Tag Archives: middle east

BANANA ISLAND RESORT DOHA BY ANANTARA

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BANANA ISLAND RESORT DOHA BY ANANTARA

An island paradise of natural exclusivity

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Welcome to Banana Island Resort Doha by Anantara – an paradise sanctuary which respects local culture by offering an alcohol-free environment with world class facilities and limitless activities providing relaxation and adventure, wellness and pure indulgence.

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Twenty minutes from the heart of Qatar’s vibrant capital, a luxury catamaran ferry crosses crystal clear water to reach a breathtaking island that feels a world away, while a private helicopter pad offers an exclusive arrival with a bird’s eye coastal view. Now, you are in paradise!

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The elegant 5-star accommodation is decorated with Arabic design and features a view of the Arabian Sea.  There are 141 rooms, suites, pool villas and over water villas setting the mood for romance and unforgettable holidays. One can take a dip into the private 800 meter beach or the 100 meter long lagoon pool. There’s even a surf pool! There are actually quite a wide range of water sports to enjoy. Leisure and entertainment also spoil you for choice, from bowling, golf and beach games by day, to VIP cinema at night.

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A golf course and a tennis court are available near the property. To keep the younger guests entertained, Cool Mint Children’s Club and Peppermint Teens’ Club have a wide range of toys and interactive games. The resort also boasts 9 dining options including a contemporary Italian restaurant that serves delectable fresh seafood and meat dishes in a trattoria setting. Al Nahham serves aromatic Arabic-Mediterranean cuisine with panoramic view over Doha skyline! Exotic mocktails and shisha are served by the pool bar.

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Each day at Anantara comes with an invitation to do it all or absolutely nothing at all. If you opt for the latter, experience how health and beauty go hand in hand with expert care, from delightful journeys in over water spa suites to holistic lifestyle programs at the dedicated wellness centre.

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This property is one of the top-rated locations in Doha! Guests are happier about it compared to other properties in the area. With world class facilities and limitless activities providing relaxation and adventure, wellness and pure indulgence, at the Banana Island resort one can escape into true Arabian luxury!

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~Karen Bahri 

 

 

 

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Sharjah Light Festival

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Sharjah Light Festival

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The Sharjah Light Festival (SCTDA) is a nightly art exhibit with local and international artists that takes place in public places. The festival, which is the first event of its kind in the region, runs for nine nights in the month of February using the latest graphics and lighting techniques and 3-D technology.

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Just some background info – Sharjah is the third largest and most populous city in the UAE and has land on both the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. Sharjah City borders Dubai to the south and Ajman to the north, and the three form a conurbation.

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The SCTDA is a culmination of art, culture, science and the renaissance movement initiated by His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah.

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Over the years, the Sharjah Light Festival has succeeded in attracting thousands of visitors. Last year’s edition drew more than 560,000 visitors from the UAE and abroad while social media channels recorded 2.8 million interactions, according to Google Analytics.

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The festival covers 14 different locations across the emirate, including architectural landmarks, mosques and historic buildings, which are brought to life with dazzling light displays and musical performances to create innovative three-dimensional designs on mosques, key landmarks and heritage buildings.

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The Sharjah Light Festival is definitely something to check out in the UAE! It’s such an astonishingly colorful festival, as you can see from the many photos I have added to this blog post! I couldn’t help myself! What a spectacularly magical event! It’s worth the excursion if you are traveling to Dubai.

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-Karen Bahri 

Nasir al-Mulk Mosque – Iran’s Colourful Kaleidoscope is a spiritual awakening!

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Nasir al-Mulk Mosque – Iran’s Colourful Kaleidoscope is a spiritual awakening!

From the outside, the Nasir al-Mulk Mosque in Shiraz, Iran, seems like a fairly traditional house of worship — but it hides a gorgeously colorful secret…

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The multitude of stained glass windows turn the inside of the mosque into a mosaic wonderland of color that is absolutely breathtaking!!! It is also known as the “Pink Mosque” for its rose-colored tiles that cover the interior. However, choosing just one color doesn’t do justice to the kaleidoscope of hues that decorate this masterpiece.

