Here We Start – 5th Anniversary – 60th Issue

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)
Reading Time: 5 minutes
Artwork by Maryam Zainal (@Maryam_Zainal)

Artwork by Maryam Zainal (@Maryam_Zainal)

With this new issue, we mark the 5th year anniversary milestone, and we couldn’t be prouder of every member we had along the way, every reader, every person who showed interest in Sail and appreciated it in this journey.

As we enter our 5th year we have grown from an online magazine with a team of two members, to a publishing house of digital books and magazines, as well as a print issue licensed for distribution, and a team of about 40 Emirati members. If that isn’t something to celebrate, then I don’t know what is. And celebrate we did.

Last week we hosted our readers, fans, and those who have been with us along the journey, to celebrate this milestone with them, and to share with them why we do what we do, the achievements we’ve accomplished so far, and where we are taking Sail from here. We also distributed our new 2015 print issue, which will soon be sold in UAE’s bookshops and outlets. If you didn’t get your copy, we will soon announce on our social media the selling outlets of our new issue.

Here are some of the pictures taken in the event:

In this month we are joined by a new columnist: Nasser AlFalasi with his column: “Just A Nassasry”. Nasser’s undergrad was in Financial Services at the Higher Colleges of Technology. He then pursued his graduate studies at NYU, concentrating in global affairs with a specialization in international relations and transnational security. His major interests include history and global affairs. Most of his column articles will be in regards to those topics.

And now to our 60th issue for the month of March 2015:

Hats off to our incredible editorial team: Aida Al Busaidy, Dhabya AlMuhairi, and Deena Rashid. Enjoy our reads, and don’t forget to check out the inspired artworks by our talented creative team: Amna AlSaleh, 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

Women Empowerment (WOW-Man)

Aida AlBusaidy (@AidaAlBusaidy)

Aida AlBusaidy (@AidaAlBusaidy)

Developmental Editor.
Aida has more than a decade experience in the communications, and mastering ceremonies field, she worked in private and public sectors, and now heads the Stakeholder Communications in Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing in Dubai. Aida was a columnist in few of the local newspapers, a TV co-host of a community talk show, and cofounded with friends a community platform: “Promise Of A Generation”.
Aida AlBusaidy (@AidaAlBusaidy)

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Reading Time: 4 minutes

Article in brief: the article focuses on how women empowerment begins with young girls and the ones who raise them, as opposed to creating platforms to empower them later on in their lives.

Artwork by Dana AlAttar (@DanaAlAttar)

Artwork by Dana AlAttar (@DanaAlAttar)

“Habibty … you need to do well in school so you can get into a great university and after you graduate, we’ll find you a suitable husband.

As I sat listening to a conversation between a mother to her daughter … I wondered how many of these happen across the country, around the world? It reminded me of the movie “Mona Lisa Smile” where Julia Roberts was stuck between two worlds, and where women would pursue higher education only so that they are smart, but wind up being housewives.

These women were WOW-man (a deviation from woman) because they were already intelligent and in pursuit of WOWness in their lives, regardless of what they wound up doing after university.

Now, there isn’t anything wrong with being a housewife. It’s the hardest job in the world. The point here is that our mothers and other women in general put a stop to a girls’ dream and her life choices, for her to be someone’s wife and that’s it.

When was the last time we heard a mother tell her daughter, her dream for her is to be a board member of a multibillion dollar company or to run for parliament? Our boys are encouraged to take up any position they want. Both sexes are encouraged to settle down and have children but as a girl or a woman, we are always reminded of our role in society, the workplace will come second no matter what.

As we celebrate international women’s day, I am shocked that each year we develop more conferences, workshops, and panels to discuss the role of women in society. We are the ones always segregating women and girls from their counterparts, and having specific roles just for them, or specialized courses or conferences just for girls and women, when what we need to do is think and implement integration. The conferences would not exist in such numbers if support for girls and women started at home.

Why does it need a discussion? Why do women and young girls still have problems? Why do we assume all girls want to sit at home? Will these conferences help change perceptions? Perceptions, my dear readers, begin at home. They don’t change because a noteworthy professor spoke in a panel or because five workshops were held to tell each woman’s success story. Even if these notable speakers have brought about change, the glass ceiling is still there for women. If you take the time to note statistics on women in the workplace, there is still male domination in boardrooms, holding CXO positions and more.

