How Disney Projects Orientalism Through Their Movies

Mariam Khalifa (@thesleepwriter)

Mariam Khalifa is a senior student at Zayed Univeristy, majoring in International Studies, and specializing in Culture and Society. Her hobbies include writing short stories, poems, and photography. She is interested in all topics relating to culture, society, art, and lifestyle.

Latest posts by Mariam Khalifa (@thesleepwriter) (see all)

Reading Time: 4 minutes

What are the aspects of Orientalism that are found in Disney’s movies like Aladdin (1992) and Mulan (1998), and what is the importance of cultural relativism?

Artwork by Hamda AlMansoori (instagram: @Planet64, twitter: @planetsixtyfour)

Artwork by Hamda AlMansoori (instagram: @Planet64, twitter: @planetsixtyfour), disney pics from

Watching movies is a form of entertainment, but when you become more aware of certain topics, you inevitably find yourself reading into more than what you see on the screen. Movies are cultural products, and therefore, they contain a culture’s perceptions, values, and beliefs. In this article, we will be looking at aspects of Orientalism found in Disney movies, specifically in Aladdin (1992) and Mulan (1998).

Orientalism can mean several meanings, but for the sake of this article, Orientalism will be defined as the representation of the East (Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa) in a stereotypical manner. This results in the exaggeration of the differences between the so-called “Orientals” and the Western societies, leading to a “self vs. other” mode of thought. The term Orientalism was given a new meaning by Edward Said in his book Orientalism (1978) and has become an important topic of discussion in academia since then.

Aladdin, an animation movie produced by Disney in 1992, is set in a mythical town called Agrabah, meaning scorpion in Arabic. In the movie’s original opening song “Arabian Nights”, Agrabah is described as a land “where they cut off your ear if they don’t like your face, it’s barbaric, but hey, it’s home.” These lyrics were later changed due to the outrage they caused since they were seen as racist by the audience. Despite the setting being mythical, there are Middle Eastern, Islamic, and Asian aspects mixed up within the movie. The king, Jasmine’s father, is at times called Sultan (Arabic) and at others Shah (Iranian). Aladdin wears a Fez (Turkish) and Jasmine wears Indian-style shoes. Belly dancers are seen dancing with red marks on their foreheads (Hindu) and terms like “Salam” and “Allah forbids” (Arabic/Islamic) are used. What a crazy and irrelevant mixture, don’t you agree?

Through these representations, Orientals are depicted as barbaric (Aladdin almost get’s his arm chopped off for stealing), sensual (belly dancers & revealing clothing), yet exotic and enticing. Interestingly, one can argue that the Genie’s character represents the West through his foreign jokes, impersonations of foreign characters e.g. A Frenchman or an American announcer. Genie makes fun of Aladdin but helps him, making Genie into the figure of a Western “rescuer”, where Western influence is seen as beneficial for the “barbaric” (Aladdin) from their strange and dangerous ways.

In Mulan, another animation movie produced by Disney in 1998, Mulan’s character can be interpreted as Western, she feels like she does not belong in the traditional Chinese society, which is shown through her decision to dress as a man and fight against the Huns instead of her aging father. As a man, everyone pays attention to Mulan, or Ping as she calls herself; she becomes a hero when she saves her fellow soldiers. But as a woman, no one pays much attention to her even when she tries to warn some men of the plan to attack the emperor, no one listens to her, because as Mushu (her friend?) tells her “you’re a girl again, remember?” In this manner, gender roles in Asia are made to seem wrong instead of different, which is a recurring theme in the study of Orientalism.

Also, Mulan is shown wearing a Kimono in one of the scenes, which is Japanese and not Chinese. This could serve as a classic example of the Western generalizations of Asian cultures. The scene of the dead ancestors may also show elements of Western disregard of Eastern cultures, since the veneration of ancestors is a crucial part of Chinese culture, but Disney showed it as a strange and mystical way.

