One Arabian Night

One Arabian Night

 

Rub' al Khali desert dunes One arabian night
Rub’ al Khali desert dunes

One Arabian Night–that was all we had. It really is not enough to even begin to explore the largest area of continuous sand on this planet, which harbors the world’s largest sand dunes, but it had to do. We have escaped the soulless glass cityscape, that is Abu Dhabi, countless times before, but our visit to the Tilal Liwa Hotel was the Middle Eastern experience that I was yearning for.

Tilal Liwa's Infinity Pool One Arabian Night
Tilal Liwa’s Infinity Pool

You really could not contrive a more a quixotic desert retreat if you tried; the arabesque arch reflected in the cool blue infinity pool giving the illusion of an oasis blending into the desert dunes in the distance, the perfect symmetry of the Arabian-inspired crenellations in the roof, the camels rhythmically being led across the road by their nimble riders, the scorching heat of the midday desert sun followed by its lithe setting into the vast, apricot-colored dunes, the rising crescent moon on its heels, the sweltering heat of the day gently giving way to the ever-so-slightly cooler Arabian night. A musician plays music of the Middle East on a Qunan in a lonely corner of the courtyard. The smoky scent of Oud and Shisha pervading the air, and you are transported to a time long ago.

This is all I ever wanted: 1,001 Arabian Nights, but I would have to settle for one. Call me a romantic or a history buff, but the only feeling I have really hoped for since we have lived in the Middle East—one year now—is that feeling of being nowhere else in the world other than here. This sensation is harder and harder to come by in our increasingly globalized world. After all, how many places off hand can you think of where you cannot find a McDonald’s or a Starbucks these days?! Not too many. I was transported this past weekend to the time of desert caravans, Bedouin encampments and camels. I spent One Arabian Night at the Tilal Liwa Hotel.

The Lonely Road to the Tilal Liwa Hotel  One Arabian Night
The Lonely Road to the Tilal Liwa Hotel

Where’s that, you may wonder? It’s not in the second nearest town, Liwa—it’s namesake. It’s closest to Madinat Zayed, which isn’t easily mapped, but I found one. Here’s a link to the map. The Tilal Liwa is at the doorstep of one of the largest deserts in the world. It’s not really in your GPS but, having said that, it’s not hard too find. How many roads can possibly be out there? Check in time is 2pm, but we wanted some time to explore the town of Madinat Zayed and perhaps the dunes before we checked in.

You may remember my post in December about the Camel Beauty Pageant? This is the town in which the Camel festival takes place, so please consider a December visit. It was the highlight of 2013 for me, but then not everyone shares my affection for camels–understatement of the year, thought everyone. As a warning, the further you get away from the cities in the UAE and the nearer you get to the desert, the towns, not too surprisingly, become much more conservative. We left on a Friday, the holy day of Islam, and there wasn’t a whole lot to do in Madinat Zayed because everyone was worshipping somewhere and all the stores and restaurants were closed. It was noon, but we decided to try our luck and see if our room was ready for us. The road to the Tilal Liwa is called Million Street. This was the same road that in December was bustling with Bedouins, herds of camels and their riders, wealthy camel breeders and a few interested tourists. On this day, there was no one. Million Street was desolate. We passed all the structures that exist solely for the Camel Festival: the racetrack, the camel veterinary clinic, the stadium, the police station; they were all covered in sand just waiting to blown clean and prepped.

One Arabian Night_TL approach
Tilal Liwa Front Entrance

We arrived at the Tilal Liwa Hotel. It looks more like a fortress than a hotel from a distance, but once you get closer, you see the palm trees, and the endless dunes. You feel like Lawrence of Arabia might have felt a century ago arriving somewhere so exotic and, yet, at the same time so convivial. We pulled up into the lavish looking receiving area. A valet immediately came to take our bags, open our doors and park our car; another guided us to the reception. A very nice young lady received us at the front desk. Another greeted us with mint lemonade, a traditional drink of the Middle East and so refreshing on a hot, dusty day. Not only did the hotel have a room ready for us, but also they had given us an upgrade after my mentioning, rather casually, in an e-mail that we were celebrating my husband’s birthday. We were so surprised that they took it upon themselves to offer this to us. It was very unexpected and so solicitous. A bellboy led us to our rooms, past the main lobby and the hotel’s restaurant. Our room was not very large, but well appointed and beautifully decorated. It had large French doors that opened up onto the infinity pool and courtyard area, which was exquisite. The kids, of course, darted off the to the pool. There was a lot for the kids to do in the courtyard aside from the infinity pool: there was an enormous chess set, hammocks, a trampoline, a play area, a ping-pong table. There was also entertainment. We initially thought it was Karaoke, but it turned out to be two rather scantily clad young ladies hired to sing pop songs, and kind of dance to them by the pool. That was weird enough but whatever. We spent the afternoon at the pool. It was so relaxing. As I stated in the introduction, an Arabian-inspired arch looms above the infinity pool where you can sit on seats in the pool itself, relax and stare off into the vastness of the desert dunes.

