Christmas tree, bouncy slides, train rides, cheery carolling, andcarnival games for the kids. Bonus: entry is free!

Al Habtoor Palace Dubai, 04 438 4479, Al Habtoor Palace, 5pm-12am


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Ways to Make Moving Day Stress Free

6 Tips to Make Moving Day Less Stressful 

Keep calm and get packing.

Living in the UAE usually means one thing for all of us: we need to move home at least twice while living here. Moving homes is considered as one of the most stressful events in one’s life. This is because there is a lot of worry and anxiety that comes along with the big change of living elsewhere. 

Thankfully, there are steps you can take to make a move less stressful and work smoothly. It all depends on how well you organise your house move before, during, and after the move itself. Being organised when moving your house means you will be less anxious and your dream home will be realised much quicker. Here are six tips to get that house move organised smartly. 

Top tips for a stress-free move

1. Make a To-Do List

You can make a to-do list in a notebook, laptop, or on your phone, but keep it somewhere you can easily access. The key to making a good to-do list is having a list that you can keep editing. Having a list helps keep you in check with what needs doing as you prepare for the move.

Items on the list might include organising the movers, listing maintenance jobs like painting the house, fixing household items, getting maintenance services for the new house, buying new curtains, sprucing up the garden, and so on. Keep your list tidy and in order, with dates of events. A messy list is not easy to read and can end up causing more confusion and stress. 

2. Book a Reputable Mover

Scout movers on social media and read Google reviews or blogs to help you choose a mover that gets the job done well without too many problems. It might be worth spending a little more money choosing a moving company that gets it right and quickly the first time, which will help to keep stress to a minimum on the day. It’ll also save you from having to potentially replace improperly handled items later on.

3. Declutter Before the Move

Would you pay to move things you don’t even need in your home? Of course not. This is why you need to declutter so you can organise your house and move smartly. This may seem like an overwhelming task, but it is really worth it. The aim is to move into your new home with only the items you love and need. 

The best way to start the decluttering process is to work through the house room by room. Give yourself time to declutter before you move too, as it will be challenging to try to do the whole house in one week. Allocate certain days when you will have energy and give yourself at least a month before the move to start. You may even do small sections – like the cutlery drawer, laundry room, or spice cupboard – in the evenings

Have a box dedicated to donations nearby so that you can easily place items in it as you declutter. Remember: as you declutter, keep the vision of how you want your new home to look and feel in your mind. This will help you decide what to keep and what to let go. 

Ways to Make Moving Day Stress Free

4. Have a Packing Plan

Before you start packing, create a plan. Planning out what to pack saves you time and money in the long run. Firstly, pack things that you don’t use daily. This means you get some items that don’t interfere with your daily life packed away before the move. Secondly, pack items according to the zone they are used for based on the new house. Another group of items you may want to pack before the movers arrive are sentimental and fragile items as these could get damaged or lost during the moving process. It may be best to organise these yourself. 

Label all your boxes and items clearly so that the movers know what to put in which boxes and where they will go in your new home. Labels are essential instructions about what to pack and where, so label items, cupboards, or drawers in advance with tape to let the movers know where they should pack them. You can also colour code your labels; blue for the kitchen and red for the bathroom, for example.

Tips on How to Make Moving Less Stressful

5. Moving Day Tips

  • List all contacts on your phone. Have the numbers of the movers, maintenance company, estate agent, clearing companies, and other key players on hand to contact immediately when required. 
  • Communicate clearly with movers. So often, I see people get frustrated because the movers are not sure of their clients’ expectations. Be clear when communicating what you expect from the move with the supervisor. Labelling boxes, spaces, and furniture in advance really helps movers know what to pack where. 
  • Get childcare or petcare. If you have children or pets, plan ahead to get them daycare for moving day. It will definitely help to reduce the stress of moving as the last thing you need on this day is focusing your attention elsewhere. If daycare is not possible, think of ways to keep the kids entertained like activity books, new games, and snacks. 
  • Wear comfortable clothes. Dressing comfortably makes everything else easier to manage. Wear clothes that you do not mind getting dirty, but also make you feel cool and comfortable. 
  • Drink lots of water and have snacks. Moving in the UAE can often be hot work. Stay hydrated and keep up the energy levels with protein snacks and fruit. 
  • Stay calm. Finding ways to keep the serotonin levels high is smart. Sleep well the night before, eat a nutritious breakfast, and remove yourself from stressful situations for a moment to do some deep breathing and refocus on the main objective – which is to move smartly.  

6. Organise While Unpacking

Once your belongings have been safely moved into your new home, you need an unpacking plan. Identify zones for items before unpacking the boxes and move the boxes into these zones. This reduces the amount of disarray that could result whilst unpacking. Organising items into categories while you unpack will save you time later, bringing you closer to your goal of a calm and clutter-free home. 

Once you have moved, remember to review the zones in your home after a couple of weeks. People need time to adjust to a new space, and often what seemed like a good idea for storage may not be functional once living in the space for a while. Keep moving items until you find that sweet spot where all items are stored in zones, are easily accessible, and have a place of belonging. 

Key in door

Ask yourself the following: “Does my new home look and feel like the vision I had?” “Is there anything that needs to be replaced or bought?” “Does everyone in the family have the zones they require to live productively and successfully?” Do not expect everything to be perfect in the first week. Give yourself time to adjust and, with careful review, it will soon become the home of your dreams. 

Fern McGahey is a professional home organiser at Calm The Clutter. Visit @calmtheclutternow or www.calmtheclutternow.com for more information.


