Tuesday, November 29, 2011
The 7th London Kurdish Film Festival is currently running from the 17th to the 27th of November. This year’s event comprises of 18 feature films, 29 documentaries and 55 short films, 20 of which are shortlisted for the 3rd Yilmaz Guney Short Film Competition, named in honour of the late Kurdish film director who received widespread acclaim and died in exile in Paris. Over 120 films in total are being screened, making this year’s festival the biggest in its history.
First launched in 2001, the London Kurdish Film Festival is led by a group of volunteers with the support of the main Kurdish community centers in London. It aims to provide a platform for Kurdish producers and filmmakers to bring their work to a wider audience; however it also aims to serve as a means of raising awareness for issues affecting any minority or migrant community.
Over the past decade the festival has expanded considerably, now offering an extremely rich and diverse program currently being screened in digital format for the first time at London’s Hackney Picturehouse.
The festival was inaugurated with the screening of Iraqi-Kurdish director Hiner Saleem’s latest production, “If you die, I will kill you”, which depicts the travails of a Kurdish refugee traveling to Paris in pursuit of an Iraqi war criminal. Other highlights of this year’s festival include “Meş (Walking)”, a film which sparked controversy in Turkey when it was screened at Antalya’s International Golden Orange Film Festival, due to a scene where the lead character slaps a Turkish Army officer.
The festival also features works from East Kurdistan (Iran), including “They like nobody”, which tells the story of a pregnant woman in a remote Kurdish village, as well as films that have been produced by members of the Kurdish diaspora in Europe, such as “The Flowers of Kirkuk”, “Exile in Paris”, and “Tangled Up in Blue”.
The festival also features documentaries such as “The First Movie” by Irish director Mark Cousins, who handed out video cameras to children in the Kurdish-Iraqi village of Goptapa, as well as the multi-award winning “All My Mothers” by Ebrahim Saaedi and Zahavi Sanjavi, which depicts modern day life in the now female-dominated villages of Kurdistan Iraq which were targeted by Saddam Hussein’s Baathist regime.
The winner of the Yilmaz Guney Short Film Competition will be announced at an awards ceremony on the 24th November, whilst the 7th London Kurdish Film Festival will conclude on the 27th November at Westbourne Studios.
Monday, November 28, 2011
by Robert W. Lebling and Donna Pepperdine
Photographed by Donna Pepperdine
Excerpted with permission from Natural Remedies of Arabia. Robert W. Lebling and Donna Pepperdine. 2006, Al-Turath/Stacey International, 1-905299-02-8 (North America: Interlink Books, www.interlinkbooks.com).hether you are in Doha, Dubai, Manama, Salalah, Jiddah or an obscure country village, when you step into an herbal medicine shop or wander through the traditional suqs (markets), you will find vendors of herbs, spices, bark, twigs, rocks and salt intended for culinary, cosmetic or medicinal purposes.
As you gaze at the piles of twisted bark or the varied combinations of dried flowers, you may wonder: What are these products? Where do they come from? How are they used locally?
These fascinating items whisper tales of the ancient trade routes, for many still come to Arabia from India, China, Indonesia, Egypt, Syria and other exotic locations, and are distributed across the Peninsula through existing commercial networks. Others are harvested locally, some under harsh desert conditions, and have their own fascinating stories to tell.
The people of the Arabian Peninsula have, for centuries, combined goods obtained by trade and barter with a prudent use of local plants and have developed a rich heritage of folk medicine.
Many of the natural remedies presented here are the result of a questionnaire distributed throughout the Arabian Peninsula in early 2002. The questionnaire, printed in both Arabic and English, asked families to explain how they, as well as their mothers and grandmothers, use various herbs, spices and other substances in natural healing. It also requested specific remedies for conditions such as headache, colds and coughs, sore throats, hair loss, general fatigue, childbirth and so on. We present their generous responses, which have helped to unlock many of the mysteries of local medicinal herb shops and reveal unique insights into the natural remedies of Arabia.
Arabic: Shabba, Shabb;
Other English: Potassium Alum, Potash Alum
First-time visitors to Middle Eastern markets may be puzzled to see piles of stones displayed prominently among the herbs and spices. One of them is alum, a crystal-white mineral often imported from China. Alum is a compound of several metals, including aluminum. It is an astringent, widely used in the Middle East to control bleeding and to clean and heal wounds. Shabba powder is mixed with henna for skin decoration, and when applied to the underarms, it acts as a deodorant. Alum is not ingested, nor is it used in cooking.
Did you know?
- In ancient Babylon, physicians used alum in a mouthwash, as a styptic, as a pessary for menorrhagia, as a nasal douche, and as a treatment for itchy scabs, gonorrhea and purulent ophthalmia. Greek and then Arab medical authorities continued these practices, and went on to use alum for the treatment of leprosy, bad gums, pustules and ear trouble.
- The alums are valuable in paper manufacturing, textile dyeing, fireproofing, water purification, and in medicine as astringents, styptics and emetics.
- The Alum Mountain, in Bulahdelah, Australia, is the only known above-ground outcrop of alum stone (alunite) in the world.
- Using shabba deodorant stones is considered safe and will not cause high levels of aluminum in your system. This is because potassium alum molecules have a negative ionic charge, and the aluminum is unable to pass through cell walls.
- Bauxite, the ore from which alum is drawn, can be purified and converted directly into alum.
Arabic: Anisun, Yansun, Yansoon Pimpinella anisum Umbelliferae/Apiaceae (Parsley Family)
From cookies to colds, this tiny, aromatic, gray-brown seed—often called aniseed—serves families across the Arabian Peninsula. Saudi merchants import much of their aniseed from Syria and India. Anise also grows in Egypt, Cyprus, Crete and on the Eastern Mediterranean coast.
In the kitchen: Licorice-flavored aniseed provides subtle flavor to cookies and other sweets.
Remedies across Arabia: Anise is a popular folk medicine, with a long tradition in Islamic pharmacology. It is used to treat general abdominal pain, colic, indigestion, menstrual cramping, coughs and headaches. It is also believed to clean the urinary system and prevent inflammations. Anise has aromatic, diaphoretic, relaxant, stimulant, tonic, carminative and stomachic properties.
Did you know?
- Anise is sometimes confused with fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), particularly the Iranian varieties, which are quite similar in appearance and flavor.
- An oil distilled from anise is what gives licorice candy its flavor.
