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Haiya Afroze

Meet The Foodie Behind Pass Me The Dim Sum

Haiya Afroze talks all things Ramadan.

If your mindless scrolls on Instagram are accented with enticing flatlays of culinary delicacies, you have one woman to thank: Haiya Afroze. Not only is she the founder of Haiyatea, a tea room and artisanal tea shop, but she’s also the creator of our favourite foodie account, Pass Me The Dim Sum. Haiya’s feed is focused on wholesome, educational recipes as well as offering a glimpse into her always eventful daily life. As a proud and practising Muslim, she talks to us about what Ramadan means to her and how tea fits into the holy month.

Q

Why do Muslims break their fast with dates, and what’s
their importance during Ramadan? 

A

Dates are easily digested, making them a quick source of energy and nutrients. Eating dates after a long day of fasting can help the body’s blood glucose levels quickly return to normal. Our Prophet (PBUH) used to break his fast with dates, so it’s a tradition followed by all Muslims. Modern science also proves how beneficial they are on an empty stomach. 

Food Blogger Dubai

Q

In what ways can non-Muslims help observe Ramadan
with their Muslim friends?

A

To be quite honest, Muslims try to retract from worldly activities and do more self-reflection and worship than usual in the month of Ramadan. My personal struggle with my non-Muslim friends is the peer pressure to hang out, go out, socialise – and that’s just not something I enjoy as much in Ramadan. These are golden days, and any worship done is rewarded many folds, so that’s how I want to spend most of my time in Ramadan. I would love if my friends understood that.

Q

What is your go-to dish to cook during Ramadan, and why? 

A

My husband and I aren’t very traditional and, because we live alone and have no relatives here, we tend to keep our iftars (the meal at dusk to break the fast) quite light and simple. They often just comprise of the regular meals we would’ve had anyway. The one thing that’s different is that we’ll always have dates and Arabic coffee – flavours and scents I now associate with Ramadan – on our table. We’ll also have a fruit salad as it’s perfect after a long day of fasting. We avoid sugary drinks and opt for water, and sometimes we’ll have dahi phulikiyaan, a dish comprising of crispy rehydrated gram flour swirls submerged in whipped yoghurt. So refreshing!

Q

How will you incorporate your love for tea into Ramadan this year?

A

My love for tea doesn’t stop during Ramadan! What’s amazing to me is that on a normal day, skipping my morning matcha will give me a migraine, but God just makes it easy during a fast. After we have iftar, I’ll fire up the humidifier with a refreshing scent of choice and spend the evenings reading Quran and refilling my pot of tea several times. 

Q

Do you always go traditional for Ramadan or shake it up with other cuisines?

A

Ramadan really is about revisiting and embracing traditional foods, but as I am not a very traditional person and don’t always relate to the culture I’ve inherited, I always merge traditional with untraditional. For example, I was once commissioned to create an Arab-inspired dish using oats. Saudi oat soup is the most traditional dish that comes to mind when I think of oats, but I couldn’t do that – that’s too easy. So, I made a savoury granola using za’atar, cumin, and pomegranate molasses, serving it alongside Turkish tomato sauce, grilled eggplant, and whipped garlic yoghurt. 

Q

What dessert do you always cook during Ramadan, and why? 

A

I love basbousah! It’s a semolina cake of sorts, which is drenched in sugar syrup. I bake it with orange juice for some zestiness, and line the pan with tahini for more decadence! 

Q

Can you share your favourite Ramadan recipe with us?

A

I wanted to incorporate my treasure chest of oats into recipes that are popular this time of year, regardless of whether or not those recipes traditionally call for oats. I grew up in Saudi Arabia, where pull-apart cheesy bread is a common and standard teatime accompaniment all year round, but an especially popular item on the iftar table. Each little pillow of dough is stuffed with a cube of firm white cheese (mozzarella, halloumi, or Kiri) because there is no such thing as ‘too much cheese’ or ‘too many olives’ in the Middle Eastern vocabulary.

Q

What is your most cherished Ramadan memory, and why? 

A

My most cherished memory, without a doubt, are the iftars I had alone with my late grandmother at her place. She was the ‘hostess with the mostess’ and always expressed her love through food, but during the many Ramadans I spent with her when there were no guests? Those are my favourite memories. She would make two perfectly portioned bowls of fruit salad and a few pakoras for us both – pakoras are gram flour fritters and they’re my ultimate Ramadan weakness, but I avoid making them as they’re deep-fried and I could eat a plateful. We’d then go straight to dinner. Those iftars encompassed the true essence of Ramadan for me: modesty, simplicity, family, love. And no gluttony! 

Q

What’s a dish that you never thought you would try, but love?

A

Fermented green tea leaf salad. It’s a Burmese snack that’s sweet, savoury, spicy, and oh-so-moreish. 

Q

What tips can you share to help others through the Ramadan season?

A

When you’re fasting, you want to eat a horse. Don’t do it. Don’t go overboard with iftar preparations – make just as much food as you would for a regular dinner because chances are you’ll want to eat even less than you usually do. When you make too much food, though, you tend to overeat just so you don’t have to deal with leftovers. And obviously, drink lots of water between dusk and dawn. During suhoor (the morning meal before the sun rises), avoid spicy or greasy foods that will make you thirsty and try to have some yoghurt. I always find that yoghurt makes me feel less thirsty throughout the day. 

