Enjoy the magic of the festive season with Scalini in Dubai

Enjoy the magic of the festive season with Scalini in Dubai
The restaurant is located in Jumeirah, Dubai. (supplied)
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Updated 31 December 2020

Enjoy the magic of the festive season with Scalini in Dubai

Enjoy the magic of the festive season with Scalini in Dubai
  • The restaurant offers a cozy and warm venue with good Italian food

DUBAI: This Italian restaurant is located in Jumeirah, one of Dubai’s most famous areas, and offers a cozy vibe with delicious dishes.

As soon as you take the elevator down to Scalini, you will walk into an outdoor area that feels like a backyard of a high-end Italian house. A big tree is situated in the middle of the courtyard and the tables are spread all around it, while the whole area is decorated with wooden accents, warm lights and greenery. In the closed space, the white walls are adorned with frames and various images, creating a homey and expensive vibe. The venue amps the Italian vibe with music and dish names are in Italian.

Once you are seated, the waiter brings you a basket of various breads, from baguettes to breadsticks, to eat with a small side of diced tomatoes and a separate dish of olives.

I did expect to enjoy Italian dishes at Scalini, but I did not expect to have the best fried squid I ever had. The tender calamari rings, which is squid in Italian, were enveloped in a thin layer of light batter and came with a side of creamy and sour tartar sauce. The dish was not greasy or chewy at all and was perfectly complemented by the sauce.

Another interesting dish to try at the restaurant is the Tartare di Manzo, or beef tartare, which is part of their festive menu and will be served till January 7. The raw Australian beef angus comes with chives, shallots, Scalini’s mustard sauce, rockets and parmesan cheese. The waiter mixes the meat and the sauce right in front of your eyes, which makes this meal also entertaining. The fresh beef is supple with a fresh meaty, almost creamy flavor, which melts into the sourness of the tartare and the saltiness of the cheese.

For the mains, we ordered Spaghetti all’Astice, which is the restaurant’s signature dish cooked with lobster and tomato sauce. The perfectly cooked pasta is stuffed inside the lobster shell, which the waiter then moves to your dish for you to enjoy the flavorful and slightly spicy spaghetti.

However, one of our favorites was the Milanese, which is a breaded veal escalope on the bone. The tenderness and juiciness of the thinly pounded is a testimony to the cooking skills of the chefs at Scalini. You can literally cut through the meat as if you were cutting through butter. As a side, we also ordered broccoli, which were buttery garlicky goodness that was cooked but still crispy.

We concluded the meal with a delicious portion of the Semifreddo Pistachio. The creamy goodness of this dessert will satisfy your sweet tooth cravings with its balanced flavor and variety of textures. It looks like the Arabic halwa, and even has a similar flaky and creamy texture, which is complemented by the crispiness of the biscuit and the pistachio. This is exactly what you should order when you are not sure whether you want to go for a dessert or an ice cream.

Overall, the restaurant offers a cozy and warm venue with good Italian food.

UAE economy minister to visit Britain seeking trade deal

UAE economy minister to visit Britain seeking trade deal
Updated 19 September 2021

UAE economy minister to visit Britain seeking trade deal

UAE economy minister to visit Britain seeking trade deal
  • Trade between the two countries was worth almost $8.1 billion in 2020

DUBAI: The UAE’s economy minister will lead a high-level delegation to Britain this week, the ministry said on Sunday, as the Gulf state seeks to deepen trade ties.

Abdulla bin Touq Al-Marri and the delegation will meet British ministers, officials and representatives from the private sector to discuss recently announced UAE economic policies.

One of those policies includes the UAE seeking to seal what it calls a comprehensive economic agreement covering trade and foreign investment with Britain and seven other countries.

The delegation would also discuss ways to develop economic ties and strengthen cooperation in trade, investment, healthcare and energy, among other sectors, the ministry said.

