This weekend I was in Sharjah to talk to some ladies about organising and decluttering. Once finished, I thought I would see what was nearby for food and saw this was close to the cafe that I was eyeing up. I love cars and of course the Sharjah Classic Car Museum was on the list, so I made the detour there.
It is by the airport and you cannot miss the big sign for it and the few old cars dotted inside and outside the gates of the museum. The entry fee was AED 10 which is very reasonable. The car collection was not huge. I was expecting more cars to be on display, owned by the Sheikhs or by residents which had been kept and restored, but it was a pretty small collection in a warehouse.
The one good thing was see the various types of petrol pumps. Yeah that got me excited.
I have been to the Car Museum in Abu Dhabi which is is ridiculously huge (but with no super cars which was a disappointment). This is much smaller in comparison, but easier to get to. If you are going to Sharjah to visit a few places, then add this to your itinerary, but don’t make it the destination for the day as it will be a short visit.
This week I decided to get out of Dubai and explore some of the many museums in Sharjah. Sharjah is the third biggest Emirate in the UAE and is the cultural hub of the country. It is known for its beautiful majestic buildings, love of creativity and ridiculous traffic and road systems. This was a place you would not visit on purpose pre-Google Maps (I came here in 2005 before Google Maps and Smart phones existed).
To start I went to the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization. This beautiful (long building) is the home of artifacts from the Islamic countries in the Arab and Turkish peninsula predominantly. There is a room dedicated to Islam and the three important buildings for Muslims – Mecca, Madina and Al Aqsa Mosque. I have been to none of them so far (my parents have and can talk about the three places for hours), but it was good to see old and new pictures and artifacts from these places.
There were further galleries focusing on the art, ceramics, engineering and astrology which are a major part of Islamic History.
I didn’t read every single caption and by the 3rd and 4th gallery my legs were giving up (post COVID, the tiredness comes fast), however it was very interesting. The technology, engineering and astrology sections have great interactive sections which will be fun for kids (and big kids – yep I pressed a few buttons).
I took about an hour to visit. There is a big cafe and small coffee shop as well as classrooms for kids (there was a summer camp happening when I was there).
It was pretty empty but maybe it does get busier in the winter.
Pros – lots of interesting artifacts, empty so get to see the items in peace and read the captions without being disturbed. No noisy kids.
Cons – staff using one gallery to make loud phone calls and watch videos was not enjoyable and the shop/cafe was a bit lame.
The temporary exhibitions were both closed to put in the new art for the next season. So not great planning by me.
Art as always is a personal thing. I loved a lot of the landscapes and saw some beautiful pieces. One section of the permanent gallery was unmanned and empty, so I walked around and view the pieces in peace.
The second section was guarded by two guards. One followed me whilst I viewed the art. He kept his distance when I got a vocal about my displeasure of him following me. The feeling I got was that I was going to steal the art or touch it. Of course I have manners and was not going to do either. Being the only human in the gallery made it even more disconcerting – not a great experience.
Some great pieces, but not the amazing experience I had expected (especially after reading reviews on the place before). Maybe it is better when all the temporary exhibitions are open as well.
Pros – seeing some great art from Arabian artists.
I also went opposite the museum to visit the cafe there, but it was closed. The district has the Sharjah Art Foundation and some other buildings, but it all looked closed.
I decided to get back in the car and went to the Arabian Tea House next to the Chedi (on my hotel list). The food at Arabian Tea House never disappoints. I usually have the breakfast when I visit the branch in Al Bastakiya (or whatever it is called now), but as it was lunch I tried their hummus and halloumi wrap with rose jam. I have to saw the halloumi and rose jam really worked well together. Worth a visit always – especially for breakfast.
The library opened a few months ago and boasts the biggest collection of books in the region. It is huge and beautifully made, and huge. Seven floors huge.
We drove and parked at the library parking. I believe you can also get the metro there but in this heat, it could be a hot trek from the station to the library. Once in, the security inspected our outfits and wouldn’t allow a friend in for wearing her just on the knee dress. Her shoulders were covered, but flashing her knees was a bit too obscene for the library (slightly bizarre take considering how open Dubai is being nowadays, but what to do). She ended up sitting in the car whilst her daughter and I explored the floors that were open.
Four floors were open at the library when we visited, Ground (which includes the children’s library – we didn’t visit), First, Sixth and Seventh. The Seventh floor has a really beautiful Treasures of the Library Exhibition which takes one half of the floor. It is massive and has some beautiful Quarans’ and first edition books from the around the world. Also on the same floor was an exhibition on the Emirates. Fascinating to see old photos of the Emirates. It also contained a lot of photos I had seen at Ethiad Museum, so we bypassed them quickly (also we were knackered by then).
