A tribute to Adi Litia Samanunu Cakobau-Talakuli – Our sweet Princess

My family and friends who knew my connection with an amazing woman who I was privileged to have as my boss in KL have been calling to offer condolences as she sadly passed away last week. It was naturally a shock to hear the news as I always felt she was always going to be around and I will see her again during my trips to Fiji.

Like my gorgeous friend Bernadette, also a parliamentarian, I loved the positive energy of Adi who was an amazing leader for all of us working at the Fiji High Commission in Kuala Lumpur.

Adi was a highly respected Fijian chief, politician, and diplomat. She was the eldest child of Ratu Sir George Cakobau, the late Vunivalu of Bau and Governor General of Fiji. She was Minister for Fijian Affairs and was considered as a candidate for the Vice-Presidency in 1997 but she became Fiji’s High Commissioner to Malaysia where I was one of her staff and Ambassador to Thailand and the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific thereafter.

Adi was appointed to the Fijian Senate as one of nine nominees of the Fijian government and to the Cabinet as a Minister without portfolio. As the eldest child of the last Vunivalu of Bau, she was considered the senior-most chief of the Kubuna Confederacy.

Despite her Chiefly position, Adi was a kind, caring, gentle down to earth Princess who acted as a guide to young Fijians like us. She was an understanding boss and encouraged me to focus on my Masters Thesis after work every day without fail as we left the office.

As a young student in Kuala Lumpur, Adi was like a mother to me and to 3 other Fijian students in Kuala Lumpur. I enjoyed spending time with her both at the office and in the evenings when we had social engagements for the High Commission.

We never felt homesick as she, like all the other Fijian Ambassadors and High Commissioners before, made sure we always had a room in her house to stay over when we had official functions and personally cooked meals for me if I ever dropped in to visit her. She loved singing with us when the rugby players came to KL for the Cobra 7s, when we celebrated Fiji Day and generally anytime we had guests from Fiji.

Adi was a beautiful Princess, in her looks and in her heart. Most people who met her always mentioned to me afterwards how wonderful and regal she was without knowing that she was indeed a royalty in Fiji.

She was my first role model and if I am calm and collected today during the most difficult situations, it is because she taught me to be a lady. She brought people together and I remember how supportive she was when I was coming to Dubai and had to leave my siblings in KL to complete their degrees. She was my pillar of strength as I felt there was someone my siblings could turn to in my absence.

I wish I was in Fiji the last few days to pay my last respects to a woman who was my first female boss, my guardian during my student days, my role model and a caring mother figure when I needed to speak to someone during my time in Kuala Lumpur. We will forever remember Adi’s kindness and her guidance to all of us.

May her beautiful soul rest in peace.

Ya Ghali – Bil Arabi’s superb collection by Nadine

With Nadine at a Donna Karan show

One of my favourite pieces from Nadine

Recently I have had the pleasure of chatting at various times to Bil Arabi designer Nadine Kanso who not long ago launched her new Ya Ghali jewellery collection exclusively at Harvey Nichols.

To the uninitiated, Ya Ghali showcases luxury pieces made from white gold and gems, layered with yellow gold additions and semi-precious stones that are the hallmarks of Nadine’s Bil Arabi line.

In her limited edition collection for Harvey Nichols, Nadine took the classical and melded it with her unique creative insight to craft something that is at once timeless yet typically playful of her style.

The Arabic phrase ‘Ya Ghali’ is colloquially used to reference that which is dearest to the heart and also expensive; the collection embodies a sense of lightheartedness that only the most discerning eye will detect.

I loved the Ya Ghali collection which has rings, necklaces, earrings and bracelets that reference the themes Bil Arabi is recognised for – love, nature, butterflies and of course, the Arab identity. The Arabic calligraphy that represents the foundation of the Bil Arabi line, using both individual letters and words, connects with the classical pieces in a way that appears incongruous and yet produces something meaningful.

What I love most about Nadine’s work is how she captures the essence of the modern Arab identity – unique, unavoidable and with a need to be seen and heard. The new generation of Arabs should be proud to be the keepers of their rich cultural legacy and Nadine uses her jewellery as one medium for communicating what it means to be young, Arab and proud.

