It’s beginning to look a little like Christmas

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It was about this time last year that we had a conversation about what our Christmas in Dubai might look like. Should we take the Christmas decorations with us? Surely not. Likewise, the oversized fake tree that comes down from the loft every year? No, that would be ridiculous too. Wise decisions. Without all the familiar festive paraphernalia to hand it is easier to break away from convention and adopt a fresh approach. Deep down, I think the attempt to simply replicate what we usually do in this very different location would make me feel a bit sad.
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Pick and Mix Christmas

Waitrose

I never dreamed that I would be able to achieve my idea of a perfect Christmas whilst living in Dubai but it is shaping up nicely to be just that. Black Friday, Cyber Monday and all the rest of the hideous panic buying that makes the countdown to December 25 a nightmare in the UK, is not happening here. It probably is at some level but that is my point, really. You don’t have to take part in all that if, like me, you hanker after a calmer lead up to Christmas. (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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A guest for Ramadan

5 Guys Light

The American fast food chain 5 Guys has been announcing its imminent arrival to Downtown on giant hoardings for months. I am grateful that it waited till we were out of the country to finally open its doors to an eager crowd.

Sadly, this eyesore occupies a prime location at the entrance to Dubai Mall and within sight of the famous fountains. With so many better and more comfortable dining options close by it is astonishing how many people are willing to queue for a burger, hot dog and fries at all hours of the day. Change, if only for a month, is on the horizon though and this is one reason I am looking forward to experiencing my first Ramadan as a guest in Dubai. (more…)

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