Hala China Launch: Wind from the Sea, the Belt & Road Dance Special at Dubai Opera

Expat Life, Wanderings

When you’re given an opportunity to witness an important and culturally entertaining event at THE Dubai Opera, you do not hesitate. You say yes, and take it with gratitude.

Last Sunday, my husband, I and some friends were at the launch of Hala China, a government initiative led by Meraas and Dubai Holding that aims to boost the number of Chinese tourists in the emirate and improve trade relations between Dubai and China.

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The guests were welcomed by H.H. Sheikh Majid Al Mualla, Chairman of the Board of Directors for Hala China and H.E. Li Lingbing, Consul General of the Consulate of People’s Republic of China in Dubai and together with the strategic partners, Hala China was officially launched.

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The opening ceremony was followed by a children’s performance of the Thousand Character Classic then the highlight of the night, the Wind from the Sea produced by the Zhejiang Song and Dance Theatre Company.

The Belt and Road Dance special was composed of 12 dances relating the journey through the Silk Road giving emphasis on Silk, Ceramic and Tea products.

The music was engaging and the dances graceful yet filled with power. It was an enjoyable show and a great production overall but what this night truly brought was wider opportunities in business, travel and tourism sectors among others.

Hala China is expected to hold more events throughout the year to further promote the goals of the initiative.


The beautiful photos are courtesy of Shalan Photography.

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Ramadan 2018 Reminders

Expat Life

Whether you’re fresh off the boat or have been living here in the UAE (or any Muslim country) for a long time, it always helps to be reminded of the several dos and don’ts during the holy month of Ramadan.

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The Don’ts:

  • Do not eat or drink in public during the hours of fasting. Smoking is also prohibited. You are excused however if you’re pregnant, an elderly or suffering from an illness as fasting might pose health problems.
  • Do not wear revealing or tight clothes. This is already observed throughout the year but is strictly imposed during Ramadan.
  • Do not be loud. No shouting, swearing, singing, playing of loud music and definitely no dancing in public.
  • Public display of affection is considered as offensive so avoid kissing, hugging or cuddling your husband, wife, partner or friend/s especially of the opposite sex.
  • If you are working in a front office or reception, refrain from offering guests with refreshments even if you’re not sure if they’re fasting or not.

The Dos:

  • Embrace the spirit of peace and contemplation. This is the best time to reflect on and be thankful of the countless blessings and opportunities that this country has given you.
  • Be extra understanding towards those who fast. They do it from sunrise to sundown so imagine how challenging that might be. Others might be a bit irritable but just be more patient and considerate.
  • Experience the culture – for one, partake in the many Iftar offers. Take your family or friends with you and feel the lively energy of the community after they have broken their fast for the day. I tell you, the city becomes so vibrant at night during this season.
  • Greet the people you encounter Ramadan Mubarak (have a blessed Ramadan) or Ramadan Kareem (have a generous Ramadan).

Remember that Ramadan is a sacred month for the Muslim community so it is important to respect these rules even if you’re non-Muslim.

May you all have a happy and blessed Ramadan!

Why You Should Check Out Alserkal Avenue

Expat Life, Wanderings

I came across this hip and artsy location while I was on my daily morning routine, scanning my emails which are generally boring. I mostly receive spam aside from the occasional interesting ones from several sites I have subscribed to. So when I saw a feature about this ‘culture and arts hub’ I did not hesitate to badger Mat that we should go and check it out. 😛

Disclaimer: We are in no way an artist or something of that sort. I’d describe us as ‘lurkers’. Hehe! But we have always been interested in these kind of things. 

So, after all of our Friday chores, off we went to Alserkal Avenue. The place is a collection of warehouses converted into creative spaces located in Al Quoz.

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Enclosed by concrete walls, the facade seemed uninviting. But as they say, do not judge a book by its cover. What is inside will often surprise you, and surprised we were!

Exploring Old Dubai: Abra Ride, Gold & Spice Souks and Museum Visit

Expat Life, Wanderings

Dubai as a metropolitan city that it is, is famous for skyscrapers, luxurious hotels, lavish resorts, massive malls and other ‘superb’ attractions. But what lies in the city’s heart is its true charm – the Old Dubai.

