Coffee Or Tea, Which Will You Choose? The #CostaDebate By @CostaCoffeeUAE

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Launching “The Costa Debate” as part of the 8th Emirates Airlines Festival Of Literature.

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For the third year running, Costa Coffee is a proud sponsor of the 8th Emirates Airline Literature Festival – and this year, the brand is celebrating with the launch of ‘The Costa Debate.’

The debate is a competition that brings together people’s mutual love of literature, invites fans to showcase their creative abilities by writing a short 300 word blurb on where they stand on one very important issue: Coffee vs. Tea.

Costa Coffee and the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature are welcoming entries until February 10, 2016, and entries can be submitted online on Entries are welcomed in both English and Arabic.

One winner will be selected to receive an exciting, 4-day trip for two to the Costa Roastery in London, UK. One runner-up will also be selected to receive a year’s supply of free coffee.

Visit Costa Coffee’s social media pages to share your support for the #CostaDebate and join us in celebrating the 8th Emirates Airline Festival of Literature!

Sheraa: A New Spirit In The World of Innovative Business Leadership (@SheraaSharjah)

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The launch of Sharjah’s entrepreneurship center “Sheraa”, and all what it aspires to achieve from support to entrepreneurs and creating an eco system across the different entities in the country.

The Welcome Note By Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi

The Welcome Note By Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi

On 17th of January 2016, under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, the emirate of Sharjah launched it’s newest entrepreneurship center “Sheraa” to establish an attractive environment and an incubator of entrepreneurship. The center aims to: support the younger generation in directing their creativity in the business world, employ the energies and innovations of young people properly in entrepreneurial areas, attract the owners of innovations and entrepreneurship from the UAE, and all nationalities to jump-start their projects from the emirate of Sharjah.

The center is chaired by Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairperson of Sharjah Investment & Development Authority “Shurooq”. In her welcoming note at the launch event she explained: “Sharjah has a range of initiatives and projects to establish and promote the emirate on economic prosperity, innovation roadmap, and leadership in the UAE, the region and the world. The launch of “Sheraa” reflects fully our faith in our young men and women to make a difference, and contribute positively to the prosperity of our economy and the development of our society.

The History has shown that the future does not wait for anyone, but we must head towards it, and it ensures in its pages that there is a place for those who aspire and take the initiative to work. It is not a secret that most of the sectors that affect our lives and our existence as human beings need to develop and change, and we need new energy and new thinking, we need to redefine and redesign. This means that we are facing a new world full of opportunities for governments, and the private sector, and the education sector, and for young people to invent new ways of cooperation and integration among us to turn these opportunities into reality.”

HE Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal, Chief Executive Officer of the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) said on the launch of Sheraa center that entrepreneurship is one of the most important determinants of economic growth in the various countries of the world. He stressed that (Shorouq) through the “Sheraa” center confirms its commitment to its role and duty towards advancing economic development of the Emirate of Sharjah.

The management team of the Sheraa center, headed by Najla Al Midfa, General Manager of Sheraa, aspire that the center serve as the largest incubator in the Emirate of Sharjah for entrepreneurship, thus contributing to the employment of innovation and creativity, the development of values, and keep up with the young Emiratis’ eagerness to access this vital sector. As indicated by surveys, the percentage of those who prefer entrepreneurial sector in the Emirates is generally up to 66%, which explains the creation of a specialized center for entrepreneurship in the emirate!

Sheraa center, based in the American University of Sharjah constitutes a focal point linking research centers, universities and academic institutions, the business sector and investors in order to achieve continuously and establishe a climate of cooperative fruitful.

Solo in the Seychelles

Alia Al Shamsi (@aliaalshamsi)

Emarati Author and Photographer from Dubai. After receiving a BA in Photography from Griffith University she worked as a photojournalist for local newspapers covering regional and international news. In 2008 she gained a MA in Photo-Image from Durham University and has lectured photography as an adjunct at the American University of Sharjah. Her photography has been exhibited internationally and holds awards including: EDAAD Scholarship 2007, British Council Cultural Leadership International 2010 and 2011 Emirates Woman Artist of the Year.
Al Shamsi’s recently published book Alayah by Sail Publishinghas been awarded the support from Dubai Culture part of their printing and publishing movement “Reading in Arabic Challenge”.