The other side to it is society and the systems, they already have preconceived and predefined roles and responsibilities for women, which are the accepted norms and that a woman’s place is to work for a few years and then settle. The government and businesses need to support the roles of women in the workplace too because currently, maternity leaves are short, women get promoted less compared to men, and there is a lack of senior leadership roles held by women. When I was pregnant (both times), I couldn’t count the number of times I was reminded that I will be off for a few months soon, as if I disrupted the society or my workplace by choosing to have a child. People put you off wanting to come back to work. But if the entire system supported women who will grow into future CEOs and Ministers, we wouldn’t have this issue to begin with.

I celebrate my womanhood – because my family has given me the choices. I choose to work and I choose to study and I choose to be a wife and a mother. I also choose what works best for me first because my happiness comes first before I can fulfill or make anyone else happy.

The choice needs to be the girls’ or the women’s. Mothers should always make that choice available. It should start with the upbringing. So what if your daughter chooses to build LEGO blocks instead of combing her dolls’ hair? This could mean that she is a future engineer.

Let’s start thinking WOW-man and not Woman as we move forward, that’s the only way things can and will change.

How To Maintain A Healthy Heart?

Dr. Mariam Ketait (@ebbbndflow)

Dr. Mariam Ketait (@ebbbndflow)

Dr. Mariam Ketait is a general practitioner specializing in family medicine, with masters in quality in healthcare and various alternative healing certifications including Theta Healing, Spiritual response therapy, Pranic healing and Access consciousness.
Mariam looks at health from a holistic perspective and believes that our bodies respond to our thought patterns and emotional behaviors. She also believes that health is attainable and that a happy life is a healthy one. Mariam created the concept of "ebb and flow" to reflect how we can deal with the various tides of life by flowing in harmony with our inner wellbeing to achieve health. The column will cover common health topics with an approach to conditions in a mind body spirit framework.
Dr. Mariam Ketait (@ebbbndflow)

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Reading Time: 3 minutes

Article in brief: the author shares with us healthy living tips for a healthy heart.

Artwork by Maryam Zainal (@Maryam_Zainal)

Artwork by Maryam Zainal (@Maryam_Zainal)

According to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease is one of the leading causes of death, and the major cause of disability and burden. Heart problems arise from different factors and ageing is one of the factors that increases the risk of developing heart conditions. However, like many things in life we have changeable and unchangeable risk factors.

Factors we cannot change include age, gender and our genetic predisposition of the disease. But there are many other factors that have been associated with heart conditions that can easily be changed on an individual level.


The latest medical guidelines have found that the type of food you eat affects the health of your heart function and circulation; fatty foods not only increase your cholesterol levels but also have an adverse effect on your stamina and blood circulation. Maintaining a healthy diet by increasing the green leafy vegetables and fruits (in moderation) has a positive effect on the heart’s functions. Certain supplements such as Omegas and COQ10 have been seen to have good added value to reducing risk factors too.

Exercise and maintaining a healthy weight significantly reduce the risk of developing high cholesterol levels and heart conditions. Keeping an eye on your caloric intake and making sure you work out or even walk for 30 minutes regularly can do wonders to your body.

The National Institute of Health associates smoking (and this includes passive smoking) directly with heart disease. Not only does it affect the lungs but it also affects the blood circulation and reduces ones vitality per cigarette.


Stress has been linked to many medical conditions, but people who are constantly focused on work or fail to release work related stress have a tendency to develop heart conditions. Maintaining a healthy work-life balance increases levels of balance within the body and reduces stress levels significantly.

This means that taking time off work and incorporating fun, family and friends into one’s schedule has a positive effect on the wellbeing of the heart.


Your heart is your emotional center. Through it you connect to yourself, the Divine, your family and friends, and your environment. Ensuring that you are truly connected to who you are, and are able to understand your feelings is the first step to maintain a healthy connection to everyone else.

Connecting to the Divine through prayers or meditations also keeps your heart awakened.

Also, being surrounded by loving and nurturing relationships where your needs and the other’s needs are understood and expressed healthily ensures a healthy expression of emotions and enables you to give and receive love with ease.

Your environment plays a big role in the health of your heart. This includes people you surround yourself with, and places you spend time in. Make sure your home feels cozy and clean, make sure your friends are loving and understanding, and make sure that you de-clutter your home and life every once in a while. Connecting to nature is one of the fastest ways to open your heart and feel the beauty and nurture of the universe.