I am not trying to state that Disney is evil for making such movies, however, what I want to bring to your attention is that it is important to be culturally relative and not be ethnocentric. When you are ethnocentric, you see other cultures and people using your own cultural framework. This distorts your perception of other cultures and may cause you to misunderstand or to disrespect cultures that are different from your own. Therefore, movies are for entertainment, but they are also educational, they shape our perception of people, places, and events. Think of all those children who watched Aladdin or Mulan repeatedly through their childhood, what perceptions will be engrained in their minds?

Lieutenant General Khamis Mattar Al Mazeina Passes Away

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: 1 minute


Today, the UAE has lost one of its most loyal men in public service. Khamis Mattar Al Mazeina was The Dubai Police Lieutenant General Commander in Chief, with a tenure in Dubai police for 33 years.

Major highlights in his Dubai Police tenure:

  • He joined the force in 1983
  • Appointed as a narcotics officer in 1993
  • In 1997, he was appointed as the director of criminal investigations
  • A director general of criminal investigations in 2004
  • The deputy commander in chief  of Dubai Police in 2008
  • Commander in chief of Dubai Police in 2013
  • Finally, he was given the title Lieutenant General Khamis Mattar Al Mazeina by the year 2016.

Lt Gen AlMezeina was known for his integrity and commitment to his role and his country, he was also a loving father to his family, and the whole community looked up to him as a role model to aspire to.

May God grant his family the endurance and patience for their sudden loss and grief.

Careful! You’re Being Cultivated by TV!

Shof Elmoisheer (Instagram: @Bookish2525)

Shof Elmoisheer (Instagram: @Bookish2525)

Shof holds a Master’s degree in Marketing and a Bachelor in English literature. Avid reader of classic literature, her preferred type of fiction, along with psychology and marketing. Skilled at drawing, created a comic book, not yet published. Dedicated her Instagram feed to bookish recommendations. Fond of language learning, taught herself Japanese. In her column Thoughts of a Reader she reviews books, writes short stories, and talks Marketing.
Shof Elmoisheer (Instagram: @Bookish2525)

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Reading Time: 4 minutes

What is the cultivation theory and how does it relate to advertising?

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

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

The Cultivation Theory attributes misconceptions about social reality to the potential heavy viewing of television. The chance of that negative effect increases especially when the regular TV viewer does not have much experience in the outside world. A comparison analysis has been conducted on regular viewers and occasional viewers, and the findings conclude that regular TV viewers see the world as a cruel and unsafe place.

Regular TV viewers overestimate the occurrences of serious crimes and are more fearful of the outside world than occasional viewers. The events you see in movies and TV shows can subconsciously plant exaggerated facts about the world, such as the victimization of women. The cultivation is not limited to violence and cruelty, but also includes gender roles, political attitudes, age groups, and ethnic groups. Attitudes and values of regular viewers are altered subconsciously, as most of them are unaware of the influence. The theory was developed in the mid- 1960s by George Garbner, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

How the theory relates to advertising

The cultivation effect of TV is not limited to exposure of symbolism in movies and TV shows. TV commercials want their share of cultivation time as well. The mere exposure effect is a trick necessary to reach the desired outcome by all commercials, wanting the product. It is perfectly summed up in this quote, “The more you see it the more you like it” (Benson, Nigel, 2012). As it has been proven that the more we’re exposed to a product, the more familiar it is to us; this familiarity increases with the constant exposure, which over time develops a sense of trust. When something triggers that cultivated response, the viewer recalls the advertisement he/she is most exposed to. For example, when in a detergents aisle in a supermarket, one is bombarded with many unfamiliar brands, when he/she spots the cultivated brand, it is highly likely to trigger the familiar feeling of trust and thus be chosen.

