Unless you've been living under a rock in Dubai you would have heard the term NEOM, Saudi Arabia’s impressive sustainable destination concept by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. NEOM is an acronym for New Enterprise Operating Model and means “New Future”.
A first impression: Tesla's wet dream. In fact, paging through the info on this massive project they reference Tesla, Edison, Verne and Eiffel meeting together in Paris in 1889 to create a place on earth where nothing would be impossible. This is the blue print for NEOM.
But what are the features of this city of the future and how likely is it that it will meet the high expectation set by the pre-launch hype?
While sceptics might wave it off as an impossible - if you, like me have lived in a city like Dubai and seen what’s possible in in short increments of time you’re going to be hyped to see this come to pass - plus its 500 billion cash injection doesn’t hurt either.
Here are the key features of this exciting project
Sounds impressive and inspiring to say the least, looks like I’ll be adding Saudi to the bucketlist after all..
If you’re on Tiktok, or any social media for that matter (but Tiktok especially) you would have heard of the internet personality called Andrew Tate. This 35 year old’s views are controversial as hell and love him or hate him you cannot ignore him. Tate knows how to get a reaction while flooding FYPs, timelines and newsfeeds with his opinions on life, women (they are men’s property apparently), making money, cigars, watches ($110 000 is a cheap according to him), Dubai and…sparkling water.
His views aside you have to give him credit for how quickly he came out of nowhere to becoming one of the most talked about figures on the internet. In fact if you go to google now and type in “Who is” it will automatically complete to… Andrew Tate making him the most googled person in the world.
But..who is this guy actually? Here’s what we know:
He originally got a taste of the limelight back in 2016 as a contestant on Big Brother but was removed from the show when a video of him surfaced, hitting a woman with a belt – the woman later stated it was consensual. The following year he was banned from Twitter due to another controversy when he stated in a clip that women should “bear some responsibility for being raped”. There are a few other incidents allegedly involving racism, webcamming and ongoing investigations into human trafficking but we’ll save that for another day.
His rise to fame has been kickstarted by his legion of followers who saw him living a seeming luxury lifestyle that they aspired to lead and then signing up to his online courses in the hopes that they could do that same. This is how his online business, Hustlers University was borne. The modules cover some very 2022 topics such as influencer marketing, crypto and dropshipping. Read into the course a little deeper and you’ll get to the parts where students are encouraged to repost footage of Tate’s podcasts and appearances. This has gained him momentum and catapulted him into the internet hall of fame. It’s a formula as old as social media - the more controversial the content, the bigger the reaction and the more fame gets accumulated because let’s face it, whether your leave a hate comment or a love comment its still post engagement pushing the post onto more and more FYPs and timelines and causing more reaction videos from other content creators and the next thing you know, everyone is googling “who is Andrew Tate” making him into a newsworthy AF trend and leading news outlets to pick up on his story leading to even more publicity.
We all know how the machine works but the difference is he’s made it work for him. So whether he is a good guy, a bad guy or just a guy gagging for post engagement, he’s built up a major platform and says its just the beginning of his masterplan. I guess we will have to wait and see.
Some long awaited news was announced earlier today with circulars from the government media office stating that events and live entertainment such as DJs may finally resume provided venue staff and entertainers are vaccinated. Among the most important updates, the following points were also mentioned:
It looks like the situation is heating up for people who still haven’t received the vaccine. If this is you then you may want to book an appointment asap if you want to be able to catch your favourite DJ in action although bear in mind that dancefloors are still not permitted to be open for now and people must still maintain 2 metres physical distance and continue to wear masks unless seated even if they’ve already been vaccinated. You can see the official circular from the DTCM here.
It will be interesting to see if this finally convinces people to take the vaccine and what kind of effect it would have on the hospitality industry due to the tourists who may hail from countries where the vaccine is not yet available to everyone. I mean, would you visit a country if you can’t leave your hotel room and go to bars and events without a vaccination? Time will tell.
We’ve all been wondering what’s happening with Expo 2020 in Dubai with all the global pandemic related restrictions that’s been put in place this year and it’s finally been announced that the event has been rescheduled to run from 1 October 2021 until 31 March 2022 Hopefully by then the world will be on a well-deserved break from lockdowns, pandemics and economic instability and we can just enjoy it.
