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Celebration with fireworks at night

What To Do This Long Weekend

Enjoy 5 days of socially-distanced celebrations this 49th UAE National Day.

DECEMBER 2

FIREWORKS AT DUBAI FESTIVAL CITY

While the 49th National Day celebrations are rather different this year, there are still fireworks to be enjoyed if you head to Dubai Festival City Mall. For the first time ever, shoppers and diners have the chance to watch two fabulous fireworks displays and an Arabic-themed IMAGINE show combining lasers, light, fire and water as they enjoy their dinner from waterside seats. Because of this year’s exceptional circumstances, outdoor access to Festival Bay will be temporarily closed, with no access for walk-in diners. However, visitors who pre-book can enjoy the fireworks, with restaurants offering a choice of outdoor and indoor seating, allowing for all social distancing measures being adhered to. 

Venues participating in the celebration include Al Fanar, Chilli’s, Peppermill, Famous Dave’s, Five Guys, Nandos, Semsom, Turkish Village, Joe’s Crab Shack and the Intercontinental Hotel, all of which offer tables with perfect views of the fireworks display.

Customers must pre-book to secure their spots, with shows taking place at 7.00 pm-9.15 pm with fireworks at 9.00 pm, and 9.30 pm-11.30 pm with fireworks at 11.00 pm.

CELEBRATE AT HOME WITH SEEDS OF THE UNION

You can still enjoy a visual spectacular at home, with the UAE’s official 49th National Day ‘Seeds of the Union’ show broadcasting live from Abu Dhabi on Wednesday at 6:15 pm. Taking the form of a moving sculpture surrounded by sea and illuminated by visuals portraying themes inspired by the UAE’s history and values, the 40-minute show will be shown on Abu Dhabi TV, Dubai TV, Dubai One and Mathrubhumi along with several other channels, and streamed for free online via the National Day YouTube channel, its official website and social media channels including Facebook and Instagram on @OfficialUAEND.

It will also be screened for free at selected VOX theatres in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, and Dubai, but tickets must be pre-booked. Inspired by the show, landmark buildings across the UAE will be lit up in the country’s national colours, including the headquarters of ADNOC, Abu Dhabi Global Market, Al Ain City Municipality, Marina Mall, Khalifa University, the W Abu Dhabi – Yas Island and Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, with its 828-metre high facade featuring an illuminated LED screen that guides people to the platforms and channels broadcasting the show. Meanwhile, more illuminations will light up other key landmarks across the Emirates, including Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Bridge, Emirates Palace, Mohammed V University, and Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain.

FAMILY FUN AT JBR

JBR is hosting a packed schedule of free entertainment and activities over the National Day holiday. From December 2 to 5, JBR will be decorated in the colours of the UAE flag, and visitors to the city’s original dining and retail beachside destination can enjoy roaming entertainment with jugglers, stilt walkers, ribbon dancers, and musicians in action from 4 pm-8 pm every day. 

DECEMBER 3

SHOP SUSTAINABLE WITH ONE GOOD THING AT WEST ELM

Fancy a spot of socially-aware shopping? Then head down to West Elm at Dubai Mall, who are hosting sustainable and ethical-focused online retailer One Good Thing on December 3, 4, and 5 for a special festive gifting pop-up. With comfort and joy being particularly important this year, items range from one-of-a-kind jewelry and sustainable bags, to reclaimed wood headphones, conservation-focused camping gear, and upcycled travel goods – just the thing for gifting with a feelgood factor. 

DECEMBER 4

GET ARTY WITH THE ABU DHABI EDITION

In the capital this National Day weekend? Running until December 5, The Abu Dhabi EDITION in Al Bateen Marina is hosting The Abu Dhabi EDITION UAE National Day Gallery, showcasing an array of pieces and live paintings by local artists, alongside the contemporary hotel’s own impressive art collection.

Curated in partnership with iAM Studio Abu Dhabi, visitors can view works from Budour Al Ameri, Salama Al Nuaimi, Khaled Al Jabri, Jeramie Christian, Leila Marie and Sultan Al Hashimi, as well as exclusive photography by Wilfred Thesiger.  

ALPINE TREATS AT SWISOTEL AL GHURAIR

We may not be able to enjoy a trip to Lapland this festive season, but you can get into the spirit of things with an afternoon of gingerbread house building. Swisotel Al Ghurair is hosting a delicious high tea with a gingerbread house decorating workshop – perfect for keeping little elves entertained as you much your way through an array of teatime treats. From 12 pm-4 pm, Dhs150 for two adults and two kids. 

