All posts by Taghred Chandab

In May 2008, Taghred Chandab packed her bags and her young family to go on an adventure of a lifetime. She landed in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, 32-weeks pregnant with her third child, on a humid summer’s day, the desert temperature hovering above 40-degrees. The award-winning author and journalist placed a two-year deadline on the Middle Eastern journey, five years later she is still there, living on one of the world’s most luxurious man-made islands, Palm Jumeriah, in Dubai. Born and raised in Sydney, Taghred Chandab spent over 12 years working as a journalist for both News Ltd and Fairfax Media publications, was a producer at 2UE and dabbled in a little public relations, managing the media affairs of a football club and its squad of 32-egos. In 2005, she co-wrote her first book, The Glory Garage: Growing Up Lebanese Muslim in Australia, a collection of stories about Muslims living in Australia. The book was short listed for several awards, including the 2006 NSW Premier’s Award, and received the 2006 Children’s Book Council of Australia Honour Award. Seven years have passed, and while it seems like a life-time in the publishing world, for Taghred the absence from the spotlight has given her the chance to raise her three girls, Janah (8), Serene (6.5) and Alisar (5), and reacquaint herself with her Middle Eastern roots and faith. Taghred also took a break from reporting on Islamic affairs, opting to pursue her sports and entertainment dream in the Middle East. She teamed up with Tracey Holmes to co-host Sports Talk on Dubai Eye, an affiliate of the Arabian Radio Network, as well as covering some of the biggest sporting events in the region from the 2009 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup to the 2010 FIFA Club World Cup. She released her second book title & her debut children's book, The Perfect Flower Girl in June 2012. She now heads the PR & Communications team working on Disney Live! & Disney On Ice events in the Middle East.

TAKING ON TEEN ACNE

A SKIN CARE CAMPAIGN WITH DE LA MER SPA AND NIMUE Y: SKIN

Earlier this year my daughter woke up with a large pimple on her chin. It was the kind that would make any pre-teen or teen self-conscious. Before she showed me, she placed a Band-Aid over it.

“What happened?” I asked. Embarrassed and anxious, she peeled it off. I immediately understood why she’d gone to great lengths to conceal it.


“You can’t go to school with a Band-Aid on your chin?” I continued. “Yes, I can,” she swiftly replied. “And I will until it’s gone.”

I had naively dabbed some lotion, my dermatologist prescribed to me for acne problems, on the problem area. After a few days I noticed my daughter’s skin drying. I had committed the biggest SIN in skincare: don’t use adult products on young skin.

I then turned to my Instagram followers for advice. Toothpaste was the most common remedy many people offered. I’d heard it a lot growing up, but it too is not recommended. Our next stop was the pharmacy. Maybe it was time Janah developed a skincare routine, I thought. I bought a few over the counter products, relying on the sales person to give her a skin analysis; again, another mistake.

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My daughter and I were then contacted by De La Mer Spa, in Dubai, offering her an opportunity to get a skin analysis and for her to learn more about looking after her skin. Before that I’d never thought about seeking professional advice. After all, she was just 11 at the time.

Janah had clogged pours, blackheads and pigmentation issues. Once she met with therapist, Samantha Gayle, we both began to learn how to care for young skin. She had her first facial and extractions before she was given the Nimue Teen Skincare range to use on her skin over the summer.

She noticed an immediate change in her skin. Brighter, balance and the clogged pores were no longer a problem. It’s a testament to Janah’s commitment that we saw the results so quickly.

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It has been 4 months since she started using the products and what a difference it has made not only to her skin but also her confidence. She is now showing her younger sister how to cleanse her skin to prevent major breakout.

Together with Del a Mer Spa we’ve launched a Teen Skin Care Campaign across the United Arab Emirates help your child better understand their skin and what to do before they develop acne.

The market is saturated with product that can harm your skin rather than help it. Information online isn’t always as helpful, and it can be confusing, too.

It’s important to always seek professional advice before using any product. Throughout this experience, Janah and I have learned that developing a good skincare routine early will help her manage any acne problems in the future.

