Pleasantly surprised by The New Phaeton

How cool is this 🙂

The first ever car I owned was a funky Volkswagen Polo which was super nippy and in the end saved my life because of its safety features. Since then, I always wanted to owned a VW but decided to go for another SUV as I felt safer in them purely based on size but the brand i selected was more for my shoe rack space than anything else. So when the awesome girls at VW called me to see if I wanted to test drive the new Phaeton for a few days including the weekend, I couldn’t say no. It was a superb experience, one that I would love to repeat again.

We all know that Volkswagen produces one of the world’s highest quality, exclusive automobiles and the quality, style and travelling comfort of this saloon was certainly above standard. I enjoyed the abundance of new technical features that included a light Assist plus a camera-based, dynamic main beam control system being introduced in a saloon for the first time.

The navigation system in this awesome car can integrate online data in the map display upon request. The optional front camera in the Phaeton “sees” traffic signs; speed limit signs are visualised in the instrument cluster (multifunction display) and the central touch-screen of the centre console.

I loved the interior of the Phaeton – its elegant and comfortable, the styling is linear and timeless but I am so missing the seats with award-winning ergonomics. Then there is the current generation radio/navigation system with 8-inch touch-screen control, form one functional unit with the climate control and multimedia controls.

The luxurious new saloon offers superb exclusivity, and totally matched the standards I am used to in luxury cars. I was so thrilled about the car that I got offered another test drive of the Touareg the following weekend and I cant wait to share how impressed I was with the VW brand. Watch this space!

Life is Magnifique at Sofitel – World Class Hotels & French Elegance

The amazing view i had when I stayed in the Prestige Suite of Sofitel Bahrain

NJD with the Thailand Ambassador to Bahrain at Tapas Bar

Experience the best in hospitality at Sofitel Bahrain and Dubai

Sofitel is the only French luxury hotel brand with a presence on five continents with 120 addresses, in almost 40 countries (more than 30 000 rooms). Sofitel offers contemporary hotels and resorts adapted to today’s more demanding and more versatile consumers who expect and appreciate beauty, quality and excellence. I enjoyed my one night stay at Sofitel Dubai so much that I wanted to try another Sofitel to see if all their properties are really as magnifique as my first experience

Whether situated in the heart of a major city like Paris, London, New York, Shanghai or Beijing, or nestled away in a country landscape in Morocco, Egypt, French Polynesia or Thailand, each Sofitel property offers a genuine experience of the French “ art de vivre”.

One thing I noticed in both the Dubai and Bahrain property is the biggest asset that makes Sofitel such a huge success in this region is that every staff member, right from the GM to the waiter have unbelievably vibrant, pleasant and helpful personalities.

In Dubai, it was awesome to look out the patio onto the ocean and the vibrant atmosphere of JBR where people went on from their coffee sessions to walks on the beach. I was so happy with the hotel’s recreation areas like the inviting pool area that going out of the hotel was not on. In the evening we enjoyed an amazing fine dining experience as well as a wonderful coffee session near garden area.

At The Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea & Spa, guests are greeted with the Kingdom’s legendary hospitality, enhanced by a touch of the French savoir-faire cherished by Sofitel hotels world-wide. Situated on the west coast of Bahrain, the hotel is located close to a nature reserve, in a protected area with crystal-clear turquoise waters. It truly is a luxurious establishment offering guests a paradise setting in which to enjoy an idyllic stay.

The exclusive lounge area on the 6th Floor had the friendliest staff and my best experience was that no matter which part of the hotel I was in, there was Internet access. I strongly believe that in this day and age, hotels lose out with their exorbitant costs for internet excess and Sofitel scores full marks as I was able to relax and have peace of mind knowing that I could at a pinch attend to any urgent emails that came from home or office. 

The Hotel is offering a wide variety of cuisines and delicious dishes from all over the world presented in the 5 restaurants and 4 bars. Guests may enjoy an authentic South East Asian fare, or dive into an overwhelming seafood collection. The Italian specialties are to die for and the Tapas bar offers a wide selection of unique mouth- watering bites.

