Middle Eastern Myths or Miracles

Photo Credits: healthfooddream

Traditional beauty hacks vs. Facts

Twas the night before my graduation, and a pimple right between my eyebrows, which doubled as a practice target, haunted me. I began to panic when my mother, always the resourceful person, decided that myrrh was the only solution. She stood hunched over the sink like a mad scientist in her long floral nightgown, grinding myrrh and mixing it with water. She rubbed the mixture on my forehead overnight. It’s safe to say that I woke with the same pimple that now smelled foul, and access luggage under my eyes, which she also had a cure for.

My mom’s concoction didn’t work that time, but it got me wondering. I compiled some of the Middle East’s traditional remedies and, in consultation with an expert, determined whether it was a miracle or a myth.

Nail Biter

Photo Credits: Medscape

Photo Credits: Medscape

I was a biter, a nail-biter that is. My nails were always too short rendering them weak. She could never get me to stop, so instead she would dip my nails in dill and horsetail soaked in water. The taste would ward me off of biting them.

Expert verdict: Miracle.

Our expert Carina Huwari, a pharmacist, says that dill has nail-strengthening agents. It has a high nutritional value of essential oils, fatty oils and mineral salts. As for horsetail it has silica, and is rich in vitamins and minerals as calcium, zinc and B5.

Whitening With Lemon


We each had lemon slices in our toilets. Twice a day, we would rub the lemon on our knees to whiten them. My sisters and I had dark knees, something commonly known as the Saudi curse. This routine is priceless in our household, much like the expression on my father’s face when he sees two boxes of lemons on the grocery list.

Expert verdict: Miracle.

Our expert says lemon is loaded with vitamin C, which has antioxidants that fight free radicals that result in adult skin. Vitamin C also decreases the production of melanin. It gets rid of the accumulated dead skin cells on the surface of the dermis and tightens the pores.

Homemade Masks for Wrinkles


One of my mother’s proudest achievements, other than her children, is her homemade mask. A strange, and I’m ashamed to say tasty, mixture of honey, cucumber, yogurt and rose water to soften skin and reduce wrinkles. This particular recipe has been passed down from generations of Saudi women to eventually find its way to a bowl in my bathroom.

Expert opinion: Miracle.

Our expert says that honey has antibacterial properties due to high content of sugar. It provides nutrition for the skin as well as hydration. Its richness with the antioxidants serves as an anti-aging factor. Rich in water, vitamin E and other nutrients, cucumber softens and hydrates the skin. It also has a decongestant effect. The yogurt contains lactic acid, which gently exfoliates and smoothes the skin.

Despite the large target on my forehead in all my graduation pictures, there is merit in most of the traditional remedies my mother passed on to me. Maybe I should have listened to her more often because three out of four ain’t bad.


NetFlix and Chill: 13 Reasons Why


Disclaimer: This article is a result of illness and an unwavering addiction to Netflix.

This mystery show centers a suicide victim, Hannah Baker, and the lives of the people around her. Told through flashbacks and Hannah’s own narration, this show is incredibly thrilling and important at the same time (which ain’t easy).

In case you need any more convincing, here are 13 reasons why you should watch 13 reasons why.

1- This. 

2- Because it’s a mystery.


Contrary to what you may initially believe this show is a mystery. The plots are exciting, the characters are all shady and the motives aren’t always clear.

3- Because it’s surprisingly nostalgic.


And also very current.

4- Because of the acting.


The actors have a maturity about them that is unrivaled in “teen” shows.

5- Because of the soundtrack.

A good soundtrack helps propel the narrative and a great one does while making it seem seamless.

6- Because of the writing.

The issue this show brings forward are not always straightforward and are almost always layered. The brilliant writing also makes the dialogue witty and realistic.

7- Because the teenagers are human not just teenagers.


Again, we must give it up to the writing. In a nutshell, it’s not a show about teenagers; it’s a show about people who some just happen to be teenagers.

8- Because it’s relatable, terrifying and exciting.


Which is good entertainment.

9- Because of the scar trick

To differentiate between current Clay and flashback Clay, look for the telltale scar on his forehead that he acquires early on. Nice trick, guys!

10- Because we said so.


(Yes, we know we’re reaching at this point)

11- Because I can’t remember the last time I binged watched a show.