Personally, it feels like the city’s been waiting in anticipation of Expo 2020 since I arrived here back in 2016, still fresh off the boat to make my mark on the hospitality industry. At that point Dubai already felt like a Disneyland for adults and my industry, the hospitality industry was on another level. The fine dining was incredible I mean in the country I was coming from knives were reserved for mugging people and spoons for cooking meth (okay, maybe not that problematic although it’s not too far from the truth either) but you can imagine the awe and wonder when touching down in a futuristic city with purified air, exploring glittering tourist attractions. Over time things changed even more impressively, taller buildings, new hotels and entire cityscapes sprung up seemingly overnight, in the way it only happens here, all seemingly in anticipation for Expo 2020. The theme continues with “connecting minds, creating the future” and also has its three smaller themes of opportunity, mobility and sustainability and in the UAE where drones are used to sterilize the streets, drive through covid-19 testing centres, I can not wait to see what they come up with.
See the announcement video below:
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I cannot resist a healthy dose of savagery to lighten up the day and there’s really no better place to get that daily fix except twitter.
Tesla founder Elon Musk and his girlfriend, Claire Boucher aka Grimes welcomed a baby son on . This is great news for the couple who’ve been dating since 2018 however the kid’s name is what has sent everyone into a frenzy.
Behold, the name...
My first impressions…
1. What in the Battle Star Galactica? 2. His name looks like the math exam I nearly failed in 12 grade 3. I think most people will wonder what it means and how to say it. 4. Are they even human sounds or just a bunch of beeps and clicking sounds.
According to a tweet from Grimes each character represents something significant to her and Musk:
Elon Musk was on the Joe Rogan show earlier and the first thing Rogan asked about was how to say the baby’s name which turns out to be a lot easier than it looks. Musk said his son’s name is pronounced “X Ash A 12” The X is said like the letter X and the A – 12 is simply the capital letter A and the number 12.
But of course twitter, being twitter had to react like this:
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The last time Banksy made waves he trolled everyone at the auction for his ‘Girl with Balloon’ painting which self-destructed with a shredder concealed inside the canvas just moments after it was sold for 1.4 million pounds (around AED 6.6 million). The buyer must been shook AF but I love a controversial legend. This was way back in October 2018 and this time he’s causing a commotion of a different kind with a painting that’s been captioned “Game Changer”. It displays a boy playing with a superhero nurse doll complete with a face mask and a cape while Batman and Spiderman are sort of tossed aside in a toy basket in the background. The reactions on instagram have been mixed. On the one hand his stans are saying its a clear cut case of him praising the frontliners and then there are others saying there's a darker angle that the nurse is like the doll of the moment and will eventually be tossed aside like the other superhero's when the boy gets bored and then it kind of goes down some analytic rabbit hole but I guess that's what art's meant to do so props to Banksy for that.
In the meantime piece has been displayed in the reception area of the South Hampton General Hospital in the UK and had a personal message from the man himself saying “Thanks for all you are doing, I hope this brightens the place up a bit, even if its only black and white”. What a guy <3. The hospital plans to auction it off later in the year and reinvest the proceeds.
I've probably celebrated New Years a grand total of 2 or 3 times in my adult life, I dont hate it however being in the hospitality industry I prefer to be more of a behind the scenes minion, working away in the background of the festivities rather than taking centre stage. You would usually find me arranging a villa party; promoting an EDM festival in Cape Town or working a NYE event in Dubai. The organised chaos coming together beautifully on the night especially when its my baby, excites me more than any countdown could. I’m weird like that. I guess I've always been about having a good time but I'm even more about my hustle.
That being said, there are some pretty hot parties happening around Dubai this year for people who prefer to enjoy that festivities as a guest rather than a minion so I've rounded up the options that have the most hype around them in the industry as we head into 2019. In the spirit of responsible spending I've stuck to the AED 1500 and below options - of course there are some fab options for around AED 2000 like the Gatsby theme at FIVE Palm Jumeirah which sounds amazing too but there are plenty of options that wont break the bank either.
Bagatelle is doing a menu comprised of options Pizzetta Ala Truffle Noire, Linguini Homard Epice and Bagatelle salad to the backdrop of live music and DJ Sam Sparks. There are two seatings, one at 7pm and a later one around 10pm-10:30. Prices start at AED 550 for the first seating and then they also offer a lounge table option of only AED 2500 for up to 6 people. Call: 04 354 5035 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you're looking for something elegant on the water then the 8 course British tasting menu served onboard the QE2 could be a good option. Entertainment will be live Jazz music. Alternatively the QE2 Disco at the Yacht Club will have a DJ spinning some 80s and 90s music for a retro vibe along with unlimited beverages and a party food buffet for just AED 750. Bookings on 04 526 8888.
