‘Wa Mahyay’ connects body, mind and soul

‘Wa Mahyay’ connects body, mind and soul
Updated 04 September 2013

‘Wa Mahyay’ connects body, mind and soul

‘Wa Mahyay’ connects body, mind and soul

Dr. Walid Fitaihi is an American Board certified physician, specialized in internal medicine and endocrinology, and most recently the host of a show, which aired during Ramadan called Wa Mahyay, Arabic for “My living.” The show aimed to help people understand and appreciate how their body, mind and soul are all interconnected with one another.
Fitaihi is also the founder, chairman of the board of directors and the chief executive officer of the International Medical Center (IMC) based in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Arab News interviewed him and talked about his show, goals and future plans.

For those who don’t know you, who is Dr. Walid Fitaihi?
I like to think of myself as a part of a paradigm shift toward a more healthy relation between the mind, body and soul for our society in particular and for the world in general. I really hope that we all benefit from this vehicle of healing that is fueled with nothing, but good intentions, and that can, God willing, bring peace to all those who come in contact with it.

You have started a TV program during Ramadan with the title Wa Mahyay, please tell us more about the show?
The show is an attempt to help people realize how the body, mind and soul are all interconnected. Our society should be thought of as an individual, you can’t completely heal one part without tending to the other parts, and you certainly cannot achieve balance unless you treat them all with the same level of importance.
I have to admit that for a long time I’ve been in a constant internal debate over my true role as a physician and I’ve concluded that it can and should go beyond the typical, classical and traditional role of seeing patients in clinics and prescribing some pills. Physicians, as other professions, should act as human advocates, as vehicles of healing to their societies and to the world as a whole. If we want to feel divine love between one human being and the other, we should all try to reach out. Whatever affects humans negatively or positively is part of our role in life. As such, we can use media, go to TV, and make good use of the digital outreach through popular social networks to get the message out there.
We decided that the show shouldn’t be more than 10 minutes as today’s individual has a short attention span. The team of “Wa Mahyay” also thought we should use dynamic visualization of info-graphics and acting scenes to explain complicated concepts and relationships. The content, of course, is the core of the show and we combined it with interesting topics to target the right audience. No topic made the cut unless we were all passionate about it.
We decided not to be shy; as we should approach topics that we know the youth is struggling to voice out openly in a safe environment. For example, we started with an episode on pornography addiction, but within a framework that identifies problems, differentiates between disease and illness, suggests alternatives, and finally offers potential solutions. We also followed up the episode with a four-minute YouTube video to help people take the first steps toward quitting this addiction.
Our objective is to stir up a healthy debate that could help people change, achieve inner piece and be a positive part of people’s lives.
The dialog viewed the problems from different angles including physiology, psychology, social and cultural behavior because we truly believe in the need of a wider perspective and understanding to the issues facing our society.

Why did you choose to launch the show in Ramadan?
People in Ramadan are more susceptible to certain kinds of persuasive calls for change. Within a spiritual atmosphere, they are eager to reconnect with God and ready to change. As a matter of fact, the whole idea of making positive changes during Ramadan is not meant to be limited to one month alone, but for the rest of the 11 months. The special status of the holy month comes from its original purpose of helping us change for the better so that we part with the month as better people than when we received it.
Ironically, Ramadan generates spikes in TV ratings, but we are trying to turn this paradox into something positive.

Why did you choose “Wa Mahyay” as a title and what does it mean?
I chose the title Wa Mahyay, which translates to “My Living” from a verse in the Qur’an: “Indeed, my prayer, my rites of sacrifice, my living and my dying are for God, Lord of the worlds”, because living consciously allows us to live in perfect harmony. Yes, it is important to think of our lives as our only ticket to win the afterlife, but life is for the living, so we need to work on that as well.

