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Here’s How You Can Contribute to Animal Welfare

According to three women in the know.

With innocent animals suffering worldwide in the name of everything from food and fashion to entertainment and scientific advancement, the need for improved animal welfare is more urgent than ever – and that’s what today is about. 

Marked annually on October 4, World Animal Day is a social movement charged with the mission of raising the status of animals in order to improve welfare standards around the globe. And because change begins at home, we tapped three members of the relentlessly dedicated staff at Ras Al Khaimah Animal Welfare Centre (RAKAWC) to reveal more about the country’s most pressing problems when it comes to animal welfare and how we can help.

Lana Karim

The Head of Community Wildlife Services at RAKAWC, Lana manages the shelter side of things, overseeing the Marketing department, the kennel and cattery sections, and the dog park in addition to the stray animal control/rescue teams, the facility section, and community services as a whole. Interestingly, she’s an architectural designer with a double major by qualification. “I quit my job to fully dedicate my time and efforts to rescuing animals and educating the community about animal rights,” she says, explaining how her parents shaped her into the animal lover that she is today.

“The love I have for the animals is the most precious thing I inherited from my parents besides all the great life lessons they gave me about protecting and loving the voiceless. Since I was born, my family always had dogs and cats – they were always rescuing, so our house was filled with the love of and for animals.” According to Lana, there are a few areas of concern when it comes to animal welfare in the UAE. “To me, the most pressing problems are issues like unlicensed breeders, the lack of responsibility when it comes to pet ownership, and the lack of educational programmes.” Her take on what needs to change? “Implement and follow the law of banning puppy mills, adopting rather than buying, and spaying animals to reduce the population of unwanted puppies and kittens.”

Raluca Muresan

Kittens, puppies, ducklings, and even a hedgehog – Raluca’s childhood entailed playing with all these animals, and then some. “For as long as I can remember, my love for animals has always been part of me. Every summer, I would stay at a farm for three months and enjoy their company. I also grew up with pets – a cat and two dogs – and my most beautiful memories are with them by my side.” The Marketing & PR Officer at RAKAWC, she coordinates all the events organised at the centre, adoption days included. “I am in charge of the marketing and PR campaigns, the centre’s social media presence, all local partnerships, and the educational programmes with schools in Ras Al Khaimah.” And it’s the latter that she says is most vital for progress.

“The lack of educational programmes is the main issue in my opinion. Where there is no proper education and information, the consequences will soon follow. We need to teach more people about animal rights, animal responsibilities, and protection. Also, our efforts here at RAKAWC are to change the mentality and influence better decision-making in the future, so that when people have to choose between buying or adopting a pet, they opt for the latter.” Echoing Lana’s sentiments, she advises people to advocate for the implementation of laws banning puppy mills in addition to adopting rather than buying. “This way, there would be fewer stray animals. Additionally, they should always consider spaying/neutering the animals in order to reduce the population of unwanted puppies and kittens that most likely will end up on the street.”

Dr. Magdalena Ozegovic

Like Lana and Raluca, Magdalena’s love for animals stems from her early years. “I grew up surrounded by animals, and I feel I always had a special love for them – the deepest and purest of love. I was maybe two or three years old when I first developed an interest in animals,  wanting to play with them and observe them up-close. I remember going to visit my grandparents in the countryside and, as soon as I arrived at their house, I would go straight to see the chickens, the dog, the cats, the cow, and the horse. I would spend countless hours there, sometimes forgetting to even greet my grandparents!” she recalls. It’s no surprise, then, that she grew up finding her calling as a veterinarian. “I knew I wanted to dedicate my life to animals and work to give them a better existence, healing them from illnesses and protecting them as much as I could.”

As the Head of Wildlife and Clinical Services, Magdalena manages the clinical side of the RAKAWC, which spans everything from spaying and neutering to vaccinations and maintaining the overall health of the shelter animals in order for them to be adopted. She also leads the outpatient vet clinic and hospital. “In my opinion, the biggest problem is the unimplemented laws,” she asserts. “UAE has great laws regarding animal rights, but they lack implementation. Hopefully, this will soon change.” We asked her what one should do to help if they encounter a stray animal in distress. “The first and most important thing they need to do is stop and help. They should either take the animal in and go to the closest vet for a check-up or, if they are in Ras Al Khaimah, call our centre so we can immediately send the rescue stray team.”

