Design International celebrates the opening of Silicon Central, designed by their team

Silicon Central, designed by Design International, opens its doors to the public of Dubai who will experience the latest Lulu hypermarket, a new 9,000 sqm flagship store by Lulu Group.

The project, already considered a new landmark in Dubai, represents a step forward in the now well-established collaboration between Design International and Line Investments & Property FZE, the shopping mall division of Lulu Group International, a world-renowned purveyor of an international business portfolio that ranges from hypermarket operations to shopping mall development.

Strategically positioned 12 km from the city-centre and 15 km from Dubai Airport, Silicon Central is located at Dubai Silicon Oasis, the first eco sustainable district in Dubai focused on low carbon footprint, AI, and technology, masterminded by Dr. Mohammed Al Zarooni, Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority (DSOA).

The innovative design of the project is well embedded in the iconography of the place: 5 large dunes inspired by the natural movement of the desert sand frame large internal areas populated by plants, water, and natural light, recreating an oasis in the city. Lulu Group and Design International, assisted by local practice Eng. Adnan Saffarini Office, have targeted the highest certification possible – LEED Platinum – and therefore paid great attention to create an environmentally friendly project, using state-of-the-art technologies for waste management, energy savings, and a plethora of sustainable services provided within the mall, such as a bio-farming facility and electrical charging stations in the car-parking area.

Davide Padoa, Design International’s CEO, explains: “All of the parties involved in this project share the same values: the development of the community, as well as the desire to be at the forefront of style, technology and sustainable innovation, which is what Silicon Central stands out for.”

With a total of 81,500 sqm GLA and 3,500 car park spaces, Silicon Central will include 218 retail shops and services, 50 restaurant outlets with dedicated home delivery services, 12 cinema screens, 5,000 sqm fitness and a 7,000 sqm family entertainment centre. During its latest months of construction, Silicon Central has been adapted to integrate physical spaces with a digital application, moving boundaries to deliver a fully integrated customer experience both inside and outside the mall premises. Davide Padoa, CEO of Design International, summarizes saying: “Silicon Central is one of the first major projects that boldly symbolizes the rebirth, and the recovery to normal daily life, after the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in one of the most dynamic cities in the world”.

Confident, Talented & Inspiring

Nandakumar Vijayan, Director of Marketing & Communications of Lulu Group International

Publicity Pundit, Nandakumar Vijayan, Director of Marketing and Communications of Lulu Group International has a gift when it comes to awareness campaigns in retail at a global level.

Spearheading the global marketing, communications, CSR initiatives, digital and social media of LuLu Group which operates malls, online shopping, hospitality and food processing businesses, Nanda has the nous to select the perfect medium for publicity campaigns that are result oriented and positions Lulu Group strategically as the go to retail partner in every market.

A marketing Guru and popular figure in the retail and marketing industry, Nandakumar is a veteran communications professional and has been with the multinational company for almost two decades, climbing the organisational ladder steadily while handling different portfolios.

As a communicator, Nandakumar has a sixth sense on what works for each of his campaigns. His vast experience with leading media organisations such as The Times of India and the Indian Express clearly has provided him with enough experience for impact messaging and synergy that he initiates to the target audience of all entities within the Lulu Group.

Using disruptive marketing initiatives and innovations, Nandakumar played a crucial role in transforming the Lulu brand from being a conventional supermarket to one of the most popular multinational retailing brands.

We meet with Nandakumar to find out what makes this seasoned marketing and communications professional the UAE’s leading marketeer and publicist.

Tell us a bit about Lulu Group and its different areas of business?

We are headquartered in Abu Dhabi as a highly diversified conglomerate with business entities that are continually evolving in strategic locations worldwide.

Lulu Group’s international business portfolio ranges from hypermarket operations to shopping mall development, food processing, manufacturing and trading of goods, hospitality assets and real estate.

We currently operate in 22 countries located across the Middle East, Asia, US, and Europe.

As we talk, we have 206 hypermarkets across the GCC, Egypt, India and the Far East, including Malaysia and Indonesia.

For hospitality we own franchises of some of the key Hotel Brands such as Marriott, Grand Hyatt, Sheraton in India and unique hotels such as the Great Scotland Yard in London and Waldorf Astoria in Edinburgh, Scotland.
We have been getting inspiration from all around us since we established our retail business in the early 90s at the height of the first Gulf War with strong fundamentals and ethos of “Here to stay and here to grow” so we have grown with the country and the region.

You can map our tremendous growth over the last few decades with UAE’s growth and we are very fortunate for the support and encouragement we have received from the leadership of the UAE and the country’s stability that has helped us grow steadily and strongly over the years.

