Famed historian Lucy Worsley explores Agatha Christie’s life at Emirates Literature Festival in Dubai

Famed historian Lucy Worsley explores Agatha Christie’s life at Emirates Literature Festival in Dubai
Lucy Worsley (center) and Ragnar Jonasson (left) at the Emirates Literature Festival. (Supplied)
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Updated 05 February 2023

Famed historian Lucy Worsley explores Agatha Christie’s life at Emirates Literature Festival in Dubai

Famed historian Lucy Worsley explores Agatha Christie’s life at Emirates Literature Festival in Dubai

DUBAI: In a sold-out, hour-long session at the Emirates Literature Festival, British historian and broadcaster Lucy Worsley and Icelandic thriller writer Ragnar Jonasson talked about all things Agatha Christie (1890-1976), the venerable British detective author. Actively writing for more than five decades, the best-selling “Queen of Crime” led a remarkable life and career of highs and lows.



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She taught herself to read at 5 years old, wrote 66 detective novels, surfed in Hawaii, and survived infidelity and a painful divorce. She sold over 2 billion books and was knighted by the queen in her 80s. One can say that Christie was a fighter, and the pen was her weapon of choice.

Both Worsley and Jonasson are long-time admirers of Christie. Worsley has a new biography about the writer, while ever since his teens, Jonasson has translated more than a dozen of Christie’s novels into Icelandic. “You go back to the books again and again, just like comfort reading,” he said.

“Somebody like Agatha Christie can sometimes be put into this box that’s marked with the words ‘difficult women.’ You aren’t immediately likable, aren’t immediately knowable, aren’t all sweet and light,” Worsley told the Dubai audience. “It strikes me that very often when a woman is put into that category in people’s minds it’s because she is breaking the rules as they are perceived for women at the time.”



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Worsley, who wrote her book during the pandemic, had access to Christie’s family archive and conducted research at her Georgian holiday home in Devon, England. Christie began seriously writing her books in the 1920s, often dubbed the “golden age of crime fiction.” Worsley believes it was the First World War, when Christie was a nurse, that kicked things off for her.

“She turned to writing detective fiction during the quiet hours in the hospital dispensary, when she was waiting for the prescriptions to come in,” she explained. “It was her job to mix up the drugs and produce the medicines (and) poisons that could either save life or take life.”

During her peak years, between the 1920s and 1940s, Christie always seemed to outshine other contemporary crime authors. “She was simply the best one,” said Jonasson, complimenting her genius plots. “The others were writing very good detective stories, but she always had this extra layer of a twist at the end…Her ideas are sometimes so simple that you explain them in one sentence.”

The session also delved into Christie’s personal hardships, including her infamous 1926 disappearance, when she hid away from society for 11 days as a result of her first husband’s adultery. In the later years of her life, suffering from the early stages of dementia, Christie’s books were not as successful as her previous ones.

But there were some positive points too. Her adventurous trips to the Middle East gave the world all-time classics, such as “Death on the Nile” and “Murder on the Orient Express.” It was in Iraq that she would meet her second husband of 40-plus years, archaeologist Max Mallowan. Interest in Christie’s writings remains high, as films and TV shows inspired by her books continue to be in production. Not only do these attract longtime fans but also, and perhaps most importantly, they introduce her work to younger generations.

Nora Attal models for Gigi Hadid’s Guest in Residence 

Nora Attal models for Gigi Hadid’s Guest in Residence 
Updated 22 March 2023

Nora Attal models for Gigi Hadid’s Guest in Residence 

Nora Attal models for Gigi Hadid’s Guest in Residence 

DUBAI: British Moroccan model Nora Attal showed her support for her friend Dutch Palestinian catwalk star Gigi Hadid by modeling for her fashion label Guest in Residence. 

Hadid shared a picture on her brand’s Instagram page of Attal wearing one of her cashmere pieces from the label’s Core collection.

She then reshared the picture to her private account, tagging Attal and adding a white heart.

Instagram/ @guestinresidence 

The pair have appeared on many runways together, including the Versace show in Los Angeles earlier in March. 

Hadid wore two outfits. The first was a floor-length gown with a semi-sheer corset bodice and a voluminous satin bottom, while her second look featured a structured black blazer, a knee-high skirt with black leather gloves, shoes and a bag. 

Attal wore a sheer turtle-neck top with a puffy miniskirt and black stockings. 


