Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Top events to look forward to in the UAE - if the world does not end this Friday...

If the Mayan prediction is wrong and the world does not end this Friday, December 21, here are a few things you might want to look forward to in the UAE during the first few months of 2013…
 
JANUARY
 
Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship
January 17 - 20
 
Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Jason Dufner, Ernie Els, Justin Rose and Matteo Manassero will all be in Abu Dhabi for the HSBC Golf Championship, one of the biggest events on the European Tour.
 
 
 
Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi
January 24
 
The water park, with 43 themes rides, slides and attractions + shopping, dining and entertainment options, is due to open its doors to public on January 24.
 
More info: Yas Waterworld and The National 
 
 
 
FEBRUARY
 
Dubai Jazz Festival
February 14 -22
 
The 11th edition of the Dubai Jazz Festival will be packed with international acts from all music genres. Already confirmed: The Script, Deep Purple, One Republic and 3 Doors Down.
 
More info: Dubai Jazz Festival 
 
 
 
MARCH
 
Abu Dhabi Festival
March 3 – 31
 
Expect a spectacular star-studded line-up for the 10th Anniversary of the Abu Dhabi Festival. Make special note of three grand attractions at the Emirates Palace: Placido Domingo, tenor who needs absolutely no introduction (March 20), Joshua Bell, the violin virtuoso (March 22) and Yundi, China’s sensational piano player (March 24).
 
More info: Abu Dhabi Festival 
 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Christmas gift ideas - UAE style

Still can’t seem to find the perfect gift for that special someone? Well, here are a few, let’s say, out of the ordinary ideas for you…
 
Chocolate or gold?
Burj Al Arab, the fancy hotel in Dubai, has created a distinguished chocolate log that resembles – what else – a bar of gold. Made from the finest ingredients, it promises to tantalize your sense. Not sure how your pocket will feel about it though: AED 500 (USD 136).
For more info: Burj Al Arab 
 
 
 
Champagne fit for a king
The One has the perfect gift for champagne lovers (or perhaps someone who suffers from megalomania - psychopathological disorder characterized by delusional fantasies of power, relevance, or omnipotence): a champagne chiller shaped like a crown. The price, however, will probably send you down depression lane… AED 3495 (USD 953).
 
For more info: The One
 
 
 
Fashion help
Dreamdays offers great options for those in need of some fashion help (maybe the boyfriend whose wardrobe consists of a pair of jeans, khaki shorts and a couple of old t-shirts or that colleague at work who can’t seem to color coordinate?): the Sense of Style experience (AED 550 = USD150) will take you on a shopping spree with an image consultant expert while the Wardrobe Evaluation experience (AED 790 = USD 215) will help you evaluate and organize your closet, by replacing the old and creating new outfits.
 
For more info: Dreamdays
 
 

 
Things you probably only see in the UAE…

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Gelish delish

There is no denying that a mani and pedi have the power to make us women feel good. But, let’s face it: sometimes this whole nail process is extremely time consuming – especially since a nail polish never lasts too long…
 
Ever since I became a Mom a few months ago, I’ve been on the lookout for ways to optimize my time - or, better yet, find magical ways to multiply the little and precious time I have.
 
So, I can’t tell you how happy I was when I came across Gelish, this new (to me at least…) nail polish that stays on for weeks and weeks without cracking.
 
When the lady at the salon showed me this little miracle in a bottle I quite frankly did not believe her. But it does work! I applied it on November 19 and only removed it today, December 12!
 
 
Cons?
-         It does take a little more time to apply it.
-         Removing it can be a bit tricky.
 
Pros?
-         Immediately after it is applied, your nails are completely dry.
-         You can perform any task (including doing the dishes or changing dirty diapers) with no risk of damaging your nails.
-         Your nails will look great throughout an entire business trip or a family vacation.
-         You don’t have to go for a mani and pedi every single week!
 
