Dubai based news and features writer with over 17 years' experience in both the UK and UAE, writing on areas including health and wellbeing, travel and tourism and lifestyle. Offering services including copywriting and editing, web content creation and media support services for new and established businesses.

News And Features Articles


Emirati director channels his childhood fear to the big screen in ‘Nyctophobia’

As a child, Emirati filmmaker Tariq Ahmad Alkazim slept with the lights on, or with the door open just enough for there to be a glimmer of light. His childhood fear has now been translated into his creative career. Alkazim channelled it into his latest movie, Nyctophobia, which means fear of the dark. The film is a revealing insight into Alkazim’s mind and imagination. “The fear was there ever since I can remember,” he admits. “I overcame it slowly as I grew up, acknowledging that with light or

Homework. Too Much. Too Little. A Guide for Struggling Parents and Students. – Dubai schools, Abu Dhabi schools, Sharjah schools with fees, ratings and more –

Background – Dubai Bans Homework in Public Schools to Give Children “A Life Outside School”. The debate on the benefits of homework has become a passionate one, pupils and parents claiming it is placing too much a burden not only on students, but parents and family life too. Many parents contact us saying that their children are no longer able to enjoy their childhood and growing up. With so many curricula across the UAE and in turn, a variety of teaching methodologies and philosophy, there se

Off the beaten track

Discover Siem Reap beyond its magnificent temples; this northwestern Cambodian town is slowly gaining the world’s attention for its diverse offering that combines adventure, culture, shopping and dining The gateway to some of the world’s most magnificent temple ruins, Siem Reap is a portal to the past. Every corner of this colourful city tells the tale of the region’s rich history, dating back to the Khmer Empire of the ninth century. The ruins stretch for miles, with the famous Angkor Wat temp

How selfie-related deaths have given rise to 'killfie' travel insurance

Dying to get the best holiday pics? Well, hundreds of people literally are. The number of fatalities from selfies is rising internationally, most notably among millennial men, and as the quest for these death-defying ­images becomes evermore extreme, some insurers have started to offer “killfie” life insurance. Many selfie deaths are the result of tourists taking risks in unfamiliar terrain. It’s not only the extreme rooftop chasers, the would-be wild animal tamers and the fantasy stunt heroes.

Eton, Repton, Cranleigh, Harrow, Brighton - Do Big Name British School Brands Matter in the UAE? – Dubai schools, Abu Dhabi schools, Sharjah schools with fees, ratings and more –

Big Brand British Schools in the UAE – The Benefits. Brands do matter in the global economy. We pay a premium for them in every part of our lives. From shoes and high fashion, to fizzy drinks and theatre productions, we pay for what a brand carries with it – reputation, celebrity, authenticity, some form of guarantee of quality, however nebulous, status and often simply the comfort of a known quantity. One estimate suggests that by removing brands entirely from our lives we could more than doub

Inside the Cambodian circus offering women and impoverished children a place to thrive

When Choub Kanha was 6 years old, growing up in the remote Cambodian village of Battambang, her father bought her a hula-hoop. Her mother was worried, thinking the rigorous movement would prevent her being able to conceive children later in life, but Kanha was hooked. It awakened her passion for gymnastics and, over the next three years, she practised as many skills as she could at home, before she decided to join circus school. Now, aged 24, as her peers primarily work in factories, on family

Digital intervention: how to help your children stay safe online

Twelve years ago, Julia Hicks, swept up in the flush of newly-wed excitement, began blogging about her life as a young Russian living in the UK with her British husband. It became one of Russia’s top 10 blogs and she gladly shared personal images detailing her everyday life. However, her pictures were soon taken by an online scammer, manipulated and used in sexually explicit materials. Now, eight years later, Hicks lives in Dubai with her two sons, aged 11 and 4, and has learnt her lesson. Whil

Saved by the temple: the girls of Bangkok striving for a better life

Natisha, 19, is scarred by the repercussions human trafficking has had on her family. The young villager’s older sister was duped, like many, into working in Bangkok – sold the dream of a better life, a salary and freedom to experience the excitent of the big city, but instead forced into a life of servitude and sexual abuse. Natisha saw her sister suffer from mental health problems after she’d escaped, Natisha knew she had to follow a different life path. When we meet her in Thailand, she has

Eating disorders in middle age: a complex issue

There is little data to show the true extent, but recent research has found that growing numbers of middle-aged people are experiencing eating disorders. In regards to women in particular, Dr Tara Wyne, a clinical psychologist and co-founder of The LightHouse mental health clinic in Dubai, says it has become “almost expected” in this age bracket, with low self-esteem and poor body image significant factors as people age. “These women usually present with other primary problems such as anxiety,

The life of a flying butler: stories from a woman who serves the world's elite at 35,000 feet

Barbara Szep is one of the butlers in Etihad's three-bedroom on-board suites: her job is all about the detail, she even learns if her guests are left or right handed One of Barbara Szep’s earliest memories is the acrid smell of kerosene that filled her nostrils as she boarded her first flight from her native Hungary to Greece when she was 7 years old. “Once I smelt the kerosene, that was it – I fell in love,” she says, with a laugh. “I loved everything about flying – the uniform, the adventure

Does endurance training negatively affect the brain?