Today we have more than 206 hypermarkets, almost 17 shopping malls in 12 countries across different regions which is definitely a high point for any organisation. And apart from that we also have our own consolidating and sourcing offices in almost all major countries in the world including USA, UK, Africa, GCC, Far East, India and China.

This ensures we have uninterrupted supply of specially food products in our stores at the most competitive prices as we connect directly with manufacturers and producers from around the world.

You make grocery shopping a fun thing to do all year with mega promotions and events. Where do you get inspiration for the ideas for these campaigns?

As our tagline says, we firmly believe in the fact that Lulu is where the world comes to shop and now obviously in the current situation safely also. It all comes from the simple philosophy of catering to over 200 diverse nationalities in the UAE. Our aim always has been to be the favourite shopping mall for everyone irrespective of tastes they prefer and give them what they want.

Hence our marketing initiatives follow the similar philosophy to think from the customers point of view, why would they come and shop at Lulu and what would be their reason to shop with us. It can be the price, product variety, our various festivals, promotional campaigns as we do everything from the customers perspective.

We want Lulu to be a place not just for shopping but for customers to get a slice of their own country or culture. That is why you see our campaigns and promotions targeting different nationalities and countries, Hence, our inspirations for these campaigns come from different people, the way they think and what they expect from Lulu.

Under your leadership, Lulu is now a trendsetter in retail marketing with media presence not only in the conventional ATL & BTL but also in social media. Tell us about your team and work ethics that make them excel at what they do with your guidance?

As someone who has worked over 20 years here, I have huge respect for each of my team members. We have a very simple work ethic where each one is trained and empowered to think independently, think creatively and out of the box.

We collect everyone’s ideas and put their thought processes in a cohesive manner so you will see our team members being multi-talented, multi taskers and have expertise in different areas. I Believe in cross training them and empowering them which ensures we carry out our initiatives in different markets effectively so we have successful leaders in each market.

Another work ethic that we follow that is being championed by our Chairman, Mr. YusuffAli is cultivating decent work relationships, empowering and rewarding the team members.

So instead of getting new talent, we invest in promoting our existing team so they take on bigger roles in bigger regions in areas of global operations and marketing. Our key motivation is to promote job satisfaction, creativity and keep our existing team motivated.

With so much happening within the conglomerate, how do you manage your time having to liaise with so many entities across the Group?

When you have multiple tasks ahead, you tend to become more efficient and effective at managing time than people who have less things to do. I think I have a system set for managing time effectively.

Thanks to multiple Technologies and advancement and communication tools especially due to the pandemic, we don’t spend much time traveling nowadays.

We can talk and discuss issues with our colleagues around the world in real time which saves time and efficiently take decisions faster.

Being old school, I still firmly believe in creating a to-do list every morning and ticking them off before I go home at night. That keeps me up to date with my team’s progress and project progress.

Which area of retail excites you most?

With majority of my experience in the field of retail and specifically marketing roles, I know mainly the retail industry but now I concentrate more on innovation and tech side of retail marketing which involves a lot of work on data analysis, data activation and creating seamless platforms for both staff and the consumer. It enables stakeholders to have clear vision of our activities.

Another area which I am trying to concentrate on is obviously digital and social media marketing where we work with great organizations and resources in creating beautiful apps and content for marketing initiatives that drive our numbers.

How do you start your day and what do you address first when you get into office?

Every day starts with a quick half an hour team meeting with regional heads from across the globe joining in and quick updates are exchanged, decisions taken which sets the tone for the day’s work for all of us. I also follow a strict schedule with regards to internal meetings as well as meetings with other stakeholders and vendors.

Whatever is said and done, I always try to find at least a couple of hours every day to update myself about latest technologies, Innovations, developments in the industry, development in the marketing and media space and interacting with some of the key influencers and stakeholders in the industry.

Being a hands-on person, I like to lead from the front and getting my hands dirty so I spend time daily in our retail shops as well as in the studio of our team where the real work is done.

We cater to almost 1.6 million customers per day throughout the 206 hypermarkets across the globe so it is a consumer centric business.

Being on the floor, we feel the pulse of the market, get updated on new products, our suppliers and customer preferences as being in the shops gets me close to our end users first hand.

Do you have any role models who inspire you or personalities you look up to?

I have spent most of my professional life at the Lulu Group, I learnt a lot from our Chairman Mr. YusuffAli who is a self-made entrepreneur starting from scratch and built an entire retail empire from his grit and determination and he leads from the front even today. He is truly inspirational.
In addition, I do pick up good tips and tricks from anybody who’s a practitioner of excellence and I look forward to many more interactions. And thanks to the web, a lot of resources and inspiring stories from around the world keep me up to date.

