Monday, August 29, 2011

Destination Village for Volvo Ocean Race

For a month now I’ve been wondering what the hell is going on at the Abu Dhabi Corniche breakwater, located right opposite my building. Excavation, digging, dredging – you name it… But why on earth go through all this trouble when the beach, only recently renovated, was looking pristine?

Well, today I decided to do some investigation over the web and I guess I finally got my answer…

Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) has appointed Tourism Development & Investiment Company (TDIC) to manage the development of a 55,000 square meter (approximately the size of eight football fields) Destination Village which will host the fleet, competitors and fans of the Volvo Ocean Race.

Besides all of structure dedicated to the race itself, the village will also put together a series of activities and entertainment dedicated to the public. From December 30, 2011, to January 12, 2012, visitors will enjoy exhibitions, shows, simulators, hospitality, game zones and much more.

A part of me is a bit annoyed by all this. Unfortunately, events here at the Corniche usually mean loud music, bad traffic and lots of people. Not sure if I am looking forward to that.

On the other hand, this will be THE PLACE to be and they are promising a sensational New Year’s Eve celebration. Guess I can look forward to, at least, a decent firework display right outside my window…

Bring it on!!!!!

Current work…

Future outcome…

Volvo Ocean Race

The world’s premier global race and the ultimate mix of world class sporting, competition, adventure, glamour, drama and endurance, starts in Alicante, Spain, on October 2011 and ends in Galway, Ireland in early July 2012.

Teams will sail over 39,000 nautical miles via Cape Town, Abu Dhabi, Sanya, Auckland, around Cape Horn to Itajaí, Miami, Lisbon and Lorient.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Qasr Al Sarab: a refugee for millionaires AND mere mortals

People usually associate the United Arab Emirates with opulence and luxury. True. I guess this is a part of what this country has to offer. However, there is an interesting detail people often forget to mention: the lavish options available around here are not only for millionaires and can be enjoyed by mere mortals.

And this, my friends, is exactly the piece of information missing from the article Desert resort is refugee for millionaires, by Casa Vogue, a Brazilian publication.

Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara is a stunning hotel, different from anything you will probably find anywhere else in the world. The huge and sumptuous rooms, amazing amenities and delicious food all contribute to its enormous appeal, but the real differentiator here is its location – Abu Dhabi’s famous Empty Quarter, a truly exotic scenery with miles and miles of desert, sand and dunes.

Made for a king? Sure thing! After all, you need only to step into Qasr Al Sarab to feel like one! But you don’t have to sell all your oil, camels and gold to afford a couple of nights in this remarkable place.

On the contrary to what most people might think, especially after taking a look at some of the below pics, the daily rate for a standard room at Qasr Al Sarab is not a whole lot more than what you would pay for a very basic hotel room in New York, Paris, London or even Rio de Janeiro – perhaps even cheaper!

Actually, depending on the time of year you decide to go there or the time in advance you make the booking, you may be able to get rooms for a daily rate as low as USD 160. Not too bad, right?

And, just in case you are wondering, here are a few of the standard room amenities:

·        Private terrace with garden area with stunning desert views
·        King-size or twin beds
·        High thread-count linen
·        Oversized bathtub and rain shower
·        Flat-screen TV
·        DVD player
·        Media box
·        Free Wi-Fi
·        Personal Nespresso coffee machine
·        Air conditioning
·        Pillow menu

Not too shabby at all!!!

We might not all be millionaires, but we will surely feel like one at Qasr Al Sarab – even if only for a day!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Remembering Sheikh Zayed

One of the first things I learned when I first came to the UAE was the importance of the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan to this country and its people. So, I always found it a bit weird that there wasn’t one special date in the calendar dedicated to this exceptional leader and his legacy.

Now, all this has changed. As of this year, Sheikh Zayed will be remembered on every Ramadan 19 (Sheikh Zayed died on November 2, 2004, which fell on Ramadan 19) through a series of special programs and tributes.

For those of you who have never heard of Sheikh Zayed, here are a few reasons why he is so adored and respected by the people of the UAE and other nations.

Sheikh Zayed…
-         called for the formation of a union between the different Emirates back in 1971 – he is known as the founding father of the UAE

-         placed the UAE on the map as the Arab world’s longest-serving president - three decades

-         was known for visionary ideas, that continue to inspire leaders today

-         was a role model for his people, who continue to practice his ideals

-        utilized local resources for the benefit of the people, including education, health, housing and employment

-         supported women’s rights and their participation in building the nation

-         lived a simple life, close to nature

-         promoted the need to protect and conserve the environment

-         showed religious tolerance towards all other faiths

-         treated everyone equally and went above and beyond to support the needy throughout the world.

