Here We Start – Issue #57

It’s December yet again, warning us that the year is almost over, reminding us of all the New Year resolutions we made, and that checklist we’ve created in the beginning of the year of all the things we’ve planned to do this year. Where are you from all those? I hope you’ve marked off most of them if not all. If not, remember, you still have a whole month left, and if you really put your efforts in whatever you want to do, you can do it in this month.

ArtWork by Maryam Zainal (@Maryam Zainal)

ArtWork by Maryam Zainal (@Maryam Zainal)

Also, it’s December! Which means it’s the UAE’s National Day happening on the 2nd of December. A chance for all of us to celebrate the greatness of this country we belong to, and all what it has offered to us. This year, in addition to all the celebrations you may take part in, how about you plan doing something that really makes our UAE proud? Something that reminds the world that the late Sheikh Zayed has raised a generation of achievers and visionaries?

In the past month, I’ve been honored to receive the award of the Young Entrepreneur of The Year from Arabian Business’s Startup magazine. I’m truly honored with this award, and overjoyed about having Sail with all it’s achievements and developments recognized as a visionary concept and platform. There is still so much more for Sail to offer to the community and the literature culture, and I can’t wait for all of you to be part of it.

Young Entrepreneur Of The Year

Young Entrepreneur Of The Year

In this month, we are joined with two new members:

Deema Al Mheiri through her column: Accentuate Your Beauty. Deema is a Visual Artist who expresses herself through different mediums that vary from paint to cosmetics. Just like a palette, experimenting with products is key to a colorful canvas. Her column is a collection of tried and tested beauty tips and tricks of the trade that will assist in emphasizing your beautiful features.

Deena Rashid joins us as an editor. Deena is an undergraduate senior student finishing up her degree in International Studies, specializing in Culture & Society. She is an avid reader of philosophy and English fiction, and keeps a vigilant third eye in her pocket to look out for errors or misprints. She thinks literature is not a field of study but a perspective, and hopes to encourage that perspective in other potential literature fanatics. She uses her job as a librarian to bring over researchers and readers to the dark side of literature as much as possible.

And now to our 57th issue for the month of December 2014:

Hats off to our incredible editorial team: Aida AlBusaidy, Dhabya AlMuhairi, and Deena Rashid. Enjoy our reads, and don’t forget to check out the inspired artworks by our talented creative team: Dana AlAttar, Hayat AlHassan, Marwa Fuad, led by Maryam Zainal.

To keep up with our monthly-published issues and to know about any of our coming events, make sure you register with us by clicking here

Help us spread the word about the magazine and share the articles with your friends!

Warm regards,
Iman Ben Chaibah
Editor in Chief

A Lesson in Women’s Empowerment at the Women’s Museum (@WomensMuseumUAE)

Iman Ben Chaibah (@ImanBenChaibah)

Iman Ben Chaibah (@ImanBenChaibah)

Iman Ben Chaibah, founder of Sail Publishing, a digital publishing house for online magazines and ebooks, and editor in chief of the Emirati Sail Magazine, an online magazine about community and culture written in English by Emirati columnists. Iman is a multi award winner in digital publishing, entrepreneurship, and literature. Iman has also completed the Leadership Strategies in Magazine Media Course in Yale University. Besides her work in publishing, she also lectures in Canadian University in Dubai.
Iman Ben Chaibah (@ImanBenChaibah)

Article in brief: A visit to Women’s Museum in Dubai can change many perceptions you may have had on women’s role in the society historically and currently.

Prof. Rafia Ghubash explaining women's historical roles as exhibited in the Women's Museum

Prof. Rafia Ghubash explaining women’s historical roles as exhibited in the Women’s Museum

I recently visited the Women’s Museum in Dubai and was honored to have a dedicated tour by Professor Rafia Ghubash, the founder of the museum and head curator, and a person I highly admire and respect. Prof. Rafia dedicated three years of her life developing the concept of the museum, researching and gathering the content, after which she worked on renovating and building the museum to what it is today. The museum was built to document the value of women in the UAE, and the important roles they’ve played across generations, in an effort to provide an insight into who our role models are and to break the stereotype that women were idle and didn’t contribute to the society.

