Monday, October 21, 2013

Koi now open in Abu Dhabi

The Abu Dhabi branch of trendy Japanese restaurant and lounge Koi is now open at The Collection, a new retail space connected to the St. Regis Resort on Saadiyat Island.

The place, comprised of 700 square meters, houses a sushi bar, a cocktail lounge and terraces for outdoor dining, with casual tables and Koi’s signature booths.

A favorite with celebs, Koi first opened its doors in Los Angeles and quickly set out to conquer the world. Today, it can also be found in Las Vegas, Bryant Park and Soho, in New York, and Bangkok.

The restaurant serves “imaginative dishes inspired by traditional Japanese preparations, then deconstructed and infused with modern California accents”. 

Not exactly sure if I know what that means, but I am hoping it turns out to be something pretty yummy... Will be heading there very soon to find out!

Koi Las Vegas and Koi NY Bryant Park

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Why do Muslim women cover up?

I am not gonna lie. When I first came to the UAE, one of the things that I had great difficulty with was seeing women all covered up. I remember I’d look around and think: this is just so cruel, unjust and sad. I felt sorry for them. After all, in my mind, there was only one logical or possible reason for them to cover up: they were forced to do so.

Throughout the past six years though, I’ve had the pleasure to meet and work with many intelligent, funny and interesting local women, who showed me my initial perception was not quite true - or at least not the only truth.

Sure, I’ve heard many women say that they cover up because they must do whatever is required of them by their fathers, brothers or husbands. But, I’ve also heard different stories. Stories of women who opted to cover up for various different reasons, in no way related to oppression. 

So, when I heard about this new documentary entitled ‘I wasn’t always dressed like this’ by Betty Martins, Brazilian filmmaker and founder of D-AEP.ORG, I was very excited. I haven’t had a chance to see it yet (it will be screened in the UK this month and also in Brazil and Chile), but I am hoping the on-camera reflexions of Muslim women on their choices for covering up will help people look beyond the veils and burkas and past pre-conceived notions. 

Now, just to make it clear: I am not saying we all need to agree with such practice. I am not saying all women should cover up. I am not saying this is the only way to move forward. 

All I am saying - and this is my own personal opinion - is that ignorance can be a true menace. It leaves space for falsehoods, errors, misconceptions and generalizations. What better than a little information and knowledge to broaden our horizons?

Monday, October 14, 2013

BurCArioca goes pink for breast cancer awareness month

If you ask around, you will probably have a hard time finding people without a breast cancer story to tell. The sad truth is, each and every  one of us probably know someone who has been diagnosed with breast cancer - be it a family member, a friend or a neighbor. I know I have...

Amazingly, and sadly enough, although we have heard all these stories, most of us are still reluctant or just plain lazy to do a simple self-exam, see our Doctors or get a mammogram. We seem to forget that early detection can save our lives - it’s as simple as that. 

During the month of October, many people and organizations come up with a series of actions, campaigns and initiatives. That’s great. But we must not forget to talk about breast cancer during the other 11 months of the year.

So, this October, take the time to start. Get checked, talk about it, share experiences, get involved. But don’t stop.

If you are in the UAE, here are some cool initiatives you might want to hear about or actively participate in:

The Feel for Signs campaign, a collaboration between the pan-UAE-breast cancer awareness initiative Pink Caravan, Dubai Taxi Corporation and advertising agency JWT is one of my favorites so far. The pink taxis were especially fitted with seat belts fixed with a ‘lump’ to sit exactly on the passenger’s chest. The drivers were trained to take on the role of educators, talking about the importance of early detection and distributing leaflets with tons of information. 

Many businesses have also joined the cause. At the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr, guests of the hotel and Abu Dhabi residents got free screenings and consultations. The Eastern Mangroves Hotel and Spa by Anantara invited people to participate in a tribute to all diagnosed with breast cancer by paddling 5km in the mangroves and releasing pink rose petals in the water. Last but not least, Kaya Skin Clinic has sent invitations to clients for a free breast cancer check-up at their Mirdiff City Centre Clinic in Dubai. And, in case a mammogram is recommended, Kaya will provide a AED 200 voucher towards a test at Oriana Clinics. 

And there are several other initiatives, like ‘The Pink Difference’ launched by the Dubai Ladies Club. The idea here is to offer ladies different choices to get involved: Pink Membership (a complimentary membership will be provided to a breast cancer survivor for every Annual Club Membership sigh-up during October); The Little Closet Charity Exhibition (a three-day charity fashion exhibition where all sales will be donated to the Pink Caravan initiative); Laugh like a Girl stand-up comedy show (a night of fun-filled events, ending with a stand-up comedy show - tickets selling at AED 100).