She is successful in this and has truly excelled and introduced yet another way of conveying what is dear to her clientele’s hearts. The collision of history, tradition and popular culture has formed the basis for much of Nadine’s work. Her artistic sensibility, connected with collage as an art form, has recurring references in all her creative work, using fragments to create a new whole. I for one absolutely love the passion she exudes and love being in her company – a wonderful individual, sweet, down to earth and super talented to boot.

If you want to have a peek at the jewellery, the Ya Ghali by Bil Arabi collection is available exclusively at the Fine Jewellery & Watches Department of Harvey Nichols  in Mall of the Emirates.

One of the more glamorous pieces from Nadine

Loving Al Khayalee Boutique

Some of the items at Al Khayalee Boutique…my bbm camera doesn’t do justice to how beautiful the items are.

A few weeks ago I had the delightful opportunity to be at the opening of the much talked about Al Khayalee Boutique, which is part of the Al Khayalee Wedding Planning Company, offering premium gift wrapping solutions and home accessories….

The boutique, a brainchild of Sara Khalifa Harib, specialises in offering highly personalised gifting options, including flower arrangements, gift wrapping and bespoke packaging. Sara is the Founder and Director of the Boutique with beautiful and stunning items and flowers displayed in an amazing way on the walls to entice you to take them home.

It was awesome catching up with the Saeed Hareb at Al Khayalee Boutique who I always refer to as the father of the marine industry in the UAE and he was there with his equally creative and talented son Mohammed Saeed Harib of the Freej fame. The whole family is talented in the industries they have ventured in.

Going back to the awesomeness of Al Khayalee Boutique. Apart from intricate flower arrangements and unique gift wrapping solutions that are specifically tailored to the requirements of the customers, Al Khayalee boutique also offers specially-designed, distinctive gift boxes, gift bags and accessories such as trays and vases that are manufactured using a wide range of materials and finishes. I got one which I hope to personalise for little diva NJD for her trinkets so she stops digging into my treasure chest.

Al Khayalee Boutique is located on Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai and is open until10:00 pm. Check them out on http://www.alkhayaleeboutique.com or twitter @khayaleboutique

With the Harib boys at Al Khayalee Boutique.

The German Emirati Joint Council for Industry & Commerce (AHK)

An amazing number of business groups got together at The Ritz DIFC for networking

Last week, various business groups got together under one roof at the Ritz Carlton DIFC…..I was representing the International Business Women’s Group and we had special invites from the very generous Australian Business Council to attend this networking event. I met a lovely lady there, Dr. Anna Uzarowska from the German Emirati Joint Council for Industry & Commerce (AHK), a German semi-governmental organization and member of the world-wide German Chambers Network.

It was founded in May 2009 and was inaugurated by the former German Federal Minister of Economy and Technology.

Anna sent me a note post the networking saying that the AHK is the first bilateral federal business organization as well as the first international institution on federal level which has been founded in the Gulf. It promotes and supports trade relations between Germany and the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain and in particular supports German companies in building up and extending their business in the region.

AHK represents the interests of the German business community in the UAE as well as the interests of all its members (both German and local companies). Regardless of the company size or the nationality, AHK members are VIP clients who are offered support from the network of the group, contacts and services. Check them out on  www.ahkuae.com

Fun and sensual fragrances from Mikyajy

NJD with her current favourite fragrance

With my new obsessions with fragrances, I have two new signature women’s fragrances, Dicey Royale and Flirt Dreams that has made me smile this week. Designed in trendy cube-shaped glass flacons, the two fragrances reflect the essence of every woman, combining elements ranging from girly lightheartedness to sexy mystery. Each fragrance pays homage to the different styles and approaches each woman takes with love, romance and seduction…..are you intrigued?