The museum is made up of 3 floors. The first floor is divided into 3 sections: “The Memory Of The Place”, “ The Heart of The Place”, and “The Women’s Museum”. This floor includes what the founder has gathered and collected across time, as well as what was gifted to her by people who knew about the museum from their personal valuables, historical pictures of the people who lived in the area, old jewelry sets, tools used at the time, and much more. The different thing about this museum is that Prof. Rafia ensured to document beside every displayed element: who brought the element and their story. She believes in documenting people’s stories so they live on rather than just displaying their belongings.

Then we walked into the “Women’s Museum” section, which shows women’s role economically, politically, sociologically, and in the educational field within our society. By exhibiting a range of examples of those women and what they did in those fields, with a particular focus on stories that date back to the 1890s, the founder proved that women’s definitive roles in contributing to the society is not a new thing in the UAE.

One of the most beautiful things Prof. Rafia told us was that women in the past used to be called by their names followed by their mother’s names rather than their father’s names. For example: Rafia Bint Ousha, Fatma Bint AlZeina; this points as to what value, place, and respect women held in the society. This is unlike the current trend that is spreading among some in our society, where they believe that a women’s name should never be uttered in public. This is one of the things that the museum is trying to correct, because this new trend was never part of our society and culture.

The second floor had a couple of exhibition rooms displaying the artwork of Emirati women as well as the late Sheikh Zayed Al Nahyan’s messages advocating women’s empowerment in the society.

The last floor was dedicated to depict the beautiful poetry collection of Ousha Bint Khalifa AlSuwaidi (also known as The Girl Of The Arabs). This part was beautifully designed in a desert and dunes theme, with selected Arabic poetry verses from Ousha’s collection written in very captivating calligraphy that will keep you enchanted to read more of the poetry and be mesmerized by its beautiful verses. When you enter the room, the verses are actually being dictated as you walk around admiring and taking in the room.

Ousha Bint Khalifa's Poetry in Women's Museum's third floor

Ousha Bint Khalifa’s Poetry in Women’s Museum’s third floor

Exploring this museum was a heart-warming and eye-opening experience at the same time, because you could see the love and dedication this place was built with in every detail made to show the value and importance of women’s role across generations in the society. You can read all you want on women empowerment, and attend all the conferences you want, but it’s nothing compared to what you will feel about empowerment whether as a women or a man when you see the past for what it really was and understand that women have empowered themselves all along. It’s a place definitely worth a visit to be lost in its details and history and all the stories it tells.

Interview with @GoldCleats Founder: Saud AlNowais

Iman Ben Chaibah (@ImanBenChaibah)

Iman Ben Chaibah (@ImanBenChaibah)

Iman Ben Chaibah, founder of Sail Publishing, a digital publishing house for online magazines and ebooks, and editor in chief of the Emirati Sail Magazine, an online magazine about community and culture written in English by Emirati columnists. Iman is a multi award winner in digital publishing, entrepreneurship, and literature. Iman has also completed the Leadership Strategies in Magazine Media Course in Yale University. Besides her work in publishing, she also lectures in Canadian University in Dubai.
Iman Ben Chaibah (@ImanBenChaibah)

This month, we interviewed the man behind GoldCleats, an upcoming online soccer community for coaches, players, scouts, agents, fans and anyone who loves this sport. GoldCleats founders are looking to change the way football players develop, communicate and get scouted by using the Internet and mobile application.

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Sail: How did the idea come to you?

Saud AlNowais: I was constantly brainstorming with my friends for a startup idea. One day I told my friends: “How about we crowd-source soccer players to recruiters?” They said: It’s a nice idea, but it’s too big. The moment I heard “too big”, I felt I had to do it. If it’s too big, it means no one has done it before. We wanted it look like LinkedIn or Facebook but specifically for soccer.

Sail: What’s the problem that you are trying to answer with GoldCleats?

Saud AlNowais: Everything on GoldCleats is a result of a problem we are trying to solve. There are over half a billion soccer players today in the world and all these soccer players believe in themselves and want to become professionals. Many of them have the talent but unfortunately luck plays a role. Very often we hear “This guy is better than the other guy but the other made it and this guy didn’t.” So GoldCleats is trying to maximize the opportunity or probability for someone to play professional soccer somewhere in the world. We do this by helping him market himself, and the best way of marketing oneself today is through phone apps, social media, internet, etc.

Sail: So how does a player market himself using GoldCleats?

Saud AlNowais: Soccer players upload their content: their profile, the positions and the teams they’ve played in, and they can upload videos of their skills. It’s like a soccer résumé. Videos are important because recruiters, coaches, scouts, and agents can see them to validate how good the player is. The more content the player creates the more a coach or a recruiter can see how good he is. We’re trying to get you recruited. We give you the platform and it’s your job to upload the content.

