Online Magazine, Travel Trends

Finding Snow in the Desert


Head to Dubai for a winter wonderland vacation.

For the first time in my life, I’m skipping the snow and freezing temperatures of a Canadian winter. But after swapping Canada’s cold for Jeddah’s heat, I’ve found myself longing for the season. No, I don’t miss the endless shoveling. I miss catching single snowflakes on my glove and inspecting them before they melt away. I miss the cracking and crunching of ice under my feet. Mostly, I miss having to go inside to warm up.

After opening way too many tabs of potential weekend winter getaways, I decided a roundtrip flight for a couple days of snow wasn’t worth it. That was until I found out I didn’t have to go far to find a winter retreat. It was waiting in the most unlikely of places: Dubai.

A Ski Chalet in the Desert

If you close your eyes and picture a ski lodge, complete with ski slope views and a crackling fireplace, you typically wouldn’t picture it to be in Dubai. But that’s exactly where you’ll find the Aspen Chalets, with authentic alpine designs including wooden beams and flooring, modern antler features, snowflake detailing and stone faux fireplaces.

The Kempinski Hotel at Mall of the Emirates recently launched the newly renovated Aspen Chalets that overlook legendary Ski Dubai.

When I walked into the spacious and luxurious chalet, I was instantly transported back to winter. The massive windows provide stunning views of the powdery slopes. I put my hand on the cold glass that separated me and those bundled up for cold weather, and felt as if I was back in Canada’s snowy season.

ski-chalet-king-bedroomThe impressive three bedroom chalet is set over three floors, and not only has a view of the slopes, but also of the Dubai skyline.

Snowy Desert Package

610a7592Whether you’re longing for a Canadian winter like me, dreaming of a weekend in the Alps or just want to trade the sand for snow, the ‘Snowy Desert’ Package is what you need.snowy-desert

If looking out your chalet window at the ski hill isn’t enough, you can get complimentary access to Ski Dubai with this package. After missing out on winter activities for most of the season, I decided this package was made for me.

Ski Dubai Snow Park

dsc04786Shocked at how cold it felt inside Ski Dubai, I regretted not bringing a hat. The hat wasn’t included in the blue snowsuit rental, which made me blend in with the others on the slopes.

At the first and largest indoor ski resort in the Middle East, the temperature never drops below -6 degrees Celsius, so I decided I could do without the hat.

The snow isn’t the only thing manufactured at Ski Dubai. The green plastic fir trees are too. That, plus the men wearing thobes under their long jackets, made for a very unique winter scene.

After a day of skiing, sliding and posing by the ice sculptures, it’s relaxing to sit in the Alpine themed chalet with a cup of steaming hot chocolate. No trip to Ski Dubai is complete without visiting the penguins!

After handing back in the rented snowsuit, I headed back to the Aspen Chalet, I turned on the crackling fireplace and curled up on the comfortable couch.

Luxuries at Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates

managerIt’s no wonder that Slim Zaiane, the General Manager at Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates, explains the Aspen Chalets already have a high level of repeat guests.

“Many of our guests are extremely well-travelled and used to experiencing the finer things in life. This is why it’s so exciting to see their reactions upon first entering the Aspen Chalets,” said Zaiane. “Children and parents alike marvel at the views and families are able to relax together, safe in the knowledge that our expert butlers will attend to their every need.”

There are three restaurants at Kempinski Hotel, each offering a unique dining experience and delicious food. The wellness and fitness facilities features Softouch Spa, a state-of-the-art fitness center, tennis court and two temperature-controlled outdoor pools.

Location: Mall of the Emirates, Dubai


Artist & Musicians, Arts & Music, Online Magazine

Five Decades of Artwork


Syrian artist finds new inspiration in Jeddah.

For most of his career, Monzer Charaby found inspiration in the colorful streets, charming people and rich history of his hometown of Aleppo, Syria. But after moving to Jeddah, he’s found new inspiration – and has gained new admirers – in Saudi Arabia.

Fascinated by history and old architecture, Charaby was immediately drawn to Al Balad.

“When I walk into an old city, I feel as if I’ve taken a time machine and walked into the past,” said Charaby.use-as-headerbig-pic-on-top-pg-1-100x100

“I put my hand up and touch the stones because it gives me joy, knowing that for thousands of years, men worked on building this. I enjoy everything that men made with passion, especially old architecture.”

