Jeddah Blog

Discover the best of Jeddah!

Ask Bee: Young and Single in Jeddah


We have a great bunch of readers at Jeddah Blog who we simply love hearing from. They send us suggestions, queries, information, and even ask us for advice. They are our sounding board, and they provide constant feedback on all the material we work so hard to bring to you.

In days gone by, Jeddah’s favourite Agony Aunt, Bee has imparted her pearls of wisdom to readers about picking up essential Arabic phrases, what to avoid while shopping for makeup, how to get round the problem of a lack of fitting rooms for women, getting out and about without being able to drive, her top makeup tips and even getting a job in Saudi Arabia.

In her latest column, Bee dishes out her straightforward and practical advice to a young, twenty-something who is conflicted about making the move from the UK to the Middle East. Will Bee have all the answers this time?

About Bee

Ask Bee: Finding a job in JeddahBee is a 30 something mother, wife, corporate consultant and a bona fide prodigy in the art of shelling out unnecessary, unsolicited and often useless advice. The kind people at her office actually pay her for doing this on an hourly daily basis and she returns the kindness by making them lose sleep over random pointless issues. She currently lives in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia with her very sane husband (he takes after his mother) and her two not very sane children (they too take after their mother). Her own personal hell would be to have nothing to do with no-one paying her for pretending to have nothing to do.

Sorry to bother you, not too worried about this making the website, but was looking for a bit of advice! I’m a single 25 year old British girl & lived in Dubai for 18 years (my family are still there).

I’m currently living back in the UK and looking for a change. I’ve had a career opportunity open up in Jeddah and am in two minds whether to take it or not…! I’m very independent, I enjoy driving and, like many young women, enjoy a glass of wine to celebrate a special occasion! However I equally enjoy the beach, weather, culture and laid back lifestyle the Middle Eastern countries have to offer. So my question is mainly about demographics I suppose… How many young, free, expat females are there around, and what are their views on the lifestyle? And/or would I be able to be put in touch with a few to pick their brains?!

Hey thanks for being in touch and for giving me a glimpse of life that I once had, wished I had, know will never have. you seem to be doing quite well for yourself and since you didn’t tell us what exactly is your profession, I am going to go ahead and assume that it is something fun. Let’s take your query and break it into its constituent parts (sounds very professional, no?)

Young, Free, Expat Females in Saudi

Contrary to what the matchmakers sites may tell you, there aren’t many single (and desirable ) female expats out here. It could be because the visa restrictions are just tighter if you are a single female, but also because girls of a certain age do not want to move to a country that doesn’t offer many gender mingling opportunities. The only  exception to the rule would be female nurses, teachers and some doctors. However, when you are a single female working in Jeddah, you will most likely be giving accommodation facilities by your employer because it is very rare (and unsafe) for females to live alone in apartments, and compounds would rarely rent to you if your are single. So the answer to this is; there aren’t as many as you would find in Dubai for example, but if you are working in a female-centric profession or organization, you will definitely find company. Also don’t rule out the possibility of mingling with young Saudi females, they’re quite progressive and fun to be around.

Da Glass O’ Wine

Not happening; this is Saudi Arabia, my friend.

The Beach and the Laid Back Lifestyle

This is TOTALLY Saudi. There are many options (mostly very expensive) where you get access to private beaches that are almost as good as the ones you find in Dubai. Shopping is the main activity and yes the lifestyle is a little laid back but also family-centric. Do keep in mind that all day shopping sprees as in Dubai are a rarity here since all shops close for prayers and spending 45 minutes loitering around 4 times during the day isn’t optimal for mental (or physical) health.

How to get in touch with Single Female Expats

I suggest expatriates.com and the Jeddah Blog Facebook Group as ideal places to look for your target demographics. Since I am an old hag myself, all expats I know are married so can’t really help you there.