Sail: What’s the role of coaches on GoldCleats?

Saud AlNowais: We try to solve the problem of unemployed certified coaches around the world. So we get them on board as “GoldCleats Coaches”. Their job is to constantly be on the platform to give the players instant feedback, to tell the players how to improve, and to evaluate the players through our online evaluations.

Sail: How does a coach evaluate me as a player online?

Saud AlNowais: You can take the evaluation online, and then a coach will evaluate you based on a video that he asks you to upload. He can ask you for specific skills and your job as a player is to demonstrate those skills in a video of your own, upload it to GoldCleats, and our coach will then take between 2 to 4 days to evaluate you. He will give you a report card, which you can make public to all recruiters.

Sail: What do you aim to achieve with this evaluation?

Saud AlNowais: If you go to college today you have to take the SAT or TOEFL, but what do you take if you want to play for a soccer club? GoldCleats wants to provide the standardized test for that. We are also trying to create analytics and statistics around the industry. We want to be the go-to website for anything related to soccer.

Sail: Where did GoldCleats reach so far?

Saud AlNowais: We have launched our Beta version and we are about to open it up to public in the next few months, hopefully by the beginning of the year 2015. The player accounts are ready; we actually have some players on our platform uploading their content already. We invited 10,000 players of which 4,500 players are now active. We’re about to sign our first MOU with the United Sates Coaches Association – they have 34,000 coaches and we want to be the platform for these coaches to communicate with players. We’re also in the MOU discussion phase with the US Coaching Curriculum and we want to promote it on GoldCleats for players who are looking to develop online. We are also starting another MOU with our first soccer association.

Sail: Why the name GoldCleats?

Saud AlNowais: We chose GoldCleats as our name because Gold is the most valuable color, cleats is what you wear when you play soccer. We wanted to say the most valuable player, and usually the most valuable player always wears those golden cleats. FIFA has something called the Golden Boot award, but we took it a step further and said GoldCleats.

Sail: I’ve noticed as well from the website of GoldCleats that you are involved in tournaments?

Saud AlNowais: Yes, we’re hosting our first tournament in Egypt. We’re also hosting another tournament in the US. There are a lot of soccer tournaments all over the world, and we’re hoping to reach the tournament organizers. If you’re a tournament organizer and you want to be unique, come to GoldCleats, we have the solution for you.

Sail: What would you provide for the tournament organizers that is different?

Saud AlNowais: I’m a soccer player, I go play in a soccer tournament. At the end of the soccer tournament I get a cup and medal, and that’s it. But GoldCleats tournaments are different. You get a cup and a medal, you get an account on GoldCleats, and you get all the footage on GoldCleats. We are willing to partner with tournament organizers to stream the entire tournament onto our platform. So why not make it memorable for the players who’re playing in your tournament by partnering with GoldCleats?

Sail: Where do you see GoldCleats from here?

Saud AlNowais: We’re focused on the US, Egypt, the UK, and we want to be in every country. Any country that has a significant soccer population, we want to be there. We want to make sure that the next star in the soccer world 10 or 15 years down the line, comes from GoldCleats. We want to help these kids realize their dreams. We want to make sure that agents can be verified. We want to make sure that the recruitment process is clean. We want to make sure that we can eliminate any bias that we see today in the current system, which in my opinion is corrupt and inefficient. That’s why we are trying to provide an alternative to the current system, and make GoldCleats the actual system.

Sail: With all of this experience, what have you learned the most?

Saud AlNowais: Patience. I’m someone who suffered from an anger problem. I think my experience in the past ten years has really taught me how to be patient. I realized wasting my energy to be angry is not going to do me any good.

Sail: What’s your favorite quote that you’d like to share with our readers?

Saud AlNowais: In our GoldCleats office we have a quote on our door. It says: “Great ideas without implementation are hallucinations.” You have a great idea, so what? I am not interested in hearing about your idea, I am interested in seeing you do it. A lot of the startups that got sold for billions of dollars aren’t really creative but it was a great idea and someone took the time to implement it properly.

Is Organic Makeup As Good As It Seems To Be?

Deema Al Mheiri (@deedeee_)

Deema is a Visual Artist who expresses herself through different mediums that vary from paint to cosmetics. Just like a palette, experimenting with products is key to a colorful canvas. Her column is a collection of tried and tested beauty tips and tricks of the trade that will assist in emphasizing your beautiful features.