43 Sky Lounge has by far one of the most surreal views of the city lights. Their New Years offering is a buffet style dinner with unlimited canapes starting at 7pm paired with some live entertainment. Packages are AED 1400 per person. To reserve call 04 3169726.
Beefbar is hosting a special edition of Meat Me Mondays from their exclusive VIP menu for AED 1000 per guest. Entertainment is live and you get a bottle of complimentary bubbly if you arrive before 8pm on the night. Call 04 3522223 for bookings.
Cavalli Club is doing an intergalactic themed NYE with 4 course set menu with unlimited drinks for AED 1650 or you can go for the regular night club tickets which are AED 900 for ladies and AED 1100 for guys and includes an open bar until 3am. To book call 04 332 9260.
One of my favourite party themes, "The Grand Budapest Hotel" is happening at DIFC hotspot Cipriani and I am keen to see how they bring it together. Minimum spend per guest is AED 1200. Reservations can be made on 04 347 0003.
If you're keen to see the fireworks at the Burj, STK is a great option with live entertainment including a saxophonist, you will received a mixed drink on arrival and are welocme to pre book two bottles of bubbles for AED 999. its AED 999 for bistro seating, AED 1299 for carpet seating and AED 1899 for terrace seating. To book call 04 425 3948.
Another fireworks option at La Mer would be casual dining spot Stars n Bars. There are three packages which all include a delicious 3 course set menu and various drink package options starting from AED 500 for soft drinks, AED 750 for house beverages and AED 1000 for the premium drinks package. Its AED 350 min spend for walk-ins on the night. For bookings call 04 349 9903.
I was pleasantly surprised that Toko's packages are super reasonably priced for New Years eve so if you like sushi and Japanese style food its a guaranteed great option. The house beverage package option is AED 690 while the soft drink package is AED 490.
If its your first New Years in Dubai my biggest tips would be to get to your destination early to avoid the traffic and pack some comfy shoes - there is a high possibility that you're going to be doing some walking in areas not accessible by car on the night.
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Almost all hospitality venues like malls, beach clubs and restaurants in the UAE are offering Christmas set menus and entertainment so I’m not going to get into those vibes because let’s face it there are hundreds if not thousands to mention and we don’t have that kind of time however if you are in Dubai over the festive season especially with family in town and are looking for things to do, there are some great family friendly events and thats what I'm going to focus on here. I'm talking about activities like Christmas markets and tree lighting events complete with all the trimmings i.e snow, choirs, gluwein and egg nog. Yasss! Here are 5 popular highlights for the holidays.
Irish Village Christmas
The Irish village does a traditional tree lighting on 3 December from 7pm complete with choirs, mulled grape refreshments and home baked fruit mince pies. Sounds good to me. P.S if you like the atmosphere here, they’re also offering a three course Christmas lunch buffet for AED 199 on Christmas Day. (04 282 4750)
Tree lighting at Fairmont on the Palm
Fairmont on the Palm is hosting a tree lighting ceremony on the 5th December from 5pm until 7pm. Complimentary festive beverages and canapes will be served. Entry is free. (04 457 3457)
Film Screening at the Steigenberger
The Backyard in the Steigenberger hotel, Business Bay will be screening festive films on 5 December from 8pm. They will also have Christmas themed food and drinks to get you into the mood. In the same building Swim and Tonic is having a tree lighting festival on the same night with food and drink stalls earlier in the evening from 6:30-8pm so you could definitely make a night of it. (04 369 0000)
Traditional German Market at the Madinat
Madinat Jumeirah is going family friendly with a traditional German market with food stalls, abras on the water driven by Santa and his elves as well as a with a snow zone and a gingerbread house making station. It starts on 20 December until the 28th from noon until late, daily. Entry is free.
Christmas Classics at the Dubai Operahouse
Dubai Opera is bringing back their contemporary take on christmas classics with Jingle Bell favourites for the third year in a row. This is a great option especially if you have mom and dad in town over this time. Tickets start at AED 150. (04 440 8888)
If you have any picks you’d recommend, let me know!