So what advice do they have on how we can help their collective efforts at RAKAWC? For starters, it goes beyond adoption, if that’s not an option. “The most important help we can get is to have suitable families coming to adopt our dogs and cats, giving them a forever family with love and care – as they all deserve,” they say. “But if there are people who cannot permanently commit, then they can foster an animal and help them get more chances of adoption in the future.”

The fostering process can take anywhere between two weeks and three months, and it helps RAKAWC several ways. “Not only does it give us the possibility of using the space for another deserving rescue, but the animal also gets more trust in people and the chances of adoption will grow.” And if fostering isn’t an option either? Volunteer! “We need volunteers to socialise with our animals, to take the dogs for walks and spend time with the cats. And of course, every share on social media, every word of mouth counts as we need to spread awareness about the animals and their welfare.”

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You, But Better: The Gaggler Agenda for February

Mark your calendars.

February 1: Celebrate Literature

The first six days of February are all about celebrating storytelling as the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature returns its 15th edition, this year taking place at InterContinental Dubai Festival City and Mohammed Bin Rashid Library. On the roster? Comedian David Walliams, best-selling author Cecelia Ahern, Succession star Brian Cox, Indian politician Shashi Tharoor, and plenty more.

Learn more here.

February 3: Break Bread

Taste of Dubai is an institution in its own right, returning to Dubai Media City Amphitheatre from 3 to 5 February. The three-day event is popular for its bite-sized portions of beloved dishes from some of the city’s best restaurants, but there’s plenty more to look forward to. We’re talking live music, appearances by celebrity chefs such as John Torode and Daniel Boulud, interactive masterclasses, and lots more.

Learn more here.

February 5: Think Green

Art and nature collide at the Embroidered Botanicals workshop at Jameel Arts Centre. Designed for all ages, this family-friendly event led by Dr Hellen Dayton will introduce participants to the historic healing and hidden properties of botanicals found around Dubai. Participants will then learn to draw the designs of these flowers, transferring them into embroidered textiles that can be used for the likes of napkins, pillows or throws.

Learn more here.

February 12: Test Your Limits

If one of your New Year’s resolutions was to pound the pavement more often in 2023, the Dubai Marathon – the country’s oldest long-distance running event – should be your starting point. You can opt for the ‘10km Road Race’ if you’re in shape, or the ‘4km Fun Run’ if you’re looking to start slow. Feeling ambitious? Sign up for all 42.195km of the marathon itself.

Learn more here.

February 14: Feel the Love

The definitive address for all things wheel throwing, The Mud House Studio is inviting participants to discover the intuitive nature of pottery at a special edition just for Valentine’s Day. Entitled Candlelit Wheel Throwing, the (you guessed it) candlelit session will be rooted in perception through touch, resulting in an exploration of how clay responds to this sense – and a meditative way to celebrate the annual day of romance.

Learn more here.

February 19: Steam and Manifest

Sometimes dismissed as a hippy-dippy trend, womb steaming is actually an ancient remedy that has been used by women to support deep wellness with the help of herbal steam. Enter: the New Moon Womb Steaming Feminine Activation session led by Renata Nacimento at SEVA. The upcoming New Moon in Pisces is the perfect time to set intentions and tap into the mystical powers of the womb.

Learn more here.

February 22: Have a Laugh

If a family-friendly activity is long overdue, Shrek The Musical at Dubai Opera belongs on your calendar. Based on the Oscar-winning DreamWorks film, this larger-than-life production takes audiences into lovable ogre Shrek’s journey from living contentedly alone in a swamp to rescuing the feisty Princess Fiona, who is trapped in a castle surrounded by lava.

Learn more here.

February 25: Journey to Lebanon

Expand your culinary horizons at the A Story of Meat, Spices & Grapes supperclub hosted by Bassel Wehbe via the BreakBread platform. Promising the best of Lebanese-Armenian fusion cuisine, this intimate dining experience will take attendees on a journey that pairs meat and spices with culinary backstories aplenty.