You have tackled different subjects every day, what inspired your choice of subjects?
As I said before, we weren’t shy. I say enough hiding behind social taboos and denying our illnesses and problems. For example, we discussed child abuse whether verbal or physical and we are fully aware of the crimes committed against children in our society. It’s all over the newspapers, but in this show we refuse to continue the state of denial. We believe this matter should be discussed on all levels so that no child has to give up their life as a vessel for a message to stop violence against our most precious treasures.
My source of inspiration is the pain and agony induced by the current conditions of our society and humanity as a whole. Some people say ignorance is bliss; however I believe that only true knowledge illuminates the right path. Once you see things the way they are, you will realize how much we need to change and what exactly needs to be changed. Your heart will be troubled by what you see yet, only through this internal turmoil can you create a great energy within. God will see that you care, and He will inspire you and channel tremendous positive energy through you for the good of your society.

Tell us about your experience in front of the camera; was it comfortable for a physician to speak about something else aside from medicine?
First of all I do not read from notes or teleprompter or such, I speak from my heart. We made this decision because we wanted to resemble a natural conversation not a tedious lecture, i.e., talk to the audience not at them. That’s how we managed to empathize with our viewers and sense their suffering. Of course, I have the scenario prepared and I know exactly what I’m going to talk about, but I try to speak in a very natural way because I do care, and indeed love my society. I truly believe that the more you care, the easier the words will flow genuinely and reach the hearts of those listening to you.

What does this experience add to you personally?
This experience is so dear to me because it probed to me how much we need to reconnect and communicate on a wider range. I learned that the true role of any human being should not be confined in a job description, and that every human being has the right to contribute and join the driving force in his or her society.
Another thing I loved about doing this show is working closely with the young team of Wa Mahyay. They all shared a desire to do something with heart and integrity. It was truly remarkable to see how everyone was keen on bringing this project to light and thank God that the time spent researching, gathering data and filming did not go unnoticed.

Who is your target?
The Middle East in general is characterized by a young population, so our initial target audience was the youth, more specifically teenagers to 30-year-olds. Yet, we were pleasantly surprised by the overwhelming feedback of unexpected age ranges.

The show’s slogan is “Let’s make humans our case. Deliver a message, hold a case.” What is the message you want to send from the show?
The message is in few words “life is too valuable to waste.” We are very valuable and we deserve to live with dignity. We can make a difference by changing ourselves and with that change our societies and our world to the better.

How can we make humans our case?
By showing more care and love toward others. I realize these terms aren’t much appreciated or used in our local lexicon, but the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “You do not truly believe until you love for your brother what you love for yourself,” so yes the answer is love.

Why did you choose a public and general awareness angle for your show and not something related to the medicine?
This is the misconception of what medicine is. What is medicine? What is health? Health is sustained by holistic practice that cares for mind, body and soul. Medicine is not merely a study of the body and identifying the physical illnesses and the treatment through medication or surgery. In this show, it is all what affects the human life we are after, not the physical disease. We are trying to help this generation establish a healthy civil society of conscious individuals with a strong sense of community.

Which episode was the closest to your heart and why?
To be honest with you, when I think about it the number would go up to at least ten. Many topics have been on my mind for a quite while, for example; the holistic concept of medicine, hijacking the brain, holism in Islam, reading, questioning, children abuse and positivity.

In the second episode you discussed the importance of first aid courses and you demanded this subject to be taught in schools are you going to follow-up with the Ministry of Education?
I did try to pursue this on a wider range in the past and ended up nowhere for logistical reasons so I settled for opening a trust at the International Medical Center to fund free training open for everybody to learn basic life support. We are trying our best to meet our objective, which is to ensure at least one member in every household knows how to administer first aid when the need arises.
After the episode, I was approached by the Red Crescent to partner with us and they have contributed ideas on ways to improve the training. We are overjoyed with this concrete gain of the show and we are gladly willing to spearhead this movement of awareness regarding this critical issue. After all, it is literally a matter of life and death.

The YouTube videos had subtitles in English, is the program also targeting non-Arabic speakers and why?
The subtitle was added recently after we received many requests for it. This is actually what’s encouraging me right now to create a pilot of the program in English. So that’s my next project God willing.