Little diva NJD loves the Flirt dreams and I love the Dicey Royale so we are both getting into bed for story and cuddle time the last few nights smelling each other and stressing what makes the one we selected better. As a  sensual, warm-hearted romantic, I naturally like Dicey Royale which has warm and dynamic notes for a sensual woman who prefers a subtle form of seduction. Rose and woody ambers are prominent notes – the composition opens with top notes of rose, peony blossom and essence of mandarin and orange as well as a base of woody ambers. This scent is intended for those who want an exceptional and intense fragrance.

The one that Tash loves, Flirt Dreams is a fresh, youthful fragrance with sparkling, light notes for a more delicate woman. I’m sending a bottle to one of my other babies in Cape Town to see what she thinks of it. The floral fruity fragrance is for the carefree girl with an upbeat personality.

Flirt Dreams and the original Flirt both share a fun floral character that remains linked through both fragrances thanks to a jasmine-dominated heart. It’s a floral fruity eau de toilette that opens with top notes of bergamot, pear, nectarine and pink pepper, with a heart of rose, jasmine, peach and violet, and a base of cedar and musk. Flirt Dreams is aimed at those who love a fragrance filled with light, airy nuances and a tinge of subtle fruitiness.

My next fragrance notes will be in a few weeks time when a regional perfume maker will make his way to Dubai and share with me his thoughts on the industry. Plus I am hoping to have coffee this weekend with the Fragrance Foundation as well as I learn more and more about mixing and experimenting with my favourite  scents.

NJD’s favourite – Flirt Dreams

Hello Kitty Beauty Spa….little diva may need spa allowance


Yummy Yummy, in my tummy :). Hello Kitty cupcake

I don’t mind taking little diva out for the occasional pampering session to get her hair or nails done but with the world’s first ever, Hello Kitty Beauty Spa now launched at Town Centre Jumeirah, I may have to share my spa and beauty allowance as it seems the idea of going to a Hello Kitty spa appeals to little girls like her….but I love my little diva heaps so am willing to do the mother daughter bonding thingy in a spa instead of the usual bumming with a romantic comedy on the sofa with junk food session.

I was at the dazzling launch with my favourite and the sweetest diplomatic couple ever (Mr & Mrs Daisuke) from the Japanese consulate as we enjoyed branded Hello Kitty cupcakes and drinks. The Beauty Spa is themed and designed on the famous Japanese character ‘Hello Kitty’ and specially designed for ‘Queens’ and their little ‘Princesses’.

The lead designer Miyuki Okamura from Tokyo drew the character and signed stuff for fans present at the event.  Hello Kitty Beauty Spa is an innovative extension to the brand which allows a younger audience to experience the luxury and pleasures of a day at the Beauty Spa.

I loved the interior, the different lines of products they had, from organic to normal make-up, hair products and even food in the Kitty Cafe section. The design of the spa is that of ‘vintage girly look’ and the minimalist reception displays the best of Hello Kitty goodies. The services at the spa include nails, facials, hair and make-up.

The Beauty Spa offers a separate service menu for ‘Queen’ and ‘Princesses’, offering all organic nail and beauty products for young girls. Just so you know, Hello Kitty was born in 1974 – a year after I came into the world and when good things started to happen :).

Over the years, Hello Kitty has become one of the most unique and interesting icon ever created – a worldwide social icon with relevance to women of all ages, ethnicities and economic backgrounds as well as an inspiration to artists and designers. It is one of Japan’s unique cultural exports, and one of the ultimate symbols of Kawaii, meaning cute in Japanese.

Three decades since she made her debut on a small coin purse in Japan, her popularity has multiplied exponentially from Japan to the world. Thanks to Sharaf Retail, we can enjoy the chilled out side of Hello Kitty in Dubai and I’m glad I can now have spa sessions with little diva NJD on weekends.

Had loads of laughs dressing up for the official pic at entrance 🙂

Hello Kitty tattoo on a cheeky place

A Donna Karan presentation

Dipesh is always surrounded by beautiful women…he is here with lovely Shimaa, Rania, Shweta & Sidrah

My favourite stylist Farah Kabir at Donna Karan show…..Dubai has become more stylish with her around

With Jewellery Designer Nadine Kanso @ the Donna Karan new collection presentation

I reckon everyone knows now in Dubai I love anything that is organised by Dipesh & Ayman….these boys are magic with everything they touch. Couple of nights ago I ventured into the Fashion Lounge of Dubai mall as New York design star Donna Karan presented her luxurious Spring and Summer 2012 collections, organized by The Qode.