12- Because it will spark up what may end up being uncomfortable conversations.


13- Because the conversations are important.



Meet the first Saudi woman leader at Microsoft Arabia


Be Indispensable! Meet the first Saudi woman leader at Microsoft Arabia. 

In honor of Women’s Day, Alwaleed Philanthropies held its first The Evolving Role of Women in Saudi Arabia conference on March 11. With a campaign theme of Saudi Women Can, the conference shed some light on the growing role of women in the workforce and their representation in the media. Local speakers included inventor Hadeel Ayoub and the subject of our article, tech pioneer Deemah Alyahya.

Alyahya is what we like to call an OG. She fell in love with computers before the Internet was even introduced to Saudi. For the millennials reading this, she fell in love with the bulky machine that only showed green letters against a black screen. That’s real love, my friends.

At 12-years old, Alyahya had a clear life goal: “I wanted to be Bill Gates, or at least work with him.” After graduating high school, although she had dreams of studying artificial intelligence, the reality of her situation necessitated scaling back to the only major she could find that was related to her interest: computer science.

Degree in hand, Alyahya accepted an IT position as a software engineer with Samba, thus securing her first figurative trophy as a “first”; she was the first and only female in the IT department at the time.

Working at the bank ignited new interests in her, including an appreciation for Tadawul (Saudi Stock Exchange). When she applied for a position, she was turned away because they didn’t hire women. Undeterred, she kept applying until salvation came in the form of then King Abdullah’s decree to open up the doors for women in all industries. Still, even after applying again, she was rejected because they didn’t have the right facilities to accommodate women.microsoft-riyadh-april-2017-nf-2

Taking matters into her own hand, she crafted a strategy for their tech department and submitted it with her latest application. “This is what I can do,” Alyahya explained. “I told them that even if they didn’t want to hire me, they’re free to use it.” Her persistence and vision earned her the position she wanted.

After Tadawul, Alyahya went on to run the E-Services Department in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, securing yet another “first” trophy. The struggles and obstacles never wavered, though. “I would call people and they’d hang up the moment they heard my voice,” she said. Alyahya was faced with skepticism at every turn and colleagues wouldn’t take her seriously because they would assume she was a quota hire. She often wasn’t allowed to attend meetings, and in some cases had to have a male escort present with her.

Alyahya chose the high road at every turn and fought for her right to be there, using her ideas and her work to speak for her.

One fateful day, she received a phone call from Microsoft offering her a position. The 12-year old girl finally had her wish of working with Bill Gates – though indirectly – come true. She began her journey with Microsoft as a Professional Development Resource Manager for about a year before earning her latest “first” trophy; being promoted to Executive Director of Developer Experience and Digital Innovation.

She was the first Saudi woman in a leadership role in Microsoft Arabia.

Alyahya urges our readers that fighting for something shouldn’t be about conflict, but rather about proving your worth. Show – don’t tell – others how valuable you are. She also urges women, especially those interested in the tech industry, to get ahead of the curve. Choose areas and fields where there is a shortage, build up your skills and leave them no option but to hire you.

To encourage the efforts of women seeking a career in technology, Alyahya facilitated, through a partnership between Saudi Hollandi Bank (now Alawwal Bank) and Microsoft Arabia, the Women Spark initiative that helps teach tech-driven women the skills that are needed in the job market to make them indispensable.

Twitter: Dalyahya


The Socially Conscious Foodie


This is your definitive guide to being a socially conscious foodie in the city!

Eating organic isn’t a just a new trend that’s bound to disappear like culottes. It might seem hyper tedious to eat organic, but it is far easier than you think it is.


Before you step out the house for your grocery run, make sure you grab your reusable bag with you. What was once a typical Saudi move to bring your own bag has now for some reason become a social faux pas. Plastic bags are a waste of a finite resource and can take up to one thousand years to decompose.farmers-market-riyadh-april-2017-nf-7

If you’re shopping for fresh produce, head to the local farmer’s market or the local produce aisle in the stores. Aside from the fact that local products contain less preservatives pesticides since they don’t require overseas transport, we need to support our local farming industry. Remember that bruised fruit and veggies are NOT spoiled. Despite being slightly less aesthetically pleasing, they will taste exactly the same.

For other organic products, Danube, Tamimi and Lulu markets all have designated sections for organic as well as gluten free products.