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WHAT’S ON

TOP PICKS

October 31st – November 4th

HUAWEI BEACH SOCCER INTERCONTINENTAL CUP

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In Action: FIFA Beach Soccer World Champions Brazil

It’s that time of year when the world’s best beach soccer players converge on Dubai to take part in the annual beach soccer tournament, Huawei Beach Soccer Intercontinental Cup. This year you’ll see world champions Brazil trying to maintain the phenomenal unbeaten run of 43 matches over the last two years, while hoping to retain the Intercontinental Cup.

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The samba boys are hot favourite this year to take out the trophy but on their tale, are the Portuguese, Russia and Iran. Also playing are the home team, UAE, while Egypt make a return to the tournament alongside Mexico and Paraguay. This event is FREE and a great way to spend the afternoon with the family. Catch all the action down on the sand at Marasi Business Bay. Make sure you get down there early to get a good parking spot otherwise catch the metro to Business Bay and hop on the free shuttle service.

 

Friday, November 3

SUPERHEROES WALKATHON

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Superhero excitement at Skydive Dubai

The Dubai Fitness Challenge carnival continues with a cool superheroes walkathon down at Skydive Dubai. The only prerequisite is that you must be in a costume to participate in the 3km walk. The route will take you through the scenic Dubai Marina Promenade.

Registration starts at 3pm while the walk starts at 4pm. Water and refreshments will be served along the way. Stick around for all the exciting activities planned after the walk as well as surprise celebrity guest appearances. Entry is FREE.

 

Friday November 10th & Saturday 11th

THE GRUFFALO

The Gruffalo Show

TALL STORIES’ THE GRUFFALO roars back to the UAE direct from London’s West End, bringing everyone’s favourite furry monster to life on stage. THE GRUFFALO is the must-see family show for lovers of the timeless story and everyone looking for a smashing day out!

TALL STORIES’ hit musical adaptation of the much-loved picture book by JULIA DONALDSON and AXEL SCHEFFLER will perform at MADINAT THEATRE, DUBAI on Friday the 10th and Saturday 11th of November 2017, presented by CENTRE STAGE ARTS, as the most fearsome creature that never was – but is, takes to the stage in this enchanting production with the perfect combination of songs, laughter, physical theatre and just the right amount of scary fun! Set to a wonderfully catchy score with original music and lyrics, THE GRUFFALO continues to entertain audiences the world over.

Tickets start from AED135 and are available from Virgin Megastores and Madinat Theatre.

Friday, November 17TH

GEORGE’S MARVELLOUS MEDICINE

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As part of the UK/UAE 2017 Year of Creative Collaboration led by the British Council, Art For All is delighted to announce that they will be bringing Roald Dahl smash hit stage show George’s Marvellous Medicine to the UAE in November 2017. Performed by the Birmingham Stage Company and adapted for the stage by award-winning children’s theatre director, David Wood, this acclaimed production has already proved a sell-out in the four previous times it has been performed in the UAE.

The hero of the story is George; a little boy who lives on a farm with his mum and dad, and horrible grumpy grandma – who is rather strange and tells him she’s a witch.

One day, while left in charge of grandma, George decides he’s had enough of her bullying ways, and he’s going to teach her a lesson. Instead of giving her a dose of her normal medicine, he sets about making one of his own – with extraordinary results… An absolutely brilliant tale that stays true to Dahl’s wonderfully imaginative story, audiences are in for a huge treat.

Tickets are available from AED150 and are available at Ductac and Virgin Tickets.

 

Dubai: November 24 & 25

GOLDILOCKS & THE THREE BEARS

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As part of the UK/UAE 2017 Year of Creative Collaboration led by the British Council, Art For All is delighted to announce that in November they will be bringing much-loved children’s ballet, Goldilocks & The Three Bears, to the UAE. Performed by the Northern Ballet, this beautiful production is a wonderful way to introduce little ones to the magic of live ballet, music and theatre.

