Mohamed al Mansouri, an artist, says he misses his family and the 'delicious food' of Ramadan.
Mohamed al Mansouri, an artist, says he misses his family and the 'delicious food' of Ramadan.

Ramadan in France: iftar mixed with inspiration

Mohammad al Mansouri, an Emirati spending Ramadan in Dijon, France, misses the "delicious food" the most. "Just thinking about the great amount of good food that I won't be able to break my fast on makes me miss home even more," he said.

Mr al Mansouri, a 47-year-old painter, is studying at Le Consortium Art Centre for six months on a grant from the Emirates Foundation. He loves the artists' haven but he wishes his family could be with him during this time. But the father of three girls and three boys thinks he would have a hard time persuading them to come. "Fasting hours are longer here," he said by telephone. The sun sets after 8pm in Dijon.

Having already lost 6kg, Mr al Mansouri is looking to take off a little more. "At least I am going to lose weight while everyone else gains weight back home," he said with a laugh. Mr al Mansouri said he spends most of his day out-and-about in the city, taking photos, before returning to his studio to paint and "self reflect". "Painting is a kind of meditation in itself, where you take what inspires you and turn it into art," he said.

During Ramadan, he will join a group of Algerian friends for prayers in what he called the "Muslim corner", set up just outside their home. "It will be hard to fast when everyone around you is not fasting, but then you adapt by waking up later in the day, and keeping busy until it is time to break your fast," he said. He has brought with him a bag of dates, on which he will break his fast during Ramadan.

"It is a shame I am not a good cook, otherwise I would be cooking my own iftars," he said. "I will just have to buy ready made food." It also helps that another Emirati is visiting from the UAE for the holy month. "I just want to make the most of this Ramadan and be productive," said Ahmed Arshi, 30. "It tends to be a slow and sleepy month with too much focus on the food and social gatherings." Besides his filmmaking career, Mr Arshi has already published four works of fiction and is visiting Dijon to work on his fifth book.

While it has yet to be written, Mr Arshi knows the premise of the book, about twin brothers, one of them with a mental illness who ends up being killed by his twin. "I am looking forward to just writing, praying, and self reflecting without pressures and obligations distracting me from my passion and from worshipping Allah," he said. "Dijon is so beautiful, and so peaceful, that it is actually a great place to pray and meditate."

Mr Arshi said he will be glad to miss the "shisha" culture that has become part of Ramadan. "Ramadan has become far too commercial, like Christmas, where everyone gets sucked in to what they have to do and buy in Ramadan," he said. Instead, Mr Arshi said, he is sitting in a quiet café, surrounded by "beauty and art", where he can order a bottle of Perrier and keep it closed until it is time for iftar.

"The food is great there, and what is better than breaking your fast on fresh croissant and a sip of Perrier?" he said. He will travel to Switzerland and Germany before ending up back in Dijon to spend time with Mr al Mansouri. "Of course I will miss my family and friends, but I seriously won't be missing seeing everyone glued to the TV watching the Ramadan series," he said. "What a waste of time.

"I want to make the most of this month, and sometimes, in order to do that, you just have to be away from home."

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
Investment stage: Pre-series B
Investors: Investcorp, Liberty City Ventures, Fatima Gobi Ventures, Primal Capital, Wealthwell Ventures, FHS Capital, VN2 Capital, local family offices

The flights: You can fly from the UAE to Iceland with one stop in Europe with a variety of airlines. Return flights with Emirates from Dubai to Stockholm, then Icelandair to Reykjavik, cost from Dh4,153 return. The whole trip takes 11 hours. British Airways flies from Abu Dhabi and Dubai to Reykjavik, via London, with return flights taking 12 hours and costing from Dh2,490 return, including taxes. 
The activities: A half-day Silfra snorkelling trip costs 14,990 Icelandic kronur (Dh544) with Inside the Volcano also takes half a day and costs 42,000 kronur (Dh1,524). The Jokulsarlon small-boat cruise lasts about an hour and costs 9,800 kronur (Dh356). Into the Glacier costs 19,500 kronur (Dh708). It lasts three to four hours.
The tours: It’s often better to book a tailor-made trip through a specialist operator. UK-based Discover the World offers seven nights, self-driving, across the island from £892 (Dh4,505) per person. This includes three nights’ accommodation at Hotel Husafell near Into the Glacier, two nights at Hotel Ranga and two nights at the Icelandair Hotel Klaustur. It includes car rental, plus an iPad with itinerary and tourist information pre-loaded onto it, while activities can be booked as optional extras. More information

Young women have more “financial grit”, but fall behind on investing

In an October survey of young adults aged 16 to 25, Charles Schwab found young women are more driven to reach financial independence than young men (67 per cent versus. 58 per cent). They are more likely to take on extra work to make ends meet and see more value than men in creating a plan to achieve their financial goals. Yet, despite all these good ‘first’ measures, they are investing and saving less than young men – falling early into the financial gender gap.

While the women surveyed report spending 36 per cent less than men, they have far less savings than men ($1,267 versus $2,000) – a nearly 60 per cent difference.