SHOP LOCAL: Head to the District local farmers’ markets. One of the biggest ones is in Rabwa, Exit 14.



Okay we know some Riyadhis don’t have time to prepare a home cooked meals. So your solution may well be to order. Now instead of opting for fast food (your waistline will be crying), there are different organizations these days who will deliver straight to your homes and offices on a regular basis. And the best part? Proceeds usually go to less fortunate families.

Tunyat Bunyan (Bunyan’s Chefs) is a project by Bunyan Charity Organization. They do everything from packed lunches and catering to pickled goods. The cooks comprise of women who have been trained by the organization and whatever earnings they generate goes directly to these amazing women.

Milwan is an organization that helps divorced women and widows by training them to become cooks and providing a kitchen from which they can prepare food to sell. The same kitchen is part of Khiyrat (goodness), which is another program under the organization that picks up surplus food from parties, repackage these items and distribute them to less fortunate families in the poor areas in Riyadh and neighboring towns.

Now if you want to dine out, why not support restaurants that give back to the community.

Assaraya Restaurant provides a free meal once a day to people in need. So if you’re craving authentic Turkish grilled food, eat your heart out here, make sure to order the buttered hummus (so good. So, so, good.)


Cooking with a Cause


With the maker of Saudi Food with Eman comes a conversation with Eman.

Ever since Eman Gazzaz was young, as a diplomat’s child, she was always reminded that she is an ambassador to her country. A reminder that still sticks with her even when she’s in her cozy kitchen with her three kids attempting to contain the inevitable chaos.

With over 25,000 subscribers and almost two million views on her cooking channel on YouTube, Gazzaz is no ordinary working mom. With simple how to videos, she attempts to teach the world how to create authentic Saudi dishes. We’ll let you in on a little secret though… she’s not doing it just for the food.

Cooking always interested Gazzaz. Living and growing up in over seven countries, she was always exposed to food and diverse flavors. “I always felt I had a direction towards food, but I never knew that I really wanted to get into it.”

Before venturing into the culinary sphere, Gazzaz was, and still is, an artist with a number of international exhibitions under her belt. “The family was always into art in some way,” she explained. Both her mother and sister were artists. The de facto family business added another dimension when Gazzaz traded in her oil and canvas for some pans and veggies.

After finally living in Saudi for the first time as an adult, Gazzaz felt disconnected. “I felt like a minority in my own country.” That’s when opportunity came knocking in the form of a friend with an online cooking show visiting her from Morocco while on a one-month exchange program. The host of the newly established Cooking With Alia asked Gazzaz if she would be interested in being in one of her videos. Her viewers were interested in Saudi cooking, and Gazzaz saw that as her opportunity to ask, “What’s YouTube?”

The feedback from that one episode led to several collaborations between the two over the month. During that time when Gazzaz was acting as a culinary ambassador, she was also playing the role of an ambassador to her visiting friend. The two seemed so inherently similar that Gazzaz decided to open up the doors to her kitchen, and her family, to the rest of the world.

Her cooking show is best described as Saudi cuisine made easy. By choosing to teach in English, she had expanded the invitation into her home for anyone who is interested. “This is my home. These are my kids running around, and this is my kitchen.”

YouTube: Saudi Food With Eman
Twitter & Snapchat: SaudiFoodEman
Instagram: SaudiFoodWithEman


Shaping Sound


A designer and an engineer by day, sound shapers and music lovers by night.

Meet Sand Geist, Riyadh’s own sound engineers and producers. Riyadhis at birth, they met at a young age when playing music was all that they wanted to do, only to be reunited around a decade later to create music together. Both trained and skilled in their field, they utilized their trained visual and hearing senses to express themselves musically, allowing the experience to go beyond the musical spectrum and tapping into it from multiple angles.

Their experiences combined include the influence of the artistic movements and musical scenes of Berlin, Beirut, Montréal and France to name a few. Growing up with families from different cultural backgrounds has also come with some perks for these guys. It enabled them to appreciate and embrace art and music in all its diverse forms.

They went from growing up with grandparents playing records and tapes of classical and folk music, to their parents sharing the joyous sounds of the ‘70s and ‘80s. Being exposed to that as children, the concept of capturing an experience in sound became an obsession.

