x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

What we're loving: Maz Jobrani and write to yourself in the future

Arts&Life editor Ann Marie McQueen takes us through what she is loving this week. An online print-to-canvas service; nifty light fixtures, and writing a letter to one's future self and a funny web video about Arab stereotypes.

Maz Jobrani in Dean Obeidallah and Max Brooks' "Middle Eastern Acting School."
Maz Jobrani in Dean Obeidallah and Max Brooks' "Middle Eastern Acting School."

I usually hate it when people send me emails labelled "funny" or "hilarious" with links to YouTube videos. I have to get out my earphones, queue it up and then as, often happens, pretend that I liked it. Not so with the Ali Maziyar School of Acting for Middle Eastern People. I have been laughing to myself about it all week. From the comic mind of the Arab-American comedian Dean Obeidallah, co-written with Max Brooks, this piece of satire is the perfect stereotype skewer. As the actor Maz Jobrani's Ali Maziyar explains in the video, there is a proper way to take a hostage, to die when shot by a movie's white hero, and to carry an AK-47. "It's gun-up, fist up, and yell." Search Middle Eastern Acting School on YouTube.


I really wish this service, which allows you to write a letter to yourself in the future, had been around when I was my teens and 20s. I can't even imagine my delight these days, if I were to receive the odd, no-doubt-fascinating missive from my former self. Not only could it shed light on past decisions I still find perplexing (why didn't I try out for Disney on Ice when I had the chance?), give insight on those days where you wonder how you got to where you are, and why, and provide a nice flow of communication from one of my favourite people, it would help me remember all those hilarious moments in my life I've forgotten about and give me a nudge in the right direction, too. You can keep the notes private or publish them on the site for others' enjoyment, anonymously of course. One of my favourites: "hey babe grow up. and if you are grownup, growdown. nobody likes a wretchedly old person."


I am a big fan of this hip Dubai-based company, which launched in January. Customyze.co takes images and places them on canvas and wall decals in a variety of sizes. They do it all online with free delivery across the UAE. They touch up your photo and remove things you wish were not there, such as people in the background and timestamps. There are a variety of "effects" options, including black and white, and Customyze.co also allows you to submit pictures directly from Instagram. They are also environmentally responsible, using an eco-friendly printing process that doesn't emit toxic fumes or ozone. I chose a picture of a friend's daughter playing with some puppies in Paris as a gift, had it printed on a 60-80 centimetre canvas with the image wrapped around the side and couldn't be happier with the result. From www.customyze.co

Super Potato's glass chandeliers

As we travel through Abu Dhabi's many five-star hotels we are inundated with a variety of gorgeous chandeliers, each more intricate and outlandish than the next. Somehow, despite their beauty, they become a bit like the wallpaper: it takes a lot for one to stick out over all the others. Perhaps that is why the lighting fixtures at the Asian restaurant Li Jiang in the Ritz-Carleton Abu Dhabi struck my fancy. Designed as the restaurant is by the hip London outfit Super Potato, I love how they elevate simple rock glasses, a few lights and metal to an art form.