To Sum Up:

Saudi is a good place to live if you are looking to make some good money all the while enjoying a laidback/ lavish lifestyle. Not exactly the kind of place where you would expect to hang out with single/ opposite gender friends or go hang out at the beach. There are, as always, exceptions to the rule, and a lot depends on the organization you are working with. My office has lots of single males and females (all Saudis) and it’s a mixed office so we get to hang around in office and outside. It is generally very conservative and there is the constant threat of the Hayya (Saudi religious police) if you are seen in an appropriate (by their standards) situation. The safest bet in such cases is to live in a compound if you can find one.

I hope that answers some of your questions. If you do decide to move to Jeddah, get in touch with us and we can take you under our wing. Can’t promise the wine, but can guarantee good company.

Opening: Ali Ferzat & Emy Kat Solo Exhibitions


Two upcoming exhibitions this April by Ali Ferzat and Emy Kat at the Athr Art Gallery, Jeddah.

ECHOES
Ali Ferzat Solo Exhibition
Opening: Sunday, 13th of April, 2014 at 7.30 pm
Exhibition Dates: 13 – 30 April, 2014
5th Floor, Space 01, Athr Gallery
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Let’s speak all languages ​​without a language…
“The Mischievous Caricaturist”, with this description begins his journey from the city of Hama; an artist who revealed the beauty of everything around him. He comes up with an idea which in return ignites your imagination and makes you wonder if you can realize it?

After a while, you begin to see the dream and fantasy turning into a reality…
Since his early memory in Hama and throughout the time of publishing the independent periodical, Al-Domari “The Lamplighter”, his story has been a constant struggle that doesn’t know defeat nor does he surrender to hesitation and frustration. Even when they broke his hands to make him stop him from drawing they failed and achieved the contrary. That horrible incident didn’t hinder him, instead it fuelled him and enabled him to add more shine and glamour to his creativity and consequently kept him influential as usual.

THE EVERLASTING NOW
Emy Kat Solo Exhibition
Opening: Sunday, 13th of April, 2014 at 7.30 pm
Exhibition Dates: 13 – 30 April, 2014
RF floor, Space 02, Athr Gallery
Jeddah, Saudia Arabia
Mohamed Alkhatib a.k.a EMY KAT has travelled around the world in search of new and interesting heights. Living between New York, London and Paris. Alkhatib has chosen to settle in the “city of light” Paris and opened his own private studio. Always seeking to experience various ways to initiate conversations between expression and the places he has been. In  2009 he set off to rediscover his Middle Eastern heritage in his series Souls on the Streets in Marrakech.

Immersed in his research, Alkhatib went back in 2011 to the main source of his enquiry, the city of his birth, Jeddah, where he grew up. He started to work on a new project supported by patrons who believed in his project, he lived in the heart of Jeddah’s Old Town (Al Balad) for three months. Like many other cities around the world that only unleash their secrets to those they love. The city was telling him about its struggle, sending signs to him like a messenger carrying its key, it displayed its beauty even though it looked abandoned, it displayed various colours, even though they seem faded, the colours forever retained their heritage. Places and light invited him to enter and whispered to him “come, get closer and immerse yourself in my beauty, that which I only show to those who seek it”.

This experience produced a series of photographs, Athr Gallery presents to you, in hope to find a hint of the aforementioned beauty.

Indian Food Festival in Jeddah


In the mood for something hot and spicy this weekend? The Indian Consulate will be hosting an Indian Food Festival to satisfy your taste buds.

 

Entrance is free, and for families only. Food can be purchased from various stalls set up by restaurants. Thanks to Asim Zeeshan from the SIBN (Saudi Indian Business Network) for sending us all the details.

Educational Guided Tour to Organic & Health Food Store


Join Detox Expert and Holistic Nutritional Coach Hanane Serhan and Holistic Life Coach Alicia Ali, on a fully guided tour to Jeddah’s  number 1 Organic and Health Foods Store.

Venturing into a Health food store without guidance and deep understanding, either in The Kingdom or any other country, can be an intimidating experience. The purpose of this Guided Tour is to empower you to be a conscious consumer for Super Health and Wellbeing, for You and Your Family.


