Category Archives: Art & Culture
Abu Dhabi’s NEW 7* cinema experience at the World Trade Centre
On the top floor of the World Trade Centre Mall there is a new cinema with a difference, which should not be missed.
Novo cinemas (re-branded from Grand cinemas) has 8 screens and 1,414 seats.
All the latest international blockbuster films are on offer, however at this cinema not only do you select the film, you also select how you want to experience it.
There are three seat classes: Novo Cool (standard seating, designed for optimal viewing), Novo Edge (The best seats in the house) and Novo Sky (which are premium balcony seats).
Once that decision is made, it’s time to decide how you want to view the film.
The World Trade Centre mall branch offers Novo 3D or IMAX and the 7* option.
I was lucky enough to be invited to the premier of the Spider Man 2 movie to try out the top of the range luxury theatre experience.
In the exclusive 7* cinema each guest is guided to their seat by torchlight.
When you arrive, you won’t be disappointed with the fully reclining leather arm chair and side table. At the touch of a button you can recline the seat back, raise the foot rest to make yourself comfortable with the complementary satin pillow and soft fleece blanket.
Just make sure the film is action based as this is a seriously comfy cinema and the risk of a quick nap is high!
Thankfully we were kept on the edge of our seats by the lovely Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield. This experience also includes at seat service, so you can remain refreshed throughout the show with no need to head to the kiosk.
Although we only tried the delicious traditional popcorn and soft drinks, Novo also offer food served from premium china-ware!
You also get access to a private lounge area, concession and wash room.
So how much will this set you back?
The 7* experience costs 150 AED per adult for an evening of luxury.
For a slightly more economical night out the Novo Cool seats are priced at 50 AED and the Novo Edge at 60 AED per Adult.
Novo will also shortly be launching a loyalty scheme for those who love the silver screen, which may come in handy when the weather heats up.
Click HERE to read more about CINEMA in Abu Dhabi
Food traditions in the UAE
The Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (adach.ae) published some very interesting leaflets about Emirati customs and culture, so I thought it would be interesting to share them on the blog. All the data below has been taken from these pamphlets.
Much of the Arabian Peninsula, an area of more than 3 million square kilometres, has been occupied for millennia. In some areas, settlements developed into cities, and along the coast fishing villages and busy ports grew. However, the vast desert regions were populated by nomadic Bedouin herdsmen who moved between the oases scattered throughout the interior.
Although vegetables such as cucumbers, pumpkins and onions were cultivated, together with lemons, pomegranates and melons, it was the wheat and dates grown in the oases that formed the staples of Bedouin diet. Dates keep well, can be eaten fresh or dried, are easily transported and have excellent nutritional value: there are over a hundred different varieties of dates.
For thousand of years, wheat was used to make gruel or porridge, or ground into flour for bread which was baked over coals, or even directly in the intensely hot sands.
Some of the many wheat-based dishes include the harees, a mixture of ground wheat and meat, and the bathitha, a sweet made of wheat flour dates and ghee.
The harees is one of the most famous meals in the Arab world and has been cooked for centuries. It is usually served in a deep dish at weddings, during Ramadan and at the religious feasts Eid al Fitr and Eid al Adha. It is also served to new and nursing mothers since it is believed to have restorative properties: ground wheat and meat are cooked together over a low heat until the texture becomes creamy.
Rice is eaten either alone, or with meat or fish, using the right hand only. Popular rice dishes include the makbous and the.mashkhoul.
The makbous recipe has been passed down through the generations and it is a very popular dish in Abu Dhabi: meat, chicken or fish is cooked with onions, dried lime and spices such as turmeric, cardamom and nutmeg. When tender, the meat is removed and rice is cooked in the remaining stock. The meat is then mixed back with the rice, the dish covered and hot coals heaped upon the lid to complete the cooking process. The meat and rice are served on a large dish or tray, garnished with nuts, raisins and fried onions.
Fish is still very popular, and a wide range is available even inland. The fish market (Suq As Samak) in Al Ain sells around thirty species such as barracuda, prawns, shark and anchovies.