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Hadid launched her clothing label, which features soft, colorful knitwear, in September. 

“Over the last handful of years, I didn’t want to be backed into starting my own line just because there was an offer on the table or a deal to be made,” she wrote to her followers on Instagram at the time.

As a result, the 27-year-old rejected many opportunities until she found a path that “felt genuine.”

“The earliest days of Guest in Residence came about when I started to question the cashmere market, and those answers gave me a path,” she wrote.

“I believe that because of its sustainable qualities — natural and made to cherish and to pass down — cashmere is a luxury that should be more accessible.”

The model hopes her brand will encourage investment in quality pieces at reasonable prices, “and a wardrobe that can grow and change with your style, that can endure life with you, and that can become heirlooms.”

Ramadan 2023: how to manage a child’s first fast

Ramadan 2023: how to manage a child’s first fast
Updated 22 March 2023

Ramadan 2023: how to manage a child’s first fast

Ramadan 2023: how to manage a child’s first fast

DUBAI: As the sun rises on Thursday, the holy month of Ramadan will begin, ushering in a period of quiet contemplation, fasting during the day, feasting with family and friends in the evening, and getting in touch with our spiritual side.

This is also a time when youngsters look to their community and want to join in the festivities. Parents then have a tough call to make: Are their children ready for fasting? And, if the answer is yes, how can they ensure it is a relaxed, happy experience?

The first thing to remember is not to start too early — those younger than 7 may face negative consequences, health experts warn.

Dr. Samer Saade, specialist paediatrician at UAE-based Medcare Medical Center, said: “Children can start fasting when they reach puberty, so that’s between 10 and 14 years in girls and 12 to 16 years in boys. All in all, the best age to start fasting is between 10 and 12 years old.”

The second thing to keep in mind is the effect that lack of food can have on mood and cognitive function, especially since children need more fluids and energy to meet their body’s metabolic demands and for brain development.  

“While fasting, a child’s demeanor may range from weakness, fatigue, decreased cognitive function, altered sleep schedule, reduced attention span and short temper to headache, abdominal pain and fainting spells,” Dr. Nasreen Chidhara Pari, specialist pediatrician at UAE-based Life Medical Center.

Slow and steady


The key to a successful fast is being gradual, with short periods of abstinence, experts say.

“Parents should decide how long their child will fast (if they fast), based on their child’s health, eating frequency, ability to tolerate hunger and activity level,” Pari said.

She suggests children attending school carry an emergency food pack with a snack and water to break their fast if they become dizzy or find themselves unable to continue.

Should a child break their fast, it is important for adults nearby to stay calm and offer reassurance.

Practice positive reinforcement when a child breaks their fast; tell them it is OK and encourage the child to try again when they feel ready. “Extend the duration of fast time in small increments,” she said.

Gentle parenting


Saade echoes this sentiment, calling for positive thinking, gentle parenting and remaining calm during the process. This will ensure a more effective path to fasting, and also raise a child’s self-esteem.

During this period, what we eat becomes doubly important. Sakina Muntasir, a dietitian with UAE-based Prime Hospital, said that suhoor for children should be similar to suhoor for adults in order to prevent thirst, hunger pangs and make the fasting period comfortable.

“Oats, eggs, wholegrain bread and fruit are all good choices,” she said.

When it comes to iftar for children, begin with fresh juice or water-rich fruits or dates.

“Avoid fried or oily foods when breaking the fast. Divide the evening meal into three parts, iftar, dinner and post dinner, to ensure the child has good opportunities to take in enough nutrition,” she said.

Dinner should be a balanced meal with healthy carbs, protein and vegetables. After dinner, have them eat a few nuts and a glass of milk before bed.

Golden triangle


Children can be notoriously picky eaters, so remember the golden triangle: protein, fiber and healthy fat for a healthy meal.

Following these guidelines will ensure a healthy first fast. However, if suhoor is skipped or child  is not eating well, give them a multivitamin to avoid any weakness or deficiencies, Saade said.

Dr. Shahid Gauhar, specialist paediatrician and neonatologist with UAE-based Prime Hospital, said: “Do not force children to overeat during suhoor or iftar. It is likely to result in indigestion, bloating and discomfort.”

Keep the sweets at bay. “Avoid high-sugar food since it will increase their cravings, and provide few nutrients but many unneeded calories,” he said.

