Countdown to New Year’s Eve

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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An overview of how New Year’s Eve celebrations have evolved over time and the extravagance associated with it in modern times.

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

The start of the New Year has been celebrated for centuries in many different ways and on many different dates. January 1st was declared as the first day of the year in 46 BC by Julius Caesar in honor of Janus, the Roman god of beginnings, who is said to have had two faces, allowing him to look back into the past and forward into the future.  This is still very relevant in modern times as the New Year opens the door for reflection on the year that has passed and the plans for making resolutions and setting goals to achieve new heights. The Romans celebrated New Year’s Day by exchanging gifts and throwing parties.

The same is still true, albeit, the parties of this era have taken on a more extravagant approach. For many people these days, New Year’s Eve parties represent one’s social status as they are willing to spend thousands to attend what they believe to be the most happening scene.

It is not only the people who go out of their way for just one night, but countries spend millions on fireworks and all kinds of festivities to mark this occasion. In New York City in 1904, 200,000 people gathered at Time Square to watch the fireworks display, and in 1907, the Times Square New Year’s Eve ball drop was introduced and this has become a massive event that takes place year after year. Such celebrations take place in other cities around the world as well, at varying sizes, and Dubai with its ever-growing stature has inevitably joined the ranks for the past several years, breaking records and making headlines year after year. These cities are spending millions on New Year’s Eve celebrations and it is a major boost to the economy and tourism in particular.

However, with all these increasingly lavish ways of celebrating, I believe the real essence of New Year’s Eve can get lost in all its hype and glamour. People spend weeks deliberating on their new year’s eve plans, spend a fortune, and perhaps even talk about setting some resolutions, but in most cases, when morning comes, and the hype is over, these resolutions also get lost somewhere along the way.

It is, therefore, important that one does not lose sight of this and get carried away with having just one extravagant night, but rather appreciating that we have been given one more chance to live, to be surrounded by the ones we love, no matter how simple or grand the setting is. It is about looking at what we have achieved and how much more we can give to make a difference in this world. Let New Year’s Eve be a night of reflection and gratitude for all that has taken place over the year, and open up your hearts to all the new adventures that are yet to come.


References:

http://www.history.com/topics/holidays/new-years

Why I Want To Be A Historian

Nasser AlFalasi (@nassakb)

Nasser AlFalasi (@nassakb)

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

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Reflecting on why I chose social history as a field of study for my Ph.D., and why I think it’s a very important field.  

Artwork by Eman AlRaesi (Instagram: @emanalraesi, Twitter: @emanalraesi)

I was sitting with a friend of mine the other day at a restaurant by Shaikh Zayed Road in Dubai. That day I had spent nearly eight hours writing my research proposal for my Ph.D. studies. He asked me, “Nasser, why do you wish to study Economics and Social History? It’s a useless subject, and it won’t get you any jobs.” I told him two things: I already have a job that would benefit from the subject, which is teaching at Zayed University. The second thing I told him got us talking for almost an hour nonstop. Here is what I told my friend about why I want to be a historian.

Imagine waking up one morning with absolutely no idea of anything that happened the past 25 years. You wake up from your bed as if you have been in a long coma, and you can’t even recognize the faces of your loved ones or make out the objects in your room. Your fears would be perpetuating, your uncertainty growing, and your judgment weak. You wouldn’t know what’s what and who’s who. People will call themselves your loved ones, yet you would look at them with disarray. You may struggle the next few days walking again, constantly bumping into glass doors, and burning yourself more than once because you never learned what fire is.

You see history is the same concept. If we wake up not knowing anything about the past, we would have lost so much knowledge that would otherwise enable us to survive and grow as a species. History is not just dates and people who did this or that, but rather the lessons learned and actions explained in all our lives. Think of history in the same way. People throughout time have made decisions and actions that they have either rejoiced or regretted all their lives. What history provides us with is the review and comments section of everyone’s choices in the past. History can teach us what will happen if we discriminate against a minority, are unjust in our rule, destroy our environment, follow ideas blindly, are rude to others, or even commit a crime. There is a lesson to be learned in everything in life, and history is but one key to the many answers in life.