Milk from camels, goats and sheep provided a healthy supplement to the diet. It could also be churned into butter, or used to make yoghurt and cheese. Honey, various salad leaves and occasionally fish eggs, truffles or mushrooms were also eaten by the Bedouins.
However, the most important element of the diet was – and still remains, meat.
Nowadays camel meat is often served, but it was a rarer commodity to the Bedouin, who prized his camel above all else. Meat usually came from goats and bull calves, as well as quails, pigeons and houbara bustards, brought down by trained falcons, or rabbit and foxes, hunted by the fast Saluki dogs.
Archaeological excavations have unearthed the remains of darts, spears and other hunting gear, and pictures on the walls of some of the Hili tombs depict many different kinds of game: large animals such as gazelles and oryx abounded, but domestic cattle, sheep and goat were all kept by the earliest inhabitants of the UAE around seven thousand years ago.
In the last few decades, the range of food available locally has increased enormously. Various expatriate communities have introduced new dishes and the Asian communities exert one of the most powerful culinary influences, as there are many variations on popular Indian dishes, such as biryani.
The traditional local values of hospitality, generosity and courtesy to guests are still upheld. Family meals at home are informal, but at large gatherings time-honoured etiquette is observed, and the social intercourse is invariably accompanied by coffee.
In the past, the coffee was frequently prepared by the host and served to those who had gathered to exchange news or tell stories.
The beans were roasted in a pan (mehmas) then cooled in a wooden tray, known as mabradah.
They were then ground in a mihbash – a form of pestle and mortar, made of wood, iron or brass, and brewed in a clay pot (malkama).
The coffee was then poured into the classic beaked Arabian pot (dallah) and served in small ceramic cups (finjan), exactly as it is today.
Tradition dictates that the cup must be filled only a quarter full, and frequently refilled. When no more coffee is required, you need to rock the finjan to and from as the pourer approaches.
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International Pillow Fight Day – 5th April
The 5th of April is International Pillow Fight Day! Abu Dhabi art community Art Hub is organising a friendly celebration and art festival this Saturday 5th of April, from 11 AM to 3PM. More info on the flier above or contacting Art Hub.
Learn Italian at the Sorbonne Abu Dhabi
For those who always dreamed to speak one of the most romantic languages in the world, this is an occasion not to miss: from the 14th of April, the Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi is going to be offering brand new Italian language courses in the evenings, becoming the first institution to offer this language in the UAE.
The courses are organised by the Department of Applied Foreign Languages of Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi, in collaboration with the Italian Embassy, are taught by native speakers and offer different levels of learning, from beginner to advanced. The program will include both language and cultural insight into the world of this beautiful country.
The courses will run from the 14th of April to the 9th of July, twice a week on Mondays and Wednesdays. Each class will be held from 6pm to 8pm, for a total of 13 weeks of classes, culminating in an exam: those who complete the course successfully will be awarded a certificate by the university.
For non-beginners, there will be written and oral tests on 14th of April from 4pm to 6pm, to assess the level of knowledge.
For all information please contact Omar Colombo at the LEA Department: email@example.com
More information also on the Sorbonne official website.
Click HERE to read more about CULTURE or HERE to read about LEARNING NEW THINGS.
Piaf/Aznavour concert – 4 March
UFE Abu Dhabi is hosting a concert featuring the music of French icons Edith Piaf and Charles Aznavour.
In occasion of the 50th anniversary of their passing, singers Véronique Forget and Nyno Carnino will pay a tribute to these music giants with some of their most well known songs.
The concert will be this week, at 8pm on Tuesday 4th of March at the Lycee Louis Massignon (between Airport Road and 29th street – Tel: 02 444 80 75).
Tickets are 100 AED and can be bought at the Alliance Francaise offices (corner of 26th street and 7th street, Choitram building, block B, floor O – Tel: 02 666 6232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org) or at AATIQ on Hamdan Street (between Al Ghaith Tower and Al Hilal Bank, 4th floor, office 406, Tel: 02 627 7001).
Click HERE to read more about MUSIC in Abu Dhabi.