“Let Food be Thy Medicine and Medicine Be Thy Food” 
-Hippocrates

You will Learn The Basics of:


Health Product Uses and Benefits
Organic Foods & Beverages
Super-foods
Super-herbs
Super-Supplements
Medicinal Mushrooms & Sea Weeds
Juicing & Sprouting
Chemical Free Self Care Products
Holistic essentials for creating a Juicy Kitchen

The Keys to Unlocking Vitality, The Thriving Factor and Inner Balance is in YOUR Kitchen!

2 hour session will include a Q & A with facts and guidance on creating a powerful change in your shopping cart and in your kitchen.

Meeting & Greetings: 9.45 am
Where: In Front of The Store/ Check Map (see Facebook Event page below)
Ticket Price: 150 SR Per Person

Tickets can be purchased online here.

Alicia Ali, Holistic Life Coach and Hanane Melkia Serhan, Holistic Nutritional Coach and Detox Expert provide a multi array of holistic services in Saudi Arabia through their respective organizations, Your True Nature and Holistic Juicy Living. Check out their Facebook event page for further details and purchase of tickets.

Don’t Shop…Adopt!


At some point in time, especially if you have children, you will have considered the idea of having a pet. It is all too easy to go to a pet store in Jeddah and pick one up, however is this really the best one can do?

In this blog post, animal lover and founder of Pets in Need Sonja Svensek tackles the dilemma of buying versus adoption and guides us to the reality of the shocking conditions of animals in these stores.

As an animal lover you are probably tempted to walk into a pet store to visit the animals whether you are tempted to buy one or not, and I am sure you will walk out of there feeling angry, helpless and upset by what you find.

It is no secret that all sorts of animals can be found and bought from pet stores. From wild raccoons, to exotic snakes, to birds and cubs, pet stores are trying to cater for all individual’s preferences. However, the reality is, regardless of the animals being sold at stores, the conditions they are kept in is way below acceptable. Not only do the majority of these animals not even belong in pet shops, the cats and dogs as well as other small pets are living in atrocious, hazardous and unhealthy conditions. Upon my own investigation of visiting some of the more popular stores here, most, if not all of the stores, had cats crammed into small cages, where they don’t have enough space to even stretch or lay down. Bowls of fresh water are not always available. Food is scarcely given- if at all- and this is usually because food and water will only encourage more ‘waste’ from the animals which means dirtier cages and more work for staff members.

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Dirty and cramped living conditions for cats in the pet store.

 

There are currently no laws or regulations which monitor pet stores so it’s up to the owners to sell whatever animal he likes and keep them in whatever conditions he wants. As long as there is a demand, the supply will be there. Animals are either bred through their own farms or brought in from neighbouring countries, even from as far off as  Bulgaria, and as young as a month old.

The primary goal for pet shops is to be a lucrative and money making business - not one with the welfare of animals in mind. One of such example is the pet store ‘Jeddahs animals and birds’. Is this what one would accept as proper living conditions for animals? Is this the type of scene we wish to educate and teach our children about the treatment of living creatures?

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Beautiful cubs neglected with no space to move around.

It is difficult to walk into a pet store and not feel obligated to ‘save’ an animal from these conditions thinking we might be doing something worthy, when really, as soon as one is bought or taken, another will replace it. We always urge people to adopt, and not shop for a pet. There are more unwanted animals than there are people who wish to have them, and for every pet that is bought from a store, it removes the chance for an already un-homed one waiting to be adopted.

Since there are no animal shelters or certified breeders here whose primary focus is the well being of animals, the best option is to adopt from people who are part of a private animal rescue organization. Many animals have been  re-homed through PIN via caring individuals and this should be encouraged amongst more people. Animals are not the property of people to own and sell to the highest bidder, hence the notion of adopting which is free and what could help every pet get a home without the incentive of ‘valuing’ it based on what it cost.

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Turtles climbing on top of each other due to their confined and congested living space.