Not sure if this is one of those things that we only see in the UAE, but I am guessing it will soon be everywhere - or perhaps it is already and I’m the only one in the world who has never heard about it (if this is the case, shame on you girlfriends for not telling me about this before)!
 
Note: No, I’m not being paid to promote the product. I’m just a happy girl who thinks this Gelish is simply delish!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Five easy steps to acquire your liquor license

It’s finally December, the season to be jolly, fa la la la la, la la la la... But before we chill that bottle of bubbly or buy our favorite red, we must make sure we have our liquor license at hand here in the UAE.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Until recently, the process to acquire one was complicated, costly and lengthy. Now, however, things have changed – and for the better.
 
A special office was set up earlier this year to regulate all legislative alcohol-related matters across the Emirate and it surely made the application process a whole lot easier for all of us non-Muslim residents.
 
Here are the five steps to acquire your liquor license:
 
1. Make sure you scan the following documents and have them ready in your computer: photo, Emirates ID front, Emirates ID back, passport, residency visa, salary certificate.
 
2. Go to the special office website (www.auhsl.ae) and register by clicking on ‘Register’ at the top right corner of the home page.
 
3. Once registered, click on ‘New Card Application’ at the menu located on the left corner of the home page.
 
4. Fill out the necessary information and attach the required documents.
 
5. Select a preferred retailer so that your license can be sent there for collection once it is ready.
 
It took me about five minutes to complete the application. Soon after, I got an email informing me that the application was received and would be processed. About a week later, I received a second email to let me know the application was successful and that my preferred store would be in touch with me to arrange the handover of my new license. Ten days later I had my license!
 
That’s it! No hassle and totally free of charge!
 
Now, to avoid major headaches or hangovers the day after, make sure you read the terms and conditions – which I have reproduced below for you:
 
1. Individual alcoholic beverage licenses can only be granted to non-Muslim residents of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, over the age of 21.
 
2. The maximum limit of alcoholic beverages purchased is 20% of one’s basic salary.
 
3. Purchased alcoholic beverages are for personal use only and resale is strictly prohibited.
 
4. The licensee can consume purchased alcoholic beverages only at one’s personal residence, or at any private residence where he/she is a guest.
 
5. Purchased alcoholic beverages cannot be displayed or carried openly in public.
 
6. Licensee can purchase alcoholic beverages only from Abu Dhabi-licensed retail stores.
 
7. The licensees are only allowed to purchase up to the monthly alcoholic beverages limit.
 
8. Anyone caught inebriated in public spaces or in the road will be jailed as per UAE law (including driving under the influence, where the zero tolerance rule is observed).
 
9. The license will be withdrawn upon any violations of the previously mentioned rules and regulations.
 
10. The license must be renewed on an annual basis.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Guaraná Antarctica now in the UAE

Back in March I posted about three Emiratis who joined forces with a Brazilian to produce a local Guaraná after a series of frustrated attempts to attract the interest of Brazilian companies into exporting the product.
 
Well, it seems they will need to get ready to face some fierce competition: Guaraná Antarctica can now be found on the shelves of several supermarkets throughout the UAE.
 
In Abu Dhabi, I was happy to see the soft-drink, made from extracts of an Amazonian fruit, at Lulu Hypermarket. And, surely enough, I made sure I stocked up (photo below) before I advertised this here to my fellow Brazilian expats who miss this little taste of Brazil. Don't want to take any chances... 'wink, wink'
 
 
 
Note to self: get a hold of SADIA and find out why it is suddenly so hard to find the delicious Pão de Queijo in the UAE. Would love to have it together with some Guaraná… Perfect match!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Record-breaking Abu Dhabi

Did you know that Abu Dhabi holds a series of world records?

Here are a few of them:

1.    Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque: is the home to the largest hand-woven rug, the largest marble mosaic, the biggest dome and the biggest chandelier inside any Mosque.
 