The strongest and weakest parts of the theory

The strongest part of cultivation theory is that it happens subconsciously and over time. Viewers whose intention of watching television is to pass the time, tend to be more influenced. Unaware of the cultivation, they watch too immersed to notice the messages they are being exposed to. Another substantial part of the theory is that discusses the influence being enforced by “resonance” effect. This happens when the regular viewer is living in circumstances that verify the misconceptions depicted on television. The real life experience he/she goes through in witnessing an act of violence against a woman in a violent neighborhood will reinforce the misconception of women being victimized. (Daniel Chandler, 1995)

The weakest parts of the theory are that it does not discuss how misconceptions can be due to any other factor in a person’s life. Cultivation theory is limited to the long term effects of watching TV. An individual who doesn’t watch TV at all can still have false impressions. These impressions can be a result of exposure to other media, or cultural values, or from a person’s life experiences. Also, measuring cultivation effect on the extent of viewing alone is not a credible determinant. Factors such as the type of content should be put into consideration. (Daniel Chandler,1995)

I didn’t write this piece to say don’t watch TV, or it’s a commercial, quick look away! Simply, being aware of the effect and rethinking your TV watching habits can reduce the chances of you falling victim to it. So, next time you’re at a supermarket pushing your full cart, take another look at it. Do you really need these or are you simply cultivated?


  • Benson, Nigel. “The More You See It the More You like It.” The Psychology Book. New York: DK Pub., 2012. 230-35. Print.
  • Daniel Chandler. “Cultivation Theory” Np., 18 Sep 1995.

Why Do Writers Write? Reflections from International Authors

Mariam Khalifa (@thesleepwriter)

Mariam Khalifa is a senior student at Zayed Univeristy, majoring in International Studies, and specializing in Culture and Society. Her hobbies include writing short stories, poems, and photography. She is interested in all topics relating to culture, society, art, and lifestyle.

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Reading Time: 4 minutes

Why do writers write? and Who do they want to reach through their writings? Reflecting on a SIBF2016 Literature Forum discussion.


During this year’s Sharjah International Book Fair, I attended a panel discussion revolving around the question: “What do I want to reach from being a writer?” Mohammed Wald Salim moderated the session, and it included three authors: Dr. Saleh Abou Esbaa, Maryam Al-Ghafly, and Sister Souljah. I must say that personally, I didn’t feel it’s the best discussion session that I have attended, but this session was important to the writer in me. It made me reflect on the reasons why I love writing and where writing may take me.

“Why do writers write?”, “Who do they write for?, “Do they write to bring about change?” These were some of the questions asked during the session. Writing is a form of expression, it’s an art, and it can be a tool for change, and the list goes on.

Maryam Al-Ghafly, author of the Emirati novel “The Well of Bakhita” expressed that in her younger years, she used to write for herself only, but then her talent was discovered, and she started writing for the Emirati people, the UAE, and the future generations. Through her writings, she aims to preserve an essence of the past and the lives of the past generations for the future generations. She is also interested in the protection of the natural environment, and has incorporated her love for nature through the descriptions of nature in her novels. This shows that writing is a reflection of the author’s beliefs and values.

For Dr. Saleh Abou Esbaa, writing is a struggle, but a positive one. It is also a responsibility; the writer has a responsibility to express the reality of the society that he is living in, to write about dreams shared by the Arab nation, and to influence society to change for the better. As a Palestinian, Dr. Saleh feels very strongly about the Palestinian cause, and he incorporates the reality of Palestinian people through his literary work. For him, he writes because he has something to say, something to add to society. This suggests that writing is a tool, and that it has the power to influence change within the minds of people, which is eventually reflected within the society.

Sister Souljah, an American writer, mentioned that she writes from her soul and that writing from the soul is the most dominant form of writing. To her, a writer is like a chef, they need to select the right ingredients and use them to make a good meal, too much of one ingredient can ruin the whole meal, that is why she believes that writing has to appeal to readers by being multidimensional. This is through making the writing emotional, passionate, spiritual and so on. She believes that writers need to meet the readers where they are, so that the readers can feel a connection to what they read. The most important thing is for the reader to be able to find jewels within the pieces of writing they read, life lessons and realizations that would impact them in many ways.