DECEMBER 5

Bring your appetite to Dubai’s Reform Social and Grill on December 5 to enjoy a foodie-must-try: the inaugural Best of Dubai Chefs. Taking place on The Lawn at the family-friendly hotspot in The Lakes, fifteen of the city’s most talented and reputable chefs will be taking part in the one-of-a-kind gastronomic spectacular, with each chef offering unlimited street-food-style small bites with pairing beverages from their own individual stations. With a choice of five starter dishes, seven mains and three desserts, foodies can work their way through the menu or head back for more of their favourite dishes for a flat fee of Dhs300.

With a packed schedule of live music and entertainment throughout the four hours, chefs will also be on-site throughout the day, giving visitors a chance to meet their favourite local chef and cajole their favourite recipe from them. Call 04 454 2638 or WhatsApp 058 647 8692 to book – advance booking recommended.  

SHOP WELLNESS GOODIES AT SEVA’S FESTIVE MARKET

If you’re looking for gorgeous, ethically-sourced gifts, head to Seva’s Festive Market on December 4 and 5. Taking place in the serene gardens of the much-loved wellness center in Jumeirah 1, the theme at Seva is conscious shopping, with all manner of clean and ethical beauty goodies, clothes, crystals, books, and trinkets on offer from an array of hand-picked, local vendors. Home to the city’s first vegan cafe, stock up on festive goodies for all as you nourish mind, body, and soul.    

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6 Travel Destinations to Explore with the Kids

Wildlife, beaches, city breaks, and more.

With spring break for students and Eid al-Fitr holidays on the horizon, parents across the country are putting family vacations back on their radars. Admittedly, it feels a little counterintuitive to address family-friendly travel destinations considering we’re residents of the UAE. Not only was Dubai ranked the world’s number one destination in 2023, according to Tripadvisor, but Abu Dhabi was also named the world’s best city for a family getaway in 2022 by the experts at The Family Vacation Guide. Still, we’d be remiss not to reveal our favourites, and this guide features a bit of everything – wildlife, history, beaches, theme parks, and enough adrenaline to excite children of all ages.

Costa Rica

It may seem like an unlikely choice to begin with, but Costa Rica is actually one of the world’s best places to holiday as a family – particularly if an adventure is in order. This tiny Central American country has it all – untouched wilderness in the form of tropical rainforests and legendary volcanoes, an excellent ecotourism system, and additional security resources in areas frequented by tourists. We’d go as far as saying that it’s the ultimate starting point if Latin America is on your bucket list. And if the likes of waterfall rappelling, white-water rafting, or whooshing along ziplines feels too intense, you and your little ones can build sandcastles on Costa Rica’s beautiful palm-backed beaches.

Stay: The Springs Resort & Spa
See: The majesty of Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica’s most famous volcano, before discovering the ancient secrets of cacao through the Rainforest Chocolate Tour.
Do: Walk through the clouds at the truly unique ecosystem of Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve.

Iceland

Iceland regularly ranks among the safest countries in the world, making it a no-brainer for those new to travelling with the kids in tow. It also boasts a whole host of otherworldly attractions, each guaranteed to impress even the most jaded of teenagers. Nicknamed the “land of fire and ice”, this Nordic island nation is one of the best places to see the northern lights, especially between September and April. Elsewhere, activities such as whale watching, puffin tours, and dog sledding cater to all ages. As for an activity that’s unique to Iceland? Living like a Viking, of course! Head to Viking Village, where you’ll dine on traditional Viking meals as actors in Viking and Valkyrie costumes dance, sing, and tell stories – it’s just the right amount of kitsch.

Stay: Reykjavik Marina
See: The Golden Circle – Iceland’s most popular sightseeing route – by taking a bus tour that departs from Reykjavik.
Do: Bathe in the Blue Lagoon, arguably the most famous of Iceland’s many geothermal pools.

Japan

While travel is always engaging, opening the minds of young explorers, few places are as fascinating as Japan. In the capital of Tokyo, futuristic museums, robot-themed restaurants, and bullet trains stand seamlessly alongside ancient traditions like tea ceremonies. The city is also home to some of the best theme parks in the world – Joypolis and Tokyo Dome City included – with the likes of Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea under an hour away from the city centre. Your kids will also love immersing themselves in cultural obsessions such as anime, manga, Hello Kitty, and Harajuku style. As for activities you all can enjoy as a family? A hands-on taiko drumming class, a walk through the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, and a visit to the whimsical Ghibli Museum.