Latest posts by Deema Al Mheiri (@deedeee_) (see all)

Article in brief: The author talks about the importance and impacts of utilizing organic makeup.

ArtWork by Marwa Fuad (Twitter: @Marwa_f1, Instagram: @Elmeem_Artistry)

ArtWork by Marwa Fuad (Twitter: @Marwa_f1, Instagram: @Elmeem_Artistry)

What’s not to love about organic makeup? Nothing beats that guilt-free feeling of wearing quality-based products. Let’s face it, most women apply makeup on a daily basis; that’s 365 days worth of products applied on average. Unlike other branches in the makeup industry that depend on chemically-induced products, natural makeup sheds light on the ingredients that affect the overall wellbeing of your skin.

While the benefits of organic makeup are endless, generally it is not as long-lasting as your mainstream, chemically-endorsed makeup. Products like Josie Maran’s “Argan Color Sticks” are uber portable and provide a beautiful natural look. Its advantages outweigh its ephemeral disadvantage as it makes a great multitasking product that can be used as a lipstick, blush and eye shadow, which is always a plus! It leaves your skin with ultra-hydrating features like Vitamin E and essential fatty acids that have great anti-aging properties.

The crème de la crème benefit of utilizing natural makeup is that it enables your skin to breathe. It grants you the pure pleasure of working on a flawless canvas, which in return gives you the freedom of accentuating your features without worrying about the consequences.

Rest assured that organic makeup brands such as Lush Cosmetics and Josie Maran Cosmetics are against animal testing which is a major plus for animal lovers. Also, they are environmentally friendly and concentrate on recycling and reusing the product packaging, which is a win-win situation both for us consumers and mother Earth. Lush stores are commonly found in the Emirates while Josie Maran products are currently available at the well-known local based website www.souq.com.

Our eyes are the windows to our soul and tainting our “soul” with chemical products may lead to negative effects in the long run. That being said, natural makeup brands are more forgiving on this sensitive area that is already being exposed to harmful UV rays and pollution. The creamy eye shadows sold at Lush cosmetics provide a dewy finish, and they come in various colors that compliment different eye and skin colors (i).

If the idea of organic makeup does not intrigue you, then an organic makeup remover that cleans your skin and doubles as a moisturizer might. Many women may agree that the worst part of wearing makeup is removing it, especially when it’s on the eyes. One of the most common and effective makeup removers could be found in your pantry. Coconut oil is great example of a natural makeup remover because it removes waterproof makeup and conditions the eyelashes and eyebrows, as well as the skin (ii).

Personally, I have seen a major difference in the appearance and texture of my skin after using natural makeup for some time. My skin has become far more radiant and even accepting of the idea of wearing makeup regularly. The gratification of knowing that the products I’m using are doing more good than harm leaves me with an exceptional feeling. Think of it this way: using natural makeup that is multifunctional would do wonders for your skin, especially for women on the go, because it’s efficient and takes up less space!


References:

Preserving Our History For Future Generations

Abdulla Alwahedi (@Alwahedi)

Abdulla Alwahedi (@Alwahedi)

Column: Emirati Reflections
Abdulla holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and a Master’s in Business Administration. His abstract passion for history and literature with a hint of photography adds to his noble enduring quality. Abdulla enjoys visiting museums, art exhibitions and likes to spend his spare time in the outdoors. His column “Emirati Reflections” is a mixture of stories from the past and insights of the present, which blend together and formulate his understanding of the UAE’s culture.
Abdulla Alwahedi (@Alwahedi)

Latest posts by Abdulla Alwahedi (@Alwahedi) (see all)

Article in brief: The author talks about the importance of preserving UAE history.

Artwork by Dana AlAttar (@DanaAlAttar)

Artwork by Dana AlAttar (@DanaAlAttar)

On a large scaffolding under the hot summer sun, Pradeep and his co-workers were carrying out renovation works on a historical defense tower known locally as “Burj Alhilo”. The tower was part of a wall built in 1816 AD to protect the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah from foreign invasions. Large parts of the wall were destroyed during the British forces’ attack on the Emirate in 1819 AD.

While watching the workers, Pradeep noticed my presence and raised his hand to greet me. At that time, I was sure that he noticed that I was looking at the details of the renovation works and he probably thought I was from the local authorities.

