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Tea with Culture

A podcast about the cultural happenings in the United Arab Emirates presented by Hind Mezaina (The Culturist) and Wael Hattar.


Swimming in Wild Waters by Kinfolk

Photo by Carissa Gallo


Kinfolk is one of my favourite food magazines. They recently started a Kinfolk Saturdays web series which aims to give you ideas for things to do on weekends and to inspire you to try new things.

The latest episode is called Swimming in Wild Waters, filmed at Dougan Falls along the Washougal River by Andrew & Carissa Gallo of

There’s something about leaping off a cliff into untamed waters that cannot be imitated in the community pool. For one, there is an element of uncertainty. Of how you will fall, land and what lies beneath the surface of those murky waters. Chlorine has stifled and confined our ability to fully embrace the art of swimming in all its glory.

As temperatures rise, the summer season beckons us to venture out to the river’s edge and ocean’s shores. This call should not be ignored. By immersing into wild waters, you surrender to your senses. To feel that chill in your bones or moss between your bare toes, to hear a soft ripple or loud splash, to lose vision in that green-blue expanse.

In a sense swimming strips us down, tunes out the busyness of our everyday lives and provides a weightless escape. Take to the outdoors and jump in.


Tomorrow Somewhere New

Tomorrow Somewhere New is an inspiring short film about Josh and Jessa Works, two self-employed freelancers, who sold everything they own, pucrhased an airstream and are now travelling across America with their children.

Have you ever felt trapped in a static life you didn’t choose? Ever considered just walking away from it all and creating your own adventure?

When Josh and Jessa Works asked themselves these questions, they answered by loading their son Jack into an Airstream and launching into an exploration and rediscovery of America, not in search of a place to settle, but rather creating a new kind of home out of wandering.


You can read the complete background to what led Josh and Jessa Works make this decision here. I am sure many will relate to the feeling of wanting to get away from the daily routine, to find a more meaningful and fulfilling life.

I admire people that make a decision to follow their dreams, even if it defies convention. I love this list they made.

An incomplete list of our motivations and desires:

  • to escape our growing ennui of the suburban lifestyle
  • to feed our insatiable wanderlust and explore
  • to own and consume fewer but better things
  • to live more efficiently and inexpensively
  • to cultivate a closer relationship with the natural world
  • to significantly curb our use of costly natural resources
  • to pursue passionate, self-fulfilling work (and work less)
  • to provide a humble and engaging worldview for our children
  • to indulge our curiosities and control our experiences
  • to face our inevitable vulnerability and learn to enjoy it
  • to live while we’re young and hope that it sticks




[via Good]



A Guide To Coffee Culture in Dublin by Louise Gaffney


Le Cool Dublin produced this lovely Guide To Coffee Culture in Dublin video to co-incide with Le Cool's Dublin Coffee Issue that came out late June.

I didn't know there was a coffee culture in Dublin, but it looks like it's been growing over the past five years, and according to the people featured in this video, it's all about the water, quality of coffee and attention to details that makes the coffee stand out in Dublin.

We like to think of the coffee shop as the third space after your work and your home. And traditionally in Dublin, the third space has always been like a pub and I think that's something that's changing in the city so we're seeing the emergence of the coffee shop as being something as a social hub.

Money aside, I think one of the most rewarding things of running a coffee shop is the social aspect of it. I think people come to coffee shops for that social experience. You don't meet your friends for a bacon sandwich or call up your friends and go do you want to go have a kebab. It's always do you want to go have coffee. 
Colin from 3FE


Songs from Disco Dancer


A few days ago I posted a short documentary called The Magnetist which featured a song called "Auva Auva – Koi Yahaan Nache" by Usha Uthup & Bappi Lahiri. It sounded familiar, and not just because it sounds Video Killed the Radio Star by The Buggles.

I remembered hearing and watching it from an old Bollywood film and after doing a bit of search online, I found out it's from Disco Dancer, an Indian movie from 1982 which I've watched as a kid.

So of course I started looking for the other songs from the film and had to share them with you - they are some of my favourite Bollywood songs. Hope you enjoy these. There's a lot of sparkle, a lot of wiggling and good ol' fashion Bollywood entertainment.