Q

Are there any other changes that you make in your life during Ramadan?

A

It’s not advised to change our religious inclinations during Ramadan and return to a lifestyle that is un-Islamic. However, we do try to better ourselves in whatever personal capacity we can and see ourselves lacking in, but with the intention of maintaining those ways – not just for a month.  As Muslims, we are encouraged to give charity throughout the year. In fact, one of the fundamental pillars of Islam dictates that we must donate 2.5% of the savings we have had for over a year to the less fortunate in order to keep income disparity at bay. However, charity peaks during Ramadan because we believe that all good deeds are rewarded many folds during this blessed month. The spirit of generosity during Ramadan is truly palpable in the air.

For more recipes or just plain FOMO as Haiya dines across Dubai, follow her here.

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Welcome to Sober October

Hangovers and brain fog be gone.


NoLo is a secret worth sharing. Hidden behind a set of heavy doors on the 24th floor of Dusit Thani Dubai hotel, Dubai’s first dry bar is anchored not in alcohol, but creative zero-proof cocktails served in a dimly lit setting where lounge music and city views set the tone for conversation. But more on that in a minute. With the arrival of October, social drinkers across the UK are taking on the Sober October challenge, giving up alcohol in order to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support – an altruistic Dry January, if you will. And although the movement originated in the UK, anyone can sign up and participate, inevitably reaping a whole host of health benefits in the process. 

In fact, lower blood pressure, a regeneration of damaged liver cells, a reduction in insulin resistance, a healthier body weight, and a lowered risk of cancer with each year of sobriety are just some of the health benefits of quitting, according to American Addiction Centers. It’s no wonder that 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. Add to that the region’s well-documented obsession with social media, and the days of sodas and saccharine mocktails appearing on the last page of a drinks menu are gradually on the way out. Now, they’re Instagrammable, well thought out, and boast complex flavours suited to the adult palate.

“We have this word in Italian, sfigato, which comes to mind when one goes into a bar and asks for a non-alcoholic drink. It translates to ‘an unlucky person’. But we live in the Middle East, of course,” says Giovanni Depergola, the instructor of Dry Mixology and Bartending courses at the International Centre for Culinary Arts. “We are bartenders at the end of day, but we like to be called mixologists so we can charge more,” he says with a chuckle. “I’m also an educator, so for me, training is a very serious matter. My passion for dry mixology stems from the passion that I have for cocktails – all that showmanship, all that theatricality deserves a spot in the non-alcoholic category.” 

As an F&B industry insider, Depergola noticed a gap in the market that had to be addressed. “All I saw was carbonated drinks and canned juices and, with time, I said, ‘Come on, we’re good at making cocktails, so why not use the same flavours, the same glassware, the same shaking techniques to serve something that we are proud of?’ Because I wasn’t proud to serve something in a can with ice and a slice of lemon.” Elsewhere, British entrepreneur Erika Doyle also noticed the lack of non-alcoholic drinks on offer, leading to the launch of Drink Dry, a one-stop shop for options that are not only premium, but also high in taste and low in sugar. 

“One of the misconceptions that people in the West have about the Middle East is that it’s such a huge market for non-alcoholic drinks because there are so many non-drinkers who want to drink, but can’t,” she says. “If you’ve always been told that drinking is bad for you, then our products aren’t the answer to all your prayers. Unlike ex-drinkers and the sober curious, I’m not giving non-drinkers a solution because they don’t have a problem to begin with.” Instead, Drink Dry is exploring how to introduce new ways of drinking to non-drinkers. “It’s likely that they’ve only been drinking very sugary drinks, so what we’re doing is introducing healthier ways of drinking without necessarily referencing their alcoholic counterparts.” NoLo, meanwhile, has added a social aspect to this rising trend, catering to mindful drinkers and health-conscious individuals ready for a night out. 

Incidentally, the name of this new drinking den is a portmanteau of ‘no alcohol’ and ‘low worries’, a carefree mindset reflected in its brightly coloured seating and anthropomorphic art. Over on the menu, of course, is where its star attraction – both classic and experimental cocktails – awaits. Created in conjunction with Lyre’s, widely considered the leading independent non-alcoholic spirits brand, they span the likes of Immune Highball, Thai Basil Smash, and Spice Date Espresso Martini. Those in search of the familiar, meanwhile, will appreciate Lyre’s zero-proof take on the G&T, the mojito, the martini, the Amalfi spritz, and the amaretto sour – all created to imitate the taste and mouthfeel of the originals. And in the meantime, the team at NoLo shares three alcohol-free recipes in honour of Sober October.

1. Lyre’s Mediterranean G&T

Ingredients:

  • 45ml Lyre’s Dry London Spirit
  • 120ml Fever Tree Mediterranean Tonic
  • 1 orange slice
  • 1 sprig rosemary (for garnish)

Directions:

  1. Fill a tall glass ¾ full of ice.
  2. Pour in the ingredients and gently stir to combine.
  3. Garnish with a sprig of rosemary.

