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Baked oats with sliced apple

Because Nothing Says Fall like Pumpkin Spice

Ready, set, bake!

Pumpkin Spiced Baked Oats

Capture the essence of fall in Dubai with this autumnal-inspired deliciousness! Not only is this recipe super easy to make, but you can also let the oats bake while you’re getting ready in the morning. This one’s a breakfast no-brainer really.

Serving Size:
1
Time:
20 mins
Difficulty:
Easy

Ingredients

  • 50g oats
  • 150ml milk of choice
  • 1 scoop protein powder
  • 1/2-1 tsp pumpkin spice powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • Yogurt for garnish
  • Maple syrup to taste

Directions

  1. Mix together all the ingredients in an oven-safe bowl.
  2. Place oven-safe bowl with oats in an oven or air fryer.
  3. Bake in an air fryer for 12 minutes at 160ºC (you may need to keep it in the oven slightly longer).
  4. Top with some yoghurt and maple syrup to taste… and ENJOY!

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Travel Guide to Turkey

Is This Turkey’s Most Underrated City?

Liberal, cultured, tragically overlooked – meet Izmir.

It comes as no surprise that a day trip to Ephesus remains one of Turkey’s most popular attractions; not only are its Hellenistic and Roman ruins both spectacular and well-preserved, but it’s also easily accessible from the city of Izmir. But therein lies the problem. The average tourist will hightail it out of Izmir following a day trip to this archaeological site – and that’s just wrong.

For the uninitiated, Izmir is Turkey’s third largest and most liberal city – and proud of it. Historically known as the Greek city of Smyrna, its significance as a port city continues due to its position along the Gulf of Izmir, resulting in a vibrant seafront promenade known as Kordon. But that’s just the beginning of all it has to offer.

Staying In

While some of the largest hotel chains have set up shop in Izmir, the intimately scaled Key Hotel comes highly recommended for one reason alone: location, location, location. Standing on the Kordon, this luxury property is housed in what was once the Central Bank building and features 34 elegantly furnished rooms accented with modern amenities. Oh, the breakfast spread only adds to its appeal.

For something closer to all the action, think L’agora Old Town Hotel & Bazaar. Another four-stay property, it resides in a 300-year-old building amidst the sights and sounds of Kemeraltı, one of Turkey’s most fascinating bazaars – but more on that later. While the rooms here are clean and comfortable, its claim to fame is the atmospheric courtyard where great food and live music collide.  

Travel to Turkey

Stepping Out

Izmir is one of those places where life happens on the streets – whether you’re dining in the bohemian district of Alsançak or immersing yourself into local culture on Synagogue Street, you’ll gain plenty of insights in no time. No vicinity, however, is as ideally suited to people-watching as the aforementioned Kordon. Here, the city’s young and loved up linger alongside fishermen, cafégoers, and street food vendors. It’s also where history buffs will find Ataturk Museum, a small yet decently appointed museum dedicated to the life of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, founder and first president of Turkey.

If panoramic views of the city are what you’re after, the Asansör (Turkish for ‘elevator’) offers them for free. Built in 1907 by a Jewish philanthropist to assist elders and pregnant women grappling with the staircase between Mithatpaşa Street and Halil Rifat Quarter, it’s housed within a 51-metre tower built of bricks imported from Marseille. Another historic landmark worth visiting? Izmir Clock Tower. Built in 1901 and standing 25 metres high, it’s widely considered the symbol of Izmir. Admittedly, taking in its ornate Ottoman-style of architecture can be tricky considering the many distractions around it – selfie-takers, flocks of pigeons, and kids chasing said pigeons – but it’s easy to see why it once commanded attention.

The Ultimate Turkey Travel Guide

The clock tower also leads nicely to what can arguably be described as Izmir’s most popular tourist attraction: Kemeraltı. This iconic bazaar dates back to the 17th century and continues to have it all – shops, synagogues, mosques, traditional coffeehouses, artisan workshops, and enough dining outlets to leave you feeling overwhelmed. Make a beeline for Ayşa Boşnak Börekçisi, which ranks amongst the top ten restaurants in all of Turkey and serves some of the best salads you’ll ever eat. Incidentally, tasteful souvenirs and objets d’art await in this area at İzmirShop, about a two-minute walk away. To call the chaotic Kemeraltı a labyrinth would be an understatement, so just go with it and relish the joy of getting lost.

Food Matters

Considering that Izmir has been home to Greeks, Armenians, Levantines, and Turks over the years, its cuisine is an attraction in itself. Dostlar Fırını, for example, is famous for its many varieties of boyoz, a fried pastry of sorts concocted hundreds of years ago by Jewish bakers. Çelebi Unlu Mamuller, meanwhile, is the ultimate address for bombas. Between fillings like chocolate, coconut, pistachio, and sour cherry, this beloved local haunt manages to do wonders with a bit of soft dough.

Elsewhere, simit (a Turkish take on bagels) and midye dolma (rice-stuffed mussels) are other street food staples worth trying. And with Izmir’s location along the Aegean Sea, its fare is dominated by achingly fresh seafood accented with Mediterranean flavours – and every budget is catered to. Deniz Restaurant has understandably earned a spot on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, while Soirée brings with it the bonus of striking sunset views from Konak Pier.

A Complete Travel Guide to Izmir, Turkey

Culture Quest

Izmir is not just a cosmopolitan city – it’s cultured, too. Set inside the beautiful French Honorary Consulate Building, Arkas Art Center features the private collection of Turkish businessman Lucien Arkas and is a must-visit for contemporary art enthusiasts. The ongoing Myths and Dreams exhibition has taken over both floors and all nine exhibition rooms, showcasing works by the likes of Swiss visual artist Daniele Buetti, Turkish multimedia artist Gizem Candan, and Argentinian sculptor Jack Vanarsky.