- Anise is a key ingredient of supari, the digestive spice mix served after a curry meal.
Arabic: Arak, Rak;
Other English: Toothbrush Tree, Mustard Tree, Saltbush Salvadora persica L.; Salvadoraceae
Have you ever wondered how people cleaned their teeth before the invention of the toothbrush? One answer is the miswak! A miswak (plural: masawik) is a fibrous stick prepared from the root of the arak tree. It has antiseptic and astringent properties which help clean and protect the teeth and gums. A high-quality miswak has a strong, pungent smell. It is pale yellow or cream in color. It is moist and flexible.
The Prophet Mohammad, founder of Islam, recommended the miswak to his followers. He used it to sweeten his breath during fasting and advised its use prior to prayer. This practice is still popular in Arabia today.
The arak is a short evergreen tree that grows in sandy and arid areas of the Middle East and Africa. Sheep and goats like to nibble its leaves.
How to use: Soak the root in water for a few hours to soften the natural fibers. Then scrape off five to 10 millimeters (¼–½) of bark from the tip and gently chew until fibers have separated and the root becomes brush-like. Clean the teeth by rubbing the miswak up and down and sideways as you would a conventional plastic toothbrush. When the fibers become overused, simply cut off the tip of the miswak, scrape off more bark and continue to use as before. To retain freshness, keep miswak in the refrigerator or soak in water.
Did you know?
- Arak roots contain triclosan, an effective antibacterial used in modern toothpastes. Other ingredients include fluoride, vitamin C, alkaloids and small amounts of tannins and flavenoids.
- A herbal toothpaste with pure miswak extract (made by a hygiene-products company in India) is currently marketed in Saudi Arabia and other countries of the region.
- Other natural toothbrush sources, when arak is not available, include the peelo tree, the olive tree, the bitam tree, the walnut tree, the neem tree or any bitter tree that is not harmful or poisonous in any way!
Arabic: Haltita, Hiltit;
Other English: Asafoetida, Giant Fennel, Devil’s Dung, Stinking Gum, Food of the Gods Ferula assa-foetida or F. asafoetida; Umbelliferae/Apiaceae (Parsley Family)
When the doorbell rang, Khalid knew that his grandmother had arrived with her infamous family remedy: the foul-smelling gum resin of the asafetida plant. His mind raced to find an excuse, any excuse, to avoid taking it. He felt uncertain that the effort required to swallow the bitter substance was worth the cure. Yet he knew his grandmother would be firm. Her words still echoed to him from times of past sickness: “You know, Khalid, asafetida has been used for ages as an effective medicine in the Arab world. It works mainly to improve the digestive system, but it’s also used as a pain-reliever, a cough medicine and a blood thinner. We’ll use it to treat your upset stomach.” Khalid had no choice but to agree—and he soon felt better. In Saudi Arabia today, families still turn to asafetida as a “last-resort” treatment for coughs, colds, fevers and stomach discomfort. It is not the most popular home remedy; parents must coach their children to hold their nose and swallow quickly in order to tolerate the strong smell and bitter taste.
How to use: 1) Melt in hot water and drink; 2) Grind or crush the lump resin into powder or melt it in liquid and use sparingly as a cooking spice.
In the kitchen: Despite its sulfurous smell, asafetida, when cooked, imparts a surprisingly pleasant flavor to many foods. In Indian cuisine, it is a substi- tute for onion or garlic. Use in small amounts. The powdered form is milder than the resin, because it is normally blended with rice flour. The resin should be fried in hot oil before using. A pea-sized quantity is enough to flavor a large pot of lentils or vegetables. Store asafetida in an air-tight container.
Remedies across Arabia: Asafetida is available in Middle Eastern herb shops and can be purchased in lump resin or powdered form.
Did you know?
- Alexander the Great is credited with carrying asafetida west in the fourth century BC, following his expeditions into the Persian Empire (modern Afghanistan).
- The famous ancient Roman gourmet Apicius (first century) used asafetida in over half of his recipes.
- The British explorer Charles Doughty, who traveled throughout Arabia in the mid-19th century, called asafetida “a drug which the Arabs have in sovereign estimation.”
- Asafetida is native to Iran and western Afghanistan.
- Modern herbalists regard asafetida as a sedative, antispasmodic and circulatory agent. It is also known to relieve intestinal and stomach upsets.
- Asafetida is much used in the Ayurvedic tradition and is also popular in Indian vegetarian cooking.
- Al-Kindi, an Islamic scholar of the ninth century, used asafetida to counter phlegm and treat sore throat, tooth pain, rheumatism and nervous conditions, and also as an aphrodisiac.
- Asafetida gets its name from the Persian aza, for mastic or resin, and the Latin foetidus, for stinking.
Arabic: Mauz Musa sapientum; Musaceae (Banana Family)
The banana plant is the world’s largest herb. It is often mistaken for a tree, but does not have a woody trunk or boughs. It springs from an underground rhizome to form a false trunk three to six meters (10–20') high and is crowned with a rosette of 10–20 beautiful, oblong banana leaves.
History credits Arab traders with giving the banana its popular name. Although there are several hundred varieties which differ in taste, color, form and size, Arab traders noted that bananas growing in Africa and Asia were small, about the size of a man’s finger, and so called them banan, which means “fingertips” in Arabic. “Banana” is the singular form.
Bananas are rich in potassium, riboflavin, niacin and dietary fiber. They also contain vitamins A and C and some calcium and iron. Bananas are a quick source of energy.
How to use: In banana-producing countries, vegetables and spices are sometimes wrapped in banana leaves and then steamed. Banana leaves are used as serving plates, as tablecloths and as barriers between a wood fire and a pot. They are even used for thatching roofs and making rope.
In the kitchen: Bananas can be eaten fresh or dried. The dried fruit can be ground into a nutritious banana flour.A very old and traditional breakfast in Makkah is omelet with banana. Masoub, also featuring the banana, is currently a popular Hijazi breakfast dish. Kanafa with banana is a delicious dessert.
Remedies across Arabia: For diarrhea, use cornstarch and water; yogurt; tea leaves; mashed potatoes; bananas.
Did you know?
- Hundreds of banana varieties thrive in the tropics. Bananas grow in Egypt, Yemen, Oman and other Arab countries. In the Nile River, near Luxor, Egypt, local boats sail to Gazirat al- Mauz (“Banana Island”), where visitors can sample fruits from a large banana orchard.