Each writer seems to be writing for a different reason, and I believe that there is nothing wrong with writing for oneself. Writing helps one express the thoughts that cloud his/her mind and to express things that they may be unable to express using other forms of communication. Also, it gives the writer a platform to share ideas and their perspective on certain topics, which helps the reader in broadening their view of the world. It is a beautiful gift to be able to write, and the things we write may last beyond our lifetime and leave a positive impact on many people’s lives.

Book Review: The Girl On The Train

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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Reading Time: 3 minutes

Reviewing Paula Hawkins’s book: The Girl On The Train, a thriller told through the eyes of three different women. What is it about, and how does it all connect to each other.


In 2015, The Girl On The Train came out of nowhere to become a bestseller with a film version that is being played in theaters today. When I first picked this book up all I knew about it was the title and nothing else in terms of the storyline. This novel is cleverly written, moving from one unreliable character to another, splitting the narrative between three women.

Meet Rachel, the protagonist and a flawed alcoholic who is a shadow of her old self. Rachel observes the world around her as she travels by train everyday creating her own world within it. Anna, the newer wife of a man called Tom, who chose her over Rachel, is the second woman. And finally Megan, a beautiful woman who lives in the house Rachel used to live in and focuses on her travels by train.

The protagonist created by Paula Hawkins is flawed in every way. She’s not only an alcoholic, but she also suffers from blackouts and is an overweight unattractive woman. Hawkins has succeeded in vividly depicting the image and personality of Rachel, making the reader wonder whether she deserves to be liked and sympathized with or not.

As the story develops and significant events take place, Rachel seems to become more irrational and instead of staying away, she decides to become an integral part of the narrative. Questions surrounding the mysterious events are answered gradually as the storyline unfolds through Rachel’s unconventional ways of getting involved, as she battles her alcohol addiction and memory lapses.

The plot is cleverly written in that it is told through three characters, so it is presented in three different ways. The story as a series of alternating points of views can be tricky and gimmicky. Hawkins, however, was able to pull off the technique while giving little information in every chapter as the storyline unfolds little by little. The writing style is cinematic and vivid. The ending plays like a movie scene with perhaps too much melodrama, but this can be forgiven as the events leading to the ending are perfectly written.

What makes this novel an intriguing piece is the writer’s presentation of the limits of human imagination and knowledge, showing this through the eyes of Rachel and in how she builds a whole world around two people she sees through the window of the train. It also succeeds in gripping the readers because of this same unusual, imperfect and flawed protagonist.

The themes of this book are dark and unreliable, just like the main character. Infidelity, murder, and darkness are the most obvious themes. The novel is a fast-paced psychological thriller that can easily keep its reader glued to its pages due to the twisted artful storytelling ways of Paula Hawkins. To those who have read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, this novel is the more polished and toned out sister. It is true that it is not as dark as Gone Girl, but it is part of the same genre and doesn’t seem to disappoint! This is a definitely recommended book for those who love mystery and thrillers. A must read!

How My Panic Attacks Started, And 5 Tips To Manage Them

Mariam Khalifa (@thesleepwriter)

Mariam Khalifa is a senior student at Zayed Univeristy, majoring in International Studies, and specializing in Culture and Society. Her hobbies include writing short stories, poems, and photography. She is interested in all topics relating to culture, society, art, and lifestyle.

Latest posts by Mariam Khalifa (@thesleepwriter) (see all)

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Having a panic attack is a scary experience, and it is the result of the accumulation of anxiety and stress. Here are 5 tips that could help you manage them.

Artwork by Hamda AlMansoori (instagram: @Planet64)

Artwork by Hamda AlMansoori (instagram: @Planet64)

I was on a flight back to Dubai when I suddenly felt dizzy and out of breath. “I can’t breathe,” I told my brother who was sitting next to me; he looked at me with a confused look and went back to watching a movie. I don’t blame him; even I was confused about what was happening to me. After talking to a flight attendant she suggested to give me some oxygen. Negative thoughts were whirling in my head – was I dying? Was I ill? The oxygen mask wasn’t helping so I went back to my seat and tried to be relaxed for the rest of the flight.

