Monday, October 18, 2010

Childish Behaviour...?

I’m going to come right out and say it: I’m a woman who can, on occasion be persuaded to watch a cartoon (or is it called animation these days?!). As a child some of my favourite films included The Aristocats, The Fox and the Hound, and Mary Poppins. Last Christmas we all piled to the cinema to watch A Christmas Carol, and oohed and ahhed like 6 year olds with our 3D glasses on. Treat!

But to be honest, an actual cartoon? Well the other day I finally got around to watching Freej. If you haven't heard of it (and if you don't live in the Middle East, this is probably the case) it's an animated series about four women who live in Dubai. They're quite traditional and the story follows their lives as they adapt to the challenges of Dubai's growth and changes.

The guy who created it, Mohammed Saeed Harib, is incredibly clever - Dubai in cartoon format looks absolutely amazing, and the script is so witty and sharp that I was giggling from start to finish. Mohammed is also a professional photographer and sometime male model. All this talent and success AND he's two years younger than me. Way to make girl feel hot under the collar AND professionally inadequate!

It's incredibly popular in the region and though originally in Arabic, now has English subtitles so that a wider audience can watch it. It's fabulous. If you haven't watched it, you really need to get involved.

God Save Our....

When I lived in the UK I was never much of a royalist.  I obviously had the usual crush on Prince William (before hair loss), and sometimes imagined life as a princess (more helicopters and haute couture than bulimia and adultery, let's be clear), but that's as far as it went.  Yet I'm excited by the news that the Queen is visiting the UAE next month. 

The last time she visited was 1979, when she apparently 'inaugurated the new Dubai Municipality building.'  I just love the photos from that visit.  Needless to say, much has changed since then, both in the political/economic and quite literal landscape.  Back in 1979 Dubai was a cloud of dust and a mountain of ambition and hope.  So in some ways, things have stayed the same.

She's heading to Abu Dhabi (the mythical setting of the dire Sex and the City 2, will she notice?) before going to Oman.  Sadly this does not coincide with my trip to Oman, when I'll be checking into the Chedi for a weekend.  Jealous much?

I'm keen to see the Queen, and not just for the opportunities for international press coverage for myself and the inner circle (imagine us brandishing Land of Hope and Glory banners in the background of the news clips!).  Much as I have little interest in living in the UK, I'm very grateful for what its given me, not least a British passport, which allows me access to pretty much any country in the world without hassle or visas.... Liz, keep an eye out for us....

Take Note, Tony, David.....

I absolutely LOVE this recent post from one of my favourite bloggers.  Sheikh Mohammed is nothing short of a legend here and we all follow him eagerly on Facebook.  We also live in hope of bumping into him on our daily adventures around the city - it's well known that he drives himself around in the car pictured cool?!

Everyone has a great story about seeing him (or just missing him).  There was the  time that he rocked up to Shoreside, our favourite beach club, on one of the very rare days that we weren't there - you could hear our cries of disbelief from Jebel Ali, I'm sure.

And then there was the time that A and E bumped into him in Dubai Mall, complete with enormous entourage (him not them), as he swished past them and went down an escalator.  Not only this, but when he noticed A and E's excited giggling, screaming, pointing and waving, he stopped in his tracks.  Beaming from ear to ear, he asked:  "Are you sisters?".

Too excited to speak, A and E giggled, screamed, pointed and waved some more, as he disappeared down the aforementioned escalator.  Apparently he had quite a chuckle to himself as he went , and waved back at the girls all the way down.  Top man.

So Slooooooooow

I've been in the new pad for almost four months, and finally thought about connecting to the big wide world (ie sorting out my lack of internet ) a few weeks ago.  As my apartment is the only one tenanted on the floor, there is no open wireless internet connection for me to hi-jack as there was at the last place (don't judge me!).  Although my lack of neighbours means I never have to worry about turning the volume down when Janet (Jackson, of course) is mid-flow.

Anyway, part of the reason that I haven't got round to it is, I simply can't face it and the effort that it will take.  Any one who lives in Dubai will sympathise with me when I say this - the simplest task takes umpteen phone calls and patience, pieces of paper and passport photos.  And all this for internet which will cost me four times what it did in the UK and be slower than an original dial-up connection from the eighties.  Give me strength.  However, in a positive frame of mind, I emailed the main internet provider requesting an appointment.  This was four weeks ago.  You can guess, can't you?  Yes, I've heard nothing.

I've also strolled past their nearest retail outlet (thankfully just next to Waitrose, so not massively inconvenient).  Every time I've approached there's been a queue to rival Harrod's Boxing Day sales.  I've given up.  I have the Blackberry for any work-related weekend email issues, and if anything really important happens, I'll rely on my dad.  Yes, it was my dad who texted me with the news that Michael Jackson had died.  Despite the time and age difference, he was more on the ball than ANY of my Dubai chums.  Dad, it's over to you.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Dedicated Follower of Fashion

If you know me, you know I love fashion. Not in so much of a slavish way (those new J Brand Houlihand trousers that everyone’s raving about? No interest.) but more from a design/style/love of beautiful things point of view.  I most I definitely squeaked when I got my hot little hands on the notorious September issue of US Vogue last month.

So I was super-excited when this invite popped into my in-box last week:

"The Dubai Ladies Club is hosting a fashion show tomorrow evening for young designers. The event is held for their VIP members and sponsors for tomorrow’s event include YSL, Emirates and L’Oreal."

I promise that my hasty RSVP (yes, yes and yes) wasn’t just thinking about the potential goody bags (more on that later) but also a desire to get a real insight into Arab fashion, and also a sneaky look into the Ladies Club. This in itself is a Dubai institution, frequented by many local ladies, and it hosts many such sought after events.

L and I donned our most fabulous frocks (mine, despite being knee-length with a mid-sleeve, did start to feel a little risqué when faced with a room of abaya wearing ladies) and set off. We didn’t really know what to expect, but what we got was the most fabulous fashion show: three young designers with three very different collections. Abayas were few and far between on the catwalk: think draping satin trousers and shell tops, stunning evening gowns, and more fabulous hair and make-up than you could shake a kohl stick at. I’m not a loungewear kind of girl at heart, but I did begin to wonder just how good I would look in a pair of satin harem pants whilst doing the swiffing…..

Aside from the gripping gorgeousness on the catwalk, it was also a fascinating privilege to sit alongside locals, getting an insight into their lives and style. I can’t claim to have made any life-long friends that night but a few things quickly became clear.

Handbags are crucial: the bigger and blingier the better. Perfume is strong (oud, which I love) and has a divine way of wafting over you as abayas swish past. Make up is detailed: heavy on the eyes, base is almost doll-like, and nails look perfect. Hair: whilst hidden by a scarf, it’s clear that Elnett is a key part of the process. Think big, think piled-up, think uber-glam. What’s not to love about the whole look?!

As the event drew to a close, our thoughts inevitably turned to the goody-bags. Yves Saint Laurent touche éclat, mascara, lipstick, more hair products than you could shake a stick at, and chocolates. Oh my. I nearly dislocated my shoulder trying to wrestle mine out of the door – possibly because we did avail ourselves to the contents of a couple of extra bags (ok three). Well our table was partly empty: waste not want not!

A fabulous and completely different way to spend a Thursday night. Needless to say, I’m all over the next one.