Popular quotes by Sheikh Zayed:

"He who does not know his past cannot make the best of his present and future, for it is from the past that we learn.”

"It is my duty as the leader of the young people of this country to encourage them to work and to exert themselves in order to raise their own standards and to be of service to the country. The individual who is healthy and of a sound mind and body but who does not work commits a crime against himself and society.”

"Islam affords women their rightful status, and encourages them to work in all sectors, as long as they are afforded appropriate respect.”

"We must not rely on oil alone as the main source of our national income. We have to diversify the sources of our revenue and construct economic projects that will ensure a free, stable and dignified life for the people.”

"Islam desists violence practised by terrorists who kill their brethren and commit all despicable actions under the shelter of religion. Islam dissociates itself strictly from these people and their actions.”

"Wealth is not money. Wealth lies in men. This is where true power lies, the power we value. This is what has convinced us to direct all our resources to building the individual, and to using the wealth which God has provided us in the service of the nation.”

"On land and in the sea, our fore-fathers lived and survived in this environment. They were able to do so because they recognised the need to conserve it, to take from it only what they needed to live, and to preserve it for succeeding generations.”

"Future generations will be living in a world that is very different from that to which we are accustomed. It is essential that we prepare ourselves and our children for that new world.”

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Camels. Actually, dromedaries

Although the term camel is broadly used to describe the popular large animals with humps on their backs, there are actually two types of camels around.

In Central and East Asia, you find the fascinating animals with two humps known as the Bactrian camels. Now, here in the UAE, and other desert areas of West Asia, what we find are dromedaries, or Arabian camels, with a single hump.

Want to know more about this charming animal I’ve learned to love so much after moving to this side of the world? Here are TEN fast facts I’ve put together for you:

-         There are around 14 million dromedaries alive today - this is about 90% of the camel population of the world

-         Dromedaries are extremely docile and usually can live up to 50 years

-         For the most part, they are domesticated and not free animals

-         These creatures have characteristics that make it possible for them to endure days without food or water in severe weather conditions

-         Arabian camels are omnivorous and can eat just about anything - meat, vegetation, sweet, salt, etc.

-         Their eyelashes, nose and ears are covered with hair that protects them from sand and dust

-         The milk they produce is known to have healthful properties – rich in vitamins, minerals, proteins and low in fat and cholesterol

-         Many refer to the Arabian camels as ‘ship of the desert’ – they were, and still are, often used to transport people and goods through very long distances

-         Their meat is halal – lawful, permitted, accepted – for Muslims

-         There are over 160 different words for camel in the Arabic language – or so I was told…

For more info, try

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Ramadan through the eyes of a Brazilian-Palestinian living in Jordan

Today, Muslims all over the world celebrate the second week of the Holy Month of Ramadan; the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, when the Quran was revealed by Allah to mankind.

As mentioned on a previous post, throughout this month, Muslims fast between break of dawn and sunset to help develop moral discipline and serve as a reminder of the troubles of those who live in constant hunger and deprivation.

But, there is much more to Ramadan... Take a look at what a very dear friend of mine, Dina El Gamal, a Brazilian-Palestinian, currently living in Jordan, has to say…

“Ramadan is all about harmony and kindness. It is also a great spiritual time, where we search for a balance of our mind and body and reflect about life.

Ramadan gives us a chance to get closer to God and to better thank him for all we have. Sure, we normally pray every day, five times a day, but life is so hectic that we sometimes don’t pray as we should.

During Ramadan, with shorter working hours and the additional daily prayer – Taraweeh – there is more time to pray and dedicate quality time to God.

Personally, Ramadan takes me back to when I was a kid growing up. In my family, it was always very important for us to sit around the table and have dinner together as soon as my Dad came home from work. During Ramadan, I see this happening again as family and close friends get together for Iftar, to break the fast. It really is a great moment.

I always feel extremely accomplished once the 30 days of Ramadan are over because I truly feel we take the time to review our difficulties, learn from our mistakes, appreciate what we have, look around and help who we can, give, share, love, thank.

However, I also feel frustrated because this shouldn’t happen only during Ramadan. We Muslims should think and act like that all year long. People should be nice, love and respect each other always.” 

Ramadan Kareem to all!!!