Needless to say, Dubai’s glitterati stepped out to see the luxe tribal inspired collection reminiscent of Haiti’s glamourous heyday. Models mingled with the guests overlooking the striking Dubai fountain in an evening of high glamour. Tribal prints, Donna’s signature jersey drapes and evening wear wowed the guests.

The new Donna Karan boutique, which opened recently at the Dubai Mall is housed on the first floor of the exclusive Fashion Avenue, and is the flagship outpost for Donna Karan in the Middle East.

While there, I caught up with Nadine Kanso again whose jewellery Dipesh & Ayman introduced me to a couple of weeks ago and yes…it was something I liked heaps as it was not your usual expected designs one gets so bored of …. watch this space for more information on her creative style. Meanwhile, check out Donna Karan at Dubai Mall and get ready to be wowed!

How gorgeous is Lina Samman. She is beautiful in and out and always full of positive vibe

The Donna Karan show finale


It is time for Dubai Summer Surprises

NJD after a DSS face painting when she was young….she always chose a tiger design

Summer in Dubai these days are a lot different than 10 years ago thanks to the Dubai Events and Promotions Establishment, an agency under the Department of Economic Development of Dubai who have planned more than a 100 exciting shows and activities over 31 days set to cement Dubai’s reputation as the finest summer destination in the region through Dubai Summer Surprises 2012 (DSS).

DSS will run from June 14th to July 14th with the slogan “Dubai. Summer Fun and More”. I remember working with the DSF/DSS team in 2000 and had lots of fun at the DSF offices then with H.E. Laila Suhail who is now the CEO of DEPE and Ibrahim Saleh, Festivals Coordinator General and Deputy CEO of DEPE. Both of them are just as dynamic as I knew them 12 years ago and its great to see that they keep each year’s events fresh with new activities….I’m particularly excited with all the spa offers I’m about to experience – my body certainly needs it.

To know what you want to indulge in this year, check out the “Dubai Calendar” which gives visitors and residents a month-by-month line-up of the unique and entertaining events taking place in the city all year round and it is a great source of reference for anyone wanting to make the most of their time in Dubai….it is an awesome tool for people who have visitors all the time in Dubai.

This year’s partners and sponsors which includes Emirates Airlines, AW Rostamani, Al Futtaim Group, Emaar Malls Group, Emaar Properties, Majid Al Futtaim Properties, Al Ghurair City, Mercato, Paris Gallery, EPPCO and ENOC, Dubai World Trade Center, Dubai Duty Free in addition to Master card and Dubai Shopping Malls Group (DSMG), all of which, over the years, have played an important role in the success and continuing growth of DSS.

Malls across the city will play host to DSS signature events, such as World of Stories, Kids Fashion Week, Min Bladi Al Emarat, and the Sheila and Abaya Fashion Show, and kids can look forward to 8 highly popular international stage cartoon shows such as The Smurfs, Barbie, Hello Kitty, Sponge Bob, Charlie and Lola, Ice Age, and Teletubbies….man these bring memories of us going all over town with little diva. I must say I am glad she’s all grown up now and enjoys DSS the way I like – retail therapy!

My favourite bit this DSS will be naturally be the spa offers program “Dubai Spas” with cool discounts at the cream of Dubai’s luxurious spas. I’m not big into raffles partly because I never win anything but DSS usually has some mega prizes.

I’m pretty sure there is a lot more news coming up for DSS but the taster activity schedule that landed in my inbox makes me want to just here all summer.

Senses and Sensibilities


Hend Al Falafly’s pencil and acrylic on canvas

Last week I found my yoga, zumba & Muay Thai classes missing on schedule an entire evening – not wanting to do anything in the gym that was not musically oriented, I set out art gallery hopping so my creative side gets a dose of eye candy (not male related for once).