- The banana has been cultivated in India for at least 4000 years. Bananas are widely used in Indian folk medicine for the treatment of diabetes mellitus.
Arabic: Habba Souda, Habbat al-Barakah;
Other English: Fennel Flower, Black Cumin Nigella sativa; Ranunculaceae (Buttercup Family)
Native to the Mediterranean and grown throughout the Middle East and parts of Asia, Nigella sativa is cultivated for its seeds, which are known as the “seeds of blessing.” For the Arabs, black seed is not only a food but also a valued traditional medicine that has long been used to treat such ailments as asthma, flatulence, polio, kidney stones, abdominal pain and so on. It has served as an important health and beauty aid for thousands of years.
According to tradition, the Prophet Muhammad described black seed as a cure for every disease except death. The great physician Ibn Sina (980–1037), better known as Avicenna, stated that black seed works as an expectorant, stimulates the body’s energy and helps overcome fatigue and dispiritedness.
How to use: 1) Eat black seeds plain; 2) Eat a teaspoon of black seed mixed with honey; 3) Boil black seed with water. Strain and drink; 4) Heat black seed and warm milk until it just begins to boil. Remove from heat. Cool, then drink; 5) Grind black seed and swallow it with water or milk; 6) Sprinkle on bread and pastries; 7) Burn black seed with bukhoor (incense) for a pleasant scent.
In the kitchen: Black seed is aromatic with a slight peppery flavor. It is one of the distinct flavors of Arab pastries. It is often sprinkled on breads and cheese. It is heated with milk for flavor. It is eaten ground with honey or with cakes and pastries.
Remedies across Arabia: In Arabia, black seed remains a traditional remedy for asthma, coughs, stomach aches, abdominal pain, colic, general fatigue, rheumatism, mouth and larynx diseases, skin diseases and cancer. It is also believed to strengthen a mother after childbirth; stimulate menstruation, urination and liver functions; aid digestion; dissolve kidney stones; and increase intelligence. Black seed is used to beautify skin, nourish hair and stimulate hair growth.
Did you know?
- Black seed was found in Tutankhamen’s tomb. This suggests that black seed had an important role in ancient Egypt, since it was customary to place in tombs items needed for the afterlife.
- In the Old Testament, the prophet Isaiah contrasts Nigella (black cumin) with wheat. (See Isaiah 28: 25, 27.)
Arabic: Karawya, Karawiya Carum carvi; Umbelliferae/Apiaceae (Parsley Family)
Some botanists say that caraway is the world’s oldest known herb. It is mentioned in the Bible and other ancient texts, and has been found in European archeological excavations dating back 8000 years. In the spice markets of Arabia, caraway can be found alongside her sister spices of anise (yansoon), fennel (shamr) and cumin (kamun). You need only ask for karawiya (from which we get the English word caraway) to take some home. Caraway is grown throughout Europe, the Mediterranean area, North Africa, Asia and North America.
Did you know?
- Caraway seed is the spice which gives rye bread its characteristic flavor.
- Caraway is important in Tunisian cuisine and is sometimes an ingredient of harissa, a fiery North African condiment made from dried hot peppers.
- Caraway leaves may be used as a herb in salads and as a garnish, while its seeds may be used as a spice in breads, cheese spreads, pastas and vegetable and fruit dishes.
- Dioscorides, a Greek physician in the first century, recommended oil of caraway be rubbed into skin to improve a pale girl’s complexion.
- Caraway is a biennial. It grows as a small green plant the first year and then up to 60 centimeters (2') tall the second year, producing small white and apple-green flowers and fruit. The fruit, commonly called seeds, can be separated from the plant when ripe and then dried in the sun.
- Most experts believe the word caraway comes originally from the Greek word karon, which means cumin! Caraway and cumin seeds are very similar in appearance. Arabic borrowed the word as karawiya, which medieval Latin transformed into carui or carvi (as in Carum carvi).
Arabic: Hal, Hail;
Other English: Cardamom, Lesser Cardamom, Small Cardamom, Malabar Cardamom Elettaria cardamomum; Zingiberaceae (Ginger Family)
Imagine an ancient trade caravan moving slowly up the Frankincense Trail in western Arabia toward the Mediterranean. The spices and aromatics burdening the camels could be from Yemen, East Africa, India or distant China. Although anticipating lucrative exchanges with merchants of the Mediterranean, caravaners also stop in villages along the way where both villagers and Bedouins are eager to barter. Exchanging goat meat, fresh produce or woven baskets, the local tradesmen obtain the cardamom necessary to flavor traditional Arabic coffee.
Native to India and Sri Lanka, cardamom is a well-loved spice in the Arabian Peninsula. Arab coffee is heavily flavored with it. In fact, cardamom is a valuable ingredient in Middle Eastern cuisine: in beverages, sweets, pastries and main dishes.
How to use: 1) Bruise cardamom pods until partially open; remove cardamom seeds from their pods; gently bruise seeds or dry-fry over gentle heat to release their flavor; or 2) Grind seeds into powder.
In the kitchen: Cardamom is a vital ingredient in Arabian coffee making. Its flavor can be added to the beverage by grinding cardamom pods and adding the powdered cardamom to already brewed coffee. Cloves, saffron, sugar, nakhwa (See page 19.) or rose water are also sometimes added for flavor. “Sweet coffee,” which doesn’t contain any coffee at all, is a traditional drink from the Hijaz. It is a wonderful, warm beverage with a pleasant cardamom flavor. It is served on special occasions such as graduation day, which is the day students receive their grade cards.
Remedies across Arabia: A member of the ginger family, cardamom is a carminative and a stimulant. It warms the body and helps relieve indigestion and gas.
Did you know?
- Cardamom is one of the most expensive spices in the world. This is because each individual fruit pod containing the desired seed spice must be harvested from its flower stalk by hand. Flower stalks must be carefully examined and re-examined as the fruit pods develop at different rates. Harvested while still green and firm, the pods are then dried and sold.
- About 1000 years ago, the Vikings discovered cardamom in their explorations and conquests around the Mediterranean. They introduced this spice to Scandinavia, where it is still used extensively in baking spiced cakes and breads.
- Cardamom was one of the most popular Oriental spices in ancient Roman cuisine.
- Ground cardamom can soften a plastic spoon left in it for several days.