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Where to Celebrate UAE National Day in Dubai

In Dubai for the long weekend and unsure how to spend it? Check out the best spots to view the spectacular fireworks planned to celebrate the UAE’s 51st National Day. The festivities will run from December 2 to 11 and include way more than just fancy firecrackers – most venues also feature kid-friendly entertainment, shopping, dining outlets, and cultural activities such as henna-painting, camel rides, and traditional dances. Read on and start planning.

fireworks at al seef dubai creek

Al Seef

Head down to the creek on December 2 to take in the air and enjoy fireworks with an iconic view in the midst of Old Dubai’s mix of traditional and contemporary architecture. The family-friendly festivities will start from 4pm onwards, with a parade expected at 7pm. And at 8pm, the sky will light up in the UAE flag’s colours in the city’s historic district. Don’t forget to check out the waterside shops and eateries while you’re around.

Al Seef, Dubai Creek, alseef.ae/en

the pointe dubai palm jumeirah fireworks

The Pointe

The Pointe on Palm Jumeirah will host an array of activities throughout the day at the event plaza – perfect for anyone headed there with kids – topped off with a spectacular National Day fireworks and dancing fountain show that can be seen from any of the fountain-facing restaurants at 9pm on December 2.

The Pointe, Al Mirziban, Palm Jumeirah www.thepointe.ae/en

bluewaters ain dubai fireworks

Bluewaters Island and The Beach

These two popular beachfront destinations – both opposite JBR – will provide spectacular waterfront and Palm Jumeirah views for the upcoming fireworks at 8pm on December 2. The fun starts at 5pm, so get there early to secure a good spot and enjoy the multitude of food and shopping options in the vicinity.

Bluewaters Island, bluewatersdubai.ae/en/ and The Beach, opposite JBR, www.thebeach.ae/en/

dubai festival city fireworks

Dubai Festival City

Catch a concert by Emirati singer Fayez Al Saeed at 8pm, followed by a spectacularly choreographed show that brings together lasers and light alongside fire and water elements at 9pm, ending the night with a set by DJ Bliss at 9:15pm. The celebrations will continue over the weekend.

Festival City Mall, Dubai Festival City, www.dubaifestivalcitymall.com/home/


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Red hands holding together with heart shape

No, This Is Not Your Typical Advent Calendar

Let the 24 days of giving back begin!

‘Tis the season of overindulgence, late nights, and way too many social events, but at Gaggler, we’re doing things a little differently, taking this holiday season to give back instead. Here, our 2022 advent calendar will help you mark the 24 days until Christmas by conserving our oceans, educating a child, empowering underprivileged women, and more. Click on each image to get started.

December 1: Plant a Seed

With its ability to stay green in harsh desert environments, Ghaf is the country's national tree because of its cultural significance. Now, not only can you plant a seed with the help of social enterprise Goumbook, but you can also join its Community Planting Day and plant it yourself. Learn more at www.goumbook.com

December 2: Repair Local Reefs

Are you a diver, an underwater photographer, a marine biology student, or a marine biologist? Support the marine conservation efforts of Freestyle Divers by joining its environmental monitoring programmes to get involved with protecting local reefs. Learn more at www.freestyledivers.me

December 3: Enrich a Life

While there are no statistics available on the number of people diagnosed with autism in the UAE, we know that it's on the rise, so volunteer with Dubai Autism Center if helping those with special needs is something close to your heart and you have time to spare. Learn more at www.dubaiautismcenter.ae.

December 4: Educate a Child

Operating 1,687 schools across Pakistan, The Citizens Foundation has been educating children from underprivileged families since 1995, and you can support the cause by sponsoring a child's education or an entire classroom. Learn more at www.tcf.org.pk.

December 5: Caffeinate Differently

The Bee Café in Abu Dhabi is the first in the country to be operated entirely by people of determination, so supporting it with a visit is a must-do. The café is part of the Bee the Change campaign, which aims to increase the employment of people of determination. Learn more at @beethe_change on Instagram.

December 6: Save a Preemie

The world loses a newborn every 10 seconds, so let's live in a world where all premature babies – including those from vulnerable populations – have access to an incubator by donating to the founders of the portable and life-saving Embrace incubator. Learn more at www.embraceglobal.org.

December 7: Offer a Safe Space

Skateistan has been empowering Afghan girls through skateboarding and education programmes since 2009 and, now, it's expanding to 20 locations – starting with Jordan. Help the award-winning international NGO write its next chapter by making a donation. Learn more at www.skateistan.org.

December 8: Scour the Seas

Whether you sign up as a temporary or permanent volunteer, you can make a difference for the local dolphin population by volunteering with UAE Dolphin Project. As for why your help is needed? Not only are dolphins “ecological indicators” of the status of the sea, but sightings have also declined drastically in the past few years. Learn more at www.uaedolphinproject.org.

December 9: Empower Underprivileged Women

Empowering underprivileged women through sustainable crafts, Al Ghadeer UAE Crafts deserves your patronage. Looking for unique Christmas gifts? Head to its e-store and opt for something that features Sadu, a traditional weaving technique that plays a central role in the social lives of Bedouin women. Learn more at www.alghadeeruaecrafts.ae.

December 10: Gift a Meal

Partnering with UAE Food Bank to guarantee responsible distribution, the Gift a Meal initiative is on a mission to ensure that no one ever misses a lunch. Join the movement to help feed an individual in need – gifting a meal will only cost you AED 10. Learn more at www.makemymeal.ae.

December 11: Help a Sister

The first licensed non-profit shelter in the UAE that runs specifically for the care of women and children, the Dubai Foundation for Women and Children is always seeking volunteers who are professionals and highly skilled in educational, vocational, and recreational training, so lend a hand if you fit the bill. Learn more at www.dfwac.ae.

December 12: Remember the Forgotten

SmartLife is an NPO/NGO that reciprocates the immense hard work of blue collar workers by educating them to walk towards a better tomorrow and unleashing their hidden potential. As for how you can chip in? Anything from donating your time and passion to help to sharing creative ideas and marketing skills. Learn more at www.smartlifefoundation.org.

December 13: Buy a Doll

For each personalised doll sold that you purchase from Dumyé, a doll is gifted to a child in need. Not only can you choose your ethically handcrafted doll’s body colour, eye colour, hair colour, and hairstyle – that’s over 140 unique combinations at your fingertips – but it also makes for a present suited to a budding philanthropist. Learn more at www.dumye.com.