Auva Auva – Koi Yahaan Nache


 I am a Disco Dancer


Jimmy Aaja


Hermès Swimwear Collection Spring/Summer 2013 




Hermès Swimwear Collection for Spring/Summer 2013 is presented in this beautifully whimsical video. If you've not had a chance to enjoy swimming this summer, this video might put you in the mood.


Rock Camp for Girls in the UAE


For more than three years, Zahra Soar hosted a weekly radio show on Dubai Eye to showcase regional musical talent. While many musicians appeared on the show, very few female musicians came into the studio.

To help address this imbalance, Zahra has founded Dubai’s first Rock Camp for Girls, a not-for-profit five-day course for 16 locally based girls of all nationalities between the ages of seven and 17.

The premise is simple: pick up an instrument, form a band, write a song and perform it in front of friends and family on the final day. The girls will be split into four bands, each guided by its own experienced mentor including well known singers/musicians from the region, Noush Like Sploush and Fatiniza.

This is not a music camp. This is purely a not-for-profit mentoring program that will empower girls and galvanise them into action. If a student graduates from Rock Camp for Girls with greater confidence to perform, and wants to form her own band, then we have done our job. Zahra Soar, the camp organiser

Co-organiser Rasha Omar, Arabic content manager for music site Triple W agrees. She also wants to see more female bands in the Middle East.

There is fantastic talent in the region, and some brilliant female musicians. But, in my opinion, we should be working towards the point where it is absolutely normal to see more girls embracing music. It’s not just about empowerment, but it’s also about boosting confidence and providing the right stepping stone – and with a great group of mentors who will be teaching the kids, we hope to see great results. Rasha Omar, co-organiser


Alongside band rehearsals, the 16 girls will attend a series of specialised workshops, with instruction on setting up PA systems, creating press kits, as well as courses on rock history and lectures on prominent women in the music industry.

On Thursday, 29th August, at the end of the five-day workshop, there will be a finale, which will tie together everything the girls have learned with a headline performance at thejamjar in Al Quoz.



Rock Camp for Girls will take place at In The Mix studios from 25th-29th August 2013, from 9am to 1pm daily. Numbers are strictly limited to 16 girls and the camp package is AED 999 all inclusive.

Parents can contact Zahra Soar to book or for more information:
Phone: +97155 935 9982


Happy Eid Al Fitr 2013


To everyone celebrating Eid Al Fitr today, I wish you, your family and friends Eid Mubarak.



[image via]


Fawazeer Ramadan


This post first appeared on Art Dubai's blog, part of their
Posting Ramadan 2013
series where they invited guest bloggers
to write Ramadan themed posts. This was my submission.


Let me start by saying this is an unabashedly nostalgic post about Ramadan and TV, about memories I cherish from my childhood.

One of my earliest memories and associations with Ramadan is watching Fawazeer Ramadan with Nelly on TV.

Fawazeer means riddles in Arabic and Fawazeer Ramadan is an old loved tradition that started on Egyptian radio in the 1960s, which soon moved into television. 

I recall seeing Fawazeer Ramadan on TV in the late 1970s/early 1980s, watching the very glamorous Nelly singing and dancing, and making her viewers guess the riddle*. She starred in Fawazeer Ramadan between 1975 and 1981 and had another run on TV from late-mid 1990s.

Nelly is an Egyptian actress, singer, dancer, and comes from a family of entertainers. She started off as a child actress in the 1960s (following the footsteps of her older sister Feyrouz, one of the most famous Egyptian child actresses in the 1950s and cousin Lebleba). 

Opening credits of Fawazeer Ramadan - Arusti  (1980)


Closing credits of Fawazeer Ramadan - Arusti  (1980)


Sherihan, another star of Fawazeer took over between 1985-87 – but to me, no one could ever replace Nelly.









To many Sherihan is the favourite, but to me Nelly has and will always be the queen of the Fawazeer and Sherihan is its princess who tried to emulate her. Nelly had style; grace and she just seemed like a warm and friendly person. Sherihan always looked like she was performing where as Nelly just made everything look a lot more fun and relaxed.

One of the most memorable and loved Fawazeer is El-Khatba (The Matchmaker); it was the theme for the 1981 Fawazeer. Over the 30 episodes during Ramadan, we watched Nelly the matchmaker bringing 30 potential husbands to young women wishing to get married and us viewers had to guess the profession of each one after each episode.