Broader in scope and often overlooked by tourists, the Izmir History and Art Museum is set within a sprawling urban park known as Kültürpark. This one’s anchored in ancient artefacts, exhibiting an impressive range of ceramic works, coins, jewellery, sculptural fragments, friezes, and more across three pavilions. And with excavations relentlessly carried out in various parts of this region, you can expect to encounter traces of even the Archaic and Classical periods.

A Travel Guide to Izmir, Turkey
Photo: Courtesy of Giacasso

When in Izmir

An evening spent at a hole-in-the-wall is the definitive antidote to a long day of tourist must-dos and more mainstream attractions, and an easy way to get a real feel of Izmir. Two favourites? Münire and Karga Cafe. The former is decked out with all manner of vintage kitsch and serves over 20 different flavours of Turkish soda pop – some downright unexpected, like mastic gum. The latter is a no-frills live music venue that comes highly recommended if you’re looking to smoke nargile, have a couple of drinks, and mingle with the locals who live up to their easygoing reputation.

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Eid in Dubai

This Is Your Eid Weekend Plans, Sorted

We’re here to help you plan for a fun weekend with family!

Eid al-Adha is a mere weeks away, bringing with it another long weekend to enjoy. Of course, it’s always recommended to plan ahead as venues across the city book up – fast – around this festive holiday. Here, we round up a few fun options to consider.

Dubai Opera

Celebrate the Eid holiday by visiting Dubai Opera. Sitting in the heart of the Opera District in Downtown Dubai, this architectural wonder is host to several art and cultural events such as theatre performances, opera, ballet productions, concerts, conferences, and exhibitions. This 2,000-seater establishment has the unparalleled ability to transform into three different venue formats: a theatre, a concert hall, and an event hall, enabling it to host a wide variety of events.

Dubai Opera, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Blvd, Downtown Dubai, 04 440 8888, dubaiopera.com

Eid In Dubai, Dubai Opera

Ain Dubai

Take your long weekend to greater heights by visiting the Insta-famous Ain Dubai. View the Dubai skyline at 820 feet above ground in the daytime or during the evening. This enormous structure boasts air-conditioned cabin rooms that show 360-degree views of the city. Choose between shared and private cabins before tucking into a wide variety of delectable food and beverages.

Ain Dubai, Bluewaters Island, 04 428 0411, aindubai.com

Green Planet

For a more family-friendly affair, take a drive down to Al Wasl and see the majestic wonders of nature at Green Planet. Home to more than 3,000 species of flora and fauna, this indoor ecosystem offers visitors an immersive tour of the jungle. Here, you can grab the opportunity to learn about birds, reptiles, sloths, and sugar gliders up close with an experienced guide. Once you and the family have explored its attractions, make a quick stop and refuel at the rainforest-themed café onsite.

Green Planet, City Walk, Al Wasl, 800 7699, greenplanet.com

Gevora Hotel

If you prefer a more laidback way to celebrate Eid, you’ll never go wrong with a staycation at one of the premier hotels in the city. Standing at 484 metres tall, Gevora Hotel holds the Guinness World Record for being the tallest hotel in the world. Our tip? Head up to the rooftop restaurant Highest View Lounge and order the always-popular T-bone steak, accented by views of the city, of course.

Gevora Hotel, 101 Sheikh Zayed Rd, Trade Centre, DIFC, 04 524 0000, gevorahotel.com

Eid Celebrations  Dubai, Gevora Hotel

Motiongate

If you’re an avid fan of theme parks, head down to Dubai Parks and Resorts and visit Motiongate, where there’s always something for everyone. You can visit motion picture sets in real life, try extreme rides, enjoy the colourful parade, and more. Oh, and remember to drop by the merchandise store on your way out to see its wide selection of cool movie memorabilia.  

Motiongate, Dubai Parks and Resorts, Sheikh Zayed Rd, 04 820 0000, motiongate.com

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Summer Eco-Friendly Travel

Eco-Friendly Travel Looks a Little Like This

Have fun without polluting your destination.

Travelling – spending time in nature and exploring new cultures especially – is a great way to get away from the daily grind and recharge our batteries. We often come back from vacations with great memories and souvenirs, but have you considered what you leave behind in the places you visit?

Our adventures often come with a heavy eco-cost, and single-use plastics are the apparent culprits. Many countries lack proper waste segregation and recycling mechanisms, so disposable products like water bottles and shopping bags can irreversibly pollute their soil and water. This becomes even worse if you are exploring mountains or beaches, as you could inadvertently wreak havoc on fragile ecosystems in the name of convenience. 

What does it mean to vacation sustainably?

It is our ethical and environmental responsibility to not burden our hosts with the duty of cleaning up after us. Thus, the goal of sustainable vacationing is to leave a light carbon footprint. Be conscious about your consumption as it can add to the waste management crisis. 

The simple rule of sustainable vacationing is   ‘no plastic, no pollution’. This can be done by replacing plastic and synthetic products in your luggage with eco-friendly ones. If you are new to sustainable practices, this can be quite difficult – even seasoned sustainability warriors can find it frustrating! Enter: My Eco Souk, an online shop for all things eco-friendly and recycled. Here, we share our top product picks from the souk for a sustainable holiday.

Reusable Water Bottles

Disposable water bottles are a common fixture in most vacations thanks to their convenience and local water safety or quality concerns. Still, they can be a menace to any ecosystem. Did you know that it takes roughly 1,000 years for a single water bottle to decompose? Switching to a stainless steel or hardwearing glass version is the simplest way you can prevent pollution from single-use water bottles.