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Reading Time: 4 minutes

When you are face to face with yourself on a deserted island and the daily noise is shut out, you learn a lot more about self-acceptance.

Seychelles - picture taken Alia Al Shamsi

Seychelles – picture taken Alia Al Shamsi

Why are you alone?

  1. Are you an introvert?
  2. You are a loser with no friends.
  3. You are lying, you are with someone.
  4. None of the above.

That was the constant question I got before, during and after my solo trip to the Seychelles. What was interesting to me were the reasons people made up as to why I found solace in being alone to enjoy my own company. Was it because I would lack entertainment or as someone else mentioned: how will time pass for me?

Time did pass and I enjoyed every moment of it and the thought of being alone on an island surrounded by honeymooners, families and empty nesters never crossed my mind.

The first thing I did upon arrival was taking off my watch. Time on this trip did not matter, unless of course it had something to do with not missing out on feeding hours (aka breakfast, lunch, and dinner). I made a conscious decision of choosing to be connected because I wanted to, even though I left my mobile in the room and limited to using it within my sea-view villa. As I lounged on my hammock, many thoughts crept into my mind of things back home, worries, concerns and insecurities. I didn’t even try to shut these negative thoughts out. I decided to hear myself out, something that for a very long time I had preferred to neglect. This time, how I felt was a priority and everything I ever thought of on this trip was to be acknowledged. I did not attempt to resolve these thoughts; far from that, I simply decided to acknowledge their existence in my head.

For starters, I noticed a few things: my thoughts turned darker closer to lunch time, and I was full of creativity right after breakfast. I liked to daydream after lunch and before dinner was the best time for writing. I also decided to stop criticising myself through voices of others and my own. I substituted it with a new attitude: OK, so what if I am what I am, maybe that’s who I am?

This: “Who I am”, developed into me not trying to change myself into a better version and easing up. Who I am became someone I have known for years and like a friend whom I accepted the faults of and got used to their peculiar ways, I gave myself that same courtesy I would give my friend.

I accepted myself. I accepted that I am weird, that certain things just light my world and that I am passionate, and how difficult I find to follow processes and procedures. I also accepted my views, that I can be contradictory at times and that deep down I am a romantic. I thought about how I love artistic experimentation and welcomed ideas such as experimenting with video logging and thinking of learning how to sing my own lyrics. I laughed with myself and shared secrets of how I really viewed people and things in my life. I did this without restraining myself to forcefully being positive and well-behaved in my thoughts. I let myself run loose in my thoughts on an island that echoed my wildness.

At the end of the trip, I was very much at ease with myself and who I was at that moment, and coming home I was no different than who I was going. All that changed was that I now accept myself and believe I am enough just the way I am.

In Memory of Mohammad Ali Zainal, The “King of Pearl”

Salman Karmostaji ( @S_Karmostaji)

Salman Karmostaji ( @S_Karmostaji)

Salman is currently pursuing his undergraduate studies at the AUS. Born with an entrepreneurial spirit, he has always strived to succeed as an entrepreneur. He is currently working on launching his upcoming company, The Matjar. Salman’s column conveys his message in a clear and concise manner with the sole goal of bettering the world.
Salman Karmostaji ( @S_Karmostaji)

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The author talks about a Saudi businessman and philanthropist named Mohammad Ali Zainal who made great contributions to the field of education in the Arabian Peninsula.

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

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

In the past few decades, the Arabian Peninsula has gone through countless changes and developments in the field of education. Today, it hosts several world-class universities and schools that are graduating future leaders. However, with the multitude of developments that the educational field has witnessed in the region, people seem to have forgotten about the earlier pioneers who have contributed to the educational sector in the Gulf.

One of the greatest names in education within the region is Mohammad Ali Zainal. Zainal, one of the wealthiest businessmen in the Peninsula in the early 1900s. He is credited for founding Al Falah chain of schools, the precursor of today’s modern schools in the region. Although his life was more of a roller coaster, Zainal successfully achieved what he had aimed for since his early days.

Zainal, born in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in 1884, was known for his passion for knowledge and education since childhood. It is said that he would roam the streets with a bag filled with silver coins, giving them out to children in order to encourage them to attend school. As a teenager, he had a dream of becoming an educator, contrary to his brothers who were businessmen following in their father’s footsteps.

