Monday, October 31, 2011

The importance of a Sharia compliant will for expats in the UAE

Since it is Halloween, I’ll take this opportunity to touch on a rather morbid, but very important topic: the importance of a Sharia compliant will for expats in the UAE.

I personally hate discussing the matter. The word will comes up and my first impulse is to change the subject as fast as I can. I don’t know what happens. It suddenly makes death so tangible, so real, so near…

Unfortunately, it’s just one of those things we all have to think about somewhere down the line. And now that I am living here in the UAE, this line has just appeared before me and made me seriously consider writing up a will.

I am not sure if you are aware of this, but did you know that once we become a resident in this country, all aspects of our lives are ultimately governed by Sharia Law (local law, principles and procedures, based on Muslim concepts of family structure and responsibility)?

This means that UAE courts will adhere to Sharia Law in regards to inheritance if you or your spouse dies and there is no will in place. Your family may have to face prolonged legal battles and, in the end, your assets may be disposed of in a way that does not coincide with your wishes.

The first thing that will happen in case of death is that your assets will be frozen. Your family members won’t have access to the money in your bank accounts (even those jointly held) and they won’t be able to receive any final payments or end of service benefits from your UAE employer. How do you plan on settling your bills, debts and mortgages while waiting for this to be resolved?

And it’s not only about money. God forbid you and your spouse die. Have you thought about what will happen to your children if you don’t have a will stating specific instructions about their care here in the UAE, both in the immediate and longer term?

If you have a will back in your home country and feel like you have your back covered, think again. This will and nothing might just end up being the same thing. Even if you have this will attested here in the UAE, it might still not comply with the Sharia Law.

Your safest bet is to have a Sharia compliant will drawn up in the UAE, by a lawyer who clearly understands the Sharia principles. 

When discussing this with friends, please remember that there are a few differences in procedures between the Dubai and Abu Dhabi Courts, so you might get conflicting information.

Try asking your employer for more information on this. The HR department should be able to point you towards the direction of a good and trusted law firm, able to guide you on the best approach to accommodate your family situation and needs and ensure the Sharia Court receives and processes your will confidently and quickly, minimizing stress during such terrible times.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Yasalam kicks off at Abu Dhabi Corniche

Yasalam, the largest city wide entertainment program by any F1 host city, has officially kicked-off its activities at the Abu Dhabi Corniche.

Over the next two weeks, people will be able to visit (Saturday through Wednesday, from 5pm to 11pm, Thursday and Friday, from 4pm to midnight) the popular F1 Fan Zone, try out the interactive simulators and remote control car racing and participate in driver signings and live outdoor screenings of the big F1 races.

And that’s not all! Several concerts are also scheduled from the 9th through the 13th. The Flaming Trees, Danny Band, Wycleaf Jean, J Cole, Jay Sean, Juliana Down and Fatboy Slim are only some of the artists to hit the Abu Dhabi Corniche.

Price? AED 0! The above events are entirely free!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Top 18 restaurants in Abu Dhabi

The winners of the 2011 Time Out Abu Dhabi Restaurant Awards were revealed yesterday night during a ceremony at Fairmont Bab Al Bahr.

It was no easy task. Approximately 100 restaurants, divided into 18 different categories, were shortlisted. But the talented team of food critics and gluttons put together by Time Out was finally able to select the very best restaurants in Abu Dhabi.

I’ve personally tried out some of the specialties and delicacies of ten of the selected restaurants and I can tell you they are truly worth a visit.

So, make note of the list below and start this delicious gastronomic journey!

Restaurant of the Year + Best Steakhouse
Marco Pierre White Steakhouse and Grill
Fairmont Bab Al Bahr – 02 654 3333

Best Bar Food
Belgian Café
Intercontinental Abu Dhabi – 02 666 6888

Best Brunch
Sofra Bld
Shangri-la – 02 509 8888

Best Budget
Close to Al Mariah Mall – 02 633 3434

Best Business Lunch
Al Diar Mina Hotel – 02 677 8415

Best Café
Shakespeare and Co.
Souk at Central Market – 02 639 9626

Best Chinese
Emirates Palace – 02 690 7999

Best Contemporary European
Bord Eau
Shangri-la – 02 509 8888

Best Family Friendly
Hiltonia Beach Club – 02 681 1900

Best Indian
Souk Qaryat Al Beri – 02 558 1769

Best International
Mombasa Grille
Souk Qaryat Al Beri – 02 558 1868

Best Italian
Emirates Palace – 02 690 7999

Best Japanese
Hilton Abu Dhabi – 02 681 4181

Best Mena
The Yas Hotel – 02 656 0000

Best Newcomer
Café Arabia
15th Street – 02 643 9699

Best Romantic
BBQ Al Qasr
Emirates Palace – 02 690 9000

Best Seafood
Beach Rotana – 02 697 9000

Best Southeast Asia
Royal Orchid
Hilton Abu Dhabi – 02 632 7777

Belgian Café

Royal Orchid

Shakespeare and Co.