Bamboo Flask, THE ECO LOOP

Stainless Steel Bottle, NATRL

Stainless Steel Bottle, RISAECO

Refillable Coffee Mugs 

Carrying a hot liquid like coffee in cheap plastic cups is not exactly appealing – not only do they pollute the environment, but they also leach chemicals that you could ingest. Even paper cups might not be as innocent as they seem. Nearly 6.5 billion trees are cut down annually to manufacture compostable paper cups, so why not carry a reusable coffee mug or collapsible steel cup on your next trip? 

Collapsible Steel Glass, Sustainable Souk

Reusable Shopping Bags  

Shopping is a must during vacations, especially as it’s an opportunity to support local artisans. But shopping with disposable plastic bags is always a big no for anyone interested in going green. Most plastic bags end up clogging landfills and leach microplastics into soil and groundwater. Instead, pack a couple of canvas or cotton shopping bags. You can easily fold them and carry them around in your backpack or handbag.

 Cotton Grocery Bag, UPCYCLE LETS TRANSFORM

Cassava Starch Based T‐shirt Handle Bag, My Earth Bags

Foldable Bag, RISAECO

Reusable Cutlery 

Vacations often mean eating on the go. Unfortunately, disposable cutlery like spoons or forks is often too small and too light for recycling and, when disposed of improperly, can be harmful to marine and wildlife. We recommend steel cutlery as a budget-friendly alternative as it can be washed and reused safely as many times as needed. And if travelling light is a priority? Pick compostable or biodegradable cutlery made from materials like sugar pulp or bamboo.

Stainless Steel Cutlery, THE ECO LOOP

Compostable Or Biodegradable Cutlery, ECOZOE

Eco-Friendly Food Containers 

Packing snacks is a must, especially if you’re travelling with kids. But how are you packing them? Do you use styrofoam or plastic containers? Or ziplock bags? Not only do such materials contribute to local pollution, but they also contain chemicals such as bisphenol A (BPA), which have also been linked to cancer. This year, ditch them for eco-friendly alternatives like recyclable containers or reusable silicon bags. Another interesting idea is to carry beeswax wraps instead of using aluminium foil or saran wrap.

Recyclable Containers, MY EARTH BAGS

Recyclable Containers, MY EARTH BAGS

Bamboo Toothbrush 

Humanity adds roughly 600 million kg in plastic toothbrush waste each year and, because plastic is practically indestructible, almost every toothbrush made since 1930 still exists. So, what can we replace them with? Bamboo toothbrushes. They’re ideal to take with you on holiday and even toss away at the end without any guilt as bamboo is completely biodegradable. Moreover, it is a fast-growing crop that does not pressure water resources.

Bamboo Toothbrush, PIYAS PLANET

Bamboo Toothbrush, PIYAS PLANET

Clean or Organic Personal Care Products 

Obviously, the plastic packaging of our personal care products is a threat to the environment, but the chemicals within can cause significant harm, too. Around 14,000 tonnes of sunscreens are washed into the oceans every year and damage underwater habitats. VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) – found in hairspray and perfumes – can cause air pollution and add to carbon emissions, so start packing personal care products that are natural and organic. Carrying soap and shampoo bars will also save you from lugging multiple bottles around.

Organic Sunscreen, VAADI HERBALS 

Oil Blends Calm, THE CLEAN TOUCH

Eco-Friendly Sanitary Products

Disposable sanitary products are a major pollutant, and there is nothing convenient about them when it comes to their consequences on the planet. A disposable pad or tampon will take around 500 to 800 years to disintegrate. Moreover, they cannot be recycled as they contain both organic and synthetic materials. We suggest you opt for a reusable menstrual cup  to not only prevent pollution, but also gain major savings. Alternatively, you could replace your disposable pads or tampons with biodegradable ones.

Menstrual Cup, Sirona

Menstrual Cup, Sirona

Biodegradable Sanitary Pads, The Woman’s company

Eco-Friendly Straws 

Plastic straws, although small in size, have big environmental consequences. Single-use plastic straws cannot be recycled or broken down naturally, so they end up as microplastics and release harmful chemicals into the soil and groundwater. They are particularly problematic for aquatic animals, who often confuse them for food. Thankfully, you can now carry steel, copper, or biodegradable straws that you can use multiple times. Another fun option would be edible straws – watch your kids chomp on their straws after finishing their drink!

Biodegradable Straws, ECOZOE

Biodegradable Straws, ECOZOE

Stainless Steel Straws, The Eco Loop

Edible Drinking Straw, ECOZOE

Edible Drinking Straw, ECOZOE

Green Laundry Alternatives

Doing your own laundry when you are on vacation can not only add to your savings, but also bring down the amount of luggage that you need to lug around. But there is a catch. Most commercial laundry detergents contain harsh chemicals that damage your clothes and add significant pollutants to water bodies. For the most practical and eco-safe option during your trip, try a laundry egg. It is compact, chemical-free, and does the job of both detergent and conditioner.

Laundry Eggs, Eco Egg

Laundry Fabric Softener, DUTYBOX

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Family Activities in Dubai

5 Family-Friendly Activities to Try This Summer

Beat the heat with these top picks.

On the lookout for fun, family-friendly activities this season? You’re in luck. Dubai offers an extensive variety of both outdoor and indoor activities perfect for all ages. Whether it’s to get the adrenaline pumping or to recharge and unwind, we’ve got you covered.

Mountain & Desert Safari Tour

Experience an immersive ecotourism tour with the whole family this summer and explore the Dubai wilderness. Book the customisable mountain and desert safari tour by Platinum Heritage and embark on an awe-inspiring journey through the mountains and wadis. Take your tour to the next level by adding hiking, cycling, or even swimming to your itinerary. You never know, you might chance upon a wild Arabian oryx or majestic gazelles. 