The irresistible Lebanese Mezza and local delights in the Regional Specialty restaurant are warmed up with the most popular oriental tunes and belly dance beats in Pashawat. I was particularly overwhelmed by the Friday brunch, which I am told, is the best in Bahrain and it was certainly the best I have had in a long time.

Each restaurant in the hotel left me impressed and I believe that La Mer is by far the best seafood restaurant I have tried in Bahrain during my weekly visits. And getting to the hotel is so easy and once you get there, the tranquil environment sets the mood for an awesome time no matter what the reasons are for your visit.

One thing I was looking forward to most was the fact that The Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea & Spa is the first hotel within the GCC to offer thalasso-therapy and I couldn’t wait to try it. I was not disappointed as the extensive Thalassa sea & spa complex covers 2,000 square meters on 2 levels and is designed with the utmost care to ensure privacy and tranquility for every guest. The complex features 14 treatment rooms, utilizing sea products, massages and Wellness programs.

I was also impressed by the fact that The Thalassa Sea & Spa also features a seawater hydrotherapy pool, a freshwater pool, saunas, steam rooms, hairdresser for men and beauty salon for women, as well as a yoga studio and a meditation area. A specialized dietitian is dedicated to advise general body condition; body mass index, and tailor-made fitness programmes.

Then there is the La Plage Beach Club is an elegant and modern facility, where you may enjoy a relaxing day on the beach or by the pool, also, you can pick from a wide range of water sports to enhance you day on the beach.

The Beach Club’s 2 floodlit tennis courts promise enlivening play, while the 2 air-conditioned glass- backed squash courts offer a cooler choice. So FIT gym is part of La Plage Beach Club, it is the latest facility of its kind in Bahrain, and offers state-of-the-art equipment, certified trainers and fitness assessment counselors to help guests get the most out of their workout.

There is also a safe and nurturing environment, where children from all ages are provided with opportunities to develop their social, emotional and physical skills. The space is designed to suit different age groups with a wide range of indoor activities such as Play station3, WII, movies, events, library, board games, computers, and toys for all ages.

I certainly am looking forward to my next visit to the restaurants and the spa at Sofitel hotels now that I have had the taste of their Dubai and Bahrain properties.

*PS – I just saw the Sofitel Bahrain Ramadan Tent last weekend and it is awesome. After being in hundreds of Ramadan tents over the last 12 years, the ambience of the Sofitel Bahrain comes out as the best I have ever seen.

The food presentation at every restaurant at Sofitel Bahrain is so beautiful, you don’t want to spoil it…LUSH!

My room @SofitelBahrain 🙂

 

 

Sultans of Science’ to enter the European market with debut in Oslo

Children interacting with ‘Sultans of Science’ exhibits at a previous venue

MTE Studios signs contract with Norwegian Science Museum

With its European debut in Oslo, UAE’s global travelling exhibition, ‘Sultans of Science’, enters a new market as MTE Studios signs a six-month leasing contract with The Norwegian Museum of Science and Technology in Norway.

With tremendous success in USA, Canada and Asia, MTE Studios is creating a second version of ‘Sultans of Science’ exhibition to meet the demand of venues interested in hosting it. Currently ‘Sultans of Science’ also known as ‘Islamic Science Rediscovered’, entered the Asian continent and will be concluding at Science Centre Singapore before moving on to Thailand, Malaysia and other venues thereafter.

Unveiling scientific achievements of Muslim civilization to European audiences, ‘Sultans of Science’ Exhibition will amaze visitors with scientific breakthroughs of a remarkable Era. The global travelling exhibition will be showcased for six and half months at The Norwegian Museum of Science and Technology

“We are proud to bring this exhibition to Norway and delighted to unfold the knowledge of a great civilization which will be an engaging and educating experience for our visitors. We are excited to be the first venue in Europe for a prestigious exhibition like ‘Sultans of Science’ and are very confident that it will be well received”, said director Hans Weinberger of The Norwegian Museum of Science and Technology.

