New Year’s Resolution Or Theme Based Year, How Can You Plan Your Coming Year?

Hamda Yaser Al Awadhi

Hamda is a nineteen years old Emirati and a third-year international affairs student at Zayed University. Hamda’s interest in writing articles began when she lived and studied in France. The four years in France taught her to respect the diverse opinions surrounding her, yet to always acquire her own personal opinion. Hamda enjoys discovering different topics surrounding culture, history and world issues.
In her column “The Oblivion” she covers topics in world issues, theories and philosophical topics.

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Reading Time: 3 minutes

New Year’s resolution and theme based year are two different ways that individuals seek to plan out their goals for the coming year. What exactly do they mean and how can you choose what works for you?

Picture by Hayat Al Hassan (@HayatAlH)

New Year’s resolution and theme based year are two ways that individuals use to plan out their goals for the coming year. New Year’s resolution includes specific goals set by individuals to achieve during the coming year. However, Theme oriented year is when an individual chooses one theme to concentrate on during the coming year. New Year’s resolution is a ritual that is very common in the West. However, it was originally practiced 4000 years ago by the Babylonians, who resided in modern day southern Iraq, as they made vows to the Gods on what they will do with their earnings and debts. On the other hand, theme oriented year is a recent approach that individuals use to avoid hard set inflexible goals.

New Year’s resolutions differ from one person to another, for example, a 19-year-old university student’s New Year’s resolution might include volunteering at least once a week, finishing assignments at least two days before the due date, exercise four times a week or sticking to a budget.

In some cases, some might move the previous year resolution to the list for the coming year as they have failed to complete it. According to Richard Koestner -a professor in psychology – there are three ways to avoid failing your New Year’s resolutions. First, individuals must acquire clear and specific goals. Second, they must supervise their progress toward their goals across the year. And third, individuals must obtain adequate self-regulatory and durability to face any obstacles, (Koestner, 2008).

In contrast, theme oriented year differs from the New Year’s resolution, it includes only one major theme rather than diverse goals. The theme can be a word that represents an element that is missing in your daily life. For example, the theme can be a healthy lifestyle, where an individual will try to exercise more frequently and eat healthier meals. Another example of a theme oriented year can be reading, that can include reading more books, newspapers, and academic journals during that year.

As an individual, I prefer having a New Year’s resolution rather than a theme oriented year, as it includes diverse and more specific goals. Furthermore, New Year’s resolution is a detailed personal outline for me to acquire a holistic view of myself and progress towards my goals. In addition, New Year’s resolution portrays the goals that I believe would change me into my ideal self.


Koestner, R. (2008). Reaching One’s Personal Goals: A Motivational Perspective Focused on Autonomy. Retrieved December 12, 2016, from self determination theory:

Pruitt, S. ( 2015 , December 30). The History of New Year’s Resolutions. Retrieved December 14, 2016, from History in the headlines:

Tolerance In A Globalized World

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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In today’s globalized world, we are connected more than ever before, but does that mean we are more accepting of others?

Artwork by Hayat AlHassan (@HayatAlH)

In celebration of world tolerance day, I thought of discussing an important social issue: Bigotry. We live in an age of interconnectedness like never before; an era of technological advancement that made it all possible. Then comes the question, if the world is digitally and physically closer, wouldn’t social and cultural boundaries become more fluid? The answer is no.

The latest American presidential elections have shown us that the general public is moving more and more towards conservatism rather than openness. One can’t help but wonder, are we as people of different nations becoming more or less accepting of others?

One would claim that our generation suffers less from the poison of bigotry, but unfortunately, sometimes, it’s as if things have never changed. If you look back into history, our region was always a hub of multi-ethnic people as a byproduct of our country being a trade hub. Today, we might see a separation of “us” against “them”, albeit in some more than others. Whether that is in terms of nationality, ancestral decent, or even gender. We tend to convince ourselves that we are more accepting and tolerant than the previous generations, but sometimes, some people seem to be moving in the opposite direction.

