Sunday, May 24, 2009

Dubai Booty!

No not that booty! The pirate kind! This past week we really hit pay dirt on the make up front. And just like an artist with their paints, we just can't have enough medium to work with! The taste for the best products and potions can become a bit hefty so we are always happy with freebies. This week Lisa and I attended the opening of the new Sephora store in the Dubai Mall and they sent us off with quite the gift bag: eyeliners, moisturizer, hair products, nail polish, face masks, you name it and we got it!

As if we weren't thrilled enough with our take, the next day Lisa's magazine was hosting a beauty sale. That means that a lot of the products that are sent to the magazine are sold to the staff to try out at major discounts from the market price! I sent her off with 200 dirhams and god's speed to do her best. Apparently these events can get quite competitive, think Walmart on black Friday, I don't think there has been any blood drawn...yet. This time she went in with a plan: step 1 - run into the room, step 2 - grab everything in sight no matter what it is, step 3 - find a secluded corner and sort through your booty while avoiding other vultures, step 4 - lather, rise, repeat until all items are gone...

She did a great job! Our biggest win was the Photo Finish silicone-based makeup primer. If you don't know what that does, then you certainly don't need too!

But if you're ever in the neighborhood and need some extra moisturizer, stop on by!

Dinner in the Sky

Isn’t airplane food bad enough? Why would any of us willingly return to the sky to seek out dinner?

Apparently ‘Dinner in the Sky’ is looking to revamp any conventional ideas you might have about where you sit for your next meal. This concept has just come to Dubai and Matt and I recently had a chance to check it out as we were walking along the beach. Honestly, we see the craziest things here! In short it is a platform with seats (think like a roller coater, harness and all) suspended 50 metres in the air. Once you are strapped into your custom designed seats around an unconventional dining table, you are hoisted into the air by a 100 ton crane. Once in the air, the table is free to rotate 180 degrees while the your feet hang free under the dinner table. Apparently, this is no burger shack. According to their website they serve gourmet three course meals with chefs and waiters on hand to pamper the guests, er…guinea pigs.
The concept, however, has apparently been proven quite successful. Recently, Forbes Magazine US voted it as one of the 10 most unusual events and restaurants in the world. So far it has floated over a number of the world’s most famous cities, and now they are adding Dubai to their list. Take a moment to drop by their site to look at some of the incredible pictures of them dangling above the world! Of course, you are probably thinking “so…have you done it yet?” Actually, I think we have missed the boat, as it is only in town for a few weeks and it’s been pretty booked. We are looking into however! You will see if you go to the website that they are now hosting a Marriage in the Sky option…now we just have to build a parachute into Matt’s tux!

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Saudi Champagne: Eat, Drink, and Be Merry

...Because tomorrow, you could be in Riyadh!

But don't fear - the Saudi's can definitely help you feel more at home. Sure, non-alcoholic beer won't take the edge off, but it still tastes bad. And the wine? Take a look at this scene for a moment - sure looks like wine. Smells like it too, but that's about as close as I'd get to it. Even the cost is the same - about $80 a bottle (if you could get wine in Saudi without smuggling through Bahrain - ahem). But take a closer look at the label:
Oh, Saudis, you have such a sense of humor towards us infidels. "Premium non-alcohol drink"? Don't you mean "Welch's Grape Juice That Sat on the Docks Too Long So We Decided to Bottle It And Charge Expats Going Through Withdrawal?" Take Saudi Champagne - even the name is pretty funny (of course, BBC has a recipe here). With one part mint, one part orange, and 174 parts sparkling apple juice, it'll definitely keeps the kids on a sugar bender late into the night. That said, it is mighty tasty. Come to think of it, I'll go prepare a glass right now!
Now, since this is clearly a religious battle, we need to be fair and balanced. Let's hear from the Christian science monitor on the matter. And I quote: An article in the Christian Science Monitor, May 10 2001,http://www.csmonitor.com/durable/2001/05/10/fp7s2-csm.shtml says "150,000 cases of spirits, most of it Scotch whisky, are smuggled into the country every year, with resulting profits of $200 million. Industry experts believe that 70 percent is consumed by Saudis and therest by expatriates... ...80 percent of the smuggled alcohol comes from the United Arab Emirates (yeah Dubai!). Another 18 percent arrives by the tiny Persian Gulf island of Bahrain, via the causeway linking it to Saudi Arabia." A bottle of whisky (Johnnie Walker Black Label) can fetch $200. Expatriates making bootleg alcohol claim to earn $3000 per week.
For a full -down (and an entertaining way to kill 30 minutes on a Sunday afternoon, fix yourself a nice glass of Saudi Champagne and check out this very enlightening Google Answer: http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview/id/32856.html)