Learn more here.

February 26: See the Light

Helping celebrate the fifth anniversary of multidisciplinary space Concrete in Alserkal Avenue is Rana Begum, whose work distils spatial and visual experience into ordered form. In what will be the visual artist’s largest solo exhibition in the region, her works will explore the interaction of light, colour, and form in dialogue with Concrete.

Learn more here.

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Emirates Airline Festival of Literature returns in 2023 with old friends and homegrown talent

For the first time ever, this year’s festival will feature sessions in multiple regional languages.

Ebtisam Al-Beiti, a Dubai-based former nursery teacher, wrote her first book during lockdown in an outpour of creative energy. Published in 2021, Can I Go Out Now? debuted at the literature festival that year, and the first edition of the book was also part of the Ministry of Education’s Reading For Pleasure project.

This year, she’s back with another book for toddlers just learning to read: Citrus the Smoothie Sloth. Already in its second edition, it’s about a cheeky little sloth that likes to make smoothies from rainforest fruit. 

Over the last 15 years, the literature festival has been a firm fixture on Dubai’s social calendar and has matured into a developed platform for young and upcoming authors with its goal of creating a sustainable literary ecosystem for the UAE and the region.

“I think the festival is an amazing platform for upcoming authors, especially for [visitors and attendees] to see local talent as well,” Al-Beiti told Gaggler. “They get to experience meeting the authors, talking to the authors, specifically for my age group — which is much younger children aged four to six — it’s during these early years that it’s important for kids to interact with authors and to really encourage them to start reading and to develop a reading culture.”

Friendships Old and New

The theme for this year’s literature festival is “Old Friends,” a fitting commemoration of the festival’s 15th anniversary. “It’s a very special year for us,” shared Tamreez Inam, assistant festival director and head of programming. “So when we were thinking of the theme, we thought of ‘Old Friends’ as a way to honour the authors who have been to the festival before, many of whom are returning for the 15th anniversary. But of course, we have new authors and new friends as well.”

‘Old Friends’ is also a reference to a quote by Al Mutanabbi, Inam explained, where he said a book is an old friend — the only friend you’ll ever need. “So we’re playing on that as well for the theme.”

In a first for the festival, this edition will break new ground in a bid to expand its reach by holding sessions in regional languages apart from Arabic and English. “For the first time, we’re going to have sessions in Malayalam, Filipino, Italian, Urdu, and Hindi. We really want the festival to be a celebration of all the communities that live here in the UAE,” said Inam. “It’s going to be our largest festival ever.”

What to Expect 

The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature will be returning for its 15 anniversary from February 1-6, 2023, bringing together more than 250 writers and thinkers from over 50 countries in nearly 300 sessions spread out over six days. 

The festival kicks off with Desert Stanzas, a signature event and integral part of the festival consisting of a night of poetry and performances under the stars in the desert. “Then we just have a whole six days of all kinds of conversations: fiction, non-fiction, lots of children’s events, and something for everyone,” said Inam, who revealed she’s most looking forward to the special commemorations in honour of the 100th anniversary of the publication of The Prophet by acclaimed Lebanese author Kahlil Gibran, as well as his 140th birth anniversary.

As for Al-Beiti, she’s looking forward to attending all of the sessions for children. “I attended David Walliams’ [session] last year and I absolutely loved it; I think I laughed more than the children! So I will definitely be attending David Walliams’ again this year.”

As for UAE-based authors on her watchlist? “We’ve got Kathy Urban, who I’m very, very excited for, and of course the legendary Julia Johnson as well. Also looking forward to Beverly Jatwani.”

“I’m so excited that as much as we have international authors, we get to attend the local authors as well.”

The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature will hold author talks, workshops, special events and more at the Intercontinental in Festival City and the Mohammed Bin Rashid Library from February 1-6, 2023. Buy tickets here.

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You, But Better: The Gaggler Agenda for January

Mark your calendars.

