Aiza: Dubai’s latest Greek venue

Aiza: Dubai’s latest Greek venue
Aiza is one of Dubai’s newest Greek restaurants. (Supplied)
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Updated 12 February 2021

Aiza: Dubai’s latest Greek venue

Aiza: Dubai’s latest Greek venue
  • It’s not just the food that will draw you into this authentic Mediterranean experience

DUBAI: Perched on a terrace overlooking the world’s largest fountain on Palm Jumeirah is one of Dubai’s newest Greek restaurants, Aiza.

With all the recent launches at the Palm Jumeirah’s The Pointe, it seems like developers want to turn it into another fine-dining spot in Dubai. The atmosphere at Aiza is comparable to some places at Dubai International Financial Center, well known for its high-end restaurants. Unfortunately, so are it’s prices.

The enchanting design of the restaurant’s outdoor area is filled with flower arches, warm lights, and wooden furniture, giving it a pleasant romantic vibe. Indoors, it is much brighter but no less magical, with a ceiling adorned with decor that imitates waves.




The atmosphere at Aiza is comparable to some places at Dubai International Financial Center, well known for its high-end restaurants. (Supplied)

For added authenticity, Aiza hires Greek waiters to truly make you feel as if you are on one of Greece’s popular islands.

Right from the start of your visit, it’s clear Aiza is sparing no effort to set itself apart. While the complementary treats restaurants offer are not usually memorable, our Kalamata olives at Aiza were one of the most enjoyable dishes of the night, with a flavor midway between Spanish and Arab olives. Like their Iberian relatives, these olives from the southern Peloponnese had the sourness of pickled foods, but like their Arab cousins they boasted a real depth of flavor, with garlic-y and smokey notes.

Aiza’s menu is designed for sharing, replicating the Mediterranean experience of eating with loved ones and relatives and all partaking in each dish.




This is the restaurant’s cheese pie. (Supplied)

One of the standout starters was the Cretan-style salad with dakos barley rusks, marinated-tomato mix and xynomyzithra cheese. The rusks added a satisfying crunch — and surprisingly remained crisp despite being drenched in dressing. The sourness of the juicy tomatoes was balanced by the creaminess of the cheese — which has a texture midway between cottage and feta cheeses. The salad as a whole was delicious, with an herby aftertaste.

The moussaka — sometimes called Greek eggplant lasagna — was also excellent. It’s an ideal choice for those who enjoy Levantine cuisine, as there are, obviously, similarities to the Lebanese version (aka maghmour). The smoked-aubergine boats are filled with tender minced beef and potatoes, covered with rich graviera cheese. I usually hate aubergine, but I thoroughly enjoyed this decadent dish.

The restaurant offers a variety of seasonal dishes, including the grilled sea bass with skordalia —a garlic-based puree. The bass was perfectly cooked — not over-seasoned, which allowed the natural creaminess to shine through. The delicious garlic-and-potato skardalia was colored with cuttlefish ink, and was soft and juicy.




The restaurant also serves mezze platters. (Supplied)

The true highlight of the night, though, was the lamb shank Ladorigani, which was slow-cooked in a josper charcoal oven with a side of roasted potatoes. The waiter slides the meat of the bone in front of you at the table, and as soon as I saw how swiftly it slid off I knew it was going to be delicious. The tender lamb is juicy on the inside with a crispy crust, and the flavorful marinade was slightly sweet, but salty. A definite must-try for lamb lovers.

For a traditional Greek dessert, you should definitely try the mini galaktobureko — crispy rolls of filo dough stuffed with the semolina cream and mastic-pistachio ice-cream and sweetened with honey with a faint hint of lemon, creating a rich, balanced taste sensation.




This is the restaurant’s octopus carpacio. (Supplied)

But Aiza also makes delicious international classics, such as molten or lava cake, which comes with a side of creamy vanilla ice-cream and strawberries — the milkiness of the ice-cream and the strawberry tang providing a perfect contrast to the bitterness of the cake’s dark cocoa.

And, of course, as in any self-respecting Greek restaurant, visitors get the chance to smash up some crockery. Your waiters will perform a traditional Greek dance for which your table will be given special plates which you will be asked to break (in a reasonably orderly manner) under the feet of the dancers.

All in all, Aiza is a great venue for a date night or an intimate dinner with friends, offering delicious Greek food in a lovely setting.