Stay: Hotel Gracery Shinjuku
See: The snowy faces of wild macaques bathing in hot springs at Jigokudani Monkey Park.
Do: Attend a Matsuri festival to indulge in street food and observe locals carrying huge, intricately decorated portable shrines.

Jordan

History, natural wonders, surreal landscapes – that is the appeal of Jordan in a nutshell. As for its famously hospitable people? Just the proverbial cherry on top. Located within a four-hour flight of Dubai, the capital of Amman will appeal to history buffs as it was once home to ancient Roman and Byzantine civilisations. The beautifully restored Roman Amphitheatre, for example, was built in the built in the 2nd century and used to hold 6,000 spectators during its heyday. Adventure-seeking families, meanwhile, can snorkel off the coast of the Red Sea and ride in the back of a 4×4 across Jordan’s seemingly endless desert. Above all, it’s the ancient Nabatean capital of Petra that’s carved from sandstone that makes this Arab country a real winner, especially if an easily accessible holiday is what you’re after.

Stay: Petra Bubble Luxotel
See: The Treasury – Petra’s most famous monument – late in the afternoon, when the whole facade is bathed in a reddish-pink glow from the walls all around.
Do: Float in the mineral-rich waters of the Dead Sea, the lowest place on Earth.

Kenya

A dream destination for any family with a safari on its bucket list, Kenya features an embarrassment of riches when it comes to incredible wildlife and natural beauty – but more on that in a second. This East African country has long been popular due to exhilarating offerings like hot air balloon rides over the Maasai Mara National Reserve and feeding and photographing a herd of Rothschild giraffes over breakfast at Giraffe Manor. They famously visit morning and evening, poking their long necks into the windows in the hope of a treat before retreating to their forest sanctuary. Still, going on safari is what brings people of all ages to Kenya, with older children in particular getting a thrill out of spotting lions, cheetahs, elephants, and zebras from a 4WD with a pop-top roof. It is the ultimate game of I-Spy, after all.

Stay: Baobab Beach Resort and Spa
See: The Great Rift Valley, a geological force that almost separated Africa into two, creating one of the most serene landscapes in the world.
Do: Plan your trip between July and October in order to witness the extraordinary spectacle of the Great Migration, an annual movement by millions of wildebeest.

Sri Lanka

Another easily accessible destination for residents of Dubai? The coastal city of Colombo, which happens to be pretty relaxed compared to most capital cities in Asia. The kids – regardless of their age – are bound to appreciate the many attractions of this teardrop-shaped island. Family-bonding on pristine beaches aside, you can feed orphaned elephants at Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, climb Little Adam’s Peak in Ella, absorb the country’s colonial past in Galle, and dine on interesting local delicacies like string hoppers. Incidentally, mass tourism hasn’t returned to Sri Lanka since civil unrest and the pandemic overlapped, which means you can enjoy the island with fewer crowds. Bonus: it’s also a lot more affordable than some of the other recommendations in this list.

Stay: Living Heritage Koslanda
See: The world’s biggest concentration of leopards, sloth bears, sambars, jackals, peacocks, and crocodiles at Yala National Park.
Do: Take the iconic train journey from Kandy to Ella, viewing scenic hillsides and lush tea plantations along the way.

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Dress Up Your Meals With These Healthy Salad Dressings

Simple recipes to customise and make meals more exciting.

Making your own salad dressing at home is so much better than getting store-bought — think fresh ingredients and none of the artificial flavouring, added sugar, or low-quality ingredients. It could even save you money in the long run if it’s something you use a lot. Plus, using fresh ingredients is another way to get creative with eating mindfully and exploring your relationship with food.

Making key ingredients like salad dressing at home is a small but powerful way to take complete control of what goes in your food, as well as what doesn’t. These simple salad dressing recipes are a great way to balance meals and make them more exciting. Every salad dressing recipe shared here — a basic vinaigrette, tahini sauce, and a riff on the traditional green chutney — starts with a few basic building blocks: a base, an acid, and something that adds a rich, creamy consistency. These recipes are fully customisable and function as a base for you to add your favourite ingredients to and experiment with flavour profiles.

