Rolando Villazón: ¡Mexico! Popular Mexican Songs

Bring out the maracas - the Mexican tenor Rolando Villazón is venturing into "popera". This compilation of laid-back folk songs from the singer's native country is given some professional polish, thanks to Villazón's florid vocals, ably backed by the Bolívar soloists. Unless of the melancholy variety, Mexican folk songs have a tendency to sound cheesy. Unfortunately, these are no exception. Perhaps it's the frequency with which songs such as Besame Mucho are played, but there is little that even someone of Villazón's stature can add here. While some of the arrangements are pleasant enough, such as the timbale on Veracruz, and some pretty strings on Despedida, it never succeeds in elevating them beyond background music. The timing of its release, at least, is good, with two major anniversaries taking place this year - the centennial of the revolution and the bicentennial of the independence movement. Fans of Villazón's classical work are unlikely to be impressed by such lightweight fare as this, but newcomers might enjoy the jollity.

Berlioz, Symphonie Fantastique
Francois Xavier Roth, Les Siècles
(Musicales Actes Sud)
Recorded live last year at the Berlioz festival in La Cote St-André (the composer's birthplace), this version of the symphony by Les Siècles, played using period instruments for added authenticity, is not to be missed.

Richard Strauss, Ariadne on Naxos
Richard Armstrong, Scottish Chamber Orchestra
This English-language version of one of Strauss's most successful operas is given a world-class treatment by an excellent cast, supported by the technical brilliance of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

Where to donate in the UAE

The Emirates Charity Portal

You can donate to several registered charities through a “donation catalogue”. The use of the donation is quite specific, such as buying a fan for a poor family in Niger for Dh130.

The General Authority of Islamic Affairs & Endowments

The site has an e-donation service accepting debit card, credit card or e-Dirham, an electronic payment tool developed by the Ministry of Finance and First Abu Dhabi Bank.

Al Noor Special Needs Centre

You can donate online or order Smiles n’ Stuff products handcrafted by Al Noor students. The centre publishes a wish list of extras needed, starting at Dh500.

Beit Al Khair Society

Beit Al Khair Society has the motto “From – and to – the UAE,” with donations going towards the neediest in the country. Its website has a list of physical donation sites, but people can also contribute money by SMS, bank transfer and through the hotline 800-22554.

Dar Al Ber Society

Dar Al Ber Society, which has charity projects in 39 countries, accept cash payments, money transfers or SMS donations. Its donation hotline is 800-79.

Dubai Cares

Dubai Cares provides several options for individuals and companies to donate, including online, through banks, at retail outlets, via phone and by purchasing Dubai Cares branded merchandise. It is currently running a campaign called Bookings 2030, which allows people to help change the future of six underprivileged children and young people.

Emirates Airline Foundation

Those who travel on Emirates have undoubtedly seen the little donation envelopes in the seat pockets. But the foundation also accepts donations online and in the form of Skywards Miles. Donated miles are used to sponsor travel for doctors, surgeons, engineers and other professionals volunteering on humanitarian missions around the world.

Emirates Red Crescent

On the Emirates Red Crescent website you can choose between 35 different purposes for your donation, such as providing food for fasters, supporting debtors and contributing to a refugee women fund. It also has a list of bank accounts for each donation type.

Gulf for Good

Gulf for Good raises funds for partner charity projects through challenges, like climbing Kilimanjaro and cycling through Thailand. This year’s projects are in partnership with Street Child Nepal, Larchfield Kids, the Foundation for African Empowerment and SOS Children's Villages. Since 2001, the organisation has raised more than $3.5 million (Dh12.8m) in support of over 50 children’s charities.

Noor Dubai Foundation

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum launched the Noor Dubai Foundation a decade ago with the aim of eliminating all forms of preventable blindness globally. You can donate Dh50 to support mobile eye camps by texting the word “Noor” to 4565 (Etisalat) or 4849 (du).

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Company name: OneOrder
Started: March 2022
Founders: Tamer Amer and Karim Maurice
Based: Cairo
Number of staff: 82
Investment stage: Series A


Company name: Almouneer
Started: 2017
Founders: Dr Noha Khater and Rania Kadry
Based: Egypt
Number of staff: 120
Investment: Bootstrapped, with support from Insead and Egyptian government, seed round of
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