Soon after, Pradeep came down and we started talking. I asked him how long the maintenance works would continue for. He responded that it would take another year to complete.

I proceeded to ask him why, and Pradeep replied that the detailed repair works take time and that is not an easy job. I was pleased with his answer, then asked him if he knew anything about the tower. The only things he knew about the tower was that it’s a historical building and that they only had architectural details based on old reports.

I thanked Pradeep for his time and applauded his and his colleagues’ work. However, I left the site wondering whether Pradeep will be able to properly restore this historical building. Each stone in that historical defense tower is valuable because it is part of our history. It has to be protected and maintained properly.

Burj Alhilo and many other historical buildings in the UAE are a representation of traditional architectural design. They form a part of the UAE culture. Given the fast pace of the UAE’s development, there is a strong need to preserve these buildings for future generations. Young UAE nationals need to understand that although the UAE is considered a young nation, it has ancient roots in history. Visitors to the UAE need to understand that behind the tall towers they see today, there is a rich culture which enabled the UAE people to develop their country.

As we are celebrating the UAE’s 43rd national day, let us work together to preserve our history.

The Language Of Our Thoughts

Haleema AlOwais (@haleemaalowais)

Haleema AlOwais (@haleemaalowais)

Column: Bringing out the Rumi in you
Director of Bin Owais Holding since 2007; overseeing construction, project management and real estate management, master’s student in Urban planning in the AUS with a two-year stint in Sharjah TV.
Unconventional working mother, avid traveller, introverted bookworm, background in psychology, a great believer in the need for continuous soul searching and self-discovery.
Bringing out the Rumi in you will be exploring the philosophical views of current societal paradigm shifts, revelations and everyday experiences.
Haleema AlOwais (@haleemaalowais)

Latest posts by Haleema AlOwais (@haleemaalowais) (see all)

Article in brief: explains the importance of focusing on our words and actions, and what effect they have on our lives.

Artwork by Dana AlAttar (@DanaAlAttar)

Artwork by Dana AlAttar (@DanaAlAttar)

Destiny doesn’t mean that your life has been strictly predetermined. Therefore, to leave everything to fate and to not actively contribute to the music of the universe is a sign of sheer ignorance.” -The Forty Rules Of Love

I attended a seminar a week ago that looked at the most trending subjects: laws of the universe with a main focus on laws of attraction. The lecturer mentioned the peculiar hold some of us face in our everyday lives; a struggle we face while handling everyday tasks that seem to come out of nowhere even after careful planning. What is it that’s impeding our actions? How can we explain why the simple processes in our everyday lives seem hard to keep ahold of, go awry for no apparent reason and require double the effort to go through with?

This paradox can have a substantive negative effect on the nature of our productivity, train of thought and stress level. What can we do to bring in more fluidity for our flow to go more smoothly in the right direction?

Take an inward look at yourself; go deeper than your conscious level and look beyond the surface of your everyday activity. What drives you? What attitude are you carrying with you? This state of mind is deeper than you think. It has more control over what goes in our outside world than anything else; it has its own code and shapes according to the values and outlook it carries, forming our habits and behavior.

What thoughts drive you? What values do you carry? Do you know that negative thoughts can only bring negative results? The mind understands what the attention is being directed towards, making sure you have it well-composed and positively expressed.

To clarify this point let me give an example; to pursue a certain value, change your perspective and envision the result you want with goals you wish to attain, not what you want to avoid. Don’t direct any attention towards the obstacles – attention works as a magnet, whether or not you are directing a desire for or evasion from the focal point.

“I want a peaceful life” replaces “I don’t want any stress or drama in my life.”

“I want acceptance” replaces “I don’t want to be criticized and shunned.”

Practice not seeing the things you don’t want; you don’t want them, do you? Replace them with basic affirmative values till they fade away from your vision and your focus shifts, taking attention with it. Eventually, things will fall in sync.

“The main purpose of life is to live rightly, think rightly, act rightly. The soul must languish when we give all our thought to the body.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Learn how to express yourself right through your actions; words and thoughts have a strong hold on our actions and moods. Open the channel to your inner-self and assess what is it that drives you. Personally, I do that through regular journaling and reflecting, some do it with artistic touches through drawing, and others through talking about it. Find out which outlet works for you to properly express yourself and make it a habit.

It is such a waste of time to remain in the dull field of unconsciousness following a familiar path that seems to go in slow motion, when in reality you have the potential to enrich your life.