Friendly jockey_Camel Crossing_One Arabian Night
Camel Showman

After all that rest and relaxation, we mustered the energy to take a late afternoon dune walk and desert drive. All morning we wondered if the area were just a ghost town for the other fifty weeks that the Camel Festival was not going on. It turns out there are lots of people there, they just don’t come out until the late afternoon/evening. We encountered bands of camels and their riders. They didn’t seem to mind me taking thousands of photos; they were true showmen, as conformable on the back of a dromedary as they were in front of a camera.

One Arabian Night_TL BBQ night
Tilal Liwa’s Friday BBQ Night

Afternoon faded listlessly into evening, we sipped a glass of wine on our balcony and watched the sky grow purple and crescent moon rise over the desert. Wafts of the Friday evening BBQ buffet blew our way and hunger set in. We drifted down to the dining room only to partake in another feast. The knowledge kitchen staff catered to our every need, and every item we tried met our high standards. Fully sated, we meandered home. Our kids were tired, but we weren’t. Live music was playing in the courtyard and it sounded like a lot of other guests had gathered there to listen, so why shouldn’t we? We tucked the kids in and headed over to the Al Liwan Oasis, a.k.a. “the bar by the pool.” The music this evening was Middle Eastern and drew a decidedly more local clientele. I have to admit I was a bit hesitant to order a beer in the midst of so many Emirati guests, but we went ahead and did it anyway, given there was one other western couple there doing the same. We took in the music, the ambiance, people-watched the other

Tilal Liwa by night One Arabian Night
Tilal Liwa By Night

guests who were smoking shisha, dancing and singing along to the traditional music; they knew all the words and were fully enjoying themselves. We soon found ourselves being invited over for drinks with an Emirati man and few of his friends. They ordered a round of drinks (ours, alcoholic and what was in their very “blue” drinks I may never know). Their English was not quite good enough to have a full conversation, but we all tried very hard often relying on charade-like gestures to Pictionary-esque drawings. They were very excited to be celebrating my husband’s birthday with us, so the drinks kept coming, and a good time was had by all. We informed them that we planned to come visit again for the Camel Festival, and we exchanged numbers and made plans to visit with each other come December.

Part of the appeal of the desert for me, apart from the solitariness, is the wide-open space. Just like the ocean, the desert has its own restless motion; the sea can be as calm as it can be violent in a sand storm.We woke early to hungry children. This should come as no surprise to all the parents out there. No matter how late we stayed out, they wake up at the same time, as usual, hungry. They were dying to hit the breakfast buffet; we were dying to hit the snooze bar. They won. Off we went to the buffet early enough to squeeze in a leisurely breakfast and swim before our noon checkout and our long drive home back to work-school-life reality.

Divine_One Arabian Night Gracious staff at Tilal Liwa
Our server was aptly named Divine.

Breakfast was a wonderful as dinner. We had mostly the same staff as we had had for dinner. They had all been informed that it was my husband’s birthday, and every single staff member he encountered made a point of wishing him happy birthday. How they all knew who he was is beyond me. I want to be sure to mention that each staff member at the Tilal Liwa is extremely good at his/her job. They all have gracious smiles on their faces and seem, at every moment, to be doing far more than their job description requires of them, which is kind of unusual here. We went back to the room and off we went to the pool as per our kids’ plans.

Birthday cake_One Arabian Night
Surprise! Happy Birthday Cake.