 2. Ferrari World: the largest indoor theme park, with the fastest ride – the Formula Rossa rollercoaster.


3. Tel Moreeb: the tallest sand dune, located on the Empty Quarter.
 
 
4. Capital Gate Building: furthest leaning man-made tower, beating Italy’s Tower of Pisa.
 
 
5. Abu Dhabi Gate Towers: highest penthouse bridge on earth, suspended at 245 meters above ground.
 
 
Curious to find out about other Abu Dhabi world records? Check-out this article on Time Out Abu Dhabi:
 
 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Impressive Midfield Terminal at Abu Dhabi International Airport

An article at Aviation Business today shows newly released photos of the Midfield Terminal Building set to open in 2017 at Abu Dhabi International Airport.

The images and numbers are impressive:

     -         700,000 square meters in size

-         27,800 square meters of retail and F&B space

-         4,300 cameras

-         156 conventional counters

-         48 self-service kiosks

-         15 lifts

-         3km of travelators

-         8 airline lounges

-         19,000 bags handled every hour

-         30 million passengers per year
 



 
 
 
More info and pics at:
 
 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Global citizen


Not sure if you’ve noticed, but I haven’t been as active and present here at BurCArioca as I once was. Reason? I had a baby last August – a little citizen of the world, who was conceived in Abu Dhabi, born in Dubai, and is entitled to dual citizenship: Brazilian (my husband and I are Brazilians) and Danish (my father-in-law is Danish).

Why not add an UAE nationality to the list? Well, the fact that she was born here does not mean she gets it.

Actually, until very recently, UAE nationality was passed by blood, strictly from father to son. It was only last December (2011) that Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, passed a decree granting citizenship to children of Emirati mothers married to foreigners.

So, my baby girl will definitely not enjoy government subsidized health care, education and other social benefits as well as scholarships or employment aimed at Emiratis.

She will, however, be able to show everyone her very unusual and cool birth certificate containing two different birth dates: August 23, 2012 (based on the internationally accepted Gregorian calendar) and October 6, 1433 (based on the Hijri calendar followed by Muslims).
 
 
I guess this will be the first of many curiosities in the life of my very special global citizen!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Perfume on the go


The latest novelty in the UAE? Perfume on the go.
 
That’s right. Walking around Al Wahda Mall the other day I came across this vending machine (see pics below). Strangely enough, it did not contain the usual water, soft drinks, juices, chocolate or other snacks. It was filled with perfume!
 
 
 
Apparently, this is the way it works: on the sides you have several perfume bottles. You can try them and make your choice. Then, you pay AED 50 (approximately USD 14) and press a button to select the one you want. It’s as simple as that! And you even get a little bag to carry it around!
 
Now, since I did not actually try any of them, I can't really attest to the quality of the perfumes. But one thing I know - they really did get creative with the names: Tango, Active, Ghost, Buffalo (can't even begin to imagine the scent of this one...)!
 
 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

F1 fever is back in town


Although the F1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is still over a month away, it has already started to create a buzz around town.
 
Kylie Minogue, Nickelback and Eminem have confirmed their performances at the after-race concerts; which, once again, will be exclusive for F1 ticket holders.
 
For those who prefer to stay away from the circuit, there are also many fun options planned by Yasalam, the largest city wide entertainment program by any F1 host city.
 
From October 3 to November 4, a series of events will take place all over Abu Dhabi, including at its popular Corniche where several artists, among them the former Spice Girl, Melanie C, and Ceelo Green, will perform for free.
 
For the complete schedule and more information: www.yasalam.ae/en
 
 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Al Wahda Mall steps up


 
 
Malls in Abu Dhabi are not as grand or luxurious as the mega structures located in Dubai. They also fail to give you many options. It seems every mall you go in the capital you find the same stores over and over again. And when it comes to gastronomic choices, you barely have one - unless you enjoy eating fast food at the busy and noisy food courts...   
 
Thankfully, the group that manages Al Wahda Mall, has slowly started to unleash the power brands and introduce a much needed breath of fresh air into the Abu Dhabi mall circuit.
 