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It is said that the mosque’s beauty is best appreciated in the dawn’s morning light. In fact, you can only see the light through the stained glass in the early morning. It was built to catch the morning sun, therefore, if you visit at noon, it will unfortunately be too late to catch the light. This is a case in which the early bird does catch the worm! So rise and shine!!

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The sight of the morning sunlight shining through the colorful stained glass, which then falls over the tightly woven Persian carpet is soo enchanting that it takes you straight into another world! There is something very enlightening about the whole experience that even the world’s most unreligious person can’t help but feel the spiritual energy once they experience the brilliance of the energy from the light and the kaleidoscopic colors!

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If the beaming light and the vibrant colors are not enough to take your fancy, the intricate design of the arches and niches of the architecture are also gorgeously designed and painted very mesmerizingly so, that I know you will fall in love!

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Ceiling work

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Though Masjid al-Aqsa, in Jerusalem and Istanbul’s Blue Mosque both feature stained glass windows as well, they are fairly uncommon in mosque architecture as a whole. The rarity of architecture like this makes Nasir al-Mulk all the more precious.

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-Karen Bahri

 

 

 

Doha – the new Dubai.

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Doha – the new Dubai.

Skyline – Doha, Qatar

 

 

 

 

I watch a lot of youtube and a lot of vloggers. There is a very popular Arab vlogger from NYC named Adam Saleh whose family is from Yemen. Recently he went to Doha for a meet & greet. The crowd was wild!! The show shut down because too many people showed up and they bombarded his car! This happened sometime in July. I recently came across another Yemeni vlogger from Birmingham, UK (aka my 2nd home) who happened to go to Doha also for a study abroad for a month. He was working at a TV studio during that time. He filmed a vlog of his experience going to the Adam Saleh meet & greet and it was soo cool to watch from a fan’s perspective! I felt bad because this kid (his YouTube name is MuTube, his name is something Muslim and difficult so I am not going to butcher it and try to spell it here lol, but I think its like Muath or something. I told you I shouldn’t have tried!!!) Anyways, I felt bad because he’s newer in the YouTube scene and really wanted to meet Adam since they are both Yemini youtubers, and its not like that’s a common thing! He didn’t get to meet him bc the crowd was insane but his vlog was really, really cool to watch!

So on his journey from his flat to the mall where the meet & greet was at he talked about some interesting facts about Doha. It’s basically a city in construction and in maybe 5-10 years it is going to vanquish Dubai! That kinda scares me because Dubai has been high on my list and I hope to get there before it’s old news and deflated lol.

if interested, here’s the link, watch it after you finish reading MY blog lol:

Doha, the capital of the small, gas-rich gulf state of Qatar, has more than its fair share of eclectic architecture. Its not typical shapes of buildings like we have here in New York. It’s very futuristic!

21st-century Doha has much more to offer visitors than a quirky skyline. The city has been designated the Arab Capital of Culture. So, if nearby Dubai is the Las Vegas of the UAE, Doha sees itself more as a smart Geneva – wealthy, progressive and vaguely neutral. It is home to the Middle East’s independent news network, al-Jazeera, and every autumn holds its own version of the prestigious Tribeca Film Festival!!!

The population of Doha is overwhelmingly composed of expats whereas Qatari nationals for a minority. The largest portion of expats  are from South East & South Asia, as well as North Africa. There are also a number of Europeans, North Americans, South Africans & Australian’s.

Something important to make note of, is that they do not use street numbers or even street names in their addresses. Therefore it is often difficult to find a place, and people navigate by using landmarks.