You can also add herbs to season your dressing; dry or fresh, they’ll add further depth to the dressing and your meal by extension. Just remember to let the dressing rest for at least 30 minutes to allow fresh herbs to infuse with the mixture.

Salad dressing can keep for up to a week if stored properly in the fridge: fully covered and in an airtight glass container. It’s perfectly normal for oil-based dressings to harden or congeal in the fridge, but don’t worry — let it come to room temperature on the counter before serving.

Coriander and Yoghurt Dressing

Serving Size:
1-2 cups
Time:
5 minutes
Difficulty:
Very easy

Ingredients

  • ½ cup plain full-fat yoghurt
  • 1 ½ – 2 cups coriander leaves, tightly packed
  • ¼ cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Pinch of cumin (powdered or seeds, roasted)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup water
  • Optional: green chillies or roasted peppers to taste

Directions

  1. In a blender or food processor, add the water first, then lemon juice, yoghurt, salt, cumin, garlic, and coriander leaves and blend on high until everything is well-blended, about 2-3 minutes.
  2. Check for consistency; if the dressing is too thick, add more water one tablespoon at a time. If it’s too thick, add more yoghurt and adjust for flavour.

Simple Tahini Sauce

Serving Size:
1 cup
Time:
5 minutes
Difficulty:
Very easy

Ingredients

  • ½ cup tahini
  • 4 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Salt, to taste
  • Ice cubes
  • Optional: a dash of extra virgin olive oil, sesame oil, honey, or maple syrup

Directions

  1. In a blender or food processor, add the water, lemon juice, tahini, garlic, and salt. Blend for 30 seconds and add a few ice cubes, then blend until smooth.
  2. Check the dressing’s consistency and taste. If it’s too thick, add water 1 tablespoon at a time; if too bitter or sharp, add either olive or sesame oil to balance the flavour.

Simple Vinaigrette

Serving Size:
1-2 cups
Time:
8 minutes
Difficulty:
Very easy

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons mustard
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Optional: a dash of orange juice, or a sprig of rosemary to infuse

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk well. Alternatively, add all ingredients to a jar with a lid, close the lid firmly in place, and shake well for 30 seconds.
  2. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.
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woman doing yoga

How To Make Your Home Feel Like A Zen Den

This is what you need to turn any space into a stress-free, tranquil oasis.

It’s no secret that our mental health is just as important as our physical health, yet we often don’t take the time to nurture our minds and spirits in the same way we care for our bodies. A straightforward way to change that is to create zen in your home — a unique space where you can relax, meditate, do some yoga, or take a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Why Create a Zen Den in Your Home

In these hectic times, it’s more important than ever to have a space where you can relax and feel at peace. For many people, that space is the home. But what if your home doesn’t feel like a haven? What if it feels just as chaotic as the outside world? If that’s the case, it might be time to transform your home into a zen den. Here are some of the benefits of having a peaceful, stress-free home.

You’ll Sleep Better

When your home is calm and serene, your mind will follow suit. That means you’ll fall asleep more easily and sleep more soundly throughout the night. If you’ve been struggling with insomnia, making your home into a zen den may be just what you need to finally get some rest.

You’ll Reduce Stress and Anxiety

A cluttered, chaotic environment can be very distracting. Focusing on work or other tasks is hard when your surroundings are messy and loud, but when your home is tranquil and organised, you’ll find it much easier to stay on task and get things done. Creating a zen den is a great place to start if you’re looking to boost your productivity.

You’ll Reduce Stress and Anxiety

When you’re constantly surrounded by chaos, it’s no wonder you feel stressed out all the time. In contrast, a stress-free environment can significantly decrease your own stress and anxiety levels. If reducing stress in general is one of your goals, making your home into a zen den is an excellent way to achieve it.

woman meditating

Creating the Ultimate Zen Den in Your Home

The good news is that creating a peaceful haven in your home doesn’t take much. It doesn’t have to be big or fancy; it can be as simple as a corner in your bedroom or a spot in your backyard. You can turn any space into a tranquil oasis with a few simple changes. Here are a few tips and ideas for meditation rooms to help you start building your zen sanctuary, even if you only have a few square feet of space to work with: 

Choose a Quiet Spot

When choosing a location for your zen den, finding a place in your home that is away from the noise and commotion of daily life is essential. If you don’t have an extra room that you can dedicate to your practice, consider setting up your space in the corner of your bedroom or living room. 