After our swim, we returned to our room to pack and get ready to go home. The phone rang. A hotel attendant asked when he could bring the birthday cake. “A birthday cake? Who ordered a birthday cake?” I asked. “No, ma’am. This cake is from the hotel. Can we bring it now?” the voice on the line said. Sure, I responded. It was 11:50 am; we had not eaten lunch. Why not? It would sure be a birthday surprise. And it was. It was brought to our room in moments. The young man that phoned  brought the cake, lit candles, sang happy birthday, and insisted on taking family photos for us—SO many until he got one he was happy with. Now, that’s dedication to your job if I ever saw it. The checkout process was as effortless as the check in. The staff got a few more happy birthdays in and off we went, back on that long, dusty, desert road. Back to reality.

In conclusion, one Arabian night is just not enough to really enjoy the full amenities available to you at the Tilal Liwa Hotel. You need at least three or four in my opinion. I would also recommend you go at a cooler time of the year than we did. There were so many desert tours, outings and sports in which you can partake, but they just were not realistic in July or August.

[cincopa AMIAP7r29ehE]

 

UAE A-Z

UAE A-Z

UAE A-Z_desertNot so long ago I noticed a blogging challenge going on called the “A-Z Blog Challenge,” where bloggers make a fun, but rather long, series of posts detailing alphabetically a list of places and things of importance to their cities. No blogger seems to have made one for Abu Dhabi or Dubai, so I got right to it and created a UAE A-Z. Looking back through my archives, I realized that I am only personally familiar with about maybe 25% of the list, which is pathetic really, so I am intent upon changing that in the latter half of 2014. I promise to blog my way through the list. Here is my A-Z of UAE influential people, amazing places, essential things of importance and oddities (X & V and other letters are hard, people!). I included one Oman location–I just had to. The lists are split into A-M and N-Z respectively. These selections represent my opinions alone. Please let me know what you think about my choices in the comment section. Let me know if there are places I missed. Do follow the links in each letter’s bolded title for links, pictures and further information:

Al Ain Sunset UAE A-Z
Al Ain Sunset

A. Al Ain. Al Ain is a small city/desert outpost in the emirate of Abu Dhabi. It is also known as the “Oasis city,”  It borders the Rub’ Al Khali desert (aka the “Empty Quarter”) and Oman. It’s climate is much hotter and drier than Abu Dhabi, and it boasts the nation’s highest elevation: Jebel Hafeet. Al Ain is also home to a very respectable zoo, the only extreme sports’ water park that I am aware of in the world and a traditional camel market. The drive there from either Abu Dhabi or Dubai will not disappoint you, if you are seeking a true desert experience; it is full of camels, camels in the back of pick up trucks and dunes. 

UAE Beaches UAE A-ZB. Beaches / Burj Khalifa. There are just so many lovely beaches here in the UAE. There is, of course, my beloved neighborhood beach, Yas beach, which that I regularly blog about. In this list, I talk about a few, but I don’t want to forget to mention all the beaches that dot the coastline as you travel north:  Ajman, Umm Al Quaim and Ras Al Khaimah.

Yes, the Burj Khalifa is, for now, the highest building in the world. It is in Dubai and, trust me, you can’t miss it! This is me in front of it, and this is the view from above. The view serves as a reminder that, yes, the UAE is very much a desert nation though you would never know it when you ski, après-ski with a meander down a palm-lined, Rodeo drive-esque street.

Family at Burj Khalifa_UAE A-Z
My family at Burj Khalifa

 

 

Burj Khalifa Top View (credit Burj Khalifa Photo Club)_UAE A-Z
The View from the Top

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

C. Corniche The Corniche is a lovely stretch of city beach along Abu Dhabi’s western coast line. There is generally lots of parking, and it is free to visit. I am always blogging about all the amazing free things there are to do here and the Corniche is another, little free gem if you like to go to the beach.

Lizzy of arabia on a camel at Al Dhafra Camel Beauty Pageant_UAE A-Z
Yes, that’s yours truly on a camel.

D. Al Dhafra Camel Festival Every December, thousands of camel beauty queens descend upon a small town, called Al Dhafra, to compete for millions of dirhams in prizes and the crown, of course, at the Annual Camel Beauty Pageant. Many of you, who read my blog, know that I am a camel-lover; I just love the beasts. No one can convince me that they are dirty, smelly, spitting creatures because I have seen the prettiest camels in the world, and these camels are real ladies. They are dignified and very affectionate creatures. You have to see it to believe it, like anything. This was by far my favorite UAE experience yet. Most of the time you can live here and not feel as though you live smack dab in the middle of the Middle East. The Camel Beauty Pageant will superimpose you into a world of Middle East tradition: camels, falcons, incense, tents, dates, tea and bedouins. For more information about the Camel Festival, visit the Tourism website.