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis – 25th April
I remember when I first heard Thrift Shop: I could not get it out of my head for days!!
It is great that so many international stars choose Abu Dhabi as a stop on their tour, and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis make no exception.
The grammy winning duo is scheduled to perform at the du Arena on Friday 25th April and tickets are already on sale and going fast.
Tickets are available at Virgin megastores around the city, on Thinkflash and on Ticketmaster, and prices go from 295 AED for general admission to 1,000 AED (per person) for a table for 15 people. (For table bookings: email email@example.com )
Click HERE to read more about MUSIC in Abu Dhabi.
Win an invite to the GREAT week Fashion show
To celebrate the GREAT creative week UAE, the British Ambassador will host a fashion show produced by House of Fraser to showcase British fashion brands, which will be held at the Dusit Thani hotel, on the 19th of March, from 7pm to 9pm.
GREAT creative week will bring approximately 30 companies to the UAE to promote UK fashion and business.
The event is really exclusive and invite only, but invites can be won taking part in the Instagram competition promoted by the British Embassy in the UAE: the competition is already on and will last for other 3 weeks.
Two people a week can win an invite to the fashion showcase and reception in Dubai, the fashion show in Abu Dhabi, plus prizes from UK brands such as Halcyon Days, Lulu Guinness, Bremont and more.
The final winner will be announced on the 16th of March.
To take part, go to the Instagram account of the British Embassy UAE.
More info on the British Embassy UAE Facebook and Twitter, and on the GREAT weeks website.
Qasr al Hosn festival: now open!
I know, I know… I have already written a post about the Qasr al Hosn festival, however after seeing it live I had to write another one to say: it is really amazing, and totally worth going to!!
There is so much going on at this festival that it is hard to decide from what to start. The place is really huge, so it needs at least three or four hours to be explored. The entry to the grounds costs only 10 AED.
And if you are new to the city and don’t have anyone to go with, this internations group is planning to go to see the Cavalia show on the 28th of February.
The festival is divided in four main areas: Desert, Oasis, Marine, and Abu Dhabi island, each with their own activities, plus the fort, the Cultural Foundation building and the tent where the Cavalia show is performed.
A lake has been created in the Marina area, and a waves machine makes it look like you are walking on the ocean side: it was one of our favourite areas.
Souks with local crafts and foods, story-telling corners and a really wide range of workshops make this really a unique day out. We enjoyed it so much that we are planning to go back next weekend!
We learned how to weave a basket, how to make fishing nets, how to paint a mask, and even how to cook Emirati food, just to mention a few of the activities available.
The workshop calendar is really huge: henna painting, artefact handling, horse riding, paddle making, boat making, traditional handicrafts – like sadu weaving, khoos or telli, traditional clothing and accessories making – like burqa making, scents discovery, creating traditional toys and dolls, pottery making… and if you go for the oyster shucking you can even hope to find a pearl!
Animal lovers can also see camels, turtles, horses, falcons, saluki dogs, goats, and a bird show, and even try their hand at camel milking!!
Most importantly, for the first time in several years, the Qasr al Hosn fort itself is open to visitors.
Qasr al Hosn dates back to the 18th Century, when it was first built in coral and sea stone, both for defence and to check on coastal trades. Starting as one single watchtower, walls, towers and residential quarters have then been added in following centuries, creating the structure we see today.
Before visiting the fort, there is a very interesting video explaining its story and the story of the people that lived in it.
Guided tours of the fort are available during the festival, starting from outside the main tower from 4:15pm, approximately every 10 minutes until 10:30pm.
Every tour takes approximately 30 minutes, and is available in both English and Arabic: the works of renovation on this beautiful structure are still under way, but thanks to amazing life-sized projections on the walls, we were able to see how it looked through the centuries. It is hard to explain it, but these 3d projections really look magical, turning time back and forth at the blink of an eye. Our guide was great, really knowledgeable and passionate about the fort, and we really enjoyed our tour.
Next to the fort, another building has great historical importance: virtually untouched since the 60s, the Council Chamber houses rooms where many historical UAE decisions were taken, including talks about the union. We were able to see a video of HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan talking to other diplomats, and it was really interesting.
