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  • Tuesday, February 28, 2012

    Dubai Winter Festival

    This is the Dubai Winter Festival 2012 and this is what the adrenaline of skydive Dubai feels like in high definition. Enjoy!

    the palm from mike on Vimeo.

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    Tuesday, February 21, 2012

    Dubai from above

    A great photo of Dubai from above.

    It's a little old, but the aerial view is amazing  - check it out here

    Hat tip to reddit


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    Tuesday, February 14, 2012

    Tafheet immortalised by MIA

    Ever since MIA flicked her finger mid Madonna superbowl entertainment, the world has been watching MIA. She has courted controversy wherever she has gone. Indeed one of her earlier videos was banned by youtube. Madonna and Nicky Minaj are pretty incensed by the finger - but that seems to be old news, because MIA has been riding on a wave of publicity. Arguably that performance has cemented her onto the global scene for those who didn't know her. And now a different type of controversy.

    The question we have is whether MIA's latest video is another finger in the face or whether it is just showcasing additional rebellion that exists in the depths of Arabia. I talk of MIA's video for the new single Bad Girls.

    Depending on which way you view it, there are a number of ways of interpreting it. Although the video is actually recorded in Morocco, it is paying homage to the art of Al-Tafheet, which is a Saudi form of drifting or in laymen terms, skidding at high speed. It's exciting to watch if you are behind a screen and using Youtube. I'm sure you'll lose some sleep if you have been anywhere close by. And I'm sure the drivers get the highest non drug induced equivalent highs of bungee jumping from the Burj Khalifa. To put it simply, it's extremely dangerous.

    So what was middle finger in this instance?:

    1. Bigging up the fact that Tafheet, an illegal activity, exists in Saudi Arabia?
    2. Gyrating her hips amongst the Arab brethren?
    3. Or a stand up call for Saudi Women to fight the ban on driving.

    It's none of these really. It's all about attitude and anti society. That's what MIA is all about. PR and creating a sandstorm. All she's doing is creating another another negative stereotype for Arabs.

    And demonstration of that stereotype is here:


    What MIA's New "Bad Girls" Video Says About Arabs

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    Wednesday, February 08, 2012

    Ananasa - homemade in the middle east

    As all readers of grapeshisha know, we like a good tech startup, especially one with Middle Eastern roots, so it was a breath of fresh air to stumble upon Ananasa, a quasi Etsy slash notonthehighstreet curated Middle Eastern store full of wonderful goods, that it's like an online Aladdin's cave. But enough of the stereotypes, this is a fantastic site with much potential hoping to ride on the wave of ecommerce for the region and the lure of global demand of hand made traditional items. We caught up with the founders of Ananasa to get the lowdown on their view of the business.  Could this be the next big thing in the Middle East?

    Tell us a bit about the company - who you are, what do you do, how did you start?

    We are two sisters, Zaina and Rania Kanaan who moved to Dubai 2 years ago from Montreal, Canada. In Canada we had both graduated with Commerce degree's from McGill university and had worked in the corporate field thereafter. Zaina's side hobby was painting, in Canada she would exhibit, but moving to Dubai there appeared to be some obstacles for emerging artists to showcase their work. That is precisely how Ananasa came to be, we wanted to give people like Zaina the opportunity to create their own virtual store and spread their handmade items across the world. Ananasa is for anyone who has a talent and is serious and passionate about it. It gives them the chance to manage a virtual store front of what they love. Ananasa takes care of the logistics so they can keep doing what they are doing and be able to sell their work to the world.

    So are you an Etsy for the Middle East? 

    Very similar! We give artisans and originators the chance to set up an online store on Ananasa for free, we hear their stories and allow them to talk about themselves. But our main focus is on the beauty of Middle Eastern Artisans or people located in this region. Ananasa's main aim is to get all that is handmade in the Middle East out to the world, while minimizing the obstacles our artisans face.

    How does it work? - If i wanted to buy something, what's the process? 
    The process is extremely simple. After you select an item you like on the site, you add it to your cart. Aramex shipping is embedded on the site, whereby depending on your location and the ship to address, the system will determine the shipping cost you'd need to pay. You can pay through paypal, credit cards or cashu. All three payment methods are of course highly secure and protect your information. Once the payment is completed your product is shipped and you can receive it at the comfort of your home. We also leave room for communication between the buyer and the seller. We believe the more open the communication all throughout the process, the more piece of mind both the buyer and seller have.

    So I could buy authentic Middle Eastern or Arabian Art, whether I was in London, New York, Paris, Shanghai Mumbai or Dubai? 

    You can buy any item we have posted on  Ananasa. We have a variety of categories ranging from accessories, furniture , Art, edibles, clothes. We believe each item is made by an artist and therefore each item is an art piece. We ship internationally for all our selling members.

    Have you got some favourite artefacts you wanted to highlight?