Other English: Chamomile
German Chamomile: Matricaria recutita, Matricaria chamomilla
Saudi Chamomile: Matricaria aurea; Asteraceae (Aster Family)
One thing every Bedouin, villager and city dweller can tell you is that camomile tea is relaxing and aids digestion. Along with this fact comes the widespread belief that the best babunaj comes from the north. As a result, packaged herbal teas from Syria and Jordan are popular supermarket items. These medicinal teas feature camomile but may also contain coriander, black seed, anise, rose, lemon balm, hibiscus, thyme or sage.
How to use: Use the flower heads to brew a medicinal tea.
In the kitchen: Many families keep camomile readily available. To make camomile tea, boil water and then pour one cup of the water over four teaspoons of dried flowers. Infuse for five to 10 minutes and then strain. Add honey for a sweeter taste and drink the tea warm.
Remedies across Arabia: Camomile is a valued nervine, carminative and general tonic. Camomile tea is well-known for settling the stomach and aiding digestion after a meal. It is also relaxing and can help promote sleep
Did you know?
- In 1656, John Parkinson wrote, “Camomill is put to divers and sundry uses, both for pleasure and profit, both for the sick and the sound, in bathing to comfort and strengthen the sound and to ease pains in the diseased.”
- Al-Kindi used camomile in a strong dressing for the spleen and in an application to relax the liver and stomach.
- Camomile tea is used in the Levant to strengthen a mother after childbirth.
- Camomile is used in perfumes, soaps, bath oils, skin-care products and in shampoos to add luster to blonde hair.
- With a reputation as a mild bleach, camomile has been used to lighten blonde hair by pouring two cups of boiling water over a handful of camomile flowers and infusing for 30 minutes. After shampooing the hair, rinse several times with this camomile infusion while it is still warm. It is a very pleasant hair rinse.
Arabic: Khiyar Cucumis sativus; Cucurbitaceae (Gourd Family)
Cucumbers are produced on small farms throughout the Arabian Peninsula and sold in local fruit and vegetable markets. Cucumbers have long been known in eastern and western traditional medicine as one of the best natural diuretics. The effect is in the seeds, which are rich in sulfur, silicon and potassium.
Cucumbers originated in Asia, probably in India, and spread into Europe about 3000 years ago. Today Indian medicine prescribes cucumber juice for an array of ailments, including constipation, stomach disorders, urinary problems, rheumatism and even cholera.
How to use: 1) Slice or finely chop the cucumber to add to salads; 2) Slice, grate or mash the cucumber for use in skin-care applications.
In the kitchen: Middle Eastern cuisine would not be the same without the cucumber. Traditional salads, such as fattoush and tabbouleh, call for this fruit posing as a vegetable, as does the popular yogurt and cucumber salad, which complements and cools rice and meat dishes. Sliced cucumbers and tomatoes, drizzled with lemon juice and garnished with fresh mint and parsley, form the renowned cucumber and tomato salad. Arranged decoratively on a serving plate, it is a simple yet healthy choice.
Remedies across Arabia: Suparna Trikha, one of India’s leading natural beauty experts, advised that the juice made from cucumber skin can be a soothing lotion and skin cleanser. She also suggested grating cucumber and massaging the pulp into the skin and leaving it to dry. Splashing fresh water and gently wiping the face after 10 minutes or so is a good way to slow the advance of wrinkles. Additionally, cucumber slices are put on swollen eyes, to reduce the swelling.
Did you know?
- Cucumbers were a popular food in ancient Rome, and historian Pliny the Elder reports that the Emperor Tiberius ate large quantities.
- The cucumber is a fruit because it contains the seeds to reproduce. Botanically speaking, a fruit is the mature ovary of a plant, such as a cucumber, apple, melon or tomato.
- Cucumbers, along with squash, melons and pumpkins, belong to the group of vegetables known as cucurbits, or vine crops.
Other English: Olibanum, Oil of Lebanon Boswellia sacra or B. carteri or B. thurifera; Burseraceae (Frankincense and Myrrh Family)
Frankincense is crystallized tree sap—a hardened gum or resin exuded by a small tree that grows in the coastal regions of the southern Arabian Peninsula and nearby coastal East Africa. In ancient times, frankincense was a precious commodity, sometimes more valuable than gold. Merchants brought this treasure to the great civilization centers of Europe and Western Asia by sea and by a land trail through Yemen and up the Arabian Red Sea coast to the Levant. In Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries, frankincense is used as incense today, though not in religious ceremonies.
How to use: 1) Chew as a gum. This is a popular use as frankincense has a mild, pleasant taste and helps to eliminate bad breath. 2) Suck on a granule to relieve nausea; 3) Soak frankincense granules in water and drink the strained liquid; 4) Burn as incense for a pleasant scent or waft on clothing.
Did you know?
- Frankincense comes in five main colors: white, pale lemon, pale amber, pale green and dark amber. The color of the gum resin is influenced by its harvest time. A whiter gum is collected closer to autumn, whereas a darker color is harvested closer to spring.
- Although the frankincense gathering season lasts from May through mid-September, the product is available year-round in traditional local markets of the Middle East.
- Due to unique climatic conditions, the best frankincense is produced by trees growing in the mountainous Dhofar region of Oman. In addition to Oman, frankincense today is grown in Yemen, Ethiopia, Somalia and India.
- In the days of the pharaohs, frankincense trees were imported into Egypt, where they were grown for the gum, which was burned in religious rituals.
- Tenth-century Persian physician Ibn Sina (known to the West as Avicenna) recommended using frankincense in treatments for tumors, ulcers, vomiting, dysentery and fever.
- Frankincense today remains an ingredient in various incense mixtures burned in rituals of the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches.
- Western herbalists regard frankincense essential oil as an anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and astringent, and say it is useful as a uterine tonic during pregnancy and labor.
- Charred frankincense has been used to make kohl, the black powder traditionally used by women in the Middle East to paint their eyelids.
Arabic: Thum, Thoom Allium sativum; Alliaceae (Onion Family)
Botanist David Hooper, in his survey of useful plants in Iran and Iraq in the 1930’s, observed that garlic was the potherb par excellence of the East—not only was it used in a dizzying array of culinary dishes, but it also aided digestion and was a gastric stimulant. If anything, Hooper’s comment was an understatement. We now know garlic has a wealth of other medicinal properties to complement its enduring value as a cooking herb.