For more details on the winners and also on the shortlisted restaurants visit:

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Holiday option: Desert Islands Resort and Spa by Anantara

The UAE Government still hasn’t officially confirmed the dates for the Islamic Holidays of Arafat Day and Eid al-Adha, but many people are already excited with the prospect of a few days off during the first week of November.

Hoping to have fun at the beach? Feel like exploring archaeological sites? In the mood for an exciting safari? Looking forward to massages and facials?

If you are in urgent need of all of the above, I just might have a place for you: Desert Islands Resort and Spa by Anantara.

That’s right! For about AED 1600 (USD 435) you can unravel all the mysteries and enjoy all the wonders of this amazing hotel, located on Sir Bani Yas Island, just off the coast of Abu Dhabi.

You will have plenty of time to rest and enjoy all the conveniences of your luxurious accommodations, but I also suggest you take this opportunity to explore the nature and wildlife that will be all around you. You only need to choose how: walking, hiking, kayaking, sailing...

But the absolute must is the 4x4 drives that will take you into the Arabian Wildlife Park and introduce you to a series of animals, including the Arabian Gazelle and Oryx, Cheeta, Hyena, Ostrich, Giraffe, Sheep, Flamingo and many more.

And once you are ready to sit back and relax, you can try the free-form infinity-edge swimming pool, brush up on your reading at the comfy library or head down to the spa and select one of the many treatments offered.

Need a little extra push? Take a look at the pictures below…

Hotel entrance

 Deluxe room





 Mountain biking




Note: Pictures 1 - 7 from the official Anantara Gallery.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Finding comfort

This was a tough week; filled with losses and sadness.

And this distance, this enormous distance that places me thousands of miles away from my family and friends, becomes even more tangible and real at times like this. It creates this painful impossibility of simply being there – to say goodbye to people I truly care about and to help console the ones that were left behind, grieving.

But today I too was able to find comfort. Out of the blue and from somewhere unexpected.

I was in front of the computer, working, when the Friday prayer started. For those of you less acquainted with Islam, Friday is a holy day for the Muslims. Kind of like the Sunday in Christianity and the Saturday in Judaism.

The words and chanting of the Imam (worship and spiritual leader) from a nearby Mosque are usually ignored. After all, they are more like a distant murmur that I can’t quite hear all the way from my apartment – and even if I did, I would not make anything out of it for I don’t speak Arabic.

But today, for some reason, I let it all in. I stopped what I was doing and allowed that humming to take my mind away.

I closed my eyes, as if in a trance, and thought about life and death and the things that are really important in between. The way I see it, we come into this world exactly as we leave it - with absolutely nothing. But we do leave a lot behind. Most importantly, a legacy of memories that we build with others along the way. So, in this sense, we carry on…

I thought about how hard it is to say goodbye. I’ve had to do it time and time again for the past six years, ever since I left Brazil, and it doesn’t get easier. Sure, I know this is entirely different because I will probably see everyone again soon (Inshala!). But at the same time it is, nonetheless, a goodbye.

You have to learn to live without the familiar faces, smiles, frowns. You don’t get to hear the voices, the laughter, and the cries. You are not present at special occasions. You miss the birth, the first steps and the first words of your nephews. You don’t get to be a part of a life that still goes on, unaffected, unchanged and unaltered by your absence.

The pain of letting go is indescribable and it hangs in there for a while. But after some time you remember you have all these good memories stored somewhere. And they keep you going. They put a smile on your face when you are feeling down, they warm you up when you are feeling cold and they keep you company when you are feeling lonely.

As I let myself get lost in the memories of the ones that left us and the ones who were left behind, I remembered the first time I had to say my first real goodbye. I was 7. My Grandmother was suddenly not there anymore and I couldn't understand where she had gone to or why.