2. Date Old Fashioned

Ingredients:

  • 60ml Lyre’s American Malt
  • 15ml date syrup
  • 4 dashes chocolate/walnut bitters
  • 4 dashes orange bitters
  • 1 date (for garnish)

Directions:

  1. Stir all the ingredients in a mixing glass.
  2. Pour into a short tumbler over block ice.
  3. Garnish with a skewered date.

3. Bedtime Story

Ingredients:

  • 30ml Lyre’s Amaretti
  • 45ml strong chai
  • 15ml coconut milk
  • 7.5ml maple syrup
  • pink salt and star anise (for garnish)

Directions:

  1. Prepare the strong chai by steeping two chai teabags in 125ml near-boiling water for five minutes.
  2. Remove the teabags and let cool.
  3. Dry shake (without ice), then wet shake (with ice added) the ingredients.
  4. Strain into a cocktail or coupette glass.
  5. Garnish with star anise and a sprinkle of pink salt.
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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 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.

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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Best Brunch Spots in Dubai

5 Brunch Spots Boasting City Views in Dubai

Weekends just got better.

Getting out of bed on weekends is always a challenge, but there’s nothing like brunch to get anyone up and running! It’s one of the best ways to spend quality time with friends, family, or a special someone. Now, take your brunch game to the next level by sipping your mimosas while you feast your eyes on stunning city views. Here are five brunch spots in Dubai that win our vote.

Marina Social by Jason Atherton

Founded by Michelin-star chef Jason Atherton, Marina Social is more than just your typical restaurant. It redefines social dining through its open gallery concept and dessert bars that offers guests a peek into the magic that happens in the kitchen. This glamorous destination at InterContinental also features an exclusive ‘Social Table’ where its patrons can enjoy a unique dining experience that consists of only the best selection of champagne, teas, cigars, and more. Enjoy a delicious meal with panoramic views of the city with your inner circle in this elegant joint – and don’t forget to share a side or two! 

Marina Social by Jason Atherton, InterContinental Dubai Marina, King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud St., Dubai Marina, 04 446 6664, [email protected]

CÉ LA VI Dubai

A classic stop among brunch lovers, Cé La Vi owns the spot for being one of the city’s best destinations for contemporary Asian cuisine. Its famous Brunch on 54 on Saturdays offers guests an elevated brunch experience that combines a gastronomic set menu, incomparable views of the Burj Khalifa, and groovy music to make the dining affair like no other. With the restaurant name taking its roots from the famous French saying c’est la vie – that’s life – this spot truly paints a picture of Dubai’s best.

CÉ LA VI, Level 54, Address Sky View Hotel Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard, 04 582 6111, [email protected]

CÉ LA VI Dubai

Source: @celavidubai

Hola Rooftop

This chic Dubai restaurant puts a twist on your usual brunch experience. Hola Rooftop transports its guests to the islands of Ibiza, Formentera, and Mallorca without ever leaving its premium spot atop The Meydan Hotel. The Mediterranean-inspired rooftop lounge offers delectable Spanish dishes paired with refreshing drinks and live entertainment with a remarkable golf course view in the backdrop.

Hola Rooftop, The Meydan Hotel, Nad Al Sheba 1, 056 358 3333, rsrvit.com

Bubbalicious 

Located at The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina, Bubbalicious showcases over 10 live cooking stations in three restaurants within the resort: Baba, Sui Mui, and Mina’s Kitchen. With such a diverse selection, guests will be treated to a wide array of menu items that includes Indian and Asian dishes, seafood delicacies, mouth-watering roasts, and more. Don’t miss the roaming acrobats and live band sure to make this feast one to remember.

Bubbalicious, The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina, Dubai Marina, 04 399 4141, www.marriott.com

MOOD Rooftop Lounge

Perched atop The Meydan Hotel, this lavish rooftop dining spot is a go-to for local and international flavours and a laid-back atmosphere that lets guests unwind and socialise with their companions. Each dish is proudly made with top-quality ingredients and prepared with utmost care from the kitchen to the table. Crowd favourites include the charred king prawn, veggie sushi, and the truffle chicken & mushroom pizza.

MOOD Rooftop Lounge, The Meydan Hotel, Nad Al Sheba, 054 440 0227, www.moodrooftop.com

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Wellness Calendar for September 2022

You, But Better: The Gaggler Agenda for September

Mark your calendars.

September 2: Break Bread

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

Learn more here.

September 3: Laugh Aloud

Jo Koy was meant to kick off his Funny Is Funny world tour in Dubai back in December 2021, but his show was postponed due to “unforeseen circumstances”. As for his rescheduled performance on May 14? Cancelled, this time due to the death of Sheikh Khalifa. Now, in a case of ‘third time’s the charm’, the Filipino-American talent will take to the stage at Coca-Cola Arena on September 3, promising that we’ll be among the first to see new material from his Netflix special before it even airs.

Learn more here.

September 8: Breathe and Reboot

Located at Souk Madinat Jumeirah, Theatre of Digital Art is an immersive art space that continues to diversify, hosting everything from jazz performances to yoga flow sessions and Indian music nights. We’re marking our calendars for the hourlong Breathwork Meditation Session, which invites participants to take an immersive journey into themselves. Elisabeth Bohler, a certified meditation facilitator, will guide you through an intense circular breathing technique that has the power to reconnect you with your inner self and release stress for both body and mind.