December 14: Grant a Wish

Make-A-Wish exists for only one reason – to grant wishes to children and young people fighting life-threatening conditions. You can make a difference to a child's life by volunteering as a wish granter, an office worker, a translator, a fundraiser, a speaker, or event staff member. Learn more at www.makeawish.ae.

December 15: Raise Awareness

Pink Caravan is a UAE-based breast cancer initiative that falls under Friends of Cancer Patients (FoCP) for early detection of cancer, and you can play your part in raising awareness about this disease by donating money, registering as a volunteer, or even joining the medical team. Learn more at www.linktr.ee/pinkcaravan.

December 16: Serve the Sick

Equip a struggling hospital or clinic by making a financial donation to Project C.U.R.E., the world’s largest distributor of donated medical equipment and supplies to resource-limited communities across the globe – it has been serving the sick and dying in over 135 countries since 1987. Learn more at www.projectcure.org.

December 17: Support Health Equity

Another global non-profit rooted in improving public health, PATH comprises a global team of innovators working to accelerate health equity by advising and partnering with public institutions, businesses, grassroots groups, and investors to solve the world’s most pressing health challenges. Donate now and your contribution will be matched – win-win. Learn more at www.path.org.

December 18: Protect the Planet

Shop with purpose by turning to Azraq's e-store for essentials like soap, shampoo bars, bamboo toothbrushes, reusable face masks, and more. The Dubai-based organisation is on a mission to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world's oceans in order to conserve and protect the marine ecosystem and species. Learn more at www.azraqme.org.

December 19: Start Fundraising

The first licensed online donation and crowdfunding platform in the Middle East, YallaGive is all about fundraising with a smile. Campaigning for a charity or a personal cause? Start fundraising through the platform or donate to one of its many active campaigns to make a difference. Learn more at www.yallagive.com.

December 20: Join the Movement

Like the idea of simultaneously looking cool and giving back? Not only is the activewear and streetwear clothing by The Giving Movement entirely sustainable and made in the UAE, but the brand also donates AED 15 to its partner charities for every single item sold. This is conscious consumerism at its best. Learn more at www.thegivingmovement.com.

December 21: Break the Cycle

A locally based philanthropic organisation with a global outlook, Dubai Cares has been on a mission to break the cycle of poverty by ensuring all children have access to quality education since its inception in 2007. Here in the UAE, you can participate in initiatives that are linked to its global mandate – Walk for Education, Volunteer Emirates. and Volunteer Globally included. Learn more at www.dubaicares.ae.

December 22: Donate Your Locks

This holiday season, chop your locks in the name of making a cancer survivor more beautiful and confident – and what could be more beautiful than that? Enter: Locks of Hope, a campaign that provides wigs to individuals who have undergone chemotherapy with the help of both DHL and Friends of Cancer Patients. Learn more at www.focp.ae.

December 23: Get Social

With the need for improved animal welfare more urgent than ever, you can help the dedicated staff at Ras Al Khaimah Animal Welfare Centre. Unable to adopt or foster a pet? Volunteer! You can head there to socialise with its adorable animals, taking the dogs for walks or spending time with the cats. Learn more at www.rakawc.com.

December 24: Save a Life

Founded in 1986, the Dubai Health Authority's Blood Donation Center is the city's main blood donation center and committed to providing a safe supply of blood to all DHA hospitals and private hospitals in Dubai. You can also donate platelets, a type of blood cell that is essential for blood clotting and helps the likes of leukemia patients and premature babies. Learn more at www.dha.gov.ae.

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Wooden Live Well

You, But Better: The Gaggler Agenda for December

Mark your calendars.

December 3: Rediscover Dubai

Explore a side of the city that you may not know with the UAE National Day Food & Chai Tour. Guided by three homegrown brands that are passionate about exploring the city and showcasing street flavours – Frying Pan Adventures, Project Chaiwala, and Rove Hotel – you’ll head to one of Dubai’s most historic neighbourhoods for three hours of traditional snacks and local tidbits.

Learn more here.

December 4: Understand Scent

You know the region’s love of perfume – now roll up your sleeves and actually make one yourself at the Arabic Perfume Making Workshop led by social enterprise alBeqsha. Conducted in English, the hour-long session will be held at art and events space The Workshop in Jumeirah.

Learn more here.

December 10: Watch This Space

Movie screenings continue (almost) daily at Cinema Akil throughout the month of December, with the independent cinema platform in Alserkal Avenue hosting a flawlessly curated selection of movies. Also on the roster? Making Waves, the globe-trotting film programme celebrating Hong Kong cinematic arts by showcasing an eight-film programme from December 9 to 14.

Learn more here.

December 12: Heal from Heartbreak

Coping with the breakdown or end of a committed romantic relationship is never easy, and there could be collateral damage, but healing is made a little easier with the free Heartbreak Support Group at The LightHouse Arabia. Designed for men and women over the age of 21, it’s led by a clinical psychologist and aims to provide a safe space to share, connect, seek support, and explore the challenges that come with break-ups.

Learn more here.

December 15: Take a Walk

Hone your street photography skills with the Creekside: Street Photography photo walk hosted by Gulf Photo Plus. Not only will this three-hour trek teach you techniques to overcome unfavourable lighting conditions – regardless of the camera or cell phone in use – and tips on how to compose an image, but it will also take you on a route through Dubai Creek that is laced with culture and history.

Learn more here.

December 16: Catch a Classic

The festive season brings with it a Christmas favourite as The Nutcracker returns from Russia to Dubai Opera. A treat for the whole family, Moscow Ballet “La Classique” pairs its artistic ballet mastery with lavish costumes and magnificent stage sets to take you on a journey back in time to the beautifully nostalgic world of Clara and her beloved nutcracker doll.

Learn more here.