January 4: Usher in 2023

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 New Year Full Moon workshop at Illuminations comes in. Accenting a cacao ceremony with sound healing in time for the first full moon of 2023, the session will help enhance one’s well-being and communication with divinity.

Learn more here.

January 8: Reap the Rewards

According to the Chinese zodiac, 2023 will be the Year of the Rabbit, one in which past sacrifices will be rewarded generously. Celebrate your upcoming stroke of good luck at Dubai Opera, where traditional elements, national characteristics, and regional culture will be highlighted at the Chinese New Year gala.

Learn more here.

January 14: Follow the Light

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 pay tribute to the work of Italian pianist and composer Ludovico Einaudi at L’Alliance Française.

Learn more here.

January 21: Tap Your Toes

Theatre of Digital Art is an immersive art space that continues to diversify, hosting everything from perfume-making workshops to breathwork meditation sessions. We’re marking our calendars for What A Wonderful Jazz, an evening of  jazz starring Sher Oston and his orchestra of 22 world-class musicians who take jazz, opera and pop classics to the next level.

Learn more here.

January 22: Embrace Imperfections

Take a cue from the Japanese and give a new lease of life to something broken during the guided Kintsugi fusion workshop taking place at the upcoming UnleashYou Retreat. Combining creative arts with a coaching approach, this half-day event is designed to refresh from within and inspire creativity.

Learn more here.

January 26: Chant Along

Did you know 2023 opens the Emerald Gate and the year of 7? According to the experts at SEVA, it’s a powerful time to sit in our power and embody this mighty energy. Enter: the Chanting to Be in Our Power session. Led by Eda Gungor, it invites participants to chant along with the Ajai Alai mantra in order to activate higher chakras, bring us out of depression and anger, and dissolve the challenges in front of us.

Learn more here.

January 27: Crash the Party

Expand your culinary horizons at the Taste of Owambe supperclub hosted by Man like Mus. Inspired by Nigerian “Owambe” parties, this intimate dining experience introduces attendees to classic festive dishes (think: jollof rice with lamb chops, peppered beef and grilled plantain, and more) and illustrates why the food is the best part of every Owambe party.

Learn more here.

January 29: Join the Journey

Today’s your last chance to intensify the score at Sky Castle, which responds to crowd flow and fluctuations. Located in d3, this interactive installation features a cluster of inflatable arches that span in a colourful symphony across public space. The movement of visitors powers and progresses the soundscape, stimulating colour changes to evoke the joy that sunshine brings after every storm.

Learn more here.

January 30: Seek Support

With life abroad bringing with it plenty of hard truths, the new Expats in the UAE Support Group hosted by The LightHouse Arabia is a great tool to help anyone who is new to the UAE. Hosted on a monthly basis, these sessions will offer a safe and supportive space to discuss the joys, the challenges, and everything in between that can arise when living as an expatriate.

Learn more here.

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Welcome to the Best of Gaggler, 2022 Edition

Settle in for some quality reading time.

2022 is drawing to a close and, with it, ends another year of Gaggler sharing the expertise of astrologers, avid travellers, life coaches, health experts, wellness gurus, and more with women in the UAE – and beyond. Today, we’re looking back and taking stock of the past 12 months by rounding up some of our most memorable features when it comes to empowering women.

Laid out in chronological order, these articles represent the best of our magazine as a female-focused platform. As for the Gaggler woman? She is resilient and resourceful, empathetic yet deeply aware that you need to put on your own oxygen mask before attempting to help those around you. There are also a handful of special mentions, starting with a peek into our founder’s bag, which contains six must-haves from the online store we launched earlier this month. We also revisit two topics that warrant more attention in the year ahead: money management and sleep hygiene. Read on.

Keeping the Kids Motivated While Homeschooling

A kid studying on tablet

No parent will ever say that home schooling during the pandemic was anything other than incredibly tough. Technical challenges aside, ensuring children stay on-track with their studies and adding ‘teacher’ into the mix of roles didn’t make the lives of parents any easier. To help them navigate the return of remote learning earlier this year, we shared five key pointers on how to maintain a healthy home-schooling schedule.

Read the article here.