Places such as the animal souq downtown have auctions for their animals. Many of these pets were probably found and/or stolen and are sold to the highest paying individual. In most cases, these pets come with health problems and die shortly after being bought. I’ve seen many incidents where a puppy was bought from a pet store only for it to die a few days later. This could be due to the diseases it contracted whilst being kept in poor conditions, but also because a lot of the puppies sold are removed from their mother far too young.

If you are considering including a pet in your life, then please look into the more humane pet adoption avenues, and make a difference in more ways than one.

Interview with Zahid Jamal, RJ of Bindas Radio


Zahid Jamal grew up as an expat in Jeddah. Having developed an interest in the Urdu language, and hosting shows at school, he went on to not only become a successful chartered accountant with one of the Big Four firms, but also moonlights as an RJ with UK-based Bindas Radio.

In this interview he chats to Jeddah Blog about what it was like growing up in Jeddah, his career, passion for working in radio and his feelings about the city he once called home.

Bindas 1

Tell us about your connection to Jeddah.

I grew up in the streets of Al-salama, Al-Rowda and then Al-Aziziah in Jeddah where I was raised as Zahid Jamal. I saw Jeddah transforming from old to new in the 90s and have seen all the new extravagant structures constructed in front of my eyes. Although I hail from Karachi, I consider myself more a Jeddawi.

Living as an expat in Jeddah, how did you manage to forge a connection with your home country, and especially to the Urdu language?

I was educated at the Pakistan International School Jeddah(PISJ), in Aziziah, spending the usual weekends picnicking in Obhur, beach resorts and playlands like Bahra-tul-Qatar – an oldie would know what I am talking about here. Living in Saudi Arabia, but studying in a Pakistani school and learning to be more Pakistani is one of the phases which every expat would have gone through in KSA. I also went through this phase where I was made a Pakistani in a Pakistani school, as we used to travel on Pakistani passport to and from Pakistan.

We were lucky enough to have watched the Pakistani drama called Tanhaiyan on Saudi Channel 2 in Ramadan, and this was when I was first introduced to Pakistani dramas. My Urdu language skills improved further as I watched not only more Pakistani drams but Moin Akhtar and Anwar Maqsood on PTV (Pakistan’s national television channel). This gave me an opportunity in my school to imitate Moin Akhtar, and I began hosting events at my school. My Urdu teacher once told me to try out for an audition in Radio Pakistan due to my voice and the level of Urdu he recognized in me.

From hosting events at school, how were you introduced to the world of radio?

In 2003, I completed high school and left for Karachi to study chartered accountancy. I realized that Radio Pakistan was an old phenomenon in Pakistan and it was now FM radio stations taking the youth by storm, so I used to listen to the radio while studying for the most complex studies in CA.

In 2006, when I successfully cleared my exams, my passion of hosting and public speaking took me to knock on the doors of those FM stations and ask for an audition. Luckily, there was an upcoming station, HOT FM 105 whose office I spotted by chance as no one knew it would be airing soon. So I went in, gave an audition and was selected. Finally Zahid Jamal transformed into ZJ, as I was neither a qualified RJ nor a DJ, hence I was simply ZJ.

Tell us about your reasons for returning to Jeddah?

I worked in radio for two years while completing my CA articleship with one of the Big Four audit firms, Ernst & Young in Karachi and this was the time when I got a good job offer from E&Y in Jeddah in 2008. I bid farewell to the FM radio in Karachi and decided to return due to the unstable security situation in Pakistan, and my parents living in Jeddah.

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From being an expat in one country to another. You then moved on to the UK. What led you there?

I continued my efforts in the E&Y Jeddah office, and joined British online radio, so that I could fulfill my passion in the not-so-bachelor-friendly Saudi Arabia.

In 2010, I was offered a position in E&Y London which I accepted happily due to the reason of being called an expat even when I have spent my entire life in Jeddah. I will always need permission to live there, so I decided to leave Jeddah and settle in London when I had an offer from my own company.

I now work in E&Y London office as an executive auditor and do online radio as an extracurricular activity.