Lastly, make sure you admire and acknowledge the good things in your life – having gratitude shifts your energy instantly into one of joy and love.

The Development Of Women Role In The UAE

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)

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Reading Time: 3 minutes

Article in brief: the author talks about the role of women in the development of the Emirati society and their achievements since the formation of the Union back in 1971.

ArtWork by Amna Al Saleh (@tepingi)

ArtWork by Amna Al Saleh (@tepingi)

Every year, on the 8th of March, the world celebrates International Women’s Day, a day when the world shows its appreciation and respect to women in addition to celebrating women’s achievements in different fields. The UAE commemorates this day like the rest of the world in celebration of women’s achievement since the formation of the UAE in 1971. Traditionally, women’s roles were focused on taking care of the family. Carrying day to day household activities such as cooking, cleaning, collecting wood and taking care of the kids were their main tasks.

However, in some instances these roles would change and women would assume the role of a breadwinner and start working outside their homes. Most old pictures of the UAE show local women selling fish and vegetables in the market alongside their male counterparts. Additional family income would come from selling perfumes, tailoring and other local handicrafts. Their traditional role in the society continued throughout the years until the formation of the UAE in 1971. Since then women’s role began to change and they assumed new roles in the young state.

Unfortunately, there is a stereotype about the Middle Eastern societies that they oppress women and don’t support women’s development. The UAE has proven the opposite through its initiatives and women development programs. The UAE constitution declares clearly that both men and women are equal in their rights and obligations. It provides equal opportunities to education, health care and jobs.

The late Shaikh Zayed, on various occasions, encouraged women in the UAE to study and work. He was a strong believer and a true supporter of women empowerment. His wife, Shaikha Fatima bint Mubarak, is known to be a key driver behind the success of women of the UAE; international bodies have recognized her achievements and she has received many awards for that. In the early 70’s, she founded the UAE Women Federation, the first organization in the country that focused on women’s development and implemented various initiatives in education and social life enhancement.

Today, after 43 years on the formation of the UAE, women to achieve remarkable results in education, workplace and social development. They are represented in the federal government by four female ministers and make up about 17% of the Federal National Council. During the government summit held in February 2015, His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE’s Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai announced the establishment of the UAE council for gender balance. The council aims to enhance women role as a key driver in the success of the nation. Such initiatives will open up new opportunities for women’s development and social empowerment.

Given all that, I strongly believe that in the coming years we will see women holding what would be normally considered as male-dominated leadership positions, and eventually increasing competition between men and women. Therefore, I urge all men to gear up and be ready for the competition.

Balancing Working Life And A Healthy Pregrancy

Fatma AlKhaja (@fay_alkhaja)

Column: Observing the World, previous column: Too Blunt for Words
Fatma (Fay), Emirati girl, with an experience in Corporate Communications and CSR. She is passionate about anything that is traditional and Emirati. In her free time she loves to watch Japanese anime, read manga, and play videogames. Spas are not the only thing that relaxes her, but cooking as well.
Fay’s columns observe work-life experiences and balance. A lot of her articles are based on first-hand personal experiences and issues she has seen or been part of. She loves to observe her surroundings, and watch how people handle different situations they’ve been put in.Also, she is trying to balance the art of staying positive at work and helping her peers understand that not everything should be a problem. With her writings she hopes to make a difference and make people more observant of the little problems in life, or work that hasn’t escalated to a catastrophe. It’s the little things that matters.

Latest posts by Fatma AlKhaja (@fay_alkhaja) (see all)

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Article in brief: How do you manage yourself at work when you learn that you’re expecting a baby? What questions do you ask yourself in order to maintain a healthy home-work balance?

ArtWork by Marwah Fuad (Twitter: @Marwah_f1, Instagram: @Elmeem_Artistry)

ArtWork by Marwah Fuad (Twitter: @Marwah_f1, Instagram: @Elmeem_Artistry)

When I first found out I was expecting a baby, I was overjoyed and filled with excitement at the prospect of being a mother. However, I also had to keep in mind that I was going to be a working mother. Therefore, the first question that came to my mind as I stood in my office and the realization hit me that I really was pregnant was “Do I tell my boss that I’m pregnant?”