We started off at Al Shindagha area as it was the nearest from where we live. We got off at Al Ghubaiba bus station and walked several meters to reach the Bur Dubai Abra Station. Our sole plan on that day was just to experience riding the abra but since there were cultural spots in proximity, we decided to explore some.

House of Sheikh Khalifa Bin Saeed Al Maktoum

On our way to the abra station, we passed by Sheikh Khalifa Bin Saeed Al Maktoum’s house turned museum also known as Juthoor Art Center. Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum is the grandfather of Dubai’s current ruler and this was his official residence during his reign as monarch until 1958. It houses artworks and several vintage items depicting Emirati lifestyle.

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The view upon entering the premises.

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Artworks and historical items on display.

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Nose-rubbing is the Emiratis’ custom way of greeting one another.  This is also practiced in other cultures (i.e. Maori people of New Zealand).

Flying Cathay Pacific at 34 Weeks Pregnant

Expat Life, Random Musings

I can imagine how anxious and worried my husband and our families were while I was flying home. I was travelling alone after all at 34 weeks pregnant on a long-haul flight. I was pretty scared too but thankfully, I was in good hands (or should I say airlines).

I’m certainly not the first one to do this and I would like to give props to the amazing mommies who hurdled the long hours of flight, lay-overs and security checks without the comfort of their partners and only had themselves and the kind people they encountered along the way.

I booked an economy class airfare from Cathay Pacific for my Dubai-Manila-Dubai journey last year. As it is Hong Kong’s flag carrier, there was a short layover at Hong Kong International Airport.

I was already content because the airline has one of the most generous legrooms at 32 inches for long-haul economy flights.

But, sometimes, pleasant surprises come along.

Throwback Series: Dubai Museum

Expat Life, Wanderings

Learning the history of your adoptive city, I say, is a must. Do not be a stranger, acquaint yourself with your new home albeit temporary. If you happen to be here in the desert city, one good place to start at is the Dubai Museum at Al Fahidi Port.

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Throwback Series: The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

Expat Life, Wanderings

If you’re living in the UAE and haven’t yet visited the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, you are greatly missing out on a rich cultural experience. The Grand Mosque is a symbol of the diverse Islamic community not only of this country but of the whole world. The architectural design is impeccable. The grandeur and solemnity elates you yet also calms your senses. Seeing it in pictures and being there in person are two different worlds.

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Located in the capital city of Abu Dhabi, the Grand Mosque is one of the largest in the world and can hold about 40,000 worshipers at one time. The ceiling is adorned with gold-plated chandeliers made of Swarovski crystals while the floor with hand-knotted carpet. It is a magnificent sight to behold.

Of Pomegranates and Monasteries: A Trip to Armenia

Expat Life, Wanderings

*This has been sitting in my drafts for over a year. Never had the time to transfer and process the photos. Excuses, I know. ;-p

My best friend and life partner recently came back from a trip to Armenia where pomegranates are abundant, wine is cheap and ancient monasteries are a common sight.

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Sevanakvank Monastery at Lake Sevan.

This country in the Caucasus region is famous for the magnificent views of Mt. Ararat which is actually located in the eastern part of Turkey that borders with Iran, Armenia and Azerbaijan. It is believed to be the mountains where Noah’s Ark rested after the great flood.

La Mer on New Year’s Day

Expat Life, Wanderings

Happy New Year everyone!

Quite late but we’re still on the first month of 2018 so it still counts! 

Dubai has always captivated us in terms of architecture, open spaces and its beaches. We hail from a quiet and laid-back province in the Philippines so coming here and seeing all these mega structures just leave us gawking. It’s not that we don’t have high-rise buildings back home but here in Dubai, it’s just different – in a fascinating way.

So on the first day of the new year, we went for a walk along the newest beachfront development in Jumeirah 1 – La Mer

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It’s like a city on the beach. The vibe was very relaxing with all the contemporary, rustic and minimalist elements all coming together.

The Journey of Two

Expat Life, Family, Random Musings

As promised, here are some of our photos.

We didn’t have an official photographer or had a professional shoot before or after the ceremony. We just took turns taking photos of ourselves and those photos where we’re both in were taken by our good friend who was with us on our wedding day.

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