Garlic, a bulbous perennial, probably originated in Central Asia, the only place where it grows wild. (There are other plants in other lands referred to as “wild garlic”; they are part of the Allium genus but are not true garlic, A. sativum. Garlic has edible flowers but it is primarily grown for its bulbs, each of which contains 12 to 20 cloves. Garlic has been cultivated by humans from time immemorial. Hundreds of varieties have spread out from Asia to encompass the globe.
How to use: 1) Crush, chop or use garlic cloves whole to flavor dishes; 2) Bake, roast or grill a bulb of garlic. When softened, squeeze out the pulp from the individual cloves to eat; 3) Mash the softened pulp of baked garlic to form a smooth paste and use it in soups, sauces and dips. Alternatively, grind fresh garlic to a paste with a mortar and pestle.
In the kitchen: Garlic is a much appreciated ingredient in both hummus bi tahina (chickpea and sesame puree) and baba ghannouj (eggplant and sesame puree), two popular dips with Arab bread.
When frying, use enough olive oil or butter to coat the pan and stir often. Garlic burns quickly if cooked over high heat.
Store garlic in a cool, dark pantry. Garlic stored in the refrigerator quickly dries out and rots.
Remedies across Arabia:
- Use garlic for ant bites. (Northern Province)
- Use a clove of garlic to relieve the pain of a bee sting. (United Arab Emirates)
- Use an ointment made of ground garlic on a wound even if it hurts, since this prevents gangrene. Also, you can clean wounds by mixing ground garlic in warm water and washing the wound with it to kill the microbes. (Eastern Province)
- Rub a raw garlic clove on the spot where a scorpion stings you, and it will heal. (Eastern Province)
- My grandmother used garlic to kill warts and prevent them from reappearing. (Bahrain)
- The Greek historian Herodotus, during a tour of Egypt, reported seeing an inscription on the Great Pyramid at Giza that recorded the quantities of radishes, onions and garlic consumed by the laborers who constructed it.
- According to tradition, the Prophet Muhammad recommended garlic, applied topically, to remedy viper bites and scorpion stings.
- Al-Kindi, the medieval Arab physician, used garlic in a drug for treating earaches and other diseases of the ear.
- Despite garlic’s known antibiotic activity, and despite Internet rumors to the contrary, there have been no scientific studies showing garlic has any effect against anthrax.
Arabic: Murr, Murrah Commiphora myrrha or C. molmol or Balsamodendron myrrha; Burseraceae (Frankincense and Myrrh Family)
Myrrh is collected from the stems of bushy shrubs found growing in southern Arabia and Somalia. A granular secretion exits the stem through natural fissures, or cuts, as a pale yellow liquid. It then hardens to a reddish-brown mass. It can be found in different sizes in the marketplace, most pieces being the size of large marbles or walnuts.
How to use: 1) Soak myrrh granules in water for two to three days and then drink the strained liquid; 2) Swallow small granules like pills; 3) Burn as incense.
Remedies across Arabia:
- Although it doesn’t taste very good because it is so bitter, myrrh is used to alleviate inflammation in the body.
- Myrrh water is an excellent mouthwash and is helpful for mouth sores or blisters, sore throats, bronchial congestion and other conditions requiring an antiseptic astringent.
- For burns, soak myrrh in a small amount of water. It is put on burns to reduce scars and to help in quickly healing wounds and to remove warts. (Southern Province)
- In the past, myrrh oil was wiped on a new baby’s navel. (Bahrain)
- Myrrh is very good to have if you have external cuts. It makes them get better quickly. (Central Province)
- We use myrrh for so many uses, for example to treat sores, appendicitis pain after operation, boils, stomach aches and the colon. Soak myrrh stones in water. Then place the water on the area of pain for boils, or drink it. (Central Province)
- Myrrh is used to help healing of wounds, minor burns and wounds of simple surgical operations. (Southern Province)
- Ancient Egyptians wore unguent cones saturated with myrrh, marjoram, sweet flag or lotus. They put the cones on their heads in the morning, and as the day grew hot, the cones would slowly melt, running down the body, keeping the skin moist and repelling insects throughout the day.
- Myrrh is an oil referenced throughout the Old and New Testaments. The Arabian people used it for many skin conditions, such as wrinkled, chapped and cracked skin. It has one of the highest levels of sesquiterpenes, a class of compounds that has direct effects on the hypothalamus, pituitary and amygdala, the seat of our emotions. Myrrh is widely used today in oral hygiene products.
- The Muslim physician al-Razi (Rhazes), perhaps the greatest of all medieval clinicians, used myrrh to treat ailments of the kidneys and bladder, to dissipate swellings in the stomach and for colic.
- In Egypt today, traditional medicine practitioners use myrrh as a stimulant, expectorant, antispasmodic, emmenagogue, antiputrescent and astringent. It is also used to treat dental caries and inflamed gums.
- Myrrh is a fixative, meaning it increases the longevity of the aroma of any fragrance it is combined with but doesn’t dominate or overpower that fragrance.
- Scientific tests have shown myrrh to possess significant antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
|STEPHEN L. BRUNDAGE|
Other English: Bishop’s-Weed Trachyspermum ammi, Carum ajowan, Carum copticum, Ammi copticum Umbelliferae/Apiaceae (Carrot/Celery/Parsley Family)
Used as medicine by the ancient Greeks and Arabs, nakhwa is still considered a natural remedy. You can buy the aromatic seeds as well as a distillate.
How to use: 1) Release the aroma of the seeds before use by rubbing between your fingertips, crushing with a mortar and pestle or gently stirring while warming in a frying pan; 2) Use seeds whole or grind them into powder form.
In the kitchen: Nakhwa is sometimes added to traditional Arab coffee. In addition to providing a unique flavor, it is believed to soften the impact of coffee on the stomach and reduce the effects of caffeine. In fact, some people across Arabia drink nakhwa as a substitute for Arab coffee to totally eliminate negative coffee effects.
Did you know?
- Like black seed (Nigella sativa), nakhwa is a popular ingredient in many herbal medicinal blends.
- The ancient Sumerians described nakhwa as a “plant of the mountain.”
- Nakhwa is grown in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, India and Egypt.
- Though more commonly cultivated today in Asia, nakhwa is actually of African origin, and some Arabs call it “Ethiopian cumin” (al-kammun al-habashi).
- Al-Kindi (ca. 800–870) used nakhwa in a preparation for hemorrhoids.
- Nakhwa seeds yield 40 to 55 percent thymol, a valuable crystalline phenol extracted for medicinal purposes.