After nearly 50 years of painting scenes of Aleppo’s famous historic areas and figures, Charaby’s focus began to shift to Jeddah’s old city.42

Upcoming Exhibition: Marahil (Stages)

Since moving to Jeddah in 2012, Charaby held two exhibitions and was overwhelmed with the positive response.

His upcoming exhibition, titled Marahil (meaning “stages” in Arabic) is particularly special because it chronicles his long career by featuring artwork he’s created over five decades. Those who attend the exhibit will be provided with the opportunity to learn about Charaby’s unique artistic approach and background.100x75-2

“My fellow artists here in Jeddah didn’t know my work before 2012. Artists often ask me what stages I went through before I grew into the artist I am today. This exhibit allows me to show them.”

Looking back at his older paintings, like the ones depicting professions that are not common anymore, like shoe makers and copper cleaners, Charaby is reminded of his early days as a painter.

“When I look back, I feel happy. Ever since I was a st141udent, people showed a great appreciate for my work because it touches them. I’m happy people still react the same today.”

Monzer Charaby’s show, Marahil, opens at Nesma Art Gallery in Al Rawdah on March 12 and runs until March 21.


Arts & Music, Online Magazine, Popular Stories

Home on the Ranch in Jeddah


Mother and daughter equestrian duo still pushing limits and making history.

Along with sand blowing around from the wind, there’s a buzz in the air at Trio Ranch Country Club. Over the loudspeaker, an announcer calls on the next riders to climb on their horses and head to the course.

The few stands are filled, as they usually are for a show jumping competition. But there’s one special  – and perhaps intimidating – person in the audience:Dalma Malhas.dsc_1690

Malhas, the first Saudi female to compete in an Olympics event, didn’t only make headlines for competing, but for taking home a bronze medal. When she made the podium in 2010 at the Youth Olympic Games in Singapore, she made history books too.

“I move around a lot, but this will always be home. It’s nice to come back to where it all started – kind of like a walk down memory lane,” said Malhas, on a brief trip to Jeddah, from her base in France.dsc_2018

Early Beginnings

In 1990, before Malhas was born, her mother Arwa Mutabagani opened Trio Ranch, one of Saudi’s first riding clubs.

As a young girl, Mutabagani spent summers riding in Europe, and when she returned home, she questioned why there wasn’t a proper riding club. So, with support from her parents, she opened the ranch. She also competed as a show jumper in Europe, despite many challenges.

Dalma Malhas at the 2010 Singapore Youth Olympics.

Dalma Malhas at the 2010 Singapore Youth Olympics.

Even today, show jumping competitions like this are a rare sight in Saudi Arabia, which is ironic, because as Mutabagani points out, Arabia is the land of horses.

“Arabian horses bred in this land. Horses are so important to our history. Arabs fought and commuted on them,” said Mutabagani.

Passing on the Passion

Malhas started lessons at age four. When her mom saw her potential, they moved to Europe, to not miss out on opportunities like Mutabagani did as a young Saudi female rider.

Arwa Mutabagani

Arwa Mutabagani

Mutabagani continued to manage Trio Ranch from afar, dedicated to giving young riders proper training and important life lessons.

“The sport is not only about horses. You need to have respect for horses and for the people who work with them. You have to be patient and disciplined, qualities also important for daily life,” said Mutabagani.

The Road to the Olympics

In 2008, Mutabagani was appointed the first female member of the Saudi Olympic Committee.

Two years later, emotional and wired with excitement, Mutabagani jumped up and down in a crowded audience as she watched her daughter win a bronze medal at the 2010 Youth Olympic Games.

“The greatest moment of my life is when Dalma won the bronze medal. History was made, and that was her day,” said Mutabagani.dsc_1878

Knowing it was her daughter’s day, she couldn’t help but share the pride.

“It was really my dream came true through her. I had the dream to participate in an Olympic event, but in my time, as a woman, that was impossible. For me, it was sort of my medal, through my daughter.”

Two years later at the 2012 London Olympics, Mutabagani made sports history once again, when she led the first ever group of Saudi females at an Olympic Games Opening Ceremony.