Some women choose not to tell their employer that they’re pregnant until they complete their 1st trimester while others decide that they would like to share the news with their employer just in case they need to take some time off. Both ways can work because it all depends on how comfortable you are with your workplace.

I chose not to share the news immediately, and decided to just go with the flow. I decided that I’ll tell my boss when the time is right. Fortunately for me, the time at which my pregnancy started was perfect. I had just started my leave so I didn’t need to worry about taking time off work for my prenatal visits.

When I went back to work, I still wasn’t comfortable about sharing the news, as I was only half way through my first trimester. Therefore, I had to take things easy without making it obvious. The first thing I did was change my eating habits. I said goodbye to the drawer filled with junk food in my office and exchanged them with healthy and organic items.

Then I asked myself, can I work throughout my pregnancy? You can say yes and no to this. It all depends on whether you’re having a healthy pregnancy. My advice is to stay positive. If you manage to do it well, then you can work while being pregnant. I shuffled my workload and depended more on my team because I used to do a lot of off-site visits myself. I wanted to make sure that I didn’t move a lot and was always in a safe environment.

Time management is an important skill to possess while being pregnant. I came to work early, and left on time. I made sure tasks and meetings were done within the working time frame. I knew overtime wasn’t going to keep me or the baby healthy, so I had to ensure I managed my time properly.

Rest if you’re feeling tired at work. Look for resting opportunities throughout the day. There’s nothing wrong with getting out of the office and getting a bit of fresh air. Grab something to drink, take a seat and elevate your feet for 15 minutes. Stretching helps tone those sore muscles as well.

Once you’ve completed your first trimester, you’re considered to be in the safe zone. Though even if you’re safe, you still have to take care of yourself. When I entered my second trimester, I decided to tell my boss. My boss was happy with the news, and gave me his blessings but I felt that there was a tad bit of concern on his face.

I decided that I was going to keep an open communication with him, and be transparent. I disciplined myself, managed all my projects on time, and told him what I could do and what I could not so there weren’t any surprises.

The only issue that I faced at work was the prenatal doctor visits, which are a necessity. From the beginning, my husband and I decided that we wanted to go to a government hospital – Latifa hospital. I was impressed by their facilities and childcare so I wanted my child to be born there. The hospital visits became more frequent as I got well into my second trimester. But Latifa hospital only gave appointments between 7:30 and 14:30, which meant that I had to take a day off work. At some appointments my doctor would prescribe an extra day or two of bed rest because my blood levels were lower than usual.

I tried my best to keep the lines of communication open between the employees and myself. I even worked from home on days that I had to rest so I could assist on all their projects. I was trying to avoid the stereotype that some people had about pregnant women and tardy work.

All in all, it depends on you on how you want to be classified at work. Before making any decisions make sure that it is you who is comfortable with it. Always keep an open and transparent communication with your boss, and rest when you need to.

To read part 2 of this topic, click here.


Is Couture Losing Its Charm?

Reem Al Suwaidi (@LumeiRee)

Reem Al Suwaidi (@LumeiRee)

Column: Habillez-Moi (which means “dress me” in French)
Reem is a fashion fanatic. She used her talents of critiquing to start a blog called “We Voice Fashion” along with a partner that shares her views on the world of fashion and design. Through her column, she likes to explore fashion in a philosophical way at times.
Reem Al Suwaidi (@LumeiRee)
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Article in brief: the author discusses the supposed downhill of haute couture in fashion.

Christian Dior Spring 2007 Haute Couture, Designed by John Galliano, Origami inspired couture gown (Source:

Christian Dior Spring 2007 Haute Couture, Designed by John Galliano, Origami inspired couture gown (Source:

“Haute couture should be fun, foolish and almost unwearable,” claims the French designer Christian Lacroix. He was after all, celebrated for his divine talent in designing haute couture clothes that resembled pieces of art rather than an item one would wear. That led to the bankruptcy of his label in 2009, as it never made a profit. As a result, Lacroix concluded his work in designing and had no choice but to focus instead on accessories and perfumery. The industry mourned the end of Lacroix’s tenure, given the fact that no investors came forward to back him financially after the declaration.

Haute couture is defined as “the art of dressmaking on a luxurious and grandiose scale”, not to mention “high sewing”. The process of creating an haute couture piece is excruciating, as it requires impeccable craftsmanship, which according to The Telegraph, takes up to 700 hours. It doesn’t end there; for a designer to be considered as an haute couturier he/she must be a member of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, an institution founded in 1973.