Any old memories of Jeddah you would like to share? What do you miss about this city?

I love Jeddah. Jeddah represents me; it’s global and modern, but the Islamic lifestyle is what I carry wherever I go. It gave me the confidence to work and grow up living and interacting with different nationalities. I miss Ramadan in Jeddah and the food. I call it food heaven; halal food at a reasonable price. Who can forget to mention Al Baik? – always top of my list when I visit Jeddah from time to time.

Due to obvious reasons, it’s not easy for single and young professionals to work and live a lifestyle they want in Jeddah. I assume life is much easier for married couples, especially now that women have started working alongside men, although it’s very hard for expat women to find a job other than teaching.

Also, I don’t see a platform for expats living in KSA to voice their opinions and experiences about the usual life matters they are going through. I found Jeddah blog very useful myself, and I guess Bindas Radio would give another platform to the people living in KSA, especially Jeddah, due to my presence at the radio to share their experiences with the rest of the world.

Tell us about Bindas.

Bindas Radio is a British online radio which is managed from Canada and the UK. We are broadcasting live globally and can be reached through our website . You can also download our app and then we will just be a click away from you. We have RJs from Canada, Saudi Arabia and the UK. We have some more to come from other parts of the world. You can also find us on Tunein which is a radio stations application to listen to any radio in the world.

Although we are playing more Urdu/Hindi content these days, we have international radio presenters, and based on our listenership we will start focusing more on English and maybe even Arabic if there is a demand from listeners. Anyone can listen to our radio.

We are in the startup phase currently and we are coming up with some excellent ideas which will be more beneficial to our listeners. Fingers crossed, there will be much more happening on the airwaves on Bindas.

Dont forget to tune into my shows every Sunday from 3pm – 5pm (GMT) and every Wednesday from 10pm-12midnight (GMT). Keep it locked, keep it Bindas!

You can also follow Zahid via Twitter and Facebook.

Kids’ Art Workshop


Nabeela Parvees, a psychologist, conducts  arts and craft classes for children and ladies. She feels that children in Jeddah spend too much time playing on gadgets and “don’t realise the emotional and social life around them”. Nabeela believes that she understands the importance of creativity in children in their psychological development and is trying her best to impart a little joy to improve their life skills.

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KIDS’ ART AND CRAFT HOLIDAY WORKSHOP

Dates

23/03/14 - Glass Painting (Age 6+)
24/03/14 - Fabric Painting (Age 6+)
25/03/14 - Jewelry Making (Age 6+)
26/03/14 - Flower Making (Age 6+)
27/03/14 - Origami (Age 6+)
28/03/14 - Canvas Painting (Age 6+)
29/03/14 - Stick and Paint (Age 6+)
30/03/14 - Inspired Artist Painting (Age 6+)
31/03/14 -Toddler Projects (Age 2- 5)

Timings

Mornings: 10 – 11:30 am
Evenings: 6 – 7:30 pm

Location

Near Al Ruwili Hospital (old Naseem Hospital), Bani Malik, Jeddah.

Fee
SR 30/ head

Seats are limited. Registration closes on 20th March, 2014. For further information you can email artandcraftstudio@gmail.com, or visit Nabeela’s Facebook page.

Discover Yourself: A Personality Development Workshop


An Educational Personality Development workshop through introspection by Sadathullah Khan will be held on 3, 4 and 5 April, 2014. The sessions will be conducted in English. If you are interested in attending, check further details below.

Manarat Social Event 2014


Manarat Jeddah International School for Girls will be holding a social event on the 20th March, 2014. It will be a ladies only event and children under the age of 7 will be allowed.

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For those who wish to book a stall:

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The event will include food competitions, a jumping castle, face painting, t-shirt making, cupcake decorating, pizza making, a wide variety of food and many more!

Here is a map for directions to Manarat:

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For further details and queries, check out their Facebook Event Page.