“‘Sultans of Science’ has attracted record number of visitors at venues across USA, Canada and Asia and are we overwhelmed with the kind of response it has received. Increasing demand from venues has given rise to the second version of the exhibition and we are proud to sign the first contract with Norwegian Science Museum to be the launch pad for the European Continent,” said Ludo Verheyen, CEO of MTE Studios.

The exhibition will reveal the remarkable achievements of Muslim civilization, which helped, pave the way for modern technologies and inventions. European audiences will be amazed to learn about the significant role the Islamic scholars have played in modern science, from astronomy to medicine to engineering to navigation and optics and how these innovations and discoveries have helped in making mankind’s life easier today.

With over 50 interactive, sensory and static exhibits and giant functional replicas that use cutting-edge technology to recreate the ingenuity of a golden age, the global travelling exhibition has been to various venues including New Jersey, South Africa, Toronto, Edmonton, San Jose and Science Centre Singapore. 

About ‘Sultans of Science’ (‘Islamic Science Rediscovered’):

‘Sultans of Science’ also known as ‘Islamic Science Rediscovered’ is a global touring exhibition celebrating the contribution of Muslim Scholars in Science and Technology during the Golden Age of the Islamic World and the influence their inventions and contributions has towards modern society.

Focused on increasing knowledge and understanding of these invaluable contributions, ‘Sultans of Science’ has been created as a global traveling exhibition in order to enable its message to be far-reaching through science centers and museums around the world.

The content features interactive displays with information on inventions, innovations and discoveries covering a broad spectrum of science topics such as astronomy, mathematics, medicine, optics amongst others, which were ahead of its time.

Contact Shereen Shabnam on +971507690087 if you would like information to visit the exhibition.

Bahrain Science Centre summer workshops

Children engrossed during a story telling session at the summer workshop at the Bahrain Science Centre

Bahrain Science Centre summer workshops offering a wide range of activities that are concerned with scientific topics have proven to be a huge success amongst the children in the Kingdom. The summer workshops started early this month and over 600 children have already attended the workshops in the first 10 days with more groups registering every day. 

Commenting on the success, Assistant Undersecretary of Community Development Mr. Khalid Ishaq from Bahrain’s Ministry of Social Development said, “The camp is a huge success among children. Keeping children gainfully occupied throughout the summer holidays is a task for every parent and these workshops keep them constructively, educationally and enjoyably occupied.”

From science shows, story-telling, puppet workshops, talk shops, painting, craft to educational games, there’s something for everyone at the Bahrain Science Centre’s interactive workshops. A series of fun-filled games and hands-on activities encourage children to use their brains and to enter a world of imagination. Bahrain Science Centre storytellers bring tales from around the world to life. Entertaining and exciting activities are offered to develop essential life skills for young visitors at the Science Centre, which falls under Bahrain’s Ministry of Social Development.

Summer camp organisers and their groups who attended the workshops at Bahrain Science were amazed. In particular, Ghada Salem, Founder and Managing Director of Mums in Bahrain Society and Aysha Al Ghattan, Principle of Good Seeds Summer Camp, Al Eslah society were excited and overjoyed bringing their children to the centre to experience hands-on learning activities while enjoying the summer workshops.

Currently operated and managed by MTE Studios, the Bahrain Science Centre is the first of its kind in the country and all the displays are designed to be educational. Schools in Bahrain started exploring the new Bahrain Science Centre by appointments only prior to its official launch with great success since its opened doors late March 2012. School and Summer Holiday groups are still being formally invited until the Bahrain Science Centre opens officially to children as well as families and adults later this year.

The Bahrain Science Centre is located in building 334, Road 109, Block 801, Riyadh Avenue, Isa Town, Kingdom of Bahrain and can be contacted on 136 846 86.

About Bahrain Science Centre (BSC):
The Bahrain Science Centre (BSC) is an interactive educational facility that targets children, youth and families of Bahrain. It is located in building 334, Road 109, Block 801, Riyadh Avenue, Isa Town, Kingdom of Bahrain. The science centre has six interactive exhibition galleries, an auditorium, four laboratories and a café/shop.