Mountain & Desert Safari Tour – Platinum Heritage, Office 1303, Control Tower, Motor City, 04 440 9827, platinum-heritage.com

Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort

Make the most out of the summer season at Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort. This gem in the heart of Palm Jumeirah takes pride in being home to the only overwater villas in the United Arab Emirates. Furthermore, this lush family-friendly resort offers three temperature-controlled swimming lagoons, various water activities for all ages, and wellness programmes perfect for a relaxing getaway.

Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort, East Crescent, Palm Jumeirah, 04 567 8888, [email protected]

Family Activities in Dubai | Laguna Waterpark Dubai

Laguna Waterpark

Take your summer getaway to the waters at Laguna Waterpark. There’s exciting attractions for everyone – surf, splash, and slide the whole day with the Dubai skyline as your backdrop. Pro tip: don’t miss out on the fun and iconic ‘Free Fall’. Enjoy the scenic views from the glass capsule sky box platform and let the floor drop under you for a straight plunge down the splashdown lane!

Laguna Waterpark, La Mer, Jumeirah 1, 800 7699, [email protected]

Ski Dubai

Missing winter? Look no further than Ski Dubai. It’s a massive 22,500-square-metre resort situated inside Mall of the Emirates that offers skiing and snowboarding activities, an elaborate snow display, and best of all – penguins. Cool down with the family this summer and take your snow boots for a spin at this beloved Dubai destination.

Ski Dubai, Mall of the Emirates, Sheikh Zayed Road, Al Barsha 1, 600 599 905, skidxb.com

Dubai Dolphinarium

Meet some of the cutest, most intelligent aquatic and avian creatures at the Dubai Dolphinarium this summer. Settle in as bottlenose dolphins and fur seals execute breathtaking acrobatic feats at UAE’s only dolphin and seal show. Then, take your trip up a notch and be captivated by a wide variety of birds doing the coolest tricks sure to wow the whole family. 

Dubai Dolphinarium, Creek Park Gate 1, Riyadh Street, 04 336 9773, [email protected]

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Set Up Kitchen for Healthy Eating

4 Ways to Incorporate Well-Being into Your Kitchen

Yes, it can be a calming space.

When you picture a healthy kitchen, I bet you immediately think of fresh vegetables, clear water, and freshly baked goods. However, a healthy kitchen is not just about food. The overall appearance of your kitchen, ease of use, and accessibility of foodstuff also plays a huge part in the ‘health’ of your kitchen – and even your own well-being!

A kitchen’s main purpose is a function, but an aesthetically pleasing space will also calm the mind and encourage a good mood and positive attitude, resulting in healthier eating practices. Here are four ways to achieve that.

1. Harness the Power of Nature and Colour

Your kitchen needs to give off a clean, fresh, open vibe that will create a positive environment and put you in the right frame of mind for healthy eating, meal preparation, and planning. Where possible, allow as much natural sunlight into the space as you can. The sun is a natural mood-booster, and exposure to it is known to create a cheerful atmosphere by immediately improving our moods with the increased production of serotonin – one of our body’s feel-good hormones.

While the sun can’t be replicated, you can achieve similar results with artificial inclusions if exposure to natural sunlight isn’t possible. Try adding cool-white or daylight-coloured light globes and yellow hues to the space. The bright light effect and yellow tones will reference the sun, resulting in an uplifting and vibrant atmosphere. For optimal results, try adding white to add contrast or reflect yellow tones when trying to imitate natural light; this will make the yellow really stand out.

A kitchen with lots of natural light from top to bottom glass windows and black, gold, and white fixtures.

Allow much sunlight as possible to release natural endorphins.

Yellow kitchen wall with shelves and cabinets at the bottom

Try adding yellow to reference the sun and improve the mood of the space.

Colour selection is just as important in a kitchen as it is in any area of the home. When creating a colour scheme that is going to encourage positive and healthy minds, bodies, and practices, the inclusion of colours connected to nature is an immediate choice. Being surrounded by nature has an immediate calming effect on us. This comes not just from the physical elements of nature, but also the use of colours, textures, and patterns that remind us of nature.   

You could add touches of green to deliver a mood that is full of health and vitality. Green is a colour with many positive benefits, and the hue plays a significant role in improving our overall well-being and actually encourages us to breathe more deeply, allowing more oxygen into our lungs and thus improving our focus and concentration. You can either paint a wall, use the colour in your tile selection, or simply add green in the form of objects or indoor plants. If possible, you could also try adding a planter just outside the kitchen window for the same result. Simply viewing green and nature will immediately improve your mood and lower blood pressure.

A minimal kitchen with neutral tones with an hourglass in the forefront.

Adding green to a kitchen immediately alludes to nature and calms the psyche.

Another good colour choice for kitchens is to choose hues within the neutral realm. Neutrals such as whites, cream, or beige will create a calm and balanced environment. These tones are also a great base for a space where numerous additional objects and colours will be added. Neutrals are unobtrusive hues that create a base by blending in and allowing for the addition of more bold colours without visually crowding the area. Try adding some natural textures and materials such as woodgrain, granite, or marble finishes to evoke feelings of wellness. This is will encourage the mind to make healthier behavioural choices.

A marble kitchen island with a plant and sink.

Natural textures and materials also allude to nature, thereby calming and improving our mood.

2. Reduce Visual Clutter

You can’t possibly have a clear mind when it’s clouded with visual clutter. Reducing the clutter will help you to think freely and leave room for a positive outlook that will in turn encourage a healthier outlook on life – including what you put into your body. Studies have shown that clutter in your home can encourage you to overeat or choose unhealthy options.

This is why it’s imperative to rid the kitchen of unnecessary clutter! Simply having a clear space can also reduce stress levels and lower blood pressure. You can do this by having a clear countertop that’s free of items that do not get used daily and keeping the area clean and tidy. Try to also introduce effective storage solutions for foodstuff and kitchen tools so that they can be efficiently stored, but also be within easy access when needed. 