At the centre of the story is Goldilocks – a mischievous little girl with hair as bright as gold. On the look out for an adventure she sneaks out of her house one day and finds her way into the woods. A chance encounter with Blue Bird and Fox leads her into a game of hide and seek, which in turn finds her stumbling across the Bear’s woodland cottage. Nobody is home, but she finds three bowls of delicious porridge in the kitchen. Perhaps just a little taste… But what will Papa Bear, Mama Bear and Little Bear say when they return home? You’ll have to wait and see…

Tickets available from Virgin Tickets. This show runs for 40 minutes and is suitable for children 2+

Dubai – When: November 24 and 25 Location: Madinat Theatre

Tickets from AED125

Abu Dhabi – When: November 27  Location: National Theatre

Tickets from AED110

 

 

COMPETITION: Goldilocks & The Three Bears

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Jenny Hackwell as Goldilocks

In collaboration with Art for Life UAE, I am giving you the chance to WIN 4 tickets to see the Northern Ballet bring one of my all-time favourite children’s stories, Goldilocks and the Three Bears to life at the Madinat Jumeriah Theatre. These tickets are for Saturday, November 25 at 2pm.

What do you need to do?

On Instagram follow @artforlifeuae, @arabianmum, hit the follow button on this blog, and tag three friends.

Terms & Conditions

  1. The tickets are for Saturday, November 25 at 2pm and cannot be exchanged
  2. Competition closes on Sunday, October 15 at 6pm and the winner will be announced on Monday, October 16.
  3. To be eligible you must follow all the steps
  4. Only one entry per applicant
  5. UAE Residents Only

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All you need to know about Goldilocks & The Three Bears

Dubai

When: November 24 and 25

Location: Madinat Theatre

 Abu Dhabi

When: November 27

Location: National Theatre

 As part of the UK/UAE 2017 Year of Creative Collaboration led by the British Council, Art For All is delighted to announce that in November they will be bringing much-loved children’s ballet, Goldilocks & The Three Bears, to the UAE. Performed by the Northern Ballet, this beautiful production is a wonderful way to introduce little ones to the magic of live ballet, music and theatre.

At the centre of the story is Goldilocks – a mischievous little girl with hair as bright as gold. On the look out for an adventure she sneaks out of her house one day and finds her way into the woods. A chance encounter with Blue Bird and Fox leads her into a game of hide and seek, which in turn finds her stumbling across the Bear’s woodland cottage. Nobody is home, but she finds three bowls of delicious porridge in the kitchen. Perhaps just a little taste… But what will Papa Bear, Mama Bear and Little Bear say when they return home? You’ll have to wait and see…

Join us for this captivating children’s ballet, performed with little people in mind.

Suitable for ages 2+

Running time: 40 minutes (approx.)

 Details : Public rate in Dubai: Dhs125 to Dhs175 – Public rate in Abu Dhabi: Dhs110-Dhs185

Tickets are available from Madinat Theatre Box Office, Virgin Tickets

 

 

 

 

 

LETTING GO : Getting ready for nursery

 

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Art Village Nursery Open Day

This would be the hardest decision I would have to make.

My baby girl wrapped her arms around my neck as we walked in to our first nursery open day. I thought it was going to be as easy as it had been for my other children, but Amalia just held on. The teachers at Art Village Nursery invited Amalia to take a seat next to them and paint, but she wasn’t interested. I knew she would take time to warm up. Even my older daughters, aged 12, 11 and nine, now all sitting around the table and painting masks, were unsuccessful in encouraging Amalia to take part in all the wonderful activities on offer.

And then it dawned on me: how was I going to let go? I had quite forgotten about the challenges I now faced in sending a child off to nursery for the first time.

Deciding whether to keep Amalia home for another year or send her to a nursery was playing on my mind. Following our recent visit home to Australia, I realised how much she enjoyed spending time with children her own age. Although she plays regularly with her sisters, it’s not the same. Watching her learn to share toys was fascinating. In the beginning she screamed and struggled with her cousins, but as the days and weeks passed Amalia learned to share.

Now, more than ever, nursery is becoming more of a necessity for her development.