In addition, twice as many young men as women say they would invest spare cash, and almost twice as many young men as women report having investment accounts (though most young adults do not invest at all). 

“Despite their good intentions, young women start to fall behind their male counterparts in savings and investing early on in life,” said Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz, senior vice president, Charles Schwab. “They start off showing a strong financial planning mindset, but there is still room for further education when it comes to managing their day-to-day finances.”

Ms Schwab-Pomerantz says parents should be conveying the same messages to boys and girls about money, but should tailor those conversations based on the individual and gender.

"Our study shows that while boys are spending more than girls, they also are saving more. Have open and honest conversations with your daughters about the wage and savings gap," she said. "Teach kids about the importance of investing – especially girls, who as we see in this study, aren’t investing as much. Part of being financially prepared is learning to make the most of your money, and that means investing early and consistently."

SPECS: Polestar 3

Engine: Long-range dual motor with 400V battery
Power: 360kW / 483bhp
Torque: 840Nm
Transmission: Single-speed automatic
Max touring range: 628km
0-100km/h: 4.7sec
Top speed: 210kph
Price: From Dh360,000
On sale: September

A Round of Applause

Director: Berkun Oya
Starring: Aslihan Gürbüz, Fatih Artman, Cihat Suvarioglu
Rating: 4/5

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.


Arsenal 1 (Aubameyang 12’) Liverpool 1 (Minamino 73’)

Arsenal win 5-4 on penalties

Man of the Match: Ainsley Maitland-Niles (Arsenal)

All or Nothing

Amazon Prime

Four stars


Cricket World Cup League Two: Nepal, Oman, United States tri-series, Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu

Wednesday February 5, Oman v Nepal
Thursday, February 6, Oman v United States
Saturday, February 8, United States v Nepal
Sunday, February 9, Oman v Nepal
Tuesday, February 11, Oman v United States
Wednesday, February 12, United States v Nepal


Google wasn't new to busting out April Fool's jokes: before the Gmail "prank", it tricked users with mind-reading MentalPlex responses and said well-fed pigeons were running its search engine operations .

In subsequent years, they announced home internet services through your toilet with its "patented GFlush system", made us believe the Moon's surface was made of cheese and unveiled a dating service in which they called founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page "Stanford PhD wannabes ".

But Gmail was all too real, purportedly inspired by one – a single – Google user complaining about the "poor quality of existing email services" and born "millions of M&Ms later".


July 5, 1994: Jeff Bezos founds Cadabra Inc, which would later be renamed to, 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 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


Director: Tamer Ruggli

Starring: Nadine Labaki, Fanny Ardant

Rating: 3.5/5


Elite men
1. Amare Hailemichael Samson (ERI) 2:07:10
2. Leornard Barsoton (KEN) 2:09:37
3. Ilham Ozbilan (TUR) 2:10:16
4. Gideon Chepkonga (KEN) 2:11:17
5. Isaac Timoi (KEN) 2:11:34
Elite women
1. Brigid Kosgei (KEN) 2:19:15
2. Hawi Feysa Gejia (ETH) 2:24:03
3. Sintayehu Dessi (ETH) 2:25:36
4. Aurelia Kiptui (KEN) 2:28:59
5. Emily Kipchumba (KEN) 2:29:52


Name: SmartCrowd
Started: 2018
Founder: Siddiq Farid and Musfique Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech / PropTech
Initial investment: $650,000
Current number of staff: 35
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Various institutional investors and notable angel investors (500 MENA, Shurooq, Mada, Seedstar, Tricap)

Dengue fever symptoms
  • High fever
  • Intense pain behind your eyes
  • Severe headache
  • Muscle and joint pains
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Swollen glands
  • Rash

If symptoms occur, they usually last for two-seven days

Company Profile

Name: Neo Mobility
Started: February 2023
Co-founders: Abhishek Shah and Anish Garg
Based: Dubai
Industry: Logistics
Funding: $10 million
Investors: Delta Corp, Pyse Sustainability Fund, angel investors

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. 

Read part four: an affection for classic cars lives on

Read part three: the age of the electric vehicle begins

Read part one: how cars came to the UAE


How much of your income do you need to save?

The more you save, the sooner you can retire. Tuan Phan, a board member of, says if you save just 5 per cent of your salary, you can expect to work for another 66 years before you are able to retire without too large a drop in income.

In other words, you will not save enough to retire comfortably. If you save 15 per cent, you can forward to another 43 working years. Up that to 40 per cent of your income, and your remaining working life drops to just 22 years. (see table)

Obviously, this is only a rough guide. How much you save will depend on variables, not least your salary and how much you already have in your pension pot. But it shows what you need to do to achieve financial independence.


Rooney's club record

At Everton Appearances: 77; Goals: 17

At Manchester United Appearances: 559; Goals: 253

Most Read
Top Videos

The UAE Today

The latest news and analysis from the Emirates

      By signing up, I agree to The National's privacy policy
      The UAE Today