The plan is to double the size of Al Wahda Mall and add 256 shops and food and beverage outlets to the existing 200.  
 
Besides the popular names already present in the capital (GAP, Mango, Banana Republic, Aldo, Mothercare, Mamas and Papas, etc.), Al Wahda Mall will soon make space for Pottery Barn Kids, American Eagle Outfitters, Sephora, Destination Maternity, Victoria’s Secret, Red Lobster, Olive Garden and much more!
 
Not bad, huh?

 

 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Dubai mansion for sale

The most expensive mansion in Dubai, located at Palm Jumeirah, is on sale for the bargain price (NOT!) of USD 70 million.

The property, of approximately six thousand square meters, has ten bedrooms, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, sauna, a movie theater with 70 seats, garden, sea view and direct access to a private beach - among several other amenities.

Note: only sheikhs, celebrities and a few business men, part of a super VIP list, will have the opportunity to visit the property.




Monday, July 16, 2012

Ramadan and the London 2012 Olympics

In a few days, Muslims all over the world will enter the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, also known as the Holy Month of Ramadan, when the Quran was revealed by Allah to mankind.

This means that for 30 days, Muslims will be extra devoted to spiritual reflection and practice self-discipline and self-restraint by abstaining from food, liquids and sexual activities from sunrise to sunset.

Since the local calendar is based on the phases of the moon, the first day of Ramadan will only be confirmed once the new moon is sighted. This year, it is anticipated to fall on or around July 20 – right in the middle of crazy hot summer (when the average temperature around here is usually over 40 degrees Celsius) and only a few days away from the beginning of the 2012 Olympics in London.

Can you imagine what it must be like to the approximately 3,500 Muslim athletes competing this year? How will they manage to fast and still have strength to compete?

I actually found an interesting article online that talks about this: How to Compete in the Olympics While Fasting for Ramadan. It explains that there are actually ways around it...

Now, if you are not a Muslim, but are planning to be in the UAE during Ramadan, do remember that rules and regulations also apply to you while in public. So, from dawn to sunset…

NO liquids, not even water
NO food, not even gum
NO show of affection, not even holding hands
NO bad habits, not even one cigarette

For more info, take a look at one of my previous posts: The Holy Month of Ramadan, from September 2010.

Ramadan Kareem (Blessed Ramadan) to all!




Thursday, July 12, 2012

The power of branding

In today’s world, more than ever before, businesses understand the power of branding – especially the visual aspect of it, which will promote immediate recognition and generate a series of feelings, reactions and even attitudes towards a product or service.

Living in a foreign country, it is amazing to see how some companies have really managed to create a strong brand identity and awareness. Even if you don’t read Arabic (which is my case), you are able to instantly recognize the company or product just by looking at a specific font or image.

Here are a few good examples I found going around. Look at the images below and see if you can recognize them. The answers are at the bottom, after the last picture.


 




  



Answers: Pringles / Fedex / Pizza Hut / Pampers / Coca-Cola / Tide / KFC

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Michel Teló fever reaches the UAE?

I was just flipping through the pages of the latest issue of Friday Magazine and was surprised to see that Michel Teló (Brazilian singer) was part of a playlist put together by a female Emirati Dubai-based artist.

Not only was Michel Teló featured on her playlist, but he was mentioned twice: at number ten with ‘Ai Se Eu Te Pego’ and at number five with the English version of that same song (If I Catch You).





Ok. The song is catchy and sticks like bubble gum, but to go viral and turn into this phenomenon simply because a few athletes, such as Neymar, Cristiano Ronaldo and Rafael Nadal, decided to celebrate goals and victories by singing and dancing to its rhythm is a bit too crazy.

The weirdest thing is that the hit has topped radio charts in over 15 countries – including Germany, Holland, Russia, Switzerland, and so many other places, where people don’t speak a word of Portuguese!