The other parts of the library had sections for Youth, Maps, Arts and Media. The categorisation of the books was all over the place, to the point that my organised brain was getting anxious. I will have to discuss how it was categorised with my friend, who is a qualified Librarian, to understand their thinking, but I don’t think there was much thinking (except in the Periodicals room). The collection is not vast despite being a lot of books, but I am sure that will improve over time.
There are a lot of places to sit and read books and study which is great if you want a quiet place to get on with your work. Entry is free and so is entry to the Treasures of the Library exhibition. You have to show the separate ticket QR code to get into the exhibition.
The library is very impressive and was relaxing walk around (until i look at the actual categorisation of the books). It was tiring walking around, so I would suggest visiting more than once and also to start at the exhibitions at the top and then working your way down.
Cons – the security was ridiculously tight for a library. The exhibitions could only be entered and exited by the security which was unnerving and also security followed my friends daughter and I in the Treasures room. Everything was behind glass and we were not going to steal anything, but we felt like we were potential criminals by the way they were following us. In the other rooms, the guys at the desks could not muster a hello, let alone talk about the room. So one extreme to the other.
There is a cafe downstairs. We didn’t venture to it, as wanted to go have a nice Chinese meal. Next time.
It’s been a while, but I have had inspiration recently to come back to my blog and to write about my life.
I have lived in Dubai for seventeen years. Sometimes it feels like I just arrived and then other times it feels like forever, especially when stuck in traffic. During that time I have travelled around a lot of the UAE, especially in the last nine years due to my work with Decluttr Me. However, I know that I have not scratched the surface with visiting a lot of places in the seven emirates, which to be frank is shocking.
I went to Expo 2020 in Dubai every week for the last four months it was open (ok sometimes more often in one week) and I loved it. I would go when I had a day off early in the morning before the crowds and heat got too much and see the pavilions and eat a lot of great (over-priced) food. Once Expo closed, there was this void, which I know a lot of friends had as well, who had visited often like me.
This month, whilst sitting on the couch during my day off I realised that I could do the same exercise as I did with Expo but instead visit places in the UAE. However, I needed to know where to go.
After googling a lot of blogs and travel guides one evening, I came up with the following list of places to visit.
Mohammed Bin Rashid Library
Museum of the Future
The View at the Palm
Hatta Dome Park
Inifinity des Lumieres – Dubai Mall
IMG World of Adventures
Museum of Illusions
Dubai Butterfly Garden
Snow Cinema at Vox
Oh La Lab – Al Serkal Avenue
Mirzam Chocolate Workshop
Jameel Art Centre
Burj Al Arab – stay the night
Ferrari World tickets
Abu Dhbai Pearl Journey
Yas Marina driving experience
Manarat Al Saadiyat
Qasr Al Hosn
Qasr al Watan (been there but one for you – it is huge and amazing)
Masfout – museum and fort, also hiking destination
Ajman heritage district
Umm Al Qwain
UAQ Fort and Museum – 7am-8pm
Falaj al mualla fort – 8AM–2PM, 3–8PM
UAQ Al Qwain Centre of antiquities
Al Jazirah Al Hamra (ghost town)
1484 by Puro – Jebel Jais
Shimal – small village – heritage site
Suwaidi Pearl Farm
RAKs nature treasures
Flower Farm Asima – November to March
Khatt – hot springs
Madha – enclave of Oman
Al Bidyah Mosque and fort
Ain Al Madhab Hot Springs
The Governors Palace, Masafi
Tayyibah Heritage Museum
(* all in italics have been completed)
When you look at the list you may see places that should be on there like Mussandam, F1 Abu Dhabi, some of the waterparks, and quite a few places in Fujairah (I visited there a few times to see close friends of mine who lived there, so visited a lot of the sites with them), etc – that is because I have already been to those places. However, I may have inadvertently missed places out, especially if they are obscure, so please let me know so I can update the list accordingly.
Today I started the list and went to Ethiad Museum and Union House. It seemed like the ideal place to start this list as it was where the Emirates were formally formed. I love finding out the history of places and especially my second home so I loved it. It is big in size, but quick to view. I took about an hour to see all the exhibits and videos, but I did speed through some of it. The current price to enter for Adults is AED 25 which is a bargain considering how beautifully made it is. Here are some pictures from the Museum and Union House to wet your appetite to visit there.
