Celebrate Prophet Mohammad’s birthday with ‘Journey to Mecca’ at Meydan IMAX

Ibn Battuta Shereen Shabnam

After seeing ‘Journey to Mecca’ 4 times…. first in Kuwait, San Francisco, Singapore and in UAE, I am once again ready to view this amazing movie at Meydan IMAX this weekend….the timing is perfect as we have a long weekend and the subject so relates to what most people will be celebrating as they mull over the life and times of our Holy Prophet (SAW).

Now most of you think that I must have been married to Ibn Battuta in my past life seeing how he creeps into my life in one form or another. First it was doing the PR of Ibn Battuta Mall when our octopus team pretty much lived and breathed the man’s life…I recall hunting in my car one day a modern-day Ibn Battuta who was tracing the journey of Ibn Battuta himself…..I found him near what is now DFC and dragged him for some filming on site at the mall that was named after his hero. Thereafter I had to drop him in the exact same spot so that he could stay true to the journey and the footsteps of the real Ibn Battuta.

Then I end up working for MTE, the genius company behind the concepts, designs and implementation of the Ibn Battuta Mall …having to promote the mall via PR meant that Ibn Battuta was often part of the reason I woke up late nights trying to find ways to hook the media into writing about him and the mall and within the story talk about the amazing job our team did to get the mall done on time.

Now, I am going to take little diva to see ‘Journey to Mecca’ with the hope of educating her about Ibn Battuta, the famed 14th century Moroccan traveler and the man who I keep talking about in relation to my work.

Ibn Battuta left his native Tangier in 1325 on an epic journey to Mecca, the holy city where Muslims go for pilgrimage (every time I see the movie, I realize its about time I made that journey). Returning 29 years later, Ibn Battuta had covered more ground than Marco Polo and had many adventures which he noted down in his famous travel books, The Rihla, at the instigation of the Sultan of Morocco.

Journey to Mecca is an IMAX® documentary that tells the adventurous story of Ibn Battuta and shows a close-up look at Mecca, the city that draws over three million Muslims from around the world every year who go there to perform Hajj.

On the occasion of Prophet Muhammad’s birthday, IMAX at Meydan is commemorating this joyous day by bringing back Journey to Mecca, to show Ibn Battuta’s travels across the sands of time.

Join him if you are in Dubai on his adventures and find out more about the greatest traveler of pre-modern times as he embarks on a cross-cultural journey. Shows are on January 24th to 26th, exclusively at the Meydan IMAX Theatre.

Fifty Years of McLaren

McLaren...how sexy are cars :)

McLaren…how sexy are these cars 🙂

Friends have pointed out last week to me that I have not talked about cars much recently but due to not being stable and rooted in Dubai, its been hard trying to write as my business trips mean back to back meetings and then collapsing in bed with the computer on my tummy, sometimes with just the headline of a blog typed out.

No sooner I realized that I was losing touch and perhaps getting old, the words of a 27 year old Bruce McLaren popped at me saying ‘Life is measured in achievement, not in years alone.’

When Bruce McLaren penned those words in 1964, his new company, Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Ltd, was less than a year old. In those days, Bruce’s vision was shared by fewer than half a dozen loyal souls, who slogged across the world to race his self-made cars…he was a lucky man with people working with him who believed in him and he did not let them down for the McLaren brand we know today has certainly come a long way.

These days, the McLaren Group employs more than 2000 people, all of whom still share Bruce’s ideals of combining sportsmanship with solid engineering practice and cutting-edge technical expertise.

In September this year, the McLaren Group will celebrate its 50th anniversary….i know it’s a long way away in this diva’s perception of time but I was so taken by Bruce’s words, I just had to write about him, the brand and absorb his philosophy and thought on the fact that perhaps I should not base the success of my life based on years alone but measure it with what I have achieved…although sometimes I feel Tash being a graceful 12-year-old is my one and only big achievement as I get the most joy from her in all aspects of my life.

Going back to McLaren…If we were to follow Bruce’s words to the letter, there’d be little time for recollection, but on the eve of the brand’s half-century, the McLaren team are looking and reviling at the achievements built up in the indelible shadow of their founder.

I am told by sources that the echoes of the brand’s past will reverberate with a series of unique events and celebrations to be held across the anniversary year. ..maybe the scintillating moments with McLaren will help me forget that 2013 in my books means hitting the big 40… I wonder if I should celebrate my big day and a shiny little number from McLaren so that I only have eyes for the sexy looking mean machine and not the wrinkles around my deep intense eyes worrying about what the big 40 holds for me.

Tiffany ushers Lunar New Year with Elsa Peretti’s Brilliant Snake Necklace


Photo Credit: Josh Hasten


For my friends who cringe every time they see my Roberto Cavalli mother of pearl snake watch or my Swarovsky snake pendant….I have news for you. 🙂  To add to the collection, Tiffany & Co., has now announced that the Year of the Snake will be ushered in with Elsa Peretti’s daring and provocative snake necklace.