What an Accidental Dating Guru Wants Women to Know

Jon birger dating guru smiling

An award-winning business journalist, Jon Birger admitted to venturing into the self-help genre with a “snooty attitude” when he wrote his 2015 book Date-onomics, which analysed modern-day dating by crunching numbers. Having returned to the genre with his 2021 release Make Your Move, the author became more comfortable with advising single women worldwide, encouraging them to question the clichés that come with romance. To mark Valentine’s Day, we shared 10 takeaways from our conversation with this accidental dating guru.

Read the article here.

Let’s Delve into the Inner Workings of Board Membership

Career Out Of Board Membership

The basic structure of a board of directors varies depending on the needs of the organisation and any specialties within a specific industry, such as its regulatory environment. You can have boards as large as 30 members (non-profit boards) or as small as nine members (typical for a Russell 3000 company). We delved into the nuts and bolts of what you need to know about being on a board of directors and how to create one of your own.

Read the article here.

This Isn’t Your Typical Island Getaway

Beach chairs with umbrella

Not everyone is keen on the idea of long-haul travel. That’s understandable. And that’s where our travel guide to Bahrain came in – the only archipelago in the region, it’s only a mere 70-minute flight away. Between its UNESCO World Heritage Sites, trendy eateries, old-school souks, cultural institutions, and endless island-hopping opportunities, it’s also seriously underrated – especially if a quick getaway is all you can manage.

Read the article here.

A Men’s Coach on Encouraging Your Man to Open Up

tips for a men to open up

Men can seem like a bit of an enigma at times, appearing stoic, emotionless, carefree, and even indifferent. The keyword here is ‘appearing’. The truth is that they feel more than you think. Yes, a man wants to unburden his troubles, but the conditions need to be psychologically safe. Most men fear that their truth will hurt the person they want to be honest with, so they decide to say nothing. Enter: relationship coach Adil Hussain, who shared advice on how you can be the safe space for the man in your life.

Read the article here.

Why Women with Money Can Create a Better World

Financial Advice for Women

Much of the research around how and why women feel the way they do about money management isn’t surprising. According to statistics, 81% of women said they’ve personally been a victim of negative stereotypes – including about their investing abilities. In this article, we revealed what you can do to overcome fear or unconscious bias and feel more financially confident.

Read the article here.

Here’s How to Create an Inviting Living Room

living room with a wallpaper of leaves.

When you think of your lounge, do you think of a space to unwind and relax in, a meeting place where you can entertain friends and family, or a vibrant area where your children can play? Lounge rooms have many different functions, depending on the occupant’s needs, but they have one function in common – they should act as an inviting space where people want to spend their time. Our resident expert on all things interiors shared her tips on making your lounge reflect your needs.

Read the article here.

The 101 on Cohabiting in the UAE

A man and woman painting a wall

The UAE government recently announced amendments to a number of major personal and family laws, changing life for both current residents and those considering a move to our shores. Still confused about what exactly is and isn’t legal when it comes to cohabitation – arguably the most significant in these law changes – and the potential outcome for couples who have a child out of wedlock? You’ll find our conversation with a family law specialist illuminating.

Read the article here.

Making Amends: The Journey to Healing

Have you ever been anxious about a quarrel with a friend, sibling, or spouse? We’ve all been there. Guilt is a given, but your fury may overtake you and cause you to say things you don’t consciously mean. While you can’t take back what you’ve said after you’ve said it, you can tap into the insights of a mental health coach on how to fix things.

Read the article here.

Welcome to Sober October

Non alcoholic drinks Recipes

Non-alcoholic concoctions have soared in popularity across the globe in recent years, but arguably, they’re most favoured in the Middle East owing to cultural and religious factors. In honour of Sober October, we made a pitstop at Dubai’s first dry bar, NoLo, in search of easy recipes for you. The venue is anchored in creative zero-proof cocktails served in a dimly lit setting accented by lounge music and city views.

Read the article here.

Why Self-Care Is Crucial for Working Women

Self-Care for Women

The term ‘caregiver’ comes with an entourage of emotions and labels. The focus is always only on the person being taken care of, with associated emotions ranging from guilt to selflessness. By association, the word ‘care’ has come to take on the meaning of only being directed towards others – more so when you’re a woman, the ultimate caregiver. Here, we reminded our readers that caregiving begins with taking care of yourself, so you can recharge your batteries and share your best with others.