Zainal was sent to India by his father to join his brothers in doing business, but he found it hard to pursue something he did not love. Eventually, Zainal escaped from India in 1901, at the age of 17, in order to follow his dreams of becoming a teacher. He voyaged to Cairo in hopes of continuing his studies at Al Azhar University and ultimately becoming a teacher in Fiqh and Shari’ah. However, things took a turn when his father fortuitously saw him in Cairo and made his son an offer.

Zainal’s father offered to provide him with enough capital to open his own school, which could graduate hundreds of teachers rather than staying in Cairo and creating one teacher, which would be him. Zainal accepted his father’s offer and decided to go back to Jeddah.

In 1905, Zainal opened his first school in Jeddah, which was named Al Falah and had no tuition fees. Six years later, a branch of Al Falah was opened in Mecca. Ultimately, Zainal opened several other branches of Al Falah in Bahrain, UAE, India, and Yemen.

As time went on, Zainal realized that he needed a stable source of income rather than relying completely on his family for capital, so he made a choice that proved to be a pivotal one in his life. He went back to India with the goal of entering the pearling business, which was a lucrative market for the Gulf’s residents at the time. Consequently, by entering the pearling industry, Zainal was able to become one of the wealthiest businessmen from the Arabian Peninsula. He became known for spending most of his wealth on charity, education, orphanages, and scholarships.

In 1920, not only did Zainal visit Paris for the first time ever, but he also opened an office in it, expanding his pearling business operations to other European countries such as the United Kingdom. Additionally, he bought a house in the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, making him the first person from the Arabian Gulf to own property in Paris. He would later become globally known as the “King of Pearl”.

Zainal was known to have had a close relationship with the ruling family of Dubai, Al Maktoum. The late ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, was known to order a 21-gun salute for Zainal whenever he visited Dubai, which is a salute that is usually performed for world leaders. Moreover, when Zainal wanted to create a newer and larger Al Falah School in Dubai, Sheikh Rashid’s father, Sheikh Saeed bin Maktoum Al Maktoum, provided him with a sizeable piece of land in Bur Dubai close to the old Al Falah School. Zainal planned to create a much larger branch of Al Falah on the land, one that would be much more akin to the branch in Jeddah.

Unfortunately, Zainal lost the majority of his wealth in the early 1930s as the pearling industry collapsed due to the introduction of the Japanese cultured pearls in the market. Because of this, a newer and bigger Al Falah School was never built in Dubai. Although Zainal had lost most of his wealth, he decided not to publicize it, but rather to take loans in order to keep funding the scholarships that he had given out as well as the orphanages he supported and many of his other humanitarian endeavors.

Zainal passed away in 1969, at the age of 85, in Mumbai, a city he dearly loved and had lived in for years. Although he passed away before the Union in the UAE, his work paved the way for modern education in the UAE as well as other Gulf countries. He was a beacon of hope at a time when people in the region did not have direct access to education. Mohammad Ali Zainal shall be remembered for years to come for dedicating his life to empowering education in the region and for all of his honorable deeds.

Feminism & Islam: Celebrating The Gentle Giants

Masarat Daud (@masarat)

Masarat Daud (@masarat)

Masarat Daud is many things. A cook, a girl’s education campaigner, a TED speaker, a TEDx curator, a writer, a politically-incorrect humourist, currently based in London and studying MA in Media.
Masarat Daud (@masarat)

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Reading Time: 6 minutes

The author explores how interrelated it is to be a feminist and a muslim at the same time, rather than having to choose one label or the other.


The only female ruler in the Delhi Sultanate, Razia Sultana was described by author Rafiq Zakaria as being “endowed with all the qualities befitting a king, but she was not born of the right sex and so in the estimation of men all these virtues were worthless”.

The prism through which women’s achievements are looked at is often unreliable because cultural indoctrination is discounted. There was nothing un-Islamic about Razia becoming a queen, a leader in 1200s. Yet, the men around her, in government, found it a difficult pill to swallow. Centuries later, this still remains a challenge.

Reading Mohamed Akram Nadwi’s book on the women scholars in Islam al-Muhaddithat, I cannot help but notice the passion with which women during and just after the life of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) were so keen to understand, teach and participate in the intellectual formation of Islam. But it was not a one-sided quest because they were welcomed to create this intellectual scaffolding. Contrary to popular, ill-informed notions, they were not ridiculed for being of an inferior intellect or inherently incapable because of the vagaries of their gender.