The UAE last week announced it had expanded an investment partnership with the British government, committing  £10 billion ($13.7 billion) to invest in the UK over five years.

The UAE delegation will also include local government, investment company and private sector representatives, the ministry said.

Britain is the UAE’s third largest non-oil trade partner in Europe, with trade between the two countries worth almost $8.1 billion in 2020, it said.

California high school celebrates date links to Middle East

California high school celebrates date links to Middle East
Updated 19 September 2021

California high school celebrates date links to Middle East

California high school celebrates date links to Middle East
  • Coachella Valley High School rebranded it’s Arab mascot after concerns it promoted stereotypes

CALIFORNIA: One hundred years ago Coachella Valley High School adopted the “Arab” as its school mascot after a link was established between that area of California and the Middle East.

“The Department of Agriculture sent out plant explorers all over the world and they were trying to find crops that would be successful here in the US and one of the crops they found were the dates,” said Lissette Santiago, community engagement manager for the Coachella Valley Unified School District.

“That’s how we wanted to honor everything that we had gained from the date industry and obviously that Middle Eastern community.”

But in 2013, complaints that the mascot was promoting racial stereotypes prompted a redesign.

“With the onset of 9/11 in 2001 that might have prompted many people to view the Arab community in a negative way,” she told us. “It was appropriate for us to have this discussion and we were happy that the Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee approached us and we were able to have those discussions.”

A year later, they debuted the new “Mighty Arab” mascot, designed in collaboration with and approved by the Arab community, strengthening that 100 year connection between the Coachella Valley and the Middle East.

“To celebrate the Arab world and the Arab community and every year we have a date festival,” Santiago said.

The festival has been on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the students and staff are looking forward to next year when they can once again proudly and respectfully wear the symbol of the Mighty Arab and celebrate the date palms they provided.

Iraq launches project to reduce flaring at oilfields

Iraq launches project to reduce flaring at oilfields
Updated 19 September 2021

Iraq launches project to reduce flaring at oilfields

Iraq launches project to reduce flaring at oilfields
  • Iraq is the second-biggest user of flaring worldwide after Russia.

BAGHDAD: Iraq has launched a new project that aims to recover gas normally set alight during oil extraction at two oilfields in the country’s south.
Flaring, or burning off excess gas during oil extraction, is a highly polluting practice but far less costly than processing it for sale.
According to the World Bank, Iraq is the second-biggest user of flaring worldwide after Russia.
The new project, signed in 2017 with oil services company Baker Hughes, will eventually allow 200 million cubic feet (around 5.6 million cubic meters) of gas a day that is usually torched on the Nasiriyah and Gharraf oilfields to be captured, according to a statement from the Oil Ministry sent to the media on Sunday.
It seeks to “exploit the gas that escapes from all oilfields across all Iraq, consolidate national gas production” and help preserve the environment, Oil Minister Ihsan Ismail was quoted as saying in the statement.
A ministry official told AFP that the implementation of the project and exploitation of the gas would have to wait 30 months for the completion of infrastructure works.
The World Bank said the amount of gas torched in Iraq annually reached 17.37 million cubic meters last year.
Earlier this month, French giant TotalEnergies signed a contract to invest in oil, gas and solar production in Iraq.
The French major plans initially to invest $10 billion in infrastructure, the proceeds of which will then allow a second round of investments of $17 billion, the officials said.
One of the projects will see the construction of a complex to exploit production from the sector’s gas fields.
Rather than flaring or burning off the excess, the plan is to recover it for use in electricity generation.
The premier’s office has said this will “reduce gas imports.”

Paulinho won’t be missed by Al-Ahli after sudden departure

Paulinho won’t be missed by Al-Ahli after sudden departure
Updated 19 September 2021

Paulinho won’t be missed by Al-Ahli after sudden departure

Paulinho won’t be missed by Al-Ahli after sudden departure
  • Brazilian midfielder has had his contract terminated by the club after returning home for personal reasons

Paulinho’s last meaningful act as an Al-Ahli player was getting bundled over in the box after 15 minutes to earn his team a penalty against Al-Fateh. That was on Friday but the very next day it was announced that his three-year contract with the Saudi Arabian giants had been terminated after just two months.

