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


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

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
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