x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

Stand up paddle surfing

The easy alternative to surfing has now arrived in Dubai.

WHAT IS IT? Sup'ing, as it's also known, is a fun, simple way of giving you a taste of surfing, without the difficulty or humiliation that comes with falling off. It originated in Hawaii in the 1960s, when it was used by surfing instructors who needed a higher viewpoint than their students during lessons. Basically, you use a board that's thicker and sturdier than an ordinary surfboard and therefore easier to balance on. You stand with both feet towards the nose of the board and use a one-bladed paddle in both hands to move around, as you would in a canoe. The best bit is that you don't need waves, which makes it ideal for the shallow Gulf waters.

WHERE CAN I DO IT? At Sunset Beach, which is the main beach next to the Burj Al Arab. Lessons are organised by Surf School UAE, the only surf school in the Middle East that is licensed, insured and approved by the International Surfing Association. DO I NEED MY OWN BOARD? No - one is provided by the surf school. You must, however, be able to swim. HOW MUCH DOES IT COST? Private lessons are Dh150 for two hours, or Dh125 each for a group of four or five. If you book four lessons, the rate is reduced to Dh100 each. Lessons last between 60 and 90 minutes, depending on the conditions. As the weather cools, lesson times will become more frequent, so keep checking for updated times. There are different packages available that include paddle and fitness training, water and beach safety techniques, surf etiquette, as well as correcting the unique stand-up technique. The school is also offering one free lesson to anyone who wishes to try stand up paddle surfing or for those who just want some tips on improving. All lessons must be booked in advance. Contact the school for details of autumn and winter schedules.

WILL IT KEEP ME FIT? Yes, it's great for improving your core muscles. The technique requires you to stand on the board with your knees slightly bent while paddling, resulting in a great workout for your stomach, legs and arms. For more information, call 02 422 1232 or e-mail carl@surfschooluae.com. For bookings, e-mail bookings@surfschooluae.com or visit www.surfschooluae.com

The reopening of the Corniche beach Following a two-month closure for expansion and improvements, the public beaches on the capital's Corniche are scheduled to reopen this Friday, October 16, but only as a "controlled access" venue for the free Yasalam events being held in the run-up to the F1 weekend. These include an F1 Fan Zone, with live screenings of the Brazilian Grand Prix (October 16-18), and concluding with a Rio-style carnival on the Sunday; an outdoor cinema (October 22-24) showing films for all ages; and Beats on the Beach (October 27-31) - five nights of live music, with performances by London soul pioneers Soul II Soul, reggae legends The Wailers and the US hip-hop star Timabaland, pictured above. However, if you simply want to sunbathe, swim or picnic, you'll have to wait until after the Grand Prix in November when the beach will fully reopen. Then, we are promised new facilities for cycling, skateboarding, beach football and volleyball, a new selection of cafes and restaurants offering patio-dining, plus a fresh covering of pristine "non-gritty" sand. But what do we do in the meantime? Well, if you don't want to pay to use a hotel beach, you can try to find a spot at Ras al Akhdar, the short stretch of sand next to the Emirates Palace. There are no bathrooms or changing facilities, big crowds at the weekend and noticeably more litter, plus you'll also have to try to ignore the sound of heavy construction across the road behind you. But since this is the only accessible free public beach right now, it's going to have to do. For details on all times and dates on the Yasalam events, check out the link at www.thenational.ae

The Amber Lounge F1 party What do Rod Stewart, Liz Hurley, Boris Becker and Roman Abramovich have in common? They are all regulars at the Amber Lounge, the post-race see-and-be-seen party that follows the F1 Grand Prix circuit around the globe. Now it's coming to Abu Dhabi and for two nights you will be able to join A-list celebrities as well as F1 drivers from 10pm until dawn at what promises to be an amazing end-of-season event. There will be two nights of serious Amber partying held at the Hiltonia on the Corniche, October 31 and November 1. Tickets range from ?650 (Dh3,500) for an individual to slightly more than ?15,000 (Dh80,000) for a Jereboam table that seats eight guests. All prices include unlimited drinks. For your Dh80,000, you are guaranteed a spot close to the celebrity and driver tables. If that's a little beyond your budget, you can opt for the ?8,950 (Dh48,100) table, also for eight guests, but you won't be guaranteed a close look at Lewis Hamilton's biceps. If biceps are not your thing or you can't afford the best table, why not focus on the music of DJ Jack E, who is often spotted at the famous Caves du Roi nightclub in St Tropez (one of George Clooney's favourite haunts) and various Ibiza party places. There is no dress code, but this is not a place to dress down; the more glamorous the better. Tickets are limited to 1,000 punters a night. For more information, go to www.amber-lounge.com. Ticket enquires can be emailed to rae@amber-lounge.com or by calling 055 291 4013 Helena Frith Powell

Victor at Meiff Eager to get my tickets for the film festival, I went online to purchase them the day they went on sale. The site crashed all morning (as you'd expect when they'd just launched the ticket service) and just as I hit the final purchase button, I received an error message. I tried again several times, even attempting with another credit card. Finally, after four tries, I got my tickets. Now for the bad news. The next day, I saw that my credit card had been charged for each attempt. Past experiences taught me that it might not be worth the time and effort to try to get my money back, but I called the Meiff general number anyway. After explaining my situation, I was told that someone would call me back. Sigh. How many times have I heard this before? But I hadn't counted on Victor. He phoned me back within an hour, apologised profusely and tried to reimburse my cards while I stayed on the line. When his attempts proved unsuccessful, he arranged instead to leave the money I was owed in cash at the box office. I went that night and there it was, easy as pie - and with more apologies! Thanks, Victor, for reminding me that correcting this type of mistake doesn't always have to be an impossible task. Kerri Abrams