December 20: Feel Festive

For a festive twist on a quintessentially English tradition, book your spot at the Christmas Afternoon Tea hosted by Anything To Eclair on BreakBread. Expect to dine on Sausage Rolls, Cranberry & Kumquat Scones, and Black Forest Yule Log alongside a selection of teas and mulled wine.

Learn more here.

December 24: Cultivate Awareness

According to Mayan belief, working with cacao – a.k.a. food of the gods – allows one to cultivate awareness on an emotional and spiritual level, guiding you in the direction that you need to take. And that’s where the Heart Opening Cacao Ceremony & Sound Healing Journey at Yoga House comes in. Led by energy, sound, and breathwork practitioner Lisa Oxford, the ceremony will open your heart in order to release what no longer serves you.

Learn more here.

December 27: Ring in 2023

With 2023 on the horizon, make a beeline for the Casting Your Visions meditation session at Illuminations. Led by healer therapist and life coach Jana Reddy, this hour-long New Year meditation ritual will help your visions come true by rooted your resolutions in a resounding ‘why’ so that they’re not lost after a few months.

Learn more here.


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Tile ideas to add style to home

Tile Time: Adding Personality to Your Home

Here’s how to do it right.

The use of tiles in the interior space has been common practice for centuries, with the first use of decorative tiling dating back to Egypt in 4,000 BC. Long before carpets adorned floors, tiles were used to cover compacted mud and concrete and finish off interior spaces.

They were not only used on floors, but also fixed to walls in place of paints to depict art forms, with mosaic tiles used on walls to create elaborate finishes, along with simpler results such as plant or nature scenes. The Romans were particularly fond of mosaics, which they used to decorate floors, walls, and the poolside areas of their villas.

Mosaic patterns are still popular today, especially those featuring bold colours like reds, blues, and greens. In recent years, there has been a resurgence in popularity for tiling as an alternative to wallpapering or painting, with homeowners looking for something different that will stand the test of time – without being costly to maintain.  

wall with tiles

Keeping It Classic

Tile is one of the most versatile and beautiful materials for flooring. It can take on any style and look, from modern and sleek to traditional and timeless. Patterned tiles became a popular addition in Renaissance times and are popular once again.

When trying to create a classic, Renaissance-style theme, think tiles in sage green, royal blue, and creams with pretty flower motifs to create an authentic look. Such tiles were also prominent in the Victorian era (1830s to 1900), when patterned tiles were used to decorate floors and fireplace surrounds, in keeping with the era’s tendency to over-decorate spaces. 

Wondering how to accent a period property authentically? Simply choose motif tiles with darker hues such as burgundy, navy blue, dark green, and red. Motif tiles are also the style used in many Grecian designs. Go for blues and whites and complete the look with smaller, glass mosaics. 

Tile ideas

Current Day Tiles

Tiles are the perfect way to create a bold, personal statement in your home. Today, tiles are available in many different sizes, finishes, and materials that allow you to put your personal stamp on your space.  Depending on your taste and the concept you want to achieve, you can go for a higher-end, elegant Carrara marble tile versus a natural stone (which can be layered unevenly for a rustic finish) or a hardwearing granite tile (which will stand the test of time).

With a little imagination, you can also easily create your coveted design using the appropriate tiles and colour selections. It doesn’t matter what kind of space you’re looking to fill or what finishes appeal to your particular tastes; no matter which direction you go with these tiles, there’s sure to be something out there that will help you achieve the look and feel of your dreams.

ways to add style to your home with tiles

Cultural Influence

Tiles can be so much more than just something to cover the floor or walls. They can be a way to bring culture and environment into your interior, creating a space that is both beautiful and relaxing. Culture and environment can be visible through tiles. Specific styles such as terracotta bring a Mediterranean feel to the interior, the natural colours instantly relaxing the space.

A classic Middle Eastern style is a beautiful combination of vibrant colours and floral or geometric patterns – inspired by Islamic architecture – laid out to create elaborate motifs, instantly transforming a space with the intricate design. Terracotta tiles come in many colours ranging from natural earthy tones like browns and greys to warm yellows and oranges. This means that they will work well in any type of room – kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom included.

Tile with mosaic design

Tiling Your Space

Tiles are a versatile and cost-effective way to add style, texture, and colour to any space in your home. They can also be used in a variety of different ways that don’t require you to use them as flooring or wall cladding.

Although tiles are usually found in bathrooms, kitchens, and general flooring areas, they don’t have to be relegated to these spaces. They can be just as effective on a wall service in the lounge area, for example. This will break up the paint and add texture to the room, along with additional sound insulation. It also provides a visual relief from the usual finishes.  

Tiles can also be added to a space to create a border, division of space, or focal point. By using contrasting colour and patterns, you can create a truly unique space. Another way to include tiles is to use them to create a form or art, either on the floor or wall. Consider placing geometric shaped tiles to create an interesting feature.

Bathroom tile ideas to add style

To bring some charm into your space without feeling like it’s too much, subway tiles are a great option. These tiles don’t need to be patterned to create a sense of style. They can be simple and modern, or even go in the opposite direction and be rustic. Either way, they’ll look great in any room with an industrial feel. 

Kitchen tile ideas to add style

Because they’re so cheap and simple, you won’t have to worry about them clashing with other elements of your decorating scheme. The subway tile is an easy way to spice up your space without going overboard on patterns or colours. By choosing a simpler tile, you will be able to spruce up the rest of the room with colour and personal objects.

Leanne Cooper is a Muscat-based interior designer. Visit @leanneclaire81 for more information.


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Best Places to Travel in 2023

Your 2023 Travel Plans Will Change After This

All hail Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel guide.

The travel gurus at Lonely Planet have released their annual Best in Travel report, detailing their top picks for tourists in 2023. This time around, however, they’ve done things a little differently. Instead of simply sharing their recommendations on where we should be travelling, they’ve sorted 30 must-visit destinations by trip type – Eat, Journey, Unwind, Connect, and Learn – to help you find your next adventure. 

