Saturday, November 29, 2014

Generalizations are not only stupid, but very dangerous

When I was eight years old my parents decided to enroll me in one of the American schools in Rio de Janeiro. Not really sure why since we don't have any ties to the US, except for some very close friends in California, whom we consider family. I guess they thought learning English would make a difference in my future. And it did. Immensely. But what my parents gave me right then and there was much more than the simple opportunity to learn a second language. By inserting me in a multicultural environment, they helped me realize, from a very early age, that no two people are alike, despite their shared gender, citizenship, political or religious views - and that generalizations are not only stupid, but very dangerous.

During my Elementary, Middle and High School years I worked on group projects and shared a table in the cafeteria with people from all parts of the world: Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Suriname, US, Canada, Hungary, Korea, Japan, Syria, Iraq, to name a few. Some were Catholic, others Jewish, Muslims, Buddhists and even Atheists. But this was a mere detail, just one more thing about each of us and not who we were or what ultimately defined us. 

We were good, bad, nice, naughty, violent, peaceful, boring, nerds, popular or unpopular because of our daily actions and not because we came from this or that place or believed in this or that God or whatever else may be out there to believe or not believe in.  

Not all Brazilians look like Gisele Bundchen, play soccer or do the samba. Not all Argentines like meat or know how to tango. Not all Colombians are drug dealers or cocaine addicts. Not all Germans are Nazis. Not all Jews hate Muslims. Not all Muslims belong to Al Qaeda. 

That is why when I saw this video from CNN earlier today, I couldn't help but agree with Reza Aslan. People should be more responsible, read, learn and get their facts right before they say things or paint everyone with a single brush, especially when these people are media and influence the mass.

Monday, November 24, 2014

And so it is Christmas...

The UAE is a Muslim country, but although Christmas is not a priority for many around here or even an official holiday, the festive season has officially arrived in Abu Dhabi. 

Malls, supermarkets and hotels are carefully decorated and filled with Christmas motives from head-to-toe. 

And you won’t believe the number of activities planned for the month of December!

Here are a few for you to try!

Swiss Christmas Market
December 4-7

The Swiss Business Council is hosting the 10th Swiss Christmas Market Abu Dhabi. This time around, the Beach Rotana courtyard will be transformed into a Swiss alpine village, filled with chalets selling seasonal gifts and entertainment for the entire family. 

There will be snow showers, chocolate treats at the Lindt live chocolate kitchen, choir singing, storytelling, live music by Swiss folklore band ‘Original Appenzeller Streichmusik Alder’ and an appearance by Santa Claus. 

For more information visit SWISS CHRISTMAS MARKET

Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony
December 11, 6 pm 

The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi Grand Canal has partnered with Make-A-Wish Foundation® UAE for the second year to reveal a Make-A-Wish Tree during the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony in the grand lobby. 

Mince pies, hot chocolate and traditional treats freshly baked by the pastry team, a choir performance in the grand lobby and Santa will all be waiting for you. 

And the best part is while you participate in festive activities, you can also make donations to support local charities.


Desert caroling
December 12, 3pm

Hit the road and join hundreds of people for some caroling in the desert. That’s right - the desert. 

Carols by Candlelight is a free community event, which means you’re responsible for bringing your food, drinks, chair, blankets and whatever else you might possibly need to spend a comfortable afternoon in the company of family and friends.

For more information call +971 50 827 1604 or visit CAROLS BY CANDLELIGHT

The Santa Chase
December 13, 4 pm 

The Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa will host its popular annual Santa Chase event on the outdoor grass lawn. Children will have a blast!

For more information email 

The Nutcracker 
December 15 & 16

What a better way to introduce your little ones to classical ballet then with The Nutcracker, the story of Clara and the special gift she gets from her Godfather on Christmas Eve - a beautiful, hand-carved nutcracker with magical powers?

The Nutcracker will be performed by the Moscow City Ballet, one of the world’s most loved touring ballet companies, at the Emirates Palace.