History is the fabric of time connecting the advancement of life, from art to science. The story of failure is a story of success, and the actions of our past determine the path of our future. You see by studying history I do more than study His-story, I make sure that when I do wake up today, I know well not to play with fire.


Recommended more reads:

5 Tips for Every Bookworm Visiting A Middle Eastern Book Fair

Jumanah Salama (@Juma_nah4)

Jumanah Salama (@Juma_nah4)

Jumanah is a Media and Communication graduate from King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Her fields of interest lay in the studies of humanities and through her articles she seeks to create a bridge between sociology and social media.
Jumanah Salama (@Juma_nah4)
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Here are five tips to make sure your experience of a book fair was worth the wait and you aren’t left feeling you’ve spent more than you should have paid.

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

For every bookworm, the International Book Fair in their own country is the highlight of each year where publishers from all around the Arab speaking world gather in one place bringing their books and culture. So, to keep our experience worth the wait, here are five tips based on my visits that you may benefit from.

1. Don’t spend your money on the first publisher you set eyes on.

Many publishers publish the same books varying in prices and quality so you’ll most likely find different versions that suit your requirement better as you stroll down the aisles and search through the publishers.

2. Remember comfort is essential.

Books can become very heavy, irritating, and straining to the shoulders and arms if held for too long, so remember to bring your shopping trolleys or suitcases with wheels to carry your books. You’ll most likely be able to buy these trolleys at the book fair if you don’t have your own. Remember to wear comfortable shoes and leave those sandals and heels at home.

Note for the Ladies: Wear practical Abayas to avoid any physical disturbance. Cross-Body light handbags are recommended to avoid any unnecessary extra weight.

3. Morning visits are the best.

Morning visits tend to be less crowded than the night visits and you’ll find the salesperson in a better mood and more willing to bargain than they would in a crowd of buyers end of the day.

4. Beware of emotional manipulation:

Some salespeople will try to emotionally manipulate you into buying their books such as passing out flowers or initiating small talk which will make it harder for you to refuse them after creating a certain bond with them.

5. How to make a booklist:

It’s important to keep in mind the following while you make your booklist -to buy list-:

  • The Publisher.
  • The Country of Origin: Some publishers will have the same name, but different origins.
  • The Author’s Name.
  • The Book’s Title.

Note: If you didn’t make a booklist and you’re hesitant about a certain book, be sure to read reviews on GoodReads or book reviewing accounts on social media. If you’re buying any sequels, pay attention to the order.

Happy book shopping!

Friday Prayers Should Cultivate Peace, Not Traffic

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)

Latest posts by Bahar Al Awadhi (@bahargpedram) (see all)

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Mosques are a place of peace and respect, but why is it that some people abandon these attributes when outside the mosque?

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

Have you ever driven around any neighborhood mosque at the time of the Friday sermon? What you have probably seen is a pile-up of cars parked not only on sidewalks but also on actual roads causing blockages and havoc for other drivers. This is a very common scene as attending Friday afternoon sermons in a mosque is a very important ritual for many Muslims whose goals are not to miss these prayers. The problem arises when the same people leave their cars in places they aren’t supposed to and only consider that they must get to the mosque on time, irrespective of how they get there.

Praying is one of the five pillars of Islam, and while it is important that one attends the Friday prayer, it is equally important to ensure that you are not being negligent in the process. Being considerate to others is also one of the main tenets of the religion, and this includes respecting one another. Choosing to leave one’s car in an inappropriate place and being the cause of traffic and nuisance to others contradicts the essence of Islam. The respect and peace shown during Friday prayers should not only be displayed within the walls of the mosque but also reflected in one’s behavior everywhere else.

It is important for everyone attending Friday prayers to only use designated parking areas and wait to find a spot, rather than just rushing and parking anywhere at all. Where possible and especially when weather permits, people should try to walk to the mosque as every neighborhood has one nearby. Carpooling is another option if walking isn’t possible. If an individual is going to the mosque out of respect towards their religion and beliefs, it is important that the same respect is shown outside the mosque as well since every act that one takes is being seen and judged by Allah.

This is the same as when people drive irresponsibly on the roads and then slow down or drive within their lanes when they see a police car nearby. One must not only emulate good driving when the police are around but rather serve as model citizens throughout.