It was pretty empty for a weekday morning and the staff advised it was much quieter due to the summer months. There is a massive lake with the flag poles which would have been nice to sit by, but that was not happening in the 40 degree heat, so maybe nice to visit when cooler.
Today I was at a coffee shop in Downtown Dubai waiting for a friend. Whilst waiting for friend at a table with three sofas around it, one of the employees came and without asking moved one of the chairs at my table to give to the people next to me.
She didn’t ask if I had wanted the chair.
I had to tell her that she should have asked first before moving the chair. I might have wanted that chair.
As normal routine in the service industry, she argued with me – today’s argument was that the chair should have been at the other table not mine. (They already had four chairs around a small round table).
My reply was that:
a) She shouldn’t have argued
b) She should have just apologised for being so rude.
c) She showed no manners to a customer (me!).
After I told her that it was inconsiderate behaviour on her part, she tried give back the chair. I didn’t want it.
It’s the principle.
They don’t get it, do they.
When will they start training people in coffee shops and restaurants properly to have manners and common sense.
Can I start a school to start teaching it??
Update 9 September 2016 – 1 week after the incident and sending a tweet about this. I finally got a response on Twitter and also an email with a $5 voucher to use at the coffee shop. Only problem is that there was no message in the email about why they were giving me the voucher, and I have no idea if I can use it in Dubai (the currency is AED here). Also had to chase the twitter people during the week for a response. Not great coffee shop.
Update 13 September 2016 – received a terse reply from the American HQ regarding the $5 (it was sent in error) and that someone would get back to me from the Dubai office.
Recently I volunteered to talk to Year 9 (age 14) students for a Career Fair. I had advised the lady who was organizing this event about my past of being a Legal Assistant – Legal Executive – Solicitor – Businesswoman/Entrepreneur. She listed me on the programme as an “Entrepreneur” (I didn’t know this immediately).
I was asked to talk for 3 times for 20 minutes to students and parents in a large classroom. At the first session it was a full room and I nervously explained my career path, with the students and their parents watching either in rapt attention or disapprovingly. One father was not amused with my sage advice to always carry a notebook and pen in your hand when you go to see anyone in a corporate office.
If you have not heard this advice from me in real life, here it is:
When you go to see anyone whether the CEO, your boss, the marketing administrator or the receptionist take your notebook and write down what they say. You will NOT remember what they say after you leave them. Trust me. This advice applies especially to those 21 year old MBA graduates who have not bothered to think about what they want to ask and bother the in-house legal department and then demand immediate attention and response to a non question.
I noticed after the first session that my classroom had been full, whereas other rooms were half empty or even empty. The second session started with a full audience and more people outside. It was weird. I’ve never had a queue of people waiting to see me, a trickle after I give speeches but never a queue!
I asked some students before I started the second session: “what are you planning to do in the future after school”.
“We want to be Entrepreneurs”, they replied
“Entrepreneurs in what? Have you created a product? An app?”
“Do you want to go to university?”
“Do we have to if we are going to be Entrepreneurs?”
I looked at the door of the classroom, it had my name and “Entrepreneur” next to it.No mention of being a lawyer.
*ching ching ching*.
They wanted to find out how to be an “Entrepreneur” from me. No wonder the attendees of the first session were slightly disappointed by my speech!
They have this believe that they can have the title and the money will come rolling in!!
The amount of times I go to networking events and people say they are Entrepreneurs but their business sounds like fluff. It’s just a cool term to use around town right now. I tend to call myself a businesswoman to try and show I am serious about my business.
These students didn’t want to be serious; they wanted to be cool.
How do you explain to them that it is not that easy to be an Entrepreneur in 20 minutes?
I had to tell them. I couldn’t lie. So I gave them my sage advice:
a. go discover yourself and enjoy university,
b. study something useful but broad enough like law,
c. work for a while to see how to businesses run. It doesn’t matter if they are successful or not (2 out of the 5 companies I worked for no longer exist (it wasn’t me!)), it’s the experience that will help you with running your own business, and
d. start a business, say at 35.
Yes, that’s what I did and of course other entrepreneurs have different stories. Some started much earlier, but I was a chicken for 13 years, and hey I was pioneering enough to go in-house when 95% of law students became Solicitors in law firms (tied to only one type of law and with multiple clients – not my cup of tea) or Barristers (I did a mini-pupillage and can confirm it was boring. The John Grisham novels I read were more exciting, until a Judge told me off for reading them in his court).