Tickets are on sale at TICKETMASTER 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The powerful rumble of a prayer

Beautiful night outside, with absolutely no chance of rain. My two year old daughter is having dinner. Suddenly she stops and places her hands close to her ears to signal she hears something. What’s the matter baby? I ask. Thunder Mommy. She replies.
This same weird conversation happened a few times over the past week until I finally realized what the so-called-thunder actually was: the Muslim call to prayer.
With the windows closed and the AC on most of the time because of the heat, I guess she hadn’t noticed it before. Which is weird because it happens five times a day, every single day. Or perhaps she did notice it, but only now was able to actually put it into words.  
I was surprised at first, but after a while I kind of understood where she was coming from. If you think about it, the call to prayer (or any other unrecognizable sound for that matter) recited in Arabic (a language she does not recognize – yet), from a microphone and broadcast to speakers simultaneously from several mosques nearby may very well seem like thunder to a two year old.   
Right? Or am I just being a Mom that tries to find a pretty explanation for everything her child does?

Saturday, November 15, 2014

First class soul trapped in the body of a coach traveler - that's me!

I used to fly Economy everywhere, all the time. Sure, it wasn't great, but it was the only reality I knew and I had absolutely nothing to compare it with, so I could handle it. Then, I married a pilot, which means lots of amazing benefits, and I got to experience Business and First class luxury travel. 

Dream come true? More like a nightmare! 

I have crossed a very dangerous line, one with very serious consequences. Now  that I have slept in those fully-flat beds, that I have tried the five-star gourmet meals, that I have been spoiled and pampered to the max, how can I ever go back to basic, standard coach? 

To make matters worse, Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, has gone ahead and raised the bar even further. Guests traveling in 'The Residence', will have their own double bedroom, living room and en-suite shower room, all wi-fi enabled, a Savoy Academy-trained personal butler to attend to their every single need and an in-flight chef to create custom menus. Plus, a super VIP service from the moment of reservation until the end of their stay with Etihad, including chauffeur, private check-in and lounge. 

When I first heard about this I thought people wouldn't be interested. Or perhaps it was just me trying to convince myself to stay as far away from it as possible - I might be tempted to try it out and get addicted (although, realistically speaking, this ticket is so expensive that staff discounts probably won't be enough to make this happen for me). 

But I guess people did like the idea and, most importantly, do have the money to pay for it. The first ten flights of 'The Residence', between Abu Dhabi and London, in Etihad's new Airbus A380, are already sold out. And that's USD 20,000 each.

Well, it's late. I'd better stop dreaming about my apartment in the sky and get back to reality. I will have to eventually. After all, if it wasn't for all the perks of being married to a pilot, there was no way I could afford any of this. And the perks won't last forever...

Want a tour of 'The Residence'? Click HERE and Dannii Minogue, Etihad Airways' Guest Ambassador, will show you around.

Picture credit: Etihad Airways

Friday, November 14, 2014

Morning findings

I hate mornings. Always have. But ever since I had a baby, there is not much I can do about it, so I just try to make the most out of them. 

Weekdays are busy. I am either at work or busy running errands. So, the weekends (Fridays and Saturdays in this part of the world) are pretty much when I get to go around and see what is going on in the city. 

Today, during my morning outing, I stumbled across many new and interesting things I thought I'd share with you. 

Make note!

The latest coffee variations from Nespresso are here: Apple Crumble, Chocolate Mint and Hazelnut Dessert. Simply delicious! I already got myself a few boxes!!!

Since we are speaking of coffee, local shops like Starbucks and Cafe Nero are already in Christmas mode. New coffee flavors, gingerbread cookies and decorations are everywhere!

Organic foods & cafe is now open at Nation Towers Galleria, Abu Dhabi. And the best part is they have lots of promotions going on where you can have 15% and 20% off your groceries. 

Great store with the cutest and very useful baby products in Abu Dhabi Mall. Loved many items and was ready to do some serious damage with my credit card. Unfortunately, or fortunately, for my husband's sake, the clothing items only go up to 24 months (my daughter is 27 months old). I'll certainly go back for other products like games, furniture and decorative items. Suggest you check it out! 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Yas Mall set to open its doors later this month

There is no doubt about it: Yas Mall, set to open its doors later this month, prior to the 2014 Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, will be Abu Dhabi's ultimate retail experience. 

The numbers are quite impressive...
  • 235,000 sqm
  • 400 international brands
  • 10,000 parking spaces
  • 2,000 jobs generated
  • 20 million visitors expect the first year alone
With a direct link to Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, the world's largest indoor theme park, Yas Mall will be the home to many firsts in Abu Dhabi, including Victoria's Secret, Pottery Barn Teen and a Lego Concept Store.

Want a sneak peak? Take a look at the two videos below and get ready for some serious shopping!

Note: Picture taken from the official Yas Mall Gallery