We find examples in the lives of the women who surrounded the Prophet, in his wives and daughters, who were strong characters. To accommodate such strong women in his life says much about the Prophet himself, who never viewed them as a threat or a source of insecurity. These women were integral in spreading the teachings of Islam, and also helping to compile the Qur’an. Unfortunately, the seventh century seems to be more of a thriving place for women instead of 2016, thanks to centuries of one-sided, male narratives battering the stories and achievements of women. Yet, the current times, if turned on their heads, can also be seen as a fascinating time where feminism and Islam are re-igniting their relationship. The important point to remember is that there is a relationship, whether one sees it as fraught or as being comfortably inclusive.

The divide between Islam and feminism caught my attention a few months back, when during a chance conversation with a journalist who was bullying me into ‘admitting’ that I am a feminist, I found myself hesitant in embracing the feminist tag. I have spent this time reading and having a conversation with myself on why, despite standing for everything that feminism entails, I still find myself distanced from the label. According to social media’s armchair feminists, I should be ashamed at my ignorant self because there is no need to be questioning the label. Also, as a practicing Muslim, I am made to feel that my values are somehow in conflict with Feminism.

In my previous piece, I wrote about the veil existing at least 2,000 years before Islam, yet the post-9/11 persecution of the Muslim identity has led to more women wearing the hijab and even the niqab. In the many layers surrounding the discussion of the veil, the exclusion of non-veiled Muslim women is problematic. Their stories and experiences are viewed separately; sometimes considered as more integrated into the Western societies and being a modern representation of an Islamic woman. It fails us because the hurdle towards accepting that the covering of the head does not veil a woman’s ambitions and intellect is still not overcome. In the convergence of gender and religion, there is a bullying or ‘peer-pressuring’ being made to choose between one identity over the other. Personally, both are important and I see no clash in their coexistence.

Certainly, religion isn’t a woman’s best friend owing to its male architects and storytellers, but there is a place for change and resistance. Women in Islam and other religions have continuously resisted, fought, changed and reclaimed their identities and are still continuing to do so. It is a work in progress. Feminism itself has come in waves and viewing it as a monolith robs us of the nuances and the space to accept that women in different parts of the world can have different struggles and awakenings which are not necessarily synchronized.

I am mildly surprised at the liberty some feminists take in declaring me as an outcast. Who defines the boundaries of the movement, the discussions, and the rules on who is/isn’t a feminist? Is it possible for women to not be feminists?

The tag, to me, is redundant. But I am sure that it has many uses; most specifically, to encourage discussions. These tensions are evident in the groups who claim that feminism is a Western construct, hence incompatible with Islam. Another claims that Islam is oppressive for women, hence incompatible with modernity. Both present a narrow-minded understanding of each other. The concept of equality and respect of the sexes is not a radical Western concept, and the idea of religion and its individual diverse practice is not a threat to women’s rights. We see that in the many examples of powerful women in history and in our lives who, without wearing labels, lent us their spirits.

Having said that, I accept that the balancing of feminism with any religion, not just Islam, is complex. We need to move beyond the binaries of honour/shame and pious/promiscuous in defining moral perimeters of being a woman. Despite the lower status granted to their histories, there are many women in our books and around us whose nuances we need to explore—who they are in between these odes to piety. This is a personal quest to discover the missing stories of the giants on whose shoulders we stand.

I am open to changing my mind about the feminist tag, but instead of detaching ourselves because of this blind spot in feminist discussions, it is meaningful to have conversations and open our minds to challenging perspectives. If I have to choose between my identities as a woman and a Muslim, I choose not to be part of your restrictive society.

Lost Heritage is Lost Treasure

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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The UAE is home to many expats who have lived here for many years. Unfortunately, countless of them left the country without documenting their stories and their perspective of the country’s development.

Artwork by Amna Al Saleh (@Tepingi)

Artwork by Amna Al Saleh (@Tepingi)

It has been a year now, since I started writing for Sail Magazine. It has been a challenging yet wonderful experience, especially that this is my first attempt to publish articles. Honestly speaking, I didn’t think that one day I would have my pieces published as I have always thought that they are more personal recounts. Therefore, I feel so grateful to have the opportunity provided to me. Let me explain in more detail.