Go figure…



For those of you who may not have heard it yet, here is Michel Teló with his ‘Ai Se Eu Te Pego’:


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

That Advisor - your one stop review website for Dubai


Word of mouth is a very powerful tool. Surely you will have more trust on what a friend or colleague says about a business rather than a paid advertisement, right?

That is exactly where That Advisor comes in! The recently launched website was created to ensure that word of mouth can be heard.

To better understand how That Advisor works, we had a little chat with Gemma Magill, the mastermind behind this great new tool.









How would you define That Advisor?
It is a one stop review website for Dubai – soon for the whole UAE. It enables people to review anything from spas and restaurants to banks and vets to where their children go to school or nursery… You can even review the apartment block or neighborhood that you live in!

Why create something like That Advisor?
Since I was younger I would often hear people complaining about a bad service or experience and wishing that they could warn other people to save their money before they used that business or service and go somewhere else. In addition, when somewhere is great, you also want to let people know. Time is precious, so why waste it on a bad experience?

Plus, I don’t know about others but I found after living in the UAE for five and a half years, I was going to the same places with the same people week in, week out and, quite frankly, I was getting bored. I wanted to know other people’s favorite places/experiences. So after much deliberation I thought, why not create something that will let us all share our good and bad experiences? And from that: That Advisor was born.

What type of information is available at That Advisor?
Currently, the website has ten main categories: Healthcare, Fitness & Nutrition, Education & Training, Business & Services, Places to live, Beauty & Spas, Food & Dining, Nightlife, Kids and Fun & Leisure, each one with several sub-categories or sections.  

The great thing about That Advisor is that you can search by area and within the Cafes & Restaurant section, for example, you can even search by cuisine. So say you’re looking for a Chinese in Dubai Marina, by selecting these options the results will be filtered with the best ones (based on user reviews) at the top.

All details that are available for businesses are also listed here, so it’s a great tool for finding places in your area. So say you move to a new area and are looking for a hospital or medical centre, you can use That Advisor to search these categories in your specific area. You can then review what other users have said and make your decision on which one you would prefer to go to… Contact details for each are listed making it easy for users to then make an appointment.

What if you can’t find what you need?
That Advisor was created for the people of Dubai - so, even if we don’t have a category listed that users would like to see added, they can just contact us at feedback@thatadvisor.com and if we deem it as something that will add value for our users, then we will add it, no questions asked – we’ve made it simple to use and simple to review.

How do people start using and reviewing?
People can either log in via their Facebook account (they can select an username to remain anonymous) or they can sign up and create an account with their email addresses. We wanted to make it as easy as possible so accounts can be created in seconds and users can start making reviews and adding businesses/places.

Now, if all you want is to see the reviews at That Advisor, all you need to do is go to www.thatadvisor.com. No need to create an account to check our listings.

What is the main differential of That Advisor when compared to similar websites?
The website is built on trust, credibility and we have a professional image that we want to maintain. We are not here to be funky, focus on one or two categories nor do we want to go into too many markets at once. We want to build the trust of our users, find out what’s great and what’s not and build on that – one step at a time. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Neither were we – professionalism takes time. And we want to get this right.

That Advisor is about to hit its one month anniversary. How is it going so far?
We have been overwhelmed with the response and how it has been received by our users. After just a few days of launch, we were invited into Dubai 92 for an interview; we have over 1,300 fans on Facebook and over 500 users contributing with reviews every day.

Do you have plans and goals for the future of That Advisor?
We have many plans for the future. Our first is to open the website to the whole of the UAE. However, we want to get it right. Other international brands online that focus on one or two categories have taken years to get where they are today. Why? They have ensured their business model was right, their functionalities were perfect and by evolving constantly, have kept surprising their users. That’s how we want to be. Professional, trustworthy and, most of all, credible. A one stop shop for our users. And, like all good relationships, trust is not given overnight – it has to be earned.

Monday, June 18, 2012

A little sweat anyone?

I just got back from the supermarket where I came across the most peculiar product by the name of Pocari Sweat.