Learn more here.

September 12: Let Go

We all know our beliefs shape the very foundation, affecting how we perceive ourselves and others, interact in our relationships, perform our work, and show up in the world – and that’s where the Letting Go of Self-Limiting Beliefs session led by Annabel Lynch at Illuminations comes in. Exclusive for women, this onsite guided meditation session is designed to help you to let go of self-limiting and critical beliefs, while inviting you into a space of presence, positive self-belief, confidence, happiness, compassion, and contentment.

Learn more here.

September 15: Catch a Must-Watch

Film screenings continue (almost) daily at Cinema Akil throughout September, with the independent cinema hosting a flawlessly curated selection that includes a Stanley Kubrick retrospective. Our pick of the roster is The Housemaid, a 1960 erotic thriller that will screen only once. Restored in 2008 by the Korean Film Archive, it chronicles how a comfortable home becomes a physical and psychological battleground in the wake of a romantic entanglement between a piano composer and his housemaid. 

Learn more here.

September 19: Pleasure 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 to assist with the experience, but also detailed suggestions for pairing options from Mirzam’s Master Barista.

Learn more here.

artisanal chocolate factory Mirzam

September 23: Immerse in Art

Launching on September 23, Gaudí, Kandinsky & Klee: Raise Vibration will be a one-of-a-kind cultural and immersive experience that uses cutting-edge digital technology to transform the way we perceive, understand, and feel art. Step foot into The Dubai Mall’s impressive Infinity des Lumières venue, complete  with 130 projectors and 58 speakers. Here, you can witness 3,000 moving images on a huge projectable surface, designed to bring the works of renowned artists Gaudí, Kandinsky, and Klee to life as a magnificent fusion of light, colour, sound, and rhythm.

Learn more here.

September 24: Hit the Trail

Discover the beautiful new trails in Hatta, encountering gazelles and oryx while you explore the foothills of the Hajjar mountains – all in the company of like-minded women, courtesy of UAE Trekkers. Entitled Ladies Only: Hatta’s Gazelle Trail, this weekend experience spans three hours – 4pm to 7pm – and is perfect for beginners who feel that it gives them a chance to experience hiking without worrying about their footing or fitness level.

Learn more here.

September 25: Snap Happy

You constantly take photos with your smartphone – now take them up a notch by attending the Smartphone Photography & Editing workshop at Gulf Photo Plus. The three-hour session will delve into essential camera controls, focus, and exposure lock in addition to teaching you the fundamentals of using light and shadow. Also included? How to develop a personal style, apps to conduct in-camera editing, and more.

Learn more here.

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The Ultimate Expat Woman’s Guide to Dubai

What to expect in one of the world’s most happening cities.

Are you new to Dubai? Excited to discover your new home? Overwhelmed by all the rules and regulations that you need to know? We at The Gaggler have your back! Here are some of the top things to keep in mind as a newly minted Dubai-ite.

1. Make sure to tip.

Dubai is famous for all the wide range of services available, from bee venom facials and underwater fine dining to run-of-the-mill food deliveries – the sky’s the limit. So, it’s not surprising that questions around tipping come up often. We recommend tipping anywhere from 10-15% of the cost of the service (or more if you can afford to and are feeling generous!) depending on the kind of service and its quality.

2. There’s a high chance that your body will change – and that’s okay!

It’s not uncommon for people to gain weight after coming to Dubai, and there can be several reasons for it. In some cases, you might be coming from a country with a more moderate climate where walking is common, whereas here, that may not always be an option. Dubai is also famous for its brunches and wide variety of restaurants. All that combined with the stress of moving to a new city and starting a new job makes for the perfect recipe for gaining weight. If you want to lose the extra pounds, fret not – there are plenty of gyms and experts here that can assist you. On the flip side, you may decide to embrace this new you! Because why not?

3. A quick intro to women’s health will come in handy.

There are several clinics dedicated to women’s health, while most hospitals have a robust OB-GYN department for your health concerns in Dubai. When deciding where to go, it’s always a good idea to ask a friend or colleague who has lived here for a while. If that’s not possible, you can also comb through internet reviews and contact your HR department for advice. It’s also most likely that yourOB-GYN will be a female doctor considering the cultural sensitivity in this region.

Contraception is freely available in Dubai. You can easily find condoms in supermarkets, petrol stations, and delivery apps. Birth control pills are also available in pharmacies and can be bought without a prescription or having to show your marital status. Keep in mind, though, that abortion is illegal in Dubai – unless the pregnancy endangers the mother’s life or if the foetus is not viable. 

4. Modesty is a tricky subject sometimes.

There are several misconceptions around how to dress in Dubai. Unlike other countries in this region, like Saudi Arabia for instance, the UAE is more liberal so expat women aren’t expected to completely cover their bodies at all times or wear an abaya or headscarf. That being said, context and location matters. If you’re visiting some of the older regions of Dubai – such as the Spice Souk – or you want to tour a mosque, you will definitely need to dress modestly. This can mean covering your arms and legs (no cleavage!) along with a headscarf if you are visiting a mosque. In comparison, if you are going to the beach (where you are allowed to wear a bikini or one-piece) or places like Downtown Dubai, you can dress more liberally. 