It has been seven years since I had a child in nursery and I feel as if I am back at square one, searching and investigating all the possibilities before I make a final decision.

In 2008, when I moved to the United Arab Emirates, 32 weeks pregnant with my third child, Abu Dhabi was a developing city, and unlike Dubai, nurseries were scarce and fees were high. Every door I knocked on was quickly closed. “Sorry, we’re full,” was the common response. These nurseries were plush; nothing was comparable to what was on offer back home in Sydney, Australia.

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Janah & Serene ready for nursery in Abu Dhabi

Eventually I did find something: a Montessori nursery close to where we settled. Then came the shock. Janah, now 12, had to sit for an interview with the nursery director, who was very selective of whom she would take in. As a mother, I felt intimidated and nervous. What if my child wasn’t good enough?

Thankfully, Janah met all the requirements; however, I was surprised that a nursery could be so selective of such young children. The director said she didn’t want any “disruptive” children, and in a split second my eyes shot across to my second child, Serene, who was becoming rowdy and restless as her baby sister slept behind her in the pram.

So much has changed. Although the selection of nurseries is now wider and the choices better, letting go of Amalia is the real challenge. While she was very apprehensive in the beginning, she began to settle down and enjoy what was on offer at Art Village Nursery. It’s important that the children also visit the nursery during open day, to see how they interact with teachers.

The nursery boasts 11 rooms including a library, atelier (Art & Design room), dining room and Dance & Movement room. In the outdoor area there are the all-important sand area, slide area, and gardening area. For safety reasons the nursery does not have a swimming pool but it does offer lots of water activities.

Once I knew Amalia was settled, it was my cue to catch up with Nina Farokhfal, the managing director, to learn more about this award-winning nursery.

She reassured me that all parents have the option of staying with their child on their first day, until he or she had settled in. I don’t recall this being an option at any other nursery I had visited over the years. If possible, it’s certainly an option every parent should take up, as there is nothing more frightening for a child than to be dropped off at a strange place with no familiar faces around.

Ms Farokhfal recalled being traumatised as a child when her parents dropped her off at a nursery in Germany, shortly after immigrating from Iran and unable to speak the language.

Located in Jumeriah 2, the Art Village Nursery is a branch of the award-winning Amadeus Preschool in Stockholm, Sweden. It is a Reggio Emilia inspired nursery, which values the child as strong, capable and resilient; rich with wonder and knowledge.

“When a parent is searching for a nursery they should look for one that meets their needs,” Ms Farokhfal said.

At Art Village Nursery, she added, children take part in the four areas of learning: Song & Music, Dance & Movement, Theatre & Drama, and Art & Design. They explore each area throughout their day, making learning fun and engaging while at the same time developing their educational, emotional, social and creative capabilities.

Throughout my chat with Ms Farokhfal, Amalia was nowhere to be seen. There were no more tears, just laughter as I walked in on her and her older sister playing in the toddlers’ room. The experience was a little more difficult on me than on her, as it simply confirmed that my baby girl was ready for nursery. It was also a reminder that it takes a child time to settle in to a new environment.

Art Village Nursery will certainly be on my shortlist when we decide next year where to send Amalia to nursery.

 

Art Village Nursery accepts children from 1 to 4 years. The nursery is also affiliated with Hartland International School and Clarion School. Registration for the 2017 – 2018 academic school year are open. For more details please call +971 4 288 6502 or email info@artvillagenursery.com. You can also visit www.artvillagenursery.com

[Disclaimer: This story is sponsored by Art Village Nursery]

 

 

 

 

FACING YOUR FEARS

Encouraging Adults to Learn to Swim

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Adult learn to swim students

In March, I faced one of my greatest fears head on. I embarked on a challenge to learn to swim. I’ve spoken about it previously on my blog but what I haven’t done is share the reasons why I never learned to swim as a child and why now, at 40, I have tackled it, along the way inspiring other adults to step out of their comfort zone and overcome their fear of swimming pools.