NOW, let BurCArioca help raise even more awareness with some breast cancer myths according to Pink Ribbon, a very serious organization put together exclusively for charitable, educational and scientific purposes:

Myth 1 — Having a risk factor for breast cancer means you'll develop the disease.
No risk factor either alone or in combination with others means you'll definitely get breast cancer. There are various factors that may increase your risk of developing the disease. Some of these appear to increase your risk only slightly. They include smoking, drinking (more than 5 alcoholic drinks per week year after year), getting your first menstrual period before age 12, continuing to have periods after age 55, and not having your first full-term pregnancy until after age 30. If you have a number of these, the increase in risk can start to be more meaningful.
That said, even an inherited genetic abnormality in your family doesn't necessarily mean you're going to get breast cancer. Abnormalities in the so-called breast cancer genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 are very strong risk indicators. But 20 to 60 percent of women with these inherited abnormalities will not develop breast cancer.
Myth 2 — If there is no breast cancer in your family, then you're not at risk for the disease.
Every woman is at risk for breast cancer. So are some men! For any individual woman, an inherited abnormality is the strongest risk factor, but only about 10 percent of all cases of breast cancer are due to inherited abnormalities. About 85 percent of women who develop the disease don't have a family history. That's why it's important for all women to get screened regularly.
Myth 3 — Breast cancer is passed only from your mother, not your father.
We now know that breast cancer genes can be inherited from your dad's side of the family. So ask relatives about cases on both sides and in both men and women. About 2,000 cases of male breast cancer are diagnosed in the US each year. In fact, male breast cancer is most closely associated with a BRCA2 abnormality. So if there's a man in the family who's had breast cancer, be sure to tell your doctor.
Myth 4 — No matter what your risk factors are, you really don't have to worry about breast cancer until you're through menopause.
The odds of getting the disease do increase as you age. But breast cancer can occur at any age. That's why all women need to be vigilant. Though experts recommend yearly mammograms starting at age 40, your doctor may suggest that you start even earlier if you have a family history of breast cancer at a young age.
Mammography isn't the ideal screening test for women younger than 40 because it can't "see through" their dense breast tissue. So your doctor may also recommend ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). You may be able to enroll in a study of MRI for breast cancer detection for women at increased risk.
Myth 5 — Wearing a bra or using antiperspirants and deodorants increases your risk of breast cancer.
These are two Internet rumors that never seem to quit. It's not true that wearing a bra, especially underwire bras, traps toxins by limiting lymph and blood flow in your breasts, increasing risk. There's also no proof for the claims that antiperspirants and deodorants cause cancer by keeping the body from sweating out the cancer-causing substances that build up in the breasts, or because they contain harmful chemicals that are absorbed through the skin.
Myth 6 — If you have small breasts, you're much less likely to get breast cancer.
Size doesn't matter. Anyone with breasts can get it.
Myth 7 — Research shows that using hormone therapy (HT) even for a short period of time, causes breast cancer.
Many women were understandably concerned when a major study found that HT combining estrogen and progestin increased risks of invasive breast cancer slightly. Another study also showed that a combination of therapy boosts breast cancer risk somewhat, however, it was able to offer some reassurance: This risk appeared to return to normal within a year or so after women stopped using the therapy. This seems to be the case for women who've been on HT for just months and those who've used it for more than 5 years.
One more thing: It's important to note that no studies have found a boost in breast cancer risk for women using estrogen-only therapy. This type of therapy is prescribed solely for women who have had hysterectomies, because estrogen taken alone can cause cancer in the lining of the uterus (endometrial cancer).
Myth 8 — A number of studies have found that women who live in countries where diets tend to be lower in fat have a lower risk of breast cancer. But the majority of studies focusing on women in the US haven't found a solid link between dietary fat consumption and breast cancer risk. Why are these finding contradictory? It may be that women in other countries are at lower risk for other reasons: They exercise more, eat less, weigh less, smoke less, or have a different genetic profile or environmental interaction that makes them less susceptible. One thing we do know: Postmenopausal obesity is a risk factor that does put you at risk for breast and other cancers, so it pays to maintain a healthy weight.
As for dairy products, the study results are mixed. But Harvard's Nurses' Health Study, a large-scale study of 120,000 women, recently found that premenopausal women who ate a lot of dairy products, especially low-fat and fat-free ones, ran a lower risk of breast cancer. The study found no link between dairy product consumption and breast cancer risk in women who are past menopause.
Myth 9 — Mammograms can prevent breast cancer.
A 2003 Harris survey of more than 500 women found that about 30 percent thought mammograms could prevent breast cancer. The truth: While mammograms can detect breast cancer, they can't prevent it.
Myth 10 — Some studies actually show mammograms are worthless.
Two studies, including a review study done by Danish scientists, did suggest that getting a regular mammogram didn't lower a women's risk of dying of breast cancer. But several other studies, including one done by the US preventive Services Task Force, totally disagree. You can maximize the benefit of mammography screening by seeking out the best facilities and staff in your area. Look for the radiology center that handles the most breast cancer cases in the region. Go to a radiologist who specializes in reading mammograms, and ask, "How many mammograms do you read each year?" More tends to be better. A study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that radiologists who read more than 300 mammograms a month were more accurate.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Top restaurants in Abu Dhabi revealed

The night of Tuesday, October 8, was a great one for many restaurateurs, chefs and foodies who got together at the Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche for the Time Out Abu Dhabi Restaurant Awards 2013. 