What was the feedback from the audience?
The feedback was phenomenal, and it is much more than we had anticipated. Wa Mahyay has ranked as the top ten most popular shows in the Middle East. From the feedback I heard, I believe we were able to reach the hearts of many people, thank God. We were able to provoke the minds of many, make them ask questions and reconsider their attitudes toward many of the issues discussed in the program. The biggest reward from the show is the prayers of viewers who were touched by the show and who have been inspired to change certain attitudes.

What are your future plans for the show?
We’re going to have a second season next year, but for now I’m concentrating on the English version of the show and going international to reach out to all the youth. Our message is not just for the Arab world, our message is one of peace and peace is just what humanity needs. In the show we are speaking a language that is common to all. The challenges we are facing here in the Arab world are not very different from those facing the youth worldwide. So our next step, God willing, is to try our best to spread the message as far as we can, to help people on a wider scale.

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Where We Are Going Today: Khosh Hal

Where We Are Going Today: Khosh Hal
Updated 15 May 2021

Where We Are Going Today: Khosh Hal

Where We Are Going Today: Khosh Hal

Khosh Hal restaurant in Jeddah’s Aziziah district offers authentic Pakistani flavors with a modern twist.

The menu features traditional dishes such as mixed grill platter, butter chicken, mutton kunna and Khosh Hal’s special chicken biryani.

Freshly made bread includes naan, roti, tandoori paratha and the hot and delicately crispy purri — a fried bread eaten with different stews.

Pakora, one of the most popular Pakistani appetizers, is a deep-fried combination of chickpea flour, onion, green chilli and dry coriander.

After a meal of rich flavors and spices, diners can enjoy a refreshing kulfi, a delicious drink or dessert flavored with orange, mango, strawberry or coconut.

For more information visit Instagram account: @Khoshhalrstaurant.


What We Are Eating Today: The Chimny

What We Are Eating Today: The Chimny
Updated 14 May 2021

What We Are Eating Today: The Chimny

What We Are Eating Today: The Chimny
  • The Chimny is perfect as a special Eid treat or as a birthday indulgence

The Chimny is a Saudi ice cream brand that offers a new concept in ice cream cones, inspired by the traditional Hungarian pastry, the “kürtőskalács,” or “chimney cake,” popular across Eastern Europe.

The ice creamery offers ice cream scoops in the pastries as a substitute for the traditional wafer cone. Made by hand, consisting of dough strips rolled around a wooden dowel, moistened with melted butter, coated in granulated sugar, it is baked until it has a golden-brown color.

The cones are filled with soft ice cream in a variety of flavors with different sauces and toppings such as marshmallows and sprinkles.

You can enjoy eating the freshly baked cones with or without ice cream scoops in many flavors, including date, cheesecake, apple pie, banana, and more.

The Chimny is perfect as a special Eid treat or as a birthday indulgence, as it offers catering service for parties.

For more information visit the Instagram account: @thechimny.


Eid treat: Moroccan chef Nargisse Benkabbou’s chocolate chip krachel

Eid treat: Moroccan chef Nargisse Benkabbou’s chocolate chip krachel
Chocolate chip krachel. Supplied
Updated 12 May 2021

Eid treat: Moroccan chef Nargisse Benkabbou’s chocolate chip krachel

Eid treat: Moroccan chef Nargisse Benkabbou’s chocolate chip krachel

DUBAI: Moroccan chef Nargisse Benkabbou is on a mission to demystify her country’s cuisine for international foodies, especially those in the UK where she lives.

Here, she shares her recipe for chocolate chip krachel to sweeten up your Eid Al-Fitr celebrations.

Ingredients:

60g unsalted butter

2 ½ tbsp sesame seeds

2 tsp dried active yeast

50g caster sugar

1 tbsp warm water

300g plain flour, plus extra if needed and for dusting

1 tsp aniseed

½ tsp salt

1 egg

80–120ml warm full-fat milk

1 ½ tbsp orange blossom water

100g dark chocolate chips or chunks

Vegetable oil

1 egg yolk, beaten

 

Instructions:

1.      Melt the butter, then leave it to cool. Toast the sesame seeds in a dry pan over a medium-high heat for about 6 minutes.

2.      In a small bowl, mix the dried yeast with 1⁄4 teaspoon of the sugar and the measured warm water using a fork. Leave the yeast to activate for about 5 minutes.

