travel

DUBAI 2016!

My favourite city, with the best food to offer worldwide (in my opinion!) Dubai is what my parents and I call our “home away from home.” It’s somewhere we can escape to when life in England gets too stressful, and these past few months have been exactly that. This year, we stayed at JBR (Jumeirah Beach Residence) – having visited it briefly last year, we fell in love with the beach front and all it had to offer in terms of restaurants as well as atmosphere. All in all, we spent very little time actually at the beach, because let’s be honest, 42 degrees is not sunbathing on the beach kind of weather.

JBR was an interesting experience; unbeknownst to us, it’s where most of the nightclubs and bars were, hence the extraordinary number of  people walking around half-naked, and the odd few tourists seen stumbling across the beachfront, visibly and embarrassingly intoxicated. Ultimately, people are allowed to dress however they like, but what I find ever so slightly disrespectful is the utter disregard some tourists had for the culture and country they were in. Dubai is part of an Islamic country, and thus tourists should show some consideration of the cultural and religious values that the country holds. I think some have a misconception that Dubai is a very liberal city and thus, it’s not necessary to adhere to the strict values that its neighbour cities, such as Abu Dhabi, hold. Despite 84% of Dubai’s residents consisting of foreigners and expatriates, I still believe it is fundamentally important to respect the cultures and values of the country you’re in.

It’s also interesting to note that different parts of Dubai, despite it only being a city, vary in the extent of strict culture; for example, JBR is known to be the least conservative area in the city, whereas if you travel further east, you’ll find there are less tourists, less expatriates and more Emirati nationals, and thus, they’re more conservative in their traditional/cultural values.

Anyway, enough about that. Here are a few snaps of my favourite moments during my time in Dubai.

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JBR Walk 

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Dubai Mall 

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Umbrella St 

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Cheesecake Factory: one of the best aspects of Dubai!

This year, we decided to explore a little further out of Dubai instead of staying in the city, and it was the best decision we made this year! The East Coast is one of the (not so) hidden gems of the UAE and the tour took us to Al-Fujairah, the Indian Ocean, a beautifully hidden fishing village called Dibba and the Middle East’s smallest and oldest mosque.

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A rug market situated amidst mountains

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Markets amongst mountains

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More rugs!

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Greenhouse market

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Al-Fujairah

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Beach, ocean and mountains – what could be better?!

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Sandy Beach Hotel – Al- Aqaa

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Al Aqaa

I think my favourite part of the trip, however, has to have been visiting Abu Dhabi. Last year we visited only briefly but I immediately fell in love with the culture, despite it being somewhat more conservative than Dubai, as well as the calm and relaxed atmosphere. This year we swallowed our fears and went to Ferrari World, home to the world’s fastest roller coaster (and boy they weren’t kidding about being the fastest!) I’m already looking forward to revisiting Yas Island and Ferrari World the next time we visit Abu Dhabi, and we’re definitely staying there longer to explore the area a little better.

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So many cars!

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Italian themed stores and restaurants inside the theme park

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Yas Mall

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Yas Mall

Something that (obviously) stood out to me was how much art I stumbled across whilst in Dubai – from wall murals to paintings, every other street had some form of artwork that everyone and anyone can appreciate, and it added to the ever-modernising appeal of the city.

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Found at JBR Walk

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Also found along JBR Walk

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The interior design of this cafe was breathtaking!

All in all, Dubai certainly did not disappoint this year; in all honesty, however, I would not stay in JBR again – if you’re visiting Dubai for the nightclubs, alcohol and bars then yes, I would recommend it but otherwise, I think I’d like to stay in downtown Dubai, by the Marina perhaps. Nevertheless, the holiday was truly wonderful, just what I needed before I began university and I’m already counting down until I go back! I’d like to thank my parents for giving me such a special holiday, and for forever spoiling me as they always do.

A x

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Original Writing

‘Heartbreak Hotel’

We construct an image of the perfect person in our heads, and when we meet someone, this image is in the forefront of our minds. However, when this someone isn’t our idea of perfection, we break our own hearts in an attempt to create something entirely unreal.

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Current Affairs

Does Media Bias Against Muslims Feed Into Radicalisation?

I can’t even say “as of recently” because this is an ongoing issue, and has been for some time: bias against Muslims in the western media. I voiced my opinion on how I, as a Pakistani girl, felt attacked by various, biased, news broadcasters; the above interlinking of anger at the bias and radicalisation was the response I received, from someone who worked in the industry.

Now I’m not exactly well-informed in what goes through one’s mind when they decide to fight for the Jihad but this suggestion of subjective bias in the media being a reason behind  radicalisation is almost hilarious. Instead of accepting responsibility for unfair media coverage, they deflect furthermore blame. The heavy focus on average Muslims fleeing the country to fight for groups like Islamic State places most Muslims under the spotlight and heavy scrutiny. Since 9/11, Muslims have been categorically associated with terrorism. Anyone wearing a hijab, burqa or with brown skin is instantly given an awkward side-glance. People wearing niqabs are racially abused in public. The media’s stance on, or rather, against, Muslims is adding fuel to an increasingly widespread fire.