Education Seminar


The Eastern Mediterranean University of North Cyprus is holding an education seminar in Jeddah on Saturday, 8th March 2014 at Lasani Spenzer. Of special interest to students looking to study abroad, participants will be informed about the various academic programs, education in an international environment, accommodation, social and cultural activities, scholarships and much more.

Time: 7 pm
Date: 8th March, 2014
Venue: Lasani Spenzer
The seminar is open to men and women, and families are encouraged to attend. There are no entry charges.
Contact aqsara@hotmail.com for any queries.

What is PIN and What Does it Stand for?


Whether you reside in a compound, apartment or villa, you cannot live in Jeddah for long and not notice the sheer number of cats roaming the streets and feeding off the bins. If you feel that you would like to help these poor animals, but don’t quite know what to do, we’ll be bringing you information and tips on how to assist the widespread cat population and even the best way to look after a pet of your own.

Sonja Svensek, founder of PIN (Pets in Need) will be writing regularly for Jeddah Blog on her campaign to raise animal awareness, which includes taking care of a pet, as well as share tips and helpful information on the benefits of neutering  and spaying, and what one can do to help the many animals in need.

Along with her team, Sonja is helping over 96 dogs who have been saved off the streets since 2008. This is a result of people abandoning their pets on the streets. PIN collect and rescue these animals, and then give them a new lease on life. A puppy or kitten can be cute when young, but unfortunately it is common for people to get rid of them once the pet becomes an adult, and the responsibility grows.

There is help being offered now, all extended by an amazing group of supporters at their own time and expense, such as Ruga and the team who run Open Paws Jeddah and Open Paws Riyadh. “Much more needs to be done,” says Sonja, “And it can’t always be through the same group of people.  We need to be the change we want to see in the world. Awareness and education is key. “

Pets in NeedAs the founder of PIN (Pets in Need) my goal was to try and create a community, a movement, to connect like-minded people ‘in one place’ to be proactive in helping animals in the Kingdom. It’s all too easy to call yourself an ‘animal lover’ when one expects others to help and rescue pets, so we need to be the change we want to see happen in the community.

PIN was created in 2008 with just a handful of close friends who came on board to help rescue the animals that needed treatment, and put them up for adoption. It is not a shelter, nor charity-based organization, instead it is an organization that brings people together to help, inform and educate them about what it entails to care for an animal and what one can do to help stop animal abuse.

One of the beautiful cats successfully adopted via Pets in Need.

One of the beautiful cats successfully adopted via Pets in Need.

There are currently no laws or regulations to monitor the conditions of pet stores, nor are there animal shelters or official charities that enable animal welfare, so it is individuals who go out and save abandoned pets on the streets, who pay for their treatments and seek new loving homes for them. We have been able to find over 800 animals new leases on life over the years, however people are still going out to buy a pet from a pet store instead of adopting one. For every pet that is bought from shops, it decreases the chance of a homeless pet finding a new home.

PIN has over 2500 members now, and we ensure that they are screened before being added to the group, and though we are primarily working within Jeddah, we have been successful in helping other pets from other cities with affiliations with other pet society groups in other areas of the country.

This cute canine was rescued by PIN and given a forever home.

This cute canine was rescued by PIN and given a forever home.

If you want to adopt a pet, first learn about what the responsibilities are, and the costs involved. Though adopting is free, over time owning a pet can become costly with vaccines, treatments whenever necessary, and not to mention cat and dog food being expensive in the kingdom. All sorts of pets come up for adoption on PIN and we try our best to ensure that they go to loving, caring, forever homes. We are always looking for new members who can help rescue, and/or foster a pet, as currently there are more animals in need than  people willing to offer help.

For more information please visit PIN on Facebook, Twitter: Pin_Jeddah and Instagram: Pin_Jeddah. We need all the support we can get in helping animals.

Textile Art Workshops


Looking to pick up a creative skill? Upcoming textile art classes will be held in Jeddah from Tuesday, 18th February 2014. Registration is now open for any of the workshops detailed below.