As such gender and racial discrimination creates a “superiority” complex amongst some of us. We all might have practiced some form of bigotry, one way or another at some point in our lives. To some, this has become a norm evident in their daily language; for example, it could be the intolerance of other religions, cultural practices, material wealth, or personal ideals. Something such as bigotry in marriage where many families don’t agree to intermarry with certain families due to clashes in the socio-economic status of the families or ethnic history.

Nonetheless, we can take this opportunity (the world tolerance day) for change towards a more tolerant and empathetic community. I end by saying that tolerance is a virtue, an end result if you may, of a long process of knowledge, understanding, and awareness.

East Meets East, Not West- Cultural Relationships between UAE & Japan

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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Bringing attention to cultural platforms that link and celebrate the two cultures of the UAE and Japan.

Emirati artist Khalid Mezaina’s artwork featured in East-East: UAE meets Japan exhibition in New York University – Abu Dhabi

The UAE and Japan have always shared bilateral relations that stretch back even before the formation of the Emirates. Bilateralism refers to the relationship between two independent countries that is influenced by economic, political and cultural factors. However, culture is always poorly highlighted compared to the dominating economic and political fields. In this article, I will bring attention to how different cultural platforms in the UAE link and celebrate the two cultures together.

Sharjah Art Foundation (SAF) is a contemporary art and cultural foundation founded in 2009 by Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi. SAF organized an exhibition not to be missed by Yayoi Kusama, one of Japan’s most prominent contemporary artists. The exhibition takes place in SAF art spaces until the 9th of January 2017. If you haven’t visited it yet expect the following: Walking back in time particularly in Al Mareija, a heritage area in the heart of Sharjah. The space provides a beautiful inauguration of traditional and contemporary elements. You will get the chance to experience Kusama’s avant-garde work within a culturally vibrant environment. “Dot Obsession” by Yayoi Kusama is highly recommended for anyone who enjoys minimalistic, large-scale and interactive installations. For more information visit:

Another platform that aims to build a relationship between UAE nationals, local communities and Japanese residents is the UAE-Japan Cultural Center. The center plays a significant role in removing cultural barriers and promoting mutual understanding between the two cultures. The UAE and Japan share a unique balance between tradition and modernity, regardless of their geographical and geological distinction. The center offers UAE nationals and residents the chance to become more conscious of Japanese culture and traditions. At the same time, it provides Japanese residents in the UAE a well-rounded understanding of Emirati culture. The center also offers several activities such as Japanese language classes and Arabic calligraphy courses for a hands-on experience of each culture. For more information about the center visit:

Lastly is an Emirati cultural exchange project called “Wahaj”. The project is based in Sharjah and focuses on introducing UAE traditions and culture to the rest of the world, starting with Japan. It all took place when the founders recognized similar cultural and artistic traits between Sharjah and Kyoto, which they wanted to further build on. As a result, the group made its first trip to universities in Japan, they introduced students to Emirati culture and invited them to visit Sharjah. The project received the sponsorship of Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority which reassures me that cultural platforms in the UAE are aware of the fundamental role of art and culture in bridging relationships between countries. To keep up with Wahaj and everything UAE/Japanese related, have a look at their Instagram account. (@Wahaj_ae)

These are only a few examples of how cultural exchange is currently practiced between the UAE and Japan. I believe that cultural relations between countries are as significant as economic and political relations and that fostering them is an ongoing process that should be given more attention.


#SailBookRecommendations Campaign, Find Your Next Read

Reading Time: 4 minutes

As our writers and readers both continue to send us book reviews to share on our Instagram, we thought of continuing sharing the book reviews with our readers here on the magazine, and spread the love of reading even further. Who knows, maybe you can find your next read through those recommendations.