You also have to factor in the weather aspect when deciding what to wear. Summers in Dubai can be brutal, with temperatures ranging from 35-55ºC, so nobody expects you to wear trousers or full sleeves during that time. Ironically, we also recommend carrying a light jacket with you during the summer as most places tend to blast the AC indoors to compensate for the heat outside.

5. If you drink, invest in a liquor license!

All Dubai residents who want to buy and transport alcohol, or wish to drink at home or outside, need to have a liquor license. All you need is your Emirates ID and an NOC from your spouse if you are on their visa. You must also be non-Muslim and 21 or over. It costs AED 270 per year and comes with vouchers and rewards. African + Eastern, MMI, and legalhomedelivery.com are the only stores where you can legally purchase alcohol. Keep in mind that drinking in public and public intoxication is not allowed. 

6. You no longer need to marry to cohabit.

As part of law reforms in November 2020, unmarried couples can now live together and have consensual sex without having to get married for the sake of cohabitation, unlike before.

7. You may experience some hair fall, but plenty of help is available.

Hair loss woes are common among the expat population in the UAE, and many people blame it on the water. However, according to experts, this phenomenon is not linked to the water quality and can instead be explained by other causes – stress, hormones, genetic predisposition, and a poor diet included. Many people resort to shower filters (especially if you’re suspicious of the water), rely on hair loss products, and consult medical professionals and experts to resolve the issue. And have seen success, too! 

8. Cut down on the PDA. 

In order to respect other people’s cultural and religious values (and to not get into trouble with the law!), avoid kissing and being overly affectionate with your partner. Holding hands or light hugs are usually okay, but anything more is likely to turn heads. Of course, familial displays of affection are acceptable.

9. Me-time at the salon is practically a rite of passage.

No move to a new city is complete without a new self-love ritual and, here, we swear by the weekly mani-padi and hair blowout. And considering Dubai boasts countless quality salons that won’t break the bank, you’ll always be spoilt for choice.

10. Buttermilk is surprisingly hard to find.

If you enjoy buttermilk, you might be in for a bind as it is not always easy to find it. The closest thing available would be laban, or Middle Eastern buttermilk, which might taste different from what you’re familiar with, but will definitely get the job done. 

11. Be careful of what you bring in through the airport.

The rules on what is allowed to be bought here can be quite strict. Some things that are not permitted and that travellers might not be aware of include poppy seeds (which might be present in certain bakery products), cannabis products (even if they don’t make you high), and adult toys.

12. Girl’s night out doesn’t have to break the bank.

Dubai is famous for its nightlife, but that doesn’t mean that you have to splurge each time you go out. Ladies’ nights are plenty in Dubai and, if you plan your night out well, you can end up spending very little – and in some cases, even nothing for drinks! We recommend websites like ladiesnightdubai.com and apps like 7Nights to find the best deals.

13. Be careful of where you point your camera.

While Dubai might be one of the most social media-ready cities, there are some rules to keep in mind regarding photography. For security reasons, make sure to not take images of military sites and government buildings. Do not take pictures of others, especially women and children, without their consent. This one might seem like a no-brainer, but it may be easy to forget when clicking away in public, especially when taking selfies as people in the background may not appreciate being included. The same applies to distributing or exhibiting images of others – always get their consent. 

14. WhatsApp calls won’t work, but there are alternatives. 

Certain websites and voice-over-IP services like WhatsApp calls aren’t available in Dubai, so many people use VPNs to circumnavigate these restrictions. VPNs in themselves are not illegal, but using them for illegitimate purposes such as committing fraud or crime is a punishable offense. If you’re looking for free voice and video services, Zoom, Google Meet, and the new app GoChat Messenger are great alternatives!

15. Add a handful of Arabic words to your dictionary.

While people of all nationalities reside in Dubai – and English remains the most widely spoken language – knowing certain Arabic phrases is essential for any resident! Let’s start with the ubiquitous yalla. This is one of the most common Arabic words you’ll hear, and it means ‘let’s go’ or ‘come on’. Mafi mushkila, meaning ‘no problem’, is another common phrase.

Habibi (male) or habibti (female) can mean ‘my beloved’ or ‘my darling’, and is used as an expression of endearment between friends, family, partners etc. Be careful who you use the term with unless you’re sure about your relationship. A few other common greetings include:

  • Shukran means ‘thank you’ and can be responded with afwan
  • As-salamu alaykum can be translated to ‘peace be upon you’ and is often responded with wa-alaikum-salaam, which means ‘and unto you peace’ 
  • Marhaba means ‘welcome’
  • Inshallah means ‘if God wills’ and is used to refer to future events
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Tips To Reduce Food Waste

6 (Simple) Tips to Reduce Food Waste

According to the experts at EroeGo.

Consider this: nearly 821 million people worldwide don’t have access to enough food, while a third of all the food produced around the world goes to waste. To say these statistics are unacceptable would be an understatement. But what exactly is food waste? It’s defined as produce ‘of good quality fit for consumption’, but ‘doesn’t get consumed because it is discarded’. Take peculiar-looking or misshapen fruit and vegetables. 