Arabic: Naft, Batrul
Although few people are aware of it today, petroleum was once considered an effective natural remedy not only in the Middle East but in many parts of the world. Oil upwellings and gas vents were known anciently in present-day Kuwait, Iraq, Iran, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Natural deposits of thickened petroleum (also called “bitumen”) seeped from openings on land or floated to the surface of lakes. It was easy to gather and was used as a building material, waterproofing material, lubricant, adhesive, medicine, fuel, illuminant and fumigant, and even as a weapon.
In the kitchen: Petrolatum—a neutral, odorless, tasteless unguent distilled from petroleum and then purified—is sometimes used in bakery products as a release agent. Petrolatum meets modern us Food and Drug Administration requirements for medicinal, cosmetic-formula and animal-feed use, and is also approved for direct contact with food.
Remedies across Arabia: Descriptions of petroleum’s healing powers date from 2000 years ago, although its traditional medicinal use is probably much older. Oil-and-water baths were supposed to strengthen the body. Ointments of bitumen and other chemicals were often applied to sores or broken bones. Other petroleum preparations acted as antidotes to poison, fumigants, disinfectants or laxatives.
The Book of the Powers of Remedies, a medical text prepared by Masarjawah, a prominent physician living in Basra, Iraq, during the seventh century, described the benefits of ingesting oil for fighting disease and infection. Masarjawah wrote: “Warm naphtha, especially water-white naphtha, when ingested in small doses, is excellent for suppressing cough, for asthma, bladder discomfort and arthritis.”
The All-Encompassing Dictionary states, “The best grade of naphtha is the water-white. It is a good solvent, a diluent and an expectorant. Taken internally, it relieves cramps and aches of the belly, and, when applied topically, it can soothe skin rashes and infections.”
Vicks VapoRub, a nasal decongestant, cough suppressant and topical analgesic, contains petrolatum, and other salves, suppositories and cosmetic products also benefit from the consistency contributed by petrolatums.
Did you know?
- Akkadian clay tablets from about 2200 BC referred to crude oil as naptu, from which derives the root of the Arabic naft.
- William Rockefeller, father of John D. Rockefeller, sold bottles of raw petroleum to country folk as a cure for cancer.
- Petroleum is used today in homeopathic medicine to treat motion sickness, eczema and other skin problems, nausea and diarrhea.
Arabic: Rumman Punica granatum; Lythraceae/ Punicaceae
|STEPHEN L. BRUNDAGE|
How to use: 1) Eat the fleshy seeds to enjoy a delicious, slightly tart flavor; 2) Dry the seeds and use in cooking; 3) Extract the juice from the seeds for a refreshing drink or as a flavoring agent in cooking; 4) Dry the outer peelings and crush them for culinary, cosmetic or medicinal purposes. 5) Boil pomegranate peelings in water, then strain and drink the liquid; if more concentrated, the liquid can be used as a dye for clothes; 6) Dry the peelings, then grind and mix with henna to make it darker and provide skin nourishment.
In the kitchen: Pomegranate seeds have a sweet-sour taste. Crushed or whole, they often garnish salads, couscous, hummus and other Middle Eastern dishes. Dried pomegranate seeds and pomegranate syrup are also popular in cooking. Pomegranate juice is a refreshing drink on hot summer days. Pomegranate juice stains indelibly, so it’s wise to wear protective clothing when cooking with it.
Remedies across Arabia: Powdered pomegranate peelings are used on burns and to treat infection on external cuts and wounds. Soaked pomegranate peelings are used for sore throats, stomach aches and indigestion. To treat indigestion, pomegranate peelings are dried, then boiled, and the water drunk. Rose water can be added for flavor. Pomegranate soaked in boiled water is used with honey for heart trouble.
Did you know?
- Pomegranate seeds are rich in vitamin C and are a good source of dietary fiber.
- Commercially produced pomegranate syrup is called grenadine.
- The Romans called the pomegranate fruit punicum, the Latin name for Carthage, because they believed that the best pomegranates came from there.
- The Spanish name for the pomegranate is granada, and its fruit appears on Granada’s city seal.
- Pomegranate is believed to be the inspiration for the hand-tossed explosive called a grenade. When a pomegranate is dropped on a hard surface, it bursts and seeds are tossed everywhere. The military borrowed the modern French name for the fruit, grenade.
Arabic: Za’faran, Za’fran Crocus sativus; Iridaceae (Iris Family)
How to use: The stigmas produce a bright yellow or orange color when added to water. If a recipe requires ground saffron, one can crush or grind it to a powder. Be sure it is evenly distributed when added to the recipe. Sifting the ground saffron with the dry ingredients is one way to insure a good mix. If using whole saffron threads, soak them for about 10 minutes in a warm liquid required by the recipe, such as milk, water or broth. The color and flavor of the stigmas will be released into the liquid. A pinch of saffron to a cup of liquid yields enough color and flavor for about half a kilo (1 lb) of rice. A little saffron goes a long way.
In the kitchen: Saffron can add taste and color to breads, chicken and rice dishes.
Did you know?
- Comparing the beauty of his beloved to a garden, Solomon (The Song of Solomon 4:14 in the Old Testament) lists saffron, cinnamon, frankincense and myrrh as some of the plants cultivated in this metaphor. We sense the magnitude of his admiration because these plant products commanded very high prices in ancient markets.
- Today, saffron remains the most expensive spice in the entire world.
- Scholars studying frescoes at Thera, a Greek island in the Aegean, believe the wall paintings (dating from 1500 or 1600 BC) depict a goddess presiding over the manufacture and use of a drug from the saffron flower. This suggests that saffron has been used as a medicine for at least 3500 years.
Arabic: Za‘tar, Sa‘tar, Hasha’ Thymus vulgaris; Lamiaceae (Mint Family)
When dining in the Middle East, it is customary to dip bread in olive oil and then in za‘tar for a delicious taste. Although za‘tar is the word for thyme in the Arabic language, it is also a term which describes a Middle Eastern spice blend of powdered dried thyme, sumac and sesame seeds. Each region makes za‘tar a little differently.
How to use: 1) Use fresh green thyme leaves when called for in recipes; 2) Use dried thyme leaves as part of the aromatic spice blend called za‘tar; 3) Sprinkle za‘tar (fresh thyme or the spice blend) on meatballs or vegetables; 4) Use the za‘tar spice blend with olive oil as a dip for bread.