Make It Comfortable

Once you’ve selected the perfect spot, it’s time to start making it into a space that promotes relaxation and peace. Start by adding comfortable flooring — choose mats or cushions for sitting or lying down during meditation. You might also want to include blankets and pillows for added comfort. 

Clean Your Space

Now that you’re done setting up, it’s time to start cleaning. This space should be clean and clutter-free, peaceful and calming.

Start by decluttering the room. Get rid of any furniture or decor that is not essential. Then, give the room a good cleaning. Dust all surfaces and vacuum the floor.

Bring in a Touch of Nature

One way to create a calm and relaxing environment in your meditation room is to bring in some elements of nature. Add some plants to the room or hang pictures of your favourite natural scenery. You can also add a water feature to the room; the sound of running water is very soothing and can help you relax.

If you have a window in your meditation space, open it to let fresh air in. Incorporating some elements of nature in will help create a calm and serene environment.

Add Some Soothing Elements

When you’re looking to create a space in your home that is peaceful and calming, there are two things you can do to achieve that goal — aromatherapy and adding soft touches. These soothing elements can help you relax and unwind.

Aromatic Atmosphere

One of the quickest and easiest ways to change the atmosphere of your home is with aromatherapy. When used in the home, it can help to create a more inviting space that promotes wellbeing for both body and mind. Here are a few of our favourite products to get you started:

SAANTE

Cinnamon, Clove, Orange & Vanilla Candle

AED 90.00

There’s something about a burning candle that just oozes cosiness. Whether you’re aiming to create a zen den at home or just looking for a way to relax after a long day, this Cinnamon, Clove, Orange & Vanilla Candle from Saante is the perfect option. Orange, clove, and cinnamon all have warm, stimulating aromas that help awaken the senses. On the other hand, vanilla induces a deep sense of relaxation in the body and mind.

candle

PALM LIGHTS

Juniper and
Cypress Candle

AED 90.00

This Juniper and Cypress Candle from Palm Lights bring a touch of luxury to your space. The flickering candlelight creates a soothing ambience, while the the crisp and fresh woody scent of Juniper helps to relax and calm the mind. The slightly woody evergreen scent of Cypress adds an exotic touch to the blend, making it perfect for an evening of relaxation. 

bottle

RUT ESSENTIALS

Lemongrass Essential
Oil Spray

AED 85.00

This Lemongrass Essential Oil Spray from Rut Essentials has a refreshing, citrusy scent that is perfect for creating a calm and relaxing atmosphere in your home. When diffused, lemongrass oil can help to reduce stress and promote feelings of wellbeing. In addition, lemongrass oil can be used to cleanse and purify the air, making it an ideal choice for use in your zen den.

diffuser

RUT ESSENTIALS

Earth Ceramic Diffuser

AED 37.00

This Earth Ceramic Diffuser from Rut Essentials is a great way to add some extra zen to your home. The sleek, white design is simple and elegant, perfect for placement on a shelf or table. The diffuser uses ultrasonic waves to vaporise water and essential oils, creating a soothing environment. The mist output is adjustable, so you can choose the perfect level for your space. The diffuser also features an auto-shutoff function, making it safe and easy to use. 

incense sticks

PALM LIGHTS

Sandalwood Artisanal Incense Sticks

AED 50.00

There’s nothing quite like the soothing smell of incense to help you relax, and when it comes to quality, nothing beats hand-crafted sandalwood incense sticks. These Sandalwood Artisanal Incense Sticks from Palm Lights are made with only the finest natural ingredients and provide a delicate yet complex scent that is perfect for use in any room. Whether you’re looking to create a relaxing atmosphere in your bedroom or add a touch of luxury to your living room, sandalwood incense sticks are the perfect way to do it. 