Between 20% and 40% of produce that has an unusual shape or size, or that’s marked or discoloured, is thrown away before it even leaves the farm because it doesn’t meet the market’s aesthetic standards – and that’s exactly where EroeGo steps in. The first start-up dedicated to fighting food waste in the UAE, EroeGo is impact-driven, providing meals to two people facing hunger for every box sold while allowing its customers to purchase fruits and vegetables discarded by producers at a discount. A win-win, essentially. Here, the experts at EroeGo share a handful of tips and tricks to reduce food waste at home.

Easy Ways to Reduce Your Food Waste

1. The Date Update

There are many different food waste solutions, and simply knowing the difference between the ‘sell by’, ‘best before’, and ‘use by’ dates is one of the easiest. These dates are used by companies to let us know when it’s likely that food will go bad, but they’re often still confusing for consumers. The ‘sell by’ date is used to inform retailers when they should take the item off their shelves. Meanwhile, the ‘best before’ is about quality, and the ‘use by’ is about safety. Make a point of buying items that are close to their ‘best before’ dates – they’re perfectly safe to eat, they’re usually cheaper to buy, and it’ll stop them from being discarded.

2. In a Jam

If you have some very ripe stone fruits lying around, they’re really easy to turn into a scrumptious homemade jam – and it’s not as daunting as it sounds. By simply adding sugar and a little bit of lemon juice, you’ve got the recipe for a winning preserve that’s perfect on pancakes, stuffed into French toast, or just enjoyed with a dollop of natural yoghurt. You can even use both the flesh and the skin here. The stone will have to be taken out, but to avoid creating food waste, it can always be added to the compost heap. For even less waste, reuse one of the glass jars that you already have in your cupboard for storage.

3. Drink Up

It doesn’t matter how overripe fruit looks – as long as they still taste good, they’ll work perfectly in a smoothie. And even if you don’t fancy one right now, you can still chop the fruit and freeze it in a ziplock bag until you’re ready for one. When you come to actually whipping up your delicious drink, it’s so simple to just throw the frozen fruit into the blender with some yoghurt and other fruits or vegetables. Not a smoothie fan? Opt for flavoured water. As fruit gets older, it usually gets an intense sweetness, so just chop up your orange, pineapple, or strawberries and add it to a jug of water for a more exciting way to stay hydrated. Bonus: if you leave it in the fridge overnight, it’ll infuse with an even stronger flavour.

Ways to Reduce Your Food Waste

4. One Man’s Treasure

Compost just refers to the natural decaying of organic matter. When you throw scraps on a big compost pile, it all naturally breaks down into a nutrient-rich fertiliser that’s great for your garden. There’s a huge range of stuff you can put on there – from banana skins, apple cores, and avocado pits to leftover bread, coffee grounds, and egg shells. You have to be careful with some items, though. You shouldn’t add anything oily or greasy, nor any animal products (think: milk, meat, butter, and cheese). Having a compost heap in your garden is a really great way to reduce food waste because any fruit or vegetable peels you may have, or any groceries that have gone bad, can be converted into something naturally beneficial.

5. A Family Affair

Get the kids on board, too – it can make the whole process a lot more fun. In fact, getting the whole family involved could end up being your greatest food waste solution yet. Because kids love getting creative in the kitchen, why not get them to help you cook up more tasty treats that’ll use up even more fruits and vegetables? From putting overripe berries in muffins to making crisps out of leftover vegetables and baking old apples into a crumble, there are plenty of recipes around that they will love. Not only is it a great way to help them get their five-a-day, but it’s also a good way to use food that might otherwise end up in the bin.

Preventing Wasted Food At Home

6. Taking Stock

Making homemade stock is one of the many small things we all can do to help prevent food waste, especially if you’re looking for a way to use up peels and scraps. Not only will you really be getting the most out of your groceries, but it’ll also help you out – stock always comes in useful for cooking. It’s easy to do, too. Just keep your vegetable trimmings aside during the week. As you’re cooking, wash those leftover bits, cut scraps into smaller and more manageable chunks, and put them into an airtight container or ziplock bag along with any peels you’ve saved. Once you’ve saved up one ziplock bag full, you’re ready to make stock. It will last for about one week in the fridge, or up to six months in the freezer.

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wellness events in Dubai

You, But Better: The Gaggler Agenda for August

Mark your calendars.

August 1: Shop Responsibly

The Rethink Summer festival at d3 continues to keep residents entertained, but one event in particular is encouraging sustainability, too. Hosted by upcycled fashion store Reborn, an ongoing pop-up held until August 26 will help you both spruce up your summer wardrobe and give back – the collection is made from recycled materials that are 100% cotton. Additionally, AED 11 is donated to UNHCR for every item purchased.

Learn more here.

August 5: Reconnect with Nature

Come summer, family-friendly excursions are always a good idea, so The Turtle Trip by UAE Trekkers 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.

August 7: Take the Wheel

In Sanskrit, the word ‘chakra’ literally means ‘wheel’, describing the circular whirlpools of energy that work to keep the life force (prana) flowing through us. Enter: the Chakra Yoga course at Yoga House, which is designed to give participants an understanding of the chakra system and how it is related to one’s health, well-being, and yoga practice over a span of four weeks.