Shopping is a major leisure pursuit of many Qataris and expats, and you can expect cheaper prices than Dubai. Bargaining is still a thing there, unlike in India nowadays! Mall culture is a thing in Doha. I know that’s not a surprise since Abu Dhabi and Dubai are the same! Most malls in Doha are open from 10am to 10pm Saturday to Thursday. Most will be closed on Friday mornings but will open up during the evening, when they’ll be the most crowded. Also, be aware that some malls schedule “Family Days”, where single men will be turned away at the door — say whaaatttt?!?! However, most Westerners will be allowed in, but brown-skinned persons (particularly South Asians dressed in desi gear) will be turned away (racissstttt!!!)

So From MuTube vlogs, he vlogged inside the Villagio mall in one episode and throughout the whole segment he was freaking out at the size and beauty of the shopping center! They have a mini Venice IN the mall! Like a full fledged Canal! They also have a fake sky on the ceiling to make you feel like you are outside. It’s known that the entertainment in the malls in the UAE are nothing like malls anywhere else! I meannn it’s so hot in these countries they need a big huge air conditioned center for entertainment that doesn’t involve alcohol since its haram in those countries!!

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You can’t go to any Middle Eastern country without checking out the souqs! Souq al Waqif, the oldest souq, or bazaar, in the country. The old part is newly renovated, the newer parts have been reconstructed in a historical style. Souq Waqif is the top tourist destination in Doha! It is noted for selling traditional garments, spices, handicrafts, and souvenirs. It is also home to dozens of restaurants and Shisha lounges. Although it dates back at least a hundred years, it was renovated in 2006 to conserve its traditional architectural style. Here are some photos I found online that are soo inviting!! I wish I could be there right now strolling the streets people watching:

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Souq al Waqif in the evening. Doha, Qatar

 

Anyways, I look forward to going there one day and updating and expanding my thoughts on this up and coming city for you guys!

 

 

 

 

 

Kind Strangers in Abu Dhabi

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I had a 6 hour layover in AD on my way to India last year. I planned this on purpose. Actually, I was trying to find an 11 hour layover in Dubai but that didn’t happen! I love long layovers (most of the time) because they are like a mini trip within a trip!

My plan was to see the Grand Mosque and then go to a mall, not to shop, but to people watch. They seem to be  big on “mall culture” there.

After an extremely long flight, the first thing I had to do as soon as I got to the airport (the American in me) of course, was to switch on the wifi and check my phone like crazy as I was going through security!! Nowwww, don’t roll your eyes!! The only reason was that I wanted to message my family in India and tell them I arrived at my layover okay!! 😛

Next, I went to exchange currency. I was a little confused because what they told me didn’t really match the research I did. At any rate, I wasn’t exchanging much so I didn’t argue over it.

I got outside and it was GORGEOUS….and very hot!! LOL! I ran into a bit more confusion with dealing with the cab driver and the cost to go to the Grand Mosque. I remember being really tired too so nothing was really comprehending! Luckily there was a nice person overhearing what was going on and offered to allow me to join him in a cab and drop me off on the road not too far from where the Mosque was. I was a bit hesitant since this was a foreign land and you never know how people can be, but I agreed. if he was going to kill me, at least the cab driver would be a witness!

This person (whose name I don’t even remember) basically moved to AD from London and seems to be living THE life! Works from home, travels to London for work here and there. Works 4 days a week, vacations a lot, lives in an amazing home. He was returning from a business trip in London and was planning on golfing that afternoon after a nap. He said he would never move back to London and life is amazing in Abu Dhabi! We had an interesting conversation and he was kind enough to tell the driver to drop me all the way off to the mosque. He also told me all about the Mosque and its history ect which was good to know! I’m the type, where whenever I make friends or meet people, its instinct to try to keep in touch, but in this situation there was no need and probably awkward and unnecessary. So when we got to the mosque I thanked him, offered him money which he refused and said goodbye and that was it. It’s amazing how God brings people in your life to help you out and then you never see or hear from them, but they are people who do kind things for you who you will never forget.

Here is a photo of my first glance at the Grand Mosque!
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Grand Mosque Selfie because you have to! 🙂
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