Well, I came to understand that what I had experienced was a panic attack. And for me, it was only one of many to come. At the time, I was in my last year of school, and I was stressed because of my upcoming final exams. I continued to suffer from panic attacks during the rest of the school year and for some time during university. I realized that I had always been someone who was anxious about the future, and that anxiety is what brought on these panic attacks. So what exactly is a panic attack?

A panic attack “is a sudden episode of intense fear that triggers severe physical reactions when there is no real danger or apparent cause”, according to Mayo Clinic. When you have a panic attack you may feel the urge to escape the place or situation that you are in and this is called the “fight or flight” response, in which the brain gives the body a message that it is in danger and in need of protection.

So what are the symptoms of a panic attack? The symptoms are not the same for everyone but the most common symptoms are: a choking sensation, lack of breath or quick breathing, increasing heart rate, sweating, trembling, and feeling nauseous or faint. You may also feel a strong feeling of dread or that you are losing control or dying.

As you can imagine, having a panic attack is a scary experience. Many people who experience panic attacks may think that they are having a heart attack or that they are physically ill. Someone who lives in the fear of having recurring panic attacks may develop a panic disorder, which may require medical attention depending on its severity.

Panic attacks do not happen to everyone but for those who experience it regularly, it may impact their ability to lead a normal life. I am not an expert on anxiety disorders but I would like to share with you my personal tips on how to deal with anxiety in order to prevent panic attacks, especially since we all deal with stress in life whether from work, studying, or even family.

  1. Cut off or limit your contact with any negative people or things in your life. You may not even realize how much impact negativity can have on your life until you shut it out and focus on being positive.
  2. Find a source of happiness or positivity in your life; it may be a person that makes you happy, a pet, a place, a hobby, or even your religion. Once you find that source, you need to invest some of your time in maintaining this source.
  3. Be active for at least 30 minutes a day. You could take a walk, do a workout, or you can try doing yoga, which will help you relax. When your body is healthy, your mind will become healthy too. Also, limit your caffeine intake; it may be making you more anxious.
  4. Keep a journal or talk to someone who you trust about what makes you feel anxious. Letting things out will help you feel better and less anxious.
  5. You may want to see a therapist if all else fails or if anxiety is taking over your life. But remember to have faith in yourself and in God, because you will get through this.

“The True Cost” of Fast Fashion

Mariam Al Hosani (@mariamralhosani)

Mariam Al Hosani (@mariamralhosani)

An inquisitive soul, Mariam has always been fascinated by human beings. With a Bachelor degree in International studies with a specialization in International Affairs, she learned that for there to be order in the world humans need to be reminded of their humanity. In her column “Back to Humanity” Mariam sheds a light on topics she believes we all need to reflect on every once in a while.
Mariam Al Hosani (@mariamralhosani)

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Have you ever wondered how we can get good quality clothes at such a low price? Have you ever thought of the people that make these clothes? Find out what the “True Cost” of the clothes we all wear and love is.

From the official website of the movie: The True Cost

From the official website of the movie: The True Cost

Have you ever had that feeling before an important day, event or gathering after going through your packed closet, that you have nothing to wear? While in the process of deciding you have nothing to wear you have trashed your room with countless shirts, pants, or dresses. Nothing seems to be what you are looking for and you decide you need more clothes. Next thing you know, you are walking down the mall or shopping online for a new piece of clothing that you will probably only wear for that one social gathering and then add on to the pile of clothes you never feel like wearing.

It’s easy, accessible, and not too expensive to update your wardrobe, so it might seem simple for you to throw out or donate clothes in perfectly good condition and buy something new. Yet the question we should all be asking ourselves in moments like these is: what are the consequences of having clothes accessible to us at such low prices? Has fast fashion blinded us from the reality of what it takes for us to have what we have? These are the questions Andrew Morgan set out to answer in his powerful documentary, The True Cost.