The most delightful exhibition, being a super sensuous chick that I am was Hend El Falafly’s exhibition at Art Sawa. Hend, an Egyptian who lives and works in Cairo was sweetness and light personified and it was my luck that she was at the gallery at the time of my visit.

Over some nuts and dried apricots with fruit cocktails, we got chatting and it was interesting to marry her persona to the paintings I was so overwhelmed by on the walls.

Hend explains that realism at times worries her and she wants to express that through her work. Being inquisitive, I dig deeper and it is clear that her work has a symbolic and very expressive meaning behind it. Being a woman and despite my tomboy tendencies, I was moved by each of her sexily sensuous pieces.

Hend explores through her intimate works in ”Senses and Sensibilities” the different emotions expressed by women, usually which are part of her everyday life. She uses body language to understand the meaningful silence carried over by their experiences and stories. These are reflected in all its semantic in the facial expressions and movements of the hands, the feet, the look ,the clothes and emotions repressed.

And with the silence of the lips, it is usually the eyes which transcends all the languages and spoken in a glance, an unspeakable tongue that denies lies and hypocrisies. I agree with this fully as I’m always told that no matter what I am thinking or feeling, my eyes always betray what I really feel and are the windows to my soul….its not always a good thing but over the years I’ve learnt that my eyes betray me and if it reflects sadness at any time, I end up crying because I know the person across me knows I’m hurting….its not nice for the other person but hey….I’m a woman and I can do what I feel like.

Hend tells me that an array of different areas of reality inspires her and have great impact on her works, which is revealed through incredible movement and light. No secret can be kept hidden……if you want to see her amazing work for yourself, its at DIFC Art Sawa until 19th June. Enjoy!

With artist Hend El Falafly

My tryst with the Infiniti QX56

The Infiniti QX56 I had so much fun with all of last week 🙂

I’m having withdrawal symptoms….normally when I get a car to be seen around in, it’s usually a sporty little number worth half a million or something that is top of the range for Millionaires but still at sedan level. And if I do get lucky and get a SUV sent to me, it never fits my shoe rack properly and if it does, there is no space left to organise my gym bag, evening bag, beach bag, magazines etc in such a way that I don’t have to do a major clean up after a dune bashing session.

So naturally when Infiniti sent me the nice big Infiniti QX56 on a truck last week, I kinda expected yet another SUV experience but once inside, even I was overwhelmed by the size….its HUGE! It’s fantastic  for buyers who need seats for eight although I would have preferred a seat for 5 and then use the rest of the space for the many things a diva can’t do without in her car….i was able to fit in about 45 pairs of shoes on the rack once I rolled the seat over plus all my bags which has never happened before….normally I have to ration what I put into the cars I get to check out.

The QX56 is Infiniti’s super big SUV and I like the posh interior, the gracefully styled dashboard and the small touches on the exterior that makes it stand out as an Infiniti. It looked like it has very rugged capabilities but as usual I am never comfortable taking cars off-road that does not belong to me…I like the comfort of knowing that if something happens, its my car and I am solely responsible for it.

As a petrol head, I love the Infiniti’s 5.6-liter V8, 400 horsepower and 413 lb-ft or torque funnelled through a seven-speed automatic that gets the throttle to the max. The Infiniti promises a 0-60 mph time of about seven seconds, gas mileage and although people tell me that QX’s independent suspension does a fine job of controlling its ride quality, I had to put in some power into my arms/hands to control it in tight corners….maybe it’s just my delicate built but it was fun none the less.

Needless to say, the car is very spacious, with big front chairs and little Diva (NJD) had lots of fun playing at the back and for once she reckons, she didn’t have to bump into the ‘junk’ I normally throw in the back or shoes to fall over. She even reclined the back seat for a nap and showed me some cool features I was not aware of.

The car had all the usual power features; navigation option, DVD audio, a moon roof, a power tailgate, Bluetooth with audio streaming, pushbutton start, USB connectivity for audio players and so much more…if you have a big family or like big SUV’s, this is definitely a car for you.

Little diva NJD enjoys the space and reclining seats at the back

NJD reckons she is ready to drive … 5 more years to go!