Learn more here.

wellness events

August 11: Shift Your Perspective

A collective exhibition featuring ten female artists from around the world, Eyes Wide Shut embodies a visual exploration on a wide range of socio-political issues through multidisciplinary mediums such as painting, collage, and installation. Hosted by Firetti Contemporary, the exhibition wraps up on August 12, so take the evening to join these women as they challenge preconceived notions and expose blind spots.

Learn more here.

August 12: Prioritise Yourself

It’s no secret that women always put the needs of others before their own, and that’s precisely where the Embracing the Goddess Within session at Illuminations comes in. Led by Neus Ventura and created exclusively for women, this 60-minute meditation session will help you embrace your own feminine energy to open your ability to receive. It’s a beautiful opportunity to understand the power of your own ying energy and use it to embrace your uniqueness and your magnetic ability to manifest. 

Learn more here.

August 17: Join the Community

Glitches and Stitches has created quite the creative community in Dubai and, this month, it’s hosting its monthly Craft Jam at Kave in Alserkal Avenue. A hybrid of co-working and networking sessions for creatives of all sorts, the event inevitably turns into a hub of ideas and inspiration over a span of three hours. It’s open to all, so bring in supplies for your latest project and join at one of Kave’s large communal tables.

Learn more here.

Wellness Calendar for August

August 20: Expand Your Imagination

JamJar continues to host adult workshops that dig a little deeper, with the Process Art session led by Yusra Ismael inviting participants to discover the Zentangle Method. It’s an easy-to-learn and relaxing way to create beautiful images by drawing structured patterns that are dubbed ‘tangles’. You create tangles with combinations of dots, lines, simple curves, S-curves, and orbs, all elemental strokes that can help improve one’s self-esteem and creativity in a fun way while staying calm and focused.

Learn more here.

August 23: Customise a Candle

Considering the significance of fragrance in the Arab world, From The Arabs is a home fragrance brand that was created to reinvigorate Emirati culture with scents, infusing traditional scents usually found in Emirati homes (think: bokhour and incense) into candles. Led by From the Arabs’ team of experts, the Candle Making workshop at d3 will teach participants how to create their candle scent and design their very own candle.

Learn more here.

August 27: Catch a Classic

P. Tchaikovsky – The Best of Swan Lake, the new showcase at The Theatre in Mall of the Emirates, is sure to appeal to ballet aficionados and otherwise. Featuring soloists from leading European dance companies like the Paris Opera and La Scala, this performance promises to be outstanding and suitable for all ages. Audiences will see the best of this classic, a touching story about Prince Siegfried and Swan Queen Odette, love, and fidelity.

Learn more here.

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International Day of Friendship

6 Ways to Celebrate International Friendship Day

Celebrate Your BFF tomorrow!

Living as an expat in the UAE without your family close by (or even in the same time zone) can be lonely, and that’s why your friends become your family and closest confidants. We suggest that you take this opportunity – it’s International Friendship Day tomorrow – to salute your besties and high-five their awesomeness with a proper celebration. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

A Brunch of Friends

CMP Bar & Grill, The Pointe, Palm Jumeirah

Treat your bestie to the American-style The Over Easy Brunch at CMP Bar & Grill, which serves yummy breakfast dishes from traditional cheddar biscuits to short-rib Benedict coupled with bottomless Bloody Marys and mimosas every Saturday from 11am to 3pm. 

CMP Bar & Grill, The Pointe, Palm Jumeirah, 04 580 7983, www.cmprestaurants.com, from AED 95

Mission: Break Out

NoWayOut Escape Room, JLT and CityWalk

Escape room NoWayOut is sure to get your adrenaline pumping and have you and your friends on your toes. There are four escape rooms to choose from with themes such as fantasy, mystery, horror, and history – with just one hour to ‘escape’. Think you and your friends have the teamwork and creativity to do it?

NoWayOut Escape Room, JLT and CityWalk, 04 243 8208, www.nowayout.ae

Into the (Aquatic) Abyss

Deep Dive Dubai, Nad Al Sheba

Fight off the summer heat by taking your friends for a dive into an underwater abandoned city at Deep Dive Dubai. The world’s deepest swimming pool welcomes all – from absolute beginners to experienced divers – with various packages that focus on snorkelling, diving, and freediving. We recommend the Discover Scuba Diving experience for beginners, where you’ll be introduced to the essentials of scuba diving and diving equipment, practise in shallow water, and explore the underwater city!

Deep Dive Dubai, Nad Al Sheba 1, 04 501 9444, www.deepdivedubai.com, from AED 1,800 for the Discover Scuba Diving experience

Of Girls and Guns

Caracal Shooting Club, Al Maqtaa, Abu Dhabi

Enjoy the thrill of guns blazing – with the best standards of safety and security, of course – at the Caracal Shooting Club in Al Forsan International Sports Resort. Choose from more than 25 types of handguns and rifles in .22 and 9mm calibres. Plus, they also have an indoor archery range! Beginners need not fret as all new visitors are provided with a safety briefing.