E. Eid There are two Eids on the Islamic calendar. The first: Eid Al-Fitr celebrates the breaking of the fast following Ramadan. Eid al-Adha celebrates the sacrifice that Ibrahim made in the Old Testament and also celebrates the end of the Hajj in Saudi Arabia, which draws 1.5 million Muslims every year.

Viceroy Marina UAE A-Z
Yas Viceroy Marina

F. Formula 1 / Friday Brunch Formula 1 or Friday Brunch? Which best defines represents “F” for the UAE? Let’s go with both! Yas Island boasts an amazing and accessible F1 track, which lures the greatest drivers in the world and millions of spectators every November for the Yas Marina Circuit F1. It is also host to some awesome post race events all of the F1 week. Last year, Jay-Z, Muse, Depeche Mode and others headlined the post race concert series. I will admit that I know little to nothing about F1, but it’s exciting to live across from it, I can say, especially since I can sit on my balcony and hear all the concerts. 

Friday brunches are just what expats do here in the UAE. There are thousands to choose from featuring all levels of prestige, every cuisine known to man and usually, but not always, unlimited libations. Here is a definitive list of Friday brunches (prices, locations and reviews) in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

Grand Mosque_UAE A-Z
Family at the Grand Mosque

G. Grand Mosque No trip to the UAE is complete without a visit to the Grand Mosque. It is a glorious feat of architecture. Did I mention that it’s free to visit? Here are some fast, intriguing fasts about the Grand Mosque:

  1. The mosque can accommodate over 40,000 worshipers.
  2. It features 82 white marble domes of Moroccan design.
  3. The Mosque has more than 1,000 columns in the outer areas, with inlaid marble panels and decorated in a floral design with semi-precious stones, and 96 columns in the main prayer hall, each inlaid with mother of pearl.
  4. It displays the world’s largest hand-knotted carpet, designed by Iranian artist Ali Khaliqi and hand crafted by 1,300 artisans.
  5. It showcases the word’s largest chandelier, made in Germany with thousands of Swarovski crystals from Austria and glasswork from Italy.
  6. The design and construction include materials such as marble, stone, gold, semi-precious stones, crystals and ceramics.
  7. The mosque uses a very special lighting system in evening hours that follows the phases of the moon – they gradually become lighter as the moon becomes full.
  8. The Grand mosque is the final resting place of the late visionary president of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who was buried in the courtyard of the Mosque.

Check the visiting times before you visit and be sure to behave and dress “modestly” as you would in any house of worship.The definition of “modest” is really just common sense, but there is a description (with illustrations) for those challenged by the concept. Ahem, Rihanna

H. Hummus Ah, hummus. Who doesn’t love the creamy, dippy chickpea concoction? I am going to go out on a limb and call hummus a “Middle Eastern” dish, just knowing I am opening myself up to all kinds of arguments. Apparently, there is a great debate over who owns the rights to hummus. Who knew?! I say let’s just let bygones be bygones with regard to hummus. We all love the stuff. Who cares who invented it and just thank the deity of your choice that someone did in the first place. Let’s just all get along.

I. Islam / Iftar I just couldn’t decide for “I.” After all, Islam is the official state religion of the region, and Iftar is the traditional meal to break the fast during Ramadan; both seemed important. You cannot have a serious, or not so serious, discussion about the region without knowing just a little bit about Islam. The Old Testament of the Bible and the Quran have dictated most of the regions’ social mores, laws and past, present and future in the same manner Christianity has the west. Muslims believe that the verses of the Quran are the revelation of God verbally revealed through the Prophet Muhammad. On a side, but related, note, Muhammad is a VERY common name here, indeed the most common in the world.

The Road to Jebel Hafeet_UAE A-Z
The Road to Jebel Hafeet

J. Jebel Hafeet Jebel Hafeet is the highest point in the UAE. At the top is a hotel called the Mercure Jebel Hafeet. The mountain rises 1,249 metres (4,098 ft) and offers impressive view over the city. The drive up is hair-raising and is classified as one of the must-do drives for people who love to drive. 

