New arrival: Georgina Wilson-Powell on a new online shopping service. Despite the UAE getting more hi-tech and on-board with everything the internet has to offer, there has always been one shortfall for the fashion world: online shopping. Yes, you can order from abroad, but it takes a while, it's expensive and the clothes might not fit. But fear not: Boutique 1, the designer lifestyle store at the Walk at Jumeirah Beach Residence in Dubai, is launching an online portal at the end of October. It will be the first retailer in the region to offer an online shop in English and Arabic.
Welcome to a brave new world that's pretty sleek, immaculately dressed and bang up to date with the latest in fashion. Having had a sneak peek at the site, we can assure you it will entertain even the most internet-phobic fashionista. The website incorporates the store's lifestyle concept so you can choose from more than 150 brands of clothes, shoes, accessories, beauty products, homewares, books and art. "It was so important for us to keep the site high quality and have 100 per cent control over everything," explains Julia Ewald, the store's e-commerce director.
She's built everything from scratch, even constructing a photo studio in the warehouse, so the moment the clothes come in, they're shot at every angle. Post-production colour-matches the site's shots to the real thing, then they're described by the content editor and placed online, where you can zoom in to the point of being able to see the fibres. There are already 20 people working on the project.
In setting up the site, Boutique 1 faced some difficult challenges. No home-delivery system for one, so the store will Aramex everything, everywhere, guaranteeing shipment all over the world, in under two days. For those shoppers who need everything yesterday, within the UAE you can have those must-have shoes in three hours. "If a woman is browsing for a dress in the afternoon for a cocktail party in the evening, we can get it there," says Ewald proudly.
Every brand has a mini-home page with catwalk shots, interviews with designers and content updated every week; trends are highlighted and styled in much the same way as a double-page spread in a magazine. When it comes to buying the clothes, the navigation is attractive and simple. Search by brand, colour and size as well as the usual categories; each piece is presented with an array of mix-and-match suggestions from clutch bags to peep-toe heels, or you can scroll through your own picks to see what works.
You can also register for your wedding or buy gifts, along with complimentary cards where you add your text. The possibilities are endless. But even if you do get a bit carried away with the credit card, don't worry. All gifts come in beautiful packaging, tied with ribbons so pretty you won't notice the pain in your wallet.
Atlanta Vision Lasik surgery What I tried Corrective Lasik laser surgery to turn me from a four-eyes to a 20/20 vision woman. What I expected I have been wearing glasses since I can remember. And I can only wear contact lenses on rare occasions because my eyes are too dry. So I am a lifelong spod, as we English call it. There is nothing attractive about being a spod. It is the same as being a four-eyes. So I went to the Atlanta Vision Clinic to find out if I was a suitable candidate for Lasik laser treatment; laser surgery that takes less than 10 minutes and means you can see clearly, without glasses, the same day. Incredible.
What happened The operation may only take 10 minutes but the tests take more than an hour. There were numerous eye tests to begin, after which I was introduced to Dr Huda Radi, a specialist ophthalmologist, who performed several more tests, including one that was extremely uncomfortable and involved putting liquid in my eyes that caused them to burn and made me see yellow. In fact, I felt the after-effects for hours. The tests were to make sure my eyes were in good condition and that there was nothing that could complicate the surgery. The good news was that I am a good candidate for Lasik eye surgery and my eyes are (apart from being useless when it comes to seeing anything beyond my nose) in good shape. The bad news is, that because I am a woman of a certain age, my sight is already going the other way. So if I have the surgery I will still have to wear glasses to read. Dr Huda did explain one clever option, which was to under-correct one eye just slightly in order to delay the onset of close-up blurring.
The verdict I left the clinic convinced I would go through with it. Then I met a friend for lunch. "I like you in your glasses," she told me. "You look like Moneypenny. And what if anything went wrong?" According to Dr Huda, the safest option is to wear glasses, but things rarely go wrong with Lasik. In fact the Dubai clinic (an offshoot of the one in the US) has had only one case of a minor eye infection in hundreds of successful surgeries since it opened four years ago. The outcome In the end I decided against the surgery. If I were 10 years younger I would have gone for it. But I like the idea of looking like Moneypenny. And not having to wear glasses to read until I am even older than I am now. The Atlanta Vision Clinic, Jumeirah Beach Road, Dubai, 04 3486 233, www.dubailasik.com
Access all areas Anyone who's volunteered at a film festival knows it gives you a special take on proceedings. That's why we're excited by the chance to work at the third annual Middle East International Film Festival from October 8 to 17. Your reward for helping guests, serving as an usher and assisting with administrative work will be access to screenings and exclusive events. The festival is looking for "outgoing, dynamic" people aged 15 and over who are fluent in English, but also in another language, especially Arabic. To apply, go to www.meiff.com/get-involved. If accepted, volunteers will be trained at an orientation session.