I don't have to party just because it's new year

All week, friends and colleagues have been asking me "What are you doing for New Year?" Or they have been bragging about how they will be spending New Year's Eve themselves at wild outlandish parties or in exclusive venues. The truth about how I spent this hallowed eve is this: I had nothing planned.

As I write this ahead of midnight, I expect that dinner will be eaten, laundry will be washed, sofas will be slouched upon and end of year TV watched. In fact, I expect to have fallen asleep much earlier than usual.

I know I sound like a grumpy old woman. I don't intend to. And I have nothing against celebrating the birth of the new year. I have no objections to it on grounds of religious innovation, or that it is "just another day".

Plenty of festivals mark the passing of the circle of life: birthdays, anniversaries, Thanksgiving and Harvest Festivals to name but a few. Even the religious-minded celebrate occasions such as Eid al Fitr which marks the renewal and purification after the month of fasting, and the religiously recommended Walima dinners to mark weddings and births.

The truth is that everything in the UK has been in festive mode since the slowdown caused to the pace of life by the two recent bouts of snow and the final halt to activity as a result of the holiday season. I've already been spending time visiting friends and relatives, eating delicious food and entertaining at home for the last two weeks, and frankly, I'm tired. Did I have to party just because it's new year? Couldn't I stay home in my comfy pyjamas with a mug of hot chocolate?

I was also trying to hide from those pesky questions about New Year Resolutions. I bet you get them too... where people pry into your personal business by asking what you are going to change about yourself in the coming 12 months. Will you lose weight? Have you signed up to a new gym? Those are the typical ones. Others include getting out of your deadbeat job, moving house or taking up a new skill or hobby. Whatever answer you give, the response will inevitably be "my resolution is to give up making resolutions", which forces you to make your first and only resolution to resist punching your co-conversationalist. Because if you really did want to take the opportunity to make a big change in your life, it might be something of an epic and deeply personal nature that you had no wish to share with someone at a noisy party.

You might want to resolve some childhood trauma, bring peace to a long term family dispute, or use liposuction to remove the wobbly fat on your bottom. I have no wish to share such intimacy just because it's midnight on December 31st.

There's no doubt that the end of the year is a natural time for stock-taking, but this is a personal matter and doesn't need to be a matter of collective angst masked under communal cheer.

As always, the year had its highlights and lowlights. As always, the first of January brings with it anxiety and excitement in equal measure about what the year will hold. And beneath my grumpy response to the start-of-year festivities, I await this year's events with trepidation and nervous delight.

Here is my first piece of news: I am expecting my first baby later this month, inshallah. Perhaps I can ask you to pray for the success and health of the little one as part of the start of your new year.

Shelina Zahra Janmohamed is the author of Love in a Headscarf and writes a blog at www.spirit21.co.uk

The burning issue

The internal combustion engine is facing a watershed moment – major manufacturer Volvo is to stop producing petroleum-powered vehicles by 2021 and countries in Europe, including the UK, have vowed to ban their sale before 2040. The National takes a look at the story of one of the most successful technologies of the last 100 years and how it has impacted life in the UAE.

Part three: an affection for classic cars lives on

Read part two: how climate change drove the race for an alternative 

Read part one: how cars came to the UAE

RoboCop: Rogue City

Developer: Teyon
Publisher: Nacon
Console: PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S and PC
Rating: 3/5

About Takalam

Date started: early 2020

Founders: Khawla Hammad and Inas Abu Shashieh

Based: Abu Dhabi

Sector: HealthTech and wellness

Number of staff: 4

Funding to date: Bootstrapped





The five pillars of Islam

1. Fasting

2. Prayer

3. Hajj

4. Shahada

5. Zakat 

Company Profile

Name: Direct Debit System
Started: Sept 2017
Based: UAE with a subsidiary in the UK
Industry: FinTech
Funding: Undisclosed
Investors: Elaine Jones
Number of employees: 8

Company profile

Company name: Leap
Started: March 2021
Founders: Ziad Toqan and Jamil Khammu
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Investment stage: Pre-seed
Funds raised: Undisclosed
Current number of staff: Seven


Engine: Twin-turbocharged 4-litre V8
Power: 625 bhp
Torque: 630Nm
On sale: Now
Price: From Dh974,011

SM Town Live is on Friday, April 6 at Autism Rocks Arena, Dubai. Tickets are Dh375 at www.platinumlist.net

Getting there and where to stay

Fly with Etihad Airways from Abu Dhabi to New York’s JFK. There's 11 flights a week and economy fares start at around Dh5,000.
Stay at The Mark Hotel on the city’s Upper East Side. Overnight stays start from $1395 per night.
Visit NYC Go, the official destination resource for New York City for all the latest events, activites and openings.