K. Kandura (dishdash) A Kandura is the traditional men’s dress here in the UAE. Women wear Abayas and the Shayla (loose scarf around head). Almost no women here wear the Burqa. Lots of people ask me what the westerners wear here in the UAE, and the answer is simple. Use discretion. If you are in a Mosque, dress as though you were in a church. If you are in an area or location frequented mostly by westerners, anything goes really.  

L. Liwa dates Liwa dates are yummy. I would say they are the best in the world, but what do I really know about dates?! Not much. I don’t even know if they are fruits or nuts.  I can tell you that they are big business here. Date palms are one of the very few native plants that can survive the oppressive heat in this region and therefore revered. We went to a date competition in December, and it was amazing. There was another date festival here in the UAE recently. Who knew there were so many kinds of dates?!

Musandam  UAE A-Z
Musandam Dhow Cruising

M. Musandam Dhow Cruise  This is another UAE must-visit place. All right, it’s Oman, but it’s just so close, and definitely shouldn’t miss it if you are in the UAE. Now, I have not yet been here, but we are going this fall for the next Eid. Musandam is just a few hours’ drive north of Dubai and apparently well worth the trip. The drive alone is full of gorgeous sites, like Ajman Beach, the rocky coast and narrow mountain roads that bring you into the city and its desolate beaches. What’s there to do in Musandam? Take a Dhow cruise to Khor as Sham, a majestic rocky fjord that some regards as ‘the Norway of Arabia’. You recline on cushions and Persian carpets on deck to savor the views or spot some dolphins, stopping to dive into the cobalt sea for swimming or snorkeling. There is also an overnight option, which includes camping on a secluded beach. 

N-Z are on their way. Give me a few days. 

 

Expat Revolving Door

Expat Revolving Door

Expat revolving door in Abu DhabiIt’s apparently that time of year again—the expat exodus is in full swing. To me, it’s a lot like an Expat Revolving Door: the old residents are pushing themselves out sweaty and jaded; the new residents are gliding in, befuddled and clammy, but still very excited. I cannot help but recall our own arrival here last summer. Steamy August and September welcomed us–sweaty, bewildered and unaccustomed to the heat. Now June ushers us out–much in same the manner we were received–still sweaty, but now accustomed to the many trappings that life in here Abu Dhabi gifts us expats with: kind of a swag bag of sorts for putting up with the heat, round a bouts and chaos as congenially as so many of us do. It’s my first time on this merry-go-round of goodbyes, so bear with me.

Beer Fest 2014 #BFF #abudhabi #yas #yasisland
Beer Fest 2014–the name of the event explains the photo, I sincerely hope.

My very first and close friend, here in Abu Dhabi, is moving back to the states. Of course, people come and go–they do everywhere. Just this time last year, I was selling our family home, leaving our town of 8 years, which was a really long time for us to stay anywhere and preparing to move here; it was also a very sad time. It’s a bit different here though. This is not our country; we all know that our time here is finite. None of us, in the expat community (84% of the population of this entire country), are from here.

Fabric group
Fabric shopping in Abu Dhabi

 

I really like to move. I always have. I love to face all the challenges that a new locale offers: where to shop, where to eat, where to find great stationery and where to find fun. I enjoy a good and regular resettling within my home country, but I relish the same experience abroad—it is filled with so many more surprises. I have blogged about these searches ad nausea, I’m sure. My friends all know this about me. If you are new friend to me, know that, while I am loyal and a great friend, I am not destined to be local for very long. I’ll still be your friend, but it will change. The very best friendships can withstand distance. Everyone has that friend--you know, the one that doesn’t stick around for long. The one you do not see for years, but when you do, it’s as though no time as passed at all. I seek that variety of friendship because I am a nomad. My feet get itchy, and it isn’t athlete’s foot.

With a Little help from my friends #lizzyofarabia #abudhabi #camelcookies
With a little help from my friends

Enough about me, let’s talk about my friends. The way we befriended each other last fall was fast and furious. There was no time for questions or finding things in common. There was no time for politics, religion or “what school did you go to” and many of those other questions you know I like to know upfront because I am nosy, but you are not supposed to bring up in polite conversation. There wasn’t even time to figure out if we had kids and husbands who might be compatible, which is mandatory friend criteria for burgeoning friendships back home, but not a concern here. (We were very lucky that they all did get along.) We were simply all new here, lost, confused, in the same boat and needing a shoulder to cry on, a smiling face to move towards when you walked into the school lobby and, most importantly, someone to laugh with at all the absurd experiences that were happening around us because, we all knew, if we didn’t laugh about them, we’d cry or, worse, go crazy.