When Mutabagani and the two female athletes marched into the stadium, waving their green flags, the enthusiasm from the crowd put Mutabagani on a high.

The one disappointment was that her daughter couldn’t march with her, as an injured horse meant she couldn’t compete as she was supposed to.

More Hurdles to Jump Over

Mutabagani spends much of her time in Europe, focusing on another passion: breeding horses.

When asked her next goal, she jokes she still may make her Olympics dream come true, mentioning that the oldest Olympian to win a gold medal was 64.

A little more reserved, Malhas doesn’t reveal her own goals, but agrees that the Olympic Games is every athlete’s goal.4925531269_e98c44ddc8_b

“It was an honor to represent my country,” said Malhas.

“As an athlete, during the whole journey, you try to recreate those moments – they are really special and what keeps you going.”

Another big driver for Malhas is her mother, who doesn’t only serve as a role model for her daughter, but all daughters in Saudi Arabia.

“Growing up with a reference point like her has helped me in so many ways. I’m really lucky to have her,” said Malhas.

Family Fun: Yearly memberships at Trio Ranch Country Club are available. In addition to riding, there’s a tennis court, basketball court, a cafe, and much more on site.


One of the secrets of Trio Ranch’s success is the emphasis on safety and proper training for riders and horses. Mutabagani, an official judge in Italy, brings in top trainers from Europe, along with specialized professionals like veterinarians, dentists, and chiropractors for the horses.

Facebook: Trio Ranch Country Club


Art, Arts & Music, Online Magazine

Unleash Your Inner Artist


By Caroline Hillier

There’s no better place to find your inner artist than in Jeddah, a city full of inspiring scenes and a bustling art community. There’s an artist waiting to be born in all of us and if you dig deep enough, you’ll discover hidden talents.

Some of Jeddah’s creative minds reveal secrets of the painting process and offer advice on where to learn new skills, where to look for inspiration, how to find motivation and how to turn your passion into a career.


There’s no easy one, two, three step course to become an artist. Making a career in fine arts is tough. It takes a whole lot of talent, passion and hard work. For those who want to tap into their creative potential, there are lots of classes offered around Jeddah.

The Color Fly

AIf you really want to get creative, head to the Color Fly for a painting session using nothing but your body. Things get pretty messy here, where the only rule is that you can’t use any tools. So come with an open mind and clothes you’re willing to get covered in paint.

Location: Al Hamra Dist., Almisk St., DNA Compound
Instagram: thecolorfly

House of Traditional Arts

BAt the House of Traditional Arts, you won’t only be learning a new artistic skill; you’ll be preserving methods of traditional Islamic arts.

A variety of classes are offered – including geometry, decorative painting, ceramics and more. There are evening workshops for all ages. If you’re really committed, you can apply for the school’s one-year program.

Location: Between Me’mar Mosque and Jamjoom House in Al Balad
Instagram: hta_albalad

Saudi Art Council (SAC)

The non-profit’s lectures and initiatives educate people on art and culture. SAC’s big event 21,39 is happening in February, so be sure to take it in.

Instagram: thesaudiartcouncil

Humming Tree

MaryamThe co-working space founded by Mariam Hamidaddin focuses on creativity and wellbeing. Classes in drawing, pottery, dance and everything in between are offered. If you’re trying to find what kind of artistic expression fits you best, enroll in one of the upcoming classes!

Location: Al Hamra Dist., Al Misk St., DNA Compound
Instagram: hummingtreecommunity

Tasami Creative Lab

Tasami Creative Lab provides the tools for all artists to become professional by conducting a variety of workshops and classes in calligraphy, photography, painting and other art forms.

Location: Tahliah St., Serafi Megamall, First Floor
Mob: +966-555244897
Instagram: tasamilab


spread2We all know that the tools don’t make the artist. But tools certainly are important when you want to get your creations out of your mind and onto paper.

Where to buy art supplies:

  1. Neighborhood Stationery Store

When starting out, you won’t need to invest in high quality tools. Check out small stationery stores around your home for simple supplies.

  1. Jarir Bookstore

With a few locations around town, you’ll likely find what you need here.