The Fashion industry has grown exponentially in the past 50-60 years becoming one of the most prominent and influential industries. In the early years, fashion brands only released new collections with limited pieces every season, allowing for slow, high quality production. But today’s fashion industry stocks new outfits and pieces every week, paving the way for fast fashion. Fast fashion was created by fashion corporations to provide fast and constant income, allowing big companies to sell their products at low costs. Yet, with this growth and success comes heartache, pain and death, not usually the first three things that come to your mind when you think of fashion, which is precisely why The True Cost is such an important documentary.

The True Cost, is a heart-wrenching, eye-opening documentary on the real cost of accessible low-cost fashion. Big companies like H&M, Forever21 and Zara bombard us with advertisements that manipulate us into craving that new white jacket, those new black heels, that seem affordable to the average middle-class consumer. Yet the means and methods used by these corporations to provide low cost, good quality clothing comes at a very high price for the 40 million women and men that slave away in the factories of developing countries.

Shima Akhter is a young Bangladeshi woman who works in a garment factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh. She is the mother of a sweet little girl that lives far away in Shima’s home village being raised by her family. It breaks her heart to be away from her daughter, she cries when she talks about her, but she has to do this to be able to provide her with an education so she doesn’t end up like Shima. Shima is paid 11 Dhs a day, roughly 300 Dhs a month. When Shima created a women’s union at her factory to demand higher wages, her union was forced into a room, assaulted with chairs, punched and kicked by 30 men. Shima never asked for a raise again. Her only request now, from the people that watch the documentary is one thing “I want people to know that the clothes they are wearing, are not just made cheaply, they are made with our blood”.

On 24 April 2013 a seven-story garment factory collapsed in Rana Plaza, Dhaka, Bangladesh. More than one thousand people were killed that day and more than two thousand were severely injured. People were heard screaming from underneath the rubble for days. To avoid any disruption in the production and the revenue, the building, even though notably unsafe, was never shut down. Lives were lost, people died, because they were sitting in front of sewing machines creating shirts we would have probably worn once.

We are all addicts. Addicted to consumerism, blinded by the need to obtain the latest phones, laptops, shoes, dresses, makeup. We are constantly spending our money on things we don’t need; making rich companies richer and ourselves poorer. It is a vicious cycle, that goes on continuously. We need consumerism for our economies, to sustain our way of life, but has our need for materialism stripped away our humanity? Are we so dead inside that we would turn a blind eye on the injustice another human being is suffering, the threat of losing their lives, to have things we rarely even need?

I would like to think not; I would like to have more faith in humanity and there are those that are trying. The World Fair Trade Organization are doing everything in their power to ensure justice is applied in production factories. The company People Tree have dedicated their efforts to providing good quality clothing made in safe and productive environments, providing third world countries with jobs but not stripping away their dignity. The Director of The True Cost, is trying through the film to shed a light on this dilemma, to make people more aware of factory conditions and hopefully force consumers to realize their role in all this.

Watch this documentary. If it makes you feel the way it made me feel at the end of it, hopefully, you will begin to consider every purchase you make from now on and think about the honorable people that are sacrificing so much to make these items.

Documentary Trailer:

Why This Film? Message from the Director:


  • Firth, L. (2016, August 23). Why you’re right to feel guilty about your love of cheap clothes. Retrieved from World Economic Forum :
  • Hargreaves, S. (2015, May 22). Your Clothes Are Killing Us. Retrieved from CNN Money:
  • Minow, N. (2015, May 22). The True Cost of Fashion: Andrew Morgan on His New Documentary. Retrieved from The Huffington Post :
  • People Tree. (2016). Our Story. Retrieved from People Tree:
  • The True Cost Movie . (2015). About the film. Retrieved from The True Cost Movie :

#SailBookRecommendations Campaign, Find Your Next Read – Finale

Reading Time: 6 minutes

As we mentioned in the last few weeks, and as part of our continuous pursuit at Sail to encourage and endear reading to our social media followers, we’ve launched a campaign the month of October under the social media hashtag: #SailBookRecommendations. In this hashtag, we curated a daily book recommendation from our team members and from our followers, those book recommendations are short and brief to entice people’s curiosity, and we are tapping in all genres to appeal to all our followers and readers. The campaign is hosted on our Instagram: @SailPublishing and on our facebook: Sail eMagazine.

