Here We Start – Issue #64

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)
Artwork by Dana AlAttar (@DanaAlAttar)

Artwork by Dana AlAttar (@DanaAlAttar)

Ramadan has left us just two weeks ago, and summer has now officially started for many. There are those who will travel away for a month to change scenery and refresh themselves, and there are those who will stay in town due to other commitments, or because they simply love staying back home. Whatever it is you choose to do, just ensure you do take the mental break needed to come back or to continue your work or your study fresh and new. Explore your surroundings, find new adventures, and new experiences, they all help refresh your mindset and mood for a new start.

As we continue to grow Sail, between the main Sail Magazine, the sister magazine: By The Masses, and our books publishing arm on SailPubishing.com, we’d love to hear from our readers what areas they’d love to see more of on Sail, topics they like to see discussed more often, and any other suggestions you may have in mind, please do share them with us, either on any of our social media links on twitter, instagram, or facebook, or directly to our email.

We’d like to welcome our new columnist Moza Al Samahi with her column: Reflections of the Mind. Eager learner with two academic achievements: Bachelors in Management (AUS) & Masters in International Business (Brunel University, London), Mozah is an insightful motivated individual who enjoys spreading her thoughts out loud by being a spontaneous wanderer in life’s journey. Her column is based on the changing issues facing the Emirati society especially the youth. She is an adventurous who is eager to spread positivity and creativity. Mozah doesn’t believe in the word “impossible”.

And now to our 64th issue for the month of July 2015:

Hats off to our great editorial team: Aida Al Busaidy, and Deena Rashid. Enjoy our reads, and don’t forget to check out the inspired artworks by our talented creative team: Aalaa AlBastaki, Amna AlSaleh, Farah AlBalooshi, Hayat AlHassan, led by Dana Al Attar.

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

Frozen’s Motto: Let it Go

Shurooq AlBanna (@Shuroooq)

Shurooq AlBanna (@Shuroooq)

Column: A Moment of Contemplation
Shurooq, an Emarati from Dubai, has been on a journey of self-discovery ever since she shifted career from Science to humanitarian where she found joy. Her interests include traveling and foreign films. Shurooq’s column is influenced by those distinctive moments that give a deeper perspective on life.
Shurooq AlBanna (@Shuroooq)

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Article in brief: Disney films offer some wise life advice worth considering by adults.

Artwork by Hayat AlHassan (@HayatAlH)

Artwork by Hayat AlHassan (@HayatAlH)

Nowadays, many of us refrain from watching television as it has become packed with disturbing news. Obscurity lurks in every corner making us skeptical about everything and unsure about whom to trust.

To make matters worse, a conspiracy has been schemed against the average man in order to bring his downfall even faster. This conspiracy we must all be wary of comes in the form of a pint-sized earthling in a squeaky voice belting out Disney’s Frozen’s song “Let it go, let it goo”, loud enough to pierce one’s ears.

Yes dear reader, they are everywhere. Our fate rests with those children singing ‘Let It Go’ incessantly on television, on the radio, and all forms of social media. It is on an endless loop in different public places, escalating our irritability even further. Sometimes, I feel even mothers are in on this, every time they upload a video of their child dressed as Elsa singing ‘Let it go’. So charming it used to be in 2013, yet enter summer 2015 and we are still singing THAT song. I can no longer hear ‘Let It Go’ without furrowing my brows. And I wonder, when will people be ready to finally let go of ‘Let it Go’?

I was in the office the other day in the midst of a verbal brawl, when my colleague Omar tried to calm me down by saying: “Shurooq just let it go, just let go”. My immediate thought was: “Oh no, not you too. Enough with this annoying song!” What came after that was silence. It was then that I realized why that song struck a chord.

Like a movie on rewind, my mind rushed to incidents from my past. The time I fell on stage during a theatrical performance and its shame. The time I shouted racial comments and the guilt. Those many moments of social awkwardness and the embarrassment I felt. It all came back to me. The incidents surfaced to my memory and the emotions of shame, guilt and embarrassment overcame me.

Why was I still holding on? Why were these emotions so raw as if the incidents had happened yesterday? Could this ‘Let It Be’ song be a sign? Is this the solution?

In an over-analyzing world, people tend to hold on to emotions such as fear, anxiety and shame for far too long. They struggle to let go of the negative issues. This is why Disney’s ‘annoying’ song has a refreshing message. ‘Let it go’, comes to us as a remedy as opposed to the mainstream advice. Realizing that one must let go of things is the first step forward to dealing with dusty unresolved emotions.