As they grew so did their understanding and appreciation for music. They both played instruments and records in their teens so they decided to analyze their equipment and instruments, only to dive into the exploration of electronic music. They studied the mechanisms of hardware instruments from its analog and digital point of view.sand-geist-riyadh-march-2017-nf1

Since music was always in their lives, there was never a moment where they chose to pursue it. Even in their daytime professions, the passion for music and sound design has helped them excel in the technicalities of their job. It enabled them to have a ping pong effect between their jobs and creating experiences through music. To take a step further, they both incorporate sound design in their profession, and work on launching their expertise and sound a service in the near future.

Since their work is a reflection of life itself, the only obstacles they faced where the ones they placed in their own paths. Things as profound as a shift in their perspectives, professional ambition and success as well as trying to standing out in a field that is currently full of noise.

Sometimes it is as silly as finding the appropriate name for a track, falling asleep while working late or not finding enough time to sleep, but their aim to be a collective has pulled through and helped them build stronger bridges.

When it comes to the future of the music scene in Riyadh, Sand Geist have left the decision in our hands. “It’s not our place to say, we’re just desert dwellers. We just happen to capture moments or create them musically and share them every now and then.”



Hair Us Out: The Defensive Playbook


Hear ye hear ye citizens of the desert! This dry sunny weather can do more damage to the way you look than just the sweat stains on your shirt.

With temperatures in the (insert unbelievable number here), our friendly sun will do more than just kiss the ends of your hair for that signature beach dweller look. It will launch a full-blown attack on your most vulnerable soldiers… your hair.

The best offense is a good defense


Sunscreen… yes, that’s right. Some stores may carry heat/sun protection for your hair. If you’re a pickle and can’t find any, dilute sunscreen with water and put it in a spray bottle. Whenever your preparing to do battle with the sun, armor your hair with a few sprays and your soldiers will thank you for it.

Your tarha is your best friend


Covering your hair whilst out in the sun is a must, and luckily for us it’s pretty much mandatory for gentler sex. If a tarha isn’t exactly appropriate dress code where you’re going to be, switch it up with hats or caps.

First Aid


Hair, like the rest of your body, needs moisture. Without it, your hair becomes dry, frizzy, damaged and easily breakable. Treat your hair with masks or oils overnight to help restore some of your lost moisture. We recommend using coconut oil or, our favorite, argan oil. If you don’t have any of these masks or oils and don’t feel like going out, you can replace them with almost anything with moisture including conditioners. Seriously though, your kitchen probably has seven different substitutes. You have no excuse.

Landmines to look out for

Photo Credits: TheGloss

Photo Credits: TheGloss

  • Heat styling your hair in this weather is essentially the equivalent to shooting your own foot. Your hair’s already sustaining too much heat damage from the sun to handle your flattening iron’s friendly fire. If your hair desperately needs to be styled switch out of the iron with your blow dryer, and only use it when your hair is a little damp WITH heat protection spray.
  • If you have bleached or dyed hair these recommendations become commandments unless you want your hair to turn green or fade away.


Saudi Women Can!


Alwaleed Philanthropies held a conference on Saturday March 12 under the title “Saudi Women Can”.

The event, which featured leading female figures locally and internationally, discussed the changing role of women in the work force, and the media’s representation of women, both locally and internationally.

Its aim was to empower Saudi women and push them to get invested and involved.

Local speakers included pioneers, such as Abeer Al Essa, Deemah Alyahya,Adwa Aldakhil and Hadeel Ayoub, as well as leaders in government and media, such as Shura council members Dr. Iqbal Darandr and Kawthar Al Arbash, Chamber of Commerce board member Lama Al Sulaiman, and more.

International speakers included Cherie Blaire, head of the Cheri Blair Foundation for Women, Joelle Tanguy, Director of UNWomen Strategic Partnerships division, as well as the CEO of Thompson Reuters Foundation.



I am woman, hear me make reasonable and rational arguments.

It’s International Women’s Day, so we decided to spare everyone the “you can do anything” speech that’s typical in occasions like this. This, my friends, is a direct call to action.


The world is no one’s oyster. It will not wait for anyone to seize it at the bottom of the ocean. The world is more like a plate of fries. Some may take exactly their share, some may settle for less and some take more than their share at the expense of others. Bottom line is that when it’s down to the last fry, it’s survival of the fittest and every man for himself. Make no mistake; we’re not saying this is a literal fight. There are no referees or opponents in this. Your greatest ally and opponent is yourself.