Christian Lacroix Fall2 009 -Haute Couture (Source:

Christian Lacroix Fall2 009 -Haute Couture (Source:

Designers must abide to a set of rules established by the institution, such as creating 50 exquisite garments for daywear and eveningwear as part of each collection. A dramatic irony is that most couture garments, which sell approximately at a minimum of $12,000 and may even amount to $9 million, do not get sold: meaning that garments created from scratch are mostly archived.

The exclusive division of fashion that is haute couture means inviting the elite and the press only to view the shows, which take place twice a year for the fall/winter and spring/summer seasons. As entrancing as it sounds, haute couture is seemingly unaffordable for a wide range of customers; ultimately most brands make no returns from their “high sewing” attires.

This ostensibly labels haute couture as simply artistic and appreciated for the hard work that goes into creating the pieces, but the line is drawn just there. It’s not as profitable as ready-to-wear, and brands are beginning to question its significance. Is it worth saving haute couture by commercializing it or should brands finally discontinue their haute couture lines?

Several brands have begun to realize that haute couture should appeal to practicality rather than be a sore sight to the eyes. Dior has very much followed such an idea that after firing John Galliano (a British designer that transformed the house of Dior by his love for different cultures and ethnicities), the French house recruited Belgian designer Raf Simons to channel Dior’s original aesthetic. In other words, designing clothes that were all-so simple and the total opposite of what Galliano produced for the brand during his tenure.

With Dior’s haute couture collections, Simons’ does not go overboard with style but rather focuses on quality and overall fit. With the revealing of the latest collection, much speculation has been voiced about whether Simons’ was able to separate himself from the ever-continouing cycle of modernization. The Belgian designer even cited David Bowie as his inspiration; hence the over-the-top sequined boots and PVC coats. Some found it amusing, while other members of the press were flabbergasted. Angelo Flaccavento of the Business of Fashion claims that Simons “tried with all his force to bring the house codes out of a narrow jolie madame niche”.

Flaccavento even goes on to state the fact that couture shows have taken to a “general toning down” due to economic factors ensuing in China and Russia, not to mention a change in target consumers. Other brands, such as Valentino, now send repetitive looks down the runway, including simple gowns with little embellishments and playsuits with a ruffled detail on the shoulder – but that’s as far as it goes. Even new emerging haute couture designers such as Rad Hourani and Ralph & Russo seem to have caught up with the news.

 Ralph and Russo Haute Couture Spring Summer 2014 (Source:

Ralph and Russo Haute Couture Spring Summer 2014 (Source:

A sad but true fact is that couture is not as it was before during the times of Paul Poiret and Jacques Doucet, where excessively glamorous gowns were celebrated for welcoming an era that would soon meet its end. I wouldn’t be shocked myself if the result of modernization and the endless need to keep it casual would result in the end of haute couture. As of now, the magnificence that is couture is hanging by a thin but firm thread.


What If The Fault Is In Our Education System?

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)
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Article in brief: The author pens down her concerns about how the youth is dealing with education.

Artwork by Dana AlAttar (@DanaAlAttar)

Artwork by Dana AlAttar (@DanaAlAttar)

We live at a golden time where the world is changing at a fast pace. As we all know, the UAE has been undergoing a constant advancement in education, technology and several other fields.

To break the population into groups, it’s easy to say that the world is divided into readers and non-readers, learners and non-learners. It’s as clear as daylight that education is the key to life. Though education can get a bit too draining and time-consuming due to attending classes and keeping up with the readings, assignments and exams, I find it to be the most important thing to me.

It came to my attention through observing the rants of some school-students through the social media that most of them simply hate education. They find it to be more of a daunting responsibility to fulfill rather than a way to enlightenment. It reached a point where those students, especially the ones at a young age, find reading to be something that should not go anywhere beyond school.

As bold as this statement may be, I blame the educational system and the way students choose to handle commitments. As an experiment, I have been trying to get a small group of pre-teens to start reading. The response I kept on getting was that reading was boring.

