There is something compelling about wrapping a scarf with jingly bits around your hips. The minute you tie the knot you are overcome with an overwhelming desire to wiggle and make the small gold coins jangle like a rattle. Before I started belly dancing recently in Abu Dhabi I would call this wiggling my hips, but now I am a belly dancer I call it the "shimmy" - the hip shimmy, to be precise, as opposed to the shoulder shimmy or diagonal shimmy. Until I moved to Abu Dhabi I did not have the opportunity to dance. Then by chance, when I was doing a yoga class at The Yoga Tree and Soma Pilates Studios, I saw it on the list of classes: "Oriental Belly Dancing with Elina", it read. I had no idea there was more than one kind, but there are two: Raqs Baladi, which is local or folk dance, and Raqs Sharqi, the oriental variety. I signed up immediately. There are three of us in the oriental belly dancing class, along with Elina, our teacher. She is from Finland and has the most perfect body I have ever seen outside the Elle Macpherson swimwear catalogue. A dancer by training, she learnt to belly dance in various places, including California and Munich, where apparently two German women run one of the world's most formidable belly dancing academies. The two other girls already have the brightly coloured scarves tied around their waists. Elina asks me to pick one from a basket she has on a shelf. The coins, she says, are symbolic of women's wealth. "And the colour?" "Personal taste," she replies. I go for bright pink. Scarves on and we get to work. We begin by taking small, elegant steps, two on our right foot, two on our left. My money jangles subtly. We bring our hips in, moving them to echo the rhythm and movement of our feet. Now I am rattling like a room full of rattlesnakes. I feel great; strong and sensual. The brilliant thing about belly dancing, as opposed to something like ballet, is that you can actually look like you know what you are doing straight away. Then we start work on our arms. Rather like ballet, there are positions for your arms, four of them. Your fingers are slightly separated at all times, the movements graceful and elegant. I ask the other ladies why they are there. "I love dancing and want to get fit," says Frances, who is from England. "And it's sexy," adds Liante, who is Dutch and also lives in Abu Dhabi. The health benefits are well documented; belly dancing is an excellent cardiovascular workout, it increases flexibility and strength and is very good for your core muscles. It also burns as many calories an hour as jogging, swimming or riding a bike. And you get to shimmy. What's not to like? email@example.com
- Message from the editor: on April 17, a different window on the world
- In pictures: Shah Rukh Khan stars at IPL Gala dinner in Abu Dhabi
- No words can describe this April 17, your captions will
- Bring IPL here again, says Sheikh Nahyan
- UAE uncovered 85 cases of diesel fuel smuggling last year
- Three separate drug-smuggling attempts stopped by Abu Dhabi customs
- Most Viewed
- Most Commented
- Star Wars: Episode VII evidence in Abu Dhabi desert
- UAE health authorities monitoring Mers cases in Filipinos
- GCAA report warns of Maldives airport after Emirates plane incident
- Mers coronavirus: Filipino paramedic infected 10 colleagues, says the WHO
- Mystery surrounds Dubai truck crash that caused air hostess to fall from plane
- Most Viewed
- Most Commented
- History shines light on the true borders of Palestine
- Reduce speed limit buffer on UAE roads, experts urge
- Finishing touches to luxury Fortnum and Mason shop in Dubai
- American ‘has UAE Embassy documents’ to back up medicinal marijuana claim
- Nakheel to sell plots for hotels and resorts on Dubai’s Deira Islands
In pictures: Shah Rukh Khan stars at IPL Gala dinner in Abu Dhabi
The superstar entertainer Shah Rukh Khan on stage last night at a gala dinner to launch the Indian Premier League cricket tournament.
No words can describe this April 17, your captions will
Have a catchy caption for this picture. Share it with us and we might publish it and reward you.
Rare 1856 stamp up for auction at Sotheby’s
This is one of the world’s rarest stamps and when it goes up for auction in June it should fetch $20million. Its history since it was issued in 1856 is fascinating – and includes one murderous chapter, as Jonathan Gornall reports
Top five places to catch an IPL game in the UAE
Enjoy all the 20/20 cricket action at a sports lounge near you – whether in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain or Dubai
On the road with Hassan Rouhani
Iran's president is touring some of Iran's most underdeveloped provinces. Foreign correspondent Yeganeh Salehi is traveling with him.
In pictures: Barca play a little rugby before Copa del rey final
Barcelona and Real Madrid will play in the Copa del Rey final on Wednesday night but the day before the match, Braca players played a little rugby during a training session at Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper training camp, in Sant Joan Despi, Spain. Barca meet Real Madrid on Wednesday at 11.30pm (UAE time) and the match will be on BeIn Sports.