Want to know who won what? Here is the much awaited list of the top restaurants in Abu Dhabi:

Restaurant of the Year
Bord Eau, Shangri-La Hotel

Best Afternoon Tea
The Drawing Room, The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort

Best Business Lunch
Prego’s, Beach Rotana

Best Brunch
Pearls & Caviar, Shangri-La Hotel

Best Budget
Bonne Annee, Salam Street

Best Café
Nolu’s Café, Al Bandar

Best Family
Api Cae Gourmet, Al Khalidiya

Best Romantic
BBQ Al Qasr, Emirates Palace Hotel

Best Seafood
Sayad, Emirates Palace Hotel

Best Steakhouse
Marco Pierre White Steakhouse & Grill, Fairmont Bab Al Bahr

Best Chinese
Hakkasan, Emirates Palace Hotel

Best Contemporary European
Bord Eau, Shangri-La Hotel 

Best Indian
Angar, Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi

Best International
Vasco’s, Hilton Abu Dhabi

Best Italian
Bocca, Hilton Abu Dhabi

Best Japanese
Toki, Hilton Abu Dhabi

Li Beirut, Jumeirah at Etihad Towers

Best Southeast Asia
Santaya, The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort

Best Newcomer
Brasserie Angelique, Jumeirah at Etihad Towers

Best Bar Food
Stills Bar & Brasserie, Crowne Plaza Abu Dhabi Yas Island

For more information on other highly commended restaurants in Abu Dhabi, check out Time Out's Photo Gallery. Oh, and by the way, the photo on top was extracted from Time Out website.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Fun for everyone

It’s that time of year again. The temperatures are slowly going down and the people are starting to head outdoors. 

Lots of activities, concerts and events planned for the upcoming glorious months of Autumn and Winter. Here are only a few of them...

For the family

Adventure of Tarzan
October 6 - 12
Abu Dhabi National Theatre - Abu Dhabi

The Wiggles
November 8 - 9
Atlantis the Palm - Dubai

For sports enthusiasts

WWE Live
October 10 - 12
Zayed Sports City Tennis Stadium - Abu Dhabi

2013 Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
November 3
Yas Marina Circuit - Abu Dhabi

Mubadala World Tennis Championship
December 26 - 28
Zayed Sports City Tennis Stadium - Abu Dhabi

For music lovers

October 19
Du Arena - Abu Dhabi

Jose Carreras and Katherine Jenkins
October 25
Du Arena - Abu Dhabi

Michael Jackson - The immortal world tour Cirque du Soleil
December 30 - January 14
Dubai World Trade Center - Dubai

For Bavarian (or beer fans)

Oktoberfest Festival
October 10 - 11
Du Forum - Abu Dhabi

For more information on timings, venues and tickets, go to Ticketmaster.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Sustainable transport for Abu Dhabi

The Abu Dhabi Department of Transport takes a step towards sustainable transport this month by introducing two electric buses to the streets of the capital.

The trial vehicles, which take an average of four hours to fully charge and travel approximately 200km a day, will operate for six months. A 65 seater will take passengers to and from Marina and Abu Dhabi malls, while a 48 seater will travel between the city, Mussafah and Bani Yas.

The different routes and trip scenarios, together with the feedback from passengers, will help assess the cost and benefits of the electric technology. 

If everything goes well, diesel buses and even taxis might soon be replaced.

Way to go green Abu Dhabi! Well done!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Rhodes 44

Another fancy option for foodies residing in or just passing by Abu Dhabi is a creation by renowned British Chef Gary Rhodes: Rhodes 44, one of the main dining attractions of St. Regis Abu Dhabi, located in the iconic Nation Towers.

The restaurant’s extensive à-la-carte menu blends European and British classics with the jewels of Middle Eastern cuisine. You can stop by between 6:30am to 11pm and choose to have your breakfast, lunch or dinner indoors or in the spacious private garden overlooking the Corniche. There is also a separate room for those who wish for more privacy.

For info and reservations: +971 2 694 4444

Abu Dhabi - Dubai in 25 minutes

Tired of the traffic, boring road or crazy drivers along the highway connecting Abu Dhabi and Dubai? Well, Rotana Jet now gives you another option to consider: fly!

The 50 seater Embraer Jet takes off three times a week (Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays), leaving Abu Dhabi Al Bateen Airport at 9:15am and Dubai International Airport at 4:50pm. The journey lasts approximately 25 minutes and the one way ticket costs AED 100.

The price is really not bad, considering you would pay no less than AED 200 if you had to take a taxi. And flying is probably way safer than driving! But time-wise, I don’t believe it makes a difference. 

If you drive from Abu Dhabi city center to Dubai city center, it might take you around one and a half hours (depending on where you need to go and traffic, of course). If you fly, you need to factor in the ride to and from both airports and also the time in advance you need to be at the airport for check-in (at least 30 minutes before the flight). So, the whole flying experience would probably take you the same one and a half hours - maybe even more.

Regardless, it might be an interesting option to consider if you, let’s say, need extra time to prepare for a last minute meeting. You wouldn’t be able to do that if you were driving or if, like  crazy me, you get sick if you try to read or write whenever the car is in motion. It can also be a fun option to try with your family or friends on a day off!

Picture extracted from Time Out Abu Dhabi