Offering a comprehensive set of itineraries to help travellers explore the world, the new edit is sure to help you navigate the world in the way that’s most meaningful to you – through recommendations from the local voices who know these places best. Cities in Canada, Germany, Japan, Peru, and Malaysia made the cut. How many are on your bucket list?


This category features destinations that boast exciting culinary scenes ranging from dynamic street food to fine-dining experiences – each perfect for the travelling foodie. Lima, the capital of Peru, is on the list owing to its famed cevicherías and Pisco cocktails, while Umbria in Italy was chosen as its culinary delights are complemented by art and old-world traditions. Further east, both the Japanese city of Fukuoka and the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur made the cut owing to internationally renowned Hakata ramen and food stall-lined streets respectively.

Over in South America, improved airlinks will make access to Montevideo – the capital and largest city of Uruguay – much easier, paving the way for tourists to explore its laidback beaches and under-the-radar food and wine scene. Lastly, complementing its internationally known (and loved) vineyards, South Africa’s new generation of chefs is propelling the country’s culinary scene forward, making it a destination to visit not just for wine, but food as well.

2023 travel plans


This category is all about those journeys that are transformative, trips that truly move a traveller. Nova Scotia in Canada was selected owing to its postcard-perfect communities that dot its shores and call for a journey of driving between seaside villages. And with the fully restored Trans Bhutan Trail reopening to visitors in September, Bhutan is also on this list, the 250 miles of scenic footpath offering visitors a unique perspective of this Asian country. Elsewhere, Colombia’s 59 protected natural areas – Parques Nacionales Naturales de Colombia – have been dubbed a must for nature lovers. Along with protecting some of the most biologically diverse ecosystems in the world, 26 of these areas are also inhabited by indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities.

Unsurprisingly, a train journey is also on the list – the recently restored overnight service between Sofia and Istanbul whirls two adventures into one, leaving the place where east meets west in Istanbul and depositing travellers in Bulgaria’s laidback capital city 11 hours later. And with Australia now open to the world, the mind-blowingly large region of Western Australia comes highly recommended. Looking to swim on the ledge of a mighty waterfall? Spot wildlife? It’s surprising that Zambia is less visited than other spots on the continent of Africa, and Lonely Planet is ready to remedy that.

best travel destinations 2023


Sometimes, you need a trip where you can unwind and reconnect with yourself, your partner, your family or just the world around you. As for the destinations where you will relax and rebalance, according to team Lonely Planet? Jordan, a place where you can experience the buzz of Amman before unwinding in places like Wadi Rum and the Dead Sea. Dominica, a lesser-visited island in the Caribbean and also known as Nature Island. Another lesser-known region on the list? Northern Greece’s Halkidiki peninsula, which stretches into the Aegean Sea and offers blissful beaches that are an idyllic setting to relax and unwind.

Back in the Caribbean, Jamaica wins the hearts of travel experts thanks to its beautiful white sand beaches, scenic mountain peaks, waterfalls, and rivers, making it the perfect spot to unwind. Malta in Europe is also expected to increase in popularity come 2023, beckoning visitors with its prehistoric temples, fantastic scuba diving, and buzzy capital of Valletta. Lastly, Raja Ampat is a great alternative to better-known Indonesian islands – the best way to see its coral reefs, excellent diving, and beautiful beaches is by chartering a ‘liveaboard’ dive boat and heading out to sea for several days.

best destinations to discover in 2023


The energy of the destinations in this category will take you on an adventure, connecting you to both culture and community. In Accra, Ghana, await bustling markets, new community spaces like skate parks, and creative spaces for artists plus a nightlife set to great music. The natural beauty of Albania will take your breath away – it’s one of the few places where you can start your day in the mountains and end it at the sea. Back in Australia, a destination that international visitors have missed during the pandemic, new Indigenous tours over the bridge make Sydney worth returning to.

Culturally connected to the Caribbean, Guyana is an under-the-radar South American country that is 90% rainforest and a great place to see unspoiled nature and incredible waterfalls. Alternatively, you can head to Alaska for not only spectacular wildlife, but also an opportunity to learn about native culture and witness indigenous groups managing authentic tourism experiences that also embrace sustainability. Boise, a mid-sized city in America, beckons adventure travellers. Between water rafting in the summer, skiing in the winter, and a rich culinary scene, it is a great place for connection.

best destinations to discover


Travel always opens us up to new experiences, and Lonely Planet has shortlisted six places where your best souvenir is what you learn, starting with the state of New Mexico. Home to 23 native tribes, this is an ideal spot to learn about indigenous culture, art, and music while enjoying the food and natural beauty of the American Southwest. Further south, El Salvador is quietly becoming the place where those in the know come to catch waves and hone their surfing skills owing to its idyllic beaches.

Over in Germany, Dresden’s urban renewal continues in 2023 with the second phase of renovations of the Altmarkt (central square) to include more accessibility and climate protection measures. Just over three hours away, Marseille is both beachy and urban, French and Mediterranean, modern and historic. Go for the beach, but linger for its diverse neighbourhoods, street art, and architectural tours. Finally, Manchester and Southern Scotland round off this edit. The former will welcome the return of Manchester Museum and the opening of Factory International arts space in 2023. The latter is a great region in which to learn more about the country’s history and famous residents like writer Robert Burns.


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House of Pops restaurant van

Of Ice Cream and Ingenuity – Meet Marcela

The entrepreneur on her vision, lightbulb moment, and more.

Did you know that tomorrow is Women’s Entrepreneurship Day? Created to celebrate, empower, and support women in business in order to alleviate poverty, the day is marked annually on November 19. Supporting the initiative, we’re continuing our series on female entrepreneurs today. In the past, we’ve spoken with the likes of Leena Al Abbas, Claire Lambert, Mona Kattan, and Emma Burdett about their entrepreneurial journeys, proving that the insights of Dubai’s female self-starters bring with them countless nuggets of wisdom. Case in point?Marcela Sancho, who is all about bringing guilt-free treats to the city.