3.      Mix 2 tablespoons of the toasted sesame seeds, the remaining sugar, the flour, aniseed and salt together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the melted butter, yeast mixture, egg, 80ml warm milk and the orange blossom water together until smooth. Combine both bowls and mix to form a soft dough.

4.      Lightly dust a work surface with flour and knead the dough for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic and add the chocolate chips. Form the dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with cling film and leave to rise for about 45 minutes or until it almost doubles in size.

5.      Divide the dough into 8 equal-sized pieces and shape each into a ball. Place them on a baking sheet, leaving about 5cm between each ball. Cover with cling film and leave the buns to rise for about 30 minutes.

6.      Preheat the oven to 190°C. Brush the buns with the beaten egg yolk and sprinkle with the remaining toasted sesame seeds. Bake for about 17–20 minutes.


Burj Al-Arab’s SAL: Come for the views, stay for the food at this Dubai hotspot

Burj Al-Arab’s SAL: Come for the views, stay for the food at this Dubai hotspot
The restaurant overlooks the main star of the venue, the 100-meter infinity pool. Supplied
Updated 10 May 2021

Burj Al-Arab’s SAL: Come for the views, stay for the food at this Dubai hotspot

Burj Al-Arab’s SAL: Come for the views, stay for the food at this Dubai hotspot

DUBAI: First things first: If you’re familiar with the Instagram account @influencersinthewild, then chances are you’ll spot similar examples of the content it posts at Burj Al-Arab’s SAL. Because for every few individuals who are at the venue for the resplendent views and excellent hospitality, there’s that one “influencer” at work, taking part in an impromptu photo shoot. It would be extreme to claim that they’re ruining the experience for everyone else, but you’ll probably pause and have a chuckle or two at the confidence of it all.

That being said, to reduce SAL to a social media “hotspot of the moment” would be doing it a disservice because judging by our own experience, there’s so much more to it than a backdrop for Insta-models. Jumeirah Group describes SAL, which opened in the second half of last year, as a “chic lifestyle experience at Burj Al Arab where barefoot luxury at an iconic pool and beach destination meets culinary excellence in a striking new dining venue.” With hues of blue forming the picture-perfect landscape, the restaurant overlooks the main star of the venue, the 100-meter infinity pool.

Jumeirah Group opened SAL in the second half of last year. Supplied

However, we’re here to dine, not dip (into the pool), and our entire meal was a feast for the eyes and the stomach. Headed by Culinary Director Marco Garfagnini, SAL’s menu “pays homage to the sea,” with the majority of the dishes made for sharing.

Greeted by a very welcoming and friendly team of hosts, we were guided to our seats before being offered a detailed run-through of the menu.

The heirloom tomato carpaccio, feta cheese and black olives was laid out on a platter in a pretty pattern. Supplied

To start, my dining partner and I opted for the heirloom tomato carpaccio, feta cheese and black olives, and the tuna tartare with caviar. As we waited, we were served water from freshly cut coconuts.

Once our appetizers arrived, it became clear that our phone photography would be reserved for the dishes and not only for the view. The carpaccio was delicately laid out on a platter in a pretty pattern, while the tartare was served in a perfect circle with a dash of gold dusting on top.

Tartare is served in a perfect circle with a dash of gold dusting on top. Supplied

The tartare was divine. Its citrus-based Ponzu sauce marinade offered the perfect balance, “cooking” the fish to eliminate any offending aftertaste sometimes experienced with tartare. In fact, it was one of the best tartare dishes I have ever sampled.

The main course certainly had a lot to live up to, bringing us to the first — the recommended Portuguese dourada, a gilt-head sea bream fish common in the Mediterranean. At SAL, it’s served baked with tomatoes and potatoes. Again, absolutely flawless. Its cod-like meatiness paired with a spinach-infused sauce made for a moreish main that was delightful on the palette.