Experts agree that knowledge is key to a successful fast. Explain the significance of Ramadan and observing a fast, so it is not just about mimicking grown-ups. Reward milestones, whether it is five hours or a whole day of fasting.

“Celebrate their first fast with family and friends, and reward them, said Gauhar.  

Activity during Ramadan


Play is important for all children, even those fasting, in order for the brain to develop.

However, during the holy month, exercise and activity must be approached differently.

“Prepare activities to keep them busy during the day, but avoid those that need a high level of energy,” Gauhar said.

Iraqi Kurdish artist Hayv Kahraman’s explores how an understanding of microbiology can help deal with trauma 

Iraqi Kurdish artist Hayv Kahraman’s explores how an understanding of microbiology can help deal with trauma 
Updated 22 March 2023

Iraqi Kurdish artist Hayv Kahraman’s explores how an understanding of microbiology can help deal with trauma 

Iraqi Kurdish artist Hayv Kahraman’s explores how an understanding of microbiology can help deal with trauma 

DUBAI: The latest exhibition from Los Angeles-based Iraqi Kurdish artist Hayv Kahraman, on show at Dubai’s The Third Line gallery, is called “Gut Feelings: Part II.” The title is both instructive — the majority of works depict a female figure, or figures, with a knot of guts spilling from some part of their bodies — and allusive, as the show is informed by Kahraman’s exhaustive research into the gut microbiome and its effect on our mental and physical health, as well as by her own experiences of trauma. The imagery somehow manages to be unsettling, funny and comforting all at once. 

The most immediate influence from Kahraman’s own life on this body of work was her mother’s diagnosis with lung cancer, which she received in 2018.  

“That’s when I started digging into the biosciences and immunology,” Kahraman tells Arab News. “My mom was a naturopath, she tried a lot of alternative (medicine). If my mom were alive, she would have so much input into this. And it is a way of getting closer to her; it’s all connected to this work.  

“I started with immunology and I was struck by how militaristic the language was. You’re ‘fighting cancer.’ You’re constantly at war with your body, you know? Why can’t we have something that’s looking at it as more of a journey, rather than something you’re fighting against? I really reacted to the semantics,” she continues.  

“From immunology I shifted into microbiology, and that’s where this (show) was born. I really got into a rabbit hole,” Kahraman explains. “There are ecosystems of microbiota all over our bodies; inside, outside, around. There’s something called aura microbiota, so right now, as we’re sitting next to each other, my microbiota is mixing with your microbiota, which is just beautiful if you think of it, because then all of these notions of ‘us and them’ or where I end and you begin — these dichotomies — shatter. I found out — and this was mindblowing — our bodies have a 1:1 ratio of human cells and microbial cells. So where do ‘you’ start and where do ‘you’ end? You’re equally other: microbe, germ, dirty. As somebody who’s been an immigrant, a refugee, ‘othered’ in so many ways, I’m constantly thinking about difference. So with the microbes, it was, like, ‘Ooh, these are my friends.’” 

Hayv Kahraman, Feeding on entanglements, 2022. (Supplied)

Kahraman was born in 1981 and grew up in Baghdad. Her mother worked for the United Nations and her father was a university professor. “My parents were very liberal. We had a little playroom in our home that we could paint all over; walls, ceiling, doors. That was very empowering. That room was filled with all kinds of stories — our concerns, things that we wanted to celebrate,” she says. 

Her parents also hosted regular soirees attended by Iraqi creatives. “I’d sit in the room next door and do these quick gestural paintings, and every now and then one of these creatives would come in and look at my painting and give me a mini critique. And that was amazing; to get that from multiple voices,” she says. “That was pivotal to my life.” 

The family fled Iraq to Sweden when Kahraman was 10, after the first Gulf War. They arrived as undocumented refugees and were eventually granted asylum. “I went through a process of assimilation when I arrived; I wanted so desperately to belong and become Swedish,” she says. “And when that happens to you, you’re robbed of who you thought that you really were; whatever that is. I did everything I could to become Swedish; dyed my hair, had a perfect accent, so I didn’t sound like an immigrant. And that’s a very violent thing to undergo, because you really are erasing something. This is something I revisit in my work all the time; I’m so concerned with not being erased. ‘I’m here. I exist. Listen to me. Hear me. See me.’”  