Read the article here.

6 Tips to Make Moving Day Less Stressful

writing a to-do list

Living in the UAE usually means one thing for all of us: we need to move home at least twice while living here. And while moving homes is considered as one of the most stressful events in one’s life, there are steps you can take to make the process smoother. It all depends on how well you organise your house move before, during, and after the move itself. Here, we shared six expert tips to get you started. 

Read the article here.

Special Mentions

Monica Malhotra: What’s in My Bag

Always trying to do more and constantly on the go – in today’s world, being a working woman is no simple task. One woman who fits this description is Monica Malhotra, the CEO of Gaggler. We had a chance to peek into her handbag, discovering her everyday essentials and discussing the importance of self-care in the life of a female entrepreneur.

Read the article here.

Stressed About Money? Consider This

Calculator coins money book with pen

Have you ever felt lost, overwhelmed, or inadequate when it comes to money and wealth? Have you ever felt others were born with a financial playbook that you never got? People often feel shame, anxiety, and feelings of inadequacy because they can’t budget, have debt, or don’t know how to make an investment – but no one was born knowing how to earn and best utilise money. And that’s where the advice of a finance coach comes in.

Read the article here.

Over 40? It’s Time to Revisit Sleep Management

Sleep Management Tips for Over 40s

Sleeping peacefully or counting sheep? Any age can experience sleepless nights and insomnia, and often, this can be traced back to external life stressors like work, personal issues, or illness. Unfortunately, around the age of 40, we have another equation to factor in: menopause. To that end, we tapped a menopause wellness specialist on how to get better shut-eye in your 40s.

Read the article here.

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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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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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diwali in abu dhabi

5 Places to Celebrate Diwali in Abu Dhabi

Go all out for the Festival Of Lights.

In Abu Dhabi and looking to celebrate Diwali in style this month? We’ve curated a list of experiences ranging from fine dining to family fun to help you ring in the Festival of Lights with lights, colour, and sparkle. Diwali will take place on Monday, October 24 this year and will be one of the most significant holidays for Hindus who reside in the UAE.

Apart from the religious festivities, celebrations include decorating homes with clay lamps, known as diyas, and creating decorative patterns called rangoli on the floor using coloured powders or sand. Most important, though, is the quality time spent with family and friends and indulging in delicious food and desserts. Read on to make your plans. And if you’re in Dubai, don’t worry – there’s plenty to do there too.

Diwali in UAE

Martabaan

Head down to Emirates Palace this weekend to take in the air and enjoy an all-day outdoor street food adventure with six stalls showcasing Indian street food and sweets at the Diwali Mela from October 22-24 between 11am and 7pm. There will be special Diwali gifts for every table, as well as Martabaan sweet boxes are also available to purchase.

Martabaan, Emirates Palace, Corniche Road, Abu Dhabi, 02 690 9000

Bollywood Parks

Bollywood Parks is at a prime location on the border between Abu Dhabi and Dubai, so it’s a great reason to stop by – whether you’re heading in or out of the capital. It really is a memorable destination on its own. It’s the first Bollywood-themed park in the world, and only 56 minutes from the heart of Abu Dhabi. The traditional Indian street dancers are the best part, along with the theatre performance that happens multiple times during the evening.

There is a lot to do apart from the customary performances. There’s the rocket-shaped gravity ride, carousels, vibrant hang gliders, and the Bollywood Sky Flyer, which holds the record for the largest swing ride in the world. From food and rides to just soaking in the vibes inspired by your favourite blockbusters, there is something for everyone at this theme park.

Bollywood Parks, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, 800 262 9464, www.bollywoodparksdubai.com

diwali celebration in abu dhabi

Osmo Lounge

There is no better location than Osmo to celebrate Diwali in Abu Dhabi. Visit the terrace to enjoy a variety of healthy street snacks, nibbles, and treats while admiring the magnificent Yas Bay fireworks. Live stations will provide typical fare like chaat, pani puri, freshly grilled tandoori skewers, a variety of samosas, and tea. You can order off the à la carte menu or enjoy the benefits of the limitless meal and soft drink offer for just AED 200.