It was in that moment of silence that I realized what great advice Elsa gave us. I knew right then and there the path I would tread on next, regardless of how I intended to undertake it. In the unforeseen future, I hope that I am able to properly let go of shame, guilt, and unnecessary drama. But for now, Frozen’s motto ‘Let It Go’ shall be my motto.

Book Review: To Kill A Mockingbird

Maitha Almuhairi (@Maithani)

Maitha Almuhairi (@Maithani)

Column: Pocket Full of Books
An avid reader, Maitha has always dreamt of being a recognized novelist and poet. For the last decade she focused on HR as a career, which has taken her away from her dream, but it’s never too late. Her column Pocket full of Books focuses on book reviews and doesn’t necessarily focus on a specific genre.
Maitha Almuhairi (@Maithani)

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Article in brief: the author reviews the literature classic “To Kill A Mocking Bird” by Harper Lee.

"To Kill A Mocking Bird" book cover on the 50th anniversary of publishing it

“To Kill A Mocking Bird” book cover on the 50th anniversary of publishing it

´Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corncribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.’

To Kill A Mocking Bird is one of those novels that have never gone out of print, an immediate success that had won it a Pulitzer Prize in 1961. The novel is a classic in modern American literature and a strong example of “Bildungsroman”, a literary genre that revolves around the moral and psychological growth of the protagonist from youth to adulthood. Coming of age is the main focus in this genre and To Kill A Mocking Bird is a vital example.

The story takes place during the Great Depression (1930’s) in a small fictional town in Alabama called Maycomb. It is told through the point of view of a six years old Jean Louise Finch (Scout). Scout lives with her widowed middle aged father Atticus who works as a lawyer and older brother Jem.

When I first started reading the novel I hated it a little bit. The story, despite being told by a six year old, made Scout sound like an adult and I wasn’t sure if that was intentional or not. Throughout the book the protagonist used words that are probably unknown to six years old children. The other thing that annoyed me was the abrupt start of the novel. I did not know whether the protagonist was male or female, a child or an adult and I did not know the name of the character until almost the end of the first chapter. Going through the novel I realised it was written from the protagonist’s point of view during the time she was six, which later on made lots of sense to me. As for the abrupt beginning of the book, I came to understand how realistic this was. The novel imitates real life in being random and not having a convincing beginning or ending, and I now believe this to be brilliant.

The novel discusses themes like racial inequality and rape that definitely were controversial during the 1960’s. However, this does not mean the novel isn’t humorous and warm. Atticus Finch, the protagonist’s father, served as a model of integrity and justice in standing up for a black man and not caring when people turned against him. Harper Lee had written Atticus so well, she shaped him into a hero, a noble righteous lawyer and a loving father.

Throughout the book I found myself respecting and loving Atticus Finch. The only thing I did not like much was the lack of descriptions. Personally, it felt like walking in absolute darkness, but I still enjoyed reading it. A must read indeed! I genuinely can’t wait to start reading the finally published sequel: Go Set A Watchman.

Avoiding Burnout By Focusing On Your Talents

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: the importance of focusing on your skills and taking time out to unwind to ultimately benefit your business. 

Artwork by Amna Al Saleh (@Tepingi)

Artwork by Amna Al Saleh (@Tepingi)

Burnout. It’s something we are all susceptible to at one point in our lives or another. Working around the clock without taking the time off to nourish your soul and reassess your surroundings can greatly increase the risk of this, and as a result, you can become lethargic, unexcited, and incapable of performing your tasks.

This is particularly likely to happen in the early stages of a project or business you’re passionately working on, and with me, it happened after four months of daily work on, at, and for Spontiphoria, my owned café and boutique business.

As I’ve mentioned in my previous articles, a small business owner is usually in charge of practically every single aspect of the business. The accounts, marketing, admin work, daily managing, inventory, brand-building, event-planning; it’s all you. It’s impossible to handle all these aspects on your own and give each task its due. However, most of us still find it difficult to relinquish control over certain aspects of our business, either because of our Type A personalities or a lack of resources. In my case, administrative tasks and accounting have never been my strong point, and to this day I find that my skills in this area need significant improvement.