Although most of my friends get freaky when they see a snake nestling on the base of my neck…looking sensuous as though its slithering every time I move, I absolutely love it…the way it looks, the way it becomes a talking point for people I meet who I don’t know and the fact that it is different…and I like being different.

Back to Tiffany & Co…Their snake necklace typifies Elsa’s unique approach to natural forms that revolutionized modern design and placed her among the world’s most honored jewelry designers.

Working with master craftsmen, she captured the snake’s elegant movements with a series of graduated links handcrafted in 18 karat gold. Smooth and sculptural, the necklace beautifully complements the body’s contours. This sensual quality is a signature of her renowned collections, which debuted at Tiffany & Co. in 1974 and were met with instant acclaim.

Now as then, women around the world collect and wear her jewellery for its ease and versatility. Wrapped in the Tiffany Blue Box®, an international symbol of excellence, Elsa Peretti’s brilliant designs are the perfect choice for every gift-giving occasion in life…After all you can never go wrong with Tiffany. At least that’s what all women think…and women are always right!

George Classen impresses little diva at Burj Al Arab


NJD at Burj Al Arab checking out the art scene

NJD at Burj Al Arab checking out the art scene

Last Thursday I took little diva NJD to the Burj Al Arab to go through the world’s largest atlas plus get up, close and personal with the Aston Martin which is creating raves around the globe at the moment and to meet with Kurt, who promotes amazing art in UAE through the initiative, Swiss Art Gate UAE. I have been to see the works of a number of artists Kurt has brought to the UAE and Tash and I both loved what we saw at the World Luxury Expo in Burj Al Arab where Kurt had a number of paintings on display by George Classen.

George Classen, born 1942 in Lübben/Berlin, an early devotee of Albrecht Duerer, started his first graphic exercises by copying the famous engravings of the old german master from Nuremberg at the age of 7. It did not take him long, though, to indulge in his very own imaginative ideas, which he up to the present time did not cease to cherish and refine even further unto its most sublime limits. He was inspired by brilliant artworks of Picasso, Klimt and other masters of that time, but well-considered not to copy them, but to transform the inspiring impact to his own, unique style.

At the age of 13 he discovered his second passion, classical music, which from then on continued to dominate his search for perfection in the visual arts. The premature death of his father, however, annihilated the dream of pursuing a professional career in music and so one passion passed into the other. His obsession with music is well reflected in his very individualistic approach to the structure of his visual compositions. Circumstances demanded George Classen to leave West-Berlin for Frankfurt in pursue of a family-supporting profession with an american airline, however, he never abandoned his prime aim to serve the fine arts.

Exhibitions in Frankfurt, Hamburg, Berlin and Munich encouraged the artist in the late seventies, to exclusively dedicate his time and talent to painting alone, which decision became substantially enhanced and supported by his wife Eva, who in turn guided him to seek out for new impulses, motivation and inspiration and advised him of his abilities and failings.  Upon Eva’s enthusing George about Canada, where few of her family members were living, their honeymoon led them there in 1979. This journey should become a deciding turning point in their life.

Classen, at this time calling himself as a nervous and unsettled person, has been befallen of an, by then never known – absolute peace of mind in the north of Ontario. He experienced, as he is naming it, an initial experience, which let both to relocate from the Isar to the Ontario Lake.  Classen sent photos to interested places, where they had been so enthusiastc about his skills, that they invited him to Toronto in order to make a test-exhibition at the First Canadian Place. This perfect and very lucrative place let the artist encouraged to keep on reforming his already unique style, which by now endures, unperturbed by mainstream influences, as his own.

George Classen’s passion for music let the Toronto Galerist Kuchinski to commission a great series of paintings representing scenes of the grand operas of Giuseppe Verdi under the title “Hommage to Verdi”. On November 9 in 1989, when the fall of the Berlin Wall symbolized a drastic change for the whole world, George Classen’s long time desire to go back to his very own cultural roots started to take shape and resulted to his return to Germany in 1991. However, his new cultural environment in the eleven years of stay in North America enriched his artistic development though never neglecting his origins of European culture and his passionate love for 19th and early 20th century classical music.

In 2003, a family case of illness led George Classen and his wife Eva, who was born there, to Wels/Austria. The planned few months ended up in a permanent stay up to now due to various successful exhibitions in offical places as well as in his several art studios where he experienced the acceptance of the public. His very special style, that can absolutely cast a spell on the audience can draw the attention of people from very different heritage.

It seems that nowadays, with his 69 years, George forfeit nothing of his energy and motivation. Classic music always on his side, of course. More information about the artist and his work:www.georgeclassen.at or if you are in the UAE, speak with Kurt…he is friendly, sweet and always has a bowl of swiss chocolates on hand as you look through the paintings…I reckon that’s why Tash was so keen on going back to look at the paintings again 🙂