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


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

Temple run

Two nights in the Thai capital are truly never enough and although we made the most of our time in Bangkok, it’s left us with a fierce urgency to return. Words by Melanie Swan Bangkok, the Thai capital, is a tumultuous mix of old and new, a blend of ancient spirituality sat seamlessly alongside cutting edge modern design. Visually, its bamboo and teak riverside houses contrast with the shiny skyscrapers around, but all somehow fits together amongst the array of greenery from the ground up. Even

Why is Dubai Thai restaurant Sticky Rice always packed?

It’s 3pm on a Friday and customers are on a waiting list, not least for this morning’s pop-up pandan-leaf-­essence-infused coconut ice cream and a fresh batch of bubble tea. There’s something special about Sticky Rice; people drive far and wide from around the city to this hole-in-the-wall eatery in Jumeirah Village Circle, which has all of six tables. Many of these avid foodies have to opt for takeout, and the place is crammed with crowds of people huddling at the door, while mouth-­watering ar

Use bone broth and switch to Greek yogurt: here are 12 healthy diet swaps to make

A non-stick pan uses less oil, which ought to be coconut for cooking and olive mixed with water for salads Of all the relationships you nurture, the one you have with food is both crucial and continual. What you eat (or don’t) will literally determine how well you look, feel and live. Despite all the delicious but nutritious options that have made their way to mainstream menus (from acai bowls to quinoa biryani), the idea of “healthy food” still conjures up images of low-calorie, flavourless fa

How construction workers in Dubai are benefitting from free training sessions

Dressed in a pair of overalls and heavy black boots, Richard Tawiah, a construction worker for Dewa, pumps out 10 easy table pull-ups from underneath a rickety wooden bench held down by his colleagues. The Ghanaian is one of about 50 men from Dewa who works out once a week with Hannes Loubser, a fitness instructor at Dubai gym Iconic Fitness. Loubser, who specialises in biokinesiology, has been leading a voluntary training initiative since March, with an aim to improve the group’s posture, relie

Dubai duo's 4am starts to make a stand at the pinnacle of paddleboarding in Hawaii

It’s been a gruelling four months of training for Dubai ­residents Scott Chambers and Dean Cockle as they prepare to be the first UAE athletes to take part in the Molokai 2 Oahu Paddleboard World Championships in ­Hawaii on Sunday. The duo will compete alongside 150 of the world’s top paddleboarders. The race, which is in its 23rd year, spans 52 kilometres, and requires athletes to get from the Hawaiian island of Molokai (home to the Kalaupapa National Historical Park) to Oahu (seat of the city

Balancing act: How the UAE's circus performers keep fit

We find out more about the eating and exercising regimes that four circus artists follow to stay in top form As an audience, we only see the sparkly-clothed, stunt-ridden shows that circus performers put on day and night, across the UAE’s many malls and at shows such as La Perle and at the ­Formula One. Behind the scenes, though, the life of trapeze acts, balance artists and acrobats is all about unpredictable schedules, brutal training regimes, and being ready to travel and perform at the drop

How Looking After Your Employees’ Health Can Benefit Business

In spite of the World Health Organisation’s decision to categorize workplace “burnout” among its International Classification of Diseases, studies still show that the epidemic is rising. While pioneers like Omnicom and The First Group in Dubai are forging the way and taking on corporate wellness programmes, from workplace gyms and packages at local facilities to having experts come in to give sessions, they remain in a minority. With the onset of smart phones, a 24/7 culture prevails. It is no

Money & Me: 'I want to be financially independent by 40'

Entrepreneur Dana Al Sharif says making the right financial decisions for her family keeps her up at night Dana Al Sharif is the co-founder of Urban RetrEAT, a food incubator she rolled out in Abu Dhabi a year ago. Based on Yas Island, the food court concept, which has vendors offering everything from Venezuelan to Emirati street food, is a community, bringing together aspiring new businesses and helping support local talent. Ms Al Sharif, 34, moved to the UAE from her native Amman, Jordan, in

Meet the Dubai author giving children a Muslim superhero

‘Books are mirrors, and our children should see a reflection of themselves in them,’ says Zenubia Arsalan From Roald Dahl to JK Rowling, children’s books for all ages remain the domain of English-language authors. However, there is now a growing demand for books that offer more culturally aligned characters, telling relatable stories, and with themes that link more closely to the local environment. Dubai author Zenubia Arsalan felt that as a mother, there was a lack of materials to read to her

'There is no shame in getting help' -- and if necessary, medication -- for mental health

Pete Aldwinkle had a decidedly rocky six months leading up to his mental health crisis, followed by a diagnosis of depression and post traumatic stress disorder. After splitting from his partner of 15 years, the Dubai-based Briton took his first holiday in three years back in late 2016 to cycle from Mexico to Canada with his teenaged daughter — only to return and find his company embroiled in turmoil. “I was very aware that I was very stressed and facing potential burnout,” he says. “With poss

GetFitChick: the ladies-only and community-led gym in Dubai that's an exercise in positivity

The UAE is awash with fitness studios, ranging from traditional gyms and group classes to boot camps, aqua aerobics and VR-powered workouts. Despite, or maybe because of, regular new openings, many gyms are feeling the pinch as fitness buffs switch from one innovative workout to another. Arguably, the spaces that command loyalty in the long run have community wellness at their core. GetFitChick, a training and nutrition centre inside Train Strength & Fitness in Al Quoz, is one such success story

UAE comic Arzoo Malhotra's slot at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival brings her full circle

She fell into comedy as a way to relieve the stress of her graduate studies, and now Dubai stand-up comedienne Arzoo Malhotra has made it to the very stage that first inspired her two years ago – the world-renowned Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Comedy was a “detour off the original plan”, says Malhotra, 26. First, she took a course in environmental studies at the George Washington University in Washington DC and then earned a master’s degree in food security from the University of Edinburgh. Trav
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