But is that improvement really necessary? Last month, I started an online course on business development and in it, the instructor, Whitney English, talks about the importance of focusing on your strong points and delegating your weaker points. It’s something that really struck a chord and resonated with me. She speaks about how each one of us is gifted with a particular set of talents, and expecting to handle all aspects of your business by yourself is only going to undermine your overall efforts. She iterates the importance of focusing on your sets of talents and skills to grow your business, and encourages business owners to delegate the tasks they’re not that skilled in. This to me sounded a lot like my Intro to Microeconomics course in my freshman year at college. It is the simple concept of comparative advantage used to describe international trade, but it can very well be used to describe business relations.

By delegating my weaker points and focusing on my talents and skills, which revolve around my people-skills and the more creative aspect of event planning, recipe development, and product-curating, I would avoid burnout (for the second time!). The other, more concrete advantage of that would be a more organized business and a fresher outlook to pursue the tasks I am really passionate about.

If you don’t focus on delegating tasks, you run the risk of not performing at your optimal level which will lead to your business suffering. Sometimes it isn’t that feasible in the early stages of a business to hire someone to handle this particular aspect so enlist part-time help from friends or family who are talented in that particular field.

With me, the burnout manifested itself in many ways. I would sleep for perhaps nine hours a night but still not have the energy to get out of bed till almost noon. I would spend hours on tasks that would normally take a third of that time. The idea of working would mentally drain me and I didn’t pursue my goals with the passion and determination I previously had. I was, in essence, stuck in somewhat of a stagnant quicksand if that makes any sense.

Learning about this in detail from my course, and drawing the similarity between this and the economic concept of comparative advantage, helped me focus on my talents and delegate my weaker points, for the wellbeing of myself and my business.

Through experience (and the advice and persuasion of those around me) I also began to understand that although your business may be your life, it is important to take the time out and focus entirely on you. Take a few hours out each week and do what truly refreshes you. Paint, get lost in a book, bake something, or go for a swim. So many of those who have businesses are of the opinion that your business is you and you are your business, so we must extend that opinion to include taking care of ourselves. Feeding your soul and taking the time out to unwind and refresh will ultimately benefit your business.

Is the Emirati Dialect at Risk of Disappearing?

Mozah Al Samahi (@_mozah)

Mozah Al Samahi (@_mozah)

Eager learner with two academic achievements: Bachelors in Management(AUS) & Masters in International Business (Brunel University, London). Mozah is an insightful motivated individual who enjoys spreading her thoughts out loud by being a spontaneous wanderer in life’s journey. Her columns are based on the changing issues facing the Emirati society especially the youth. She is an adventurous who is eager to spread positivity and creativity. Mozah doesn’t believe in the word “impossible”.
Mozah Al Samahi (@_mozah)

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Article in brief: The Emirati dialect is at a threat of being lost as a result of globalization.

Artwork by Dana AlAttar (@DanaAlAttar)

Artwork by Dana AlAttar (@DanaAlAttar)

I am very proud to be an Emirati, and even prouder to come from a place which is considered to be one of the most visited countries in the world today. The UAE has embraced changes in many areas of its environment, be it economic, social, or political, in order to become what it is today.

The downside to this growth though is the great gap in the Emirati dialect and the Arabic language amongst Emiratis. It’s a tragedy to see most Emiratis have trouble speaking their mother tongue fluently.

With the growing popularity of private English schools, English has become the first language in many Emirati households. Furthermore, the popularity and ease of access of English-based search engines, applications, and games has made learning and adopting the English language easier.

Losing the Emirati dialect, or worse, the Arabic language, is a threat to our culture. Some Emiratis today choose to not speak Arabic frequently, as if they don’t take pride in their mother tongue and the language of the Holy Quran! In addition, youngsters who do speak Arabic have adopted what may be described as “pidgin Arabic” from their foreign nannies. In an era in which everything is becoming globalised, I do advocate the learning of English, since it is indeed a global language. That, however, does not mean Arabic, or any of the other native languages, should be neglected or made secondary.

We need to shed light on the richness of the Emirati dialect and Arabic language. From my experience, I suggest parents communicate in the Emirati dialect at an early age with their children in parallel to teaching them other languages.

Although certain things that hold cultural value, such as language and national dress, may never entirely fade away, they may evolve with the trends of a given period. As change is constant, I hope Emiratis will take forward the parts of culture they wish to preserve and honour them in their new forms. With the same purpose, a couple of young Emiratis have taken the initiative to develop applications that will help educate locals, expatriates, and tourists on the Emirati dialect.