Osmo Lounge, Yas Bay, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, 02 208 6900, www.hilton.com

Yas Bay Waterfront Fireworks

Yas Bay Waterfront Fireworks

What better way to celebrate the Festival of Lights than to visit Yas Bay and take in the breathtaking fireworks display? You can enjoy this spectacle that will light up the sky on Monday, October 24. To experience a wonderful light show for the Festival of Lights, be there by 9pm.

Yas Bay Waterfront fireworks, Yas Island Yas West, Abu Dhabi, www.yasbay.ae

Capila Pool Bar & Grill

Capila Pool Bar & Grill

If you’re in Abu Dhabi for the weekend after Diwali, the Hilton Abu Dhabi Yas Island will continue to celebrate the Festival of Lights on October 29, and invites guests to enjoy a memorable Diwali. You can visit the spice market at Capila Pool Bar & Grill and DIY your own delicious chaat. The exquisite masala bike will serve tantalising Indian dishes while the tandoori BBQ will dish out succulent tikka. As no celebration is complete without dessert, guests can end their meal with indulgent Indian sweets. The Hilton Abu Dhabi Yas Island’s façade will come to life with a special 3D animated light show, and you’ll have a view of the fireworks at Yas Bay.

Capila Pool Bar & Grill, Hilton Abu Dhabi Yas Island, 02 208 6900, [email protected]

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wellness events in Dubai

You, But Better: The Gaggler Agenda for October

Mark your calendars.


October 1: Laugh Aloud

If laughter really is the best medicine, then consider Riaad Moosa the cure. The South African doctor-turned-comedian famed for his observational humour returns to Dubai for one night of stand-up comedy at The Theatre in Mall of the Emirates. Audiences will also get a chance to attend a screening of the award-winning actor’s latest release, New Material, the sequel to his hit movie Material.

Learn more here.

October 3: Recognise the Signs

With the pandemic resulting in a rise of eating disorders worldwide, the Getting to Grips with Eating Disorders and Body Image webinar hosted by The LightHouse Arabia is a great tool to help university students, university educators, and young adults gain a better understanding of what an eating disorder is and how they develop. The session will help recognise the warning signs, learn about treatment, and learn practical tips for supporting young people with such issues.

Learn more here.

October 5: Lose Your Blues

A collision of singing, dancing, and plenty of laughs awaits as Footloose The Musical makes its way to Dubai Opera for four days of performances. Whether you’re loyal to the 1984 original starring Kevin Bacon or only familiar with Craig Brewer’s 2011 remake for a new generation, this is a stage adaptation you don’t want to miss.

Learn more here.

October wellness events in Dubai

October 7: Broaden Your Perspective

At the intersection of art, science, and technology is Festival X, a one-of-a-kind event that hopes to attract and create a community of open-minded artists, scientists, and tech experts coming together and sharing knowledge. Taking place at Alserkal Avenue from October 7 to 9, it will feature exhibitions and talks (free to attend) alongside shows (priced AED 150) and workshops (priced AED 1,200).

Learn more here.

October 11: Go Green

Vegan or not, foodies across the city ought to experience the culinary prowess of French chef Vincent Caudet. We recommend booking the Fusion Vegan 5 Course Secret Menu, which encourages diners to keep an open mind and surf the vegan trend, returning to nature through a selection of 100% plant-based products.

Learn more here.

October 16: Embrace Imperfections

Take a cue from the Japanese and give a new lease of life to something broken during the guided kintsugi art workshop taking place at the upcoming UnleashYou Retreat. Held at Dubai Polo & Equestrian Club, this daylong event will also feature a coaching session using the art of mandalas and another that delves into the correlation between music and interpersonal relationships.

Learn more here.

Embrace Imperfections

October 25: Think Global

Impulse purchases, cultural performances, street food, extreme rides, and family-friendly attractions – if you want to pair the return of cooler weather with a little old-fashioned fun for all ages, Global Village is where it’s at. Season 27 is set to begin on October 25, bringing with it 80 different cultures across 26 pavilions as well as plenty of new entertainment offerings.