My first article was about an old grocery store in Dubai and its owner Mohammed Mohideen. That grocery store was not like any other store you would find in Dubai these days. It was small in size and the shop’s entrance was covered with old ads. The store signage was so old to the point that you could barely make out the name of the store itself. Inside, the merchandise were stocked without a proper order and the only way to find what you want was by asking the store owner.

When I saw Mohideen’s store, I was so happy to know that he survived the competition with large hypermarkets across the city. I even took my 8 years old son, Mohammed, to see the store as it was a real example of what I have been telling him about old Dubai or as Mohideen described it: “My store is like a museum”.

During the national day celebrations, I went to see the old grocery store. Knowing Mohideen had a lot of respect for the UAE and its people, I was pretty sure that he would be prepared for the National Day celebrations. This is why I wanted to go there and take some pictures of the store to post on Instagram. I wanted people around the world to know that not only UAE nationals celebrated the 44th national day, but also expats living on this land share the same happiness.

Unfortunately, my eagerness and excitement vanished when I reached the location and couldn’t find Mohideen’s store. At first I thought I was in the wrong place, but after looking around me, I realized that was not the case. It was not only his store that was demolished; the tailor and the restaurant that had been in the area for more than 35 years were also gone. Yes, I was aware of the major development plans that were in the pipelines for the area, but I didn’t expect that his store would be affected. I wish I paid attention to his words when he expressed his worry that he might be forced to leave.

Mohideen the grocery owner, Babu the restaurant owner, Mohammed the tailor – they may be ordinary people but they had lived in the UAE for a long time, and had seen how the country has evolved since the formation in 1971. Each one of them had a story to tell, but none of them had the chance to spread it. With their departure, we have lost great treasures.

Is There A Graffiti Movement In The UAE?

Latifa Al Azdi (@Latifazdi )

Latifa Al Azdi (@Latifazdi )

Latifa holds a BA in PR and Advertising from Zayed University and an MA in Tourism from King’s College London. She enjoys all forms of art, reading and running towards a half marathon. Through her column “The Art of Observation” she shares her experiences of art events, exhibitions and talks.
Latifa Al Azdi (@Latifazdi )

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Looking into Grafitti art, what it means and how it is currently practiced in the UAE to determine whether there is an actual graffiti movement.

Graffiti artwork by Elseed in Sharjah's Bank street, the artwork was coordinated by Shurooq Investments & Maraya Center. Picture by John Falchetto in

Graffiti artwork by Elseed in Sharjah’s Bank street, the artwork was coordinated by Shurooq Investments & Maraya Center. Picture by John Falchetto in

Just like any other term, “graffiti” can be perceived in several ways. Some might see it as an impressive form of art while others might see it as a practice of vandalism. However, there is much more about graffiti than what initially catches the eye.

The main divide in the graffiti world is that some believe graffiti is meaningless while others believe it is a way of expression. I believe that there is always an impulse behind grafitti being seen in public, whether it was meaningful or not. If we looked at some of the world’s most recognized graffiti artists like Banksy and Keith Haring, we realize that there is always a message that they wanted to deliver through their art. This brings me to the UAE and how I believe that the scribbles we see whether a family name, a particular sports team or even curse words, are all there for the public to see because of a certain urge.

Now I am not saying all the writings or drawings we see around convey a certain message but they all are expressive. However, it is publicly known that grafitti is illegal in the UAE. Grafitti vandals, as mostly referred to by the local media, can face up to one year in prison and can be fined up to AED 10,000 in Abu Dhabi, AED 500 to AED 1,000 in Dubai, and AED 1,000 in Sharjah. The law of banning grafitti is mainly aimed towards paintings and writings that deface buildings and do not beautify the city in any sense. However, the current law also includes any type of public grafitti, even the ones executed by artists if done without permits.

I suppose the reason we are not witnessing any noticeable rise in grafitti artists is the common knowledge that public grafitti is banned in all its types. An example of one grafitti artist who managed to grab the attention of Dubai residents is known as Arcadia Blank. Him being a resident of Dubai, Arcadia Blank understood the culture and the rules of the city. As a result, he decided to express himself through spraying phrases on temporary construction elements. His phrases shortly became popular among Dubai residents and visitors as they all seemed relevant and fitting to the surrounding environment. He was able to spray a good number of phrases around Dubai by avoiding private properties and being extra cautious not to be caught.