The students may not have liked what I had to say, but many of the parents did (you are no longer young and cool when parents agree with you). However, some parents wanted their children to be entrepreneurs and wanted private sessions with me to find out how to become one! I tried to be helpful, but if you have no idea, no product, nothing and just want the title, you will never be an Entrepreneur/business person.
If you want to be an Entrepreneur and need guidance, come to me with an idea, come with a plan (a mind map is even better, like the one above) and I can give you some advice. But if you just want the title, print the first picture above and wear that as a badge.
Warning: this is a post related to periods; ergo means I will be talking about vaginas, blood, pads, tampons. Look away if they disgust you or you don’t think women really have periods.
A few months ago, it emerged that women had to pay a tax for using sanitary products in the UK (women in the USA found out afterwards they had to pay the same penalty). It turned out there were a list of items that the EU deemed were taxable, and sanitary pads and tampons came under that remit. Ergo, the UK politicians decided they would tax us, because having a period is a luxury.
So I ranted, although it’s not often I buy sanitary products when back in the UK, but hey I bought enough for over 10 years and I was taxed for the privilege before I moved to Dubai. During my social media rants, friends started alerting me to the Mooncup (US they call it MCUK and Canada, the Diva Cup).
What is the Mooncup? It’s this:
Yep a silicon cup with a stem (bag comes with it to put away when not in use. Nice bag). You put it up your vagina and supposedly none of your period will come out. No need for pads, no feeling queasy from having your tampon up your hoo-ha for too long. It’s eco friendly and has no chemicals in it.
I was intrigued, but it sounded messy. If it filled up, would’t blood pour out of you? Won’t it go all over your hands when you take it out??
Despite my reservations, friends, in particular one, kept telling me I should try it. You can’t buy it here in the UAE, so I asked my mum to buy it for me to bring over. At £19.99, it is not cheap, but supposedly you only need one and that’s it for a long time. Mum thought I was bonkers but was kind enough to get it for me.
It comes in two sizes. One for under 30 va-jay-j’s and one for those over 30’s or who have popped babies out of their hoo-ha’s. How the cup knows you are over 30 is beyond me, but they must have done the science, so I went along with it.
When it arrives it will look like the above picture. You need to try it on and cut the stem. Trying it on is not a comfortable experience for the non experienced and guessing where to cut the stem is a bit of a hit and miss situation. I may have cut my cup too short (I practically have no stem on mine now), so don’t be like me, and leave a bit of stem on until you have your period properly. Also don’t have long nails or ones with shellac chipping off as may cut yourself inside whilst trying it out.
There is a how to video on how to put on the Mooncup. It’s not graphic so you find out how to here:
After a few months of using the Mooncup, here are my points on using it:
It is a pain to try and put in the first few times. I had the flu the first month, so getting energy to put that damn thing up there was hard.
You don’t need to empty the Mooncup as much as you think you should. Wearing the Mooncup you don’t feel wet like you would with a pad or queasy like with a tampon. You feel nothing. The last few times, I have kept it up there for more than the guideline-stated 7 hours. And it still hasn’t filled up.
The first few times I wore a pad as I didn’t trust myself or the Mooncup. It was a good idea when I found I couldn’t put the Mooncup back up when in a mall. I was in that cubicle for too long and started getting harassed by people on the other side, so gave up on the Mooncup and padded it out.
The fold and push up manoeuvre is an art, but once mastered (mastered it at the end of the second month!), you will feel like a gold medalist.
Now I just wear a panty liner. It catches occasional drops that might arise when taking it in and out, but not from the Mooncup leaking. I keep a pad in the bag just in case. But still not used.
You need to sanitize it every day (some friends have complained of getting yeast infections from the cup – I haven’t which is unusual for me, so I would put it down to the sterilizing). I sterilize the Mooncup whilst having a shower by filling a jar with very cold water and some sterilizing fluid (bought a big bottle from Carrefour in the baby section). Once my period is over, the Mooncup is sterilized overnight (with more sterilizing fluid in the jar) to make sure it is ready for the next month.
It is great that we have the toilet shower things in this country so that you can clean the Mooncup and pop it back up if outside. If there is no toilet shower thingy (ie: everywhere back home in the UK!) then use a disabled toilet, and if anyone gives it large…well you know what to show them… (the cup!… not your finger)
You can wear the Mooncup at night. Seriously. No need for extra long night pads to stop the leakages at the back. Seriously!
I don’t get period pains anymore. I don’t know how the Mooncup has helped, but I used be in excruciating pain and now nothing.
