Living among the locals

4 outdoor spots perfect for working out in Dubai

Dubai beaches
Winter time in Dubai and the UAE is definitely my favorite time of the year. This is the best to get out and enjoy the weather.  Thanks to venues like local gyms and Dubai Sports World, sports lovers were able to get some workout done without getting baked in the heat. As the weather continues to improve, the entire emirate is turning into a…

Did you know the Arabian desert used to be a green jungle?

Desert
Did you know that the vast desert occupying much of North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula used to be lush jungles? Several chapters of the Quran narrate anecdotes of lands that turned from lush gardens with rivers into arid deserts after its people sinned.  It turns out that these stories are not as metaphorical as we thought. Early human communities lived…

Arabic Folk Music and its origins

Arabic folk music
Our region is rich with folk music, but a lot of us don't know much about its origin and how it came to be.  This is why I spoke with my good old friend Ibrahim Hassoun, Dubai-based Palestinian musician who told us more about the subject, the music, and the instruments.  From Egypt, the Gulf (Khaleej) to the Levant, folk…

4 Indie Film Venues to visit in the UAE

Cinema Akil
It wasn’t such a long time ago when boutique cinemas and cinema clubs started showing up around Dubai. Not many survived, but those that did set the scene not just for indie film screenings but also for supporting local short and feature film productions. "The growth of the independent cinema scene is a clear indication of an increasing demand for a…

Here’s how this Pharaoh turned ancient Egyptian art upside down

Akhenaton
In Ancient Egypt, individuals were governed by strict religious and social guidelines. This can clearly be seen in the hard work that reflects in the enormous temples and pyramids across the banks of the Nile. However, during the reign of the Pharaoh Akhenaton, more commonly known to English speakers as Akhenaten, there was a sharp break away from the traditions that governed Egypt during…

10 poets in the UAE you should know about

10 poets in the UAE you should know about
The UAE's poetry scene is as diverse and multicultural as the country’s population.  Almost a decade old, the country’s open mic and slam poetry scene has thrived thanks to the many active voices that have made it what it is today. Platforms and organizers like Blank Space, Rooftop Rhythms, and Dubai Poetics have greatly contributed to the progress of slam poetry in the country. Alserkal Avenue's…

Dubai’s 7 best Rigag and Chai Karak joints

Dubai’s 7 best Rigag and Chai Karak joints
Taking into consideration how international Dubai is, one wouldn't be surprised with the versatility of its cuisine scene.  From French to Indian to Chinese and Japanese, your options are endless.  But local fast-food restaurants are also on the rise. And chai karaks (sweet tea with milk and cardamom) and rigags (the Oriental version of crepes) - delicacies that were virtually unknown outside the…

Edward Said’s disappointment after meeting Sartre, Foucault and De Beauvoir

Edward Said’s disappointment after meeting Sartre, Foucault and De Beauvoir
Palestinian-American scholar, Edward Said (1935-2003,) is considered one of the region’s most significant literary critics, dedicating most of his work to the struggles of Palestine and the Arab world. His 1978 book, Orientalism, has become integral to post-colonial schools of thoughts. Said was fascinated by French philosophers like Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and Michel Foucault. Sartre was a leading Existentialist thinker, de Beauvoir’s writings on gender significantly…

A backpacker’s guide to Dubai

Dubai
Dubai is a famous destination for luxury travelers, shoppers, and big spenders. But that never stopped backpackers with a limited budget from exploring the glamorous City of Gold.  More recently, though, the Emirate's flagship airlines have been carrying a growing number of travelers from Europe to Asia me who often stop here for transit. Catering to these - often low-budget -…

How an Egyptian revolutionary impacted the Sri Lankan Muslim community

orabi_pasha
Colonel Ahmed Orabi Pasha was an Egyptian nationalist, revolutionary, and army leader back in 1881.  A figure that would later on serve as an inspiration to former President Gamal Abdel Nasser, Orabi led a social-political movement that expressed the discontent of the Egyptian educated classes, army officials, and peasantry with foreign control. His influence and ideologies culminated in the revolt against the Anglo-French dominated administration of…

5 Things to do in Oman

Oman
Being based in Dubai, I got tired of hopping on an airplane for at least 4-6 hours for short trips that don't exceed just a couple of days. So I decided to head to neighboring Oman, a nearby destination that I hadn't explored yet. Located at just an hour's distance by plane, the Sultanate is the ultimate short holiday destination…

The elephant riding debate

elephant riding in sri lanka
Who wouldn’t want to go on an elephant safari? Roaming the jungle on the back of this magnificent animal is every novice traveler’s dream. And even if it doesn’t cross your mind, the opportunity will be right there, waiting for you, asking you, to seize it. This is what happened to me. When I visited the Chitwan National Park in…

Integrating refugees while breaking bread

Fattoush
By: Worldpal* Food is a universal language that knows no grammar or words, channeling its information over all our five senses. To me, it represents love, happiness and comfort. Food connects people the way that peanut butter and jelly bring two slices of toast together. This is exactly what the German city Potsdam is going for. At an event called Buntes…