Workshop Schedule

1 – Stenciling – Tuesday 18th February 2014 (one day workshop)
2 – Batik – Wednesday 19th February 2014 (one day workshop)
3 – Silk Painting – Monday 24th – Wednesday 26 Feb 2014( three day workshop)
4 – Tie & Dye – Sunday 2nd March 2014 (one day workshop)
5 – Shibori – Monday 3rd March 2014 (one day workshop)
6 – Fabric Painting (cotton) – Tuesday 4th March 2014 (one day workshop)
7 – Batik – Wednesday 5th March 2014 (one day workshop)
8 – Silk Painting Advanced Session – Monday 10th March, 2014

You can register via Facebook or by emailing  huescollections@gmail.com. All supplies will be provided.

Location: Rehab jeddah
Timings: 9:00 am- 11:30 am
Charges:
1 day sessions: SR 125
           3 day sessions: SR 400

Uzma Raheem – A Beacon of Hope for Children with Exceptional Needs


In this blog post, I am particularly proud to be able to introduce you to a lady who has, and continues to inspire me and countless others. Her non-stop positive attitude is infectious and the sheer energy, determination, drive and passion she draws upon and imparts to those around her makes me wonder whether she might just be super-human. Uzma Raheem is a force of nature, and a shining source of support and hope to many families here in Jeddah. Jeddah Blog writer Anousha Vakani sat down with Uzma earlier this month to chat with her about the inception and growth of the Hope Center, its success stories and the challenges she faces.

Uzma Raheem after winning her 9th International award in 15 years.

Uzma Raheem after winning her 9th International award in 15 years.

The Hope Center needs little introduction – the people of Jeddah, the rest of KSA and even abroad have watched it grow from a summer programme held in a tiny apartment to a full-fledged multi-cultural institute that has won a total of nine international awards in just fifteen years. Yet, the Center’s founder and directress, Uzma Raheem, speaks to us about the Center’s growth with paramount humility. She is not oblivious to the lives she has touched but her pride lies in the teamwork and dedication that is the foundation of this ‘life-skills institute,’ as she prefers to call it.

Baking activity with the children.

Baking activity with the children.

She admits that not even in her wildest dreams did she imagine that her efforts would grow to this magnitude. Even receiving a licence from the Ministry was inconceivable, let alone gaining both national and international recognition and awards. However, she says the Center is not just about her efforts, “it is a community project, a joint effort with so many supporters and well-wishers. We have very dedicated, compassionate staff and in fifteen years we have managed to establish our credibility in the market so yes, people know that Hope for Exceptional Needs does deliver.” However, it’s not an easy task – one struggle is that of finding trained staff. The Center started off with just two or three volunteers at one time working with an average of six to nine students. It has grown to a full-sized institute with fifty staff members but it is still a struggle. One reason for this, Uzma Raheem notes is that, “universities are churning out students but guess what? They’re taking their degrees and working in other fields that pay more. You cannot get into this field with a commercial mindset, especially if you’re working with disabled children. You’ve got to have the compassion as well. If you’re thinking of the rewards of both this life and the after, then yes, come in to this field where the salary may not be that high but the job satisfaction is tremendous.”

The children with their toys.

The children with their toys.

The job satisfaction is another factor we discuss, and her contentment is hard to misplace. She mentions the success stories, of fourteen children who have been integrated into mainstream education, one who has gotten a job and one who has gotten married. “Three children came into the center who could not even walk and today when I see them running in the hallways, I think my heart leaps behind them. I sleep with a lot of peace in my heart. It’s that fantastic.” When asked about the struggles that come with her job, she sighs and admits that there are many, as with any other job. “Apart from the financial aspect and the shortage of resources, I have to say the children are the easiest part of my job. One of the most difficult parts is actually dealing with the parents. While some parents come in with this wealth of knowledge and acceptance of what their child is going through, and that’s half of our job done – when the parents meet us midway – some parents are, unfortunately less educated or educated and in denial or under severe depression – those are the families that are a challenge to work with, but it is part of the package.”