Apparently it is some kind of health drink introduced in Japan back in the 80’s; supposed to replace lost fluids and minerals in your body. It is recommended after hard work, sports activities, workouts, etc.

Ok. Ok. I get it. But let’s be honest here. As a customer would you be inclined to buy and drink something with the word sweat on it?

Sorry, but not even Cindy Crawford can make this thing more attractive for me… Boys, what do you think?




Monday, June 11, 2012

Black point system for traffic offences

I recently found out that a black point system for traffic offences was implemented across the country last March.

But what really amazed me – besides the fact that these things are still very poorly communicated in the UAE – was the logic, or lack of, behind this system.

Most accidents here happen due to reckless and dangerous driving. Many people are killed because they do not use seatbelts. Children are innocent victims because their parents do not take the time, or find it necessary, to buy them a car seat and simply drive with them in the front seats.

So, why is it that you get 24 black points for driving without number plates and only 8 for causing serious injuries? Or get 24 black points for driving under the influence and only 12 for causing the death of others? Or only 4 for allowing children to sit in the front seat of a vehicle?

Is it only me or this doesn’t make any sense at all?

Just saying…



For the complete list of black points go to:

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Holiday break: Bab Al Shams

The government has just confirmed that public and private sectors will get a one day holiday on Sunday, June 17, to mark Al Isra Wal Miraj (the ascension of Prophet Mohammed).

So, here I am again with one of my hotel reviews to inspire you. This time, I present you with Bab Al Shams Desert Resort & Spa

The place is set among beautiful dunes and built in what seems like a modern and stylized version of a true Arab village, with small passageways, courtyards and corridors providing a unique atmosphere.

The rooms have sort of a rustic feel, like you are in a tent or something, but with all the modern amenities you may need, want or desire, of course. And the bathrooms, oh the bathrooms, simply amazing – especially the huge tubs! You can practically go for a swim in one of those!

But the main attractions are located outside: desert safari, camel and horse riding, archery, mini golf, yoga, spa and a magical and inspiring infinity pool where you will be able to relax and drown all your worries and sorrows. And while you are at it, make sure you enjoy all the complimentary little treats (fresh fruits, popsicles, wet towels, etc.) offered to you from time to time.

Travelling with children? They will have a blast here! Besides taking part in many of the above mentioned activities, they have a dedicated Kid’s Club with a daily program for children from 2 to 12 years old. And if you want to have a romantic dinner with the hubby, you can always book the babysitting service available at an additional charge.

Picky when it comes to food? You will have plenty of options at Bab Al Shams! Al Hadheerah, for example, is the region’s first authentic open air desert restaurant, with an authentic Middle Eastern buffet. The food is great, but it might feel a bit touristy for locals and expats living in the UAE. If that is your case, no worries, you can always go for Indian cuisine (Masala), or pizza (Pizzeria Le Dune), or the well known international buffet option (Al Forsan Restaurant).

Another great thing about Bab Al Shams is its location. You can be there in only 45 minutes (from Abu Dhabi’s city center)! So, if you are not in the mood to spend the night, you can always go for the day use package and enjoy access to the pool, restaurants and other activities.

What are you waiting for? Call and book now! Oh, and remember to ask for GCC resident rates and other special offers they might have.


Now... some minor, little, tiny cons:
  • The property was previously managed by the Jumeirah Group, but recently moved into the hands of Meydan Hotels. Not sure if this had an impact on staff or not, but they could use a little extra training.
  • It can be kind of tricky getting to and from your room at first, since there are many small passageways, courtyards and corridors, but it does get easier after a while.
  • Rooms could use a little more light. The floor and table lamps are not enough at times, especially at night
  • The show with live music and dancers at Al Hadheerah is really interesting but it does get tiring after a while since the artists need to go around to every single table to take pictures with the guests.
But don't let this discourage you! The hotel is truly worth a visit! Take a look at some images below (from the official Bab Al Shams website) and see for yourself...