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Air of Lebanon

Welcome to the first in a three-part series, wacky things from the Middle East. Yes, I know - a lot of what we write about are wacky things from the Middle East, but these are small, carry-on-sized things from the wacky Middle East. First up: Hawa Lebnan, or the "Air of Lebanon". Here's an excerpt from their facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=20939306456&ref=ts)

  • Simply, Hawa Lebnan is a can that is made of the air of Lebanon, it is sealed and can be bought to remind us that inside that can, a part of Lebanon is at home with us or at a friend's house thousands of miles away.. The product is registered in the Ministry of Economy and Trade No:4011 - Date : 19-7-2007

    The Ingredient is Fresh Air from Lebanon. No liquid, no gas, no chemicals, no pressure, and no alcohol.

    The Idea has sprung out of the love of Racha Najjar to her country and at a time where Lebanon is still suffering from the issues it has always suffered from. Her thoughts were " maybe I can do something good for my country before it's too late". Well she's done it and we all wish her all the luck. Racha Najjar is a true advocate of Lebanon.

Cool, eh? The first thing that came to my mind was Spaceballs. Does anybody else out there remember PerriAir, the salt-free canned air from Druidia? Nobody? Let me refresh your memory:



Coming up next: Saudi Champagne (not kidding).

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

We just flew in, and boy, are our arms tired!

Well, how's that for communication? I make trip one trip to Saudi Arabia, and get pre-empted on my "we're back!" posting. See, you lose focus in this game for one second, and there's a younger, cuter person waiting in the wings to take your spot. (See below, yet another instance of my spot getting stolen)

For the past two weeks, we've been all over the planet put together a wedding, and now that I'm catching up on a couple of projects in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia (and it's 110 degrees out), I can honestly say I prefer the cold, rainy days on the good old East Coast USA for a while.

But, if we HAVE to be running around the Gulf for a little bit, we might as well get back to the 4 B's: Beach, Brunch, Burj, and dune Bashing. This past week, we shared the 4 B's with two friends visit us from DC and New York. With the temperatures pushing 105 degrees fahrenheit, our days of all of those are getting numbered - time to squeeze in as much as possible before you can fry an egg just by putting it near the window! Here's an artist's rendering of summer brunch in Dubai:

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

April "Showers" Bring August Weddings

We are back in the land of sand and sun, after a quick trip to the US to see our families, have my bridal shower and do some wedding planning. As much as Matt and I have enjoyed parts of the process, with both admit we can't wait to come home and not be planning a wedding! It seems to have dominated all of our time home for the past few trips, with so much to do!However amidst all the planning, I had a bit of wedding fun. I finally got to do that "shower" thing! The bridal shower was just incredible, and I couldn't have been happier to see all the friends and family who were there. My bridesmaids are just the best group of girls ever! They created a travel theme for the shower, with collage centerpieces using pictures of Matt and I from our travels, they also got an amazing suitcase cake, and had luggage tags made for the favors! Born wedding planners! Check out the pictures below, to see the most expertly made bow and ribbon bouquet ever. These gals are like MacGyver, you won't believe what they can do with a pair of scissors and tape!

The shower wasn't the only milestone on this trip home. It also happened to be my Mom and Aunt Theresa's big 5-0 birthday. To celebrate they spent the day at the spa and then did a photo shoot to mark this big birthday. The pictures speak for themselves, they look awesome! We capped off the day with a celebratory dinner.
All the fun was accompanied with some bitter sweetness, my Mom and Aunt Theresa's best friend from high school passed away this year. She is sorely missed but we are always thinking of her. Before she passed she was instrumental in creating an annual Mother-Daughter dinner at her church. I was so happy that I was able to attend the dinner with Sharon's family, my Mom, Aunt T, and Susan. It was great! All the waiters were men and they served the ladies like we were queens. There was also a really moving tribute for Sharon, which made us laugh and cry.
And finally, the last highlight of them all, I never thought I would see the day that Dad would be the one dragging me out of the dance floor, but while I was home he surprised me with a father-daughter dance lesson! He came along way in just 2 hours, and we both learned a thing or too. Just before I had to leave for the airport we did a little rehearsal in the middle of the kitchen. Watch out dancing with the stars!