What personal qualities would you say help you most in your current role?

I absolutely believe in empowering my team members across different markets by being able to identify the right talent and nurturing them. I am slightly perfectionist and I have an eye for detail which at times creates deadline issues, but that is one quality which I think has helped me nurture this brand.

Another leadership quality i firmly beleieve is decentralization of power and job delegation across my team member in all regions, but being “perfectionist” is what I cherish the most.

On the personal front, what are your hobbies and how do you unwind?

Travelling and meeting and understanding people is something that I love. And thanks to the kind of job I have, I get enough of that so I try to make the most of my official trips which is quite often. I usually unwind with some Bollywood movies or reading light fictions.

#GlobalTrendMonitor #trendingbusiness #LuLuGroup #Retail #ProfileInterview #magazineUAE #magazine #mediaUAE #UAEmedia #UAEbusiness #myDubai 

New Qarar and CredoLab partner offers Alternative Credit Risk Score Solutions

Mobile and web digital footprints to detect fraud and credit risk using big data, machine learning algorithms, artificial intelligence and sophisticated algorithms

Qarar, a leading regional credit risk and decision analytics company, announces a new partnership with CredoLab, the most seamless, transparent, and accurate alternative-data credit risk scoring provider in the market today.

Lenders often face a shortage of relevant data to score and assess a big pool of the population. Consequently, lenders are often unable to make decisions on the so-called ‘thin files’ due to a lack of data. Thin file customers then remain excluded from formal finance.

Qarar’s partnership with CredoLab will focus on applying its Embedded Scoring solution to assess credit risk and detect early fraud, relying on alternative Mobile and Web data.  The partnership combines Qarar’s credit risk expertise and market knowledge with CredoLab’s modern approach to risk assessment that provides highly predictive insights to businesses while preserving the privacy and focusing on seamless customer experiences.

Peter Barcak, Founder and CEO of CredoLab said: “We are delighted to welcome Qarar to our growing partner network.  Qarar’s expertise in credit risk management and decision automation tools together with their well-established presence and client base in the Middle East and North Africa will add great value to expansion plans in the region.”

Zaid Kamhawi, CEO of Qarar, commented: “CredoLab has developed an impressive alternative data scoring solution that we believe has particularly strong potential in countries where there is a high transient population and an underbanked population.  Alternative data for credit scoring has proven to help organisations be more inclusive in their lending decisions and accurate in their credit decisions when used alongside traditional scoring models.  Through our partnership with CredoLab, we aim to help our clients expand their acquisition strategies with confidence. ”   

Qarar is the region’s leading decision analytics company. Headquartered in Dubai and serving customers across the Middle East and North Africa, Qarar helps companies in the banking and finance sector to solve business challenges with a mix of predictive analytics, advisory, and decision technologies.

New wireless earbuds from soundcore

Features PureNoteTM Driver Technology Offers Accuracy and Clarity

Soundcore​, Anker Innovations’ premium audio brand, today introduces the next generation in its popular Liberty true-wireless earbud line, the ​Liberty Air 2 Pro, featuring​ ​advanced active noise-cancellation (ANC), transparency and PureNote driver technology.

DESIGNED BY ENGINEERS FOR EVERYDAY LIFE

The Liberty Air 2 Pro was designed to sound great, even with noise-canceling turned on. To do this, Soundcore engineers developed PureNote driver technology, that utilizes ten hardened nano layers to make up the 11mm driver in each earbud, offering accurate sound and clarity at all frequencies. Soundcore then worked to tune the earbuds, both with ANC turned on and off, to make sure that music always sounded like artists originally intended.

“In 2019, Soundcore launched the Liberty 2 Pro, the first in the company’s Pro line of earbuds,” said Faraz Mehdi, General Manager Sales – MEA for Anker Innovations “The focus then, was to bring premium sound to the true-wireless headphone space. Today, we launch our new Liberty Air 2 Pro earbuds and unveil a new noise cancelling experience that doesn’t compromise the sound in any environment. With an assortment of user customizable elements, from sound profiles to customizable ANC and transparency modes, the Liberty Air 2 Pro allows users to get the best sound for themselves.”

MULTI-MODE ANC FOR DAILY LIFE

The Liberty Air 2 Pro offers users the ability to change between three noise cancellation modes including Transport mode​, when needed to block out low frequency noises from airplanes, trains or city buses; Outdoor mode​, which use a less powerful ANC setting but wider bandwidth to block out street noise, and finally ​Indoor mode​, which primarily reduces mid-range frequencies to help block out voices that are commonly found in an office or at a café.