Ain’t No Damsel In Distress

Alia Al Hazami (@AliaAlHazami)

Alia Al Hazami (@AliaAlHazami)

Column: Hidden Promises
Alia is an AUS student double majoring in International Studies and English literature. She is also the author of Alatash fictional novel. Her main goal is to make a change and empower the youth. Her column is meant to help the younger generations deal with tough situations. It was given that title as hidden promises is what us teenagers often believe; false promises.
Alia Al Hazami (@AliaAlHazami)

Article in brief: The author expresses the importance of what little girls watch, as it will have a strong influence on them as they grow up.

ArtWork by Marwa Fuad (Twitter: @Marwa_f1, Instagram: @Elmeem_Artistry)

ArtWork by Marwa Fuad (Twitter: @Marwa_f1, Instagram: @Elmeem_Artistry)

Like almost every person my age, I grew up watching the Disney Channel. I remember getting so excited watching cartoons, especially when a Disney princess was involved. As a child, I was highly influenced by what I saw in movies and I wanted to be a princess. I wanted long luscious hair, a tiny waist, a pretty face and a beautiful singing voice.

I wanted to be and look like a princess, living the unattainable and impossible physical standards presented to little girls around the world through those characters. I’ve constantly watched females in distress, and the only thing that managed to save them, was a male.

I used to believe that in order to end up being happy, I had to look beautiful and wait for a prince charming to radiate sunshine into my life. I often felt like I wasn’t pretty or skinny enough to be or feel like a princess, and I also thought that prince charming will never be there to save my day. But that wasn’t the worst part of it.

If anything, Disney princesses have taught me that my worth would decline if I weren’t ‘pretty’. Keep in mind that ‘pretty’ comes in different shapes and sizes, and different looks and features. Your face doesn’t matter when you have a personality as dark as a witch’s.

When I turned twelve, I realized that that isn’t how life should be. I mean, it’s okay to want to look nice and it’s more than okay to get help but it’s never okay to tell little girls that they will only have a happily ever after if a man saves them.

I then turned thirteen, and educated myself. I learnt about feminism and what women are actually worth. I understood that notwithstanding Jasmine’s storyline, I have a political worth even if I was a single woman. Unlike Cinderella, if I had terrible living conditions, I’d get myself out of them instead of waiting for ‘prince charming’ to sweep me off my feet.

Despite what Ariel taught me, I would never give up my best talent in order to land the prince whose heart I’ll win simply by acquiring gorgeous looks. And unlike Snow White, I will not run away and hide from jealous attempts to demolish me until a prince comes to save me.

Now, I pity little me for wanting to be a helpless princess because that is not what I want right now. There are a few Disney princesses that fought on their own, so instead of having the focus on damsels in distress, animators should be more into creating characters that will actually make little girls want to seek independence.

I bet you’re wondering who my favorite Disney princess is and I can answer that simply by saying Mulan. I honestly look up to her and want to be a warrior just like her. She, a woman, saved China not because of her looks or her prince, but because of her commitment and determination. So, to that I say: You want a hero? Be your own.

Be A Traveler Not A Tourist

Sidiqa Sohail (@sid_90)

Sidiqa Sohail (@sid_90)

Column: Musings of An Entrepreneur

Sidiqa is 25 years old and is half-Emirati and half-Pakistani. She has a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the American University of Sharjah and a Master’s degree in Conflict Prevention, Sustainable Peace, and Security from the University of Durham in the UK. Sidiqa owns and manages the boutique-café concept store “Spontiphoria” in Wasl Square, Jumeirah.
Sidiqa Sohail (@sid_90)

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Article in brief: Some musings on the beauty of travel and what makes it wonderful.

ArtWork by Maryam Zainal (@Maryam Zainal)

ArtWork by Maryam Zainal (@Maryam Zainal)

“Traveling- it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” This quote by Ibn Battuta is one of my favorites. It so perfectly encapsulates the essence of travel. The word ‘travel’ itself evokes visions of colorful sunsets, dramatic cliffs, and cobbled, winding streets all at once (well, for me anyways).

Travel is not tourism. There’s a clear distinction between the two. Travel is about exploring and exposing yourself to new customs, cultures, and people. It’s about immersing yourself in the foreign and unknown, and learning things about yourself that probably hadn’t struck you earlier. Tourism, on the other hand, is experiencing another country through your comfort zone; your isolated bubble submerged in the midst of the vast unknown.