And with that, my reflection, which started with words from an Imam, took a turn and ended with a prayer from Saint Francis, which always seems to comfort me:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

This post is dedicated to the Zaiden, Bandeira de Mello and Teixeira families.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Brazilian 'capoeira' now in Abu Dhabi

Capoeira’, the popular Brazilian art form that combines martial arts, sports and music, and is known for its quick and complex moves, has descended upon Abu Dhabi.

Caxias (AKA Alex Filadelfo), who landed in Abu Dhabi last year, after a while in Puerto Rico and the United States where he started ‘capoeira’ schools and participated in a series of events and presentations, is now determined to spread the love of ‘capoeira’ all around the United Arab Emirates.

Starting October 15, Caxias (who has over 30 years experience), will be at the Abu Dhabi Corniche (in the proximity of Khaleej Al Arabi Street – 30th Street) every Saturday, at 5pm.

If this does not fit your schedule, Caxias can also be found at the Hiltonia every Wednesday at 8:30pm and at the Arabesque Ballet Center, on Mondays and Saturdays at 8pm.

And the little ones won’t feel left out. Children between 3 and 10 are invited to join the classes given by Caxias at Yoga Tree, every Tuesday at 4pm.

For additional information: / +971 55 841 7843 / / Facebook: Capoeira Abu Dhabi Caxias

Monday, October 10, 2011

It's time for the Abu Dhabi Film Festival

The fifth edition of the Abu Dhabi Film Festival, event that brings together talented filmmakers from around the world, starts on October 13.

For ten days, over 140 films from 40 different countries will be screened. Features, shorts, documentaries… It’s all there - from Hollywood to Bollywood!

The public will be able to watch the selected films and also participate in discussions with famous personalities from the cinematography world, including directors and actors. Matt Damon, George Clooney, Ryan Gosling and Richard Gere, among others, will be in attendance.

Tickets cost AED 25 (USD 7), for each film, and may be purchased online (, at Fairmont Bab Al Bahr or at the VOX Cinemas Box Offices.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Rock in Rio in Dubai?

Ever heard of Rock in Rio? No?! Well, maybe you should take the time to read the info below and stay tuned because it seems this great event just might come this way soon…

That’s right! Roberto Medina, Brazilian businessman and creator of Rock in Rio – simply one of the most important music festivals in the world – has announced that he is coming to the UAE for some meetings regarding a possible Rock in Rio in Dubai.

Why is Rock in Rio so special? World renowned artists putting on a great show, audiences of thousands of people every night and the possibility of a better world (during the last ten years, seven editions of Rock in Rio have generated a total of 4.803.357,00 Euros for several different social and environmental projects).

The first edition of Rock in Rio, held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, back in 1985, was followed by eight more – four in Portugal and two in Spain.

Who has played at Rock in Rio? Artists including Queen, James Taylor, Rod Stewart, Iron Maiden, Prince, Oasis, Joe Cocker, Men at Work, Faith no More, George Michael, Billy Idol and many, many more.

Actually, the tenth edition of Rock in Rio is happening in Rio as we speak. Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Katy Perry, Rihanna, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Snow Patrol, Motorhead, Metallica, Lenny Kravitz, Shakira, Joss Stone, Janelle Monáe, Jamiroquai, Ivete Sangalo, Titãs, Paralamas do Successo, Capital Inicial, Milton Nascimento,  Marcelo D2, Jota Quest and many other artists have already performed.

And there is still more to come over the last two days of the festival...

Frejat, Skank, Maná, Maroon 5, Coldplay.

Detonautas, Pitty, Evanescence, System of a Down, Guns N’Roses.

Curious? Click here and see it all live online!!!!

Abu Dhabi is up again!

It’s October! And after the hot summer months, when nothing much happens around here, Abu Dhabi seems to be waking up once again.

With the temperatures slightly lower (very slightly!), it is finally time to start enjoying the wonders of the outside world - outside your apartment, office, car or any other place you’ve been locked in to avoid the heat!

Want a reason to step out? Yas Island Show Weekends is back and two great attractions are already scheduled:

October 13
Number Ones, Up Close and Personal Tour
Tickets start at AED 265 (USD 73)

October 25
World Majestic Tour ‘11
Tickets start at AED 295 (USD 81)

And if you want to make it a weekend, you can book not only a ticket but an entire stay at Yas Island!