Learn more here.

October 27: Watch This Space

Advocating tolerance and unity through film, META Film Fest marks the first film festival to take place in the country in five years – and it promises to be a big one. Spanning three days, this brand new film festival will be held at Vox Cinemas at Nakheel Mall and feature movie premieres, international blockbusters, and regional feature films. Cast members and celebrities from the Arab world, Hollywood, Bollywood, and even Nollywood are expected to make an appearance on the red carpet.

Learn more here.

October 30: Catch a Classic

It’s never too early for young ones to develop a taste for ballet, especially if it’s a production that the whole family can enjoy. Enter: The Sleeping Beauty: A Bite Size Ballet at The Theatre in Mall of the Emirates. A unique spin on a classic, this 60-minute show is the perfect blend of classical elegance and immersive fun, capturing children’s attention and telling the story adapted specifically for younger audiences.

Learn more here.

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Places to Celebrate Diwali in Dubai

5 Places to Celebrate Diwali in Dubai

Let the festivities begin!

One of the world’s grandest festive occasions is right around the corner. Diwali, meaning “row of light”, marks five days of joyous cheer celebrated by friends and family. It is during this period that Hindus adorn their homes with blossoming marigolds and a wide variety of candles to commemorate the return of the Hindu god Rama to his kingdom after being exiled for 14 years. Dubai, being home to nationalities and religions from far and wide, offers a wide range of dining and entertainment options suitable for all cultural and traditional celebrations. Want to make Diwali a little extra special this year? Here are our picks of the best dining destinations for the occasion.  

Bombay Brasserie

In addition to its spirited murals and unobstructed views of the Burj Khalifa, Bombay Brasserie at Taj Dubai offers a lavish blend of traditional and contemporary Indian cuisine. Enjoy the breathtaking fireworks display this festive season while you indulge in rich, aromatic flavours. Each dish promises to deliver an authentic Indian experience that’s well-suited for this joyous occasion.

Bombay Brasserie, Taj Dubai, Burj Khalifa Street, Business Bay, 04 438 3222, eatapp.co

Basanti & Co.

Celebrate Diwali in style at Basanti & Co. at Bluewaters Island. It’s the prime location to enjoy the astonishing fireworks display and the magnificent Bluewaters Street Festival while feasting on classic Indian fare. Top off your evening with a craft cocktail from the in-house lounge or a delightful gulab jamun from the dessert menu.

Basanti & Co., Bluewaters Island, 04 557 6947, [email protected]

Farzi Café

Located at City Walk in Al Safa, this beloved spot offers an elevated gourmet experience that will take your culinary journey to new heights. The gastronomic array of traditional classics fused with global delights at Farzi Café reinterprets Indian cuisine in the most unexpected ways. Additionally, the restaurant shines with the glow of diyas and fairy lights during Diwali to truly pay tribute to this major holiday.  

Farzi Café, Dubai City Walk II, Al Safa St., 04 394 2556, [email protected]

farzi cafe

Source: @khyberdubai

Khyber

This award-winning restaurant situated in the heart of Palm Jumeirah stays true to its Indian identity through awe-inspiring murals, vibrant décor, and unmatched North Indian food and beverages. Share the festive spirit with company at Khyber by treating yourselves to scrumptious vegetarian delights such as the paneer tikka and makai ki tikki.

Khyber, Dukes The Palm, Palm Jumeirah, 04 455 1101, [email protected]

Patiala

No matter which special occasion calls for a splurge, this elegant spot at Souk Al Bahar has you covered. Patiala’s sophisticated setting and relaxed ambiance is just the right choice if you prefer a more laidback celebration. Sit back and take pleasure in well-loved Punjabi classics accompanied by service that reflects exuberant Indian hospitality. Take your taste buds on a sensory experience this festive season with the signature vegetarian delicacies such as the dum ke khumb and garbar falooda.

Patiala, Souk Al Bahar, Downtown Dubai, 04 451 9151, [email protected]

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