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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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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Theatre in a nutshell

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If ever there was a case of less is more, then the concept of the ten-minute play must be a worthy contender. I say this as one who has sat, without complaint, through her fair share of three–act dramas whilst those around me grow ever more restless in their seats, hoping in vain for an early release back into the free world.

Dubai’s Short and Sweet Festival of Theatre is the antidote to all that. A menu of varied theatrical nuggets, freshly crafted and energetically presented is a winning way to keep an audience involved and alert. If you don’t like this play, chill out – there’ll be another one along in a few minutes. (more…)

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Where’s my tribe?

Art attack

I’m beginning to think that everyone should be plucked from everything and everyone they know and dropped in a new location at least once in their lives. The disruption really makes you think about who you are and what makes you tick. Exchanging predictable outcomes for a life lived in the moment is challenging but like most things worth doing, the more you put into it, the greater the gain. (more…)

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The three month review

Home

Three months have gone by since we moved to Dubai so it seems a good moment to pause and take stock of where we are with the ‘settling in’ process. How do you know when a place feels like home and what are the significant factors that help new arrivals to feel at one with a different culture?

By its nature Dubai is a place that attracts people from all over the world. ‘Melting pot’ is a clichéd and somewhat inaccurate description of multicultural societies generally but in Dubai, particularly so. I love it that I live in a place that welcomes so many different nationalities but as a new arrival I needed to find where I belonged first and initially sought contact with other Brits. I am sure that most expats, wherever they come from, feel the same. I have had to get used to the fact that most people I meet are a good deal younger than me and because of that we don’t always share the same cultural references! (more…)

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