Additionally, the Liberty Air 2 Pro also features ​Transparency​ ​mode​ with two different settings. Mode 1 is for total transparency which helps enhance all ambient sounds. This is ideal for runners and bicyclists that need to safely hear noises around them on a city street. The second transparency mode focuses on vocals to enhance voices in the immediate vicinity while simultaneously reducing background noise. This mode is ideal for users who may be waiting for a flight or a bus but still need to hear announcements from a P.A. speaker or flight attendant.

CUSTOMIZED LISTENER EXPERIENCE

Using the updated Soundcore app, the Liberty Air 2 Pro, offers users HearID 2.0, the next generation in audio frequency customization. After performing a simple hearing test with the earbuds, the Liberty Air 2 Pro tunes the sound for the individual to ensure the best possible listening experience. New to version 2.0, users can make changes to these individualized audio settings, or can choose from one of the preset sound profiles.

KEY FEATURES

● PureNote Driver technology with 11mm drivers for accurate sound and clarity at all frequencies.

● Multi-mode ANC with Transport, Indoor and Outdoor settings for customizable usage levels

● Two transparency modes enhance the environment including voices without removing earbuds.

● 7-hour battery in earbuds with ANC off / 6-hour battery with ANC on

● Qi wireless charging case with 26-hour battery with ANC off / 21-hour battery with ANC on as well as USB-C charging.

● Anker Fast Charging technology – 10 minutes charging earbuds = 2 hours of playtime

● Premium call quality using 6-mic uplink noise reduction helps optimize voices and minimize background noise.

● Customizable user touch controls to set preferences for play/pause, track advance, volume, etc.

● Voice-assistant compatibility with Siri® ​at launch and other popular voice-assistants in the future.

● Nine sets of silicone ear tips, ranging from XXXS to XL and L+ in ensure a proper fit.

● Bluetooth version – 5.0

● Waterproof rating – IPX4

● Available in Four Colors: Onyx Black, Titanium White, Sapphire Blue, and Crystal Pink

● Earbud size // Case size – 1.47” x 0.87” x 0.91” // 2.44” x 2.35” x 1.18”

● Earbud weight / Case weight – 0.37 oz // 1.78 oz


The Liberty Air 2 Pro will be available today in four colors including Onyx Black, Titanium White, Sapphire Blue, and Crystal Pink with an RRP of AED 529 which is available at Sharaf DG, Jumbo, Virgin, Emax, Carrefour & other electronics stores and online on Amazon.ae and Noon.com

Artissima Art Agency and Sakoo Art School exhibit at Archiade Atelier in d3

Fourteen artists showcase their work through creative mediums at Archiade Atelier

Artissima Art Agency, in collaboration with Sakoo Art School in Tehran are displaying the remarkable and magnificent artworks of 14 Iranian and two Emirati artists at the Archiade Atelier at Dubai Design District until the 28th of March, 2021.

The opening reception was inaugurated by Dr. Agrippa Damba, Executive Governor at African Finance Regulatory Authority (AFRA) and President of the African Central Bank (ACB) along with other distinguished guests.

Artissima and Sakoo have successfully collaborated in the past for the UAQ Art Festival 2020 and the Italia in Arte Tour, where the Iranian artists won during the art tour.

Narges Soleimanzadeh, President of Sakoo Art School said, “Every Year we hold an International group exhibition of artists, ensuring their work can be seen on a bigger platform Internationally and being in the hub of the art and design scene in Dubai’s d3 is perfect for the visibility of our artists talents.”

Aurela Cuku, Curator of the exhibition and Founder of Artissima Art Agency said, “Narges is one of the artists participating in the exhibition and understands the necessity of the artists to be promoted Internationally. She will exhibit along with the other talented Iranian artists. It is always a pleasure to collaborate and curate such outstanding and brilliant artists.”

Among the artist’s participating are Fahad Al Thani, Abdulrauf Khalfan, Yeganeh Khosravimanesh, Sahar Alizadeh, Farahnaz Oliyaei, Golnar Ghasimi, Mahin Monfared, Mahjoob Zohourian Pourdel, Parisa Khodaparast, Sepideh Naziri, Shabnam Aria, Shahrzad Taheri, Shirin Moayya, Shohreh Damestani and Zahra Parkah.

The exhibition will be held in Archiade Atelier, one of the most prestigious Italian design venues at the Dubai Design District and will run until 28th March 2021.