I started explaining how important reading is and how it can take you to different places when you’re just sitting at one place. They tried to reason with me by describing that they have done enough reading to last a lifetime from school. One of the boys in the group said, “I will never open a book that has nothing to do with school”

Getting that reply, it became apparent that maybe some schools take the fun out of learning with the excess stress. Thus, they make reading feel more like a task than a fun activity to occupy their time with. It’s sad how those children will grow to hate learning simply because they’re overworked and are not given enough time to enjoy their experiences as school-students.

I am not claiming that schools give no activities for students to enjoy – however, the work might overweigh the fun. In addition, the lack of interesting presentation of the syllabus given by most teachers is making some students hate school even more. Students get a large amount of information shoved into their brains simply by reading a text or having it written on a board; there is nothing interesting about that.

On the other hand, some schools do provide fun activities and present the syllabus in an interesting manner to grab the attention of young students. A number of students choose not to look beyond education being a daily thing, and simply focus on how often they have to be a part of it, rather than finding a way to connect with it. Education is a two way street between the teacher and the student, if one of them doesn’t give his/her all into the process, no progress would be made.

Education is quite important, and it upsets me to see its value decreased by some students nowadays. Learning should make you eager to know more, not count the minutes for the class to be over. It’s way more than memorizing a chunk of papers only to forget everything the moment after taking the exam.

It makes you wonder, is our educational system doing it wrong and does it rob our youth from its beauty? Does it really deprive students from the core and essence of the information they’re being taught? Do the students exaggerate or are they really stressed?

The educational system should make greater efforts to find a balance between educating and showing how education is a good thing rather than just a duty. Students should be nurtured with information and not force-fed with seeds of precious knowledge that will go uncared for.

The Relationship (Or Lack off) Between Religion And Terrorism

Nasser AlFalasi (@nassakb)

Nasser AlFalasi (@nassakb)

Column: Just A Nassasary.
Nasser AlFalasi was born the year the cold war ended. For those who don’t know the year the cold war ended, Nasser’s columns in SAIL is exactly for that reason. Nasser’s undergrad was in Financial Services at the Higher Colleges of Technology. He then pursued his graduate studies at NYU, NYC concentrating in global affairs with a specialization in international relations and transnational security. His major interests include history and global affairs. Most of his columns will be in regards to those topics. By the way, if you haven’t already found out the year Nasser was born, its 1991.
Nasser AlFalasi (@nassakb)

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Reading Time: 5 minutes

Article in brief: the author debates the relation between terrorism & religion, and proves with research that terrorism is actually driven from political occupation or social degradation rather than the religion of Islam itself.

Artwork by Dana AlAttar (@DanaAlAttar)

Artwork by Dana AlAttar (@DanaAlAttar)

I’m currently a teacher’s assistant (TA) at New York University in New York City to one of my favorite professors, Professor Mary Beth Altier. The class I co-teach is called “Transnational Terrorism”, and there’s been a large misconception by students that terrorism is related in any way to religion, specifically Islam since 9/11. Under the PATRIOT act that was signed by George W. Bush in 2001, the US government was able to investigate and survey potential terrorists without court orders. This act opened the door for a racial profiling of Muslims and Arabs around the world. In class, we constantly challenge the students regarding the relationship between terrorism and religion. In fact, according to a series of detailed and intensive research by prominent US political scientists, terrorism has little to do with religion and rather is mostly of political motive.

The prominent American political scientist Robert Pape argues that terrorism is primarily due to foreign occupation and not due to a specific ethnicity, culture or religion. Pape has compiled evidence to suggest that suicide terrorism is in fact a secular tactic rather than a religious one, which forms a broader goal to remove occupying forces from an area perceived as the perpetrators homeland. Pape’s publication “Dying to Win” analyzes 315 terrorist attacks from 1980 to 2003 and concluded that the attacks were explained by individual motives and beliefs, and discovered little correlation between religion to terrorism. Pape’s research found that 95% of all terrorists’ bombings had an objective of national liberation at heart.

Christine Fair, Neil Malhotra and Jacob N. Shapiro proved this opinion correct in their article “Faith or Doctrine? Religion and Support for Political Violence in Pakistan”. The authors conducted a survey in Pakistan to try to correlate between terrorism and Islam. They questioned Muslims who attend Madrasas, those who were politically active and even just your ordinary Muslim. The authors found out that religious practice is unrelated to support for militant groups. It is quite the opposite; their research shows that it is one’s beliefs concerning the acceptability of violence that has a powerful influence and not the religion itself. In many cases acceptability of violence may grow in countries that are highly corrupt, poor or under some sort of internal or external occupation/conflict.