Even though public graffiti is banned in the UAE, it is still allowed under certain circumstances. Most common condition is designated public spaces in which Grafitti artists are brought to work together. An example of this being done is during the 43rd UAE national day celebrations where the world’s longest grafitti scroll was created by more than 150 artists from around the world. Another example would be when art foundations commission grafitti artists to work on a piece displayed in public after getting the necessary approvals. Grafitti in the UAE is also supported through live grafitti in which artists execute a piece in front of an audience and this usually takes place during events. Now back to my title question, would you say graffiti as it is globally known is picking up in the UAE the way it should be or not? I personally think that there should be some sort of public distinguishment between public graffiti as a form of art and public vandalism. The cross cultural environment of the UAE and the magnificent change it went through during the years, reassures me that graffiti art will eventually pick up. Once graffiti is recognised and encouraged by the related authorities, we will hopefully start witnessing the beginning of a locally-rooted graffiti movement in the UAE.

New Year, I Come Unprepared

Shamma Aldabal (@ShammaMD)

Shamma Aldabal (@ShammaMD)

Column: 12 Lessons
Shamma holds a Masters Degree in Human Rights and a BA in International Affairs. She currently works as an instructor at Zayed University. Having volunteered with people with disability for more than 10 years, she devotes her career and free time to work closely with vulnerable groups to create a visible impact in society. Having interests in philosophy, human psyche, sociology, and literature her column “12 Lessons” will focus on issues that we face as a part of the trial and error process that is life.
Shamma Aldabal (@ShammaMD)

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The author writes about the importance of accepting the future’s uncertainties, and not focusing too much on new resolutions every year.

Artwork by Dana AlAttar (twitter: @DanaAlAttar, instagram: @madewithlove.dxb)

Artwork by Dana AlAttar (twitter: @DanaAlAttar, instagram: @madewithlove.dxb)

As people anticipate greeting the new year with new resolutions, dreams, and lists, I do no such preparations. If there is one thing I’ve learned in 2015, it is that it’s better not to plan. That being said, I would need to change a core characteristic of mine. Generally I’m an anxious planner, I need to know what I will be doing not only with my day but also with my life. Scheming the years ahead like a deity, making sure that what I plan will happen. I don’t know if that makes me neurotic, but I came to realize that it’s because I’m scared. The future scares me, because I can’t fathom the fact that there is something in my life I can’t control. I don’t know if any of you can relate to this or have ever been in this situation, all I can say is: it’s draining.

The moment of now is the present and any moment after now is a future. So, since every day, every hour, and every minute holds a future, I am anxious on a daily basis. I kept thinking of different ways to get rid of this feeling. I practiced my hobbies, I regularly went to the gym, I read, I put all my effort and time at work, and everything seemed to work, for a while. It is when I found that leeway of time that my mind wandered off a thousand light years away. So the solution was not to keep myself busy.

“Allah knows, and you do not” – (Quran 216:2)

I came across this quranic verse one day and it struck me like a lightening bolt. As obvious as this may sound, I personally tend to forget that things are out of our hands. Sometimes we need to have the patience and let the universe take its course. That was the solution, the realization that my obsessive thinking won’t make life go in the course I want it to. I realized that if I just let go and truly believe that life will happen the way it’s predestined to, I will then be more at ease. As we truly do not know what lies ahead so why waste so much time thinking of it?

“O you who believe, Endure and be more patient.” (Quran 200:3)

So I’m not putting any resolutions, expectations, and I’m not anticipating any probabilities. I need to be comfortable enough to let go of things that are beyond my control. I will meet this year with one thing, and that is patience. So world, show me what you have in store.

A Tribute to Alan Rickman

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: 3 minutes

The author pays a tribute to legendary British actor Alan Rickman who passed away due to cancer.

The first words Professor Snape directed to Harry Potter were “Potter! What would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?” Being a potions master, that seems like a perfectly normal question a teacher would ask his students. However, JK Rowling revealed that according to Victorian Flower Language, asphodel is a type of lily that means ‘My regrets follow you to the grave’, and wormwood means ‘absence’ symbolizing bitter sorrow. In reality, Professor Snape meant to tell Potter, ‘I bitterly regret Lily’s death’. Lily was Harry Potter’s mother.