Soft Touches 

Another essential element to keep in mind for your zen den at home is to add soft touches. The goal is to create a relaxing and calming space, so it’s essential to choose materials to help you achieve that. Adding soft touches can help you to create a space that feels truly tranquil and serene. Here are our favourites:

yoga mat

EARTHISTIC

Vaastra Diamond Sambu Grass Yoga Mat

AED 180.00

For those who love the feel of grass under their feet, this Vaastra Natural Sambu Grass Yoga Mat from Earthistic is the perfect way to add a little extra softness to your zen den space at home. Made from natural sambu grass, this mat is gentle on the skin and provides a cushioned surface for yoga or meditation. Plus, the unique green hue of the grass is sure to add a calming touch to your yoga practice.

circle pillow

SAINE

Cherry Stone
Circle Pillow

AED 65.00

This Cherry Stone Circle Pillow from Saine is the perfect way to add a little bit of extra softness and comfort to your home. Made of clean, dried cherry pits, it can be heated or chilled. The result is a truly relaxing experience that can help to ease muscle tension and stress. In addition, the pillow’s unique shape makes it perfect for use as a neck pillow, lumbar support, or simply as a decorative accent.

kimono

KIMONOGIRL

Air
Kimono

AED 2,765.00

This Air Kimono from KimonoGirl is a beautiful and unique piece of clothing inspired by the element of air, which represents intellect, mental intention, and connection to the universal life force. If you’re seeking clarity or struggling to find your place in the world, air energy can help you to see things from a higher perspective. The Air Kimono brings an additional soft touch to your zen den space at home through a garment that looks beautiful and has special meaning. 

The Gaggler team is passionate about finding and sharing great products with our readers. We take pride in researching and testing products to find the best of the best, and we only recommend things that we love and think you will too.

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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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3 Breakfast Smoothies to Start Your Day Right

Breakfast in 60 seconds or less.

Looking for a healthy breakfast fix that won’t take more than a minute? Look no further than the smoothie, which can be served as a breakfast, afternoon snack, or as an alternative drink alongside your lunch.

While the key to a great smoothie is fresh ingredients, they’re a great way to reduce food waste, an easy way to transition away from added refined sugar, and increase your intake of fresh fruits and veggies. Make sure to add on some granola, seeds, or nuts for extra protein, especially at breakfast, to avoid a sharp glucose spike in the morning.

Yoghurt and Berry Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 1 cup blueberries
  • ½ cup raspberries
  • ½ cup Greek yoghurt
  • ½ cup almond milk (or water)
  • Almonds or walnuts
  • Granola or muesli
  • Ice (optional)

Directions

  1. Blend the milk or water, Greek yoghurt, berries, and ice until fine and thick.
  2. Pour and serve, and add nuts, granola, or muesli on top.

Mango and Peach Cooler

Ingredients

  • 1½ cup mango
  • ½ cup Greek yoghurt (substitute with 1 cup of water for a dairy-free version)
  • 1 cup peach
  • 1 small sprig of fresh basil
  • Ice

Directions

  1. Peel, seed, and chop mango and peaches.
  2. Blend everything together, aiming for a rich, creamy texture.

Banana Blueberry Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Ice

Directions

  1. Peel and chop bananas.
  2. Add the almond milk, bananas, blueberries, vanilla extract, and ice to a blender. Blend until smooth
  3. Serve immediately.
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Everything We’re Looking Forward to This Year

2023 will be a good one.

With Mercury in retrograde until January 18, the start of the new year brought with it technology breakdowns, communication issues, plans gone awry, and all-round chaos. But it’s not all bleak – between hotel launches, new restaurant openings, the return of beloved festivals, and a handful of big names headed to Dubai, there’s plenty to look forward to in the months ahead. Welcome to 2023. 

Hotels

Another year, another slew of staycation spots to consider. Dubai is set to welcome several new hotel properties in the coming months, but none will be quite as decadent as Atlantis The Royal. Expected to debut in March, the resort will feature 90 swimming pools, 17 restaurants, a day-to-night entertainment venue from Tao Hospitality, the largest jellyfish aquarium in the world, and more. Also opening soon and taking up residence on Palm Jumeirah? NH Collection Dubai The Palm. Incidentally, this 533-room hotel marks the first property by Spanish luxury brand NH Collection in the UAE.

Elsewhere, FIVE Hotels will launch a third property – FIVE LUXE – bringing its signature party atmosphere to JBR, while Kempinski will unveil a luxe floating hotel aptly named Kempinski Floating Palace off Jumeirah Beach Road. And if you’re curious about that architecturally striking building in Business Bay, we can reveal that come September, it will be home to The Lana. Designed by Gilles et Boissier, its interiors will reflect both the waters of Marasi Marina and elements of Emirati culture. As for a more affordable option with personality to spare? The always-hip Mama Shelter is scheduled to open later this year, giving tech-savvy millennials a new social hotspot in Business Bay.