After popping out for ice cream with her partner one afternoon in 2018, she was shocked by the lack of healthy options on offer for those looking for something that wasn’t packed with sugar, preservatives, or calories. Tapping into her partner’s extensive experience in the region’s frozen treats business, Marcela set about creating a refreshing and healthy alternative to what was available, co-founding House of Pops in the process. Not only is it the only Dubai-based ice cream brand with zero plastic packaging, but itsvegan all-natural fruit pops also contain no preservatives, colourings, E-numbers, nor refined sugar.

Marcela Sancho


Marcela Sancho


House of Pops



What was your ‘lightbulb’ moment?

One day, I was with my partner, out for ice cream and shocked that we couldn’t really see anything that was healthy on offer. Everything was high in sugar, high in fat, and packed with empty calories. Health and wellness had become a global trend, and more UAE consumers were moving into this category at the time, so that was our opportunity to take up the challenge and fill the gap in the market.

What was your vision when you first launched your business?

We wanted to be the number one choice when people thought of healthier ice cream, and create the healthiest form of ice cream that we possibly could. We wanted to be the first to bring the change – a disruption into this category – and believed we could have a strong share in the ice cream business, especially since my partner had extensive experience in the industry. Our mission was to provide consumers with an option to delight themselves guilt-free and, so, House of Pops was born. We launched our products at a farmers’ market and sold 100 pops that day. That was a great day.

best Ice Cream Dubai

Has the pandemic affected your business negatively or positively?

It had a positive effect. When people were locked at home, they were looking for something to indulge in to make themselves happy, and House of Pops was the perfect solution as a healthy treat. We already had a very strong e-commerce structure in place, so we were able to cope with the demand. We experienced a channel growth of 10 times its size before COVID-19.

What drives you every day?

The passion to achieve sustainable growth for the business, tackle new opportunities of development from the product range, and expand the brand internationally. The business has been working for four years – we’ve successfully opened several shops and want to expand our franchise model. It’s been sold to other countries in the GCC, and this is where our focus is at the moment.

Do you have a favourite business mentor?

Jim Rhon and his practical approach. He preaches accountability. This is very powerful, as he made me realise that I can change and drive change in my life and in my business. I stopped pointing out why things went wrong, justifying it with external factors, and started to ask myself what I could’ve done differently or better. This is how I learned. He also explains why it’s important to not only have clear priorities, but also allocate energy and a share of mind to them to get results. When time is limited as an entrepreneur, this becomes very helpful.

Which books/podcasts/blogs do you follow, and why?

I usually like to listen to interviews. You can learn a lot from other people’s experience, irrespective of the field they are in. From sportsmen like MMA fighter Conor McGregor to Michelle Obama, it gives me the motivation and sense of community that I need. I can relate to a lot of the struggles that they speak about, and how they overcame them to reach the place where they are today.

What’s one piece of advice that you would give to a budding entrepreneur?

Set your concept and give it a try. Have your goals straight. Speak to people in the field. Understand challenges that you might face so that you don’t repeat them again. Read a lot about your idea and your concept. Be like a sponge.

What are five things one must consider before launching a business?

  1. Make sure that the insights make sense.
  2. Make sure that the business is scalable – it should be a business, not a hobby.
  3. Understand the financials on bringing the idea to life. Do you have them or do you need external investment?
  4. Have the right skills to develop the idea. If you don’t have them, get the right team (outsourced or in-house).
  5. Find something unique in your proposition. This will make you build a successful company. We are at a time where a lot of services and products are being offered, so ask yourself, ‘Why people would choose my product?

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Michelin Guide Abu Dhabi 2023

Revealed: Michelin Guide Abu Dhabi 2023 Winners

Read on to see who took the top spot.

The verdict is out – the inaugural edition of the Michelin Guide Abu Dhabi shortlisted 42 restaurants for stars covering 16 types of cuisines, featuring the best the capital has to offer. Three restaurants received one Michelin star and four restaurants were awarded the Bib Gourmand, which is given to those who offer good food at moderate prices. In addition, three special awards were also given out. 

The Michelin Guide’s Abu Dhabi edition comes just months after the Dubai guide was released earlier this year, which saw 69 restaurants serving 21 cuisines. Two restaurants received two Michelin stars, nine restaurants received one Michelin star, and 14 eateries were named Bib Gourmand restaurants.

“The wonderful diversity of the cuisine proposed by these three restaurants [in the Abu Dhabi guide] perfectly illustrate the curiosity of local gourmets, as well as how Abu Dhabi welcomes international cultures to make them shine at their best level,” said Gwendal Poullennec, International Director of the Michelin Guide.

“This first Michelin Guide Abu Dhabi selection is the beginning of a long journey for a city with unlimited gastronomic potential,” he added. “Our inspectors discovered a rich variety of cuisines offered in Abu Dhabi, from creative dishes conceived by some of the world’s most renowned chefs, to traditional cuisines of the region: Middle Eastern, Lebanese and, of course, Emirati.”

“This is the first step,” said H.E. Saleh Mohammed Algeziry, Director General of the tourism sector at the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism, who emphasised to restaurateurs that not achieving a star, or even not being shortlisted for the Michelin Guide, does not mean a restaurant doesn’t have the potential to do so in the future. One star each was awarded to Talea by Antonio Guida for its family-style Italian food, Hakkasan for traditional Cantonese fare, and 99 Sushi Bar for a contemporary take on Japanese cuisine. 

The four restaurants awarded the Bib Gourmand are Almayass, Beirut Sur Mer, Otoro, and Tazal. In a vibrant black-tie event held at Emirates Palace last night, the award ceremony was followed by a five-course dinner with a menu curated by international Michelin-starred chefs, Bjorn Frantzen of Frantzen in Sweden and Cheryl Koh of Les Amis in Singapore included. Read on for the full list of winners – many have been featured in Gaggler in the past.

