N.A.I.L.S. organic spa Citrus C facial
Since I moved to the UAE nearly five years ago, a mix of climate, air and water changes had sent my skin crazy, making it regress to worse than it was in my teenage years. After trying dozens of facials - everywhere from five-star hotels to small-scale spas and everything from ayurvedic to conventional - I was on the verge of despair until I found N.A.I.L.S. in Dubai Marina (in Trident Tower, close to Spinney's Dubai Marina Walk). Most facials tend to be overrated and often involve very expensive face washes, but the Citrus C facial (Dh450) uses a mix of extractions, deep cleansing and massage. After getting one every four to six weeks since March, my skin is transformed. It is no longer clogged and congested but instead is clearer and less prone to angry breakouts. Not only is N.A.I.L.S. affordable, clean and calm with a friendly staff, but its products are also all organic and natural. An added bonus is the free parking next door, a premium when visiting anywhere in the Marina these days. Contact N.A.I.L.S. on 04 447 3688 or visit www.nailsorganicspa.com.
* Melanie Swan
Harman Soundsticks III
If music is important to you and space is limited, the Harman company's Soundsticks are the audiophile answer to your prayers. There's no denying the visual appeal of these eye-catching creations (they've been added to the collection at MoMA in New York for their design), but does the sound live up to their looks? Resoundingly, yes. The satellite sticks each contain a mix of four treble and bass units, whose clarity and nuance are of a quality you'd expect from a much larger and more expensive hifi separates set-up, while the mushroom-shaped subwoofer unit has its own volume control that, at its trouser-ruffling maximum, will threaten to shake your furniture into firewood. It's light enough to be portable (although it is slightly bulky) and its audio mini-jack input will connect to pretty much any sound-producing device. Rarely has sound looked so good. Available at Harman House in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah, and other selected retailers, Dh699.
* Kevin McCardle
Fit Studio flat-fee class membership
Kudos to Fit Studio, the boutique, classes-only gym that launched earlier this year in Abu Dhabi's Al Mamoura neighbourhood (in the Mubadala building near Jones the Grocer, off Muroor Road). The capital's gyms are notorious for charging too much for fitness classes - Dh50 and up - and rare is the centre where you can go to all the ones you want for one flat fee. But for the last few months Fit has been offering a Dh400, all-you-can-go monthly membership and my fitness level is soaring because of it. It's a great way to challenge myself and feel frugal at the same time, because not only do I get in better shape, but the more classes I attend, the cheaper they are. www.fitstudio.ae, 02 445 3395
* Ann Marie McQueen
Perhaps I've been a little slow on the uptake with this one, but a recent discovery has made my twice monthly trips to Kinokuniya, the sprawling bookstore in Dubai Mall, that bit more pleasurable.
Kino is a smallish Japanese-style cafe nestled towards the back of the store and is, by all accounts, a delightful place to pass an hour or so getting stuck in to your latest purchases. The decor is bright, with splashes of colour and playful touches, light streams in through the large windows and the mood is serene, meaning that this place is conducive to actually getting work done as well as socialising. There are sofas, tables and booths for groups, and individual stations where you can sit and charge your laptop.
From what I've sampled so far, the food is fine, but both the coffee and green tea are good and it's nice to see healthy snacks such as edamame beans on the menu. Kino Cafe, Kinokuniya Bookstore, Dubai Mall.