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Absolute Swimming Academy UAE with young men who can’t swim

I grew up with my very conservative Muslim father, so when he told me as a child that I would no longer be allowed to wear a swimsuit, I found ways to avoid school swimming lessons. I was eight and embarrassed at having to jump in the water with my classmates in shorts and a T-shirt; during the 80s we didn’t have the luxury of rash tops or knee-length swimsuits like the one I wear today.

The decision I made to sit out swimming lessons led to an incident that caused me to fear swimming pools for most of my life. I recall being at a school swim gala when the teachers gathered the non-swimmers together for water games. After jumping in the water and watching my friends swim comfortably across the pool, I found myself sinking and gasping for air. I was extremely fortunate that a man saw me and dived in to save me. Until recently, whenever I couldn’t touch the bottom of the pool, my heart would race and I found myself scrambling back to the shallow end.

For 25 years, I have made excuses to avoid getting in the water and learning to swim. As the mother of four girls, I made sure that my eldest three learned to swim from a young age and that they have confidence in the pool and ocean. Empowering them with these skills has made me feel confident about them being around swimming pools; I didn’t want to pass my fears on to them. My youngest is 18 months and she is now getting in the pool and learning to swim.

As part of my 40 before 40 challenge, where I set out to do 40 things before I turned 40, I had swimming at the top of my list. After five lessons, I began swimming 25 metres without fearing the deep end. I had learned the necessary skills to keep myself afloat while breathing and kicking. It was one of the most liberating feelings.

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Speaking to the Gulf News in Dubai  about my learn to swim journey

After sharing my story on Instagram (@arabianmum), I was inundated with messages from adults who had not learned to swim. They had been embarrassed for so long, but after following my journey they were encouraged to face their fears. A popular radio show in Dubai, Virgin Radio’s the Kris Fade Show, aired my story, sparking a flood of calls and messages to the programme.

Myself and the presenters of the Kris Fade Show teamed up with Absolute Swimming UAE, where I have been learning to swim, to offer a group of adult non-swimmers an opportunity to learn to swim. The impact was immediate. Local UAE media supported the campaign as did UAE-based Serbian Olympian and two-time European swimming champion Velimir Stjepanovic.

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Velimir Stjepanovic joins the campaign

Swimming is a necessity. So often we assume and take for granted that everyone around us knows how to swim. Learning to swim, whether you’re an adult or a child, can save lives.

If you’re afraid of the water and have put off learning to swim for a while, make today the day you start. Parents, please invest in swimming lessons for your children. It may be the difference between life and death.

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Kris Fade and Priti Malik from Virgin  Radio supporting learn to swim  listeners

You can continue to follow my swimming story on Instagram (@arabianmum).

Thank you to the team at Absolute Swimming UAE, Kris Fade and the team at the Kris Fade Show for getting behind this important campaign to learn to swim.

GIRL POWER

WHO RUNS THE WORLD?

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Revamped Ms Marvel, aka Kamala Khan

As women around the world celebrate International Women’s Day, MyArabia caught up with Sana Amanat, Marvel’s Director of Content and Character Development.

Amanat was in Dubai this week as a guest at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, the Middle East’s largest literature festival.

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Amanat with former U.S President Barack Obama, who referred to her as a real life superhero

The 34-year-old, from New Jersey, became a household name after co-creating Marvel’s first Muslim character, Kamala Khan, all so known as Ms Marvel.

Watch the full interview here…

Embarking on New Challenges

Learning to Ski

As I prepare to say goodbye to my thirties, I have decided to embark on a 40 before 40 challenge to bid farewell to one of the best decades of my life.

I am 40 in April.

This challenge is not about being a daredevil, instead I want it to help me make better lifestyle choices and be a little more adventurous in my forties.

On my 40 before 40 list is learning to ski. Thankfully I didn’t need to travel to Switzerland or France for this challenge. In Dubai we have the world’s largest indoor snow park, Ski Dubai, where I began my five-week ski camp earlier this week.

While I won’t be sharing my entire list, I will give you a few snap shots of some of the challenges I am facing.

Next….learn to swim.