All Michelin Guide winners on stage

The Complete Winners List

One Michelin Star:

  • 99 Sushi Bar
  • Hakkasan
  • Talea by Antonio Guida

Bib Gourmand:

  • Almayass
  • Beirut Sur Mer
  • Otoro
  • Tazal


  • Al Mrzab
  • Butcher & Still
  • Byblos Sur Mer
  • Cafe James
  • Café Milano
  • Catch by St. Regis
  • Cipriani
  • Coya
  • Dai Pai Dong
  • Finz
  • Fishmarket
  • Fouquet’s
  • Grand Beirut
  • Hoi An
  • Li Beirut
  • Li Jiang
  • LPM
  • Market Kitchen
  • Martabaan by Hemant Oberoi
  • Mazi
  • Meylas
  • Mijana
  • Moksh
  • Namak
  • NIRI
  • Oak Room
  • Oii
  • Paradiso
  • Punjab Grill
  • Shang Palace
  • Silk & Spice
  • Tean
  • VaKaVa Pan Latin Grill and Lounge by Richard Sandoval
  • Villa Toscana
  • Zuma

Service Award:

  • Rawad Hamdan and team, Li Beirut

Sommelier Award:

  • Marlon Nuque, Zuma

Young Chef Award:

  • Luigi Stinga, Talea by Antonio Guida
Photo: Tazal

What Is the Michelin Food Guide?

Published since the 1900s, the Michelin Guide is one of the oldest and most prestigious food guides in existence, focusing its criteria squarely on the quality of cooking and ingredients as well as the presentation rather than the ambiance or decor of an eatery. The guide rates restaurants anonymously using an in-house team of inspectors and food critics employed directly by Michelin.

Using the same criteria and methodology to evaluate candidates for each category, the guide rates restaurants from one to three stars, as well as curates the Bib Gourmand list of restaurants that offer quality cooking at reasonable prices. Currently, the Michelin guide covers over 30 destinations around the world.

How Is a Michelin Star Awarded?

Inspectors anonymously visit eateries for evaluation and rely on the following:

  1. quality of the ingredients
  2. mastery of cooking
  3. harmony of the flavours
  4. expression of the chef’s personality in the cuisine
  5. consistency, both over time and across the entire menu

What Are the Different Types of Michelin Distinctions?

One Michelin star denotes a restaurant with high-quality cooking that’s worth stopping by for. Two Michelin stars are for restaurants with excellent cooking that’s not only worth a detour, but also reflects the personality and talent of the chef and team.

Three Michelin stars indicate exceptional cuisine that’s worth planning a journey for. In this category, the award is given for the superlative cooking of chefs at the peak of their profession. The ingredients are exemplary, the cooking is elevated to an art form, and their dishes are often destined to become classics. This is the most difficult award to achieve and maintain.

Michelin Guide-selected restaurants are those that have the potential to gain a star or feature on the Bib Gourmand list in the future. Restaurants on the Bib Gourmand list are those where inspectors consider they found good-quality cooking for good value.


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Items to Organise the Wardrobe

6 Items to Get Your Closet – and Life – in Order

Tackle that clutter already.

Do you dream of owning a wardrobe that looks like it belongs in a magazine or high-end boutique? Well, you can have it with the help of just six nifty items. But before you start to organise your closet, spend at least a day giving it a thorough declutter as this is part of the journey of having your dream closet – it’s an inefficient use of your time and money organising and arranging items that you don’t wear, need, or use.

To organise your closet, you should only have what you need and love to wear. Your closet should be your sanctuary, making you feel beautiful and invigorated. Read on for some practical tips on how to get your wardrobe organised in a way that works for you, making your space calm and clutter-free.

rack with clothes

1. The Velvet Hanger

For every closet I have organised, I have always highly recommended the velvet hanger. You might ask why. Why would you replace all the hangers you already have, even if they are in good condition? Usually, wardrobes have hangers of all shapes and sizes – the skinny wire one, the larger wooden ones, the regular plastic ones and, sometimes, the broad suit ones. If you have limited space in your closet, the first way you will make more space is by removing any broad hangers. 

Firstly, velvet hangers are slim with a versatile neck that swivel, making it easy to put clothes in and out, ensuring the clothes are facing the same direction. Secondly, the velvet hangers are a great organiser for the closet as they prevent clothes from slipping. Thin synthetic fabrics or silks are very slippery and can become wrinkled or look messy in your closet. Velvet hangers ensure all the pieces are well presented, keep their shape, and make your clothes look like they are in a store – especially when you choose one colour for all your hangers.

closet with organizers and clothes

2. The Drawer Divider

This is an essential organiser for the closet as it makes everything visible. Drawer dividers come in different shapes and sizes. Some are simple plastic extendable dividers that can fit in most drawers – these are perfect for folding T-shirts, shorts, leggings, and tops, keeping them neatly in rows within the drawers. 

Another divider is the box of different sizes, like the SKUBB series from IKEA that keeps different types of items together, like accessories or underwear. For bras and underwear, Amazon sells a set of drawer dividers that keep each item apart, making it very easy to see them all. The key to organising your closet is to make each item visible and accessible in a sensible space. Drawer dividers help you do just this. 

3. The Pull-Out Storage Box

So often, wardrobes have deep shelves, making it very difficult to reach items at the back of the shelf. By pulling some clothes out, others get knocked over – even if they are in neatly folded piles – so you end up with a messy bunch of wrinkled clothes in no time. To solve this problem, use storage boxes that fit exactly on the shelf, which you can pull out to access the back of the shelf.

Any box can work for this purpose, but it should ideally fit most of the surface area of the shelf in order to maximise the closet space. Measure your shelf carefully and refer to these dimensions when buying your storage boxes. I would recommend buying a box covered in fabric as it gives a softer feel and looks attractive when you open your closet door. My favourites are the STUK series from IKEA. 