Book title: Newt’s Emerald
Author: Garth Nix
Genre: Fiction, Romance, Adventure

This novel follows the adventure of Lady Truthful in searching for her family’s stolen precious heirloom, an emerald. She dresses up as a man to search for the emerald, a difficult endeavor for a young lady. She meets Major Harnett who helps her in the quest. The emerald gives magical powers to those who possess it. Therefore they must find it! Along the way, Lady Truthful’s life changes in so many ways. But in who’s possession and how can she get it back?

Review by Mariam Khalifa

Book title: Seven Brief Lessons On Physics
Author: Carlo Rovelli
Genre: Nonfiction / Science

In my case in regards to book choices, yes, I judge by its cover, which is precisely why a reader with a background in Arts would ever pick up something unrelated to my area of expertise. The attractive cover and a quote by Philip Pullman made the decision easy: It had to be picked up.

Rovelli is an Italian theoretical physicist, and these chapters of lessons are in fact articles he had published in Il Sole 24. In reference to a book review published on NYTimes in March of this year, it brings me utmost joy to say this: Seven Brief Lessons on Physics in Italy outsold Fifty Shades of Grey (there is hope for humanity after all!).

Rovelli simplifies some of the significant physics theories, allowing readers such as myself the chance to understand: Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, the Big Bang/Bounce, before wonderfully concluding it all with a chapter on how it is all relative to us as humankind.

This book has left me inspired with an insatiable interest and admiration towards the world of Physics. I would highly recommend it, because even if this book may not be relevant to your field or interest, you will be guaranteed a great surprise.

Review by Alia AlShamsi

Book title: Forty Rooms
Author: Olga Grushin
Genre: Fiction

A powerful, creative novel. The story carries a universal message for women from all walks of life. It’s about the many rooms a woman will inhibit from birth to death.

At the age of 17, the main protagonist penned her destiny: “What I do not want is a small life – a life of mundane concerns, of fulfilled expectations, of commonplaces and banalities, of children’s sore throats.”

Review by Asma AlHameli

Book title: Zorro
Author: Isabel Allende
Genre: Adventure, Historical Novel

This novel reminds you of how as children, we admire heroes who seek justice and avenge the weak. I read a short novel “Young Zorro” by the same author first, and I loved the adventures that Zorro went on as a child.

However, “Zorro” takes the story to another level, going as far as to explore how Zorro or Diego de la Vega’s (his real name) parents met, fell in love and got married. Allende’s choice of beginning the novel even before Diego’s birth developed my understanding of the environment and the people that surround him. Alejandro, his father, is a soldier and he wants his son to follow the footsteps of the brave De La Vega men and be even more successful than his ancestors, but Diego seems like a failure and is always disappearing.

You may already see Zorro as a hero, but this novel explores his journey to becoming that hero.

Review by Mariam Khalifa

5 Reasons Why I Would Enroll My Daughter in Sharjah Girl Guides (@ShjGirlGuides)

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: 7 minutes

What benefits can you expect for your daughters once you enroll them in Sharjah Girl Guides? And does it matter for the girls as they grow up and for their communities.

Science and crafts segment with SGG - picture taken from SGG's Instagram

Science and Crafts segment with SGG – picture was taken from SGG’s Instagram

I was invited the last month to the annual ceremony of Sharjah Girls Guide (SGG), in which Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, and Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs, awards each of the girl guides the badges they’ve earned across the year. I was completely blown away by what SGG does, and the potential impact it could have on girls as they grow up to be in leadership positions in their communities. We always argue for women empowerment, but I think SGG is one of the very few organizations who has realized that to achieve this goal, you need to plant the seeds at a very young age.

SGG is a non-profit volunteer driven organization that offers extra-curricular activities and programs for girls (ages 7 -1 5) from all nationalities in the UAE. Guiding, which is very similar to Scouts Associations in the US, provides an outlet for girls to have new experiences, discover themselves and develop their skills in a safe, fun environment. It’s worth nothing that there is a separate organization for boys called Emirates Scouts Association, which has its impact as well[1].