Locations: Jarir Mall on Prince Sultan St. / Sari St.
Instagram: jarirbookstore

  1. Art Shop

Find tools – and inspiration – at this colorful art supply store.

Location: Palestine St., after Marriott Hotel
Facebook: ArtShopadwatFnyt

  1. Merza Library

Stroll through the aisles to find things like canvas, and a wide variety of drawing pencils.

Location: Palestine St.
Tel: +966-12-6701958

  1. Virgin Megastore

Find funky stationery and things to help you organize your art supplies.

Location: Tahlia St. / Al Andalus / Roshana Mall

Pro tip:

Dry your watercolors quickly with a hairdryer.

Dip your brush in tea to stain your paper with a vintage-like look.


From the roundabouts to the Red Sea, Jeddah is full of inspiration. Some artists reveal what scenes motivate them most in the city.

Sara Al Abdali
Inspiration: Al Balad

SARA-ABBDULLAH-777“My inspiration is history and in Jeddah, it’s Al Balad. With the beauty and the details, there’s something in Al Balad that we cannot see in the modern city of Jeddah. I try to understand why it has this character and what we’ve lost. I actually have an old window frame in my studio from my grandfather’s old house in Al Balad.”

Hind Bataweel
Inspiration: The Sun

HIND“Seeing the sunrise and watching it change throughout the day in Jeddah is my inspiration. I’m so attached to the sun that most of my paintings have a sun in them. I love the warmth, the light, the and yellow color.”

Musaed Alhulis
Inspiration: The Red Sea

Musaed-Alhulis-Special-Feat“Looking out at the Red Sea provides me with so much inspiration. I can spend hours sitting on a bench looking out at the water.”

Sara Abdu
: People

“My work is dialogical in nature, and stems from personal experiences. What helps me in the process of creating very true, emotional, and relatable pieces is other people’s stories, memories and dreams.”


After you’ve perfected your skills and found your inspiration, you may start to build a collection of your work that you want to share – and maybe even sell!

Applying for a gallery show or exhibition can be intimidating, but Musaed Al Hulis, founder of Tasami Creative Lab Gallery says it’s not as difficult as you may think. He offers tips to beginner artists looking to get the attention of a gallery:11

  1. Try a group exhibition.

Before looking for a solo show, contact galleries about upcoming group exhibitions. It’s a good way to get your start and get some attention.16

  1. Be confident.

Remember, galleries aren’t only here to help artists, artists help galleries too. Present your work confidently, don’t be shy and be an advocate for yourself and your artwork.Charles-Khoury_Acrylic-on-jute_H102XW80-CM

  1. Be yourself.

Artists are usually unique in nature, so stay true to yourself and find your own way to work in the art industry.Saddek-Wasil_Mettalic-sculpture

  1. Don’t be discouraged.

If – and when – you get rejections, don’t quit. Getting rejected doesn’t amount to failure; it just means you need to work harder.tasami

Don’t Focus Only On Galleries

Artist Sahar Shaab believes you can identify as an artist without having to display your work at galleries. She urges beginner artists not to focus too much on holding an exhibition.

SAHAARShaab dabbles in a variety of industries and encourages people to do the same to keep themselves challenged, well rounded and constantly learning.

After all, even if your artwork doesn’t leave your house, you should be proud of it.

We all find joy in creativity; the hardest part is finding the time to create. In Jeddah, you don’t have to look far for inspiration, so get out there and start creating!


  • Hafez Gallery

Location: Al Zahra Dist., King Abdulaziz Rd.
Tel: +966-12-6134111
Instagram: hafezgallery

  • Athr Gallery

Location: Tahlia St., Serafi Mega Mall, 5th Floor
Tel: +966-12-2845009
Instagram: athrart

  • Arabian Wings Gallery

Location: Tahlia St., Khayyat Center, L’Etoile Entrance, 3rd Floor
Instagram: arabianwings

  • Darat Safeya Binzagr Gallery

Location: King Abdullah Branch Rd., corner of Madinah Rd.
Tel: +966-12-6510708

  • Al Alamia Gallery

Location: Maternity Hospital St., Al Hamra Dist.
Instagram: alamiagallery

  • Tasami Creative Lab

Location: Tahlia St., Serafi Megamall, 1st Floor  
Instagram: tasamilab