Endurance athletes may suffer from impaired cognitive abilities due to over-training, according to a new study. But how true are those claims? The UAE’s race season is well under way, with the likes of the 42-­kilometre Abu Dhabi and Dubai Marathons, the 300km Al Marmoom Ultra Marathon and three-discipline Ironman 70.3 in Dubai drawing ever closer on the calendar. Each year, these events continue to grow, attracting a throng of participants from novices to elite athletes, taking to the UAE’s te

The Emirati guides opening their homes to tourists

However, Emiratis of a new generation are opening their lives -- and some their homes -- to become the representative of their heritage. Shamsa Al Naqbi is just 20, one of the youngest members of the now roughly 200-strong network of independent freelancers working as tour guides in Abu Dhabi, offering mostly private tours. Studying a law degree in French at Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi, she gives tours on the weekends as a way of giving back to her country, she says. She specializes in mosqu

We are binge-watching ourselves to bad health

Not long ago, the world would wait a whole week between each captivating episode of its favourite television show. Process that for a second, and then compare it to today’s streaming culture, where it has become the norm to watch episode after episode, maybe even a whole series across one or two sittings. Recent research by Radio Times in the UK suggests that half its sample viewers had watched an entire series in a ­single sitting and that four-hour stints were regular practice. The trend of t

Emirates first female pilot opens up about battle to wear headscarf

The UAE's first female pilot has opened up about her four-year battle to wear a headscarf at work, describing the prejudice she faced for flying a plane. Huda Al Musallami, 39, from Dubai, who grew up loving planes, joined airline Emirates as cabin crew before rising up to the position of pilot 15 years ago, in 2004. She has been flying planes for Abu Dhabi's national airline Etihad for the last four years. However her successful career has not been without its hurdles, and Huda has told how

Meet the Emirati athletes training for Al Marmoom - the world's longest desert ultramarathon

Following on from Dubai’s ultra­marathon debut last year, Al Marmoom race is back with another first to its name for 2019: this year, it will be the world’s longest desert ultra at a distance of 300 kilometres, up from 270km. Although 30km may not seem like that much longer, 270 is already a gargantuan number – and every kilometre counts. The ultramarathon will be held from Monday, December 9, over five days for individual athletes, and two for teams. It’ll vary between 50km and 110km per stage

What do Dubai residents want in their communities

As community living becomes more affordable, Dubai’s population needs are also changing. From sustainable living solutions to more community gatherings, Dubai’s residents want “more”. Community residents are laying more emphasis on the environment, and more connectivity. Tala Bitar lives with her family in The Villa community. While the area has developed with more facilities, she says a sense of community is missing. “Activities to bring families together, like garage sales, social events for

HOTEL REVIEW: Peace on the palm

Tucked away at the far eastern side of the palm-shaped island, Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort feels like the end of the road. Unlike some of the more developed parts of the The Palm Jumeirah, there is a sense of tranquillity on the Eastern Crescent, a 15-minute drive from the base of the island’s trunk. The resort is vast, boasting 293 rooms and villas, with its low ceilings and warm, wooden furnishings. But once inside, it has the feeling of a quiet hideaway, tucked away at the edge of the worl

Here's how to avoid germs in the gym

The flu seems to be going around, its spread probably helped by returning travellers, including schoolchildren and co-workers . But planes, public toilets and workplaces aside, an often-overlooked hotbed of germs is the gym – home to sweaty exercise mats and rusty dumbbells as well as communal showers and water dispensers – and experts warn that gym-goers must take extra care to prevent the spread of infections this season. It's in the air Dr Maged Magdy Sahioun, a general practitioner at Emir

Hotel Insider: Twinpalms MontAzure, Phuket

The beauty of this location, on the west coast of the island, is that there is so much to see within walking distance After a 45-minute drive from Phuket International Airport to the hotel, I am greeted with lemongrass-scented cold towels, jasmine wrist garlands and cooling welcome drinks. With its subtle, contemporary facade, a blend of smooth wood and stone, the property is a world away from the teak, palm-fringed design typical of traditional Thailand. The architecture is characterised by sh

Chasing paradise in Phuket

The biggest of the Thai islands, Phuket is truly a destination for every kind of traveller. Words by Melanie Swan Whether you want to lay on the beach and bask in the sun while sipping fruity concoctions all day, get fit, or get out in the ocean to explore the array of stunning islands surrounding you, Phuket has so much to give. This year I took my second trip to the island, though it is my fifth to Thailand. Something about its charm, its people and the dramatic scenery brings me back. Wheth
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