Alan Rickman, mostly known for his wonderful portrayal of Professor Snape in the Harry Potter movies, passed away at the age of 69 in a battle against cancer. The news struck all, whether we were diehard fans, or simply people who grew up watching the movies.

What’s upsetting me the most is that people keep on expressing their condolences and stating that Rickman has lost the battle. They seem to dismiss his powerfully patient attitude towards his disease. In my opinion, Rickman didn’t lose the battle, he won the war. He put up a fight, and is finally at peace.

Focusing on his career as an actor, he doesn’t get enough credit for how incredible he truly is. People often tend to confuse an actor, and the character he’s playing. What made Rickman an icon was his ability to make an audience hate him for years on end, only to fall in love with him in the final movie.

Rickman’s ability to portray such a tortured soul so realistically captivated our souls. He was viewed as everyone’s least favorite character for the first 7 movies of Harry Potter, only to become our favorite character due to a scene that took less than ten minutes in the 8th movie. He was truly gifted with the talent of conveying the depths of a character.

He had the ability of making every line he delivered memorable; to the extent where he turned short phrases such as “Turn to page 394” and “Always” into important phrases in Harry Potter history.

Moreover, behind the scenes, Rickman was known to have a kind soul. He was a guiding force to any new actor and actress who got the privilege to work with him. He was very loving, and free spirited according to multiple of his co-stars.

His death weights heavily on my heart, because I grew up watching him on that big screen. It is insane to realize how little that screen was in his presence. He was a marvelous actor who dedicated his life to his craft.

So tonight, we raise our wands to the legendary Alan Rickman. You are our perfect Snape, “Always”.

AUSMUN: Developing the Discourse and Neogotiation Skills of the Youth (@AUS_ModelUN)

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This article discusses the aims behind the AUSMUN conference, the benefits to delegates and to future generations as a whole.



Each year, dedicated students and faculty members from the American University of Sharjah (AUS) prepare for one of the most prominent conferences at AUS: AUSMUN (AUS Model United Nations).

The main aim behind the annual conference traces back to the United Nations, an organisation that emerged out of a world of turmoil after the Second World War, as the world condemned the atrocities and called for greater peace and co-operation. The UN emerged as a platform that aims at uniting the whole world for peace.

Those in the organizing team at AUSMUN aim to create a platform for student delegates to meet, discuss and negotiate real topics in various committees. This will not only widen their knowledge about world politics and international economics, but also embed in their minds important concepts such as peace, cooperation and most importantly, the concept of fruitful dialogue.

Dialogue, as a norm, needs to be constructed at a young age so it becomes the next generation’s weapon to end the endless tensions and turmoil. AUSMUN aims to establish and strengthen this norm, as we believe that delegates participating in such conferences are the next wave of business and political leaders.

The world is facing new challenges every day, from environmental problems such as global warming and water shortage, to the recent threats of global terrorism. Through our selection of topics assigned per committee, we encourage our delegates to research, think critically, and stay objective in a formal UN-model setting.

The world needs new leaders with fresh perspectives who seek to find opportunity in each conflict; leaders who seek the common good and not their self-interest solely, and AUSMUN grants this through its annual conference.

As board members of AUSMUN, we have a vision of encouraging delegates to take the lead and adopt the positions of countries that they may not personally agree with. This teaches them about the neutrality and diplomacy needed for their future careers, and gives them the opportunity to know the opinion of the other.

Another latent benefit from AUSMUN that I personally gained as a delegate 3 years ago is the public speaking skill and the exposure that the conference gives to its delegates. At some point as a delegate or a moderator, you will have to talk and express your position in front of your audience. This gave me and my fellow delegates a boost in our confidence that helped us later on in various public speaking and debating opportunities.

AUSMUN is not just an annual three-day conference. It’s a concise boot camp that helps its participants acquire knowledge about various topics such as politics, economics, trade, and border issues. It also helps its participants in boosting their self-esteem and their confidence as they start representing their assigned countries and defend them.

AUSMUN is a unique experience that we as AUSMUN board members urge all high school and university students to participate in, to take a step in enriching our minds so that together, we can make a difference.

Written by Merna Elmedany, International Studies student at the American University of Sharjah.

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