James A. Piazza’s article “Is Islamist Terrorism More Dangerous?: An Empirical Study of Group Ideology, Organization, and Goal Structure” states that it is ideological and tactical behavior of the group that determines a terrorist organization, not just the religion itself. Piazza states that “The study illustrates the relationship between organizational and ideological features of terrorist groups and their tactical behavior, but cautions that this relationship tends not to conform to the broad categories, such as ‘‘Islamist’’ and ‘‘leftist,’’ used by most scholars”. In other words, in this quote Piazza refers to the broad terminology used regarding terrorism and how subjective it is to be calling terrorist “Islamist” due to the large diversification and misinterpretations of Islamic texts such as the word Jihad.

Piazza’s view that terrorism should not be generalized with broad categories such as “Islamist” or “Leftist” is something I strongly agree with. A subjective description or labeling of one’s faith does nothing but increase aggression and hate. In addition, Piazza’s description of the types of “jihad” and “istishhad” was clearly explained in illustrating the different misinterpretations of these words by various terrorist organizations.

All three scholars gave different reasons as to why Islam is not terrorism. Pape argued that terrorism is due to foreign occupation rather than a religious belief. Fair, Malhotra and Shapiro argued that it is not Islam but one’s understanding and acceptability to violence that plays a major role in terrorism. Lastly, Piazza argues that there are various interpretations of jihad and that terrorism should not be categorized as Islamist. Just like Fair, Malhotra and Shapiro, Piazza believed that it is because of the misinterpretation of texts that Islamic terrorism is more dangerous than terrorism in general.

After the evidence provided, the students split into two groups and we started a debate regarding Islam’s relation with terrorism. One group debated that Islam does promote terrorism, while the other stated that it’s not Islam but rather political, economic, or social situations that do so. Many of those who debated that Islam does promote terrorism used common perception of news agencies to explain the issue. However, they were easily opposed with scientific and political research of the other team which stated facts and figures that not only do Islamic terrorists count for less than 1% of all Muslims, but also that less than 6% of terrorism in the US is due to Islamic fundamentalism.

Every week I’m observing a more “openness” to the issue of Islam and terrorism by the students. Students come up to me asking me to explain whether the actions of ISIS are that of most Muslims. It’s important in my opinion for people to get rid of such violent misconceptions or stereotyping of any race, gender, or religion, for there is more that unites us all as humans than that which divides us.

The Power of Hope

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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Reading Time: 5 minutes

Article in brief: the author explores the power of hope and the importance of it in our lives as a motivational factor that keeps us as human beings moving forward and trying again.

Artwork by Hayat AlHassan (@HayatAlH)

Artwork by Hayat AlHassan (@HayatAlH)

Martin Luther King Jr., the minister and social activist who led the civil rights movement in the U.S. said “We must accept finite disappointment but never lose infinite hope”. His famous speech that began with the words “I have a dream…” has been a beacon of hope to millions till today. One of the single most important emotions and mindsets that is probably responsible for the perseverance of mankind across centuries is hope.

An article entitled The Will and Ways of Hope published in December 2011 by Scott Barry Kaufman PhD, the Director of Imagination Institute at the University of Pennsylvania, discusses the importance of hope as the driver to getting us “there” or to where we want to be. He goes on to explain that talent, skill and ability help but that according to research, it is psychological vehicles that really get us there. Out of these psychological vehicles such as conscientiousness, passion, optimism and inspiration, hope is the most important one. (Retrieved from:

In 1991, psychologist Charles R. Snyder and his colleagues came up with the ‘Hope Theory’, according to which they explain that “hope involves the will to get there and the different ways to get there”. What that means is that the person who has hope has the will and the determination to achieve goals, and has strategies at their disposal to reach those goals.

The research goes on to explain that hope is a dynamic cognitive (thinking) motivational system and our emotions follow our thoughts or cognitions. This means that hopeful people tend to have learning goals and are active and involved in learning, planning and strategizing towards meeting their goals by monitoring their performance and progress. Research supports the idea that learning goals are related to the success of people and their achievements in the academic, sports, arts, business and science fields.

Those lacking hope on the other hand feel that they can’t control their environment and they have mastery goals, meaning they choose easy tasks, and when they fail, they quit. These individuals don’t believe in their ability to get the future they want, they feel helpless and have no hope.

