Remembering Rose

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The lovely young woman looking so confidently into the camera only had a few more years left to live when this photograph was taken. I am guessing this formal, studio portrait marks a milestone age, maybe a 21st birthday. Her name is Rose De Haan and her death certificate states that she died at the age of 25. Three days earlier she had given birth to a daughter. The baby was my mother, Sylvia Rose. (more…)

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Working to enhance my experience

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Refurbishment, fit out or maintenance works in Dubai invariably carry explanatory signage declaring: ‘We are working to enhance your experience’, suggesting that the temporary inconvenience to the general public is for the greater good. This charming phrase suggests that behind the hoardings, persons unseen are labouring night and day to get things back on track as soon as possible.

Whether this is actually true or not is questionable as some of these ‘enhancements’ to existing premises can go on for months, with no discernible difference to the décor or layout when the grand reopening occurs! Leaving that to one side, the idea continues to resonate with me and is one I am taking to heart. (more…)

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Mixed Media

Courtyard Playhouse

Is it a play or is it a film? That is the question. Or certainly that was the one I was asking as we took our seats at Dubai’s Courtyard Playhouse.

We were here for a National Theatre Live screening of The Audience, Peter Morgan’s award- winning play, starring theatrical royalty, Dame Helen Mirren. I’d always wondered whether seeing a broadcast of a play on a cinema screen counts as a true theatrical experience but given that the West End of London is a bit out of reach right now, this seemed a good moment to find out how it all worked. (more…)

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Take me back to the China Sea

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I have been ‘fancying a Chinese’ for quite a few weeks now, mainly because Tim has been raving about a particular dish he tried one lunchtime at Dubai’s China Sea restaurant and has been promising to take me there to share the joy.

The stars aligned and here we are, outside a beacon of red and gold illuminated kitsch that signals this is going to be a memorable dining experience. Every Chinese adornment, from fringed and bobbing lanterns to rampant mythical beasts, is on show at this Dubai institution and then some. (more…)

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Jordan’s hidden wonder

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‘You are welcome’. This simple phrase, usually just a reflex response to thanks, when used at all, doesn’t usually catch my attention. It took a journey to Jordan for me to appreciate the real meaning of these words when spoken by a Jordanian. Everywhere we went it seemed that ordinary people were genuinely delighted to know that visitors were in their midst and this oft repeated greeting was their way of communicating their pleasure. (more…)

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Letter from Lebanon

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I can still hear the worry in your voice, echoing in my head from several months ago when I first dropped Beirut into the conversation. Well, Mum, I went, I survived and I’m back safe and sound. I would have rung you by now to tell you all about it but since we can’t have those conversations any more I thought I would write down what I would have liked to share with you about this trip. (more…)

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Open door for Iftar

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You don’t have to be here very long to notice that expats in Dubai vastly outnumber the local Emirati population. A recent BBC radio report states the current statistics are 1 in 9. The cultural mix from around the world is rich and diverse but perhaps because of that, aside from the very obvious social protocols, the customs and religious traditions of the UAE can be somewhat hidden. (more…)

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