A cluttered kitchen will clutter the mind, leading to unhealthy habits.

A minimal kitchen with light wooden and white fixtures with plenty of sunlight from a window to the right.

A clutter-free kitchen with lots of storage behind a cupboard door encourages a free and open mind.

Inside a cabinet is multiple labelled containers of food items.

Organised storage will keep the kitchen tidy and allow for healthy options to be at hand.

3. Use Smart Appliances

The stress that comes with not having enough time to get everything done is a common modern-day complaint unfortunately – and kitchen appliances with SMART functions can help us to alleviate some of this stress. Programmable ovens and smaller appliances such as air fryers, slow cookers, multi-functional microwaves, and multi-cookers (such as Thermomix or The June Oven) are great assets in creating a healthy, efficient kitchen. A lot of appliances are now not only programmable, but also wifi-enabled when used with linked apps, allowing for healthy meals to be prepped and cooked automatically.  

4. Adopt Healthy Habits

While not everyone can access SMART appliances or make big changes like painting their kitchen walls, everyone can adopt healthy habits to help them on their way to wellness! Simple things like having fruits and vegetables that are within eyeshot for a quick snack will promote healthy eating. 

Furthermore, try to prep meals ahead of time so most of the hard work is done before the home gets busy. You could also try growing your own herbs in your kitchen. The AeroGarden, an in-home garden system, makes this easy with LED light technology. The smell and sight of fresh herbs will encourage feelings of wellness and motivate healthier eating habits.

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Ehdaa Al Barwani

10 Takeaways from Our Talk with a Mermaid

Ehdaa Al Barwani has a message.

It’s hardly a hot take that scuba diving – like countless other sports – remains a male-dominated field, but leave it to Ehdaa Al Barwani to change the narrative, one dive at a time. The first and only female dive instructor from Oman, she earned her PADI Divemaster certification in 2018, but found herself in the spotlight in recent years after spontaneously taking a dive in traditional Omani attire. 

Her mission? To showcase the symbiotic relationship between her culture and ocean health, while inspiring others to join her efforts towards marine conservation. Today, she’s the founder of Muscat-based dive centre Aura Divers and often likened to a mermaid, a nickname she refers to as “endearing”. A candid conversation with this pioneering woman in honour of World Ocean Day, today, brought with it plenty of takeaways. Here are our favourites.

Spontaneity pays off.

“I have a confession about my dive in Omani attire: I didn’t plan the photos as much as people think. It was supposed to be a little series for Instagram, but I didn’t expect it to blow up as much as it did. I had two dives scheduled that day and only an hour in between. One of my students just happened to be a photographer, so I asked if he could take a few photos, but I didn’t have a set plan or anything – we just went with it. We jumped in, he took a few shots, and it was time for the second dive by the time I came back up. I didn’t have time to change, so I got my students ready and jumped back into the water for the second dive.”

Omani attire is surprisingly versatile. 

“Omani clothing is made to be versatile. Traditionally, women wore it while making fishing nets, they wore it while farming – it was a part of their daily lives. You can get the fabric to be thick enough to stay warm, but the beauty of Oman is it’s warm and we don’t have too many currents. The seas are very calm most of the time, so it wasn’t really a challenge swimming in those clothes. They were actually really comfortable – I didn’t even realise that I had an elaborate dress on. In fact, I was there, chopping away at a net I spotted.”

One person’s trash is another person’s treasure. 

“There are strewn pieces of wood, plastic, and netting in the ocean and on the roads – there’s a lot of construction happening here in Oman, and wood that can be utilised is thrown out. My idea is to utilise these pieces in different sections of my boat, turning them into something that we can enjoy, that we can use. The boat came out of necessity. I own a dive centre and rent out boats, but I need one that’s comfortable for women. I need a boat with a hardtop and an all-female crew as well as a place for them to change. If I’m catering to women – especially Omani women – they need to feel safe. These are the little things that will encourage them to try diving.”

The term ‘female entrepreneur’ isn’t always sexist. 

“We’re still governed by our traditions and family values, and men and women have very set roles to play in society. In my case, terms like ‘female diver’ or ‘female entrepreneur’ help create a community, a safe space for women who are interested in scuba diving, but uncomfortable doing so around men. I understand women who’d rather keep gender out of their accomplishments, but here in Oman – where it takes courage for women to move away from what’s expected of them – it’s essential.”

We all come from water. 

“I once read that the umbilical sac is composed of salty water, so humans quite literally come from water – those are your surroundings, which is why babies are quite comfortable in the water. The panic sets in much later in life because we’ve been away from it for so long. That’s why exposure to bodies of water early in life is a must, but not enough people are. I mean, the majority of my local students have no knowledge of swimming and are quite afraid of the water. They’ve just never been exposed to water, you know? I was lucky enough to go to a private school, where I learned how to swim, which is such a privilege – that doesn’t escape me.”

Fear amongst first-time divers is normal.

“Swimming underwater does feel claustrophobic, as contradictory as that sounds – it’s all blue, especially if you go really deep. There’s almost a sense of being lost in space, but there is a little trick that helps: see where your bubbles go because they always go up. I suggest diving in shallow locations at first. Most dives are done in the morning and, with the sun shining through the water, you can see all the colours of the coral, the surface of the water, and the seabed if you need to – it helps. Go slowly, and chances are you’ll be so enthralled by everything that you’ll forget you’re going deeper. But fear is very normal, so start by snorkelling.”

Diver Ehdaa Al Barwani

The region boasts beautiful dive sites.

“It’s only when I got a job in Salalah that I realised that, unlike other Gulf countries, there were no female dive instructors in Oman. That’s when I decided to encourage more women to come into diving because they don’t know what they’re missing. Red Sea aside, Oman has the most beautiful dive sites in the Gulf. We have the Daymaniyat Islands, a natural reserve, and Bandar Al Khayran, which is still untouched. These places are so pristine, so gorgeous.”