We realize that the last paragraph may have seemed little too existential for our Destination flavor, but bear with us. We promise we have a point to make.

Everyone gets bogged down by naysayers, but women across the world fall victim to this more often than not. The systemic undercurrent that has developed over the span of centuries is still very much tangible today. Now that we’ve so effectively (coughs) oversimplified the background of the struggle, it’s time for the game plan ladies.

How to make sure you get your fries:

Say it


Women and men are both equipped with vocal chords. For reasons that require far more explanation than this article can provide, us women are less likely to use our voices. The figurative and sometimes very literal hesitation is the first thing we have to chuck out the window if any of us want to get anywhere. Do not fear your voice, give it purpose.



If the world is a field and life is game, then we are losing. Before you ready your pitchforks, it’s not a battle of the sexes. The game is more of a faceoff between humanity and its conscience. Unfortunately, us woman are too often on the sidelines rooting for a team to make the right decisions. No one in this world will understand you the way you understand yourself. Put on your jersey and cleats and get involved. If we don’t, we may end up as the ball being tossed around between the teams.

Be Selfish


Yes, you heard us. Put yourself first and fight for what you believe is right for you. A wise person once told me that “a person may wish for you to have a meal, but they’ll never take a decent bite out of their mouths and give it to you.” Though we’re all for charity, you need to help yourself first. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t plan on going hungry anytime soon.

Keep in mind that contrary to how it feels most of the time, this is a collective journey; a journey where we may find ourselves falling behind, or even far ahead wondering where everyone else is. There is no road map, but trust us, the company is well worth the ride.



Why Not?


Two words that shaped artist Hiba Sultan.

Hiba Sultan is an artist, though she is more than reluctant to call herself that. “I don’t feel I’m there yet,” she explains while somewhere thousands of miles away her work is being exhibited by prestigious galleries.

Sultan was always surrounded by art. Her mother was an avid fan of art and had a fondness for it. Her father, a fighter jet pilot, loved sketching planes and engines. So, it’s no surprise that Sultan inherited that fondness as well.

What initially was a hobby was about to change when she was approached to sign up to bring New Haven Arts school to Riyadh to help them get their degree. Up until that point, she hadn’t considered art as a viable career choice. When the chance presented itself, she answered in the only way fate would allow anyone to, “why not?”

03-dr-march-2017-32-47-11Through her studies, she began to discover who she was as an artist. She began to discover her voice, all the while making a few mistakes along the way.

So how did she pop up on the world’s radar? Instagram. Hiba Sultan has a public account with a small following (a little over 500 as of this article) where she posts random things along with her work.

Earlier this year, she received a private message from an exhibition in Japan asking her to display her work. Until that point, she had never exhibited internationally. Her mother pushed her to cross the threshold with one of the best possible combinations of two words: “Why not?”

Aside from exhibiting in Tokyo, Miami, and (in March) New York, one of Sultan’s favorite accomplishments is being a featured artist at London’s Walton Fine Arts gallery because her serendipitous journey there.

While on vacation in London, Sultan and a friend decided to visit Walton to check out an upcoming Saudi artist. While there, Sultan’s friend asked the gallery representative what the procedure was to be featured in their gallery. The gallery representative described the procedure as highly selective and difficult, and then condescendingly wished her good luck.03-dr-march-2017-32-47-12

She left the gallery feeling demoralized and embarrassed, but still followed their account on Instagram. She then received an email from the gallery asking if they could carry her work. She triumphantly returned to the gallery the next day, approached the representative and asked if he remembered telling her how hard it was, and then told him that they had approached her.

Despite her passion, success, and persistence she still doesn’t call herself an artist. Part of her hesitancy is attached to the general skepticism that is inherent in our culture. See, Sultan is mostly an abstract artist, “I don’t see the appeal of copying something that already exists, I want to reinterpret it.” And as an abstract artist, she has had to endure callused remarks like “You put some paint on your fingers and wiped it on the board and now your call yourself an artist?” She still struggles with finding her place in the Saudi art scene, “There isn’t really a place for emerging artists here. You’ve got to be a big deal or there is no deal.”

Instagram: theycallmehaba