#Art #ArtGallery #ArtExhibition #ArchiadeAtelier #ArtissimaArtAgency

An Aura of Elegance: Hotel du Palais

By Shereen Shabnam

I fell in love with Biarritz the minute I got off the train. Facing the Ocean Atlantic and on the beach “La Grande Plage de Biarritz” near the city center of Biarritz, the prestigious sea side deluxe Hotel du Palais of Biarritz was breathtaking at first sight.

Walking into the reception area, I had images of the past filled with memories of Gala evenings and stately affairs of the past era. During one of my visits to France over the last few years, I go back in time when I experienced the best of all that a luxury resort can offer at Hotel du Palais.

During meals where I was never left alone, I found that luxury travellers come from all over the world, all year long to enjoy this fabulous setting, warm welcome, elite service, charm and comfort. It is indeed a living souvenir of the history of Biarritz, France and Europe. The “Villa Eugénie”, now the Hotel du Palais, was constructed in 1855 by Napoléon III for his wife Eugénie de Montijo.

No matter how many times I go back to France, the memory of this visit is as fresh and alive in my mind. The clear blue sea at my doorstep reminded me of my home country, Fiji Islands. I still visualise the elegance is deco in every corner from the entrance to my breakfast table where I enjoyed writing while gazing at the blue waters overlooking the hotel.

The main hall, the private salons, the dining room and the grounds have all maintained their Second Empire style. A style that defines Biarritz and assures its reputation as an amazing sea resort, it is this charm, touched with elegance, deluxe and personal that makes this hotel one of a kind.

Biarritz is a little city that has it all. Lively with its casinos, its greens (the region has ten 18 holes golf courses and an International training center, unique in Europe), its boutiques, and the rich green hillsides and its gentle year-round climate.

This picturesque seaside town became a favourite with European royalty in the 19th Century, who fell in love with its pretty beaches, warm climate and relaxed atmosphere. The Hotel du Palais has played host to stars of screen and other luminaries since the 1950s and 60s and offers a timeless glamour and luxury rarely found in today’s resorts.

Biarritz has a lot of beautiful buildings to offer today amongst which, the Hotel du Palais stand out. It’s a vibrant cosmopolitan town with magnificent beaches, golf courses and numerous sporting facilities, not forgetting the surf. Surfing started in France here in Biarritz and surfers come from all over the world to ride the waves.

The Hotel du Palais has practiced and perfected the art of receiving people. In the public areas and guest rooms the original Second Empire style has been retained, with period furniture, original works of art and high decorated ceilings. This is the place to stay for the ultimate Biarritz experience. Guests can lounge by the pool with a cocktail, or head to the nearby beach for some sunbathing, surfing or people-watching.

I enjoyed the world of the Spa Imperial with Guerlain dedicated to well-being, relaxation and fitness. It is the most transforming and customized Spa experience, where cutting edge innovation unites with luxury, emotion and sensuality. It comes with an indoor swimming pool, sauna, stream rooms, fitness center and a beauty parlour with a Hair Care Institute.

Food in France is always a talking point and the great dining experience at the hotel’s restaurants and lounges provide guests with an unforgettable culinary experience. Among the facilities available at the hotel is a foreign exchange service, safe deposit boxes, telex, photocopy, fax and secretariat services. Other Business centre facilities at the hotel include computers for guest use and in room facilities include voice mail, fax machine on request, work desk and modem point.

Executive rooms in addition boast butler service and express check out. L’Hotel du Palais also boasts a selection of reception rooms which can host from 14 to 500 people in various settings – ideal for meetings, seminars or launch parties

All reservations for tickets, sightseeing tours, shows etc are available from the Concierge. For guest convenience, there is also a babysitting as well as medical assistance.  The hotel also has a boutique, hairdresser, heated sea-water swimming-pool with direct access to the beach, solarium, sauna and a golf pitching green. For the active guests, there is the option of playing tennis, golf and horse riding.

There are a number of interesting museums in the area, including the Biarritz Marine Museum with its underwater viewing area, and the rather indulgent Chocolate Museum, which offers tasting sessions. The Historical Museum of Biarritz is situated in a former church and tells the story of the town’s transformation from tiny fishing village to high-society resort.

Hotel du Palais is obviously an address of undeniable prestige and one of the last great palaces around where guests can enjoy being treated like royalty. I felt regal throughout my stay and it has become one of my top destinations in Europe.