Below are our last book recommendations in our October campaign:


Book title: Just My Type
Author: Simone Garfield
Genre: Nonfiction / design – typography

What is the story behind the iconic UNDERGROUND in London? What makes Comic Sans the most hated typeface, and why do people still use it today? What was it about IKEA’s choice to change their logo typeface that frustrated their customers? Why is Helvetica the typeface of New York’s Subway, and what makes the road signs in the United Kingdom so great? How do type design choices made decades and centuries ago still influence our day to day life today? By now I’ve used the word typeface multiple times, but what are typefaces anyways, and how do they differ from fonts?

All these questions are answered in Garfield’s Just My Type in the form anecdotes. This book may forever change the way you view type whether it is in a book, a TV commercial, a web page, on a billboard or a street sign.

Reviewed by Hayat AlHassan


Book Title: Of Mice and Men
Author: John Steinbeck
Genre: Literary fiction/American literature/Modern classic

Of Mice and Men is one of the popular titles in American literature for good reason. This story follows George and Lennie, two friends, who are looking for meaning in their life. They want their lives to improve, to find a job that pays well and to find stability.

What is really interesting about this book is the character dynamics between George and Lennie. Lennie is a mentally unstable person and George is his caretaker. George is always trying to abstain Lennie away from harmful people or environments. On the contrast, Lennie, being a simple-minded human being, always looks for solitude in himself, in petting animals, and oftentimes in George. Steinbeck has masterfully created a complex set of characters.

Of Mice and Men is a story of finding meaning in the environment and in being yourself. It is about the fragmented mindsets and it is about destiny. It is about so many many things, which creates a sense of timelessness around it.

Reviewed by our Adeeb Nami


Book Title: Big Magic – Creative Living Beyond Fear
Author: Elizabeth Gilbert
Genre: Self Development

Elizabeth Gilbert is the author of the international bestseller Eat, Pray, Love. In her new book, Gilbert takes readers on a journey into her own creative process and sheds light on the inspirational process and very nature of creativity as well as the courage needed to pursue our dreams whatever they might be. She explores the stages one goes through, overcoming fear as well as the unsolicited advice from people along the journey and the divinity in the entire process. Gilbert offers good advice, self-awareness in a charming, intelligent and articulate way that leaves the reader feeling like she’s their personal life coach.

Reviewed by Sarah AlMarashi


Book title: A brief history of time
Author: Stephen Hawking
Genre: Nonfiction / Physics

In this book, Dr. Stephen Hawking explains many aspects of relativity theory and quantum mechanics. Moreover, an understanding of how a missing theory in the middle that balances the mathematics of both theories. Therefore, the book presents the theory of everything, which later is nominated to be the String Theory. Lastly, A brief history of time is a wonderful journey for people who are interested in theoretical physics; Also, a journey that would take you to the ends of our known universe.

Reviewed by Yaqoob Alshamsi


Book title: Revelation, the story of Muhammad (PBUH)
Author: Miraj Mohiuddin
Genre: Biography

I’ve read many biographies about the prophet, but nothing can come close to this one. A whole revolutionized and modernized approach to narrating the life the prophet, with plenty of supporting references, while still leaving room for the reader to deduct their own opinions in different matters.

What I liked about this book is the whole new understanding of the prophet in a humanized way that allows us to really relate to him as a person and as a journey, and to fall in love with everything he’s done for us.

I think it’s perfect for both Muslims and the curious non-Muslims as it presents what the contemporary mind is searching for in a contemporary way.

Reviewed by Iman Ben Chaibah


Book title: Between the World and Me
Author: Ta-Nehisi Coates
Genre: Non-Fiction /African American literature

“Between the World and Me is a captivating and powerful series of letters written by reporter Ta-Nehisi Coates, describing in a harsh and raw manner, the struggle of the black people in America, the brutal reality many are forced to exist in and the systematic destruction of the bodies and spirits of African Americans.
It is a book that will resonate with you long after you have finished it because of the personal way Coates pours his soul into the book… “

To read the full review head over to @CitizensofWords blog on this link.