I have mentioned it before, but don’t remove the stem completely like I did. The stem is needed to help you get it out of you when it sometimes gets a little stuck up there. It is a closed stem so the cup won’t get holey if you cut it off. You also don’t want the stem too long as it will hurt the outside lips otherwise.
Is it worth the money? Yes. Definitely. I save on buying different kinds of sanitary products now. It does take getting some used to (like converting to Apple products), but once mastered you can’t imagine ever going back (like going back to a PC). On a plus, you don’t have to pay tampon tax after using this (yeah I know we don’t pay tax yet in the UAE, but pads ain’t cheap here either).
I have been bombarded with PR emails for the last 2 days – mostly about restaurants opening or the change of the restaurant brand in some way. My thoughts have been on the majority of these PR emails:
a) I don’t care
b) How is this relevant to my business?
c) Do they not have copywriters to review the stuff before it is sent out.
d) Address it to me and not to the “Editor”.
e) Why are they being sent to my DeCluttr Me email address.
Thankfully due to a friend who owns one of the PR firms, I found out which company provides the lists to PR firms in this city. I quickly googled and contacted them asking them to stop emailing to my DeCluttr Me addresses especially as it was not relevant content.
I got a very quick reply from the MD of the list company. His reply “I have removed Shelo9’s Cheeky Rantings from our listings of Dubai blogs in [Name of List provider]”.
I was very impressed by his very quick reply and that it was from the MD and not some minion, but eh what?? Shelo9’s Cheeky Ranting does not have any link to the DeCluttr Me email addresses (except I own it all *evil laugh*).
Just because of one # phenomenon (#needanaddress), it would seem the list provider thought it was perfectly acceptable to add my non related email address to their list without my permission and also without fully reading my latest blogs which focus on customer service (the irony!)
I know data protection is non existent in this country, but don’t these companies have a moral compass at all?? Or better still common sense?
If I can do anything today it is to provide these handy tips to these list creators and providers:
First check if you have permission to add the email address to your list (this is very important).
Check what the writer of the blog specialises in and if they will want to be added to a PR list; and
What their business is about if you are emailing to their business.
Points 2 and 3 should also apply to the PR firms as well. It is easy to not take ownership of the contacts as you have received the list, but check if these contacts will actually be interested in the product you are promoting.
If you are on Twitter, check out #UAEPR and see the amount of tweet complaints from tweeps like me who get bombarded with non relevant emails. You will also see PR companies using the #UAEPR to jump on the bandwagon with no understand that the hashtag was produced to take the mickey out of these same UAE PR firms.
By the way I am not grumbling about getting PR emails. I am happy to get emails relating to organizing and decluttering, and due to a new side part of DeCluttr Me, etiquette and personal grooming, but anything else is just spam invading my email box. Use your common sense and discern what the reader actually wants to read and what lists they want to be added onto. Don’t just annoy them with PR.
As you may have heard there was a fire on New Year’s Eve at the Address Hotel in Downtown Dubai. I had no idea as I was off Twitter until I got a message from my close friend G. She could see it all from her balcony. During the next few minutes she was sending me updates on what she could see whilst I checked Twitter and made sure people I knew were safe.
Whilst watching the scene G asked how she could alert the hotel guests that she had a spare bed if needed. She is not on Twitter or any other social media except sparingly on Facebook (if we are honest), so I suggested that I post her offer on Twitter.
Her offer was posted and within a few seconds @danielmarcevans replied and then posted his offer of his available bed:
I suggested we create a # (we do this nearly every month with other tweeps for silly things). As normal he came up with his corker of a hashtag. The # was #NeedanAddress.
And that is how the #NeedanAddress started and blew up to epic proportions. It helped we had friends like @theregos to spread the word more for us.
The response from tweeps in Dubai and globally was astounding. Within a short while there were offers of rooms, beds, Nutella and hugs from various tweeps. Here are some of the lovely tweets!
It was great to see Dubai show that it has more to it than bling, world records and fancy cars as the global media portray constantly. There is a city of human beings with hearts, beds and kindness.
From updates during the night and on New Year’s Day, the majority of guests and residents were put up at the Atlantis hotel, but other hotels also offered rooms. There seems to have been a few guests who took up the offer of a bed from tweeps.
From a tragic incident, we were able to help a few with a hashtag. It is amazing how powerful the hashtag and social media can be and I am incredibly humbled by what happened last night.
Side note – The Address Hotel Chain have advised guests and residents of The Address Downtown Dubai to contact their hotline number +971 4 423 8870 or email:firstname.lastname@example.org. Also Dubai Media Twitter account has asked the guests to contact 00971566835129 for any assistance.