x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

What We're Loving: mangrove kayaking, Dubai eco-stores and jet-skiing

The Arts&Life editor Ann Marie McQueen shares her favourites this week: Kayaking in the Abu Dhabi mangroves, an hour of freedom spent jet skiing, shopping and dining at an eco-store in Dubai and a long-awaited perfect tinted moisturiser.

The Change Initiative store in Dubai. Jaime Puebla / The National
The Change Initiative store in Dubai. Jaime Puebla / The National

Noukhada Adventure Company kayaking

I tried one of Noukhada's eco-tour kayaking trips in the mangroves four years ago and enjoyed it so much I always meant to return. The company was just starting out then and much smaller, but on a recent visit I was pleased to see it is thriving. A simple 90-minute guided kayak through the mangroves is a great way to start with this company: although it offers lots of other options, this trip fits most fitness levels, the kayaks are incredibly stable (you would have to try very hard to fall out and if you did, you'd float in your life jacket until someone rescued you) and the guides are the kind of wonderful, laid-back people you'd like to hang out with afterwards. Going on one of these trips is a great way to step out of the craziness of Abu Dhabi and get quiet enough to appreciate the amazing environment that surrounds us. My favourite sights were the majestic herons and the thousands of blue crabs that scurry in around the roots of the trees, which in the mangroves pass through the soil and then turn upwards towards the oxygen-rich air. Even better, the company operates throughout the summer, offering early-morning and late-afternoon trips to accommodate the pending heat. Dh150 for 90 minutes; 02 650 3600 or noukhada.ae.

The Change Initiative / The Taste Initiative

It took me three tries to actually find and arrive at this eco-store/artisanal cafe combo, but once there it was worth the effort. The Change Initiative is an amazing eco-store in Dubai offering a vast range of environmentally friendly goods: among the offerings are baby clothes and toys, jewellery, dishes, taps, washing machines and dryers, make-up, skincare products and clothes. The store also stocks the best array of healthy, speciality snacks I have seen in the country, including a great range of gluten-free products. The staff will refill Ecover washing-up liquid and detergents for a 20 to 25 per cent discount. The store also organises special sustainable-living events, including weekly recycled arts and crafts workshops. Then there is the cafe, where I had an utterly delicious minted pea and pearl barley salad topped with perfectly cooked grilled tuna for Dh50.

Al Barsha 1 opposite Wellington School, just off Sheikh Zayed Road near the Ibis Hotel. www.facebook.com/thetasteinitiative; on Twitter

An hour of jet-skiing

Have you ever longed for a break from it all, but don't have the time or money or energy to organise one? Of course you have. And here is the answer: spring for a jet-ski rental. In just one hour, you can leave all your worries behind by exploring Abu Dhabi's coast, stopping for a bit of a swim and getting your sunshine to boot. The best way to describe the feeling of skimming across the water, powering your own machine just like all those idiots you used to shake your head at (they were just getting away from it all, too), is pure freedom, both instant and fulfilling. Once you try it, you'll wonder why you never did it before. My favourite place is Al-Sarook Water Motor Jetski, near the Shangri-La Hotel. Dh150 for one hour. 055 533 6634 for more information.

Kiehl's Actively Correcting & Beautifying BB Cream

In recent years, when tinted moisturiser became a daily requirement, I have fussed about applying something to my face that is neither natural or performing any secondary functions other than covering up imperfections. Why can't it be doing other things, too? And don't get me started on how hard it is to find a product that isn't laden with chemicals or doesn't sting my sensitive skin when applied. That's why as soon as I saw the press release I rushed out and bought Kiehl's Actively Correcting & Beautifying BB Cream SPF 50 with Vitamin C and natural mineral pigments. Kiehl's took its time coming out with a BB (short for beauty balm), but it was worth the wait; I'm glad the company took the time working up to such a quality product. As I have just started using the product, I can attest that it provides great coverage, has a lightweight feel and hits that perfect balance, appearing neither cakey nor greasy, keeping my skin moisturised all day but never too shiny. It comes in a small, flat tube which fits well in my make-up bag in case I need touch-ups, which hasn't happened. I will have to wait for four weeks for evidence of any of the longer-term claims - such as increased luminosity, better skin tone, a reduction in fine lines and better hydration. It doesn't matter, though: from a purely surface standpoint, I am already sold. Dh160 for 30ml, at Bloomingdale's.


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