#GlobalTrendMonitor #HotelDuPalais #Hotel #Staycation #Vacation #trendingbusiness #magazineUAE #magazine #mediaUAE #UAEmedia #UAEbusiness #myDubai

Top five places to visit in the UAE

By Shereen Shabnam

As a Lifestyle, Travel and Motoring journalist, I spend a substantial amount of time on the road and recently, I decided to do my test drives with a purpose and with the aim of getting to a new or attraction around the different Emirates. Below are some of my favourite places in the different Emirates.

Al Khor Kayak – Al Rafisah Dam

During a recent test drive with the Nissan Xterra, I stopped at the Al Rafisah Dam in Khor Fakkan with my daughter and enjoyed kayaking amidst stunning hilly landscapes complete with a mini waterfall followed by spending time watching kids enjoying the playground and parents enjoying a cup of coffee at the cafe.

The Al Khor Kayak is near Khor Fakkan and it costs only AED30/- for a double kayak rental. There are also restrooms and a terrace with gorgeous views across the water and surrounding mountains.

IMG Resorts

Situated along Sheikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Road, IMG Worlds of Adventure, the largest temperature controlled indoor themed entertainment destination in the world is another favourite spot for us to visit as it offers four epic adventure zones in one location.

After a leisurely drive in the new Ford Explorer, it seemed like a perfect place to stop for a dose of adventure with Cartoon Network, MARVEL, IMG Boulevard and the Lost Valley – Dinosaur Adventure zones.

Here you can enjoy adrenaline-pumping roller coasters, thrill rides, attractions based on Cartoon Network characters, iconic MARVEL Super Heroes and dinosaurs. We loved the variety of themed retail stores, the various dining venues and the 12-screen state-of-the-art cinema.

Yas Island

We ventured to Yas Waterworld while I tested the Honda Odyssey as it is a car for the family but you can fit in two small families for family fun at a venue that comes complete with three award-winning theme parks and a mall.

We were able to have some splashing excitement at Yas Waterworld that comes with an adventure playground and did a photoshoot with the kids. Then we moved on to speed and thrills at Ferrari World Abu Dhabi trying to fit in the many rides and attractions.

This left us with not much time to meet the live characters at Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi but thankfully we had another full day to do it all over again with a bit of retail therapy at the mall and exhilarating rides, live shows and sampling different cuisine in the restaurants on the Island.

Shees Park

We stopped at Shees Park on the way back to Dubai from Fujairah for a bit of desert nature and a coffee at the Gerard Cafe after a Nissan SUV experience.

The recreational park is near the village of Shis in Khor Fakkan and features a 25-meter-high artificial waterfall as well as 506 meters of walkways across three mountain terraces connected by stone stairs leading to the main viewing platform.

The viewing area on the top elevates is about 30 meters above the main park level.It includes a children’s play area, 32 shaded seating areas for families, an outdoor theater and a barbecue area. We spent some time on the swings before heading back to Dubai.

Al Ain Zoo

This is an old favourite. I headed to Al Ain in the new BMW 4 series which was a comfortable ride from Dubai to the Garden City.  While I love driving up to Jebel Hafeet, the Al Ain Zoo is also a great family destination.

Set within in a natural outdoor environment, the Al Ain Zoo has a large animal collection of over 4000 animals. Here you can see endangered species as well as the successful breeding of desert antelopes, gazelles and Arabian Oryx. You need to give yourself at least half a day to do justice to this venue.

#GlobalTrendMonitor #Travel #UAE #Destination #AbuDhabi #Dubai #Sharjah #Fujairah #RasAlKaimah #UmmAlQuawin #trendingbusiness #magazineUAE #magazine #mediaUAE #UAEmedia #UAEbusiness #myDubai

Incredible India: A sanctuary for wellness retreats

By Shereen Shabnam

India has always been an interesting destination with fascinating diversity but now it is on the top of the list for tour operators and others in the industry for short breaks and wellness retreats. Regional residents always look at India for medical tourism and wellness sector. It is a multi-faceted tourist destination for Luxury, Wildlife and Wellness.

India is also poised to become the hub for medical tourism because of several factors. World class hospitals with latest technology, highly skilled Indian physicians and surgeons, low cost of treatment, excellent quality of care, nursing and Indian hospitality, comparatively less waiting time for availing the medical services, India’s traditional healthcare therapies like Ayurveda & Yoga combined with allopathic treatment providing a holistic wellness are key reasons for tourists heading to India for healing purposes.

Almost all thestates of India are developing new products to capitalize on India’s potential from its traditional systems of wellness and medicines, such as Ayurveda, Siddha and Yoga, to present the country as a unique destination for spiritual healing. As the rain clouds start rumbling in the horizon, health resorts and clinics come up with comprehensive Ayurveda packages to pamper and rejuvenate tourists.