How you dive affects your environmental impact.

“I teach PADI, which is heavily focused on sustainable diving. Its Project AWARE movement, for example, is rooted in education on ocean protection. And it’s because of how I was taught that I’ve implemented this aspect in my own teaching. Everything my divemaster taught me was about minimising one’s impact on the surroundings – swimming with your hands close to your body so you don’t hit anything, ensuring your fins are nice and high so you don’t damage coral reefs. Then there are the bigger things, like using cotton nets because nylon doesn’t disintegrate.”

Plastic will outweigh fish in the oceans by 2050.

“It’s not a great statistic, is it? It tells us exactly where we’re going. And when I talk about conservation, I don’t mean that we need to get to a point where there is no plastic – we’re so far down this path where every other thing we use is made out of plastic, right? But what we can do – and should do – is minimise the damage. The damage has been done, but all we can do now is slow down. Hopefully, we’ll get to a point in the future where we can get rid of it completely.”

Ehdaa Al Barwani

You don’t have to dive to make a difference.

“There are different ways in which you can contribute to marine health – you can monitor your carbon footprint and track how much single-use plastic you consume. You can also opt for reef-safe sunblock, volunteer for beach clean-up sessions, and remember to be mindful of where you dispose of your rubbish. In Oman, we take the car to go the shortest of distances, so maybe cycle if you’re close by or walk to the corner store once or twice a week? There’s also this idea that, as a small population, our actions don’t make an impact. But that’s just not true – every bit helps.”

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Visa On Arrival For UAE Residents

This Travel Privilege Is Open to All

Three words: visa on arrival.

Hate it or hate to admit it, but it took a pandemic to prove that “immunity inequality” (as Bill and Melinda put it) is very real. However, long before coronavirus put forth the debate of vaccine passport privilege was the matter of passport privilege, and it continues to reek of hypocrisy for countless reasons.

That’s why the term ‘visa on arrival’ is music to the ears of so many. Not only does it bypass the tedious paperwork needed for the average tourist visa application, but it also allows everyone the joy of travelling on impulse. Sound appealing? Here’s a list of destinations where UAE residents can get a visa on arrival. Admittedly, it’s not an extensive list, but it has it all – history, gastronomy, culture, nature, and even naughty-looking nuts.

Azerbaijan

Head to: Baku

Stay at: Fairmont Baku

Why Visit?

The capital of Azerbaijan is so much more than “the next Dubai”. In fact, its deeply historic Icheri Sheher begs to differ. Not only does this open-air museum host domed bathhouses, sandstone caravanserais, and storied mosques, but it’s also home to Maiden Tower and Palace of the Shirvanshahs – both listed in UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites. Add Baku’s mild weather, a meal at museum-meets-restaurant Şirvanşah, a trip to Zaha Hadid’s iconic Heydar Aliyev Center, and the countless cafés and boutiques of Fountains Square to the mix, and you’re set.

Bonus: It takes only two hours, 55 minutes to fly to Baku. 

Azerbaijan Visa On Arrival For UAE Residents

Georgia

Head to: Kazbegi

Stay at: Rooms Hotels Kazbegi

Why Visit?

Most UAE residents never make it beyond Tbilisi – but should. In fact, a hectic capital city is hardly the place to take a time-out. We recommend enjoying Georgia’s cultural and geographical diversity by heading to Kazbegi, a small valley town steeped in ancient mythology and officially named Stepantsminda. Here await opportunities to stargaze, soak in hot springs, hike across gorges, and more. History buffs will love the 14th century Gergeti Trinity Church that is located at an elevation of 2,170 metres and boasts Mount Kazbek – a now-extinct volcano – as its backdrop.

Bonus: Tbilisi, a Silk Road crossroads, represents the epitome of East meets West.

Georgia Visa On Arrival For UAE Residents

Maldives

Head to: Vakkaru

Stay at: Vakkaru Maldives

Why Visit?

Unlike most travel destinations, where you stay in the Maldives is downright crucial – it can make or break your trip. Enter: Vakkaru Maldives, where you will indulge in a level of luxury that you’d be embarrassed to acknowledge back in the real world. And while white-sand beaches and turquoise-blue waters are a given, this property stands out because of its location within Baa Atoll, the only UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in the Maldives. Elsewhere, a sense of personality comes courtesy of Assouline coffee table books, farm-to-table experiences, and efforts towards sourcing educational materials for the local school.

Bonus: Guests can take a speedboat to Thulhaadhoo – the only island where Maldivians still create traditional lacquer artefacts that once catered exclusively to nobility – to explore authentic culture and purchase souvenirs.

Maldives Visa On Arrival For UAE Residents

Seychelles

Head to: Praslin

Stay at: Raffles Seychelles

Why Visit?

Legend has it that Praslin island is the real-life site of the mythological Garden of Eden. But there’s more. Not only is it the archipelago’s second largest island, but it’s also home to blush-inducing natural wonders. Anse Lazio – one of the world’s most beautiful beaches – happens to be located just around the corner from Raffles Seychelles, while the granite boulders of La Digue are a boat ride away. Most memorable, however, are the fabled Coco de Mer palms at Vallée De Mai nature park. These ancient 40-metre trees produce the world’s heaviest nuts, but it’s their suggestive shape (reminiscent of a woman’s nether regions, to put it politely) that makes them so unique.

Bonus: Creole cuisine is a unique blend of Indian spices, African flavours, and European cooking techniques, making it a tourist attraction in itself.

Seychelles Visa On Arrival For UAE Residents
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wellness events in Dubai

You, But Better: The Gaggler Agenda for June

Mark your calendars.