Hayv Kahraman, Neurobust, 2022. (Supplied)

That, she says, is why the female figure in “Gut Feelings: Part II” has been recurrent throughout her work. It was first created in Italy, where she moved to intern as a librarian at an art school. There have been many “transmutations” of the figure, however. In 2007, for example, at the height of Iraq’s sectarian violence, when thousands of people were dying there each day, Kahraman had just moved to Phoenix, Arizona. “I was consumed by guilt, being in this country that was currently at war with my own. So the work was very violent — you had women setting themselves on fire, women hanging themselves...” She was also in an abusive relationship at the time, although she says it took her many years to realize it, “but it came out in the work.” 

Having lived through so much trauma, it’s unsurprising that Kahraman describes herself as having a tendency to be “very dark” and to regularly become obsessed with certain topics (such as microbia).  

“If I could, I would just live in my obsessions,” she says. “My work is about working through things — trauma and those obsessions. Why am I obsessing about the microbiome, and health, and torshi (fermented beetroot, which features heavily in the show, and is rich in ‘good’ bacteria)? My mom used to make torshi when we were kids and we used to paint with it. I didn’t consciously link it at first. The academic research came before, and then I’m like, ‘Oh my god. Yes. That’s why I’m here…’” 

She stresses, however, that as much as her art doubles as therapy, it also brings her joy. And there is lightness in the exhibition too — the comic book-style gut-spillage has a certain humorous appeal.  

“I am trying to channel that levity. I think I’ve got a nice balance between the really grotesque and… I wouldn’t say beauty, because that’s subjective. I’d say, connection, maybe,” she says. “I wanted the audience to walk in and feel like they’re inside the body and that it’s comforting and that there’s compassion and healing and that it’s a safe space.” 

French label Messika stars 3 Arab talents in Ramadan campaign

French label Messika stars 3 Arab talents in Ramadan campaign
Updated 22 March 2023

French label Messika stars 3 Arab talents in Ramadan campaign

French label Messika stars 3 Arab talents in Ramadan campaign

DUBAI: French jewelry brand Messika unveiled their new Ramadan campaign, starring three Arab talents paying tribute to the women of the region.

The three stars are Laila Abdallah, a Lebanese actress based in Kuwait, Yara Alhogbani, the first and only Saudi tennis player competing on an international level, and Mariam Al-Remeithi, the first and youngest Emirati theater costume designer and abaya designer who recently took her work to Paris.

“A large part of Ramadan is about introspection and committing oneself to growth and lasting change,” said 18-year-old Alhogbani in a statement. “I make sure to take the time to distance myself from distractions so that I’m able to see where I can personally improve to better the journey that I’m currently on.”

Al-Remaithi, the acclaimed fashion designer who began pursuing her passion for clothing design from childhood, said: “Ramadan has always been a source of inspiration for me. By tuning into my spiritual self, I am able to to recalibrate my creative vision and goals.

“There is a sense of serenity and demure elegance that is unique to Ramadan, which I tend to channel into my designs,” she added.

Abdallah said: “Ramadan is a time to rejuvenate the mind, body and spirit. It is a special month that brings peace to my soul, allowing me the opportunity to self-reflect and create invaluable memories with loved ones.”

In the campaign images, the three talents wore Ramadan-inspired jewelry, including multi-layered necklaces, bracelets and earrings, as they posed for pictures together. 

US model Olivia Culpo shines in Zuhair Murad gown

US model Olivia Culpo shines in Zuhair Murad gown
Updated 22 March 2023

US model Olivia Culpo shines in Zuhair Murad gown

US model Olivia Culpo shines in Zuhair Murad gown

DUBAI: US model Olivia Culpo this week turned heads at the Endometriosis Foundation of America’s 11th Annual Blossom Ball wearing a black gown by Lebanese designer Zuhair Murad.

The former Miss Universe wore a pleated organza ballgown with lace trim from the couturier’s ready-to-wear spring/summer 2023 collection.

Culpo took to Instagram to share a video from her speech at the New York City event.

In her caption, the model explained what endometriosis was. She said: “It’s a disease where tissue that resembles the lining of the uterus is present outside of the uterus. It causes chronic inflammation and scarring leading to pain and/or infertility.

“It’s a complex disease and affects so many women around the world,” she added.

Culpo revealed in 2020 that she had been diagnosed with endometriosis in a series of posts that were shared to her Instagram Story.

She has since partnered with the Endometriosis Foundation of America to raise awareness about the condition.