In the kitchen: Flat breads with toppings of melted cheese and za‘tar, labna and za‘tar, or za‘tar alone are unspeakably delicious. Store za‘tar in an airtight container away from direct light.
Remedies across Arabia: A general remedy for colds, flu, fevers, coughs and bronchitis is to take four to five cups of thyme tea a day. Thyme is antiseptic, antispasmodic and antifungal. It is also an expectorant and vermifuge (worm expeller).
Did you know?
- Five millennia ago, the Sumerians used thyme as an antiseptic.
- The ancient Egyptians employed thyme as an ingredient in the mummification process.
- The Arab philosopher-scientist al-Kindi (800–870) used thyme in a medicine to treat a bacterial infection or rash called St. Anthony’s Fire (erysipelas).
- The Islamic physician al-Razi (865–925) regarded thyme as an appetite enhancer, stomach purifier and treatment for flatulence.
- Thyme is widely grown commercially for its leaves and essential oils.
- Thyme is one of a small number of herbs that have more flavor dried than fresh. Others are rosemary and oregano.
Arabic: Kurkum Curcuma longa, C. domestica; Zingiberaceae (Ginger Family)
Often called “Indian saffron,” turmeric rhizome was one of the ancient trade products brought by sea from India. Today turmeric is widely used as a spice, cosmetic and dyestuff, and remains part of traditional medicine from Egypt to Iran.
How to use: 1) Slice, grate, chop or grind turmeric to a paste with other ingredients. Then use it as you would fresh ginger root; 2) Grind dried turmeric into powder; 3) Use whole pieces of dried turmeric in pickling.
In the kitchen: Slicing a piece of turmeric rhizome reveals the deep yellow color used to brighten curry powders and a variety of foods. When coloring rice dishes, it is also sometimes a substitute for saffron. But it is easier to buy ready-ground turmeric than to grind it yourself. Wear rubber gloves when handling fresh turmeric to avoid staining your hands.
Did you know?
- In Indian cuisine, turmeric is an ingredient of virtually all curry powders.
- Because turmeric is an edible coloring, the food industry uses it to color mustard, butter, cheese and liqueurs.
- Turmeric is used to dye cotton and silk.
- Al-Kindi used turmeric in a medicine for throat and mouth pustules, and in a dentifrice to strengthen the gums.
- The US Patent and Trademark Office
Arabic: Deerum Juglans spp.; Juglandaceae (Walnut Family)
|STEPHEN L. BRUNDAGE|
How to use: 1) Chew the end of the bark until soft; 2) Rub the bark vigorously on lips for a natural dark brown lipstick; 3) Use the bark as a toothbrush to clean teeth and gums.
Remedies across Arabia: The bark of the walnut tree is astringent and cleansing. It strengthens the gums and acts as an anti-inflammatory. It has been used to treat gum disease.
Did you know?
- Pliny reported that walnut trees were introduced into Italy from Persia, and Varro, who was born in 116 BC, mentioned that walnut trees were growing in Italy during his lifetime.
- Walnut bark is a traditional source of yellow-brown dye.
The UAE’s most patriotic woman?
Emirati businesswoman redecorates her car in honour of the UAE’s 40th anniversary
An Emirati businesswoman has spent Dhs162,000 to redesign her ride and customise her clothes - all in honour of the UAE’s 40th anniversary.
Umm Nahyan showed off her blinging BMW X6 to 7DAYS. It has 150,000 individual Swarovski crystals adorning it and requires special permission from the RTA to be let loose on the UAE’s highways.
“I wanted to be unique on this unique day so I decided to use crystals to show my love and support for my country,” she said. Nahyan got her car kitted out at a workshop in Al Qusais where the design was first drawn up on a computer.
“A team of professionals put the crystals on my car. It took them nearly two months to finish. As the crystal is very shiny I needed to get special permission from the RTA because it reflects the radars at night,” she said. And to show that she is just as patriotic as her wheels, Nahyan also designed an Abaya inspired by the union logo of the seven founding fathers, which she splashed out Dhs12,000 to have created.
“This is a special celebration for me, but whatever I do for my country is nothing compared to what my country has given me as an Emirati woman,” she added. Nahyan has been decorating her car for National Day for the past seven years and has also joined in vehicle parades for the UAE national football team and her favourite club in the UAE, Al Wasl.
But this is the first time she has used jewels. “I used to decorate my car with flags and flowers. I even won a prize for the best design in previous parades,” she said.
Videos | 7DAYS
Friday, November 25, 2011
Our bodies are programmed for two natural periods of sleepiness during a 24-hour day, no matter how much sleep we've had in the previous 24 hours. The primary period is between midnight and 7 a.m., and a second period occurs in the midafternoon, between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.
Sleep needs vary from person to person, and they change throughout a person’s lifecycle. Children in preschool need 11 to 13 hours of sleep per night. Newborns sleep up to 18 hours a day, and school-aged children (up to age 12) need 10 to 11 hours. Adolescents need about nine hours of sleep a night, and most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep.
Poor sleep is not a normal part of aging. As we get older, we often get less sleep because our ability to sleep for long periods of time and get into the deep restful stages of sleep can decrease. Older people have more fragile sleep and are more easily disturbed by light, noise, and pain. They also may have medical conditions that contribute to sleep problems.
On average, we spend about two hours dreaming each night, or 20% to 25% of a night’s sleep. Some researchers think dreams are merely a byproduct of sleep, but others believe they’re important for mood regulation, problem solving, and stress reduction.
Nightmares, which are dreams that cause high levels of distress or terror, occur more often when you are stressed or anxious. They are more likely to occur in the last third of the night and tend to be more common among children than adults.
Sleepwalking may include simply sitting up and appearing awake, or it may involve complex activities, such as moving furniture, going to the bathroom, eating, or, in rare instances, driving. Sleepwalking occurs more often in children and appears to run in families.
Drowsiness can be as dangerous as driving drunk; research has indicated that it’s comparable to driving with a blood-alcohol level of 0.08, the legal limit for intoxication in many states. The problem is greatest among males aged 16 to 29, people who work irregular shifts, and people with untreated sleep apnea.
If you don’t get the amount of sleep your body needs (typically 7 to 9 hours per night for adults), you start to accumulate a “sleep debt.” You can pay off a debt of a few hours by getting extra sleep over the next week or so, which is why you may have such a strong urge to sleep in on Saturday mornings. However, if the debt remains unresolved and continues to mount, you could be at increased risk for accidents or injury.