Which leads me to believe that friendship is a lot like opportunity. It knocks on your door, all the time, everyday in countless ways, but you don’t usually open the door. How many opportunities have we all missed because we were too scared or busy to simply say yes to some odd invitation? I think if you look back, you could summon up a vast array of “missed friendship opportunities” because some strange person you met somewhere dressed, behaved or spoke very differently to you or just wasn’t what you perceived to be “your type”–I know I can think of thousands.

Can I get a bowl of nuts? #yasisland #stillspub #abudhabi #crowneplaza
Can I get some nuts, please?

To honor my dear friends going home this month, I vow, from now on, to welcome more people into my life the way I did you: with no questions asked, no outward appearance assessments or affinity tests. As one proverbial expat revolving door swings shut behind them, I hope that another is swooshing open in front of me brimming with another new friend–hopefully just like you. This friend will never replace my dear friend, but she will have to do. I wish the same open revolving door full of potential friends to you as well. Godspeed Shahana and family; I will miss you dearly. I know you will make many new friends, just like us, in your new home

The Opening Soon Saloon

The Opening Soon Saloon

Coming “soon”? The Opening Soon Saloon.

Oh yeah! It's the Opening Soon Saloon! It FINALLY happened
Oh yeah, it’s the Opening Soon Saloon! It FINALLY happened!

My sidesplittingly funny friend, Christine, shared this photo with me yesterday because she likes to make people laugh. Like me, it gives Christine great joy to make people smile–I love her for thatespecially in a place like this where some things can be, well, rather frustrating, like almost everything. You always need to have a friend here who can make you laugh or to help you see the lighter side of the absurd thing that just happened to you. This photo had me almost doubled over laughing because it represents so many things that I find funny about this town.

I blogged here about this uniquely Middle Eastern concept of “soon”; it’s not what we think in the west. Soon is kinda, sorta like whenever. It’s not really soon at all by our definition. You could wait outside the Opening Soon Saloon for years eagerly anticipating whatever sort of manscaping or lady-scaping they do in there and be utterly disappointed, and well ridiculously overgrown, when it never does open; that’s just how things seem to work here.

I felt compelled to share the Opening Soon Saloon because it does, in one photo, capture so many silly things I have mentioned here in recent months. It’s more than likely not opening soon. It’s not really a saloon—don’t get your hopes up—you know I have swaggered into more than my share of saloons here in the wild, wild Middle East only to find people who want to clean me rather than serve me a beer?! WTH! I am clean. I know my blonde girl mustache can get a little unruly, but PLEASE give a girl a break! That’s not why I am here. I am here for beer. Whatever. Take a little off the sides. Ouch! Where’s my beer. Where is the nearest Sa-LOON?

Anyway, when Christine cares to share the location on the “Opening Soon Saloon,” Who’s in? I’ll drive.

What to Wear? What to Wear?

What to Wear? What to Wear?

 

Justin & Jessica
Aren’t they cute?

If I were lucky enough to win free tickets to the Justin Timberlake concert next Friday night here in Abu Dhabi, I would be overjoyed, but inevitably I would be forced to ponder that age-old question that causes women the world over dread: What to Wear? Sivvi.com is running this competition for local bloggers to win tickets. All a gal (or a guy) has to do to enter, is have a look through their spring collection, and put together an outfit. Easy peasy, right?! Well, not so much for me. 

I have blogged numerous times about my disinterest in both fashion and shopping, which are, of course, the past times of choice here in the Emirates where shopping and malls take on an almost ritualistic quality to city dwellers. If you like to shop, I can honestly not think of a better place in the world to live than here! I do not relish the weekend pilgrimage to the mall, but I love to online shop; oh, how I miss Amazon. So I was initially reluctant to enter this competition. I am so glad that I did though! Sivvi is really fun. The website is user-friendly and colorful. They sell some of my favorite brands, like T-bags and Splendid, and so many others that I only just discovered. I love to make unexpected discoveries this way!