Bella Hadid shares insight on her autoimmune disorders

Hadid was diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2012. Instagram
Hadid was diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2012. Instagram
Updated 6 min 4 sec ago

Bella Hadid shares insight on her autoimmune disorders

Hadid was diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2012. Instagram

DUBAI: US-Palestinian-Dutch model Bella Hadid offered fans a glimpse into how she treats her autoimmune disorders in an Instagram post this weekend.

On Friday, the 24-year-old posted a series of photos showing her hooked up to an intravenous drip. “Living with a few chronic autoimmune disease = always finding time for my IVs,” she captioned the post.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Bella (@bellahadid)

Hadid was diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2012 alongside with younger brother Anwar, 21, and their mother, Yolanda, 57.

In 2016, Bella opened up to People magazine about dealing with Lyme disease while being in the spotlight.

“Life isn’t always what it looks like on the outside, and the hardest part of this journey is to be judged by the way you look instead of the way you feel,” she said at the time.


Part-Moroccan model Malika El-Maslouhi is the star of the Dundas Fall 2021 collection

The model posed for Norwegian designer Peter Dundas’s latest collection. Supplied
The model posed for Norwegian designer Peter Dundas’s latest collection. Supplied
Updated 5 min 38 sec ago

Part-Moroccan model Malika El-Maslouhi is the star of the Dundas Fall 2021 collection

The model posed for Norwegian designer Peter Dundas’s latest collection. Supplied

DUBAI: Norwegian designer Peter Dundas presented the Dundas Fall 2021 collection this week with a little help from Malika El-Maslouhi. The fashion heavyweight tapped the Moroccan-Italian rising model to showcase the glamorous new offering, which was digitally presented in a look book format.

The 22-year-old, who was born in Milan to an Italian mother and a Moroccan father, features in the look book, shot by fashion photographer Charlotte Wales in London, wearing 31 looks that range from draped minidresses and velvet pantsuits to slender duster coats and the brand’s newest category — hosiery.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by MALIKA (@malika.elmaslouhi)

“If we’re ever allowed to go out at night again, I promise I’m stepping out in @dundasworld,” wrote El-Maslouhi on Instagram alongside a carousel of videos and photos that included backstage clips from the shoot. “What a fun day it was and loved to rock these looks. Thank you for having me,” she added.

Indeed, the collection is perfect for post-lockdown revelry.

Inspired by the glamour of the 1930s and the 1970s, the collection was punctuated with flowy wide-leg trousers, tailored jackets worn over lavish dresses, fringed tops and skirts, feathered cardigan dresses and lots of animal print.

The model posed for Norwegian designer Peter Dundas’s latest collection. Supplied

The London-based designer chose rich and luxurious fabrics such as velvet and charmeuse and details like ostrich fur and sequins to dream up the latest offering.

El-Maslouhi, who is signed to VIVA Model Management, made her modelling debut when she was 18 years old at the Alberta Ferretti Fall 2019 show and went on to walk for the Dior Cruise 2020 show held in Marrakech a month later.

She would go on to quit her university studies to pursue modeling full-time, and completely captivate the fashion industry in the process.

The model posed for Norwegian designer Peter Dundas’s latest collection. Supplied

In addition to gracing the runways of storied fashion houses such as Hermes and Chanel, the rising fashion star has also appeared in international campaigns for the likes of Jacquemus and Zadig & Voltaire, and was selected as the face of Calvin Klein swimwear.

Meanwhile, the model, who splits her time between Italy, France and the Netherlands, was also recently selected as the cover star of the latest edition of Elle France.


Valentino collaborates with Mideast’s Magrabi on sunglasses for summer

Valentino and Magrabi have collaborated on a limited-edition range of sunglasses. Supplied
Valentino and Magrabi have collaborated on a limited-edition range of sunglasses. Supplied
Updated 27 February 2021

Valentino collaborates with Mideast’s Magrabi on sunglasses for summer

Valentino and Magrabi have collaborated on a limited-edition range of sunglasses. Supplied

DUBAI: Sunglasses might be a small accessory, but they have a large impact. The importance of a great pair of shades can’t be understated, especially in our region where the sun shines virtually all year round. Fortunately, the sunglasses market is brimming with stylish and wearable shapes to suit all faces and styles. The most recent pair to hit our radar is the new Valentino x Magrabi sunglasses. Dubai-based fashion influencers Maram Zbaeda and Zoya Sakr were recently spotted rocking a pair.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Maram (@maram.zbaeda)

The Italian luxury maison has collaborated with the regional eyewear brand on a limited-edition range of sunglasses that hit shelves this week.