Opening credits of Fawazeer Ramadan - El Khatbah (1981)


Closing credits of Fawazeer Ramadan - El Khatbah (1981)


My family and I loved watching Nelly’s Fawazeer. It was a time when we had a handful of channels on TV and it was something most of the Arab world tuned into and watched after iftar - a family tradition across the region.

Looking at some of the clips today, yes, they’re cheesy, but they’re fun and I still remember some of the lyrics to the opening and closing credits, especially El Khatba.

I stopped watching Fawazeer years ago, so if there is a current Fazwazeer star, I’m certainly not aware of him/her. But once in a while every Ramadan, I will look up Nelly’s Fawazeer online and reminisce.

Comparing to TV rituals during Ramadan today, I miss sitting with my family and watching something we all genuinely like. There are 100s of channels and sadly nothing to watch. I flick from channel to channel desperately hoping to find a great show, something for the family to enjoy watching together after we’ve had our iftar.

The past few years saw a surge of animated series made in the UAE like Sha’biat Cartoon, Freej, and Khusa Boosa. My family and I found something new to watch after iftar, current issues were addressed in a critically humourous way, but sadly, over the years, the makers of these shows have not been able to maintain the quality of writing and the bombardment of TV commercials that appear every few minutes during the shows are very quite off putting.  

As for the famous TV series during Ramadan, based on what I see in the promo ads, I have no interest in watching them – a lot of over acting, actresses with heavy make up and heavier lips, stale story lines and nothing uplifting. What am I left with? The news channel – and that’s not a barrel of laughs, especially these days (or Masterchef Australia which has become a recent obsession of mine, especially Junior Masterchef Australia).

So today, I enjoy iftar with my family, but shortly after that, we all go our separate ways. I miss having something that brings us together to watch on TV in the living room.

If you’d like to know more about Fawazeer Ramadan, I suggest you check out these links:
Ramadan 2010: A Ramadan Childhood
Fawazeer Miriam: A nostalgic but disappointing Ramadan quiz show
Childhood delight in Ramadan show "Fawazeer Ramadan"

* I always wondered if people actually took part in these Fawazeer. If they did, how did they participate, how were the winners selected and notified? Answers on a postcard please.


Is This The Future of The Airline Website? by Fi


Digital design agency Fi created this great case study tragetting the airline industry by illustrating what airline websites can look and feel like.

This case study is our humble plea to airlines, and the travel industry in general. Let’s work together, take the lead, and chart the course that others will follow. The time is now, and savvy world travelers are not prone to waiting. Let’s collaboratively build the future of online websites… We’re ready to fly.


The propose questions like "Can We Make the Booking Process More Pleasant?" and go on to say,

Airline bookings evolved from paper and fax machines to online website containers. Unfortunately that is how they remain to this day – essentially clunky and disjointed design that never progressed beyond basic utility.

Globetrotting customers represent the highest value to an airline. Let’s give them an intelligent, interactive experience for plotting multi-city itineraries worthy of the 21st century.


I agree with them 100%. THIS is how it should be.


[hat tip @Ozbatur]


The Magnetist

The Magnetist is a quirky short documentary about Micke, aka 'The Magnetist', whose life revolves around cassette tapes.

Most of Micke's time is spent on various tape-related projects; he blogs about them, he makes music with them and he got a monthly tape club in his hometown Stockholm. Sometimes it's a struggle. Here we get an insight to Micke's life as a tapeologist and join him to his tape-only club to find out the motivation behind his interest.


I love people like Micke who are so dedicated to their passions - I love that he loves cassettes (if you know me or have been following this blog for a while, you will know I love all things analogue). Watching the part about his monthly tape club party was sad and endearing. Sad because it only attracts a handful of people, but endearing because Micke still gives it his all and grateful for the turnout, regardless of numbers.

I tried looking for his blog, but noticed the following comment on Vimeo by the filmmaker:

Micke ended his blog in May since people had contacted him about copyright claims (ironically some old punk bands). I emailed him to see if he started a new one or got another one, but he wrote that he got a bit tired and fed up after all the nonsense argumentation, but he'll start something only to promote his own stuff he said.

I'll post it if I hear anything more about it. I think that this whole scenario actually is really interesting, maybe I'll see if I could do a short follow up on it.


I really do hope there will be a follow up to this documentary and hope Micke is still making mix tapes and throwing tape parties. If Micke lived in Dubai, we'd be friends.