To create a correlation between Muslims feeling attacked by the media and terrorism is possibly the highest level of ignorance I have ever come across. That’s saying something, what with ignorant, uneducated comments are on the rise with a biased media reporting unfairly on current affairs worldwide, involving terrorism and more specifically, Islamic State. There are a fair few newspapers who incite racial hatred with their headlines and focus on the ethnicity of key figures in a story. For example, the Daily Mail is notoriously well-known for focussing on “Muslim” immigrants or “Muslim youths” being involved in crime, when the ethnicity or faith is not necessary to the crime at all. This representation and blatant categorisation of Muslims being criminals, job-takers and rapists is what is creating an increasing uproar amongst the Muslim communities. This uproar is not radicalisation, it is defiance and anger at being treated unfairly. Poor media coverage of Islam is not turning us into radicals. Let me make that very, very clear.

Broadcasters such as the BBC thrive on sensationalist headlines but go out of their way to attempt to prove their lack of bias; sadly, in doing so, they make themselves look even more stupid. More often than not, I find myself having to write posts like this to justify a Muslim, such as myself, being completely thrown and disgusted by outright bigotry. Sadiq Khan is our new mayor of London; I, for one, voted for him and for many Pakistani Brits across London it is much more than a political achievement. It’s a step forward for us as a multi-cultural community to accept a Pakistani man leading our city, much to the disappointment of Islamophobic bigots.

I do not blame every white person for the acts of the KKK. Should I? Should I label all white citizens of London as racists? No, because I am educated. Reporting on events by drawing attention to their faith first is uneducated. Finally, assuming that terrorists represent Islam and Islamic teachings is uneducated, too.

I am a Muslim; I am defiant in my faith and beliefs. That doesn’t make me a radical.

Anisah

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Original Writing

What Do You Believe In?

My friend and I were having a debate late one night about Islam in the 21st century and what I’ve come to believe in. He asked me the above question and below is the answer I gave him:

“That God gave us life. He gave us a chance to live on the planet He created. His words and teachings were manifested into a holy book. We ought to follow this book and its teachings as best we can and to whatever extent we see fit. We also ought to live our lives as pure and peacefully as possible – to love one another relentlessly, to protect our loved ones and to live in harmony with others. To maintain a pure heart, and, in doing so, we can maintain a pure soul. I believe there is a plan for each and every one of us. We don’t know what this plan is, only God knows, but whatever happens in life happens because it was destined to. There’s no such thing as fate versus free will.It’s either one or the other, not both. I believe that God also weakens us in order to make us stronger. He tests both our perseverance and our loyalty to Him. He challenges humanity and brings us down to our knees in times of despair so we can appreciate what He’s given us so far. I believe in Him. But I also believe in the part of Him that lives inside me and gives me the strength to survive every day. I believe that when I die, I’ll be content knowing I’ve loved and love in equal measure. And I make mistakes, but I am a good person with a good, pure heart. I believe in the faith I have in Him, and Him alone.” 

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Quotes

– Delacroix –

“A volcanic crater artfully concealed behind bouquets of flowers.” – Baudelaire on Delacroix 

“Delacroix speaks a symbolic language through colour itself.” – Van Gogh 

“Even when we look at nature, our imagination constructs the picture.” – Delacroix 

“Oh! Young artist, you want a subject? Everything is a subject, the subject is yourself.” – Delacroix 

Source: National Gallery

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Original Writing

‘Decadence’ by Tyler Shields

HOLY GUACAMOLE.

I finally got round to visiting the much anticipated exhibition ‘Decadence’, showcasing Shields’ work in the Maddox Gallery, Mayfair. Having read a few reviews prior to seeing the exhibition for myself, I was interested to find mixed opinions on his latest series. I later realised that these opinions are based entirely on one’s perspective of the subject matter and the form in which it’s portrayed.

‘Decadence’ is Shields’ manifestation of society and, more specifically, women in the court of Marie Antoinette.¹ He creates two incredibly juxtaposing, authentic images of women during this period; the provocateur and the oppressed. The director of the exhibition, James, kindly informed us of the contextual background to each and every photo on display in the Maddox Gallery. Each one has its own story and like he said, the longer you look at the photographs, the more you see.

I cannot commend and thank Tyler enough for allowing us to view his latest work in London, and for making it so accessible to us. There’s nothing quite like standing in a room full of art created by an artist you idolise. I’d also like to thank James for his welcoming hospitality and sharing with us everything both he and Tyler got up to in preparation for the opening of ‘Decadence.’

Here are a few of the pictures I was kindly encouraged to take. I would highly recommend visiting it if you’re in or around London. 🙂

A x

¹http://www.tylershields.com/2015/11/24/decadence-by-tyler-shields-staring-jaime-king-holland-roden-and-more/

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