Martial arts training at the Center.

Martial arts training at the Center.

Among others, the center offers physiotherapy, occupational therapy, hydrotherapy and speech and hearing therapy. While they do not set an age limit, Uzma Raheem encourages parents to admit their children as early as possible. “A young child is like freshly kneaded dough and you can mould them out into any shape you want, whereas an older child is like slightly stale dough and if your try too hard to make any shape out of them, they break.”

The children on a visit to Makkah. Hope for Exceptional Needs.

The children on a visit to Makkah.

Religion is also a major point of focus at the Hope Center. The Muslim children are taught basic du’as, the ritual of wudu and etiquette for visiting the Holy Mosque. Regular trips are also made to Makkah where the children make tawaaf and implement all that they’ve learnt. “I think religion plays a big part, and not just for the children but for us as well, in finding comfort that a higher power is looking after our children,” Uzma Raheem muses as a wrap up to our brief but enlightening conversation. To learn more about the Hope Center’s programmes and to follow their progress, join Hope- for exceptional needs on Facebook. Check out their website too, expected to go live in a few days’ time.

Inglot O2M: The Halal Nail Polish


Inglot breathable nail polishes have hit the stores. Muslim women of all ages have been waiting with bated breath to be able to wear nail polish whenever they like. For those unaware of ablution conditions for Muslims, and are wondering what all the fuss is about, let me explain.

Muslims pray five times a day, and the prerequisite to prayer is performing wudu, or ablution. One of the conditions of the ablution is for the water to touch every small part of the body being washed. This includes the nails. A regular nail polish obstructs the flow of water to the nails. Hence, many Muslim women choose not to use nail polish on a regular basis.

Recently though, a few companies have claimed to have discovered the holy grail of makeup – breathable, water permeable nail polish. Inglot, a Polish company, is one of those companies who are selling a range of these halal products in Mall of Arabia at SR65 apiece.

Some of Inglot's gorgeous colours. Inglot O2M.

A few of Inglot’s O2M colour range.

A note of caution though. Although the colours are gorgeous and vibrant, the jury is still out on whether these nail varnishes are truly water permeable and halal. Some customers have carried out experiments with varying results. Easmin Miah votes against it in her blog Oh So Peachy. Reem Faruqi conducted an experiment on Doodling Through Life, and says that some colours permeate if they are rubbed, and submerged in the water sufficiently long enough.

Here is Inglot’s official video on the water permeability of this range:

We would recommend that you do some research of your own on this. There is lots more information out there to read up on. Mustafa Umar has a pretty comprehensive piece with lots of relevant links at SuhaibWebb.

Well-known makeup artist Nilo Haq, Founder of IGlow and Editor-in-Chief of Jeddah Beauty Blog (and previously columnist here at Jeddah Blog) told us exclusively, “I am sceptical about Inglot’s breathable nail polish. Firstly because I don’t want to take any risks with my prayers. I’m not sure if the tests done by Inglot are okay, because out of the people who have tried to recreate the tests, some claim it has worked for them while others claim it hasn’t.” Nilo went on to say, “When I tried it, to me my heart didn’t agree. I’d wait for more research and tests before I’d go ahead and perform wudu with Inglot’s Breathable Nail polish.”

Jeddah Blog reader Bushra Masood says, “I love the Inglot breathable nailpolishes. They don’t come off easily though, and I’ve heard that they might not be breathable.”

Another brand catching everyone’s attention and getting more favourable results is Tuesday in Love. We are yet to hear whether it has entered the Jeddah market.

What do you think about all this? Have you bought Inglot and tried it out? Do you think it is a halal nail polish, or is it doubtful? Leave us a comment and let us know.

Jeddah Art Week 2014


Visit this upcoming photo exhibit and view the beauty of Jeddah from 1-6 February 2014, featuring Pinoy photographers. The exhibition opens at 7pm in the Al-Furusiyah Exhibition Hall in the Jeddah Park Hyatt Hotel.

 

Kakaibang Art Week

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