For example, two iPhone applications have been launched with the aim to educate people about the beauty of the Emirati dialect. The first one, called “Thikrayat”, uses simple illustrations to explain Emirati words and phrases. The second one, called “Dubai Emoji”, celebrates things that have deep cultural significance and includes old local phrases that were used in the past by our ancestors and is now available for use through online communications. Emirati dialect is the backbone of our precious culture and our national identity, so it is a great delight to see some initiatives being taken to preserve it.

I believe our language is still alive, yet it is practiced in forms that are altered to fit today’s world. For instance, people on social media often use “arabeezy”, which is the use of English alphabets to communicate in Arabic. Our language has already seen a major transformation, and so it is important that we begin to preserve our dialect because it’s the verbal expression of our precious culture. For me, culture is like a plant: if you don’t water it, it will die and so will our language and dialect if it isn’t kept alive in conversations. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the UAE community as a whole to instil the importance of the Emirati dialect and Arabic language in the lives of the current and following generations.

Book Review: How to Tell if your Cat is Plotting to Kill you

Maitha Almuhairi (@Maithani)

Maitha Almuhairi (@Maithani)

Column: Pocket Full of Books
An avid reader, Maitha has always dreamt of being a recognized novelist and poet. For the last decade she focused on HR as a career, which has taken her away from her dream, but it’s never too late. Her column Pocket full of Books focuses on book reviews and doesn’t necessarily focus on a specific genre.
Maitha Almuhairi (@Maithani)

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Article in brief: the author gives us her book review on Matthew Inman’s “How To Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting To Kill You”

Book Cover of Matthew Inman's "How to tell if your cat is plotting to kill you"

Book Cover of Matthew Inman’s “How to tell if your cat is plotting to kill you”

“Humans have superior technology. Your cat knows this and will attempt to disrupt all communications to the outside world”

I have to admit, I have probably read this book about three times in the last two years. The reason I bought this book is because I’m a crazy cat person and a proud owner of a cat that according to this book is plotting to kill me. This book is an ode to all the cat lovers out there. It is one of those books you can read in one sitting. It’s not a long read, but it will surely leave its readers in a very good mood, especially those that are cat owners.

The content of this book is very original, and the readers will find what is titled as the “Bobcats” series. The series is printed in the form of comic strips and follows the daily mishaps of two tie-wearing cats that run in an office and do nothing but torment its workers.

“Excessive shoveling of kitty litter after using the litter box, your cat needlessly kicks litter around, most of it ending up all over the room. This is practice for burying bodies.”

As a cat owner, I found myself laughing and nodding to each and every written page of this book. The author has successfully turned the cats’ natural behavior into a plot for world domination and an assassination plan against their owners. The author did not only mention the reasons, but he actually supported them with illustrations that show life through the eyes of the cat. This would actually leave a cat owner wondering, “so that’s why my cat does this!” However, this book isn’t only written for cat lovers. It gives comical explanation for cat behavior and it would definitely be enjoyable for those who are unfamiliar with the feline species.

The book is very colorful and filled with really funny drawings. Every detail in each comic strip is well done and articulated with a really hilarious storyline. The 132 pages can be read within an hour or two because the book is more like a picture book with some text added as an explanation. As short and easy as the book is, I would recommend some parental guide or some sort of screening. The language is not profane or explicit, but some content could be frowned upon by parents. So I would refrain from recommending it to preteens or children. It is not a storybook suited for children, but as I already mentioned, it is a light read for adults. The language is hilarious and light-hearted. It is the kind of book that you would keep by your bedside to read over and over again. I would go to the extent of calling it a getaway from our stressful daily lives. A must read indeed!

I Think, Therefore I Am

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: The author explains how what you repeat to yourself is what you become.

Artwork by Dana AlAttar (@DanaAlAttar)

Artwork by Dana AlAttar (@DanaAlAttar)

I believe that what you repeat to yourself, you become. If you keep telling yourself you can’t, then you won’t. If you keep telling yourself you are, then you will be.

For years now the power of words has been something I strived to acknowledge, for example by being kind to one another, and by thinking twice before saying anything. Words can truly hurt others, even if you don’t mean them. They scratch a part of your heart and every time you hear that word again it burns a little. To some this might seem silly and they may believe they’re invincible, but to anyone with a heart, words really do matter. Not just words to one another, but words to your very own self as well.

