Ras Al Khaimah , United Arab Emirates- December 09, 2010 ;   Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Ras Al Khaimah. ( Satish Kumar / The National ) For On location
The Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Ras Al Khaimah.

A space in RAK for the heart and for the soul



At first glance, the prayer ground and its surrounding car park are little more than an expansive slab of tarmac at the city's centre. By day, it is downright plain.

As night falls, however, the car park becomes one of Ras al Khaimah's most popular recreation areas. It is a park without a tree or shrub in sight, but people flock to it in a daily ritual to run, walk and cruise around the one-kilometre wall that loops the prayer ground.

Aisha al Fala, 25, power-walks down the prayer ground with pink track-suit bottoms beneath her abaya. Men jogging have trouble keeping pace with her.

"It's the best place in the city," says Aisha, an Emirati pharmacist. "It's a suitable place for a woman, everyone comes here just for the walking."

She has lost 10kg since she began walking here seven years ago. "Before," she says bluntly, "I was fat."

That's hard to believe. Even with a flowing abaya, she is a wisp of a woman.

To the untrained eye, there is little beauty in this scene. The only lights are from the minarets of the adjacent Sheikh Zayed Mosque that glow a ghostly green through starry lattice work, and from the Dream Residence apartments, its neon lights a flickering purple in an effort to live up to its name.

For the most part, the car park is dark, and this is part of its popularity. The darkness around the prayer ground can offer a shooting star or two, if you raise your eyes skywards.

More importantly, women in RAK prefer to exercise under the cover of darkness. Clad in their trainers and abayas, they enjoy the comfort of camouflage and anonymity, protection from the prying eyes of men.

Many of RAK's young people first learnt the art of cruising here, under the watchful gaze of older cousins and brothers. When they come of legal age to drive, this is where many return, to circle the prayer ground with some cardamom tea and R&B, or Arabic love songs.

The first runners arrive around 4pm, when work and afternoon prayers are finished.

Abdul Rahman al Nuaimi, 30, and his friend, Waleed, are on round seven by 5pm.

As a transport manager, Abdul knows how to get around. But when the area where he used to exercise grew crowded with housing and hotels, he was no longer able to park his jet ski at the beach. He joined the Hilton gym but soon missed the relaxation of socialising outdoors.

"Most of my friends are coming here," he says, motioning to Waleed.

"Mr Waleed, he's like my brother, we like to walk and talk about everything. Business, life. You go running, walking and then you get a solution for the problem."

Naim Yassine, 62, a Palestinian-Canadian accountant, is another prayer-ground regular. At 1.87 metres tall, he is a giant of a man, if not quite to the extent that he once was. He's 17kg lighter, and all the better for it. He talks in extended sentences about high cholesterol and his brush with near-death that led him to the prayer ground - not for his spiritual health, but for the physical variety.

The accountant manages about 500 metres before the sentence reaches a full stop. But, he will tell you, perseverance is key.

After two kilometres, his stride and his sermon on health are both gaining pace and the sweat is pouring through his white undershirt.

Of course, there are days when he comes to the prayer ground not to walk, but to pray.

Thousands of Muslims gather here every year on the first morning of Eid. In those moments of prayer, the ground is a place of beauty.

Sheikhs and labourers pray side by side. Arrivals include Ford pick-ups packed with workers, and SUVs with television screens, their seats full of children dressed in their new Eid clothes, girls in glittering gowns and boys with new prayer mats.

Women form a black band behind men gathered at the front. Beyond the wall, a handful of prisoners in shackles pray beside their guards.

Once again, the prayer ground brings people together.

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: SimpliFi

Started: August 2021

Founder: Ali Sattar

Based: UAE

Industry: Finance, technology

Investors: 4DX, Rally Cap, Raed, Global Founders, Sukna and individuals

If you go

The Flights

Emirates and Etihad fly direct to Johannesburg from Dubai and Abu Dhabi respectively. Economy return tickets cost from Dh2,650, including taxes.

The trip

Worldwide Motorhoming Holidays (worldwidemotorhomingholidays.co.uk) operates fly-drive motorhome holidays in eight destinations, including South Africa. Its 14-day Kruger and the Battlefields itinerary starts from Dh17,500, including campgrounds, excursions, unit hire and flights. Bobo Campers has a range of RVs for hire, including the 4-berth Discoverer 4 from Dh600 per day.