The benefits of travel are countless but to name a few of the more concrete ones: it teaches you how others function, it develops you into a well-rounded person with broader ideas, and it definitely can make you more efficient and increase your capacity to think outside the box. At times, when your travel experiences are not so great, it makes you appreciate your home. But most importantly – it recharges you.

There is a subjective art to traveling – one that each person develops independently over the years as the experiences accumulate. But there are four important factors involved:

  • Getting the history. There’s no point going somewhere and walking around the streets if you don’t know what made it the way it is. Carl Sagan said that to understand the present one must know the past. Museums are a gold mine of valuable information that provide you with a more informed perspective and help you appreciate the place you’re visiting. But beware of turning into one of the guidebook-toting, museum-hopping species of traveler. Visit a couple of the main ones that you feel resonate with you and help you understand the social context of the place most.
  • Experiencing the culture. Go to a festival, eat as much of the local cuisine as you can, and make friends with the locals (even if that means learning a bit of their language – but what can be more wonderful than that?). As a result, be open to experiences you wouldn’t normally have access to. Most importantly, walk the streets and stroll aimlessly. Wandering can make you stumble upon some amazing treasures that travel websites or books don’t usually write about.
  • Live like the locals. If they take a siesta in the middle of the day, do that. If there’s a sport they enjoy watching, try going to a game. Remove yourself from the world you know as much as you can. BUT, keep in mind one thing: avoid the tourist traps. So many restaurants serving “local, authentic food” out there are catered for tourists and they compromise on the quality of the meal. Don’t be fooled – do some research beforehand on the good restaurants around the area and when you’re walking past one always try and see whether most of the guests are locals or tourists.
  • Do what YOU want to do. Keeping in mind the previous three points, still make your schedule flexible enough to do exactly what YOU want to do. If that means staying in bed till 11 in the morning, then do that. If that means going down an intricate network of streets and exploring even though it’ll delay you for that art gallery visit, then do it. Travel at the end of the day is supposed to make you recharge and give you a break from your usual busy schedule and routine. And sometimes the best discoveries happen when you veer off the beaten track and follow your instinct…

So go out there, enjoy all the wonders this world has to offer and make unforgettable memories.

Be The Star Of Your Life

Sarah Al Marashi (@Sarah888)

Sarah Al Marashi (@Sarah888)

Column: LOL – Living Out Loud
Sarah is an award-winning entrepreneur, business development specialist, life coach, writer, banking and investments professional with over 15 years of experience. She is the co-founder of the award-winning firm Infin8Ventures. Through her column, she hopes to re-ignite the dreamer in all of us and inspire us to make those dreams a reality.
Sarah Al Marashi (@Sarah888)

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Article in brief: The writer explores living an authentic life and draws an analogy to an individual being the star of the movie. This article is about living a life of purpose and choice where we are present and conscious of our life as it unfolds. Starring in your life will leave you with a sense of awareness and a new perspective on how you choose to live each moment leaving you feeing empowered, conscious and serene in the knowledge that you can be the Star from this moment onwards.

ArtWork by Maryam Zainal (@Maryam Zainal)

ArtWork by Maryam Zainal (@Maryam Zainal)

The day every girl dreams of is her wedding day – a day when she is the star, the center of attention, the belle of the ball and the fairest maiden of them all. It is a day that comes with detailed planning, mood swings and tantrums if any detail is not to the standard of the bride’s vision on her special day. Have you ever stopped to think why it is that we as women place so much emphasis to our wedding day?

I found myself thinking about this recently when my mother decided to show my wedding video to my sister-in-law (my youngest brother was recently married). As the images of my husband and I flashed on the TV screen, I contemplated this and tried to recall how I felt on my special day a little over six years ago. I found myself smiling, remembering the happiness I felt, the specialness of it all. I wondered what it would feel like if I could capture that “special” feeling and experience it every day of my life.

As I pondered over this and re-evaluated where I was versus where I wanted to be with regards to my personal journey, I stumbled upon an episode of Oprah Winfrey with Dr. Phil McGraw discussing the idea of “Starring in Your Life”, which means being the main character or movie star of your life. As I listened to them speak about knowing what you want, having a plan for yourself and working towards honoring what makes you happy, I realized that this was at the core of the “wedding dream”. We grow up knowing what we want for our special day, and when the time comes we plan everything down to the smallest detail till our special day when we live out the experience that we envisioned for ourselves.