4. The Pants Hanger

What is a pants hanger, you may ask? It is a hanger with multiple bars to hang more than one pair of trousers or scarves on. These are wonderful space savers and keep your trousers neatly folded as well as highly visible. It’s wise to get ones that are non-slip as most trousers slip. I would dedicate a space on one side of the closet to use this closet organiser, keeping your trousers in one zone.

When arranging your hanging closet, it is imperative to have zones based on the use or look of your clothes. For example, zones could be trousers, shirts, dresses, and skirts – all based on the length of the items. Alternatively, zones could be work clothes, occasion wear, and casual wear – based on the purpose of the items. It needs to work for you, so choose a style that you love to look at everyday, keeping in mind that it needs to be practical as well.

closet orginizers

5. The Shoe Box

Shoe storage is an ongoing battle for many closets around the world. It’s usually a problem because there are more shoes than there is space. The way to work around this is to store vertically. Most closets have a shoe space in the bottom half and there are options to maximise this space vertically. You can insert a wooden or wire shoe rack inside the closet. You can also use stackable shoe boxes to increase visibility, but they require the luxury of space. 

Another option is to store shoes in deep drawers if you have some under the bed, or have a separate unit with baskets to store shoes in. Having shoes visible in your home creates visual clutter, so I highly recommend using an organiser that hides your shoes within your closet. The less visual clutter you have in your home, the calmer it will feel. 

6. The Shelf Insert

The shelf insert is a versatile closet organiser that helps maximise vertical space. Another benefit of this handy piece is that it creates more visibility for all the pieces in your closet. An efficiently organised closet should have all items easily accessible and visible to the user. Shelf inserts are incredibly valuable in closets that have deep shelves as items at the back are often not seen because it’s dark and things can get lost behind other piles of clothes.

You might be wondering what you can put on a shelf insert. Clothes can be folded and put on shelf inserts. Handbags and shoes can be stacked on shelf inserts. Makeup and accessories can also be placed high up. There are many different types of shelf inserts that you can choose to suit your style of closet. Black wire racks work for dark closets, clear acrylic stands from Muji are perfect for displaying accessories, and white shelf inserts match white closets and therefore create a uniform look. 

closet with clothes

To maintain your beautifully organised closet, there is a simple rule you need to follow: anything new coming in means something else needs to go out. Over time, your closet will get fuller and more cluttered as you buy more. Be mindful about what you buy, making sure it is what you really want and not an impulse buy. Donate regularly to keep your wardrobe calm and clutter-free – it should be inspirational, not an eyesore. 

Fern McGahey is a professional home organiser at Calm the Clutter. Visit @calmtheclutternow or www.calmtheclutternow.com for more information.


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Wellness Calendar for November

You, But Better: The Gaggler Agenda for November

Mark your calendars.

November 1: Speak Up

We all know the impact and importance of interpersonal relationships – and that’s where the Open Communication workshop at Illuminations comes in. Led by intuitive healer and spiritual teacher Neus Ventura, the session will focus on both personal relationships and healthy partnerships, guiding participants on how to effectively communicate about everything ranging from everyday nuisances to more serious matters.

Learn more here.

November 5: Follow the Glow

Candlelight Concerts bring the magic of unique, one-of-a-kind concerts played by flickering candlelight to locations worldwide – which now includes Dubai. The upcoming 65-minute performance will feature the music of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker and more alongside a ballerina performance at The Theatre in Mall of The Emirates.

Learn more here.

November 7: Revisit a Myth

Choreographer Boris Eifman has mastered the tragicomedy genre. Case in point: The Pygmalion Effect, a ballet interpretation of the archetypical story of Pygmalion, the sculptor who fell in love with his creation, a statue of a beautiful young woman. Two productions will run at Dubai Opera across two days, November 7 and 8.

Learn more here.

November 7: Revisit a Myth

November 8: Dive Into Design

Design buffs have reason to celebrate once again as Dubai Design Week, the region’s largest creative festival, returns for its eighth season. Expect everything from experimental mediums and talks to temporary pop-ups, workshops, and even children’s activities. This year’s edition is focused on designing a sustainable future, so the theme ‘Design With Impact’ will entail a series of immersive installations that demonstrate innovative design thinking.

Learn more here.

November 12: Make a Connection

Alserkal Art Week returns to Alserkal Avenue, this time spanning nine days of art and design. Reminding us that everything eventually intersects, the event will feature thought-provoking exhibitions, a Majlis Talks programme, intriguing slow art walks by curators, conversations with artists, and more.

Learn more here.

November 18: Swing and Sway

Located at Souk Madinat Jumeirah, Theatre of Digital Art is an immersive art space that continues to diversify, hosting everything from exhibitions and yoga classes to breathwork meditation sessions. We’re marking our calendars for the immersive Jazz Music Night, a unique 90-minute jazz performance accented with stunning 360-degree projections.

Learn more here.

Swing and Sway

November 20: Take a Walk

Explore a side of Dubai you may not have seen and hone your street photography skills with the Karama: People & Places photo walk hosted by Gulf Photo Plus. Not only will this three-hour trek teach you techniques for difficult lighting conditions and tips on how to compose an image, but it will also take you through a route in Karama that is laced with culture and history.

Learn more here.

November 21: Grasp Your Grief

Grief is a truly complex process and affects us all – now start to understand it. The LightHouse Arabia is hosting its annual Evening of Remembrance from 6pm to 8pm, designed to help participants understand the nature of grief, its impact, and how to support someone who is grieving. The event will take place both in-person and online via Zoom.

Learn more here.

November 25: Test Your Palate

If you love chocolate and drink coffee, but have no idea what the term “single origin” means, the Coffee & Cocoa Pairing Workshop is perfect for you. Hosted by artisanal chocolate factory Mirzam, it features samples of chocolate from the Maps collection as well as single drip V60 coffees from El Salvador, Ethiopia and Brazil. You’ll receive not only instructions and handouts, but also detailed suggestions for pairing options from Mirzam’s Master Barista.

Learn more here.


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