It is a blow to the club, struggling with five points from the first five games constituting the second worst-ever start to the season, and the league. Paulinho’s arrival after six successful years in China (a spell punctuated by a year in Barcelona) was another suggestion that the Saudi Professional League had become Asia’s go-to competition for talented foreign stars.

The understandable question for those fans in Jeddah and around the country is: What happened? 

The club’s official statement revealed little. “Al-Ahli club management, headed by Mr. Majed bin Ayed Al-Nefaie, has completed the procedures for terminating the contract of the Brazilian professional player “Paulinho” by mutual consent,” it said. It added: “The termination of the contract with Paulinho comes due the emergency circumstances, he spoke with the club’s management recently, which was reflected in his performance on the field during the past rounds, expressing his inability to provide the desired addition to the team.”



Speaking to Saudi television, Paulinho, who scored two goals in his four appearances, said that many things had been happening in life, including a fire breaking out at his house in Brazil, also home to his parents. A Brazilian radio show said that Paulinho was leaving Saudi Arabia for personal reasons and had recently been approached by Luiz Felipe Scolari, his former coach in Guangzhou and Brazil, currently in charge of Gremio.

The expectation in Brazil had been that the 33-year-old would return home after his China spell ended — his contract at Guangzhou was terminated because travel restrictions in place in China meant he could not enter the country. The expectation will now again be that he will return to sign either for his former club Corinthians, which he left in 2013 to sign for Tottenham Hotspur, or Gremio. This is the feeling at Al-Ahli too. 

Al-Nefaie added to the club’s statement, saying that there was no reason to keep a player who did not want to be there. 

“We tried a lot but it was clear that he didn’t want to stay,” Al-Nefaie said, according to Saudi radio station UFM. “After several such attempts, we decided to terminate the contract rather than pay a high salary to a player who doesn’t want to be there. The club is more important than any player.”

The message coming from Al-Ahli is clear: Paulinho didn’t want to stay and so there was little point in keeping him.

The midfielder is not the first and won’t be the last foreign player to sign a lucrative contract in Asia only to leave soon after. Only he knows whether there was a genuine emergency at home that means he can’t stay in Saudi Arabia or whether he simply wants to go and play elsewhere. It is credit to the club that the situation has been dealt with and resolved so quickly. There is not going to be any distracting saga developing here. Paulinho has gone and Al-Ahli have to move forward.

It could be that Paulinho’s most significant contribution to the long-term success of Al-Ahli was his parting request for fans to be patient. After a disappointing season last time when the club finished eighth in the league and there were rows about reported unpaid salaries, there were high hopes this time around with a new coach in Besnik Hasi and new players like, well, Paulinho.

“It is difficult to change a club in just a few days,” Paulinho said. “I know that Al-Ahli is a big project and I say to the fans that they need to be patient for some time because the current administration will take the club back to the top.”

“I know that last season was not great and we did not start well in the league this season with all these draws not normal for a club the size of Al-Ahli. The situation will improve because those in charge are professional, they will definitely change this situation.”

That attempt will continue without him on Thursday with an important game against Al-Feiha. Fans will be curious to see where Paulinho turns up next, but he wasn’t around long enough to be missed.

Afghan Taliban on the agenda as India, Saudi foreign ministers hold talks

Afghan Taliban on the agenda as India, Saudi foreign ministers hold talks
Updated 19 September 2021

Afghan Taliban on the agenda as India, Saudi foreign ministers hold talks

Afghan Taliban on the agenda as India, Saudi foreign ministers hold talks
  • Expert says Prince Faisal’s visit “very significant” amid political changes in the region
  • New Delhi urges Riyadh to resume flights as two officials discuss COVID-19 challenges, trade and bilateral ties

NEW DELHI: India’s Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar held talks with his Saudi counterpart on Sunday that included measures to bolster bilateral and trade ties, cope with COVID-19 challenges, and a “very useful” exchange on political developments in Afghanistan.

