Here's our very selective guide to the last night out of the year.
Last-minute ideas for New Year's Eve
We missed securing a spot for New Year's Eve at our latest favourite venue - the Yacht Club at the InterContinental, now fully booked - but that at least got us thinking about other options, and there are many in Abu Dhabi. The obvious choice would be Shakira's outdoor concert for a crowd of 10,000 at Emirates Palace, (tickets are Dh295-Dh1,500 at www.boxofficeme.com), but if Latin rhythms don't suit your fancy, here's our very selective guide to the last night out of the year.
The frenzy of the Dubai Shopping Festival will shortly be upon us, but what point is there in shopping if you've nowhere to put your fabulous new purchases when you take them home? Time for a little pre-sale housework: 1. Go through your wardrobe and assess whether your clothes still deserve their place in it. Put on probation anything that has not been worn for one season; sell, give away or bin the rest. 2. Clean out all wardrobes and drawers. Vacuum well, going into all the corners, then wipe the interior surfaces with a damp cloth. Leave drawers and doors open until everything is completely dry. Re-line drawers. If there is a hint of dampness in your wardrobe (and Abu Dhabi summers can play havoc with your frocks), put dehumdifiers in the bottom. Remember to check and change them when necessary. 3. When you get your bargains home, decide on a wardrobe system. Hang clothes according to colour, or - my preference - like with like: all the trousers together, all the skirts together and so on. Don't cram clothes into wardrobes. Give them enough space to allow creases to fall out and let them air. For the same reason, don't pack things too tightly into drawers. 4. Store suits, jackets, coats and dresses in garment bags, which should always be made of breathable material, such as cotton, not plastic, and should be big enough that the clothes inside do not get crushed. Never store clothes in plastic - such as leaving them in the dry-cleaner's plastic bags. If clothes are stored in plastic for a long time, the polymers in the bags can migrate on to fabrics and cause yellowing. In addition, if there is any hint of dampness in the clothes or the wardrobe, mildew may develop. Hang dresses and jackets on a padded or broad wooden hanger. The plastic ones are too thin and will not support the clothes properly. Wire ones are also too thin and can rust, leaving ineradicable marks on clothes. 5. Hang trousers on trouser hangers, either by the hems or folded over the hanger. Look out for the ones with rubberised bars, which prevent them from slipping. Hang skirts on skirt hangers by their waistband loops. Wrap the loops twice round the notch in the hanger. On plain hangers, twist rubber bands round the ends to prevent the skirts from slipping off. Rachel Simhon is the author of The Housewife's Handbook, now available in paperback (Bloomsbury, £18.99).
What we tried: The Etihad central Abu Dhabi check-in, conveniently located opposite Abu Dhabi Mall, in case you need to do some last-minute shopping before you get on the plane. What we had hoped for: A convenient and stress-free experience, saying goodbye to our luggage before we even got to the airport, meaning we could head straight for duty free instead of the check-in queue.
What we experienced: The stress began before we even got there. Most people in Abu Dhabi will be aware of the horrendous road works in that part of town. This includes my husband, who spent the whole drive telling me that this was a bad idea. It took us more than an hour to get there from home (a journey that should normally take 15 minutes), and when we got there we couldn't access it because all the roads are blocked. We drove around in circles before finally finding our way in. There we were told that we would have to go straight to the airport, with our bags, because you have to check in at least six hours in advance. I had tried to call to find out what the timings were but there was no reply. And there is no information online.
The final verdict: All very well if you want to get check-in over and done with the day before (thus ensuring the best seat), or if you feel like ending your Abu Dhabi stay with a long lunch at Prego's, but otherwise not much use. And what would you do with your toiletries bag? Helena Frith Powell
We stumbled across this web site while shopping for a Secret Santa, but now we want to use it year-round. Blue Banana is basically an online "experience" agent, selling everything from pistol shooting to learning about the art of coffee-making. It also offers the usual spa packages and desert or ocean adventures, but our favourite activities are under the "Art of Life" heading: you can take a course that helps develop your own brand, or paint a canvas in a studio. Gift experience vouchers are valid for six months, and they deliver them anywhere in the UAE within 48 hours.
English: Happy New Year! Arabic: Kul aam intum bekhayar! Urdu: Naya saal mubarak!
Part 6: Learn to write Arabic numbers We've learned to count to 20 in Arabic, so now we're ready for the advanced class. Sitting in a taxi caught in traffic, gazing out at the street signs, we realized that we could learn from numbered streets: Seventh street has an Arabic numeral for seven, and so on. So now we're quite content to sit still while waiting for the light to change: every stop is a new lesson.