June 2: Steam and Heal

Womb steaming may sound like yet another hippy-dippy wellness trend, but it’s actually an ancient remedy that has been used by women to support deep wellness with the help of herbal steam gently permeating the exterior of the vagina. Enter: the Womb/Yoni Steaming session led by Eva Louise Williams at SEVA. As for its benefits? Reduced pain around menstruation, increased fertility, healing the reproductive system after giving birth, and more.

Learn more here.

June 5: Design Your Future

You know what you want your life to look like – now start living it. The LightHouse Arabia is hosting a two-part Val-YOU 2022 workshop that will delve into all things vision boards. Led by a psychologist Christine Kritzas, it will guide participants on how to visually express their dreams, offer strategies on living a life of purpose, and provide practical tools to start actioning one’s goals.

Learn more here.

June 7: Listen Up

Season 37 of Concert Series at The Fridge in Alerskal Avenue continues, with singer-songwriter Shilpa Ananth taking the stage for a night of South India’s dreamy landscapes fused with soul, jazz, and electronic influences. Opening for Ananth will be indie-pop artist Ananya, will be performing her upcoming singles in an original set at her debut performance at The Fridge.

Learn more here.

wellness events in dubai in june

June 10: Reconnect with Nature

Come summer, family-friendly excursions are always a good idea, and the Wadi Shabb and Turtle Trip wins our vote. Taking participants to some of the most scenic places in Oman, the two-day jaunt is rooted in the best time of year to see the baby turtles hatching and the big mamas laying their eggs in Ras al Hadd. You’ll also explore the canyon and waterfall cave of Wadi Shabb followed by a sea safari.

Learn more here.

June 11: Cool Off

Like us, you’re looking to beat the heat, and the DXB Snow Run is just the ticket. Kicking off at 6:30am, this one-of-a-kind event returns to the slopes of Ski Dubai for its third annual edition. Fitness enthusiasts over the age of 15 will be able to go for a run like no other, jogging up and down the indoor ski area in temperatures as cold as -4ºC. Incidentally, there are two distances to choose from this time around: 3km or 5km.

Learn more here.

June 17: Head Outdoors, Indoor

The Green Planet isn’t simply home to over 3,000 plants and animals. It’s also a go-to destination for unique experiences offered amidst an indoor ecosystem. Case in point? Camping in the Rainforest, a popular offering that allows the chance to spend a night in the tropical biodome before enjoying a behind-the-scenes tour to help feed the animals their breakfast the following morning. It’s the perfect blend of education and recreation for little explorers and nature-loving adults alike.

Learn more here.

Wellness Calendar for June

June 23: Love Thyself

We all know incredible things happen when women come together to support each other – and that’s where the Women Empowerment Circle session led by Annabel Lynch at Illuminations comes in. This onsite workshop is designed to help participants learn how to let go of sabotaging behaviours that are holding them back. You will learn about the art of self-love, what it means to see yourself in a more positive way, and not being so critical of yourself – all through the power of gratitude.

Learn more here.

June 25: Laugh Aloud

With laughter being the best medicine, catching comedian and Dubomedy co-founder Mina Liccione’s upcoming Growing Up Ringside show is a no-brainer. Taking place at Theatre of Digital Art and combining comedy, multimedia, spoken word, and rhythm, the highly acclaimed solo show weaves together hilarious and heartfelt stories from her New York upbringing as the daughter of an Italian-American boxing promoter and their undefeated bond through life’s highs and lows.

Learn more here.

June 30: Release Those Endorphins

Hosted by Mirzam, the Chocolate Factory Tour & Dates Dipping workshop is an indoor activity that’s sure to release your endorphins. Not only will you tour the artisanal chocolate factory’s production facility, but you’ll also enjoy the rich, toffee-flavoured sweetness of chocolate-dipped Khalas dates and decorate them with spices, nuts, and fruits found along the spice route. Bonus: all ages are welcome.

Learn more here.

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Best Wood-Flooring Companies in Dubai

5 of the Best Wood-Flooring Companies in Dubai

Here are our picks.

More and more property owners are opting for wood flooring for their space – and understandably so. It’s timeless, easy to maintain, and exceptionally long-lasting. Moreover, the classic and versatile appeal that wood offers suits just about any design theme there is. On the hunt for the perfect flooring for your home or office? Here’s our edit of the top wood-flooring companies that will turn your design visions into reality.

Nordic Homeworx

Wood-Flooring Companies in Dubai

Established in 2006 by Pauline Madani, Nordic Homeworx continues to deliver exceptionally engineered natural wood-flooring products and luxury vinyl tiles for both residential and commercial projects. This renowned Dubai-based company represents and supplies Kährs, one of the world’s biggest and oldest flooring brands originating in Sweden. As specialists in providing the highest quality flooring and installation services in the region, Nordic Homeworx puts emphasis on providing excellent care for its clients through the entire process, starting from conception to after-sales in the ensuing years. As for some of the most notable projects under its belt? The Expo 2020 Sweden Pavilion, IKEA Festival Plaza, and The Mosque of Light (amongst others).

Nordic Homeworx, Level 12, Fraser Suites, Sidra Tower, Al Sufouh, Sheikh Zayed Road, 04 369 5569, [email protected], www.nordichomeworx.com

Casamia

Debuting under the name Build Arch Building Materials Trading, the brand has accomplished a full rebrand as Casamia with the goal of offering an improved concept for its growing clientele. To cater to its key clients, the company launched a concept store to showcase its store, brands, and products via a bespoke and immersive experience. The company’s wooden flooring projects in Dubai fall under a broad range of sectors such as residential, commercial, and hospitality.