The exclusive collaboration is limited and features just 30o pairs of bold, square-shaped sunglasses engraved with “Valentino Magrabi Edition” inside the temple. The acetate shades also boast smoked lenses and the iconic VLogo Signature in gold metal on the side for an added statement. 

The Valentino x Magrabi sunglasses. Supplied

Each pair comes enclosed inside a sleek red box bearing Valentino’s distinctive logo, alongside a unique authenticity card and serial number, so it would also make a covetable gift to give and to get. 

The exclusive collaboration is available to purchase at Magrabi stores across Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Egypt and Kuwait, and with summer just around the corner, consider picking up a new pair—or two, for the even sunnier days ahead.


Saudi Fashion Commission CEO Burak Cakmak unveils plans for the future

Burak Cakmak had been appointed to lead Saudi Arabia’s Fashion Commission. File/Getty Images
Burak Cakmak had been appointed to lead Saudi Arabia’s Fashion Commission. File/Getty Images
Updated 27 February 2021

Saudi Fashion Commission CEO Burak Cakmak unveils plans for the future

Burak Cakmak had been appointed to lead Saudi Arabia’s Fashion Commission. File/Getty Images

DUBAI: Last week it was announced by Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Culture that Burak Cakmak had been appointed to lead the Kingdom’s Fashion Commission, one of the 11 bodies under the Kingdom’s Ministry of Culture, to help develop the country’s burgeoning fashion industry.

“I was honored to have a chance to join the team at the Fashion Commission to lead the implementation of an ambitious strategy to build a robust fashion industry in Saudi Arabia,” said Cakmak, a former Dean of Fashion at the Parsons School of Design in New York, to Arab News. 

“Saudi Arabia has all the key elements for building a successful fashion industry today. With traditions and heritage to inspire, its creative community keen to build new businesses and a fashion conscious young population engaged in retail and social media with fashion. Saudi (Arabia) is in a great place to become a key influencer in the region and globally,” he added.

In his new role as the CEO of the Fashion Commission, Cakmak will be responsible for a string of tasks, including supporting and empowering talent, professionals and entrepreneurs in the local fashion industry, developing and regulating the fashion sector as well as encouraging finance and investment.

“One of my main focus areas is to identify opportunities for Saudi to create fashion solutions that are innovative, technology driven, sustainable and aligned with the expectations of the 21st century global consumer,” said Cakmak of some of the changes he would like to implement in his new role. 

“As we are building and growing a relatively new industry in the country, we need to ensure we don't repeat the mistakes of the West from the past century.  This means that we need to focus on building new business models that are able to manage social and environmental impacts, (and that are) transparent and innovative in the way they engage the consumer.”

In addition to managing and developing the fashion sector in Saudi Arabia, Cakmak also hopes to shine a positive spotlight on the Kingdom’s burgeoning fashion scene. 

 “At the moment there is not enough information available about the creativity coming out of the Kingdom to the rest of the world,” he noted. “The richness of the country’s heritage and crafts, as well as its designers, with both traditional and modern takes on Saudi fashion, is a great starting point for us to start shaping perceptions around the Saudi creative industry.”

In the past two years alone, Saudi Arabia has rolled out a series of changes that can be attributed to Vision 2030, a plan that focuses on modernizing Saudi culture, diversifying its economy away from oil, attracting new global investments, and supporting small local businesses. One of the areas that is showing real potential is the country’s fashion sector.

“Recent initiatives around tourism and a deeper focus on diversifying local economic sectors have been a great catalyst in stimulating the fashion industry,” Cakmak said.  

Models backstage ahead of the Arwa al Banawi show at Fashion Forward October 2017. Getty Images

Indeed, the country’s fashion sector is rapidly on the ascent. In the last couple of years, the country hosted its first-ever Fashion Week in Riyadh in 2018, the Dubai-based Arab Fashion Council opened up an office in Riyadh and Saudi fashion designers are getting more recognition than ever as they lay the groundwork for a real, thriving fashion industry.

