Here's our plan of attack for you to grab some designer discounts before the Dubai Shopping Festival starts on Thursday.
The super-sale season may not come as a news flash if you live in Dubai, but here's a shout-out for the shopping-inclined in Abu Dhabi: don't wait until the Dubai Shopping Festival to get a jump on designer discounts, some of which began last month. We investigated the scene on a day trip, strictly on assignment, of course, to come up with the best plan of attack. Our recommendation is to leave early and head straight for our current favourite spot, the Gate Village in DIFC, then beat a path back towards Abu Dhabi along Sheikh Zayed Road. If you don't see a sale advertised, ask, and if there isn't one, move on for better bargains. Most of the sales assistants we spoke to did not expect more stock or deeper discounts for DSF, which starts on Thursday, but that's always worth asking about, too.
FIRST STOP: DIFC It floors us how many people in Abu Dhabi have yet to check out the Gate Village in DIFC, instead opting for the more familiar environs of Dubai Mall. But this stylish pedestrian mall is home to several designer boutiques that are unique to the UAE: Vivienne Westwood, Marni and Anya Hindmarch, to name three. Not to be forgotten is the multi-brand boutique Villa Moda, which has separate shops for men and women. The discounts here run from 50 to 80 per cent, and the stores were still well stocked, if you haven't been hovering over their racks for the past few weeks. (DIFC is just past Dubai Mall, across from Emirates Towers, and the Gate Village is at the rear of the complex.)
SECOND STOP: DUBAI MALL For sheer volume, obviously, you can't beat Dubai Mall, but when it comes to stock, you're up against a lot of competition. Start with Fashion Avenue, where many of the designer stores have discounts of up to 50 per cent (some more, some less), advertised with small signs that say "part sale" or "special offers". Then make your way to S*uce, which has a sale of up to 40 per cent at all its locations, including its boutique in the mall. End at Galeries Lafayette, which started its 50 per cent off sale last week.
THIRD STOP: MALL OF THE EMIRATES The Grand Old Dame is also worth checking out for its early sales, even if you can find many of the same stores in Dubai Mall. Boom & Mellow, exclusive to MoE, has discounted some bags 50 to 60 per cent but is otherwise holding off for the shopping festival. So if you can only stop at one place, make it Harvey Nichols, where the discounts are between 20 and 60 per cent: when we were there, the most noteworthy bargains, and best stock, were to be found in the handbag section.
LAST STOP: THE WALK We've scored some of our best fashion finds in the past at the multi-brand Boutique 1, which moved from Emirates Towers last year to its bigger/better digs at The Walk at Jumeirah Beach Residence (on the drive back from Abu Dhabi beside the beach in Dubai Marina). It began its sale in December, but as of last week, the discounts ran up to 60 per cent, with an additional 20 per cent off more brands. It has no further plans for DSF, so all the more reason to head there now. While you're there, seek out Vindemia Gallery in the plaza above (Murjan 5, plaza level, shop 21): a treasure chest of art and antiques, which is offering up to 50 per cent off. We didn't have time to stop by last weekend, so we'll race you there.
There's still plenty of time to enter the 2010 M magazine and Kitab short story competition. The story must be entitled "Moving Messages" but can be on any theme or subject and be 2,000 words or less, written in English. The closing date is midday on Friday, February 19. The winner will have their short story published in the magazine and win a Toshiba laptop courtesy of Kitab, the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair. The runner-up will also have their story published and win Dh1,000 worth of book tokens supplied by Jashanmal Bookstores. E-mail entries to firstname.lastname@example.org or post entries with your name, address and mobile number clearly marked to: Helena Frith Powell, M magazine, The National, Abu Dhabi Media Company, PO Box 111434, Abu Dhabi. Or deliver to Abu Dhabi Media Company on 15th street, marked clearly for the attention of Helena Frith Powell, M magazine, The National, and call 02 414 5319. No employee or relative of an employee at either Abu Dhabi Media Company or the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair is eligible to enter. The judges' decision is final. The story must be the author's original work.
Almost all the blood collected in the UAE comes from volunteers, and with increases in both the country's population and cases of blood disorders, keeping up supplies is crucial. In short, donating can save lives. It's used in the emergency delivery of babies and to treat accident victims, leukaemia, cancer and blood diseases such as thalassaemia, which is common in this country. It's also beneficial to the donor's health, since the procedure activates blood production in the bone marrow and studies have shown that people who regularly donate are less likely to have heart disease. A unit of blood is 450 millilitres - enough to save the lives of up to three people - and an adult human has roughly 12 units, so almost everyone has some to spare. The equipment used for the donation process is sterilised and disposable, which makes it impossible to transmit diseases. People can donate on any day of the week at the Abu Dhabi Blood Bank, run by Sheikh Khalifa Medical City. Donors should be in good health, at least 18 years old, weigh at least 50 kilograms and meet specific health history criteria. Donations are unpaid.