Snyder and his colleagues have even developed a way to measure hope called the Hope Scale. Along with other researchers, there are several studies that show the correlation between hope and better academic and athletic performance. Hope is one psychological vehicle that stands out when compared to other vehicles such as self-efficacy and optimism.

Unlike self-efficacy, which is the expectation that one will master a domain, or optimism which is having a positive outlook for the future outcomes, it is the individuals with hope who have a far larger chance at success as they have both the will and the strategies needed to achieve what they set out to in life. It is the vehicle that get us to where we want to be, and hope is the one vehicle that helps us develop the ability we thought we never had. This has been documented in research conducted at the University of Kansas as well as other institutions that have shown the relationship between hope and improved academic and athletic performance.

So why is hope so very important? Well, because life is difficult and comes with challenges and obstacles. Hope makes the present moment, no matter how bad it might be, less difficult to cope with and allows people to approach problems with a success-based mindset that increases the likelihood that they will achieve their goal. The belief that tomorrow will be better helps us bear today’s hardships. Abraham Miller, a researcher, said “A man begins to die when he ceases to expect anything from tomorrow”.

No matter how much people like to dismiss hope or make it out to be naïve disillusionment, science has in fact now proved that hope is not only the vehicle to success but also a pre-requisite for continued effort, and pursuit of goals. Imagine where we would be today if Thomas Edison gave up trying the first time he failed at making the light bulb or if the Wright brothers gave up the hope that man would fly one day. Hope is the light that keeps scientists researching for cures to diseases and keeps us waking up every morning. Hold on, stay hopeful and remember that you have the strength to get through it.

5 Lessons From Being An Entrepreneur, Part 2

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: 5 more lessons the author learnt within the first two months of starting a business. A continuation of January’s article.

Artwork by Maryam Zainal (@Maryam_Zainal)

Artwork by Maryam Zainal (@Maryam_Zainal)

In the last article, I discussed five things I learnt within the first few months of starting my business. I spoke about how it becomes your life, how important it is to do provide something different to the society and market, how as a small business owner you tend to assume many jobs related to your business and finally how to focus on the long-term. In this article, I share some more of what I learnt whilst on the job of owning and running a business.

  1. Your life will temporarily have two key markers: pre-business and post-business.

You’ll look back to the days before you started your business and marvel at how empty your life seemed and there will be times when you will desperately wish you could go back in time to college or your regular job where things seemed so uncomplicated.

  1. Your biggest and most important investment is your staff.

I cannot emphasize this enough. Staff can make or break a place. They can turn passersby into customers and customers into regulars. The sustainability of the business depends on them and their attitude. It is not worth it to hire somebody who does not match all of your most important criteria in hopes that they will learn and change. Time is money and you cannot afford to start off on a slow and lacking foot. Invest in staff that are friendly, committed, honest, and loyal and you will reap the benefits.

  1. You will not be able to do everything yourself.

I made this mistake. When I first started my business, a boutique and café-in-one, I not only did all the baking, marketing, client-building, day-to-day-managing and supply-ordering myself, but also researched, ordered, computerized, and displayed products from vendors and designers for the boutique. Essentially, I did everything. For the first six weeks that was fine. It wasn’t such a big concern that I had absolutely no free time and that my friends were complaining about my antisocial-ness, but at one point I couldn’t do it anymore. The stress and multitasking was too much for any one person to handle. Which leads me to the next point…

  1. Don’t be afraid to get help.

With me, it wasn’t a case of embarrassment of asking for help. It was the concern that I wouldn’t find someone competent enough to get things done the way I want them done. I already had too much on my plate to waste time training somebody who wouldn’t be able to follow through. That’s where your selfless, amazing friends and family come in. They will be most likely more than happy to take up some responsibilities.

  1. Do not get overwhelmed.

This is probably the most important point. You most likely started this business because you believed in the product you had to offer and were passionate about it. There will be times when a really bad day or the sheer magnitude of hurdles to overcome will drain you, mentally, physically, and emotionally. Keep going but remember how important it is to make to-do lists for yourself. Make sub-tasks with deadlines for each task. Prioritize them. And never forget that you owe yourself some time off. It might seem impossible at the moment but in the long-run, sitting by the beach for an hour or getting a manicure to indulge yourself will not negatively impact your business.