Saudi Arabia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah Al-Saud arrived in New Delhi for a two-day visit on Saturday and is expected to call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday.

It marks the first high-level ministerial visit by a Saudi official to India since the COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent travel curbs early last year.

“(It) was a cordial and productive meeting with (the) Saudi foreign minister,” Jaishankar said in a Twitter post on Sunday after the meeting at Hyderabad House in New Delhi.

Prince Faisal’s visit comes amid the recent political changes in Afghanistan after the Taliban’s return to power last month, marking the first official interaction between the two allies.

“Very useful exchange of views on Afghanistan, the Gulf and the Indo-Pacific,” Jaishankar said.

Saudi FM Prince Faisal bin Farhan and India’s FM Subrahmanyam Jaishankar meet in New Delhi. (@DrSJaishankar)

No further details were available, but experts termed the timing of the meeting and Prince Faisal’s visit as “a very significant one.”

As the Taliban surrounded the Afghan capital, Kabul, on Aug. 15, President Ashraf Ghani, with whom New Delhi had cultivated a close relationship, fled Afghanistan.

Earlier this month, the Taliban announced an interim government, weeks after taking over Afghanistan in a stunning military sweep, as US-led foreign forces withdrew after 20 years — ending the country’s longest conflict.

“Saudi Arabia and India have shared concerns as to whether Afghanistan will become the sanctuary for extremists because then it would become extremely dangerous for the neighborhood as a whole,” Talmiz Ahmad, former Indian ambassador to Saudi Arabia, told Arab News.

“It’s natural that both the close partners would discuss Afghanistan. It reflects very close relations that India and Saudi Arabia have established with each other.”

Ahmad cited the “strategic partnership” formed after signing the Riyadh Declaration of 2010 and taken forward “very vigorously” by Prime Minister Modi as the first step toward bringing the two countries closer.

“We now have a strategic council at the apex level. Therefore, the relationship that began with cooperation on counter-terrorism has now become a very strong and deep strategic partnership,” he said.

The two officials also reviewed progress in implementing the Strategic Partnership Council Agreement, signed during PM Modi’s visit to Saudi Arabia in October 2019, and bilateral cooperation at multilateral forums such as the UN, the G20 and the Gulf Cooperation Council.

Jaishankar congratulated Prince Faisal for Saudi Arabia’s successful presidency of the G20 last year, at the pandemic’s peak, a statement by India’s Foreign Ministry said.

“Both sides discussed further steps to strengthen their partnership in trade, investment, energy, defense, security, culture, consular issues, health care and human resources,” it added.

The foreign ministers also agreed to “work closely” to deal with pandemic-related challenges, with Jaishankar thanking Saudi “for the support provided to the Indian community during the COVID-19 pandemic,” urging the Kingdom to relax travel restrictions for visitors from India further.

In July, Riyadh imposed a travel ban on 13 countries, including India, to curb the spread of the coronavirus and its new variants, but removed the UAE, Argentina and South Africa from the list and re-allowed citizens to travel to the three countries starting Sept. 8.

According to Indian foreign ministry data, more than 2 million Indians are living and working in the Kingdom, employed in various sectors of the Gulf state. However, the COVID-19 pandemic rendered thousands jobless, with a majority unable to return to work due to travel curbs.

Jaishankar urged an early resumption of direct flights to Saudi Arabia while both nations “agreed to work closely on all COVID-19 related challenges.”

In April and May, Saudi supplied more than 140 tons of medical oxygen to Indian to help the South Asian nation tide over a health crisis amid a deadly second wave of the coronavirus that claimed the lives of more than 400,000 in a country of 1.36 billion people.