Louvre Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Finally! After years of anticipation, Louvre Abu Dhabi opened to the public on 11 November 2017 (and after considering the experience, I'm finally finishing my post about the event). In a country full of iconic architecture - like the world's tallest, Burj Khalifa, and the "leaning" Capital Gate Building - this may be considered the glittering crown. The impressive complex is the work of Jean Nouvel who used local geometric design patterns layered into a dome to create a "rain of light" below.

The result is a venue of ever-changing light and shadows that provides relief from the desert sun for 55 structures, including 23 gallery buildings. This "village" is modelled after an Arabian medina and the thoughtful design invites guests to wander through the space.

Built "into" the sea, Nouvel's use of water, light, and geometry grace the architectural landscape with a peaceful environment where visitors contemplate works of art or simply …

A Christian's Observance of Ramadan, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

The air, still and heavy with silence, oddly reminded me of the unused water cooler in the office today. An evening walk on the Abu Dhabi Corniche proved to be a beautiful idea during the first days of Ramadan. Traffic was infrequent, the walkway far less crowded than normal, and the air was less hot than the hair dryer heat that gushed at me between the office and my car this afternoon - now cooled by troughs of evening that floated inland from the Arabian Gulf.

There is something different in these breezes that permeate the air: tinged with a sense of peace and a reflective atmosphere that accompanies the quiet street corners. It's the start of Ramadan, the Holy Month on the Islamic lunar calendar.

The Islamic calendar doesn't follow an annual cycle directed by the sun. Rather, months are determined by the cycle of the moon. In the UAE, a moon siting committee stands watch over the religious holidays and announces them officially a day or two before the holiday arrives. Thi…

The Unwritten Life

This isn’t how it was supposed to be – my life, that is. I was meant to follow the example of generations before me: Grow up in my homogenous “safe” community, earn good grades in school, make friends, play outside, and graduate from high school. Then I would dash off to a reputable university to obtain a degree—and that coveted Mrs. degree with the man of my dreams. Then, I would settle down in my small safe hometown and push the refresh and repeat button for my own child.

I am literally on the other side of the world from those initial 22 years of aspirations. When I graduated with only a degree in communication I started facing the raw disappointment that my life would not follow the plan handed down from most of my family and female role models. I still desire pieces of that carefully preconceived notion about life’s path. But, I can see that every sentence of my story is woven like a thread into a fantastically intricate tapestry of experiences. None of my moments are worth return…

Wish Upon a Michelin Star, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

If I could wish upon a Michelin Star, I would wish to have Chef Henrik Yde-Anderson prepare another creative dish for me. Representing more than just Thai flavors with his signature twists, the Chef integrates his life experiences and stories into each creation - and his menu items are truly a 'creation.' He embraces his freedom to "mix and match," as he puts it, the inspirations and cuisines he explores different cultures and ingredients.

I know the prerequisites to earn a Michelin Star are involved and set to the highest standards. However, to me, the beauty of a Michelin Chef rests in a distinct ability to pair and share the essence of ingredients by understanding how they dance and merge on the tongue. Chef Henrik's Tuna Tartare with Crispy Lotus reflected this to me with an impeccable mingling of flavors that started with a burst of sweet, quickly followed by the heart-warming and slightly savory taste of the tartare. His brilliance is artfully presented in…

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Beyond the tour, the people posturing for perfect photography, and the nagging desire to constantly tug a shayla (headscarf) tight around my face, it remains impossible to miss the calm and worshipful atmosphere at Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Like floating through a manic airport or hearing my footsteps in my empty high school gymnasium, this modern architectural wonder emboldens me to remember how small my individual physical frame is within the the vast gentle grandeur of the structure. The place compels me to humbly turning inward; recognizing how sacred the soul of my being remains as part of God's Creation.

A place of Islamic worship, anyone is invited to visit this Mosque. People of all cultures, religions, and geographical locales use the space as a place for quiet reflection. Tours peruse the grounds several times each day while a guide introduces the group to the Mosque's history, design, and construction - along with a brief explanation about several of the pillars o…

Caviar, Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Caviar. A margin more intimidating than wine, but less terrifying than figuring out what's behind foie gras' buttery flavour (it's fattened duck or goose liver), I had indulged in caviar only once or twice before - completely ignorant of the fine art of tasting the delicacy. In fact, I only have a vague recollection that I didn't not like it.

Upon invitation to Emirates Palace for a caviar masterclass, my immediate inclination was to relish the opportunity to learn something new. I popped over to the Palace for lunch under bluebird skies and dancing fountains; and descended to the ground floor where, just off the sea, is Sayad Restaurant. Sayad, meaning fisherman in Arabic, is, quite appropriately, a seafood restaurant and the perfect venue for a taste of caviar.

Greeted with a bit of bubbly before I had even dropped the few stairs into the restaurant's aquamarine sanctuary, I immediately felt effervescent, like I was underwater with fish tanks flanking the walls and…

Brunch at Nahaam, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Brunch. The word is nearly synonymous with community. A brunch brings people together. It honors its guests with flavours and friendship. People gather around food to share and communicate - and some of life's most intimate moments are exchanged over a meal.

In the United Arab Emirates hotels know how to do brunch well. It's a Friday brunch - Friday is the first day of the weekend in the Arabian Peninsula. Gathering together for a fine food frenzy is an award for reaching the end of the work week and a beautiful way to celebrate the weekend, among other things.

Extravagant and artful culinary displays thoughtfully adorn every corner of chosen resort restaurants. Flavours and colours allure the eye as much as they tantalise the tastebuds and entice every patron's nose with fragrant and bold aromas. Sensational seafood, mounds of cheeses, grapes, nuts, endless roasts of lamb and fine cuts of Australian beef, turkey, chicken, shawarma, salads, fruits, breads, alongside sushi…