x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

It's not my bag

Why pick one bag when you can rent a new one for every occasion, asks Helena Frith Powell

Now that renting handbags has been made acceptable, almost compulsory, by the film version of Sex And The City, you can log on to the UAE's latest fashionista website www.mapochette.com without shame. Started by Danielle Wilson, this is a website dedicated to women who know about the importance of having a handbag to match your outfit but who are not stupid enough to pay for one. Why shell out thousands of dirhams for the latest Jimmy Choo when with a quick double-click it can be yours, all yours, for Dh550? OK, so rather like Cinderella's carriage, it then disappears after 24 hours, but you've had the fun of showing it off and pretending you are as rich as Carrie Bradshaw. "I started mapochette because there was a huge gap in the market," says Wilson. "I realised that ladies here go out a lot and that they want a bag to match their outfit but they don't necessarily want to spend a fortune on one. Since we opened we have been inundated with requests. Women love the service." Bags are delivered free of charge in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Throughout November and December, you will also receive a goodie bag with each rental worth hundreds of dirhams including a Dh250 gift voucher for Puma, a Dh350 Kaya skin clinic facial, Estée Lauder make-up and a Zufi Alexander clutch designed exclusively for mapochette.

WHAT WE TRIED: We learnt the hard way that normal post is not a reliable option when it comes to sending and receiving parcels, after two parcels went missing months ago somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean. Aramex, a global courier company with warehouses in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, provides customers with post office boxes in the US and the UK, then ships any contents over to the UAE on a weekly basis. There is a one-time set-up fee of Dh130 ($35); per-order delivery rates start at Dh39. WHAT WE HOPED FOR: A steady stream of magazines, hard-to-find books and DVDs delivered to our workplace - one of the few addresses in Abu Dhabi that does not rely solely on local landmarks - at highly reasonable prices. And, possibly, for our friends and family members to rest assured that should they feel moved to us send more presents, it would not be a total waste of time and money. WHAT WE EXPERIENCED: We were already fond of Aramex to begin with, after sending a framed photograph to Canada in September. We watched as Tariq, one of Abu Dhabi's most hard-working employees, painstakingly boxed the frame up and marvelled when he phoned us days later. The package had arrived, he said, and staff on the other end were just waiting for word on a good time to drop it off. Could we give a little international nudge, he wondered? A few days later Tariq called again to say the parcel had been delivered, before the recipient even had time to thank us. As for Shop&Ship, Aramex on Muroor Road does a brisk business, so signing up in person took much longer than we would have liked. Registration is also available at www.aramex.com. When we signed up, we received two "addresses", one in the US, one in the UK. We were also told that all packages, big and small, would be delivered for a flat fee of Dh39. Armed with that information, we immediately subscribed to five magazines to be delivered to our new "home" in Springfield Gardens, New York. We also routed two medium-sized boxes of personal belongings from Canada to the new US mailbox. Contrary to what we were told, the fee to ship varies significantly by weight and size of parcel. Hmmm. We have been told to be careful of the size and weight of what we are ordering and to keep orders below $200, to avoid paying duties at this end. Another blip: Aramex tends to deliver before we are due to arrive in the office, leading to trips down to that very busy shop, possibly even queuing up, to pick up packages. THE FINAL VERDICT: We just want our Entertainment Weekly. If the magazine subscriptions become too pricey, we will cancel them. Maybe we will even make new friends down at the shop while waiting in line. And if all else fails, there's always Tariq. Ann Marie McQueen

Part 1: exercise Follow M's tips to tone your body while sitting in your car. For the chest Grip the steering wheel and clench your pectoral muscles. Repeat 20 times. For the glutes Clench your left buttock, then your right one, 25 times each. Then clench both together for another 25. Make sure the movement is controlled and slow: it is a question of quality not quantity. For the inner thighs Tense all the muscles in your legs and slowly in a controlled movement bring your legs together. Hold for one signal or until the traffic moves again. Don't forget to breathe and to leave one foot on the break pedal. For the stomach Tense your stomach muscles by imagining you are bringing your belly-button to your spine, squeeze as hard as you can and hold for 20 seconds or until the traffic moves again. Repeat 10 times.

www.mtvmusic.com The tagline for the site, which was launched at the end of October, is "I want my MTV" - well, you got it. Skip YouTube's grainy reproductions, and get your Def Leppard, Rick Astley and A-ha fixes with proper sound quality at this website. Apparently, MTV has realised that this whole internet thing is for real and finally uploaded nearly all the videos it has ever played. There is a vintage section and MTV Live performances, where you can bask in the greatness of LL Cool J as he performs Mama Said Knock You Out. Due to copyright laws, some content is not available in the UAE. Don't despair, though, the greatest and most overlooked music video of all time - The Humpty Dance by Digital Underground - is there for your pleasure. The lead rapper Greg "Shock G" Jacobs promises "to ruin the image and the style that you're used to". He most certainly does.

Any relatively fit adult with basic swimming skills can scuba dive - unfortunately, reading how to do it in a magazine won't earn you the certification. So if you're interested, the first thing to do is find a local diving centre. Kathleen Russell, from Seven Seas Divers based in Korfakkan in Fujairah, says this can be done easily online. Seven Seas is certified through PADI, the largest instructor organisation in the world, and a list of centres is available at www.padi.com. Potential divers can also look up training with BSAC (www.bsac.com) and Naui (www.naui.org). Before jumping into lessons - which usually include four three-hour pool and classroom sessions and four open-water dives - Russell suggests trying a test dive. This one-day excursion, called Discover Scuba Diving with PADI, includes basic instructions and an actual open-water dive (with potential sharks and everything). If you like it, it counts towards an Open Water Diver certification. If you don't, at least you no longer have to worry about the bends (which is actually called decompression sickness and is easy to avoid). Most centres have equipment for new divers, so just show up with a swimming costume for a dive or a lesson - though a wetsuit can be helpful in the open water. In the Emirates, you can expect to find the best diving spots along the east coast because construction has damaged marine life and stirred silt in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. There is excellent diving in Oman and anywhere in the Red Sea (from Egypt to Ethiopia). Russell suggests Yemen as one of the most underrated diving locations nearby. Learning to dive is simple, it's really just about getting started. Children as young as 10 can learn to dive. And that's pretty much it. Oh, whatever you do, don't watch the film Open Water before, during or after contemplating taking the plunge. John Mather

If, like us, you're mad keen about recycling, and you can't bear to throw your old newspapers in the BIN, Ikea in Marina Mall offers a solution. TAKE your newspapers to a TUB near the checkout AND they pledge to use them for packing. It may seem like a chore, but who said saving the planet was easy?