    So hard to tell. We absolutely love every piece on Ananasa and are proud to have so much handmade talent in the Middle East. We get inspired everyday by the stories of the artists/designers/crafters we come across. they are all beautiful in their own unique way, and they together make Ananasa what it is.

    What's the big dream - where do you want to be in 3 years? 

    We see Ananasa around the world. We see the Middle Eastern handmade items on Ananasa around the world in every home. We see Ananasa supporting the handmade community and artists in this region. Hopefully the stories of our members and their items will inspire many more artists and artisans to follow their passion and keep creating more beautiful work. We hope by encouraging this community of artisans more people are aware of the communities and jobs these artisans help.

    How's the first few months been? 

    Very interesting! we have been receiving very good feedback, people love being part of Ananasa, they believe in it and in our vision. The store owners on Ananasa associate themselves with it and believe in it's success. They give it as much love as they do producing their items and Ananasa is thriving on that. We welcome all feedback as it makes Ananasa better and stronger, at the end of the day Ananasa is made for all the people who appreciate custom and rare, so their support these few months have been what makes us work harder.

    If I make handmade items is it convenient for me to set up an online store through Ananasa?

    Very. All you need to do is get in touch with us on service@ananasa.com and we will reply back. It's a matter of registering on www.ananasa.com, adding your profile information and then launching your online store by uploading your items. We have a very comprehensive help section that could assist, but if you prefer to hear a warm voice, we can definitely do that as well. The convenient part, is opening a store is for no charge at all, if you make a sale Ananasa will retain a percentage of sale to process the payment.

    Finally - what does Ananasa mean? 

    We are asked this a lot and happy to clarify it. "Ana" means "I" in Arabic, "Nas" means "People", Ananasa is all about the store owner and the people. the "A" at the end, makes the word feminine in Arabic, we are two very proud females and so we wanted the name to represent that femininity. Ananasa is the home for handmade and each one of its artisans is for the people. 

    Check out Ananasa at: www.ananasa.com
    Twitter: @_Ananasa

    All items displayed can be bought on www.ananasa.com

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    Monday, February 06, 2012

    Sheikh Zayed Park

    Another classic from brownbook. They imagined how Sheikh Zayed Road might look if we had free rein to turn it into a utopian oasis of green space. Here is Sheikh Zayed Park!


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    Thursday, February 02, 2012

    Banned Emirates Ad

    This is the ad that was banned by Emirates Airline - and you can forgive them for doing so.

    However what it does do is highlight the plight of animals transported over long distances - and the point of it is that the animals transported over long distances to places like the Gulf  - that can afford to pay for such food - are usually in such bad conditions that it contravenes multiple factors including sanctity of the animal, Islamic jurisprudence, and hygiene....

    Anyway, the point is made.

    I'll make another point - Emirates Airline Economy Class is not cramped - it's probably one of the best in the world!

    Here's the press release in full:

    Dubai – People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) Australia had hoped to place a full-page ad highlighting the animal suffering associated with live-sheep imports in Open Skies, the in-flight magazine of the airline Emirates, but the airline has grounded the idea. The ad shows sheep crammed together aboard a ship and reads, "And You Thought Economy Class Was Cramped!", in both English and Arabic. The ad goes on to describe the abusive conditions under which sheep are exported from Australia to the Middle East and how thousands of animals suffer and die en route. PETA is asking Gulf states to refuse to purchase live imported animals. Unfortunately, the publishing team for Open Skies told PETA, "Emirates does not allow us to carry these type of artworks".

    "There is no humane way to ship tens of thousands of sheep who are jam-packed into stalls and mired in their own waste", says PETA spokesperson Nadia Montasser. "Emirates has a highly esteemed economy class, but even flying in the cargo hold would be luxurious compared to what these sheep have to endure. Anyone who purchases these hideously abused animals is fuelling the notoriously cruel live-transport industry."
    Sheep transported to the Middle East from Australia are packed tightly together on enormous, multi-tiered ships, where crowded conditions cause many of the animals to be trampled to death or to starve when they cannot reach food and water troughs. Sheep are confined amid their own waste in extreme heat on ships that hold up to 125,000 animals. PETA is calling for an immediate end to the export of live animals from Australia.

    According to Islamic law, animals slaughtered for food should not be cruelly handled or transported and should receive adequate food and water. "If animals have been subjected to cruelties in their breeding, transport, slaughter, or in their general welfare, meat from them is considered impure and unlawful to eat (haram)", said the late Imam BA Hafiz al-Masri. "The flesh of animals killed by cruel methods (Al-Muthiah) is carrion (Al-Mujathamadh). Even if these animals have been slaughtered in the strictest manner, if cruelties were inflicted on them otherwise, their flesh is still forbidden food (haram)".

    The Quran and the Prophet Muhammad taught that "an act of cruelty to a beast is as bad as an act of cruelty to a human being".

    For more information on live animal export, please visit PETAAsiaPacific.com.

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