The specs

Engine: 2.4-litre 4-cylinder

Transmission: CVT auto

Power: 181bhp

Torque: 244Nm

Price: Dh122,900

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

Women & Power: A Manifesto

Mary Beard

Profile Books and London Review of Books 

ASIAN RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP 2024

Results
Hong Kong 52-5 UAE
South Korea 55-5 Malaysia
Malaysia 6-70 Hong Kong
UAE 36-32 South Korea

Fixtures
Friday, June 21, 7.30pm kick-off: UAE v Malaysia
At The Sevens, Dubai (admission is free).
Saturday: Hong Kong v South Korea

The specs

Engine: 4.4-litre, twin-turbo V8
Transmission: eight-speed auto
Power: 617hp
Torque: 750Nm
Price: from Dh630,000
On sale: now

Juliot Vinolia’s checklist for adopting alternate-day fasting

-      Don’t do it more than once in three days

-      Don’t go under 700 calories on fasting days

-      Ensure there is sufficient water intake, as the body can go in dehydration mode

-      Ensure there is enough roughage (fibre) in the food on fasting days as well

-      Do not binge on processed or fatty foods on non-fasting days

-      Complement fasting with plant-based foods, fruits, vegetables, seafood. Cut out processed meats and processed carbohydrates

-      Manage your sleep

-      People with existing gastric or mental health issues should avoid fasting

-      Do not fast for prolonged periods without supervision by a qualified expert

Sarfira

Director: Sudha Kongara Prasad

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5

Turkish Ladies

Various artists, Sony Music Turkey 

MEDIEVIL (1998)

Developer: SCE Studio Cambridge
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Console: PlayStation, PlayStation 4 and 5
Rating: 3.5/5

Profile box

Company name: baraka
Started: July 2020
Founders: Feras Jalbout and Kunal Taneja
Based: Dubai and Bahrain
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $150,000
Current staff: 12
Stage: Pre-seed capital raising of $1 million
Investors: Class 5 Global, FJ Labs, IMO Ventures, The Community Fund, VentureSouq, Fox Ventures, Dr Abdulla Elyas (private investment)

The years Ramadan fell in May

1987

1954

1921

1888

Recent winners

2002 Giselle Khoury (Colombia)

2004 Nathalie Nasralla (France)

2005 Catherine Abboud (Oceania)

2007 Grace Bijjani  (Mexico)

2008 Carina El-Keddissi (Brazil)

2009 Sara Mansour (Brazil)

2010 Daniella Rahme (Australia)

2011 Maria Farah (Canada)

2012 Cynthia Moukarzel (Kuwait)

2013 Layla Yarak (Australia)              

2014 Lia Saad  (UAE)

2015 Cynthia Farah (Australia)

2016 Yosmely Massaad (Venezuela)

2017 Dima Safi (Ivory Coast)

2018 Rachel Younan (Australia)

The specs

Engine: 2.3-litre 4cyl turbo
Power: 299hp at 5,500rpm
Torque: 420Nm at 2,750rpm
Transmission: 10-speed auto
Fuel consumption: 12.4L/100km
On sale: Now
Price: From Dh157,395 (XLS); Dh199,395 (Limited)

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July 5, 1994: Jeff Bezos founds Cadabra Inc, which would later be renamed to Amazon.com, because his lawyer misheard the name as 'cadaver'. In its earliest days, the bookstore operated out of a rented garage in Bellevue, Washington

July 16, 1995: Amazon formally opens as an online bookseller. Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought becomes the first item sold on Amazon

1997: Amazon goes public at $18 a share, which has grown about 1,000 per cent at present. Its highest closing price was $197.85 on June 27, 2024

1998: Amazon acquires IMDb, its first major acquisition. It also starts selling CDs and DVDs

2000: Amazon Marketplace opens, allowing people to sell items on the website

2002: Amazon forms what would become Amazon Web Services, opening the Amazon.com platform to all developers. The cloud unit would follow in 2006

2003: Amazon turns in an annual profit of $75 million, the first time it ended a year in the black

2005: Amazon Prime is introduced, its first-ever subscription service that offered US customers free two-day shipping for $79 a year

2006: Amazon Unbox is unveiled, the company's video service that would later morph into Amazon Instant Video and, ultimately, Amazon Video

2007: Amazon's first hardware product, the Kindle e-reader, is introduced; the Fire TV and Fire Phone would come in 2014. Grocery service Amazon Fresh is also started

2009: Amazon introduces Amazon Basics, its in-house label for a variety of products

2010: The foundations for Amazon Studios were laid. Its first original streaming content debuted in 2013

2011: The Amazon Appstore for Google's Android is launched. It is still unavailable on Apple's iOS

2014: The Amazon Echo is launched, a speaker that acts as a personal digital assistant powered by Alexa

2017: Amazon acquires Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, its biggest acquisition