The Struggles and Accolades of Half Emiratis

Bahar Al Awadhi (@bahargpedram)

Bahar Al Awadhi (@bahargpedram)

Column Name: The Words Within
Bahar is a recruiter by profession, an aspiring writer by night, and a mom of toddler twins. She has an unending thirst for learning, as she completed her BComm in Canada, an MA in Dubai, and continues to develop herself with reading and research.
With her column, she shares her journey as she grows and learns more about this crazy beautiful world we live in.
Bahar Al Awadhi (@bahargpedram)

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Reading Time: 5 minutes

Looking at the struggles that some half-Emiratis go through, and some of their success stories across the globe.

Artwork by Amna Al Saleh (@Tepingi)

Artwork by Amna Al Saleh (@Tepingi)

The UAE is a country known for its diversity and openness in welcoming people from all walks of life who have established themselves here and call this place home. As a result of this growth, UAE Nationals have become the minority, and this being a collective society, there is a strong focus on maintaining our cultural beliefs and preserving our heritage. UAE Nationals and expatriates have been able to co-exist peacefully with each group of nationality able to maintain their own identities and practices. However, one group that needs to be looked at is the half-Emiratis, many of whom feel like they do not truly belong and can be cast as misfits.

Although not much has been documented about the half-Emiratis, but in the last few years, we have been starting to hear their voices. This was also highlighted by filmmakers such as Aisha Al Hammadi and Amal Al Agroobi, who are both half-Emiratis and wanted to shed some light on how life is for them and other “halfies”. These films and various other articles reveal how there can sometimes be a stigma attached to being half-Emirati and how they struggle to fit in among those with full Emirati heritage.

While marriages to foreigners may have been rare in the past, the changing times reveal that this is now a lot more common. There is also the issue of whether the non-Emirati spouse is an Arab or not, as that can also influence the acceptance level of the immediate families and society as a whole. It may be easier to fit in if the other half is an Arab who follows similar traditions and uses the same language, as opposed to a different race where looks alone could make you stand out.

Regardless of the origins of the foreign spouse, mixed marriages are, unfortunately, still seen as an “issue” that needs to be dealt with when discussed in public forums, when in fact, this is a personal decision, with the individual having that right to choose. Those choosing to marry non-nationals should not be penalized or made to feel like an outcast.

Instead of discouraging mixed marriages, it should be lauded for the potential positivity that it can cultivate. Being in a mixed marriage or being a product of one can only mean that you have been exposed to other cultures. It can allow you to see the world through a different set of eyes, and be tolerant of others in this diverse world. This is becoming increasingly apparent as we find UAE Nationals blossoming in areas that were traditionally dominated by expatriates.

A look through the local newspapers report on Emirati ballerinas, rugby players, filmmakers, and opera singers, and when you look further, you see that many of them, if not all, are half Emiratis, and it is very likely that they are in these fields as a result of their mixed upbringing. The half-Emiratis may be bolder when venturing into new or unconventional roles because of the different views that their parents of a mixed culture would bring. They may also have less fear of judgment since they are already seen as different and have the experience of not being fully accepted in the Emirati circle.

While I do believe it is important to maintain our Emirati roots and pass these on to our children, this does not mean that a mixed marriage would come in the way of that. If anything, it can help impart some of our beliefs onto other cultures, and help us bridge the gaps between us. Some notable examples are Omar Saif Ghobash and Yousef Al Otaiba, both products of mixed marriages and UAE ambassadors to Russia and the United States, respectively. They are able to serve the UAE and also act as representatives of the Emirati culture and beliefs in their roles abroad.

Why is it that people generally look for differences between one another when there are so many similarities amongst us? We live in a tumultuous world, where people fight over race and religion, and we are blessed to be living in a country where we have peace, so why not continue to shine as a beacon of hope and tolerance in these dark times?

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