Monsoon is considered the best season for Ayurveda rejuvenation programmes as the atmosphere remains dust-free and moist, which in turn opens up the body pores making them more receptive to herbal oils and massages. India has one of the most lucrative health and wellness tourism markets in the world.

Medical Tourism has been growing rapidly and the whole world has taken a note of the massive transformation that has taken place in the Indian Healthcare sector particularly in the Secondary Super Specialty Care in the last two decades.

Tourism sector in India is looking forward to further strengthening the spirit of Indo-Arab partnership for trade development and cultural exchanges between the two regions. India’s centuries old multi-faceted ties with the Arab world, its geographical proximity, long-standing cultural and trading ties between the two nations will help take this partnership to newer heights.

India is promoting the “high-tech healing” of its private healthcare sector as a tourist attraction. As a leading healthcare services hub in the region, more and more Arab patients are flying to India each year for low-cost but world-class medical treatment. Most estimates claim treatment costs in India start at around a tenth of the price of comparable treatment in America or Britain.

The country has established world-class expertise in practices such as cardiac care, cosmetic surgery, joint replacements and dentistry. Another major attraction is yoga and naturopathy that is fast gaining popularity across the globe.

Explore nature, wildlife and landscapes out of this world. Collect handicrafts, jewellery and fabrics like nowhere else. Discover heritage, monuments & sculptures you’ve never imagined or simply rejuvenate your body, mind and soul like never before.

India tourism is already taking steps to well equip the infrastructure facilities to welcome so many tourists. With the modernization of airports all across the country, adding hotel rooms especially at the tourist interest places and with clean India campaign launched, India is all set to welcome the additional number of foreign tourists.

With its natural beauty, vivid festivals, exotic beaches and architectural marvels, from Palace & Heritage hotels, to deserts, to skiing in the mountains, swimming or diving at beautiful beaches; boat houses in Kerala and Kashmir, luxurious camps in national parks, luxurious train journeys as well as the diverse range of accommodation from budget to the top 5-star properties and spa resorts, India has charmed and mesmerized its visitors from this region.

There are countless reasons to visit Incredible India!

#GlobalTrendMonitor #India #IncredibleIndia #Tourism #Destination #Travel #Wellness #trendingbusiness #magazineUAE #magazine #mediaUAE #UAEmedia #UAEbusiness #myDubai

Return to Budapest

By Shereen Shabnam

After a few delightful days in Prague, we took a train to Budapest to experience the city’s rich history, natural sites and their thermal springs.  I expected my second visit to Budapest to be an adventure going into areas not discovered in my first trip but I was drawn once again into doing everything I did before and more.

 The Danube cruise is magical and the view of the city from Gellert Hill is a breathtaking experience as always but Budapest has so much more to offer. My first task was to find a hotel conveniently located in the centre of the city and the Radisson Blu Béke Hotel, Budapest fit the bill perfectly. 

My daughter was adamant about going into the House of Terrors and I reserved this for the last day so she could walk there from the hotel while I could shop during her tour. The hotel allows guests to experience history without sacrificing modern amenities as all rooms provide individual climate control and Free high-speed, wireless Internet, while Olive’s Restaurant and Zsolnay Café serve freshly prepared meals and desserts.  

We took a private tour of the city, divided into 2 parts by the Danube. Buda, the hilly area, lies west, while Pest lies to the east of the river and both have historic sites so the tour ensured we cover both sides depending on our interests with an English-speaking guide.

The Castle Hill area is perfect as well to view the city and it houses several museums and galleries showcasing the history and culture of Hungary. It is a great place for taking pictures. Matthias Church, one of Budapest’s architectural masterpieces looks stunning and makes a perfect backdrop while the Fishermen’s Bastion, built on the site where the old fish market stood in the Middle Ages even attracted newly weds doing their wedding portraits on site. The Bastion’s walls, staircases and domed turrets offer picturesque views overlooking the Danube.

Our guide took us to Gellert Hill, a 140-metre dolomite cliff which I feel has the best views of the city. You can also see the statue of St. Gellert and we looked at large blown up images of the city in the past and how it looks today.

We passed the Chain Bridge and later saw it again in all its glory at night during the river cruise at night. Another elegant bridge over the Danube is the Elisabeth Bridge, named after King Franz Josef I’s wife, Elisabeth.

On the other side of the river, Pest has wonderful palaces, churches, monuments and squares, as well as being the commercial hub of the city. St. Stephen’s Basilica has many beautiful mosaics, paintings and sculptures, including one of St. Stephen wearing a halo.