The Portuguese dourada made for a moreish main that was delightful on the palette. Supplied

Another fish dish we were recommended was the sea-salt-crusted seabass for two, but since my guest isn’t the biggest fan of seafood, we opted to try the third recommendation — the stone-oven-baked lemon chicken empanada, with French fries and baby spinach salad. Now, SAL likes to entertain guests, so similarly to the seabass, this one is carved and served right in front of you. Given the show, we were expecting something big, but if there was one dish that was more “meh” than “marvelous,” it was this one. It was underwhelming after it was cut open and presented, looking more like some lemon chicken in pita bread rather than a baked turnover. It still tasted delightful, but we both agreed that if we could, we would advise the restaurant to serve it as is, as it looked much more appealing at the start.

The stone-oven-baked lemon chicken empanada is carved and served right in front of you. Supplied

It was nearly time to wrap up, and as much as we wanted to go for something sweet, we were simply running on full. One lovely staff member did try to tempt us with the dessert trolley offering a selection from the restaurant’s master pastry chefs, but we stayed strong. In the end, we were presented with a cute little meringue-based dessert topped with fresh berries — just the right amount of sugar to conclude our visit with.

Needless to say, this Burj Al-Arab beach restaurant is definitely one to add to your must-visits. As someone who has been based in this region for many years, this was easily one of the best meals I have had in a long time. 

I don’t make that claim lightly.

A little meringue-based dessert topped with fresh berries. Supplied

Info:

SAL @ Burj Al Arab

jumeirah.com/SAL

 


Maamoul: Why the storied sweet is so important during Eid in Palestine

Maamoul: Why the storied sweet is so important during Eid in Palestine
Maamoul and cakes are one of the most prominent pieces of celebration associated with Eid Al-Fitr, despite the harsh conditions faced by Palestinians. (Shutterstock)
Updated 10 May 2021

Maamoul: Why the storied sweet is so important during Eid in Palestine

Maamoul: Why the storied sweet is so important during Eid in Palestine
  • Prepared in circles, the Eid cakes are stuffed with dates, while maamoul are stuffed with dates or walnuts, pistachios and nuts, and the outer layer is sprinkled with crushed white sugar

GAZA CITY: In the last week of Ramadan, the smell of maamoul and cakes wafts from Palestinian homes in the Gaza Strip. Maamoul, also popular in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq, is a traditional shortbread cookie popular in the region, and one of the main sweet items prepared for Eid Al-Fitr celebrations.
Samira Al-Burai, 54, is enjoys preparing maamoul with her sons and daughters.
“We bring basic ingredients a few days before making maamoul. All the family members, including my sons, will participate in making it.
“I learned (how to) make cakes and maamoul from my mother, then I taught it to my daughters so that this tradition may continue during the last days of Ramadan. My children are accustomed to the smell of cakes at this time of every year.”
Maamoul and cakes are one of the most prominent pieces of celebration associated with Eid Al-Fitr, despite the harsh conditions faced by Palestinians.
Prepared in circles, the Eid cakes are stuffed with dates, while maamoul are stuffed with dates or walnuts, pistachios and nuts, and the outer layer is sprinkled with crushed white sugar.
Some women earn money during Ramadan by making and selling maamoul to others.
Salwa Kabariti, 57, used to make them for her family. With the passage of time and after they fell on hard times, she began to produce larger quantities and started selling to neighbors, friends and even to some shops.

SPEEDREAD

Maamoul and cakes are one of the most prominent pieces of celebration associated with Eid Al-Fitr, despite the harsh conditions faced by Palestinians. Some women earn money during Ramadan by making and selling maamoul to others.

“Due to our poor economic condition, I began searching for a source of income. This work offered a good source. It helped me and my family to overcome our economic crises,” Kabariti said.
“There is no Eid without maamoul. I love (it) and will continue making it every Ramadan as long as I have the ability to do so,” she added.
Despite the large number of bakeries that sell maamoul in the Gaza Strip, many women prefer making theirs at home to preserve the festive atmosphere in their households.
Lubna Al-Sumairi, 40, said: “I like preparing it in my house with my husband and other family members. Making maamoul is one of the most important customs that we enjoy during the
last days of Ramadan; its preparation, delicious taste, and the pleasant atmosphere gives us a happy feeling.”