As I was going through the gallery of the girl guides achievements in the ceremony I attended, I kept imagining the kind of influence each of these achievements will have on the girls as they grow older. And so, I’ve decided that if I ever had a daughter, enrolling her in SGG would be a must, so that I could ensure the right foundation of her empowerment is laid down early on. Being a business owner with a background in tech industry, I approach this with entrepreneurial and scientific bias. These are my five reasons of why I appreciate what the SGG does:

  1. Girl guides partake in different kinds of sports over the years, between running, football, archery, and horse riding. It’s only natural that Sharjah has reached the maturity of setting up Sharjah Women Sports Foundation, when they have been cultivating the interest in girls from a young age, and provided them with the training they’d require. We can’t keep saying that girls naturally don’t like sports when we never expose them to all different types of sports at a young age and allow them to experiment and find what they may like.
  2. The girl guides are trained in self-defense. I believe being able to physically defend yourself can give you a certain level of needed self-confidence. This can cascade on your mindset and behavior to defend yourself physically and vocally in your daily life. I’ve known a few families that would sometimes hold back their girls from studying abroad, for fear that they won’t be able to defend themselves if they ever had to. But why hold back your daughter when you can just simply train her how to manage in such situations? We might live in a safe country where such risks aren’t the norm, but one mustn’t wait till it becomes the norm to start teaching the girls how to take care of themselves.
  3. The girl guides are taught to raise funds by selling cookies. This might sound like a trivial thing, but this essential skill is important in their lives later on, especially if they start their businesses. It will teach them how to sell their ideas and pitch them, the courage to talk to potential investors, the mindset of strategizing your audience to know who your potential buyers are from those who will waste your time, and the accounting skills to manage how much you sold and how much more you need to sell. Personally, I think running my business and my constant scout for advertisers for the magazine might have taken a different more effective turn if I had that training as a kid.
  4. The girl guides are taught engineering and how to build robots. As a woman with a background in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), specifically in computer science, I was almost always the only woman in the large management meetings of men. As I was skilled and articulate in IT, especially considering all the technical jargon, (as you would hope anyone would be in such a position), and I’d always sense amusement from some colleagues, like it was impossible for women to be in such field, let alone master it. But it’s not impossible. I was passionate about my field, and my batch in the university were all intelligent women who were passionate about the field as well. Everywhere around the world, new advocacy programs are being created to get more women into STEM fields, but it requires making girls familiar with it at a young age to enable this as a natural result as they grow up. I won’t get into how the gender can be a barrier into those fields, as it needs a whole article on its own. However, what I’d like to say is that learning sciences has taught me in more ways how to dabble with things till I get it right, how not to fear making mistakes because they will just redirect me to the right way, and that sometimes, there can be many correct ways. Those lessons are the cornerstone of what I do in my company now, and I can’t imagine how much easier it would have been had I learned them earlier!
  5. Senior girl guides are encouraged to embrace entrepreneurship. I know we’ve been hearing this word a little too often in the past few years, and the country, in general, is trying to encourage this mindset in different ways. But what SGG did differently this year was to partner up with Sheraa Entrepreneurship Center in Sharjah to teach the girl guides the necessary skills required in running a business, and then pushed them to start practicing what they learned. SGG management then explained to the girl guides the basic requirements of the official procurement process, and allowed them to organize a whole event on their own. The guides contracted all the vendors they wanted by negotiating directly with them, got all invoices, broke down their budget to all the elements they needed for the event, and ensured everything is within the overall budget they were given. This is how you ensure a future generation is well adept at entrepreneurial work, by making them experiment it for their own and go through all its steps. So when they grow up and consider starting their businesses, all the necessary steps are then natural to them and they can build on them to innovate and achieve bigger things.

These are the 5 main reasons that stood out to me the most, but throughout the ceremony categories like pottery making, finding your way through mazes, arts and crafts making, and camping nights showed that there is a lot more to this program than I initially suspected. I am continually impressed by their efforts, and it gives me faith for the future when I look at these heartwarming efforts.