The role of the BSC is to promote awareness of the importance of science and technology, complement the school curriculum, stimulate curiosity and innovation, and create a forum for public debate on science and technology issues. The topics covered by current exhibitions include junior engineering, human health, the five senses, earth sciences and biodiversity.

Focusing on hands-on learning using interactive displays and people-centred programmes, such as science shows, Bahrain Science Centre also strongly promotes creativity and innovation as well as cross-generational learning. The science centre will also endeavour to promote an awareness of Bahrain’s contributions to science and technology and a strong Bahraini identity. It is an ideal family edutainment destination.

Irresistible Designs of Walid Atallah

An evening with Walid Atallah

I reckon we are super lucky to live in a city that has amazing fashion designers and Walid Attalah has to be one the leading ones not just regionally but Internationally. Afterall he is internationally known for his exquisite evening and bridal designs, and for his skillful use of diamonds, precious stones and Swarovski crystals – remember that beautiful wedding dress worth U.S. $ 1.2 million that created waves in the fashion industry (I think that’s when I first really noticed his work).

We are both born in 1973 so I totally admire the fact that Walid has reached so much higher success than I could ever do and love listening to him about his journey to where he is in the fashion scene today as inspiration. Thanks to Ashraf and his impromtu coffee timings, I got to spend an evening early last week with Walid for a tour of his shop and got a sneak peek on what’s coming next and what drives him creatively for his awesome collections.

Walid was born in Beirut in an affectionate family who were inspired by beauty and style. He naturally followed his heart, studied fashion designing and graduated from University of Chicago. I was fortunate to watch him work as he flitted through his base in Dubai looking, touching and contemplating his designs in progress. Walid chose Dubai to launch his fashion-design career using fascinating designs mixing the charm of the East with the West. He was the first designer to add diamonds in his collection – every woman desires his outfits, which makes his final ensemble very irresistible.

Today Walid has made his mark in the to fashion capitals of the world by introducing numerous collections of dozens of memorable fashion pieces at his shows which have been a success throughout the Arab world, Italy and France, where he received the International Design Excellence Award of the Association of French Fashion Designers. He has made two appearances at the Couture Fashion Week in New York two years in a row with a favorable and enthusiastic response from the audience and peers in the fashion industry. He has also done shows in London and Toronto that he is very proud of.

While walking around looking at his gowns, I also discovered that Walid has his own line of luxury jewelry made of diamonds, rubies, sapphires, emeralds, blue pearls from the sea and Tahiti, and fine watches. Not only that, this talented and versatile designer has also launched a Ready-to-wear line called “W”, which includes jeans and tops for women in fashion and modern today.

It was also interesting to see beautiful shoes as I walked around looking at Walid Atallah’s dresses and he tells us how after the shoes and jewellery, his next venture will be to do a perfume. Naturally his passion for always spending time sketching as a hobby has paid off. Initially he was designing dresses for his sister, including once making a dress for her from a blanket and then did costumes for theatrical productions at school. He knew he had made the right choice when he felt immense joy after seeing the end product of his dress made out of diamonds and emeralds.

Walid who is married with one daughter and two sons is delighted that his daughter is showing an interest in the fashion design industry. He feels more inspired now to continue his expansion plans to other Emirates as well as Qatar, Saudi and Oman. And although Walid feels he has become more moderate with his designs, its only because he wants to concentrate more on the creation of originals which reflect different types of femininity. He is inspired by beauty, by dreams, flowers, nature, gold, birds and other elements of nature and he feels the variety is reflected in his new collections.

My first introduction to Walid and his beautiful wife was at a fashion show that Walid specifically worked on for Mercedes-Benz. Since then, he has done various unique shows, all very commendable with Rolls Royce, which I thoroughly enjoyed in Abu Dhabi and with LG and Philips. To make the optimum use of his time, Walid likes to focus on work during his most productive and creative hours. If this comes at 5am, then he will get up and sketch instead of keeping to the usual working hours…. I am a strong believer in this way of working after talking to so many successful people in the creative industry.

Walid hopes now to continue to expand his business with more branches in UAE, Qatar, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Libya and is looking at other vibrant markets….I know he will make it happen!