Now imagine if we did that our whole life and approached everything we do as we would our wedding day? We decide that we will be the main character, the star, and we work out a plan that helps us achieve the vision we have for ourselves as the star of our movie, called “My Life”. How different would our experiences and our journey be? I certainly feel that it would be more authentic and that living my life from this space will be living on purpose by honoring my soul and spirit through the fulfillment of my vision for myself. Just thinking about it makes me feel empowered and in control. I would assume a movie star who decides to direct their own movie would feel the same way; and would have a sense of fulfillment from taking a script and bringing it to life in a way that pays tribute to the story that the main character is telling the viewer.

So what is the wisdom behind this analogy? It’s very simple really – Dr. Phil refers to it as having a plan for yourself and knowing what you want and what makes you happy and going after it. He says that failing to be the star of your life and failing to plan will mean that you will be part of someone else’s plan. It’s a simple decision to be the main character and have a clear awareness that this is a daily choice. We were created special and God meant for all of us to shine. That’s why we each have a unique fingerprint, so we would stand out.

Approaching life from this space makes us open to receiving the joy in life and means that we are in alignment with our authentic self and our life-purpose. What a wonderful feeling of fulfillment! It certainly means that the story of our life will be so much more interesting as it unfolds and that is something each and every one of us can decide on from this moment.

If you are unhappy in a job, then that becomes your part-time occupation, and after work your full-time goal is to find a job that makes you happy. If you have had a dream on the back burner for a long time then now is the time to bring that to the forefront and focus on it and plan the details just as you would for your wedding day.

I decided to be the star in my life because I know that being happy and fulfilled will mean that I am a better wife, a better daughter and a better person in all my relationships. What I receive in feelings of joy from honoring my vision for my life will in turn enable me to give so much more to those around me.

My wish for you is that you make what remains of 2014 the finest days of this movie and end it with a bang because we all know it’s the ending that makes the movie special. I definitely believe that each individual is blessed with potential. I trust that the moment you decide to be the star in your life, your brilliance will shine through and greatness is your destiny.

The Power Of Visionary Thinking

Alwid Lootah (@AlwidLootah)

Column: Lost in Reverie
Alwid is a young lady who aims to become the change she wants to see in this world by spreading positivity and leading youth towards the road of unlimited possibilities. She recently founded her own website hearmyeche.com through which she aims to become the voice of youth and share unrecognized talents. Her column “Lost in reverie” is a place where she allows her thoughts and emotions to flow and a place where she can hopefully create a change.

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Article in brief: In honor of the 43rd national day the author encourages visionary thinking and transforming ideas into reality.

Artwork by Hayat AlHassan (@HayatAlH)

Artwork by Hayat AlHassan (@HayatAlH)

When you think about the changes that happen around us every single day, the changes that might not always mean anything to us right now but are meant to benefit us in the future, you’ll realize that some things are meant for the future. We tend to get so caught up over what’s right in front of us that we forget the power of visionary thinking. Visionary thinking is when you think of the future – it’s when you begin making your plans into actions, and turning your ideas into reality.

We’re all capable of thinking and coming up with ideas yet very few of us actually work on developing those ideas. Many times we undermine our abilities, thinking that the idea is too far out of our reach. In honor of the United Arab Emirates 43rd National day, I dedicate this article to tell you that what you think is out of your reach only requires you to reach further.

Thinking of the future is not that easy, but you must believe that even if there might be bumps in the road, and that nothing is really guaranteed, everything requires willpower. If you’re willing to stand up for what you believe in, nothing will dare to stand in your way. Everything you achieve does not always depend on anyone else; it depends on how much you really want it.

Our founding father and the 1st President of the UAE Sheikh Zayed believed that he could turn this land of desert into a paradise, and not everyone believed that but he did and that’s all that mattered. He believed that he could do it, he worked for what he wanted, and he created something incredible. If there’s anyone we should look up to, it’s our leaders who believe that nothing is impossible.

I bet you all have so many ideas in your head, yet you keep delaying achieving them, I say do them. Write them down, plan, develop and create. Don’t allow your negative thinking to block you from becoming who you want to, or achieving what you want. Instead, trust yourself and believe that if you really want it, you’d do anything to get it.

If you told someone 20 years ago that our country would be this developed, they might’ve not believed it. Look ahead and think about what will actually matter in the future rather than something that’s only short-term. Think about things that will benefit you five years from now, things that will still mean something by then, and most of all be proud of who you are.