You repeat, “I can’t do this, I just can’t” to yourself in times of distress but it doesn’t make you feel any better. You even tell yourself you’re not good enough so many times that you start to believe it. You wake up thinking of all the horrible what-ifs and you fill your brain with all this negativity, a hurricane of words that make you surrender. We’ve all been there.

A thought or a single word that wanders around your brain might feel like nothing significant at the time, but the more you say it to yourself, the more it becomes a part of who you are. Yes, you become what you tell yourself. Tell yourself that you’re a champ, a warrior, and indeed a survivor of whatever life smacks you with. Tell yourself that you’re kind, that you’re beautiful, and that with the power of Allah, you can become the best version of yourself, and can become who you truly are.

Many times I’ve told myself that my dreams are too big, or that I’m not good enough to achieve what I want, yet I kept trying. With those words in my head I wasn’t able to move along, to continue hustling in the path to my biggest dreams. It wasn’t until I decided that I deserve better from myself that I started to regain back all the motivation I’ve lost. I replaced I can’t with I can, I won’t with I will. It’s a process, believe me, and we’ll still doubt ourselves at times, but as long as we’re trying, we’ll get there eventually.

The hurtful words you fill your brain with aren’t doing you any good; in fact they’re making it harder for you to move along. The next time you belittle yourself, the next time you underestimate what good can come out of you, remember that every time you thought you couldn’t, you did, and every time you thought you weren’t, you were. Treat yourself the way you’d treat the most precious person in your life and remember that you are what you tell yourself to be.

Dubai Today Radio Interview with Nasser Al Falasi & Sidiqa Sohail

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)

Screen Shot 2015-07-13 at 5.11.03 AM

Suzanne Radford interviewed our columnists Nasser Al Falasi (column: Just A Nassasary) and Sidiqa Sohail (column: Musings of An Entrepreneur) on her show “Voices of Diversity” on Dubai Eye.

In the interview, Suzanne discussed with Nasser his articles You, I & Us, and Societies & “Bushido”, while she discussed with Sidiqa her experience with running Spontiphoria and some of her writings such as: A Dilemma on the Commercialization of RamadanInsights about Workplace Morale, and Adaptability and Goals.

Listen to the interview on this link.

A Piece in History: The ‘Ugal’

Moza Almatrooshi (@mozaalmatrooshi)

Moza Almatrooshi (@mozaalmatrooshi)

Column: The Heart of Making
Moza Almatrooshi is an Emarati artist and designer. After attaining a BA from Zayed University Dubai in Interior Design in June 2013, Moza began her journey in trying to find a place in the creative industry in the UAE, starting with catching a plane to Italy to intern in the UAE Pavilion in the Venice Art Biennale 2013. Since then Moza has dabbled in several experiences such as architecture, design, event planning, art exhibitions, and writing for independent publications. Moza continues to journey through life, art, and design.
With mass production sweeping the globe, artisanal talents struggle to retain relevancy. This column celebrates the beauty and human value added to a product that is created with skilled hands.
Moza Almatrooshi (@mozaalmatrooshi)

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Article Brief: Author visits an Ugalor, Arabian male headpiece maker, and explores the contemporary process of making it, as well as its past functions.

Artwork by Aalaa Albastaki (Instagram:@lalaa_albastaki, Twitter: @AalaaAlbastaki)

Artwork by Aalaa Albastaki (Instagram:@lalaa_albastaki, Twitter: @AalaaAlbastaki)

In the heart of Sharjah, a new extension of the old souk is currently in the process of being erected upon aged foundations that have been unearthed, and put to use once more. The new space flows smoothly into the old souk shops, which is occupied by stores that sell a variety of goods, most of which ring familiar bells to the UAE community who grew up in the area during the 80s and 90s such traditional confectionary, old patterns and garments, old fashioned trinkets, just plainly and pleasantly, old fashioned and dated goods. In one of these modest stores sits a group of three to four men, each of them focused diligently on a certain task. Fighting for their share of the space in that store is a group of machines, meant to be handled manually. The upper shelves patiently hold countless stacks of packaged Arabian male headpieces, known in Arabic as Ugal, ready to be picked up by their new owners.

The history of the Ugal dates back to the times when the Arabs were coping with their nomadic lifestyle in the desert. The men would place a fabric on their heads to protect them from the relentless blazing sun, and in an effort to keep the fabric intact on their heads and avoid slippage, the circular headpiece came into use. It is also believed that the headpiece was a tool used to pry camels to move forward, and once the herder or the camel owner had no use for it, he would tie it around his head. Nowadays, it is a cultural representation worn predominantly by men in the Arabian Gulf region.