The Parliament Buildings looked stunning in the day and even more majestic at night. It is Budapest’s most famous building with the most beautiful exteriors and interiors. We loved the performance by the Palace guards that attracted bus loads of visitors to the Palace.

Our next stop was the Heroes Monument area, a vast, paved square featuring a 36-metre column with a statue of Archangel Gabriel on top. At the base, there are several statues of Magyar chieftains and behind the column and on either side of it, there are two semi-circular colonnades, with groups of horsemen on top and statues of past Hungarian rulers within the square.

The Margaret Island in the centre of the Danube is a recreational hub that has numerous recreational activities like biking, swimming or visiting a bathing complex, with thermal pools. If you prefer nature, then head to the City Park that has a large lake, which, in winter, is used for ice skating, a fairytale castle, the Transport Museum, the Szechenyi Baths with hot springs, an amusement park and Budapest Zoo.

On our return to the Radisson Blu Beke, we relaxed in the hotel Café that boasts the best pastries. The hotel also offers an indoor pool, a business centre with secretarial services and eight flexible meeting rooms. I loved the one with paintings all over the wall.

Budapest indeed caters to all tastes; there is a thriving theatre culture, classical concerts, jazz, outdoor activities, opera, much to my daughter’s delight and great food options. I need to get back there with more time to soak in the mineral water that comes from various thermal springs surrounding the city.

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Fragrant Notes

Nishrat Nazeen, Founder and Curator of Aromas Fiji

The pandemic has inspired people all around the world to focus more on being clean, hygienic and healthy and this vision has led many around the world to invest in inspiring projects and products that focus on keeping everyone around cleaner and safer. Aromas Fiji was initiated by Nishrat Nazeen, a PR Professional based in Nadi, Fiji Islands during the pandemic to encourage people to use more soap and relax with fragrant candles and ultimately embrace a lifestyle that focuses on wellbeing.

In a candid interview, Nishrat tells us more about her new venture and the debut collection of soaps and candles from Aromas Fiji.

Tell us a bit about Aromas Fiji?

Aromas Fiji is a homegrown organic halal certified soaps and soy candle brand. Our aim is to bring colour and fragrance into your home with our collection of handcrafted natural and organic soaps and candles made with high quality plant and botanical oils.

What inspired you to take on this project?

Our industry depends on marketing and PR budgets, both affected by the pandemic as these are the first budgets to be slashed by companies. The down time prompted me to look into other sources of income.

Aromas Fiji was hence conceptualized based on my love for fragrant smells that elevate the stay at home experience, especially during the pandemic when I was mainly staying at home and working remotely. Realizing that there was a gap in the market for halal certified skin care and home deco products, I ventured into learning about aromas, their calming effect on the body, mind and soul and with the encouragement of family members, Aromas Fiji was born.

Are the soaps and candles made in Fiji and

Our products are all made naturally in Fiji and our soaps are hand mixed, hand poured, hand cut, and packaged individually.  Our carefully curated product line includes luxury scented candles and soaps that are natural, environmentally friendly and made to elevate the spirits of users as well as enrich the homes they inhabit. The products are thoughtfully planned from the brand and product design to colours and scents and packaged exquisitely for home use or for gifting. 

Apart from soaps, you also make candles. What do you use to make these?

Aromas Fiji candles are made of long-lasting soya wax and comes with high quality cotton wicks ensuring you have the best quality natural product made without comprising on the environment. We use essential oils and aromas in the candles that help to wind down and boost your well-being especially in the evenings when a peaceful sleep routine is welcomed by all members of the family.

And how are the soaps made?

Aromas Fiji soaps are made of all-natural products that are long-lasting, paraben-free, sustainably made and environmentally friendly.  Suitable for the whole family, the soap lather offers a luxurious cleansing experience that hydrates and nourishes the body, leaving the skin clean, soft, moisturized and fresh.

What is your favourite in the debut collection of Aromas Fiji?

From the debut range I love the traditionally crafted soaps with massaging nodules as I find it makes the at-home cleansing ritual worthy of a spa. Made with aromatic essential oil, the massage nodules pamper the body and elevates the senses with specially formulated ingredients known for nourishing properties.

Which ingredients do you love working with?

My favourite ingredients for the soaps and candles are Moringa, Goats Milk, Aloe Vera, Oranges, Charcoal, Sandalwood, Frangipani, Lemon Grass, Marygold, Citronella, Japanese Honeysuckle, Amber, Musk and Vanilla.