Caracal Shooting Club, Al Maqtaa, Abu Dhabi, 02 441 6404, www.alforsan.com, from AED 160

Easy Does It

Anantara Eastern Mangroves Abu Dhabi Hotel

Delve into a world of healing and escape at the award-winning Anantara Spa in Abu Dhabi. Located far from the hustle-bustle of the city centre, near the serene mangroves, Anantara offers a chance to wind down in luxury with your besties. Cleanse your skin at the Turkish hammam which can seat up to eight people, enjoy a traditional Thai massage, and top it all off with their signature hydropeptide ultimate anti-wrinkle facial spa treatment for a day spent well. 

Anantara Eastern Mangroves Abu Dhabi Hotel, 056 188 7658, www.anantara.com, from AED 80

That ’50s Show

SAUCE, Noora Tower, Al Habtoor City

Whether you and your BFF are early birds or love a sleep-in, the retro-fabulous breakfast menu at SAUCE is the ultimate breakfast date! Expect to dine on hearty and wholesome dishes like Croiffle (a waffle made from homemade croissant dough and topped with honey and cream cheese) and a triple-layered pancake stack topped with strawberries, maple syrup, and whipped cream for sweet-toothed gals. So,wake up little Susie! This one’s worth leaving bed for.

SAUCE, Noora Tower, Al Habtoor City, 056 538 8388, @saucedubai

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Sustainable Restaurants in Dubai

7 Eateries Steered by Sustainability in Dubai

Eco-friendly practices, delicious food.

Did you know that today, July 28, marks World Nature Conservation Day? Held annually, this global event stresses the need for preserving a healthy environment and natural resources to maintain a healthy and stable society, especially for the sake of future generations. Incidentally, there are a handful of eateries across Dubai that are playing their part in this collective mission, putting the environment first through their carefully curated menus and a whole host of eco-friendly practices. Here they are at a glance.

BOCA

Sustainability reigns supreme at DIFC-based BOCA, courtesy of Head Chef Matthijs Stinnissen. Passionate about sourcing local ingredients, this Mediterranean restaurant has hosted several zero-waste dinners and illustrated its commitment to sourcing locally through a guide dedicated to Emirati produce. As a result, you’ll see ingredients such as Emirati honey, local sea bass ceviche, and local beetroot stock make appearances on its seasonal menus.

Cassette

Using offcuts for the likes of soups, sauces, and syrups, Cassette is dedicated to bringing food wastage down to a minimum. This trendy spot in Al Quoz also uses takeaway containers made of 80% Bagasse, an efficient byproduct of the bioenergy sector. Elsewhere, its cassava-made straws and cups are entirely biodegradable, breaking down into carbon dioxide and water within six months of being discarded. As for its wholesome breakfast dishes and healthy mains? Each is composed using fresh produce from local farms.

Moonrise

Omakase-style restaurant Moonrise was founded by one of Dubai’s youngest and most interesting chefs: Solemann Haddad, a third culture kid passionate about what he calls “Dubai cuisine”. Here, only eight diners are accommodated at a time, and only what will be utilised is purchased. Moonrise is rooted in a minimal-waste policy, resulting in dishes that speak volumes of Haddad’s creativity – wilted shiso leaves are blended into the refreshing welcome beverage, while the ends of sourdough loaf are vacuum-sealed and stored, eventually turned into a homemade miso.

Moonrise by Solemann Haddad

Lowe

Pairing a relaxed vibe with a sustainable ethos, Lowe is anchored in reducing waste, local sourcing, and giving back to society. It’s no surprise, then, that it’s the first ever winner of the Sustainable Restaurant Award by MENA’s 50 Best Restaurants. Co-founders Jesse Black and Kate Cristou’s eatery initially kickstarted this ethos with Waste Not dinners made entirely of scraps and then adapted the rest of their practices, too (think: avoiding single-use plastic and using leftover peels in recipes for onsite fermentation).

One Life Kitchen

Reusable glass bottles instead of takeaway cups, locally sourced produce instead of high-carbon imports, interiors dominated by recycled timbers and used palettes – it’s all here at this homegrown gem in d3. One Life Kitchen is also big on reducing food waste; the staff plant avocado seeds, burn used coffee grounds to deter flies, and even use the strained water from yoghurt as a protein shake. As for anything that’s left at the end of the day? It’s all distributed to staff around the Dubai Design District neighbourhood.

Sanderson’s

Boasting three outposts across Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Sanderson’s not only sources from local suppliers where possible but has also curated a menu that’s streamlined to ensure waste reduction while providing taste and nourishment. Diners are offered free house-filtered water, while wastewater is cleaned and reused within the community to water plants. Elsewhere, used oil is recycled, and there are solar panels that feed into the national electricity grid.

Wild & The Moon

Created by a tribe of chefs, nutritionists, and naturopaths who believe that food should be good for you and good for the Planet, Wild & The Moon serves plant-based and hormone-free dishes composed of local, seasonal, ethically sourced and organic produce. It also uses 100% biodegradable packaging, while following a zero-waste policy and recycling as much as possible – the fibre-rich pulps from its juices and nutmylks, for example, are revitalised into nutrient-dense raw crackers.

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