Name: Haltia.ai
Started: 2023
Co-founders: Arto Bendiken and Talal Thabet
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: AI
Number of employees: 41
Funding: About $1.7 million
Investors: Self, family and friends


Wednesday, April 3

Arsenal v Luton Town, 10.30pm (UAE)

Manchester City v Aston Villa, 11.15pm (UAE)

Thursday, April 4

Liverpool v Sheffield United, 10.30pm (UAE)

Company Profile

Company name: Cargoz
Date started: January 2022
Founders: Premlal Pullisserry and Lijo Antony
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 30
Investment stage: Seed


Directors: David and Alex Pastor
Stars: Georgina Campbell, Mario Casas, Diego Calva
Rating: 2/5

Diriyah project at a glance

- Diriyah’s 1.9km King Salman Boulevard, a Parisian Champs-Elysees-inspired avenue, is scheduled for completion in 2028
- The Royal Diriyah Opera House is expected to be completed in four years
- Diriyah’s first of 42 hotels, the Bab Samhan hotel, will open in the first quarter of 2024
- On completion in 2030, the Diriyah project is forecast to accommodate more than 100,000 people
- The $63.2 billion Diriyah project will contribute $7.2 billion to the kingdom’s GDP
- It will create more than 178,000 jobs and aims to attract more than 50 million visits a year
- About 2,000 people work for the Diriyah Company, with more than 86 per cent being Saudi citizens


Name: Xpanceo

Started: 2018

Founders: Roman Axelrod, Valentyn Volkov

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Smart contact lenses, augmented/virtual reality

Funding: $40 million

Investor: Opportunity Venture (Asia)


Engine: 2-litre 4-cylinder petrol (V Class); electric motor with 60kW or 90kW powerpack (EQV)
Power: 233hp (V Class, best option); 204hp (EQV, best option)
Torque: 350Nm (V Class, best option); TBA (EQV)
On sale: Mid-2024
Price: TBA

The biog

Name: Fareed Lafta

Age: 40

From: Baghdad, Iraq

Mission: Promote world peace

Favourite poet: Al Mutanabbi

Role models: His parents 


ATP Dubai Championships on Monday (x indicates seed):

First round
Roger Federer (SUI x2) bt Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) 6-4, 3-6, 6-1
Fernando Verdasco (ESP) bt Thomas Fabbiano (ITA) 3-6, 6-3, 6-2
Marton Fucsovics (HUN) bt Damir Dzumhur (BIH) 6-1, 7-6 (7/5)
Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) bt Karen Khachanov (RUS x4) 6-4, 6-1
Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) bt Milos Raonic (CAN x7) 6-4, 5-7, 6-4


Final: Dubai Hurricanes v Jebel Ali Dragons
Saturday, 8.15pm, Al Ain Amblers

Semi-final results
Dubai Exiles 20-26 Dubai Hurricanes
Dubai Tigers 32-43 Jebel Ali Dragons

1 Dubai Tigers, 33 points
2 Dubai Exiles, 24 points
3 Dubai Hurricanes, 18 points
4 Jebel Ali Dragons, 14 points
5 Abu Dhabi Harlequins, 14 points

The specs: 2019 Subaru Forester

Price, base: Dh105,900 (Premium); Dh115,900 (Sport)

Engine: 2.5-litre four-cylinder

Transmission: Continuously variable transmission

Power: 182hp @ 5,800rpm

Torque: 239Nm @ 4,400rpm

Fuel economy, combined: 8.1L / 100km (estimated)


Director: Michael Bay

Stars: Ryan Reynolds, Adria Arjona, Dave Franco

2.5 / 5 stars