Jessica Biel, Justin Timberlake
The Muse to Justin

That’s the background on this post. So, where does a blogger like moi, who is, let’s say a wee bit fashion-challenged, even begin? I decided to forget about man in the suit & tie and consider his bee-u-tiful wife, Jessica Biel. What might she wear to her man’s show in Abu Dhabi? Well, she is, of course, drop dead gorgeous. She can wear anything she wants, but she always manages to keep it simple, graceful and sophisticated, which is the way I probably would dress if I didn’t work from home and always spill stuff all over my brand new shirt. In putting together my ensemble, I attempted to channel Jessica’s look, and I’m calling it Stand Out Sophisticate with a dash of bohemian; an outfit as suited for day out shopping as it could be for Coachella. Here goes!

 

Justin Timberlake, Abu Dhabi Sivvi.com competition
My Outfit Mood board. Pick me, please!!

If I were going to the JT concert, and I had the luxury of choosing anything that I wanted at Sivvi, I would choose this look. It is a concert, which is taking place in the evening, and the weather will likely be hot, hot, hot, so I opted for something light and breezy. This T-bags romper is perfect for both battling crowds and elbowing your way to the front row and yet simple, chic and sophisticated. I paired the romper with these cute neon yellow sandals from Lucy Choi for a pop of color since navy is maybe a bit too sophisticated for a concert on its own. These fun wedges not only add a little color, but also a little Rock n’ Roll with the steel spikes. Voilà! That was easy. No fuss outfit done! Next, I bee lined it to the accessories—these are always my personal favorite part of any outfit because they totally change the look of anything. It was so easy on this site to throw together a “matching,” but not too “matchy matchy,” look. I chose this Orla Keily patent leather small purse. It’s small enough to hold a few things, but easy to carry. It looks like it might even fit into a pocket, and it’s the perfect color. The jewelry was the most fun! There were so many colors and designs to choose from; deciding which to choose was nearly impossible! I opted to stick to yellow because it was bright and fun and lent the romper a bohemian element. I started with the wrist candy. I love, love, love this Skinny Cuff by Deepa Gurnani! I want to own it in every color. Finally, for the pièce de résistance: this Headband. I love this; it is so feminine and carefree. I am not positive that I would actually pull it off, but Jessica sure could!

There you have it: My creation! I love it. I would wear this everyday. I would own that romper in every color. I might even be bold enough to try the headband, if I won this competition and actually got to go. Please visit Sivvi. If you like simple, I think you’ll like it. Online stores, like Sivvi, help people like me figure out what to wear. In the interest of full disclosure, if I were to win, I do plan on sending my daughter and her friend, Victoria! They are 13, and this would be a dream come true! Sivvi.com, can you make this happen for them? May the best ensemble win! I hope it’s me!!

 

Daily Photo–Harp

Daily Photo–Harp

This weekend, a Beach Bazaar event took place at our complex. There were vendors from all over the UAE selling everything from abayas to brownies to sponges to a “pre-oil,” local soda pop, called Namlet (meaning those drinks native to here prior to the oil boom when Coca-cola and Pepsi deemed this place a worthy investment for their swill). :/ No comment. I was especially taken with this harpist whose name I did not get, but she played so beautifully. The sodas also made an impression on me and many others as well. The bottle had a most unusual shape and a small ball to contain the carbonation. You depress this little ball with your finger into the bottle and drink. It seemed so old-fashioned. It came in flavors like Rose and Lemon mint–traditional offerings of the Middle East.

My girls declared it the “best night ever” because there were free, yummy cupcakes–thank you, Yas Island Viceroy Hotel. I might have said the same thing but for different reasons. There are days or evenings when I am certain that we are right where we should be at this exact moment, and last night was one of them. It is a rare occurrence for people from all ends of the earth and all walks of life to walk, talk, laugh and share fun as we did last night. Abu Dhabi is home to the cross roads of the world’s population at this moment in time. The city (and the country) is working very hard to be welcoming, tolerant and an impressive host. You should stop by. I think you would be impressed by the warm welcome and the long list of fun family-oriented things to do. Have a look.

Harpist Playing at the Al Muneera Beach Bazaar
Harpist Playing at the Al Muneera Beach Bazaar
Strange dolls
Dolls from the Philippines
Elizabrush
Eliza Brush?
Drinks
Namlet Soft Drinks

Shell bags Light tricks

Truffles
Truffles