All around the grounds, traditional sports and dances are performed, and we also had the chance to enjoy traditional music, such as the talented rababa players.
The amphitheatre houses a range of films about the UAE and a marathon of poetry readings.
The timetable for these events is the following:
Every day, from the 21st Feb to 1st March:
4pm – Documentary (57min) – Story of a Fort, Legacy of a Nation.
5pm – Documentary (28min) – Abu Dhabi 1962-64
5:30pm – Animated film (7min) – Ostora.
5:40pm – Documentary (53min) – Farewell Arabia.
7:30 – 9:30 pm – Poetry performances.
10pm – Documentary (57min) – Story of a Fort, Legacy of a Nation.
The Cultural Foundation also houses a library, which showcases rare books and a reading area, and an exhibition and interactive area about Gahwa, traditional Emirati coffee.
Cirque du Soleil co-founder Normand Latourelle especially adapted his show Cavalia to be performed at the festival.
It is an equestrian stage show, perfect for those who love horses and acrobats: the stage also gets filled with water at some point, making for a lot of splashes and beautiful visuals.
50 highly-trained horses and over 30 crew members, including acrobats and a live band playing music throughout the show, make for a really unique show, performed here for the first time in the UAE.
See below for some snapshots from the show:
The Cavalia show is not included in the entry fee: the show’s tickets are going fast and are almost sold out, so it is better to hurry up if interested. (Available on Ticketmaster).
Five talks will also take place, revealing interesting facts about Qasr al Hosn, the famous visitors it hosted, and its structural changes overtime. Each talk will last one hour and will always be from 7pm to 8pm. Here is the complete schedule:
Saturday 22 Feb: Qasr al Hosn: the oldest political symbol.
Monday 24 Feb: Qasr al Hosn: guests throughout history.
Tuesday 25 Feb: Qasr al Hosn: Its current and future socio-political significance.
Wednesday 26 Feb: Qasr al Hosn: construction and development stages.
Friday 28 Feb: Qasr al Hosn: core of building Abu Dhabi.
Conservation workshops will also take place Monday 24 Feb and Wednesday 26 Feb, from 2:30 pm to 4pm.
We loved this festival and we can’t wait to go back next weekend to see all what we did not manage to see this time!!
Lebanese star Ragheb Alama in concert – 28th February
One of the best parts of being an Expat is having the chance to experience a lot of new things: I don’t know much about Arab music, but this seems a great chance to try something new and spend a fun night out!
Ragheb Alama is a Lebanese superstar and one of the judges on the Arab Idol panel.
He sings in Arabic, and he is set to perform at the newest venue in town, the recently opened FGB Arena at Zayed Sport City on the 28th of February.
According to the internet, Alama is one of the most popular singers in the Arab world, and his upbeat hits include “Ser Hobbi“, “Ya bint El Sultan“, “Albi Aeshkha“, “Yighib“, and “Allamteeni“, as well as his debut single “Bukra Byebrom Dulabak” which launched his career back in the 1980s.
This will be the first concert in a series called ‘Arabian Sensations’, which will feature popular Arabic artists invited to perform in Abu Dhabi.
Tickets for this concert starts at 295 AED and can be bought on Ticketmaster.
Click HERE to read more about MUSIC in Abu Dhabi.
Art exhibition: Women/Creators
From the 29th of January to the 25th of February, four established female artists living and working in the UAE will showcase their work at the Etihad Modern Art Gallery, in the Al Bateen area, in the exhibition called Women/Creators.
The exhibition features works from Emirati painter Dr Najat Makki, Emirati artist Khulood Al Jabri, Italian-born artist Giovanna Magugliani and French-born artist Isabelle Riou-Teisseire.
More information on the official website, the facebook page or facebook page event.
Etihad Modern Art Gallery address:
Street 4, Villa No 4/2
(opposite Al Bateen Mall)
Abu Dhabi, UAE
10am – 1.30pm,
5pm – 10.30pm
Closed on Fridays