Mohammed, the Ugal shop owner, pointed out that an order of one headpiece would entail a process of 30 to 45 minutes to yield a finished and packaged product. The process is consistent of twisting cotton strings tightly together using a machine, to create an underlying base of circular threads tightened closely together. Then black strings, made of cotton, silk, or goat hair, are tied around the base. The piece is then rounded and sealed into a circle. The final step is running the piece through a flame to burn off excess fibers sticking out of place.

Comparing the functionality and purpose of the Ugal from then to now shows that while the Ugal might not hold the same functions, it continues to retain the same weight of the preservation of culture, and is persistent in holding on to its uses, however different from the past. Just like the new souk has done by rebuilding over its original base.

Uncovered: Ramadan Collections

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.
http://wevoicefashion.com
Reem Al Suwaidi (@LumeiRee)

Article in brief: Author takes a closer look at why Ramadan collections are extremely sought-after.

Ramadan Promotion by Net-A-Porter, source: www.net-a-porter.com

Ramadan Promotion by Net-A-Porter, source: www.net-a-porter.com

The comfort of a kaftan is dual. Firstly, there is the benefit of wearing light clothes during the intense heat when the weather is all but welcoming. But more significantly, some comfort lies in the way that even the touch of it is accompanied by the swell of memories of mothers, living their 1980’s summers in their beloved kaftans and cover-ups. Still, where 30 years ago they had a traditional air about them, these past few seasons kaftans, jallabiyas and abayas alike have been altered with modern details, signifying a change in conventional clothing.

Recently, regional designers have tapped into the kaftan industry and launch a collection each year during Ramadan, in what is now known as the “Ramadan Collection”, showing their pieces at exhibitions held in malls or hotels prior to the Holy Month. Usually these “designers” tend to lack the proper expertise with designing clothes and only make an attempt to try designing jallabiyas and abayas for Ramadan or Eid in order to rally customers. “Huge educational background is the strongest element for a successful brand. Then comes your talent!” exclaims Yasmin Al Mulla, founder and creative director of YNM Dubai, Dubai based Design Firm; specialized in contemporary ready-to-wear garments.

These Ramadan collections are promoted through social media outlets, mainly Instagram, to create a hype surrounding their pieces and often claiming that the kaftans and abayas are supposedly “sold out” minutes after posting the picture of those items. Upon closer observation one can notice a repetitive pattern in these collections: the prices of these kaftans or abayas are particularly high, despite the simplicity of the design.

Some causes of high pricing comes with the expenses such as getting the pieces sewn at the local tailor’s, the rent of the space at the exhibitions, and several added costs. “During Ramadan, designers mainly source kaftans and abayas locally,” says Marriam Mossalli, founder and consultant of Niche Arabia, a luxury consultancy firm, “in the end, it’s the customer that’s paying the price, and that’s not their fault.” The high prices can act as a repellant to the customer, often driving them away. In other cases some customers are willing to pay no matter how expensive the piece is, in order to be the first to purchase the kaftan or abaya from the collection. It can be viewed as another way of manipulating the price due to high demand.

And not only have the regional designers taken advantage of the Ramadan collections to charge high prices, but also internationally established brands have also taken notice of the enticing demand from Middle Eastern consumers for kaftans, and so they have provided their target customers with the required pieces. Online retailers went on to launch campaigns centered on Ramadan pieces styled along with other items from different shoe/accessory brands for promotion purposes, calling it the “Ramadan Edit”. Despite the international designers nailing the kaftans in terms of quality and artistry, they failed to include the traditional details that Middle Eastern customers mainly look for. Not to mention the fact that the price range is extremely high.

Oscar De La Renta Ramadan Design - Source: Netaporter.com

Oscar De La Renta Ramadan Design – Source: Netaporter.com

As far as I’ve personally seen, customers are willing to pay for the kaftans and abayas designed by regional designers, but the same cannot be said for the international brands. It seems they have a long way to go. The undisclosed dilemma though is actually with most regional designers and their lack of experience and commitment with producing consistent collections for all seasons throughout the year. “Their high season is Ramadan and they need to evolve beyond that,” Mossalli goes on to say, “Designers need to learn to do other collections during the year and not rely heavily on one month”.