In addition to blurred vision, not getting enough sleep can cause fatigue, irritability, and an inability to concentrate. Because these can be symptoms of other conditions as well, it may be helpful to keep a sleep journal and discuss your issues with your doctor.
Several studies have shown that not getting enough sleep or a decrease in sleep quality can affect appetite controls and lead to overeating. Sleep loss has also been tied to decreased insulin sensitivity and increased risk of diabetes.
Poor sleep can contribute to heart disease, and heart disease can interrupt sleep. Poor sleep also has been associated with high blood pressure and stroke. Experts believe that such factors as inflammation and stress play a role. For example, with sleep apnea, pauses in breathing during sleep and low oxygen levels stress the body and promote inflammation.
Chronic insomnia is when a person has difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep at least three nights a week for a month or longer. Acute insomnia can last for a few nights to a few weeks.
Breathing pauses associated with sleep apnea often occur five to 30 times or more per hour and can last from a few seconds to a few minutes, resulting in poor sleep that makes you tired during the day. The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea, which usually is caused by the airway collapsing or being blocked during sleep.
Common signs of obstructive sleep apnea include loud snoring, morning headaches, irritability, memory and concentration problems, and a dry throat upon waking. Most people with sleep apnea don’t know they have the condition, and it often goes undiagnosed.
The first state of sleep is NREM sleep, and it consists of four stages (light sleep, onset of sleep, and two stages of deep, restorative sleep). During these stages, the muscles of the eyes are relaxed. The second state, REM sleep, is associated with increased contraction of the eye muscles. Both types are necessary for quality sleep.
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
The philosophy of Zayed
History's great men take on projects that deprive them of sleep at night and occupy their minds during the day
When I finally asked the assistant if there were any more academic books on the late Shaikh, she offered one that praised him for taking care of building the modern UAE and utilising oil revenues in a smart way by establishing the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) that was responsible for managing the Emirate’s excess oil revenues . The author of this work described at great length how Shaikh Zayed loved his people and how the people loved him back.
A few days ago, someone launched the #ThinkLikeZayed hashtag on Twitter, asking people to share Shaikh Zayed’s wise sayings, pictures and videos. Almost all the shared videos showed Shaikh Zayed talking with the people, for it is rare to find a video of him in an official occasion. He was a man unconcerned about appearances and always ready to help others, which is what brought him closer to the citizens and residents of the UAE and that’s why they will forever remain attached to him.
Always keen to learn more about Shaikh Zayed, I spoke to many elders who were close to him. They all shared with me details about his life and his positions towards issues related to his country and the Arab nation in general. However, not a single person or a book provided any information on the intellectual side of the him.
Once, I asked a friend of mine “Who is Shaikh Zayed?” He started describing the nice traits and qualities of the UAE’s founder. I paraphrased my question into, “What do you know about Shaikh Zayed?” He paused, and after awhile, asked me to clarify my question. Trying to be more specific, I asked, “Do you know why and how the Union started? What role Shaikh Zayed played in founding the Union? Why did he succeed in uniting the emirates while others in the region have failed?” He nodded, as if to say that he now knew what I meant. Nonetheless, all he gave was a speech of praise of Shaikh Zayed, which failed to provide me with any useful information on his true legacy. The reason why so many fail in answering these questions is that we love Shaikh Zayed more than we know him. The information at our hands is also the official information in the same context.
History’s great men are those who strive for the unthinkable and make it possible. Those great men take on great humanitarian projects that deprive them of sleep at night and occupy their minds during the day until they make them happen. That’s exactly what Shaikh Zayed did. As a UAE citizen, he had to make many sacrifices and compromises, and as a leader, he possessed a high level of tolerance and patience. That was the spirit of his era.
Why did he seek to unite scattered towns on an occupied land? He knew that the Union could be a financial and administrative burden upon those in charge. Still, in his view, managing one weak country would be easier than managing seven weak ones. Nonetheless, uniting the emirates was a significant risk. In addition to the difficult living conditions of the region at that time, there were no administrative experiences or universities with research centres that would help decision-makers in the process.
Given his role in their history, it is not surprising that understanding the mentality of Shaikh Zayed is very important for the people of the UAE. That mentality has become the common thread in the lives and cultures of all Emiratis who, despite their diverse backgrounds, have the same deeply ingrained sense of belonging to their country, whether they live in a small village on the east coast or in Abu Dhabi.
Thus, we owe it to all our scholars and writers to document the Shaikh Zayed era, not only in terms of the key achievements, but as a means of deepening our understanding of the motivation and philosophy behind it as well. School curricula have to adopt this material too. We need to understand how the UAE has reached this advanced stage in economy, infrastructure and human development. Even though there are countries in the region that are richer than the UAE both in finance and in history, if their standard of living were to be compared to that of the UAE, they would appear to belong to the 19th century.
We will not be able to commemorate the successful experience of the UAE or inspire other developmental experiences in the world if we don’t document it. We need to record all of the stages, from the methodology the Founding Fathers adopted, to the ideas and strategies that can apply their wisdom in future developments.
There are currently more than 16,000 books about Abraham Lincoln that explain the values upon which the United States of America was built. Much can be learned about Singapore through the works of Lee Kuan Yew. Each country bears the thoughts and spirit of its founder. Although Shaikh Zayed is greatly loved and admired in the UAE, we haven’t given enough attention to his wisdom. We haven’t searched his thoughts or written them down in a scientific manner so that future generations may benefit from them.
We need to understand the “Great Zayed Project” and study its developmental angles. We must appreciate that Shaikh Zayed didn’t build the UAE by taking care of heritage and architecture alone, but provided an unceasing surge of existential energy that everyone who lives here still feels. We need to understand how Shaikh Zayed was able to unite the seven emirates, which still have a degree of administrative independence, into one country.
When you enter the UAE Prime Minister’s Office, you will be met by a group of young men and women who come from different parts of the UAE. Despite their different dialects, they are united in their hearts. They work under a single umbrella to achieve a single strategic plan. If you look at the country’s ambassadors abroad, you will find that some of them come from remote villages in the Northern Emirates and others come from the main cities. In order to understand how a child who played barefooted in a mountainous village in the 1960s managed to become an ambassador to the UAE, we have to understand the philosophy of Shaikh Zayed.