2018: Amazon's market cap briefly crosses the $1 trillion mark, making it, at the time, only the third company to achieve that milestone

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Saturday, May 16 (kick-offs UAE time)

Borussia Dortmund v Schalke (4.30pm) 

RB Leipzig v Freiburg (4.30pm) 

Hoffenheim v Hertha Berlin (4.30pm) 

Fortuna Dusseldorf v Paderborn  (4.30pm) 

Augsburg v Wolfsburg (4.30pm) 

Eintracht Frankfurt v Borussia Monchengladbach (7.30pm)

Sunday, May 17

Cologne v Mainz (4.30pm),

Union Berlin v Bayern Munich (7pm)

Monday, May 18

Werder Bremen v Bayer Leverkusen (9.30pm)

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Publisher:
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Pages:
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Rating: 4.5/5

The specs

Engine: 1.6-litre 4-cyl turbo

Power: 217hp at 5,750rpm

Torque: 300Nm at 1,900rpm

Transmission: eight-speed auto

Price: from Dh130,000

On sale: now

PROFILE OF CURE.FIT

Started: July 2016

Founders: Mukesh Bansal and Ankit Nagori

Based: Bangalore, India

Sector: Health & wellness

Size: 500 employees

Investment: $250 million

Investors: Accel, Oaktree Capital (US); Chiratae Ventures, Epiq Capital, Innoven Capital, Kalaari Capital, Kotak Mahindra Bank, Piramal Group’s Anand Piramal, Pratithi Investment Trust, Ratan Tata (India); and Unilever Ventures (Unilever’s global venture capital arm)

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Cory Sandhagen v Umar Nurmagomedov
Nick Diaz v Vicente Luque
Michael Chiesa v Tony Ferguson
Deiveson Figueiredo v Marlon Vera
Mackenzie Dern v Loopy Godinez

Tickets for the August 3 Fight Night, held in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, went on sale earlier this month, through www.etihadarena.ae and www.ticketmaster.ae.

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Barcelona v Real Madrid
Semi-final, first leg
Wednesday (midnight UAE)

MATCH INFO

Uefa Champions League semi-final, first leg

Tottenham 0-1 Ajax, Tuesday

Second leg

Ajax v Tottenham, Wednesday, May 8, 11pm

Game is on BeIN Sports

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Rating: 4/5

Directed by: Joseph Kosinski

Starring: Tom Cruise, Val Kilmer, Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm, Miles Teller, Glen Powell, Ed Harris

The bio

Favourite food: Japanese

Favourite car: Lamborghini

Favourite hobby: Football

Favourite quote: If your dreams don’t scare you, they are not big enough

Favourite country: UAE

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Name: Hassan Mohsen Elhais

Position: legal consultant with Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultants

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Company name: Klipit

Started: 2022

Founders: Venkat Reddy, Mohammed Al Bulooki, Bilal Merchant, Asif Ahmed, Ovais Merchant

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Digital receipts, finance, blockchain

Funding: $4 million

Investors: Privately/self-funded

Company profile

Company name: Fasset
Started: 2019
Founders: Mohammad Raafi Hossain, Daniel Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $2.45 million
Current number of staff: 86
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Name: Yousef Al Bahar

Advocate at Al Bahar & Associate Advocates and Legal Consultants, established in 1994

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Living in...

This article is part of a guide on where to live in the UAE. Our reporters will profile some of the country’s most desirable districts, provide an estimate of rental prices and introduce you to some of the residents who call each area home.

ICC Awards for 2021+

MEN

Cricketer of the Year+– Shaheen Afridi+(Pakistan)

T20 Cricketer of the Year+– Mohammad Rizwan+(Pakistan)

ODI Cricketer of the Year+– Babar Azam+(Pakistan)

Test Cricketer of the Year+– Joe Root+(England)

WOMEN

Cricketer of the Year+– Smriti Mandhana+(India)

ODI Cricketer of the Year+– Lizelle Lee+(South Africa)

T20 Cricketer of the Year+– Tammy Beaumont+(England)

Reading List

Practitioners of mindful eating recommend the following books to get you started:

Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life by Thich Nhat Hanh and Dr Lilian Cheung

How to Eat by Thich Nhat Hanh

The Mindful Diet by Dr Ruth Wolever

Mindful Eating by Dr Jan Bays

How to Raise a Mindful Eaterby Maryann Jacobsen

COMPANY PROFILE

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

THE SPECS

Engine: 1.5-litre

Transmission: 6-speed automatic

Power: 110 horsepower

Torque: 147Nm

Price: From Dh59,700

On sale: now


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