Festivals

The sheer diversity of Dubai makes for a calendar packed with festivals catering to all manner of interests. With shopaholics catered to – the ongoing Dubai Shopping Festival will run until January 29 – the rest of you can mark your calendars, starting with Quoz Arts Fest from January 28 to 29. Themed ‘Shift Away’, the popular festival returns to Alserkal Avenue for two days of art, culture, markets, food trucks, workshops, and plenty of surprises. The upcoming tenth edition will be headlined by Syrian rapper Bu Kolthoum and Palestinian artist Saint Levant, both of whom will make their UAE debut.

The start of February will be 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. Foodies, meanwhile, should make a beeline for Taste of Dubai. Taking over Dubai Media City Amphitheatre from February 3 to 5, this three-day event is popular for its bite-sized portions of beloved dishes from some of the city’s best restaurants alongside live music, appearances by some of the region’s best chefs, interactive masterclasses, and more.

High-brow entertainment comes courtesy of InClassica, a festival anchored in an engaging repertoire of classical music performed by talented musicians from around the world. Kicking off with a performance by the Çukurova State Symphony Orchestra, Massimiliano Caldi (conductor), and Fumiaki Miura (soloist), the event will be held from February 12 to March 10. The following month will immerse us right back into Dubai’s culinary scene as the Dubai Food Festival celebrates its 10th edition, which will take place April 28 to May 7. Expect offerings ranging from unique dining experiences and beach pop-ups to gastronomic set menus at affordable prices.

Heading off for the summer? You can look forward to the Dubai Home Festival upon your return. With incredible deals offered on furniture, homeware, and appliances across the city from October 13 to 27, an exciting home makeover awaits. A month later, you can dive into design through workshops, talks, and experimental mediums at the region’s largest creative festival, Dubai Design Week. Additionally, Downtown Design – the commercial centrepiece of this annual design festival – will be a certified zero carbon event.

Performances

Considering January alone entailed exclusive performances by Beyoncé and Tom Jones, we can assume the rest of the calendar will be packed with big names. Singer-songwriter Ashanti will be joined by Fat Joe and Ja Rule at Coca-Cola Arena on January 21, taking the stage to belt out R&B classics. The City Walk venue will also host Oscar-winning composer Hans Zimmer on both January 27 and 28, as well as Scottish musician Lewis Capaldi’s rescheduled concert on October 7.

Over at Dubai Opera, culture buffs can catch performances by legendary Egyptian pianist Omar Khairat on February 3, British electronica star Bonobo on March 11, and monk-turned-storyteller Jay Shetty on May 11. And if loud and cheery megamusicals are more your speed, you’ll want to book your spots for Shrek The Musical (February 22-26) and West Side Story (April 25-30) before tickets sell out.

Restaurants

Dubai’s dining scene evolves at a dizzying pace, now boasting a whopping 11 restaurants recognised by the Michelin Guide. Yet to meet the newcomers? Mott 32 (elevated Chinese cuisine), August (French-Mediterranean fare), and Sumosan (contemporary Japanese dishes) have just opened their doors, each debuting in January and adding something new to discover. As for what’s to come? Above Eleven will take over the rooftop of Marriott Resort Palm Jumeirah, serving Peruvian bites and colourful cocktails. Nearby, acclaimed Spanish chef Dani García will launch a one-of-a-kind steakhouse by the name of Leña – his first venture in the city of Dubai. Bebek, meanwhile, will add a playful spin to Turkish food in Jumeirah.

Pairing Mediterranean cuisine with the effortless glamour of a bygone era on Pearl Jumeirah, Bungalo34 will be the first beachside dining concept from Tashas Group (of Avli and Flamingo Room fame). Another new eatery by an already beloved talent? Hoe Lee Kow, described as “unconventional Korean BBQ” by chef Reif Othman. And if a global name from the world of gastronomy is what you’re seeking, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal at Atlantis The Royal is the one to beat. Incidentally, even Dubai’s new beach clubs will bear big names in 2023. Case in point: Nobu by the Beach, which will also take up residence at Atlantis The Royal. Other beachy spots set to debut in 2023? Ría (a new restaurant and beach bar at Club Vista Mare), Ayla (the latest addition to The Club at Palm West Beach), and Baoli (a swish import from the shores of Cannes).

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Doing Dry January? You Can Still Go Out in Dubai

You’re not missing anything.