Casamia, 7 2a St., Al Quoz 1, Sheikh Zayed Road, 04 258 7777, [email protected]

Woodfloors Middle East

Woodfloors Middle East is the MENA region’s ultimate one-stop shop for the finest selection of flooring, furnishing, and interior decoration products. This award-winning company prides itself in its consistent record of providing state-of-the-art products and unparalleled services to its customers through an extensive brand catalogue that includes Hakwood, Boen, VerMeister, and more. 

Woodfloors Middle East, A3 Al Ghurair Warehouse, Al Quoz 3, 04 338 6678, [email protected]

Floorworld

Founded in 2009, Floorworld has made its name as one of the largest suppliers of wood flooring in the Middle East. Together with its talented team, the brand gained market recognition by following its chief vision in resolutely providing quality products and excellent services for its clientele. Its extensive list of completed projects include residential locations, government establishments (such as the Dubai Police building), and businesses under the hospitality industry (such as Rixos The Palm Hotel & Suites).

Floorworld, Umm Suqeim Street, Al Barsha 2, 04 889 5661, [email protected]

Floors And Walls

Floors And Walls is a British-owned business that specialises in a wide range of flooring and decorative wall paint products. Starting as Blinds & Curtains back in 2013, the company has since expanded to bring forth a whole new division that focuses on floor and wall selections. It has over ten teams of expertly trained individuals who provide outstanding services to their residential and commercial clientele. It’s no surprise, then, that some of its most significant projects includes work for Tecom Group, Damac, and Address Hotels + Resorts.

Floors And Walls, Shop 8, Street 6, Alsayegh Building, Oud Metha, 04 234 9314, [email protected]

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Father's Day In Dubai

9 Ways to Celebrate Father’s Day in Dubai

The holiday will be marked on Sunday, June 19.

Let’s admit it: most of us put a lot less spotlight on Father’s Day as compared to the other holidays. It’s an often-overlooked but nonetheless special day that celebrates father figures everywhere, so make your dad feel valued with one (or more!) of these fun ways.

Be a Sport

The month of June comprises some of the biggest sporting events of the year, so shout your support for dad’s favourite team at one of Dubai’s best sports bars. Kickers Sports Bar, conveniently located at Dubai Sports City, has TV screens on every wall so that audiences at this cool joint never miss a spectacular moment of action.

Kickers Sports Bar, Football Zone, Sports Village, Dubai Sports City, 04 448 1001, kickerssportsbar.ae

Make a Splash

If your dad is up for an adventure in the city, take him to a waterpark! Dubai boasts a great number of options that perfect for some well-deserved family time. Aquaventure at Atlantis the Palm features a wide array of slides and thrill rides perfect for beginners and adrenaline junkies alike. Let your dad show off his valour at its most popular attraction: the Leap of Faith. This slide has an 18-metre vertical drop sure to keep the blood pumping. Aquaventure also offers group attractions such as the Aquacondo and Zoomerango that the family can enjoy together.

Aquaventure, Atlantis The Palm, Crescent Road, 04 426 0000, atlantis.com

Take a Ride

Another great way to spend dad’s special day is by taking him on a jetski tour around the city. Treat him to two exciting hours of fun as he takes in the gorgeous views around Jumeirah, Burj Al Arab, Atlantis, and Bluewaters Island while he glides through the turquoise waters of Dubai with his very own personal watercraft. 

Ride in Dubai, Jumeirah 4, Al Fintaas St. Fishing Harbor, rideindubai.com, 052 714 2600

Catch a Flick

For the laid-back dads out there, you can’t go wrong with a classic night of entertainment at the movies. Spoil your dad with tickets to the latest action flick – or two – with VOX Cinema’s exclusive ticket offers. Look through its list of partnered banking establishments and avail movie tickets for half the price.

VOX Cinemas, 600 599 905, uae.voxcinemas.com

Journey East

Fathers Day In Dubai, Journey East

Celebrate this special day by treating the family to a scrumptious feast of Asian-American fusion dishes. Han Shi Fu at Aloft Dubai Creek is a gem in the heart of the city, offering traditional yet innovative flavours reminiscent of the most popular dishes in Taipei, Hong Kong, Shanghai, New York, and Los Angeles. Here, the menu boasts a wide array of dim sum, entrees, alcoholic beverages, and more in its well-curated unlimited and à la carte menus.

Han Shi Fu, Aloft City Centre, Deira, 04 228 1075, @hanshifudxb

Check In

Experience the wonders of being a tourist in your own town by booking a staycation for the family. It’s a great weekend activity, perfect for dads in need of a little R&R. It’s also an easy way to escape the city grind without the stress of travelling. Bonus: you can up your gifting game by booking a well-deserved full-body massage for your dad. 

Browse some of our favourite staycation spots here.

Shop Savvy

Take your dad shopping for great staple pieces for his wardrobe, trading in his old and worn-out shirts during a fun day of mall-hopping at Dubai’s many shopping destinations. Oh, and be sure to watch out for amazing promotions during the Dubai Summer Surprises usually happening right around June – just in time for Father’s Day!

Learn more about countrywide shopping events here

Cut ‘N’ Shave

Make a huge difference to your dad’s grooming routine by treating him to a luxurious shave at 1847. This establishment is one of the Middle East’s most exclusive men’s grooming lounges, dedicated to providing premium services from haircuts to facials and more at its 12 locations across Dubai. Give your dad the pampering he deserves and book him in for the comprehensive ‘Murdock London’ shave, 1847’s signature service.

1847, 2nd Floor, Fashion Avenue, The Dubai Mall, 800 1847, [email protected]

Escape the City

Looking to treat an outdoorsy dad? Go sightseeing in Dubai’s deserts by joining a safari tour, which you can easily customise by choosing from a number of fun activities – dune bashing, quad biking, and buggy riding included. Have your dad immerse in the culture while experiencing the endless thrills that the desert has to offer. Win-win.

Desert Safari Tours, 055 735 5443, [email protected]

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