However, if it takes the presence of a police car for people to behave responsibly, then perhaps policemen are also needed to patrol the surroundings of mosques during Friday prayers. The police can support and direct drivers towards better parking areas or prohibit them from parking where they are not permitted. They can provide guidance and support in an approach that is positive and respectful towards everyone.

It is also important that the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments looks into these problems in line with the municipality requirements. Every year, we find new mosques being built to meet the growing numbers of Muslims in the country and it is crucial to take into account issues such as accessibility and space for parking. Accommodating these needs should be an integral factor to ensure that the Friday sermon remains a peaceful time where people come together in worship.

Additionally, the Road and Transport Authority (RTA) could consider providing free public transportation in selected areas, for example, a shuttle bus that could take people from designated pick up points to the mosque and back. Taxi services, including Careem or Uber, could also consider having special rates for Friday prayers to ease any financial burden and encourage the use of public transportation. Moreover, these taxi services could also offer rides on a shared basis or a ‘carpooling’ approach when picking up passengers from the same vicinity that are visiting the same mosque.

There are many ways to ensure that Friday afternoon prayers take place in a more respectable and peaceful approach. This is a special time for many Muslims who attend these sermons or take their children along to teach them the importance of praying, but we must also ensure that these values that are being instilled reflect the respect and consideration that needs to be given to one another at all times.

Are We Planning For Our Post-Retirement Life?

Shurooq AlBanna (@Shuroooq)

Shurooq AlBanna (@Shuroooq)

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

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What activities should your retirement plan include and how can you ensure you can finance it.

Artwork by Ghadeer Mansour Mutairi (Instagram: @ghmutaiiri, Twitter: @ghsasud)

I was never one with a rose-tinted view of retirement. Instead, “Taqa3od” (retirement in Arabic) has always conjured up discouraging images in my head of old people who have worked into their late 60’s and are now spending their afternoons in front of the television. These dispiriting images made me feel that the majority did not just retire from work but from life as well. And it was the fear of realizing this daunting image that has made me vow to prevent it from materializing.

During a secondment in the UK, I became addicted to property shows such as “A Place in the Sun” where house hunters were helped to find their dream homes. What caught my attention about the couples buying their retirement homes abroad was their detailed plans of how their retirement days will be. This was a refreshing perspective that altered my initial views on retirement and made me seriously start thinking about an enjoyable plan of my own. With every episode, my mind conjured tranquil images of how I’d spend those days: traveling to exotic places, chilling by a pool and reading books.

All this until the day my path crossed that of a mature couple who were living my dreams. It felt like I had met an embodiment of my future-self that was spending summers in the French countryside, winters in the GCC and the rest of the year traveling to exciting, new destinations. But albeit it sounding dreamy, I noticed that the highlight of their days was going out for a morning coffee. And that was when I began to question my own planning. How will I finance all those vacations? Will my pension cover this? How much traveling or chilling can one do? But most importantly, what will I do with all this free time?

And I was right to harbor such big doubts. According to the AXA Retirement Scope 2010, although most people have the right mindset and awareness of retirement, few people are doing something about it[1]. I obviously fell into the latter category. But what worried me more was the free time, boredom, and depression. Surveys by Skipton Building Society have shown that ‘the joys of retirement wear off approximately ten months after a person leaves their work’[2]. I knew people who went back to work after retirement because they ‘felt redundant’.

This meant that I couldn’t just put a financial plan and have a few ideas about what I wanted to do. I needed the correct approach to what I planned to learn and achieve during retirement. The more I researched this, the more I stumbled upon successful businesses that were started by retirees. For example, The Doctor Marion Foundation was created by retiree Marion Sommers to focus on elderly healthcare. Hence, the retirement phase of a person’s life can be as fruitful, and fulfilling as any other phase of life.

I am glad that life has made me aware of this topic through a property show and an encounter with an old couple. My retirement is 15 years and four months away, and I already have in addition to a financial plan, a list of activities and interests to pursue in my 60’s, 70’s and hopefully beyond.


References:

[1] https://www.fundsupermart.com.my/main/research/viewContent.tpl?articleNo=2974

[2] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2507404/Joy-retirement-wears-just-TEN-MONTHS-bickering-daytime-TV-toll.html