“Mohammed Khoja’s brand, Hindamme, produced a jacket embroidered with the words ‘24 June 2018’ – the date women in Saudi started driving, which was acquired by the Victoria & Albert Museum in London as part of their permanent fashion collection. Meanwhile at the end of last year, the brand of Saudi sisters – Sarah and Siham Albinali – Lurline, was declared joint second runner-up in the Vogue Arabia Fashion Prize.  And one of Mohammed Ashi’s creations was worn on the red carpet by Oscar-nominated director and screenwriter Ava DuVernay at the Academy Awards in 2017,” recalled Cakmak, highlighting some of the many success stories from Saudi Arabia.

Jory Al Maiman and Lujain wearing the Hindamme embroidered jacket. Photographed by Ekleel Al Fares

But despite growing interest and support from events like Arab Fashion Week, a lot of brands struggle with a lack of access to capital and resources necessary in a functioning fashion ecosystem. Cakmak hopes to change that in his new role.

“A brand can only succeed if they are able to couple creativity with a sound business strategy,” he explained, adding “I am working closely with the Fashion Commission team and the Ministry of Culture to ensure we are creating the right infrastructure to develop the industry. First and foremost, we want to support fashion entrepreneurs with the right regulatory frameworks relevant to the fashion industry. As we assess the local fashion ecosystem, we are identifying areas for new job opportunities and fashion businesses that can be created locally to support a growing fashion industry in Saudi Arabia.”

Cakmak received a bachelor’s degree at the Middle East Technical University in Turkey in 1997. 

His career in the fashion industry began in 2000, serving as Gap Inc.’s senior manager of social responsibility. After eight years, he relocated to London and was hired by European conglomerate Kering to lead sustainability strategies for the luxury group’s brands — including Gucci, Saint Laurent and Balenciaga — as its first director of corporate sustainability. 

In January, Saudi designer Ahmed Alwohaibi staged the kingdom's first-ever independant fashion show in Riyadh. Supplied

He was appointed as dean of fashion at Parsons School of Design in 2016, where he made it his mission to educate the next generation of fashion creatives about the importance of environmental and social responsibility.

With his 15-year-strong background in sustainability, Cakmak hopes to make the topic a key focus in his new role in Saudi. 

“As the Fashion Commission, we are keen to bring the latest tools for measuring and reporting on the sustainability impact to local brands and share knowledge on how to build more sustainable business models for the fashion industry,” he shared. 

“Made in KSA will be a key focus to create short supply chains where we can encourage on-demand production and mass customization to minimize returns and left-over inventory for the industry,” he added of his strategy to minimize the impact of the fashion supply chain in the Kingdom.

As for his long-term goals for Saudi’s fashion sector, Cakmak just wants to position the country as a key player in the global fashion industry.

“In collaboration with the Fashion Commission team, Ministry of Culture and all other relevant government entities, I hope to put in place the incentive and infrastructure to achieve this goal,” he said.

“I have worked with fashion businesses all across the globe and have a good understanding of the opportunities and challenges they face. I also have a good view on the latest developments in the industry, and access to a global network of experts who we can tap into to shape the future of fashion in the Kingdom. I am really excited to be a catalyst to bring such positive change to the country.”


What We Are Reading Today: European Passerines by Tomasz Cofta

What We Are Reading Today: European Passerines by Tomasz Cofta
Updated 27 February 2021

What We Are Reading Today: European Passerines by Tomasz Cofta

What We Are Reading Today: European Passerines by Tomasz Cofta

Opening up new frontiers in birdwatching, this is the first field guide to focus specifically on the identification of European passerines and related land birds in flight. Showcasing 850 stunning and remarkably lifelike color illustrations from acclaimed bird artist Tomasz Cofta, produced using the latest digital technology, backed up with more than 2,400 photographs carefully selected to show typical flight profiles, it provides detailed and unsurpassed coverage of 205 European passerines and 32 near-passerines. This cutting-edge book brings a new dimension to birdwatching, the concise and authoritative species accounts presenting novel yet essential information on the flight manner of individual birds and the structure and behavior of flocks — features that are key to identification, says a review on the Princeton University Press website. It also includes precise transliterations of flight calls, supported by sonograms, and links to a unique collection of hundreds of online audio recordings. Beautifully designed and written in an accessible style, this book will appeal to birdwatchers of all abilities.