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Disclaimer: This article does not constitute as legal advice (I'm not a lawyer). If you want specific details and updates on these laws, its always best to consult a professional.
Social Media Laws in the UAE
I'm so over people saying they had no idea about these laws. Surely when you come to a new country, especially in the Middle East - and you're from a different cultural background, you should educate yourself and what is and isn’t allowed? Most of the laws should be common sense so if you're not a troll, a bully or out to annoy and defame people then you should have nothing to worry about. However if you're not 100% sure about what is and isn't allowed or what might happen if you cross the line then read on.
Do not post pictures or film people without their permission.
Want to post an instastory of a stranger doing their thing at gym? Maybe someone you know had an awkward moment and you just happend to catch it on film. Hitting that share button at their expense might be accepted in your home country however in the UAE it’s not allowed. At the end of the day, it’s all about being responsible and treating people with respect. Especially if you already know that the person featured in the content would be uncomfortable with the picture or have an issue with what you want to post. Its called respecting people's privacy. If you break this law you risk prison of at least 6 months and a fine of not less than AED 150 000 according to Article 21 of the cyber crimes law. There's some additional information about posting pictures of women without their consent here.
Do not post people's private or confidential information.
This should be obvious but in case you weren't aware, you shouldn't post people's confidential information online. This includes ranting about employers by the way. No matter what company you're working for anywhere in the world it’s considered bad form to share private info. Its the same here but with legal consequences like this situation. The best option if you're having an issue at work or feel like you're being treated unfairly is to go directly to the Ministry of Labour. They are super helpful and may even compensate for emotional distress on top of a settlement if your complaint is valid. Breaking this law could have you facing imprisonment and a fine of not less than AED 250 000 and AED 1.5 million so rather handle it the professional way.
Social media influencers need licenses to operate.
It’s a fairly recent law which came into effect this year. People who want to be social media influencers must obtain a license to do so. The law was brought into effect to encourage responsible social media activity such as following the rules like the ones in this article and not attempting hanging off buildings like glamour model Viki Odintcova found out in Dubai earlier this year. It also ensures that if someone is being paid to endorse a product or service that its in line with certain guidelines. Influencer licenses cost around AED 15 000 but if you already have a large following and are signed to a social media agency, then you can do it through them as well. There is quite a bit of information surrounding this so I will be dedicating a more detailed post on my personal process of getting licensed.
Posting content that is offensive to other Monostheistic religions.
Monotheistic religions refer to "the belief in only one God" for example Islam and Christianity. Posting anything that is offensive especially exhibiting things like nudity, pornography and debauchery goes against these values and is not allowed. In other words, have respect for other people's religions. Its that simple. If not, you could face imprisonment and a fine starting at AED 250 000 and not exceeding AED 500 000 as stated in article 17. On a side note, promoting any form of racism, hatred or riots can also land you a fine of between AED 500 000 to AED 1.5 Million according to Article 24.
If you're keen for more info on these and other laws check out this link.
Did any of the laws surprise you or did you already know them all? Let me know in the comments.
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I’m sure most people would agree that jumping out of a moving vehicle to do a dance you saw on the internet is probably not the safest thing to do for yourself or others. With this in mind, the Dubai Police have issued a warning to residents against doing the challenge which could get you arrested, along with a Dhs2000 fine and getting 23 black points added to your driver’s license. Three social media influencers have been arrested.
The Kiki Challenge.
In case you've been living under a rock and have no idea what the Kiki Challenge is all about, it was started by comedian, Shiggy who posted the first ever clip of himself doing the dance and challenged all his followers to do the same on the 30th of June. He did not jump out of a car by the way. Shiggy hashtagged the post #DotheShiggy and #Kikichallenge because it used the single "In my feelings" from Drakes latest album which makes reference to a girl named "Keke". The challenge went viral and many celebrities partook including Ciara and Will Smith. But somewhere along the line I guess people started jumping out of cars and, well here we are.
Three Social Media Influencers Arrested.
The Abu Dhabi Public Prosecutor ordered the arrest of three social media influencers this week who took part in the challenge for endangering themselves and others on the road. According to Gulf News the department also encouraged young people to rather engage in useful activities that are compatible with the values of society and contribute to physical, social, mental and moral developments". They also called on "celebrities to of social networking sites to show a sense of responsibility towards children and society".
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Cover Image: Shiggyshow Instagram