What we're loving: Planetary, Maher Zain and Nike Free 5.0

We round up the items, services and places that the team at Arts&Life are loving this week.

The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Abu Dhabi. Courtesy: Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc
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We round up the items, services and places that the team at Arts&Life are loving this week.


Quite often, the most enjoyable activities are completely futile. For example, at present I'm utterly enthralled by an iPad app called Planetary. Essentially, this transforms the music stored in your iTunes into a three-dimensional rendering of a galaxy. Each star in this spiralling galaxy takes the name of one of the musical artists in your collection, the planets that orbit them are their albums and the moons that rotate around these are songs on this album. Then, when you play one of these songs, the camera pans around this celestial scene, as if one was floating through space. It makes for a beautiful and calming scene. Yes, it's unquestionably pointless, but it does add a new pleasure to listening to music. What's more, Planetary is free to download.

* Hugo Berger

Advantage card

When I joined the first residents of Saadiyat last summer, after years of typical tenant stresses in Abu Dhabi, my life at the St Regis Residences turned into a desert island dream: morning walks on the shell-scattered beach, sunset yoga on the pool terrace, lessons at the Saadiyat Golf Club, easy brunches at the neighbouring Al Fanr and, at the end of the day, the friendly welcome home from hotel staff. If I'm ever forced to give up my charmed resort life, I might just turn into a squatter. Now TDIC, the landlord of Saadiyat and Eastern Mangroves residences, has provided another reason to love it even more. At a party for the "TDIC community" last week at the Monte Carlo Beach Club, it introduced its tenants to the Advantage card, giving us 10 to 20 per cent discounts at all of its hotels and resorts, restaurants and spas, including all the places I've mentioned plus Qasr Al Sarab and Desert Islands Resort & Spa. Tenancy has its privileges, even in Abu Dhabi.

* Mo Gannon

Maher Zain's album

No matter how many times I change the music in my car's CD changer, there is one slot that has not been replaced. It is reserved for one particular album: Thank You Allah (2009), the debut English/Arabic album by the Swedish artist Maher Zain. He is known for blending R&B and soulful sounds to bring Nasheed (songs that incorporate religious beliefs) to a wider audience.

Zain, originally from Lebanon, often travels the world holding charitable concerts with organisations such as Human Appeal International.

The first single from the album - Palestine Will Be Free, has received nearly six million views on YouTube, while the second single Insha Allahhas been viewed about 30 million times - so far. Last year, he visited the UAE for the first time to perform a concert at the American University of Sharjah. Organised by Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services, the concert promoted the importance of voluntary work and raised awareness on disability issues and spirituality.

Zain's follow up album, Forgive Me, was released in 2012.

* Mai El Shoush

Every so often we stumble across an item that was so worth it, we want to tell everyone about it

Nike Free 5.0

There is no doubt that I am obsessed with workout clothes and shoes. I invest more time and money in these two areas than any other part of my wardrobe. I'm a firm believer in comfort and aesthetics, so I don't like compromising. Shoes are one area where I cannot always combine the two. For running, my rather chunky but supportive Saucony shoes don't really cut the pretty mustard but do the trick for practical. My Adidas Feathers are pretty enough but offer little support when it comes to a run or plyometric or weight training. My Reebok Olympic lifting shoes are downright ugly but they really do their job for heavy lifting days. The Nike Free is a whole new game. I would actually feel proud to strut these on a weekend. Comfortable, not too narrow or too wide, they offer just the right support while still being light. As close to bare foot as I'd like to go, they are uber flexible - and I'm not about to go down the Vibrams route (they are for the much more hard-core barefoot advocate). The fabric is so good to touch and is breathable and funky - this latest model is dotted with stars. I can safely say that I have no desire to run a marathon, but for my max 10km runs, these are by far my favourite runners. Like its clothing range, Nike never disappoints. Dh565 at Nike stores.

* Melanie Swan

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