January is well and truly here and brings with it a fresh sense of renewal and resolutions for the New Year to come. Whether it’s committing to a skincare routine or detoxing after the intense festive season with a plant-based diet, the start of the year is all about stepping back and dialling things down. Moderation. Abstention. Veganuary. Dry January.

Dry January started out in 2013 as a campaign in the UK in which participants volunteer to give up alcohol for the entire month of January. The campaign’s goal is to raise awareness about alcohol-related health issues, but it also serves to highlight unhealthy drinking culture and the widespread dependence on alcohol to socialise and entertain. Finding alcohol-free alternatives and non-alcoholic options on menus is far from a novelty now, especially when they’re this good and not just canned sodas or pumped full of sugar and food colouring. Read on to find some of the best places to go in Dubai if you’re not touching the bottle but still want to catch those after-work drinks with friends or a nice dinner with a special someone.

Amazónico

Step into a tropical paradise at Amazónico with a menu centred around seasonal and superfood ingredients, as well as a selection of non-alcoholic cocktails served in fantastic custom sculpted glasses. From the appetisers down to the mains, sides, and desserts, each course offers options that are perfect if you want to go out without the breaking your detox and dry January resolutions. Choose the Peacock Spritz, made with non-alcoholic Belli-No, maracuya, lemon, and tonic, or the best-selling Jaguarete with a carefully concocted mixture of papaya, tangerine, and salted cashew, finished with Perrier and Bôtan’s signature ‘No ABV’ spirit.

Amazónico, Gate Village 11, DIFC, Dubai, 04 571 3999 @amazonicodubai

KATA

This contemporary Japanese restaurant with iconic views of the Dubai Fountain at Dubai Mall’s Waterfront Promenade offers a year-round menu of delicious mocktails that complement its world-class food and has a wide range of alcohol-free beverages. Drinks include fruit-based takes on classic drinks, like the Redroni, which features red grape, botanical infusion, and forest fruits, as well as Ryui’s Kiss, which consists of infused juniper berry, hibiscus, and dragon fruit. The huge outdoor terrace dining area seals the deal.

KATA Dubai, The Dubai Mall, Downtown Dubai, 04 273 3800, @kata.ae

NoLo

As Dubai’s first dry bar, NoLo serves thoughtfully crafted non-alcoholic drinks and mocktails that feel just like the real thing. Open until 1am. With a food menu that features light bar snacks, the casual atmosphere is perfect for catching up with friends after work.

NoLo, Dusit Thani Dubai, 04 317 4515, @nolodubai

Lobby Lounge

As an alternative to boozy brunches, enjoy a calm, luxuriant afternoon tea any day of the week at the iconic Ritz-Carlton Dubai with an extensive tea menu featuring 10 different types of teas, as well as an assortment of finger and open-faced sandwiches, scones, pastries, and sweet treats.

Lobby Lounge, The Ritz-Carlton Dubai, DIFC, Dubai, 04 399 4000, ritzcarlton.com

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It’s Time to Leave Your Food Sins Behind

Starting with this detox shot.

After a long season of indulging in rich food, festive drinks, and way too many desserts, it’s time to treat your body to a refreshing juice. Go for an apple, cinnamon, and ginger shot to detox – apples are in season this time of year, and so good for you. The cinnamon and raw ginger in this recipe are anti-inflammatory and help boost immunity to fight those nasty winter colds, while the fibre from the apple is good for your gut and skin, as well as full of antioxidants.

Optionally, you can add a dash of turmeric, too – powdered or raw – for that brilliant yellow colour as well as its functional benefits. You can strain the juice after blending, but you’ll be missing out on all the good stuff that’s in the fibre. The same goes for peeling the apple before blending it for juice.

Apple Cinnamon Ginger Detox Shot

Serving Size:
1 cup
Time:
5 minutes
Difficulty:
Easy

Ingredients

  • 1 large apple
  • 1/2-inch knob of ginger, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnnamon powder
  • 1 cup (or 200ml) water
  • Pinch of turmeric (optional)

Directions

  1. Wash, core, and cut the apple. Peel, if you prefer.
  2. Add the chopped apple, ginger, water, cinnamon powder, and turmeric powder into a blender.
  3. Blend on high speed for a minute, or until completely blended. If the juice is too thick, add a tablespoon of water at a time.
  4. Pour into a glass and sprinkle with more cinnamon or turmeric according to taste.
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Journal books with color pencil

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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